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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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Dress You Up: ME!


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!

Casual grace

About this look, A. said:
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 in red, white, black, and tan, as well as this great banana yellow.

Grace Work 2

A says:

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!

work it, Mom!

A says:

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.

grace works

A explains:

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.

Grace summer work

A says:

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:

hot pool mami2

She explains:

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.

hot pool mami1

A. writes:

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!

grace wedding

Says A.:

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.

wedding look 1

The idea:

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:

wedding look 2

A. says:

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:

Remix #1

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.

Remix #2

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.

Remix #3

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


What a fantastic blog post!!! I think Amy hit it out of the park for you; I can see you in every single piece.

Huzzah for the return of Dress You Up!! ;)

Awesome! I love Dress You Up and I think A did an awesome job capturing your unique style. Do you think you'll ask her back?

I am generally not a clothes person but I think A did a fantastic job! I especially like outfit 2 with the red, white, black, and tan colors. It is interesting she picked a jean jacket - I've been seeing them everywhere lately and have thought about that for a casual jacket. My office is casual so that would work for me.

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Dress You Up #10: S.


How excited am I about the return of Dress You Up? Out of this world excited, I tell you. I can't promise weekly installments--this feature just takes too long to put together--but I will try to do periodic Dress You Up pieces for the next few months, OK? And I am starting with someone who has waited very patiently, who asked to be featured on Dress You Up at this time last year! I'm a big fan of S.'s blog, Sophia the Writer, and I was completely honored when she asked me to feature her on Dress You Up. I am stoked to be finally getting to it!

This is S:


Admit it. She's the cutest thing you've ever seen, right? I know.

This is what she had to say:

I live in L.A. on a writer's budget, so I need some way to keep up with all the cuteness going around without breaking the bank. I used to be a film and TV actor who's considering going back into the industry. I'll definitely need to look polished and fashionable - and eternally youthful without being gaudy! Unfortunately, I'm pretty low-maintenance with my style - I have wash-and-go hair, I rarely wear makeup and usually forget to put on jewelry (or lose it!). I wear jeans and sweatshirts in the winter and maxi dresses in the summer. I also prefer flats to heels - I know, I suck - but I'll definitely wear comfy heels if I have to. Fashion dicatates! ;)
I'm 5'2" and a size 0-2. I wear a size 6 shoe and I have high arches and wide feet in the front, which makes finding comfortable shoes nearly impossible. (I live in Chacos - very San Francisco, but definitely not L.A.) I'm chilly ALL THE TIME so I also need a look that works during this unnaturally cold California spring and our chilly coastal nights. And I've got incredibly short legs. And arms. I'm like a T Rex.
I desperately need your help to turn my PJs-all-day/hippie hobbit look into something more Hollywood ready!

Now that is my kind of challenge! Sophia needs a youthful, fashionable, low-maintenance look that includes comfortable shoes and layers and flatters her petite body. She also needs the look to be inexpensive and not have too many fussy accessories for her to forget or lose. Got it.

Since Sophia needs her style to look more "Hollywood," I decided to dig for some inspiration from the stars. Lucky for me, has a whole gallery of petite celebrity fashion! A few of the looks I saw there that I thought might work for S:

Casual, chic Christina Ricci:

The perfect proportions here take a very plain outfit to a greater height. Celebrities achieve this with money to buy designer clothes and have things tailored, but S. can do it, too--she's just gonna have to try more things on to get there.

Mod, stylish Drew Barrymore:

I love this type of look. It's dramatic, but wearable, and nothing here overpowers a small frame. This looks stylish without trying to be stylish.

Jennifer Love-Hewitt in a dress and jeans:

I don't actually like this outfit. The top half doesn't work for me at all. But I think this general idea--short dress, skinny jeans, wedge sandal--is perfect for S.

With these celebrity ladies in mind, I set about putting together some looks for S.

S. Outfit #1

$24 -

GAP high waisted jeans
$25 -

Patent leather handbag
$41 -

Yellow gold earrings
£2.50 -

Pashmina scarve
$45 -

This is a pretty simple look, and I think it would work for S. for a few reasons. First, I like the idea of high waisted jeans to elongate her legs and make jeans look a bit more formal. Secondly, I'd like to encourage her to think outside the cardigan when it comes to layers, and a pashmina could be a great choice. The accessories here are simple, but intentional--a pair of earrings, a bright bag, and bright sandals--and I think the coral/pink/yellow/muted green color combo would be fantastic on S. I also like the laid-back boho vibe of this outfit--it's put together, but gives no hint of trying too hard.

S. Outfit #2

Long dress
$48 -

UNIONBAY low rise jeans
$30 -

H&M ballet shoes
£7.99 -

Shop handbag
$50 -

Amrita singh jewelry
$40 -

Amrita singh jewelry
$30 -

The second look I chose for S. is another casual, boho-feeling one, but with a bit more structure. I was thinking about things that are difficult for non-petite people to wear, but petite people rock the heck out of, and that led me to the short, sleeveless dress and white skinny jeans combination, which I think would look fantastic on S. She could wear a slightly shorter jean hem and flats with this, too, and still look really polished. This is a tiny bit more to do on the accessories front--shoes, bag, bangles, ring--but they all coordinate and could go together with other outfits as well, which might make them easier to manage. Again, I like the saturated colors here, too, especially the cobalt blue dress and the pops of orange.

S. Outfit #3

Wallis pink evening dress
$47 -

Dorothy Perkins peep toe high heels
$27 -

Metallic clutch
£18 -

In a radical departure from the two casual, boho styles, I'd love to see S. try something mod-influenced. I think this style should appeal to S. in it's simplicity, and it's designed to show off her natural gorgeousness, with a minimum of clutter. While the same look could easily be achieved with a plain black mini-dress, I like the color-blocked pink band on this one to give the outfit just a little bit of fun and make it a touch less severe. The simple, classic shoes, bag, and jewelry are all just supporting pieces.

S. Outfit #4

Old Navy sleeveless dress
$25 -

Old Navy short sleeve top
$23 -

Seafolly summer handbag
$48 -

Color craze knot jewelry
$12 -

S. mentioned a love of maxi dresses, and as a fellow maxi-dress lover, I wanted to make sure to do at least one maxi outfit for her. Maxi dresses are a bit more difficult for petite women, I think, since they can just look like an awful lot of fabric. To combat that, I chose plain, rather than printed dress, and a style with a defined, high waist, for S. To further elongate S's legs, I've topped the maxi with a cropped cardigan. Adding a chunky, high-heeled shoe also gives S. a bit of a lift, though I think this outfit would work with flat sandals as well. I also like the very simple color combination here, with the dress color repeated in the shoe and necklace and the cropped cardigan as a contrast. The accessories here are simple and bold, making for fewer pieces to mess with but a pretty big statement. I've been looking at how petite celebrities wear maxi dresses, and it seems a lot of them follow some variation of this maxi+chunky jewelry+cropped jacket/cardigan+chunky and/or high shoes model, and it looks great on them (see below).

jessica simpson maxi.jpgmila kunis maxi.jpgnicole ritchie maxi.jpg

Though I realize this Dress You Up doesn't have quite as many options as past installments have, I am going to leave it here, as I'm still getting back into the swing of things. S., I hope some of this helps you! Others, if you'd like to be featured in Dress You Up, please drop me an email at I'd love to have you!


Thanks so much for doing this Grace! I was having a sad week too, crying a lot, and this totally cheered me up. :) I've linked to it here and encouraged others to join in your makeover fun!

I clicked over from Sophia's blog, and Wow! I'm glad I did!

Sohpia, kudos to you for being brave enough to volunteer. I'd be too afraid they would say, "Your body is too weird. Sorry, we can't help." :)

I really like some of the styles presented and I especially like the links to the stores. Thanks!

