A reader named Anne wrote in to request “`Grownup’ clothes for those of us in arty/casual professions that don’t cost a million dollars. I’m a comedy writer/professor/director and I’ve started doing a bunch of keynotes, Ted Talky presentations, and panels. I’m happy with my normal funky jeans, button down, and boots aesthetic but in the clothes for these kinds of events I feel frumpy and some combination of under or over dressed.” I only ever worked in casual-ish workplaces, so I feel I’m in a good position to advise here, but on the other hand it’s been eight years since I stepped foot in an office, so there’s also that. In any case, I feel like a cool blazer in an unexpected color is a nice place to start.
And a corduroy blazer is excellent for dressing up or down..
Leather trousers won’t work for every office, but I often throw mine on with a blazer if I’ve got a big meeting. This pair is the cheapest I’ve seen lately.
The striping on these trousers is just subtle enough to make them really wearable.
I like the idea of a leopard print pencil skirt worn with anything from a white tee to a black silk blouse, depending on how dressy you need to play it.
This leather skirt is not exactly cheap, but it’s pretty well-priced for what it is, and is the kind of piece you put on and instantly feel more confident.
I very much like the touch of hardware on this easy A-line skirt.
As for tops, here is where you can have a little fun and inject some personality into your outfit. The tuxedo ruffles on this blouse are pretty fun.
And I love the abstract print and pretty neckline on this top.
This is quite elegant, and just the tiniest bit sexy.
Just a good green floral on a very versatile button-down.
I’d throw this floral top on under a blazer.
A grey sweater would be aces with a skinny pencil skirt.
A cashmere cardigan might not be the most exciting item in your wardrobe, but you will reach for it repeatedly, and this one comes in a multitude of colors.
This yellow dress is very day-to-evening.
I like that this striped dress is fitted up top, but then flowy at the bottom—very flattering.
I’d leave the neck tie untied on this pretty jersey dress.