“I just started back in an office job in New England, where winters demand something more substantial than a hip blouse,” writes a reader named Melissa. “But thick sweaters tend to look too relaxed for an office. I’m looking for warm, comfortable, cozy sweaters that can translate to a more formal office setting. Women’s dressier sweaters tend to be thin (even in cashmere) and not as warm as something you’d break out on the weekend. But I’m freezing and need something to keep me warm at work. Can you take this challenge on?” Happy to, Melissa, and I have to say that while I never thought about it before Melissa raised it, it is almost invariably true that the warmer, more comfortable, and cozier a sweater is, the more casual it tends to skew. There are a few chunky knits below that do manage to be office-appropriate, but my primary advice here would be to get some scoopneck Heattech T-shirts from Uniqlo, and layer up. I think this shrug looks completely toasty and very office-appropriate.
I have held forth on the party in a top many, many times, but for those of you who are new to the notion, I arrived at it one December when I noticed that holiday parties are usually so crowded that all anyone notices is what you’re wearing from the waist up. Get yourself a good top, pair it with jeans or trousers or a skirt—depending on the formality of the occasion—and you’re set. I can’t 100 per cent prove that this little theory of mine is fact, of course, but if nothing else, it can make dressing up to go out a whole lot simpler. I’m starting out with a rather subdued choice, because I really like the ruffles at the neckline and I hardly ever like ruffles.
The twisty neckline reminds me of something you’d see on a Vince top, but this is from Mango (and is available up to size 10; I have heard your complaints about Mango’s sometimes constricted size options).
This is like if a tuxedo shirt and a peasant top had a baby.
A pleasingly loud print on a well-priced silk shirt.
This just drapes rather prettily, and I dig the blue snakeskin print.
I could not be more in favor of sequins—especially dressed down with jeans—and like how just off-the shoulder this top is.
I’d unbutton the top few buttons here and wear this with a cami underneath.
This Zero+Maria Cornejo top is a splurge, to be certain, but it is so damn gorgeous, and I think you could dress it way up or down. It’s from 11 Honoré, a fantastic site offering extended sizes from big-name designers.
More sequins, this time on a slightly (and appealingly) retroish tank.
This lurex button-down would likely be itchy as all get-out, but I think it’s fun.
I’m kind of down on Net a Porter lately—increasingly, it’s just full of monstrously pricey status-wear, and the cool finds I used to enjoy unearthing there are fewer and farther-between. But there is still a lot worthwhile to be found here at sale time, and a lot of decently-priced stuff too. I am very tempted by this pretty red silk top with delicate pleating.
A striped top gets a little more interesting with a touch of grosgrain trim.
I do love a black floral, and the pops of red here really pop.
A clean-lined collarless denim jacket with cool gold buttons.
I own these Nili Lotan Tel Aviv jeans, and adore them; they slouch really nicely like trousers. They’re only left in a couple of sizes, but maybe you’ll get lucky.
I had this swimsuit until the dog chewed it, and now I’m tempted to buy it all over again because it is so nicely marked down, and because it is so cute.
I was born in Houston, Texas in 1964 and have lived in New York City since 1988. I had a long career in magazines, working at Sassy, Elle, New York, and Spin, and in 2000, I founded Lucky magazine, which I edited for ten years.