Monday, January 9, 2012

Style Series: Professional Flair-Factor - Day 1

Despite years of working in corporate America, I still find the office the biggest offender of quelling one’s personal style. I’m a big lover of “business casual” on men (yum) but for women without the funds to dress in J Crew or Club Monaco every day, “business casual” can be limiting and dry. How much spark can you add to professional attire before it’s considered inappropriate?

To address this seemingly inescapable problem, I’ve decided to start a series of outfit posts dedicated to sharing my versatile and unique ways of spicing up the average skirt suit, without breaking the bank.

For those of us spending our days in an office environment, the range of wardrobe choices can be quite stifling. Not to mention, “dressing for success” oftentimes costs more money than a cute skirt and cable knit sweater.

Blazer: Zara / Skirt: Forever 21 / Tights: Target / Heels: Nine West
Here’s a quick solution: Peruse Forever 21 for their black bodycon skirts. I found this knit one for $12.50. Pairing it with a BR button down instantly polishes up a lesser quality item. I bought the shirt for $29.95 during one of Banana’s common weekend sales. If you prefer wearing your shirt untucked as I do, venture into petite sizes. The smaller fit will keep your ensemble from looking sloppy. 

Growing up I was taught never to pair a blazer with anything other than its matching pencil skirt. Now that I've acquired more confidence in myself and in my personal style, I've taught myself not to say "never". Is it just me or does matching occasionally translate into drab and lackluster? You can still coordinate flawlessly without "matching".

Now the Zara blazer is a bit of a financial commitment but let's be upfront here ladies: every working woman must invest in at least two quality blazers. It is such a versatile piece, easily styled for any number of occasions, and it will last you years. The truth of the matter is that a poor quality blazer is easily identifiable. Sad but true for those of us on a budget.

If you're looking to bring a breath of fresh air to your business wardrobe, a memorable rule of thumb is to invest in two quality blazers: one black, and the other a color that compliments your skin tone. I gravitate towards light colored blazers that are multi-seasonal.

Button Down: Banana Republic
In order to get the most out of my purchase, I discern four qualities when buying a blazer: 1. structured shoulders (light shoulder padding), 2. a polished lining (visible when the sleeves are rolled up), 3. darted sides (to accentuate the bust and take in the waistline), and finally, 4. nice buttons. These four criteria guarantee that the blazer will have a long and frequently worn life.

A very dear friend once told me that a sturdy pair of black pumps are essential in Corporate America. You'll need them to not only stomp the city streets with confidence, but to also glide through your office with noteworthy poise. These words remain true for me to this day. So in order to stay true to my personal style, I chose a pair with a touch of flair.

The puckered leather toe and gold chain embellishment are the perfect synthesis of sophistication and sheen. The pump perpetuates the elongating effect of the black-on-black skirt and tights union, while the embellishment stops it from looking too uniform. I scored these lovelies from Nine West during a "friends and families" online sale. The final purchase was less than $35. Cheers to end-of-season sales.

Necklace: Forever 21
And the final expression of my personal style is the necklace. I often feel my femininity quelled by such formal attire, so accessorizing with a dainty floral bib necklace brings a bit of softness back amidst the professionalism.

So, what's your professional flair-factor?

Today, my flair-factor was taking the unconventional route in pairing a light cocoa colored blazer with an all black ensemble. Mixing and matching blazers and skirts with different textures and prints is a fun and easy way to maintain your personal style, while still remaining office appropriate!

I hope these learned tips prove useful! Tomorrow's post, and the second entry to this Style Series will feature a bit more color.

Sweet dreams blogosphere!

'Til Next Time,


  1. Nicely written (as always) and nicely styled ! It's perfect for the office or any other day actually. I really like the skirt and blazer together (I like it better when it doesn't match, even though I was also taught it should).
    Hope to hear from you very soon.



  2. I love this outfit especially the Zara blazer. I agree. I think we can look our best without breaking the bank. Been stocking up on blazers and usually do the mix and match thingy. Happy New Year :D

  3. your blazer looks great! i love the orange watch!:) x

  4. WOW! Love it!
    Well said, every woman should invest in at least 2 blazers <3