So, as I've mentioned, I'm having some trouble with my post-partum wardrobe. Enough trouble that I'd be a perfect candidate for What Not To Wear, or for my own Dress You Up series. When I mentioned that to a group of friends, one friend suggested that another friend, who is tearing it up with reinventing her own style right now, step in as a guest blogger and put me through the Dress You Up treatment.
What a great idea, right?
So I told my friend A.:
I mainly need clothes for work, though there is really no aspect of my wardrobe that doesn't need help. I have no real dress code at work, just sort of rough personal guidelines. I'd wear jeans to work, but I wouldn't wear shorts. I'm still nursing and pumping, so stuff that makes that easier is great, but not 100% necessary. I'm attending an outdoor casual wedding in July and I'd like something nice for that. I also need (God help me) something to wear to the pool.
I'm pretty much size 16, though it varies. I'm curvy with medium sized boobs and a big butt/wide hips. Post-partum belly is a concern. Things that come in long length are obviously best, but some non-long length items work (though generally not long pants). I hate capris but don't mind longer cropped pants.
Shoes are a huge problem, as I am currently in a 13.
I love accessories, but don't wear earrings or rings--necklaces, bracelets, and scarves are great.
I like dark/deep colors, black, white, and gray. I really dislike pastels.
In my perfect world, I have a simple, chic style that tends slightly towards the boho.
And A. did an absolutely fantastic job, suggesting five work looks, two pool looks, and three wedding options!
Since your office is casual, I think you need a great, basic denim jacket. They go with everything and denim is a big trend right now. So is lace, and this eyelet top is a great layering piece. The skirt is bold and fun, with the bright, contrasting colors, but has a simple shape that is flattering on a curvy figure. Plus, prints are so in right now!
The yellow sandals are comfortable, but still fun and young.
I LOVE statement necklaces! Love love love. They are super popular and everywhere right now, so I think you should wear it and enjoy the trend! Plus, they will not overwhelm you like they can on a petite woman; you wear the piece, it won't wear you. The coral necklace ties together with the skirt and bracelets, yet all these pieces could be mixed with the other work attire for completely different looks.
I am a big fan of this whole outfit (with the possible exception of the wallet and bag, which I don't think would quite work for me). I love the idea of a denim jacket, and will be on the lookout for one that fits right. I love both the colorful stack of bracelets and the statement necklace. The skirt, from eShakti, is a shape I hadn't considered for myself, but will definitely try. The real winner for me here, though, is the shoes. I love the shoes. They're the Ros Hommerson Quiz, available for $50 at 6pm.com in red, white, black, and tan, as well as this great banana yellow.
This is a great way to dress up jeans for work. The trouser cut and dark wash (so so very hard to find right now) are fine for a casual office, the blazer can be worn year round, while the printed top is very current. With your overall boho-vibe, I added some wooden and natural stone jewelry. Wood bracelets look great piled on and mixed, so grab them cheap and mix them up. The faux-croc shoes are sharp, yet comfortable and classic. The studs and fringe on the bag plus the crossbody strap make it fun and not boring.
This outfit looks very much like the sort of best case scenario of what I would wear right now. The jeans are by NYDJ and I love the cut of them so much I'd consider buying them, even at $110, if they came in a 36" inseam (but they don't). However, I have some similar trouser jeans from Eddie Bauer that I can sub in. I really love the wood and stone jewelry--I have a few things that fit that bill, but I'm going to be on the lookout for more. The shirt is a print and shape I am already comfortable with (flowing, as it does, away from the belly), as is the jacket, though I hadn't considered the light colored jacket with dark colored top and jeans idea, and I think it looks great in the set. Again, my biggest love is the shoes. This pair are by Fitzwell, on sale for $30 at 6pm (they're synthetic, but there are plain colored tan and navy leather versions available as well). I love the little platform and the chunky heel. With the 3" heel, though, I'd definitely need that 36" inseam on the jeans!
As a busy mom, I know you need work looks that as fashionable and functional, as well as pieces that can mix-and-match. Black and white is always chic, the linen pieces make it fresh for summer.
A huge current trend is mixing patterns. For this outfit, the dots and the two animal prints. By keeping the shapes basic and the colors in sync, it looks effortless and pulled together, not clashy. And no woman can go wrong with a classic pair of oversize shades, peep toes and a sturdy bag.