Hi! Popping over from Sophia's blog. Love all the ideas--everything looks super cute and stylish. :)

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Dress You Up #10: S.


Remember Dress You Up? Yeah, we had a hiatus, but now we're back with a special edition. Today, I'm going to be dressing up my friend S., who has some special requests. S. is currently a size 14, but is rapidly losing weight, and needs some transitional clothes. She's also recently been diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder that leaves her very sensitive to the sun, so sun protection is important. Finally, S. is a busy mom-of-two who is about to return to school, so she needs an easy-care, versatile wardrobe.

This is the extremely adorable S:

The first thing I did when thinking about style for S. was go pick a few pieces from the specialty sun-protection wear websites she sent me. Unfortunately, those clothes are both very expensive and not the most stylish or flattering things in the world, so it seemed like the best bet to pick a few things and style around them, using other clothes. This first outfit is styled around a cute sun-protective skirt:

Dress You Up #10 S.: Outfit #1

J Crew longsleeve t shirt
$17 -

Slimming top
$7.99 -

MIA strap sandals
$48 -

Forever21 cuff jewelry
$4.80 -

I like this for several reasons. The lightweight white long-sleeved tee over the colored tank provides sun protection for S.'s arms and shoulders, but still leaves her looking summery and not overheated. She'll still need to use sunscreen on her legs in this ensemble, but it will provide coverage between her neck and her knees. I also really love the idea of S. in these fun colors, especially for summer. Finally, the elastic skirt waist will allow S. to wear this skirt through a couple of sizes.

This next outfit is built around a sun-protecting hoodie. I definitely think S. should get one of these, in a bright, fun color. Here, I've paired it with simple khakis and a tank top, and accessorized with a bright necklace and sneakers. This will give S. almost complete sun protection when she needs it, and she can easily ditch the hoodie and still have a cooler, casual outfit. I love the neutral tank and pants together with the bright accent pieces, too, and think they'd be super flattering to S.'s increasingly svelte figure.

Dress You Up #10 S.: Outfit #2

Madewell striped tank top
$20 -

Gap pants
$50 -

Converse trainers
$40 -

Beading necklace
$14 -

The third sun-protection item I chose was this long, featherweight hoodie. It reminds me a lot of the Prairie Underground cloak hoodies Sal wears sometimes, and I think it would be a great wardrobe piece with or without extra sun protection. One way it would be easy to wear is the one I've styled here, with skinny jeans and flats. I also really love the turquoise and red combination for S--I think she would look wonderful in it. This outfit is very simple, but seems totally comfortable and fun.

Dress You Up #10 S.: Outfit #3

J Crew crew shirt
$30 -

BP. ballet shoes
$50 -

ALDO bangle bracelet
$18 -

Zara feather earrings
$9.90 -

I noticed several pairs of wide-legged, lightweight pants in the sun protective clothing I reviewed, but none of them really did it for me, so I decided to style an outfit using non-specialty pants of a similar style. Here, I paired a white linen pair with neutral, boho-influenced accessories and a metallic-accented tunic top, and I think the outfit is both sun-friendly for S. and really, really cute.

Dress You Up #10 S: Outfit #4

Old Navy empire waist tunic
$25 -

Mid rise pants
$27 -

ASOS leather shoes
$43 -

Nine West copper earrings
$24 -

Armani Exchange wooden jewelry
$38 -

After I'd exhausted the sun-protective clothing websites, I gave some thought to what non-specialty items are particularly good for sun protection. This outfit features two of them: the maxi dress and the floppy hat. Both are on-trend, both would be adorable on S., and both would offer good sun protection. Here, I'm pairing a great maxi with a floppy straw hat, Toms, colorful bangles and belt, and an optional lightweight shrug to protect S.'s shoulders.

Dress You Up #10 S: Outfit #5

Hive Honey bohemian dress
$50 -

£19 -

TOMS slip on shoes
$48 -

$28 -

ALDO summer hat
$20 -

TopShop orange belt
$25 -

Two more current trends S. can take advantage of to increase her sun-wearable wardrobe are loose, lightweight, long-sleeved tunic tops and long-length shorts. Here I've paired a mid-sleeve lengthed tunic with Bermuda shorts and flats, which will only give limited sun protection, but is a lot better than short shorts and a tank, forcing S. to sunscreen up only her lower arms and legs, rather than her whole bod. Also? I LOVE these shoes.

Dress You Up #10 S: Outfit #6

Old Navy khaki bermuda shorts
$20 -

Poetic Licence blue flat shoes
$39 -

Feather jewelry
$8 -

Plastic sunglasses
$9.99 -

On days where full sun-coverage really is key, one suggestion I have for S. is to make the most of both the maxi skirts and the tunics that are currently popular, and pair them! A wide belt will keep all that fabric from looking boxy, and there are endless variations on this casual chic boho them. I like this one because of the interplay of colors between the tunic and the skirt pattern, as well as the surprise yellow sandals.

Dress You Up #10 S: Outfit #7

Beaded tunic
£25 -

Gypsy skirt
$20 -

ASOS leather sandals
$34 -

Nine West beaded jewelry
$24 -

Forever21 buckle belt
$5.80 -

So how about remixes?

Dress You Up #10 S.: Outfit #8

Dress You Up #10 S: Outfit #9

Dress You Up #10 S: Outfit #10

So what are my overall tips for S?

1. Buy only a few things from the expensive specialty stores, and make sure they are fun, colorful things you'd like to wear anyway.
2. Make the most of the drapey, long, boho styles that are in right now. Embrace the natural maxi coverage they offer.
3. Have some fun with shoes and accessories.
4. Colors, colors, colors! I love turquoise and red for you, but really, whatever colors YOU like will work.


LOVE IT!!!! Those are some great pieces, Grace. I'm going to keep some in mind for myself.

LOVE IT! Especially the 3rd and 6th!

oh my gosh, I love it all! Great job!

W.O.W! This is so beautiful, and color combos that I wouldn't have thought to pair look AMAZING. You outdid yourself and I think S would look smashing in all of it!

You seriously rock at this, Grace!! I bookmarked a couple things for myself.

Lands' End* has some sun protective classic stuff. It's often in their overstock and thus cheap. They have some proprietary name for it but I can't remember it.

*Disclosure: I work for the company that owns Lands' End but that has nothing to do with my recommendation. :)

FYI, Idye sun blocker is available at several places (Dharma trading, Amazon, Joanne fabrics) Toss it in with the wash and ANY fabric can become a sun blocking fabric.

You know what I need you to discuss? How to wear boots properly this season. Especially tall boots. Skinny jeans tucked in -- is it still ok?

I like the Oriental-themed combination of the red tunic and the Gypsy skirt, it's unexpectedly romantic and delicate.

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Dress You Up #9: L.


I missed doing a Dress You Up last week! My list of victims is still several folks deep, but be sure to send me an email if you'd like to be dressed

This week's focus is the lovely L.

L. says:

I would love to be featured on your blog and have you fix me. I say fix me, because really, that's what it'd be. :) I'm a SAHM to three kids, 8, 4.5 and 1.5 and so my wardrobe totally screams, "SAHM, boring, lazy, frumpy". I'm also turning 30 in 5 weeks.
So, my style right now is mainly jeans/cords and tshirts/longsleeve ts. I have an entire drawer full of skirts, but I don't wear them in the winter because we're in Maine and it's just too damn cold. I also don't have any cute shoes/sandals to wear them with in the summer.
Ultimately, I'd really like to look put together, but not like I tried too hard and I don't want to be overdressed. I have to be able to chase after the toddler and preschooler and look ladylike while bellowing to the 8 year old across the playground.
Not sure if it matters, but there are a TON of thrift shops near me, at least 6 in a 10 mile radius and they have decent stuff. My problem though, as much as I love finding a bargain, I'm realizing that I'll buy stuff that doesn't fit great or isn't totally my style because it's only $4/5 at the thrift store. I need to get out of this habit. Help! Bargain clothes can be good, but they can also look cheap, ill-fitting and worn and I feel I'm falling into this trap.

