Dress You Up: Sarah



I'm excited to be back in the Dress You Up saddle this week, featuring my friend Sarah (that's her, above, with her darling little girl). This is what she has to say:

I'm an 18, short and stuck between regular sizing and petites. I'm at home, and would like to break out of my jeans, v-neck plain tshirt, hoodie uniform. However, big jewellry, scarves etc are a bad idea with little kids, paint and glue.

I also live in Canada wear it is cold 9 months of the year and I don't find fitted blazers warm enough.

In the summer I need a sun hat of some kind, that doesn't look awful, but protects my very fair skin.

I love to dress in blues, greens, pinks and purples. I hate the colour orange and pretty much refuse to wear it.

After I asked her a few more questions, I also learned that Sarah needs nursing-access, doesn't mind skirts, needs flat shoes that are available in wide, and has a persistent issue with getting a good pants fit on her apple-shape. Her reliance on hoodies is partially for warmth and partially for pockets--the hood isn't required. Finally, Sarah is in the early stages of her third pregnancy, so clothes that will help her transition into and back out of her maternity wardrobe would be helpful.

My first thought when someone tells me they have a "uniform" is that there's a reason for that--they've found something that suits their needs. It may not be the most flattering or attractive option available, but I think the basic bones are often a good place to start. In Sarah's case, she typically wears jeans, a v-neck t-shirt, a hoodie, and flat shoes. Given that she spends all day running after small kids, in a cool climate, those choices make a lot of sense, and I don't see why she should stray too far from them. That said, I think there is a room to make huge improvements while making fairly small structural changes. So, I've created some alternate jeans-tee-hoodie ideas:

Nothing wrong with jeans & a t-shirt (Twink #1)

This outfit contains all the pieces Sarah is currently wearing--jeans, a tee-shirt, a warmer layer with pockets, and flat shoes. But the pieces are selected intentionally, rather than haphazardly. The jeans are Slim Boyfriend Jeans from Old Navy. I think these might work for Sarah for a couple of reasons--they boyfriend cut is often good for an apple shape, because it's cut larger in the waist and smaller in the seat/legs. These are available in a ton of sizes, up to size 30 online. They do have a 32" inseam, which will likely be too long for Sarah, but they're intended to be cuffed, so they should be easily wearable without hemming. The t-shirt is also Old Navy, the Watercolor-Graphic V-Neck Tee, and I recommend it because it's the same style Sarah is wearing now, but the pretty watercolor graphic adds visual interest. I'd recommend layering over a cami or tank, particularly if the V is deep, just for an added little pop of color/pattern. I've also added color/pattern pops with the green and pink patterned sneakers--Keds Celeb Geo and my hands-down favorite part of this outfit--and the colorblocked pink canvas bag (Nine West Sasha). Finally, I'm giving Sarah another versatile option to consider instead of a hoodie--a light, fitted jacket. This one is the Kory Jacket from Woolrich. It meets Sarah's need for warmth and pockets, but it won't add bulk and the cut in just above the waist will be really flattering. Finally, the only jewelry is a watch in a fun color--combines another pop of color interest with an accessory that actually has a function!

More not-quite-jeans-and-a-hoodie (Sarah #2)

Again, same basic ideas, but a more put together look overall. This time, I replaced the jeans completely with Calvin Klein Cotton Roll-Tab Cargo Pants. Because Sarah is petite, I'd recommend she not roll these to capri length, but leave them full length, but either way would work. The roll over waist should be great to transition into pregnancy, too. Her t-shirt is replaced by another jersey top, this one with a drawstring empire waist and striped pattern (from Old Navy). I think the cut would be great for someone with Sarah's build, and again, it would transition easily into early pregnancy. Plus, it's going to feel just like a t-shirt, but look a bit more polished. The hoodie is replaced by an open-front jersey cardigan, complete with requisite pockets--I think these would be a great option for Sarah, as they're easy to throw on, pull off, and stuff in your bag as needed. And speaking of the bag, I love this bag so much. It's from the Celia Birthwell line at Uniqlo and I want one. It's big and canvas and washable, so I'm thinking it would be great to go on errands, to the park, to the library, etc. I love the pattern mix between the striped shirt and the floral bag. The shoes are chosen for practicality, too--easy slip-ons--but I've gone with a moccasin rather than a sneaker here just to make the outfit appear a little tiny bit less "athletic-inspired." For jewelry, I've gone with a turquoise pendant (Lucky), but any other fairly simple accessory would work just as nicely.

Another option for a hoodie (Twink #6)

My next option doesn't meet Sarah's need for a pocketed top, and I am sorry about that, but I loved it too much not to include it anyway. This mixed floral print cardigan (Old Navy) is so darn cute! I paired it with a plain colored tank with an embellished neckline (no need for a necklace) from Dex and super versatile boot cut jeans (Old Navy). Again, I couldn't resist a little pattern mixing, with striped flat espadrilles (Old Navy) and an on-trend wrap bracelet (Target). This outfit might be a little fussy for Sarah's day-to-day at home, but I think it would be perfect for a step up from that--training, events, etc.

Dressier Jeans (Twink #4)

This jeans option is also a bit dressier, but I think it would still fit into Sarah's life. The jeans are a darker version of the bootcut ones from Old Navy mentioned above, which automatically makes them look a little bit more "formal." The fit and flare tan top, from Old Navy, is one I love for Sarah--I think the seaming would be super flattering on her and I love the slightly graphic pattern and the pops of pink. To meet Sarah's need for a warmer layer, I've paired it with a boyfriend style cardigan, complete with pockets, in a similar shade of pink (Target). I think Sarah would really like this style of cardigan, as it would provide her with a cozy over layer, but still allow her to look a little more polished than she would in a hoodie. I finished this look off with super-femme details, just to give it a little bit of a princess feel. The enamel collar necklace is almost-but-not-quite a statement necklace, and I think it would provide a nice contrast with the top--it's from Pink Mascara. The earrings, however, are almost Victorian rhinestone flowers, from Wet Seal--no need for things to get too graphic and modern! Finally, I LOVE the slingback shoes, which both look "dressed up" and comfortable/easy to wear. They are from Maurice's.

I know Sarah's climate is a cold one, but I can't resist a couple of summer looks. I'm really into the idea of shorts right now, for anybody who cares to wear them, and I think Sarah should consider a shorts option to liven up her summer wardrobe.

Summer casual chic (Twink #3)

These Forever 21 "Destroyed Bermuda Shorts" are so much fun. They're a nice long length, with the option for more or less cuffing as needed, and have a reasonably high waist. I'd suggest buying them on the big side, maybe 1-2 sizes bigger than usual, for a super casual and slouchy look. I've paired them with another thing I think Sarah should consider--a peasant blouse as a cool, comfortable alternative to a t-shirt. This one is from Old Navy, and I think the color, called "Pollywog" would be gorgeous on Sarah. The shoes I'm suggesting here are the ubiquitous Toms--they don't work for me, but I'm told they're really great for people with wider, flat feet, and they certainly look chic with a casual summer outfit like this one. The real winners here, though, are the hat and the bag. The hat is an alternative to the floppy summer hat--a natural straw cowboy hat from Dorothy Perkins. I love cowboy hats with non-cowboy ensembles so very very much. And the colorful straw bag, from Old Navy, just tops the super summery vibe off so nicely.

Another nice alternative is a skirt:

Nothing wrong with a hoodie (Twink #10)

This skirt is a basic, above-the-knee khaki number from Old Navy--super versatile. I've paired it with another t-shirt alternative, a casual, patterned smocked blouse from Old Navy (which I think would transition in and out of pregnancy really easily, too). I'm also adding an optional cover layer for Sarah, since she gets cold, and what is it? A hoodie! I maintain that there is nothing wrong with a properly fitting hoodie, and this light-weight, fitted version from Target, in this great pink color, would work perfectly for Sarah. For shoes and jewelry, I gave a subtle little nod to the current trend towards nautical themes, using navy slip ons by Keds, basic silver hoop earrings, and a delicate silver anchor necklace by Go Jane. The big leopard print bag, from Mango, is another nod at trend, while still being useful for a busy mom and day care provider like Sarah who has lots of stuff to carry around.

Another basic Sarah may want to consider replacing her hoodies with is a jean jacket. They are so versatile and on-trend. I particularly like them with dresses, and came up with a couple of nursing-friendly jean jacket+dress ideas for Sarah:

Another dress possibility (Twink #8)

I love this for it's versatility. The jersey dress, once again from Old Navy, has a great basic pattern and a super flattering, belly-reducing cut, emphasizing the narrow part of the body above the natural waist. It should be easy to pull on, wash and dry, and move around in. It's paired with a basic, dark denim jacket (Target). For maximum versatility, the sandal (Miss Selfridge Easy Tan Summer Sandal) and the bag (Forever 21 Canvas Saddle Bag) are both really neutral, but I've added a touch of whimsy with this adorable Alice in Wonderland Charm Bracelet, from the Disney Store. I love charm bracelets--they're just playful enough while still dressing like a grown-up.

Consider a maxi (Twink #2)

I know, I know, there are adages against petite women wearing maxi dresses. I think they're crap. There is no reason a petite woman can't wear a long dress, especially one that is one solid color, like this pretty purple example (Old Navy). The dress isn't a petite, but I noted a 5'1" commenter saying it was the right length for her, so I think it would be fine for Sarah. I like maxis because they are cool and comfortable, and you can do the things you do in jeans in them with very few issues--including playing on the floor with kids. Maxi dresses are also great summer pregnancy wear. Finally, it's a natural pairing with the denim jacket (same one as above)--casual and summery and chic. I finished off with really simple, neutral accessories: a cloche style straw sun hat (Old Navy), a saddlebag style purse (Target), and flat metallic sandals (Asos). It stays on-trend and fun with a little armload of bangles--the ones I chose are from Wet Seal, but any would work.

So what about remixes? I thought of a few off the top of my head. For day-to-day:

Sarah Remix 1

Sarah Remix 2

Sarah Remix 4

Or a little dressier:

Sarah Remix 3

Oh, that was fun! Thank you so much, Sarah, for participating. I hope some of these ideas are helpful! Now, who's next? Send me an email if you want to be on the list!


Love it!! I think Sarah would look (and feel) awesome in all these sets. Perfect job!


Great job! I think I'm going to have to run out and try the fit and flare tan top. I'm definitely buying the turquoise pendant and the bangles.

You have such a great eye for accessories!

OMG!! I've had this up all day admiring the clothes. I really am so happy with it. I also love that you nailed my style even though it's completely different than what you need in your life. I'm doing a little happy dance. It's rare to find fashion advice that really suits my life!

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