I love this look. Every single piece. The pants, from Loft, are just the shape I love best, with a nice wide leg (though I rarely wear linen, as I am an iron-phobe). The bag is just perfect in every way (except for that $400 Coach price tag). The safari suit jacket, from Banana Republic, is something I never would have thought of, but I love it (again, the light jacket with dark pants thing!). The peep-toe pumps scare me a little bit--narrow high heels are not my best friends, but I think they look great. My biggest love, though, is the top and scarf combo. I love the colors and the pattern mix. The top, from Land's End, is actually something I own in another color, and after seeing it in this set, I think I may have to buy a second one.
As a complement to the bold neon trend (which I know Grace hates!) graphic black and white looks are hot for summer too. This dress is simple, the chevrons are slimming and the belt keeps it from being shapeless. I'd add leggings for the office. I couldn't pick shoes, so I put both! The red flats have such fun details and the polka dot wedges are current without screaming trendy.
Again, statement necklaces! Embrace them! And mixed patterns again, keeping to a simple palette and strong contrasts to play up the black and white. The leather cuff is very Grace, her inner SOA biker-chick.
And she's right--I do hate neon. But black and white I like a lot, and this kimono-style short dress over leggings is very cute. I'm kind of staying away from this type of shape because it reminds me too much of the maternity clothes of my near-past, but I see how this could work, too. The accessories are nothing short of perfect. The red necklace (from Etsy) needs to come home with me, as do the amazing David Tate polka dot wedges (also available in blue, lime green, beige, and orange polka dots!). The cuff, sadly, is over $600 and from Givenchy, so it's beyond even my dream budget. But maybe I can find something similar, because A. is not wrong about it appealing to my inner SOA biker chick.
I know you aren't loving the pastel skinny pants, but these are cut slim but not tight, plus they are a rich tomato shade of red. This eyelet top can be office dressy if needed, and it's a-line so its slimming and comfortable. The tan jacket mixes in, neutral and polished.
These wedges are my favorite shoe I found for you. The construction is so beautiful, the wooden sole with the two soft suede taupes. I think they would look great with jeans, dresses or office attire.
Since the outfit is a bit bland, I think you need a bright scarf that is decidedly not. It will add color and interest around your face and will perk you up after a sleepless night.
I didn't love this outfit when I first looked at it--A. is right, the colored slim pants turn me off. The more I look at it, though, the more I like it. I'm still not sold on the pants, but I love the shoes--they're Antia, $77 at 6pm, and if they didn't have a nearly 4" wedge I'd already have bought them. I'm also a big fan of the scarf--this one is spendy, over $300, but the looks can easily be attained with a thrift store silk scarf, of which I have scads. My favorite part of this look, though, are the turquoise beaded bracelets. I love the idea of what I think of as "Southwestern" jewelry with an otherwise prepster ensemble like this one.
The pool looks A. came up with are just as great as the word ideas:
For your pool looks, I went for function. With a mobile toddler, you are going to need a suit that fits well and stays in place. This halter top will hold the girls in, plus the neckline shows off the nursing-cleavge! I think skirted bottoms are awesome, they look good and are so practical.
And being practical, you are going to need a big bag, a huge hat, non-slip shoes and a great pair of shades. The cute watch is waterproof and will make sure you aren't out in the sun too long.
I'm not 100% sold on this suit--skirted bottoms have never worked for me, mostly because I don't like the way they feel in the water. However, the top is great, and could easily be paired with a regular bottom or a boy-short style one. And everything else about this ensemble is absolutely fantastic. The retro Crocs flip flops are definitely on my to-buy list (as soon as I get a suit so I know what color I want!). The hat is absolutely amazing and I will have my eyes peeled for a cheaper version, and I really want to justify the amazing chevron striped straw bag. This set has also convinced me that I really do need aviator style sunglasses.
Another practical pool mom look, this one a bit more trendy. Tribal prints, mixed prints and the pop of red make you look stylish, but the halter and skirt suit will be easy to play with baby.
Again, non-slip hoes, shades and a hat, this time, a bit more trendy, with the fedora.