L. has done a great job here in identifying her needs: easy, put-together clothes that she can wear while chasing her kids, sandals or other cute, comfortable summer shoes, and a list of things to look for at the thrift store. L. is a size 8-10, which should open up a lot of thrift options for her, but she's right--there is danger in buying clothes that are worn or don't fit just because they are cheap, and that doesn't help anybody feel better about how they look.

Finally, L.? Have no fear of 30. I'll be 32 this summer and it's a great place to be. Really.

Now, on to the clothes!

To my mind, the single most important thing L. needs are jeans that fit and flatter. As we all know, this is a difficult proposition, and the only way to find those perfect jeans is to try on a million pairs. My suggestion to L, even though it's a time suck, is to go to a large thrift store, without her kids, and pull every pair of jeans in her size from the rack (except for those stonewashed ones or worn out ones), then try every single one of them on. The idea here is research, not necessarily buying. If she finds a pair or two that fit her perfectly, she can absolutely buy them, but if she doesn't, trying on lots of different brands and styles should give her a place to start with what she likes.

Were I to guess, I'd say L. is going to favor a slightly wider leg (rather than skinny jeans). I'm going to style her in a dark-wash boot cut and a dark-wash trouser jeans, as those are my favorites and the ones I think are most universally flattering and put together looking.

Old navy cardigan
$25 -

Old Navy cowl neck top
$18 -

Old Navy two tone jeans
$35 -

Kenneth Cole Reaction flat shoes
$39 -

Billabong strap bag
$35 -

Fish hook jewelry
$5.99 -

This first look is very easy--it's basically the jeans and t-shirt L. is wearing now. However, intentional use of color, a pair of earrings, and a fun bag make it look put together. I think a cowl neckline is a great idea for L., too, as a way of balancing her figure. I really like the color palette here for her, and the flat, fun sandals would be super versatile.

What L should look for at the thrift store: fun print bags, colored cardigans

H M cotton tee
9.99 GBP -

Sailor pants
$37 -

ASOS ballet flat shoes
$36 -

Blue tote
$17 -

Fish hook earring
$24 -

Forever21 beaded jewelry
$4.80 -

I am of the absolute belief that there is NOTHING wrong with jeans and a t-shirt. It's a classic for a reason. I like this take on it particular, as it's just as comfortable as throwing on whatever is on your floor, but as a pronounced femme/boho style. The trouser jeans keep things a bit more formal, and I love the way the pattern on the t-shirt and the one on the bag compliment one another.

What L should look for at the thrift store: fun jewelry that appeals to her, well-fitting, new condition t-shirts with patterns

Old Navy short sleeve tee
$13 -

Print skirt
$33 -

Espadrille shoes
$50 -

J Crew striped tote
$50 -

Flat necklace
$20 -

$30 -

I could be wrong, but I'm guessing that L. has at least one maxi skirt in than drawer of skirts she mentioned. I think she should dig it out for this summer! I'm still on the fence about maxi skirts as work appropriate wear, but I love them for casual, comfortable summer outfits. The trick, I think, with a wildly print maxi (the best kind!) is to keep everything else really simple. A black tee or tank, some neutral sandals, maybe a skinny belt and a few chains around the neck. Let the skirt speak for itself, and you'll look cool, comfortable, and totally put together.

What L. should look for at the thrift store: a fun maxi skirt (if she doesn't already have one), a narrow leather belt

Roxy pink sweatshirt
$45 -

Old Navy scoop neck tank
$13 -

Old Navy knee length denim skirt
$30 -

Bensimon blue sneaker
$43 -

LORD TAYLOR green drop earring
$35 -

Solid Shoulder Bag
$20 -

Some people may believe the children are our future. I believe our future is the denim skirt. A denim skirt is my absolute #1 favorite casual wardrobe staple. I love them beyond reason. A denim-skirt based look like this would be perfect for L. Pairing the skirt with a print hoodie and sneakers, then keeping the rest of the look very plain, makes her look intentional in her pattern mixing and young, fun, and fashionable. Also? I love these Liberty fabric sneakers beyond reason and I really want someone with little enough feet to wear them to buy them, please. One note here, though: the hoodie has to actually fit. Oversize hoodies need not apply.

What L. should look for at the thrift store: a perfect denim skirt

When the fashion powers that be decided we should all be wearing jersey maxi dresses, it's as if they finally got a clue about what womens' actual lives are like. Much like I believe in the denim skirt, I believe in the maxi dress. For a busy mom like L., I think it's a perfect multi-tasker. Sure, she can wear it to chase her kids around all summer, like the first look below, but add some bling, like the second look, and it will also do date night quite nicely.

Old Navy smocked maxi dress
$30 -

J Crew scoop neck tank top
$9.99 -

$35 -

Roxy handbag
$46 -

Chain jewelry
16 GBP -

Old Navy smocked maxi dress
$30 -

Victoria s Secret scoop neck tank top
$20 -

Bandolino slip on shoes
$48 -

Floral print handbag
$20 -

Gold jewelry
$15 -

And remixes? Sure!

My overall advice for L. is as follows:

1. Keep thrift shopping, but get PICKY about quality and fit.
2. Don't be afraid of color--and don't think that all colors in an outfit have to match.
3. Embrace accessories. Typically, when people think they don't look put together, a couple of great accessories do the job.


You do a fabulous job of colors and accessorizing. I can't wait for you to (eventually) do me. :)

WOW! You nailed this one! I can see her wearing all of that!

So perfect! I love love love the hoodie. I think you should buy that, L, and let me borrow it. ;)

I absolutely adore everything you put together! You have such a keen eye for colour mixing & accessories. I love this series, can't wait for the next one!

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Dress You Up #8: C.


How excited am that I get to dress a dude this week? Men are so rarely interested in my style ideas for them.

My friend S., sent the follow missive in regards to her husband, C.:

My husband has finally realized that he needs some new work clothes. Since he wears his work clothes for years, I am not opposed to buying them new. However I would also like him to end up with some slightly more interesting looks than another collection of solid color shirts and solid color pants. Since he has a red beard, though, patterns can be tricky. His office is business casual, so no ties are required, thank goodness.Can you help us?

Sure! Let's have a look at the mister, shall we?

cody 2.jpg

cody 1.jpg

He's cute! This isn't going to be hard!

Business casual clothing for men suffers from the capacity for extreme yawnworthiness. There are just only a few options: slacks in basic colors and shirts with collars. Very few accessories, and even the patterns are really limited. That said, there are a few things men can do to jazz things up.

(Note: C. and I have very different ideas about what constitutes an appropriate pair of shoes, and he will not be swayed, so these ideas are all going to be shoe-less.)

The first thing I think is worth addressing is color and pattern in shirts. There is nothing about a red beard that means you can't wear pattern! I'd stay away from Hawaiian print shirts, but a check of various types, a nice small floral, etc, would be totally fine, and look tons more interesting with plain khaki pants than a plain shirt does. How about one of these?

Another option, though it won't work in the current season where C. lives, is to liven things up with a colored sweater. Looking outside the typical "male" colors is a good idea, especially with C.'s coloring. This nice plum, for example, would be great on him:

A slightly more weather appropriate upgrade, which I love beyond reason, is the vest. More men should wear vests. The first one shown here is a more casual vest-based look:

The vest can also go dressier! (And tell me C. wouldn't look fantastic in that fedora!)

