• Navy and Neutrals


    Ann Taylor factory lace dress (similar), H&M; knit blazer (similar), Crewcuts boys gingham shirt
    Ferragamo Vara shoes (similar), Prada Saffiano Tote, belt borrowed from Nick’s dad

    Earlier this evening, I had the pleasure of hosting a local workshop on “Maximizing your Work Wardrobe.” After some nervous mulling in the shower, I threw together a list of some of tips learned over the years.

    One topic that we discussed was shopping for versatile pieces, including items beyond “traditional” office wear that one would love just as much on the weekends. When I was an intern, I loaded up on button-up dress shirts, trousers, and suit-style blazers. I didn’t enjoy shopping for them, did not feel compelled to shell out for alterations, and almost never wore them outside of work. Although those are still the most conservative and foolproof pieces for a corporate office, I’ve had much more fun shopping and dressing outside of that realm.
    navyandneutrals2 This outfit is comprised of various pieces collected over the years, none of which are traditional work pieces bought for work. The lace dress has worked beautifully for cocktails or a garden party; the comfy gingham shirt was guiltily plucked from the boys department; the waffle knit blazer is a fave for pairing with denim. Worn together, these pieces give off a feminine yet academic vibe that is conservative enough for my office.

    Another topic we discussed was how to change up the look of 1 item by accessorizing, layering, or unconventional styling. I immediately thought of Cee, and dedicated a slide to her “10 ways to wear a lace dress.” Reading Cee’s blog inspires me to experiment more with layering…for example, rather than simply wear this dress under a jacket, layering a boyish button-up shirt and worn leather belt provides both visual interest and extra warmth.
    To lessen the eyesore of two busy patterns, I used a monochromatic palette, added a block of solid with the blazer, and kept the accessories neutral.

    Readers – What are some of your favorite tips for maximizing your work wardrobe?

    78 thoughts on “Navy and Neutrals

    • Abby October 17, 2012 at 12:15 am

      I would never think to do that, but it's actually really, really cute. I need to open my mind a little bit more to come up with things like this.

    • sal ♥ October 17, 2012 at 12:19 am

      it looks nice. love the blue and brown 🙂

    • Lindsay K October 17, 2012 at 12:23 am

      Gorgeous! You look lovely. I love navy and how you've styled items that aren't typical "workwear." The blazer (love) anchors the entire look.

    • Anonymous October 17, 2012 at 12:26 am

      you look very classy with the outfit. I would never thought of pairing somethign like this. so creative. Great combination!. love your blog btw.
      ps: i went to AT factory two weeks ago and surprised they had the lace dress you were wearing. larger size so I altered it and now it fit nicely..happy as a clam 🙂

    • jenn~the stylish housewife October 17, 2012 at 12:27 am

      i layer "over" dresses quite often but need to try layering "under"! love this outfit!!!

      xoxo, jenn
      the stylish housewife

    • Kiwi Fashion Blog October 17, 2012 at 12:32 am

      You always look so put together! 🙂 Do you dress for blog photos or you actually wear this out to work? (I am assuming you are in a professional setting?)

    • Whitney Moore October 17, 2012 at 12:41 am

      Such a classic look and dress, love it! We always look forward to your new posts. Have a wonderful day!

    • Mika Takahashi October 17, 2012 at 12:49 am

      The gingham shirt and the lace dress is an unexpected but lovely combo! Looks nice with the blazer. Actually I spotted you last week at Ann Taylor with Nick but was a bit nervous to say hi to you, especially when you were busy shopping and talking with another gal who I think was your fan as well… I hope you have a Boston meetup sometime if you're not busy with work! Next time I hope I won't be as shy 😉

    • Anonymous October 17, 2012 at 12:50 am

      You look polished and lovely as always.

      I am not a big fan of the lace dress over the gingham shirt, though; the two pieces give off very different vibes to me. The dress is more figure-hugging and feminine, while the shirt underneath is more bulky and boyish, so the sight of the tighter dress worn over the bulkier shirt came across as a little… restricting and creating awkward shapes. Additionally, both pieces contain very strong eye-catching patterns, and thus seemed to clash with each other a little too much. Just my 5 cents.

      Kudos to you for hosting the workshop; I'm quite jealous of the ladies who attended & got to hear your great tips!

    • apairofshoesforeveryday October 17, 2012 at 12:58 am

      I love how you styled these different pieces together. Very unexpected but refreshing. Take care.