I like this one a lot, too. Again, not sold on the skirted suit, but the top (another one from Lands' End) is great. The pattern mixing and tribal elements are hot, I think, and I especially love the incredibly chic black and white print towel (from Billabong).
Amazingly enough, I've saved the best for last. I am still trying to figure out which of the three possibilities A. presented for the wedding I'm attending in July I love the most. I may have to have a vote in the comment!
When you asked for a casual wedding look, I fell in love with this dress. It's drapey, dolman styling makes it comfortable and not clingy. The defined waist will give you a clean shape, plus it shows off your long legs and goes great with the fabulous wedges.
With the patterned dress, I thought simple jewelry and rosy makeup would look great. And a flower pin holding your hair back would be the perfect pop of color.
This dress, from Jessica Howard, is amazing. I love, love, love it. And the simple, rosy shoes/makeup/jewelry are absolutely perfect with it. This whole ensemble strikes me as both very chic and very appropriate, and also as something I could totally pull off. I'm in awe.
This is, hands down, my favorite look. It is so stunning, yet effortless, boho chic and so put together all at once.
This watercolor maxi would be STUNNING on you. We all know you rock maxis, this one would look great with your stature and coloring. Its drapey jersey could be dressed up with gold, like I did here, or dressed down for work with a solid scarf and a denim jacket.
For the wedding, I would play up the neckline by putting your hair into a soft, loose bun and adding a long, layered necklace. This one is very Great Gatsby inspired, which is another huge trend this summer. Also, gold. Gold is back in a big way and it looks fresh and summery. The gold sandals and trim on the bag tie in with the jewelry. I also added a big scarf, just in case you need nursing camouflage or it gets chilly after the sun goes down. These particular pieces are higher priced, but with the gold trend this strong, there are knockoffs everywhere!
She couldn't be more right. This outfit absolutely nails it. The dress is Presley Skye, available for $118 at Nordstrom, and I think I'm going to have to buy it whether I decide to wear it to the wedding or not. It's just too perfect not to buy. I also really, really love the shoes, which are by David Tate. They're chic and low-heeled enough to chase my probably-walking-by-that-point kid around. And the long, layered, Gasby-inspired necklaces are just wonderful. I'm unlikely to buy this $138 set, but I'm sure I can find something similar.
To round things out, A. offered another take on the maxi dress wedding idea:
Just a remix on the maxi and gold, in case you though the pattern was too much. This maxi has a great color and a super flattering wrap. The ruffle edge makes it so chic and young.
I went with a statement necklace against this solid dress, since it would be overkill with the watercolor pattern. And coral toes in those gold sandals would pull it all together.
I don't love this dress as much as the other one, but this one is great, too. The blue is a fantastic color and the wrap is really distinctive. My favorite part of this look, though, is the fantastic cuff bracelet--isn't it gorgeous?
Since I loved the pieces A. picked so much, I couldn't help but take a shot at a bit of remixing:
I like the idea of a casual take on the shorter dolman-sleeve dress, with the low-heel casual sandals, floppy hat, and turquoise bracelets. This seems like it could go to work, out on a weekend, to the Farmer's Market--just about anywhere.
The other wedding dress option could just as easily be made casual, even with the same low-heeled gold sandals--as A. mentioned, the jean jacket would be great for that. I also like the idea of adding the cuff bracelet and the wooden beaded necklace for sort of an earthy element.
Finally, a work remix, featuring some of favorite pieces--the drapey LE top, the trouser jeans, and those amazing polka dot platform sandals. I love the pattern mix here with the watch, shoes, and shirt.
I was a little bit trepidatious about being on this end of this process, but it's been really fun, and A. gave me some great ideas. Specifically, I'm going to try to use things already in my wardrobe to replicate the jeans-based work look and the wide-legged trouser look. I'm also going to try to find cost-friendly replicas of most of the jewelry and the jean jacket. As far as the actual pieces A. suggested, I am considering purchasing the following:
-Ros Hommerson Quiz Sandals
-OnlyPearl Red Bubble Necklace
-Jessica Howard Dolman Sleeve Smock Waist Blouson Dress
-Crocs Retro Flip Flop
-Presley Skye Print Jersey Maxi Dress
-David Tate Caress Sandals