Petite Fashion Challenge #9 – Work Attire in the Heat Wave

This month’s Petite Fashion Challenge is hosted by Elle of Fast Food & Fast Fashion. Be sure to visit her blog tomorrow (Saturday) night to see all the other ladies’ outfits! I’m posting a day early because I won’t have access to a computer all weekend and I don’t trust Blogger’s scheduler.

The Challenge: “…create an outfit that accounts for the various environmental factors that plague us in the summer. I want to know how you dress when it’s 90 degrees outside and 65 degrees inside (due to blasting AC!)…”

This challenge is very relevant for me. Outdoor temps here have been in the mid-90s, yet the office where I’m working at is downright frigid. We’re in a room where the air control is broken and the temperature is set at around 55 degrees (no exaggeration). I wore my colleague’s XL man-blazer as a blanket, yet my lips were still blue.

Top: LOFT Blouse sz XXSP (similar here in 2P+)
Skirt: Ann Taylor (thrifted & altered)
Flats: Talbots D’Orsay Bow Flats sz 5 – 75% off in 3 colors!

The obvious answer to this challenge is layering, and for that purpose I like print cotton blouses. These are great because they’re breathable in the heat, machine washable, and the various colors in the print make it really easy to coordinate layers with. Just pick one of the colors in the print and choose a layer in the same color family, or, experiment a little with color theory. I wore this ensemble a few days ago.

Heels: Louboutin Simple 100’s sz 35 (similar in sizes 34 to 35.5) (or, the affordable reader fave in taupe)

When I have so much going on color-wise, neutral shoes really come in handy. Also, I’ve mentioned this many times in the past, but a blouse with an eye-catching detail down the center (ie. pleats, ruffle) visually elongates your body when peeking through under a layer. Plus, it’s just a pretty look!


Khaki blazer: Theory sz 00  Watch: Michael Kors Tortoise Jet Set   Cardigans: J.Crew

In Boston, most women commute in flats and keep heels at work. Unfortunately, this summer I’ve been working at different locations every day, so I carry a large laptop, laptop cord, heels, clothing layers, snacks, and more in my Longchamp tote. I weighed it today and it was a little over 10 lbs – terrible for the shoulder!

To find out more about Petite Fashion Challenges and how you can sign up, visit this thread in the Alterations Needed forum. And don’t forget to visit Elle’s blog tomorrow night to see everyone’s entries!


When you purchase through the links on this blog, I may earn a commission. Thank you for your support!

When you purchase through the links on this blog, I may earn a commission. Thank you for your support!

For Daily Posts

Leave a Comment


  1. Y. Wolfe wrote:

    First, let me say, thank you!

    I'm petite, and I'm trying to learn how to dress better, more adult/professional/well-composed, but also keep my functionality (carrying heavy things (I always bring my lunch), walking around a lot, heels? dresses? being cold), and wallet. Your blog is helping me with this! I'm actually an attractive person, but for years I was a total tomboy, and had no idea how to dress myself or my figure! I looked really awful, but I think it’s because I wasn’t accepting my small body type.

    I would actually love if you went more in detail about how to balance work shoes and walking shoes. I actually live near Porter Square (transplant from Brooklyn), and many of my streets are cobblestone or just death traps for heels.

    Heels are also difficult for walking, carrying too many things (because then I weeble-wobble, but I need my heavy bag)…but I'm tired of wearing boots. I love them to death, but I think it's time to wear something more feminine, but still practical.

    My footwear is the most lacking department in my wardrobe. How do I look nice, but not have to take cabs everywhere because I can’t walk.

    I look forward to your response!

    Posted 3.2.12 Reply
  2. Mae Lu wrote:

    I LOVE that outfit, Jean!

    I think you did the contrasting of pink and red/orange so well, in a different, but as gorgeous way as Elle did. I agree… it's ever-so-hot here in Detroit, but the office is always kept at a freezing, cold temperature (62-65F)–ridiculous! I sometimes find myself sipping coffee at 3PM and running my space heater under my desk!

    I always end up bringing a cardigan or blazer to the office only just to take it off as soon as I walk outside.

    I can't believe how much stuff you have to tote around, but I hear you…

    Mae Lu @ ~thereafterish.!

    Posted 8.1.11 Reply
  3. Mid '90's?! OMFG! That's SPRING here in Texas. Consider yourself LUCKY girl!

    Posted 7.31.11 Reply
  4. Pablo wrote:

    =O Great outfits, I love all of them! =) They fit you really well!

    Posted 7.31.11 Reply
  5. Kiki wrote:

    I love bold colors with neutrals. Perfection. 🙂

    Posted 7.31.11 Reply
  6. Vicky wrote:

    Bravo, Jean on the challenge. The red skirt is such a rich color, and you make it work so well with your outfit. Love the way you do the thermometer indicators on your pictures. So fun. Have a great weekend, I hope to see you soon.

