Navy and Neutrals

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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.

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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.
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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.
navyandneutrals

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

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78 Comments

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  4. MeganB wrote:

    The Black Lacy tunic with the tan leather belt looks amazing. The advice offered on the blog are also quite though worthy. I like the idea about shopping outside formal work wardrobe for casual wear and weekends.
    Fashion

    Posted 11.8.12 Reply
  5. Anonymous wrote:

    Hi!

    I would also like to know what size shirt you chose. I love the gingham shirt!!

    xo, Janelle

    Posted 11.5.12 Reply
  6. GEMMA wrote:

    I really like the combination..a lot!

    Check out my blog where I posted my first fashion magazine, http://gemmamonclus.blogspot.com.es

    Love,Gemma

    Posted 11.2.12 Reply
  7. Anonymous wrote:

    Hi Extra Petite,

    Im such a fan of yours and I think you look fabulous all the time! I just wondered if you could help me with one thing. I remember reading about your Prada Saffiano bag & that you was looking for a second hand ones etc. the thing is I want to sell mine and would like if you could share some sites that are 100% authentic and I would not be scared to sell it on. also f you don't mind me asking how much you bought yours? so it could give me an idea for how much I could potentially sell it for. Many thanks Sanita

    Posted 10.30.12 Reply
  8. Great dress – I love the way you paired it with the gingham. I never would have thought to pair those two patterns, but it looks stunning!

    Kate xo petite-adventures.blogspot.ca

    Posted 10.26.12 Reply
  9. Anonymous wrote:

    Hi Jean! I love the outfit! If you see this, I have a quick question. I've been looking for a navy blue gingham shirt! What size did you get for your boys gingham shirt? How does it fit? I'm a similar build as you and I could either get a XXS at JCrew or the boys gingham in a 12 or 14 (technically the girls section but the name of the shirt has boys in it). Which did you get? If you see this and have time to answer, that would be great! Thanks!

    Posted 10.24.12 Reply
  10. all I can say is WOW!thank you!

    Posted 10.24.12 Reply
  11. I would have never thought to pair lace with gingham. YOU are an inspiration indeed!

    Posted 10.23.12 Reply
  12. Haha…I didn't plan on it, but Khatu (over at iamkhatu.blogspot.com) made costumes for the two of us so I may share photos : )

    Posted 10.22.12 Reply
  13. Thanks for sharing…will definitely take a look!

    Posted 10.22.12 Reply
  14. I'll report back after I try out this company I'm currently emailing! But right now I've cut a cardboard box into the shape of the base and it definitely helps keep the structure.

    Posted 10.22.12 Reply
  15. I'm currently trying out a base shaper company (and will report back in a few weeks), but in the meantime I made a base shaper myself with thicker cardboard cut out of a box I had lying around. It definitely helps prevent the base from sagging.

    Posted 10.22.12 Reply
  16. It's a coated leather bag so I don't imagine that the color would easily stain (but I could be wrong). Also, it's medium in color in my opinion so light color transfers definitely won't show up as much as if the color was ivory.

    Posted 10.22.12 Reply
  17. Hi there, unfortunately I don't have any suggested fixes. I would try google'ing faded wool and maybe try a color dye if you really want to preserve it?

    Posted 10.22.12 Reply
  18. Jean: Through the years I have found both you and your blog to be classy and thoughtful. You've actually inspired me to create my own site to capture my thoughts and interests in fashion and financials which perhaps you'll find interesting. http://fashformfuncfin.blogspot.com/ – curating fun facts about our favorite fashion brands, blending insight on the industry’s products with the financial and strategic developments of the companies that create them. Hope you'll take a look and would love any feedback you may have!

    Posted 10.22.12 Reply
  19. Hi Jean!

    I love this outfit choice.

    The incorporation of lace makes it so feminine. I'm not a fan of shopping for formal wear but there are certain pieces, if well chosen, can be enhanced to fit daily life.

    Really enjoying your blog!

    ~ Tasha

    Posted 10.22.12 Reply
  20. Chloe wrote:

    Great outfit, Jean! While it might not always be everyone's cup of tea, I love the mix of patterns and prints and think you did it well in this outfit. It's pulled together, interesting, and fun to look at–and a reminder that I definitely need to work more navy into my own wardrobe. I think I own one navy blouse and…that's it! 😐

    Posted 10.22.12 Reply
  21. Joy wrote:

    What a great idea and great way to wear this dress for the colder season!

    http://shortandsweetjoy.blogspot.com/

    Posted 10.21.12 Reply
  22. Ale wrote:

    are you going to have a Halloween petite post :)?

    Posted 10.21.12 Reply
  23. NaRae wrote:

    Cute outfit! I love coming to your blog.

    xoxo
    Narae

    Posted 10.20.12 Reply
  24. Helen wrote:

    This is such a cute outfit, and your tips in the blog helped out a lot. Can you post more tips that you came up with for the workshop? I' just started working in a corporate setting recently and I'm looking for more ways to diversify my wardrobe from button ups and cardigans. Love your posts!

    Posted 10.19.12 Reply
  25. Both you and Cee inspire me to think outside the box when it comes to layering. It's an area that I constantly struggle to improve in!

    Lovely look!

    Posted 10.19.12 Reply
  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

    Posted 10.19.12 Reply
  27. Anonymous wrote:

    JEan:
    I guess my question related one other person here above asking how the bag keeps the structured shape. In your past video about this bag I think you mentioned something that a plastic rectangular piece can keep it in strcture shape and that this plastic can be ordered somehow? Did you do that? Can you say where and how. THanks!

    Posted 10.19.12 Reply
  28. You style is immaculate! And I love that Prada handbag!

    Posted 10.19.12 Reply

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