Because mens' clothes tend to be so much simpler than women's, quality is of an even greater importance. Cheap women's clothes can look trendy or off, but cheaply made men's clothes have a tendency to come off really sloppy. So, my #1 piece of advice for C. is to invest in good quality things. Specifically:

1. A belt. I cannot abide chinzy men's belts. If you're going to wear something every day, make it something nice! In most cases, I'd recommend a very nice leather option, but since I know C. avoids animal products, here are some vegan alternatives:

What won't work? Canvas. Novelty buckles. Belts that are clearly made of old tires. We're going for professional, here.

Once he has a belt to hold them up, C. is going to need some pants. My advice here to find a style or a couple of styles he likes and stick with them, as different cuts aren't going to be all that important to him. What he's going to want in his pants wardrobe are different weights and colors/patterns. So, saw C. went to Banana Republic and decided, via trying things on, that the Gavin fit was the perfect pair of pants for him? He could then get several pairs, which would see him through all his needs:

Men's Apparel: chinos | Banana Republic
$50 -

New straight Gavin fit chino
$50 -

These are basically all the same pair of pants. The outer two pairs are drapier "dress" pant fabric, one in navy pinstripe and one in dark gray. The inner two are chinos, one in lighter khaki and one in darker brown. With these four pairs of pants, C. would be able to wear just about any shirt/sweater/vest combination I could come up with and look put together.

The shirts are where the fun comes in. For men who don't wear ties, shirts are really the only creative dressing opportunity there is. C. should absolutely try to break out of his solid neutral comfort zone and try out new patterns and colors. A few I'd like to see:

There is a wide, wide world of men's shirts out there. They can be very expensive, but they don't have to be. They are also, if you are of average size like C., very thriftable. My advice is to go for slightly higher-end brands (not Thomas Pink or Charles Tywitt, necessarily, more like J Crew and Banana Republic) and for C. choose patterns and colors that he might not automatically gravitate towards. Small plaids/ginghams, narrow stripes, and small polka dots are all really good starts. I'd also avoid lighter pastel shades and focus on darker tones, but that's more personal preference than anything else.

The expectations for a well-dressed man versus a well-dressed woman are extremely different, and something I could expound upon at length, but I'll spare you. In a nutshell, though, I think men appear well-dressed when their clothes are in good repair (iron or dry-clean, there's no way around it), are appropriate to the situation (no cargo shorts in the office, please) and fit them. Compared to what is expected of women, that's not all that difficult. That said, men have a lot less opportunity for creativity, so, in order to avoid looking like a drone, it's important to open yourself up to color and pattern where appropriate. Good luck, C!


Thanks so much for this! I can't wait to show Cody. He is very interested to see what you come up with, so we can get out and do some wardrobe upgrading.

I really DIG the Eddie Bauer green shirt for the redhead. Hot!

Oh that green would look great on him!

i'm ready to go shopping for aaron (who's also a red-bearded man) (when he grows it out) based on this post despite the fact that he wears a uniform to work.

boy needs a new job. hrmph.

Mike got a fedora at Target and gets compliments on it EVERY time he wears it. I also think the floral shirt would look great on him, so thanks for the tip!

Oh, Laura, I didn't even think about how this would be good for Aaron too! Yay!

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Dress You Up #7: An all-black wardrobe for El


The other day, I received the following email from my friend El:


I'm hopefully about to get a management job where I will unfortunately only be able to wear black. Would you like a challenge for your dress me up?...I have nothing black in my wardrobe, it washes me out. Makeup suggestions might even be helpful so I don't look like a zombie.

An all-black work wardrobe? That's harsh! Still, as far as uniforms go, I think I like this idea better than one involving a pleated skirt or a polo shirt, so let's see what we can do for El.

My first suggestion for El is to invest in a few black dresses. Why dresses? For one thing, they are the easiest business casual appropriate wear there is, not requiring you to match or put things together. More importantly for this case, though, they'll fade consistently. The biggest issue, to my mind, in wearing black tops and black bottoms together is uneven fading (or even uneven original dyeing with new pieces), which leaves one piece looking worn. With dresses, you don't have that issue.

I've picked five dresses to suggest for El. These dresses all have a similar, flattering basic shape. I think cotton jersey or ponte would make great choices, since she'll be able to launder those herself, and I'd go with at least one long sleeved and one short-sleeved option.

Oasis scoop neck dress
60 GBP -

Oasis short sleeve shirt dress
50 GBP -

Eyelet dress
$45 -

Dresses ruched dress
$43 -

Old navy dress
$27 -

Much as I love dresses, there are some days when you just want to wear pants. My suggestion is that El get 2-3 pair. I'd go with one straighter leg, one wider leg, and possibly a cropped pair if that's within dress code. If possible, she should go for synthetic, since it won't fade as quickly.

White House Black Market wide leg pants
$50 -

Calvin Klein flat front pants
$30 -

White House Black Market capri pants
$40 -

For skirts, I have much the same advice as dresses--I think El should go with hemlines around the knee for maximum versatility. She'll probably one want more fitted skirt and one fuller one, and she might consider some detailing for visual interest, like the seaming on the top left skirt and the buttons and slit on the bottom right one.

White House Black Market knee length black skirt
$40 -

White House Black Market knee length black skirt
$50 -

Jones New York black skirt
$79 -

White House Black Market black skirt
$20 -

Pure Simple black skirt
$45 -

On top, my main advice for El is to find as many shapes as possible and to look for interesting details around the necklines whenever she can. If possible, she should steer clear of jersey and other fast-fading fabrics. She should also try to get a mix of sleeveless (to be worn with cardigans and/or jackets), short, and long-sleeved options.

J Crew long sleeve top
$30 -

Calvin Klein cap sleeve shrug
$25 -

Kaliko sleeveless blouse
30 GBP -

Principles by Ben de Lisi black top
30 GBP -

Rocha John Rocha black blouse
13 GBP -

Old Navy ruffle tank
$23 -

Old Navy short sleeve top
$18 -

Shoulder top
16 GBP -

Dorothy Perkins black top
14 GBP -

Dorothy Perkins black top
14 GBP -

Black top
9.80 GBP -

For a lot of her outfits, El is going to want a jacket or cardigan as a top layer. Like other tops, my suggestion for these is that she get the widest variety of shapes possible. I'd try for one fitted cardigan, one fitted jacket, and one drapey cardigan, at the very least. A cropped cardi/shrug and a boyfriend style cardi would also be good choices.

Splendid cardigan
38 EUR -

Windsmoor shrug cardigan
59 GBP -

John Lewis black v neck cardigan
56 GBP -

Old navy cardigan
$25 -

Drape cardigan
23 GBP -

Windsmoor black jacket
49 GBP -

Black cotton jacket
35 GBP -

Black jacket
25 GBP -

Shoes are the single most important thing El is going to need to buy. She's going to be on her feet all day, so comfort is absolutely a must. Beyond that, though, with the limited clothing options available, her shoes are going to be more noticeable than they would be if they had a really interesting color or pattern to compete with. My suggestion is that she focus the majority of her budget on shoes and concentrate on what will be most comfortable. I'd look for supportive flats and wedges.

Sofft maryjane pumps
$55 -

TopShop loafer shoes
$100 -

Wedge heel shoes
$98 -

Ego and Greed leather shoes
$26 -

Franco sarto sandal
$79 -

Jessica Simpson flat shoes
$59 -

Me Too flat shoes
$53 -

Luckily, non-black jewelry is allowed at El's new job. I say run with that! The all-black palette will make jewelry really stand out, and necklaces, especially, can add color near El's face, which will be good if she's worried about being washed out. As far as jewelry is concerned, there's really no wrong here--El could do pretty much anything she likes. The following are just some ideas, using the clothes I've suggested above.

