Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Petite Sophisticate Gets Dressed

So a friend of mine just suggested I share a few of my work-clothes resources. While I am by no means an expert, I have worked out a system that -- so far! -- has served me well.

First things first: I identified a basic silhouette/aesthetic to which I'd adhere, and ruthlessly threw away everything in my closet that didn't. Well, I didn't throw it away -- I gave it to friends. Working with my age/figure/hair, it seemed pretty clear I'd want to go retro -- but more minimalist and less Mad Men, if that makes sense. I decided to stick to a limited palette and keep lines simple and unadorned. Here's where I've gotten most things:

I splurged on a few pair of good, basic pumps, but I still got them on sale -- I made Google alerts for the styles I wanted and the word "Sale" and struck when they became available (I'd already tried them on for size in person.) I have one rosy nude pair from Rupert Sanderson and a taupe pair from Barneys Co-Op. I have my eye on a gray set from Common Projects, but it needs to come way down. I don't care for black shoes in summer.

I am not a bag person -- I usually just carry my TPR tote nowadays -- but I invested in a neutral clutch I can slip into my briefcase or tote and take out when I run to lunch or am doing something after work. (Again: Google alerts are your friend!)

Dresses Etc.:

My uniform is a linen pencil dress -- or pencil skirt and blouse. I got lucky on Etsy with a few vintage scores (which I then had altered at either Nelson Tailors or Seoul Tailor) but as we all know that's a crap-shoot, and I'm much more inclined to go for vintage-style, without the retro seaming or fabrication. has been a lifesaver: specifically their linen pencil dress. I got these in a few colors, reinforced the hems, and am good to go. is an amazing Etsy site on which the seller works from vintage patterns to make custom dresses. Reasonable, beautiful quality, and unique!

J.Crew -- hey, if it's not broke. Their No.2 pencil skirt is flattering, basic, and comes in petite sizes. I also swear by their white blouses.

When I need to go a bit dressier, I tend to go for Stop Staring, Trashy Diva, or my beloved Betsey Johnson rose-printed seersucker, a birthday splurge I have not regretted once! For cocktail affairs, I get a lot of wear out of this BB Dakota number, which I got for a song at the late, lamented Inven.Tory.

(I am still on the lookout for the perfect belted jacket in my price range...)

Fall will of course be a whole 'nother ballgame, but I do have my eye on this: