Saturday, August 12, 2006

Dressing Professionally on a Budget

A question from Clarissa:

Dear She She, I’ve been a huge fan for years now. My sister first subscribed me when I was having the blues, and ever since then your advice and product reviews continue to pick me up and give me a dose of girly sunshine. I am 28 and I work for a non-profit org in Los Angeles (read: I don’t make very much money!) I have been trying to keep the credit cards down, but I feel my style is paying the bigger price. Facing that “twirty” zone, I’m wondering what looks I should be going for? I’m somewhat-single, and want to be sexy (to seal the deal), yet not dress like I forgot I’m not in college any more. I need a professional look, but not drab. I want to be stylish with a good fit, but again, pieces that won’t break the bank. I’m 5’4”, and a pretty solid size 4, with a lot of curves (read: I MUST wear a bra). You’re guidance is much appreciated!

Building a stylish professional wardrobe does not have to put you in the poorhouse. Just start with the basics, and build from there. Remember, quality over quantity. Since you are entering the twirty zone you definitely need to go with a more sophisticated look. Look for top quality basics in a classic, timeless style. There are many online sources that carry great quality apparel, shoes and accessories, many of them actually designer goods. Try Bluefly, SmartBargains and Overstock. For shoes, you can't go wrong with Zappos or Solestruck. I have personally purchased items from all of theses sources and can highly recommend them.

Since you are petite, yet curvy, check out the following: Ann Taylor, Donna Ricco, J. Jill, J. Crew and Petite Sophisticate. Also, Nordstrom, Macys, Bloomingdales, and Banana Republic all carry entire lines of petite clothing. Style tip for the petite: a good tailor can alter just about anything! (As long as it isn't two sizes too big in the first place.) Now, for the goodies. Choose items that can be easily mixed and matched. Stick with the classics, keep them in the same color family, then add your personal style with well chosen accessories. This is what I would suggest as a good starter wardrobe:

A blazer, skirt and trousers in a neutral color.
A tailored blouse in a neutral tone to go with the trouser/skirt suit.
Another blouse in a color to complement the trouser/skirt suit.
Additional trousers in a color/pattern that can coordinate with the jacket.
Another skirt in a different length and color that will complement the jacket.
A dress that can be paired with the jacket, blouse, or both.
A pair of classic, black or brown pumps. A pair of wedges, with a little more funk to them.

Now go ahead a mix it up! Choose accessories wisely--make sure they can go with several different outfits, i.e. a scarf that can be worn as a belt, a long necklace that can be doubled up or wrapped around the wrist several times as a bracelet, etc. Word to the stylish/wise - your handbag and your shoes determine your style. Don't skimp here. Buy the best quality that you can afford. Remember, it is an investment in your future!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, She She, I'll be the envy of the office. Any style tips for super casual but not frumpy looks? I'm feeling mis-matched.