    Posted 7.31.11 Reply
  7. Perfection as always! I need to find myself a red skirt!

    Posted 7.31.11 Reply
  8. Carolyn wrote:

    you are so office chic! right now i'm in hong kong for vacation and have the same problem.. it's so hot outside yet the air conditioning inside is so frigid you have to think ahead on what to wear for both occasions!

    Posted 7.31.11 Reply
  9. CynthiaC wrote:

    You do colours very well, Jean! I really need to wear more of it – While I'm beginning to add more variety to my wardrobe, I still don't think I have nearly as big a "portfolio" of shades as you. Can't seem to put it together as well…

    Posted 7.30.11 Reply
  10. The temperature illustrations are perfect – I love them! The bright colors look so perfect together (something that my limited imagination would have never thought of) with the neutral blazer. I always enjoy seeing your challenge entries 🙂

    I also agree with Cee. I divide up my stuff between 2 bags to distribute the weight. One is a satchel that I use for all typical purse items like wallet / phone / wristlet / essentials. The other is a tote bag (usually a bang-around bag) that holds my water bottle / lunch bag / business folders and papers. I leave my laptop locked up in my desk whenever I can otherwise I also have to bring my rolling bag on top of everything else 🙁

    Posted 7.30.11 Reply
  11. Cee wrote:

    I love how covering up the shoulders from the first to second pic warms you up by 10 degrees 🙂 The red colors and prints would make a great fall outfit too.

    I don't have suggestions for your 10 lb bag besides maybe divvy-ing the items into two bags? A hand-held bag for your laptop and Longchamp tote over the shoulder for everything else? I also see guys commute with backpacks, so the weight is more evenly distributed between the shoulders, but I don't see many women doing that.

    Posted 7.30.11 Reply
  12. marm wrote:

    love all the different ways to change up the outfit!

    Posted 7.30.11 Reply
  13. ACC wrote:

    Very pretty! I love the saturated colors together, especially with the cardigan in the second picture, finished with the neutral pumps.

    Posted 7.30.11 Reply
  14. Stylepint wrote:

    I love the bright colors of your outfit and how you can pair it with a cardigan and sweater for various degrees of coldness. I remember working in an office that was so cold it felt like a fridge…we were wearing parkas in the middle of summer! So ridiculous. =P

    Posted 7.30.11 Reply
  15. Anonymous wrote:

    Hi Jean

    I love reading your blog. I was wondering…what's your occupation?

    Posted 7.30.11 Reply
  16. Olyvia wrote:

    love the colors! glad you mentioned again that details down the center of blouses elongates! I didn't catch that tip from previous posts for some reason, so that's a new trick to try in my book 🙂

    Posted 7.30.11 Reply
  17. Love all the outfits! What a clever post 🙂


    Posted 7.30.11 Reply
  18. WOW, 10lbs!?! That is heavy! Reminds me of when I used to work in SF and took public transit. I'd carry my heels and work stuff in my large tote bag too. It's always a challenge for me at work to dress for the summer. I really want to dress to embrace the heat but the office is SUPER cold… 55 degrees is def believable LOL Sometimes I feel really self conscious wearing sleeveless tops, do you wear cardigans or do you wear sleeveless tops regularly? I think some people at work will think I want attention, LOL I don't know how to explain but I'm sure you understand office politics :p

    Posted 7.29.11 Reply
  19. Angie wrote:

    this is smart and i like the little thermometers. you have mad layering skills. i really like the warm colours and romantic rusty red for fall (but summer's only begun!)

    pandaphilia fashion
    giveaway ending TONIGHT for any other petites with small feet (or normal US size 2-14 feet)! thought some of your readers would love to win free tiny shoes 🙂

    Posted 7.29.11 Reply
  20. Katherine wrote:

    i love the color scheme going on..and i've been trying to look for blouses with ruffles (learnt from you) but I haven't had much luck yet..

    what type of finance job do you do? i'm doing a business undergrad and want to explore my options!

    Posted 7.29.11 Reply
  21. Callandra wrote:

    Jean your office sounds downright miserable!! I'm loving your flats though, they are amazing 😉 I see a lot of commuters with the laptop looking cases on wheels…..didn't know if that might work for you, but I thought I'd mention it. I think I carry in a new snack everytime I go into the office….looks like I've got a pantry going on in the overhead filing cabinet! Lol

    Posted 7.29.11 Reply
  22. Oh my shoulder felt your pain when I read that last part. I totally feel you, girl. And might I add – you look gorgeous in red. : )

    Posted 7.29.11 Reply
  23. ditto on Kileen's comment. "What's in your bag?" post soon.

    You are berry-licious in this post! I really adore the talbots bow flats. cutes!

    Posted 7.29.11 Reply
  24. Jackie wrote:

    I love how bold these colors are together. Just pairing this top with the red skirt makes it so much brighter!

    Posted 7.29.11 Reply
  25. Tiffany wrote:

    Great post! I hope you do a similar post but for the winter season. I've grow nup in California so when it comes to dressing professionally in the rain or snow I am lost! Would love some ideas. Do people just tuck in dress pants into boots? I don't have a clue! Also, how do you keep the ruffles nice after washing? In my experience, the ruffles end up looking more flat or wrinkly.

    Posted 7.29.11 Reply
  26. Super lovely blog!


    Posted 7.29.11 Reply
  27. Anonymous wrote:

    I find wearing a blouse and pencil skirt uncomfortable in the heat, but I guess that's just me. And then I walk into the office, throw on a cardigan, and FREEZE within the same day.

    I do really like the scarf, cardigan, and blazer idea. I should try that. =)

    Posted 7.29.11 Reply
  28. Mae Lu wrote:

    It's ridiculous how COLD they keep our office–yours is worse, but still! 62F when it's 91 outside? Why do I have to have a sweater, drink coffee AND have a heater going under my desk? It's not green, and it's against the laws of nature.

    I love how you dressed here. I can definitely see you having to tote a big briefcase just to carry all your layers, though. Doesn't make one cringe?

    I wish I'd thought of joining the PFC, but I keep forgetting to sign up.

    Mae Lu @ thereafterish.!

    Posted 7.29.11 Reply
  29. Ping wrote:

    love all the pretty colors jean! this is definitely what i do everyday, not because it's hot outside…it's because my work doesn't turn on the AC so it get so hot in the office that i have to unlayer. when i go outside (yes it's still cold in sf in the summer!), i have to put back all my layers. lol

    Posted 7.29.11 Reply
  30. I love all the bright colors! Looks like you are a peeler…me too! LOL

    Posted 7.29.11 Reply
  31. Michelle wrote:

    Great outfit!! I agree with Audrina…stunning in red! I love seeing your new watch and Talbots flats in action!

    And 55?! That is freezing cold!! Hopefully your ten pound bag is getting love from both shoulders!! :p

    Posted 7.29.11 Reply
  32. You look so amazing, Jean. Your blush is totally fab!! I love the outfits too, I am quite lazy and just wear the same thing over and over (no skirts). No matter what I do in a skirt/dress, I FREEZE in the office, brrrr. I have an extra blazer, blanket and heating pad at my desk 24/7 too. I never thought DC would hit 121 degrees…but we did, nothing is bearable in that sort of heat, haha.

    I hope you win, Jean! The ruffles are so darling on you 🙂

    10 lbs cannot be good for girls of our stature! I completely understand.

    Posted 7.29.11 Reply
  33. Love the colors! The loft blouse with ruffles on it, great design..loving ruffles nowadays.You're stunning in red color, beautiful!:)

    Posted 7.29.11 Reply
  34. kileen wrote:

    you look gorgeous in reds, Jean and I'm loving how you can make a bold color like red very work-appropriate. layering is definitely key in the summertime when going in and out of a/c into sweltering temperatures and you showed us some great layering options.

    and i'd love to see a "what's in my bag" post from you! 🙂

    Posted 7.29.11 Reply
  35. Loving these colour Jean! They will work perfectly in the fall too. I'm still stumped with this challenge…I still have tomorrow though 😛

    Posted 7.29.11 Reply
  36. Alice wrote:

    Hi Jean, I found your blog a few weeks back and am now a big fan. I want to thank you so much for all your tips and for being such an inspiration. Was feeling really, really bored of the clothes that I have, but now I'm putting the life back into them according to some of the ideas that I've learnt from you.

    Hope you don't mind me sharing some of the things I've learnt so far:

    1. Work and play wardrobes do mix. I used to have one separate wardrobe for work clothes and another for going-out clothes and they rarely mixed. Work wardrobe consists mainly of boring button-down shirts and suits, while fun wardrobe is for casual and dressy clothes. Now I'm learning to blur the line between them and it's so much more fun.

    2. It's ok to wear the same clothes over and over again especially when paired with different items for a fresh look each time. I see you and your fellow bloggers doing this so brilliantly all the time. I used to wear my clothes in one or two ways only. Hence a whole lot of clothes but still felt like I had nothing to wear…

    3. Ruffles are good. I'm loving ruffles now!

    Btw, I live in a very very hot place and your work attire here is just perfect.

    Posted 7.29.11 Reply
  37. I love all the bright colors in your outfit. I'm wearing something similar myself for this challenge. Your temperature illustration is adorable =) Have a great weekend! I can’t wait to see the rest of the entries tomorrow night.

    Posted 7.29.11 Reply

Get the newsletter!

What updates would you like?