    • wux October 17, 2012 at 1:08 am

      I was at the "Work Wardrobe" event/workshop, yay!

    • ragsandrichesblog October 17, 2012 at 1:11 am

      I love your outfit. Perfect for the fall weather 🙂

    • PetiteAsianGirl October 17, 2012 at 1:17 am

      I wear all of my "work outfits" on here to work, but usually don't have time to take photos on the actual day of wear. I've been putting them all on again on the weekend for blog photos, and am pretty sure my neighbors think I'm nuts : )

    • PetiteAsianGirl October 17, 2012 at 1:18 am

      Mika – how funny! I had no idea Ann Taylor was such a hot spot for coincidental meetings. Please do say hello next time! It's a small town so I am sure we'll cross paths again : )

    • Sheila October 17, 2012 at 1:21 am

      You always look so lovely Jean! I love your blog. 🙂

      xo – Sheila

    • Eva Wu October 17, 2012 at 1:28 am

      beautiful dress! love it!

    • Annie October 17, 2012 at 1:49 am

      Wow, you look incredible. I'm at that stage in life where I'm trying to build a work-appropriate wardrobe, and this is actually really inspiring. Thanks!

    • Bára Rektorová October 17, 2012 at 2:26 am

      I would never believe this would work, but it does! I love this outfit on you, but I am pretty sure I wouldn´t be able to pull it off 🙂 But it is great inspiration.

    • blondieesquire October 17, 2012 at 5:01 am

      This is so cute! Love the mixed prints.

    • Rachelle's Jewelry Box October 17, 2012 at 6:48 am

      I can so relate to what your saying, I enjoy shopping so much more now that I've been purchasing pieces that I can transition from work to other. I love how you made the lace dress work appropriate. I have a few work outfits on my blog check it outfit you want to see my approach.

    • TaraMixandMatch October 17, 2012 at 6:56 am

      I think the layering here is perfect!

    • Anonymous October 17, 2012 at 9:05 am

      Hey love! I was hoping you could help — I purchased a plaid Banana Republic wool blend coat 3 years ago and the color (dye?) on the right side has worn off (faded to a whiteish color) and I'm quite upset. I believe it's due to my Longchamp bag rubbing up against it. Is there any way to fix this? I took it to the dry cleaners but no luck :((

    • Ri(t)ch Styles October 17, 2012 at 9:16 am

      You inspire me to try new stuff like this!!


    • Milna Mandusic October 17, 2012 at 9:24 am

      I have a problem with layering..
      I'm just not comfortable enough to do that.. yet 🙂
      I'd love to try out this style!
      btw, thank for that link!


    • Always Maylee October 17, 2012 at 9:53 am

      I just love the layering, you look so beautiful!

      xo, Yi-chia

    • The Glitter Life October 17, 2012 at 10:16 am

      Great twist on that dress!

      Check out The Glitter Life! http://the-glitter-life.com/

    • Panina(nana) October 17, 2012 at 10:22 am

      That is really smart to add a long sleeve button up under that pretty lace dress! I think the layering would be too much depending on how different the textures were and if the colors didn't match so well. You pulled it off so stylishly… like you always do!

      I'm also still looking out for that gorgeous navy AT lace dress! Maybe you'll get sick of it and want to sell it later… well a girl can dream =P

    • Anonymous October 17, 2012 at 10:23 am

      This is one of my favorite outfits of yours ever! The layering of texture and print work so well because you did keep everything else minimal and neutral. I don't have any gingham or lace in my closet (what?! after I've been following you for, what, almost a year now?) but now I'm inspired to look for layering possibilities with what I already have. Oh, and I love Cee's post too!

    • Anonymous October 17, 2012 at 10:41 am

      I really like your prada and seriously consider
      it in the same color, but I'm so worry about
      it get dirty or stained since the color is light.
      Do you ever have this concern with light color
      Bag? Thanks Jean

    • Cee October 17, 2012 at 10:45 am

      My dress post deserved a slide? Jean, I'm beyond flattered. Inspiration is a two-way street, so thank YOU for helping me polish up my wardrobe.

      To go with the monochromatic theme, I can also see you experimenting with your chambray shirt under the dress instead of the gingham. Still in the same color family, but a solid color won't compete with the lace pattern as much (a concern raised by the anonymous commenter above). I don't think it would be as cute as the gingham + lace sans blazer, but can see it working with the blazer.

