Week of requests: Grown-up clothes

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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..

Plaid pants are so snappy, and look especially good with a crisp white button-down. If your office is especially arty/low-key, you might be able to get away with these too.

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.

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Comments

16 Thoughts on Week of requests: Grown-up clothes
    AnneL
    10 Sep 2018
    10:55pm

    My stalking of leather skirts/pants online is now validated and I dig that green blazer!

    Thanks!

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    Clare
    10 Sep 2018
    11:48pm

    This post is **aces**. Such good stuff. I work as a creative director and this is just the kind of stuff I gravitate to. On the pricier end I also love most things from Philip Lim and Humanoid. Funky, stylish, and stand out pieces. I’m trying to resist clicking through on so many of these pieces! I will fail. 🙂

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    Dana Fink
    11 Sep 2018
    2:36pm

    Hi! Could you pretty please do some kind of piece on sweater/midi dresses that aren’t boring? I adore the Eliza J Navy striped Midi one you posted in this article but it only comes in an XXL and it’s impossible to find a dupe other than the Proenza Schouler one for $900.00!

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    Helga
    11 Sep 2018
    7:47am

    I’d love to see a piece on clothes that are attractive on large-breasted women. I agree with commenters that it can be a problem looking sharp but not dumpy

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    Helga
    11 Sep 2018
    7:47am

    I’d love to see a piece on clothes that are attractive on large-breasted women. I agree with commenters that it can be a problem looking sharp but not dumpy

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    Elisa
    10 Sep 2018
    8:35am

    The blazer comes up the A-line skirt when the link is clicked.

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      Kim France
      10 Sep 2018
      9:06am

      Link fixed! Thanks for the heads up.

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    Candy
    10 Sep 2018
    8:56am

    What a great selection! I have a part-time job, so I really like that so many can go office-appropriate to more casual. Love that leopard print pencil skirt and the gray-and-black striped pants.

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    Helen K.
    10 Sep 2018
    9:22am

    I identify with what Anne wrote, and feel like the trick I can’t quite master re grown-up clothing is finding items that are unique in some way (structure, color, texture). I’m drawn to images like this https://www.bishopikediblog.com/2018/09/icon-of-change-chimamanda-adichie.html and this https://www.brooklynbookfestival.org/authors/harvey-cig/
    recently but don’t know how to replicate them. Especially affordably.

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      AnneL
      10 Sep 2018
      10:49pm

      I’m the Anne who wrote in and this is so much of what I struggle with – something that feels “interesting or unique” but isn’t a zillion dollars (I especially like your second link).

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    Nora
    10 Sep 2018
    9:29am

    The newsletter popup keeps popping up and won’t go away. Sadly, I can no longer read your website.

    Nora

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      Kim France
      10 Sep 2018
      11:14am

      We’re experiencing some technical issues today, which is why the newsletter popup keeps popping up. Apologies, and we hope to have it fixed soon!

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    Heather
    10 Sep 2018
    9:51am

    The answer to this kind of question always seems to involve blazers, which I understand that fashionable people love, but I can only imagine that’s because fashionable people tend to be, if not skinny, at least small-chested.

    I’m an aggressively medium-sized person with a 32 DD bust and the advice to “throw on a blazer” to instantly make myself look put-together is laughable because throwing on a blazer — no matter how expensive, or how well-chosen the rest of the outfit — instantly makes me look frumpy and uncool.

    Anyway, this is all to say that a few years ago I discovered IRO’s jackets, which come in several different non-blazery cuts and give a polished, blazer-like illusion (with the requisite cool-looking underlayer) while somehow not doing whatever it is that blazers do to me — they’re not cheap new, but are often on The RealReal, The Outnet, etc. Just a suggestion for other blazer-haters out there!

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      MaryAlice
      10 Sep 2018
      6:20pm

      Heather, I feel your pain. I’m 5’8 with linebacker shoulders and 34DDD . bust, but I LOVE blazers and wear them all the time. Here’s the secret: softer drape-y fabrics, single breasted only, longer lengths, no boxy cuts or staff lapels. Here’s a good example of the cut/fabric that works: https://www.zara.com/us/en/crepe-blazer-p08316778.html?v1=7561006&v2=1074648

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        MaryAlice
        10 Sep 2018
        11:30pm

        stiff lapels, not staff

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        Kelly
        10 Sep 2018
        7:31pm

        I agree! I’m 5’8″ with a 34D chest and Shoulders with a capital S. Un-blazer-y blazers work way better than anything in a traditional shape. Lapels just don’t lay properly.

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Kim France

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.

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