Dresses draped dress
$43 -

Windsmoor shrug top
59 GBP -

Me Too flat shoes
$53 -

White House Black Market metal jewelry
$35 -

Coral jewelry
18 GBP -

White House Black Market wide leg pants
$50 -

Dorothy perkin
14 GBP -

Wedge heels
$98 -

Juicy Couture post earring
$42 -

Forever21 filigree bracelet
$7.80 -

John Lewis black v neck cardigan
56 GBP -

White House Black Market pencil skirt
$20 -

Sofft shoes
$55 -

Nine West feather earring
$24 -

Turquoise ring
$9.50 -

Kaliko black top
30 GBP -

Sateen jacket
35 GBP -

White House Black Market full pleated skirt
$40 -

Jessica Simpson black shoes
$59 -

Vintage looking jewelry
$30 -

TopShop stretch jewelry
$28 -

Eyelet dress
$45 -

Black cardigan
23 GBP -

Franco Sarto black wedge
$79 -

TopShop enamel ring
$20 -

Charm gold pendant
$17 -

Good luck with the new job, El!


I love it!! El, you look great.

I want those Michael Kors ballet flats SO badly.

I think those are all really good idea. I also agree with you that if non-black jewelry is allowed that is the way to add color back into the wardrobe. It's also the perfect palette I think for adding in funky/chunkier jewelry than you would normally wear.

This is great! If I were El, I might invest in very few black pieces (2-3 dresses, 4 tops, 2 pants and a great skirt) and go nuts with accessories.
Also? I am surprised at the lack of scarf usage.
Another WINOW win!

Great pics, Grace!
When I used to wear all black for restaurant work, I often dyed my pieces to make them last longer and continue to match. A $2 pack of Rit dye will extend lots of pieces.

Wow, so many great options! I'm especially drawn to that short-sleeved shirt dress.

Great selection and I love the jewelry selection. If I could share one thing, though, at the thrift stores in LA (I assume every other city as well) the black clothing sections are always the largest in volume. The dresses are often designer, mostly a conservative cocktail length, and they are only $8.99. Hope E. will give the thrift store a chance. Four dresses to one dress at retail. Can't beat that. Dress you up is my favorite blog series.

Wow, Grace, I am just catching up on blogs. I love what you've got for me here!!!

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Dress You Up #6: M.


I've got a great Dress You Up for you this week! One look at M. and I'm thinking SUPERMODEL! Don't you agree?

melissa face.jpgmelissa body.jpg

Those great bones, that slim frame--there is so much she could wear!

Here's what M. had to say:

I'm a 26 year old mom to 2 kids and I run a charity. And I'm tired of looking and feeling like a slump. The problem? I have 0 fashion sense and even more I don't even have a clue on what size I wear. I've never actually bought clothes new that aren't too big. I've spent my whole life being told I'm not attractive and I want to look nice to feel nice about myself. I'm thin with almost no shape and so most of what I wear just looks like an ill fitting sack. I like wearing layers because I'm always too hot or too cold. I'm most comfortable in dressy casual clothes and bright colors. I like to express myself with colors.

I am simply horrified that M. has spent her life thinking she's not attractive. That's just a bold-faced lie. One thing that is true, though, is that ill-fitting clothes don't do ANYBODY any favors. I can't tell what size M. is from photographs, but my first and strongest recommendation for her is that she take the time to try lots of things on and find sizes that actually fit her.

When I started thinking about what kinds of clothes would suit M.'s face and frame best, two celebrity images popped into my mind, both of women I think are gorgeous, who are built similarly to M. I decided to start there:

Tilda Swinton in Berlin (image via Zimbio)

Tilda Swinton at the BAFTA Awards, image via CelebrtiFi)

I think Tilda Swinton is really, really beautiful. She's significantly older than M., but they share thin frames, short hair, and strong bone structure. Tilda tends towards androgyny, wearing a lot of menswear inspired clothes, and I think M. would look great in those styles as well.

Cate Blanchett in red (image via Blippitt)

Cate Blanchett in purple (image via Gossip Rocks)

Even more than Tilda Swinton, I think M. resembles the extremely beautiful Cate Blanchett. Though Blanchett occasionally adopts androygnous dress, she also looks beautiful in saturated colors and more fitted feminine styles.

Between the inspirations I found and the things M. mentioned, I am going to focus on the following when creating looks for her:
1. Use a lot of color.
2. Use layers.
3. Incorporate menswear influenced pieces.
4. Incorporate fitted styles.

The first thing I want to recommend for M. is wide legged trousers. If they fit correctly in the butt/waist/upper legs, I think a nice wide-legged pant would flatter her slim frame very well. Two possible ways to style them:

Flutter sleeve blouse
$35 -

GAP wide leg pants
$50 -

Caron flower shoes
$40 -

Satchel handbag
$28 -

French Connection cotton scarve
$7.99 -

$26 -

This casual, flowy look is based on use of lots of color. The wide belt, which could be worn at the waist of the shirt under the cardigan, or over both of them, will create some curve for M. so she doesn't feel like she's wearing "an ill fitting sack."

Another option is a more monotone palette, with M.'s all-important bright colors coming in pops. I like the style of this striped tee in particular for M., as the wide boatneck will add some width to her shoulders and make the best of her slim frame. This look also reminds me a little bit of an old-fashioned sailor, feminized by the jewelry and sandals.

Aerie oversized top
$25 -

GAP slim fit pants
$50 -

Dollhouse sandal
$30 -

Canvas army bag
$15 -

Coral jewelry
$40 -

Rachel roy jewelry
$34 -

Another shape I really think M. should try is a short shift dress. These are so cute, so mod, and so hard for those who are not very thin to wear. M. has the perfect build for them. They also dress up or down really easily, and can be very comfortable, especially if they're made of jersey fabric or similar.

Organic cotton dress
$74 -

Old navy cardigan
$25 -

Ballerina shoes
$40 -

Flap handbag
$30 -

Beaded bangle
$13 -

French Connection floral scarve
$48 -

Based around a comfy dress from Athleta, this outfit is all about unapologetic color. With the scarf adding another layer and tying everything together, it would be perfect for a springtime mom like M.

Calvin Klein sapphire dress
$89 -

Forever21 black pump shoes
$20 -

Wristlet handbag
$32 -

Nine West pave jewelry
$30 -

Cluster jewelry
$14 -

This conservative look is less in-keeping with M.'s current style, but I think the ruffled Calvin Klein dress would look spectacular on her, and keeping the shoes and accessories all in the same palette really lets the beautiful sapphire dress speak for itself.

For super casual wear, I love the idea of baggyish "boyfriend" jeans for M. These are a style I love and can't wear myself. With layered, visually interesting tees, a fun bag, sneakers, and cool jewelry, how casual and comfy and cool would she be?

J Crew long sleeve tee
$20 -

Hive Honey knit top
$29 -

Asics sneaker
$44 -

TopShop cotton shoulder bag
$25 -

$6.33 -

M. could easily go the other direction with jeans as well. I think she'd rock some skinnies and a tunic style top. Given the plethora of available stripes right now, how about a striped one?

Twisted shoes
$19 -

Tote bag
$30 -

Bohemian jewelry
$24 -

Floral belt
$20 -

Striped Tunic Top
$9.90 -

Denim skirts are a classic casual spring staple, and one I think a short, straight variety would suit M.'s figure fantastically. I encourage her to hike up her hemline and show off her legs. Paired with a tank, cardi, and wedge sandals, it would be easy and cute. I really like how the cardigan's v-neck allows the cute ruffles from the tank top to peek out (though personally, I'd lose the flower).