    • ♥ Natalie October 17, 2012 at 10:45 am

      You look so pretty. (: And I LOVE the bag!! <3


    • Gena Palmieri October 17, 2012 at 12:44 pm

      Gingham and lace is honestly my FAVE combo!! Really pretty outfit(: You are so cute!
      xoxo, Gena
      Pearls, Curls, and Uptown Girls

    • Mady T. October 17, 2012 at 1:17 pm

      one of mine is wearing different types and colors of tights ore stocking underneath skirts or dresses…



    • Emily October 17, 2012 at 1:21 pm

      Love the gingham in that look! The whole thing is so cute!


    • Petitetomatoes October 17, 2012 at 2:10 pm

      very cute and creative!

    • Janki October 17, 2012 at 3:25 pm

      oh how I would have loved to be there for your discussion! I know my early career self would have flipped. Your look is so cute! I sadly don't think I can layer as well. I'm not as slim and I'm very short waisted. I find any sort of tucking just makes me look insanely top heavy.
      But the general idea of your post is one I like: looking beyond the normal when it comes to your clothing. I am packing for a trip and started seeing how many of my items can do double or triple duty, all with the right accessory and accompaning pieces.

      Your writing is really hitting a stride! You always wrote well, but lately it is just so strong.

    • brella October 17, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      The more pictures I scrolled through, the more I liked the layered gingham/lace look. I've seen your posts for the pieces individually and they're very different styles, so it took a bit to get used to! Very creative and it looks great.

      However, I do think the reason you pull this off so well is your petite frame. I'm rather jealous–I think this would look bulky/unflattering on my size 4, 5'6" frame. That said, I I will definitely see if I can create more work outfits by playing around with some pieces in my closet. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Lani October 17, 2012 at 4:53 pm

      Never would have thought to layer the gingham shirt with the lace dress. Good idea!

    • Anonymous October 17, 2012 at 9:28 pm

      I have a question.. How do you keep your Saffiano bag look so structured? I have one but for some reason mine does not stay in that "boxy" shape all the time. The bottom part seems to weigh down a bit which makes it look slouchy…

    • Erin October 17, 2012 at 9:29 pm

      I love how you mixed these unconventional work pieces together for such a chic but office appropriate outfit! The navy color palette is so classic, but the subtle different textures and patterns make it so interesting!


    • newpetite October 17, 2012 at 11:24 pm

      Such an unexpected pairing and looks perfect for fall!

    • Dressing Up For Me October 18, 2012 at 3:06 am

      Great pairing as usual, Jean! Didn´t know gingham and lace would look that good. Long time reader here. 🙂


    • Celeste October 18, 2012 at 4:11 am

      Hi there,

      I stumbled upon one of your videos on youtube and started checking out your website. I had been following Wendy on Wendy'sLookbook but I have to say I'm very impressed by your sense of fashion as well! What I love about you is that you know how to make clothes look classy without having to spend a fortune on designer brands (unlike Wendy). Keep up the good work! 🙂
      Celeste from Seattle

    • Anonymous October 18, 2012 at 4:15 am

      hhhmmm, i've loved all your improvisation thus far.

      but i gotta say, i do NOT like the gingham + lace look. separately i love em', just not together.

      can u show us how to mix prints? 🙂


    • pretty little things October 18, 2012 at 10:31 am

      that is such a pretty dress on you! xo


    • Princess Martha October 18, 2012 at 11:48 am

      You do such a fabulous job of doing things that I would never have thought of…and making them look so chic.
      I'm sure the attendees of the workshop must have walked out with a new found enjoyment of their work clothes 😉

    • Elaine A (TOBeautyReviews) October 18, 2012 at 10:29 pm

      Very, very cute! I have similar pieces but not so sure how to make it go together – especially for fall – my pieces are brighter in colour. And sadly my navy blazer got thrown into the laundry bin by mistake and is now too tight on me 🙁

    • FFREPLICA October 19, 2012 at 2:31 am

      You are so beautiful. I love your style and your way to match outfits. Just fabulous!

    • yuni.k October 19, 2012 at 5:02 am

      Hail to the queen of layering! I absolutely love this, even though when looked at separately, I would never think to put them together!

      yuni @ OBSESSED

    • phiphis blog October 19, 2012 at 11:48 am

      i love this – so unexpected but so right!

      you look fantastic!

    Comments are closed.