Hollister Co deep v neck top
$50 -

Printed top
$30 -

Old Navy style pencil skirt
$22 -

Rampage sandal
$40 -

Old Navy tote bag
$23 -

Wooden jewelry
$13 -

Another current trend I think M. could easily rock is the short full skirts I'm seeing everywhere. I've made this one a wee bit Western, with a denim jacket and short cowboy boots, but it could be worn with sandals, flats, or heels just as easily.

J Crew vintage tank top
$35 -

Old Navy denim jacket
$30 -

Floral print skirt
$35 -

Miz Mooz cowboy boot
$100 -

Messenger bag
$40 -

TopShop metal ring
$12 -

Trouve handcrafted necklace
$38 -

So how about remixes?


That last remix - skinny jeans with striped top & orange scarf = awesome!!

omg. love.

My favourite part of these is seeing the celebs you get your ideas from!

You have such great fashion sense -- I get great ideas every time you do these!

I really enjoy these in a guilty pleasure kind of way... you should dress me up! God knows I could use the help.

Helloooo!!!! Oh my, what a fabulous post and the looks you put together are amazing. Style me please -- just one look -- please -- an I'll thrift it -- please.

Okay, enough begging, but it is a great blog idea.

Is M. a friend of yours?

nicely done. LOVE the 2nd and last outfits the best. What does M think?

Wow that's a lon blog post with lot of outfit ideas :)

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Dress You Up #5: C.


Do I ever have a treat for you! This week on Dress You Up, C! C is a good friend of mine and someone I've always wanted to dress up--she's so glamorous looking, and has such a different style than I do. Here's what C has to say:

I'm a size 2 or 4, depending on the day and just recently colored my hair dark brown from blonde. I'm stuck in a bit-time rut fashion-wise but I have been trying as of lately to put in more effort. What I really admire about other people's fashion-sense is the ability to look comfortable even when super-casual(aka -- not wearing sweats). I'd like to try more patterns and I love to stick with bright colors and I adore stripes and a feminine look, in general. I'd say my favorite fashion icons are Audrey Hepburn and a modern choice would be Jennifer Aniston(don't laugh).

I am so not laughing! That totally makes sense!

This is the gorgeous C:
gracepic.jpgMarch 2011 064.jpg

Some things I know, but C didn't mention:
1. C is a busy mom of 3 little ones.
2. C lives in a seasonal, but not extreme climate.

Since C specifically mentioned some fashion icons, I thought I'd do a little image search for inspiration. These are the images that resonated with me:

audrey in stripes.jpg
Audrey Hepburn in casual stripes, image via

audrey_hepburn on a bike.jpg
Chic Audrey on a bike, image via Library of Congress

audrey checks the oven.jpg
Audrey checks the oven in a short dress--unable to locate photo credit

casual jennifer aniston.jpg
Casual styled Jennifer Aniston looks from

I think Audrey Hepburn and Jennifer Aniston are absolutely perfect style role models for C--both have a simple, laid-back glamour that showcases natural beauty and not a ton of overdone accessorization.

The first thing the casual glam mom needs, as showcased by the pictures of Jennifer Aniston, is great jeans. For C., I thought similar jeans (a dark wash and a boot cut) would be perfect. I paired them with simple, casual stripes, a ruffled tank, and a great wedge sandal. I see C. taking her kids to the park in this:

Crochet top
$40 -

Knit top
$7.99 -

GAP slim fit jeans
$50 -

Old Navy sandal

J Crew summer handbag
$43 -

Guess jewelry
$18 -

Forever21 sunglass
$5.80 -

Though both Audrey and Jennifer rock a sleek look, I also like the idea of C. in a more feminine, boho style, which Aniston often wears. Still casual, but softer. Something, maybe, like this:

Old Navy floral top
$22 -

Old Navy ribbed tank
$8.50 -

Gladiator sandal
$35 -

Leather shoulder bag
$41 -

Wrap belt
$19 -

It is impossible to discuss Audrey Hepburn as a style icon without adding black cigarette pants to the mix, so I'd be remiss not to style some up for C. If you've been reading these Dress You Up entries, you'll recognize these. They're a great, chic alternative to jeans. I'd love to see C. wear some with flats and a vintage-inspired blouse:

Dorothy Perkins short sleeve top
18 GBP -

R2 shoes
$40 -

Nine West studded handbag
$50 -

Gold jewelry
$35 -

Sunglasses tortoise sunglass
$24 -

Another simple, Audrey-inspired twist on the cigarette pants:

J Crew t shirt
$20 -

GAP cropped pants
$50 -

BDG shoulder bag
$30 -

Handmade jewelry
$42 -

Glass pearl necklace
$8.99 -

A chic mom cannot live by pants alone. For my money, nothing is more flattering, comfortable, and versatile than a dress, especially in the spring and summer. This floral version, by Patagonia, can be thrown in the washer and dryer and dresses both up and down well. With flat gladiator sandals, a big bag, and fun jewelry, the dress is casual and fun.

Patagonia dress
$40 -

$30 -

Banana Republic nylon tote bag
$50 -

Forever21 bracelet
$4.80 -

Vans aviator sunglass
$10 -

With heels, a pashmina, and more formal jewelry, the same dress can go out:

Patagonia dress
$40 -

Nine west handbag
$20 -

Sequin silver earring
$42 -

The photo of Audrey Hepburn in the short dress, peering into the oven, makes me want to try a short dress for petite C. Two possible casual looks with short dresses:

Nautical dress
$40 -

Pointelle cardigan
$9.99 -

Rocket Dog flat shoes
$46 -

White handbag
$44 -

GUESS black gold necklace
$30 -

White House Black Market earring
$24 -

Tea dress
$46 -

BC Footwear flat shoes
$37 -

Cross body bag
$30 -

Square earring
$20 -

Beading necklace
$12 -

A last crucial wardrobe element, as far as I'm concerned, is a denim skirt. I love denim skirts, and I think a short, straight, dark version would be great for C. Two possible looks:

Floral top
$35 -

Old Navy rib tank top
$8.50 -

Old Navy straight skirt
$30 -

Nine west flat
$44 -

Magid handbag
$46 -

Betsey Johnson bracelet
$35 -

Enamel jewelry
$5.50 -

Old Navy graphic tee
$15 -

Old Navy denim pencil skirt
$30 -

Wedge sandal shoes
$40 -

Roxy shoulder bag
$42 -

MNG by Mango coral ring
$16 -

$13 -

So what about remixes?


omg, I wish I could wear this stuff.

Beautiful, as always!

Love these looks!

WHOA! I love it all, especially those jeans from The Gap. I'll have to check those out. The stripes and colors are dead on for me, too, Gracie. I love the flats, especially the green ones. Ooh, I'm going to be coming back to this all day and day-dreaming. :)

You were really meant for this, Grace! And I miss your daily outfit posts.

Wow! C would look good in a potato sack, but these outfits you picked will look divine on her!

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Dress You Up #4: E.


This is too much fun. Can't I just be an online personal stylist?

My next Dress You Up participant is the lovely E. E. says:

I want stylish clothes to wear to work (so business or business casual), plus cute clothes to wear to school or on weekends that aren't just jeans and solid long sleeved tees. Right now I'm in winter mode, but I definitely need work suggestions for summer (that don't include capri's) and for downtime in the summer (and no shorts but maybe capri's). Oh,and shoes.

This is E., complete with recently short hair. How cute is she??


Some things E didn't write, but I happen to know about her:
-she is a size 8/medium
-she's about to become a CPA
-she's a busy mom of 3 little ones
-she lives somewhere with a definite four season climate

My initial thoughts for E. are that I'd love to see her in sleek, professional clothes with fantastic shoes (she's not opposed to heels) and little pops of fun color. The outfits I am going to put together are spring-summer oriented, since E's climate pretty well dictates seasonal wardrobes.

First, I know E. has a pair of dove gray trousers she loves, so I thought I'd try to build a couple of work looks around those:

Dress You Up #4 E Outfit #1
-J. Crew Perfect-fit mixed-tape cardigan
-Old Navy Womens Ruffled Linen-Blend Top
-Banana Republic Martin fit sleek trouser pant
-Restricted Ann Wedge
-Zara city briefcase
-Nordstrom 'Etchings' Floral Cutout Cuff
-ASOS Oasis Chain Drop Earrings

I love this so much. The simple color palette really lets the shoes have all the glory, and to me, the shoes say "SPRING!!" I also think the bag is just perfect, and I love the jewelry. This is casual, easy, and so pulled together. Perfect for work.

Dress You Up #4: E. Outfit #2
-retro drape front blouse
-Navy pleat front blazer
-Banana Republic Martin fit sleek trouser pant
-ASOS Squash Bow Suede Court Show shoes
-Mustard Chain Handle Pocket Bag
-Mandee Teardrop Chandelier earrings
-Old Navy Womens Embellished Cocktail Ring

This is a more formal, but still really fun work look. I am absolutely dying for this type of blouse, and I think it would make a great addition to E's work wardrobe as well. Under the fitted blazer and with the same trousers, it's business like, but way more interesting than a suit. Adding the great squash colored shoes and the mustard bag pulls it together and still keeps it looking a little bit retro, and the jewelry gives it just a touch of elegance. Incidentally, if these shoes came in my size, I'd have bought them already.

I love dresses, especially in the spring. Why? Easy and versatile, baby. Two examples:

Dress You Up #4: E. Outfit #3
-Fred Flare Spring Retreat dress
-J. Crew Jackie cardigan
-Miz Mooz Sophia pumps
-Under One Sky Double Buckle Bag
-Tarina Tarantino Classic Flower Stud Earrings
-Spring Street Design Group Wood Bangles (Set of 4)

How great is this? A cute, comfortable flowered dress, paired with a cardigan and great shoes that bring out its colors, with simple jewelry and bag. This would be a wonderful spring work outfit. And that same dress?

Dress You Up #4: E. Outfit #4
-Nine West Thora sandals
-Forever21 Large Unstructured Leatherette Bag
-Top Shop Violet Semi Precious Cocktail Ring
-Target Turquoise and Sterling Silver earrings

If E. ditched the cardi, traded her heels for flat sandals, and grabbed a big unstructured bag and more fun jewelry, she'd be adorable to head out somewhere with her kids on a weekend.

Another versatile and flattering option is a sheath dress. Paired with conservative jewelry and a monochromatic bag, low heels, and jacket, the dress is exceptionally professional:

Dress You Up #4: E. Outfit #5
-AB Studio Pleated Sheath Dress
-Black tailored Boyfriend jacket
-MICHAEL Michael Kors MK - Flex Low Pump
-Nine West Wrinkled Denver Shoulder Bag
-Single Pearl Pendant Necklace
-Banana Republic Genuine freshwater pearl earring

Make a few changes, though, and the dress screams "date night!"

Dress You Up #4: E. Outfit #6
-Aldo Pelayo heels
-Paco Mena Ulfang Clutch
-Peggy Li Crinkled Link earrings
-Banana Republic thin sparkle bangle

The dress remains refined and even conservative with the matching clutch and simple silver jewelry, but E.'s sense of fun and daring can still come out in the great pink peep toed shoes. I love this idea for her--classic clothes, wildly hot shoes.

One casual spring/summer option E. mentioned was capri pants. I don't love capri pants, but I do love slightly longer cropped pants, for both casual and less casual wear, so I thought I'd try a pair of those for E:

Dress You Up #4: E. Outfit #7
-Delia's Boho Printed Blouse
-Hollister Marina Park tank top
-Gap Slim Crop Pants
-ZiGiny Women's Ginger Ballet Flats
-Mondani Graham Messenger Bag
-Kenneth Cole New York Turquoise Wrapped Ring
-Turquoise Pebble Fireball Necklace

Cropped pants, a peasant blouse, and flats--totally comfy, simple, and cool. I love how this mixes hippy boho stuff like the blouse and turquoise jewelry with the more understated and classic crops and flats. I think the juxtaposition works really well.

Of course, even if she thinks she can't, E. could also wear her crops to work:

Dress You Up #4: E. Outfit #8
-Anthropologie On The Agenda Shell
-Red Izod Cardigan
-Nine West 'Hiala' Sandal
-Faux-Leather Tote with Cross Strap
-24k Gold-Over-Silver Polished Hoop Earrings
-kate spade new york ultra thin idiom bangle

I love the mix of retro sailor and retro glam in this outfit. The slim cropped pants and high-heeled sandals are so chic with the polka dot blouse, but the pretty Izod sweater keeps it from being too serious. And how cute would E. look in this red/tan/black palette?

Another thing I'd love to see E. take from work to weekend is a fun spring skirt. I happen to adore this one:

Dress You Up #4: E. Outfit #9
-Old Navy Womens Long Perfect Tank
-peacock paradise a-line skirt
-dELiAs > Madison Gladiator Sandals
-Fossil Hanover Checkbook Clutch
-Melly Necklace

With a simple tank, flat sandals, and a dramatic necklace, this print skirt couldn't be any cuter, or any easier, for spring/summer weekend wear.

Dress You Up #4 E. Outfit #10
-Old Navy Womens Ruffle-Trim Tank
-Manor and Manners Blazer
-Nine West Shoes, Quirky Pumps
-Francesca's Collections Sea Level Bag
-Spring Street Design Group Metal & Wood Bangles (Set of 7)
-Lauren by Ralph Lauren Wood Beaded Drop Earrings

To take the fun skirt and tank to work, all E. really needs to do is add a jacket and some heels. The more serious bag and slightly less quirky jewelry helps, too.

So what about remixes?

Two work looks:

Dress You Up #4 E Outfit #10

Dress You Up #4 E Outfit #12

And two casual ones:

Dress You Up #4 E. Outfit #11

Dress Me Up #4 E Outfit #12

My boiled-down advice for E?
1. Embrace a well-fitted pair of crop pants.
2. Look for pieces that can dress up or down.
3. Focus on great shoes.

Who wants to be next? Email me at with your specifics and I'll put you in the queue!


o.m.g. the miz mooz pumps are to flipping DIE for. great post, again!

This would be so rad if she went out and bought your suggestions and emailed you the results so you could blog 'em. Probably too much to ask for but MAN I'd love that.

love the floral dress. so much. pretty!!

wow! I just discovered your site and I am AMAZED! I would love to get some advice. What do I need to do to get featured in "Dress You Up"? Also, I think if you did a YOUTUBE channel and tagged some of the more followed channels in your headlines you would get a TON of traffic! As a marketing manager, I would love to give you free advice on how to get a wider audience and maybe then you could get PAID to feature certain brand (only the pieces you like) on your site. You are extremely talented. Think Pixiwoo on Youtube. I bet alot of their audience would check you out...


We need mORE dress you up!!!

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Dress You Up #2: J.


022811layers.jpgI am so excited about my #2 Dress You Up subject, J.! Isn't she stunning? J. has been an online friend for some time, and I've always been an admirer of her style, especially her hair, which has sported various hues since I've known her and is now, as you can see, cropped off. In her email, J. wrote:

Size 8 pants, small/medium shirt, size 11 shoe (I can do 10 if it's open toe). I have a long torso and a 30" inseam, so that does influence my clothing choices. My default is jeans & t-shirt with minimal accessories. I want some fun & funky clothes that are a little outside what I wear now. Comfort is a necessity, because if I'm not comfortable, I won't wear it. Bonus points if it's clothes I can wear now and still in 3 months.

J. is a busy mom living in a very cold, very rural area, so I understand both her need for comfort and her desire for clothes that will make the seasonal transition. With those things in mind, I set out to look for some inspiration--what looks especially hot on women with very little hair?

My first thought was for how amazing Natalie Portman looked with her post-V for Vendetta bald head. Remember that?


Pictures via The Daily Makeover and Lovelyish

Baldness just made Natalie's features look more beautiful and feminine, and I think it's the same for J.

Another example is India.Arie, whose bald head radiates strength:
Pictures via The Well Educated Pony and India.Arie Photo Gallery

Kylie Minogue didn't go bald by choice, or for a film--her baldness was due to chemotherapy. And, in my opinion, she never looked better than with her super short regrowth:

Pictures via Visboo and Now Magazine

Looking through these and hundreds more pictures of gorgeous women with no or little hair, I came upon the following styling ideas:
1. Super feminine details.
2. Statement jewelry.
3. Beautiful rich colors to compliment the skin tone.

In addition to featuring her fantastic face, I wanted clothes for J. that were layerable, mixable, and created a long leg line. Most importantly, though, as she mentioned, the clothes had to be comfortable.

The first thing I knew I wanted for J. was a femme jersey dress. J. said she wears jeans most days, and I support that, but I think a great dress is a really versatile layering piece, and while it may seem more difficult than jeans, a jersey fabric makes it machine washable and comfy.

The dress I chose to start with is the Easygoing Dress from Boden, who make fantastic, if slightly spendy, dresses. First, I styled it in a multi-layer look for J.'s current weather:

-ARIAL-Women's AE Thin Slouchy Cardigan
-Faded Glory - Women's Organic Cotton Striped Long-Sleeve Scoop Tee
-J. Crew Wool-blend ribbed tights
-Sperry Topsider Women's Pelican Wedge Sadie Tall Rubber Boot
-Forever21 Wooden Handle Tote
-Deb feathered drop earrings-
-Boden Easygoing Dress

I like this for a lot of reasons. The overall look is very feminine, with the patterned dress, floral clutch, and ethereal feather earrings, but it's funkified by the amazing boots and surprising striped shirt underneath. The high waistline on the dress will elongate J.'s legs, as will the wedge on the boot. The whole thing should be super-wearable, and if the wool tights don't provide enough warmth, leggings could be substituted, as could a heavier cardigan.

In warmer weather, the same dress will be just as wearable. It will also be easy to dress up for a nicer event.

Dress You Up #3: J. Outfit #2
-Delia's Pointelle Rib-Trim Cardigan
-Kustom Nina Flat
-Alloy Crochet Bag
-Nordstrom True Birds 'Birdcage' Pendant Necklace
-1928 Vintage Mother of Pearl Cuff Bracelet
--Boden Easygoing Dress

This version is straight-up femme, with a vintage touch. I love the color interplay here with the gray cardigan, green cuff bracelet, and coral bag, and I think the jewelry is awesome. It's a very springy look, almost Easter-dress like, and I think J. would look absolutely beautiful in it.

Moving on to J.'s more preferred everyday style: jeans. I definitely think J. should consider leg-lengthening trouser jeans, which will look more put together than other styles, but be just as easy to wash and wear.

Dress You Up #3: J. Outfit #3
-Cabela's Women's Crocheted Cardigan Hoodie
-Old Navy Women's Tiered Tops
-Old Navy Women's Mid-Rise Trouser Jeans
-Breckelles Dallad-11 Army Green Women Boot
-ASOS River Island Vintage Style Cross Body Bag
-bibelot Purple and Silver Leaf Floral Earrings
-Betmar Solid Cotton Scarf

I really really love this outfit. Really love it. And I think it's absolutely perfect for J.--it's just as easy was what she's been doing, but it looks more put together, and it's infinitely layerable. The amazing floral print of the tank top and the almost Art Deco earrings are beautiful feminine details, and the boots and sweater are a wonderful color. I think the pink scarf will do fantastic things for J.'s complexion and bring it all together perfectly, and I love how the almost business-style bag formalizes the whole outfit just a bit.

Skinny jeans and boots are another thing I'd like to see J. in:

Dress You Up #3: J. #4
-AE Floral Peasant Cami
-Old Navy Women's Lightweight Scoop-Neck Sweater
-AE Skinny Jeans
-Old Navy Women's Scarf-Print Tote
-Nine West Casilda boots
-Aerie Multi Strand Beaded Necklace
-Urban Outfitters Chandelier Earrings

This is very similar to what J. is already wearing--basically jeans and t-shirt. In this case, though, I've added tall flat boots, a patterned cami underneath the solid shirt (a loungy sweater for warmth), and some serious jewelry. With no hair for distraction, J.'s jewelry can always take center stage, especially shorter necklaces and earrings, so I think those areas are the ones where she can most easily make a fun and funky wardrobe change while still remaining comfortable.

I could put J. in feminine florals and soft colors forever, and with spring coming it's temping to do just that, but a harder edge might also serve her well:

Dress You Up #3: J. Outfit #5
-Rue21 Long Sleeve Wide Stripe Zip Hoodie
-Hollister Victoria Beach tank top
-J. Crew Vintage matchstick cord
-Hot Topic Black Stud And Strap Low Moto Boot
-ASOS Triple Chain Pendant With Semi Precious Stone Spikes
-BKE Plaid Cabbie Hat
-Hurley Spectrum Belt

This is a look I'm not sure I could pull off, but I am sure J. could. Again, it's really not far from what she's wearing now, but it's a whole lot more put together and intentional. There isn't anything here that shouldn't be totally wearable, but it ups the hotness factor by several degrees, and shows some extreme punk-influenced personality. Plus I have scads of hair that I can't fit in a hat, so I have to live vicariously through those who can wear cute ones like this plaid cabbie cap.

Another casual pants possibility for J., which would be just as comfy as jeans but give her another option, is ponte pants. I've been seeing these on style blogs all over the place, and although I haven't tried them yet myself, I think they make good sense. I like these ones from the Gap because they have a zipper, a waistband, and hardware--they aren't leggings--and they're cut a little wider in the leg than some of the skintight versions, making them a bit more trouser-like.

Dress You Up #3: J. Outfit #6
-FULL TILT Dolman Womens Top
-Gap Ponte boot cut pants
-Charlotte Russo Cross My Heart Ballet Flat
-Buckled Hobo Bag with Strap
-Lane Bryant 11 piece bangle bracelet set
-Wet Seal twisted mobile earrings
-Modcloth Here to Infinity Scarf

The idea to use a dolman sleeved top actually came from J,'s picture--she already has one! I think it would look great with narrow black pants and colored flats--very chic and streamlined. I also really like combining the black here with autumn colors--the pumpkin scarf and bag and the green and gold bangles and flats. That isn't something you see a lot, but I think it really warms the black up and makes it feel less stark.

Though I knew her emphasis is on casual clothes, I couldn't resist making J. one femme, sexy going out outfit:

Dress You Up #3: J. Outfit #7
-Victoria's Secret Lace Corset Top
-Shop Ruche embroidered flower beds black skirt
-Rue21 Capsleeve Belted Jacket
-Gap Jacquard Dot Tights
-Shop Ruche at last perfect bow pumps
-ModCloth Glitter with Glamour Clutch
-Arden B. Oversize Filigree Chandelier Earrings
-Old Navy Women's Fashion Necklace
-Forever 21 Braided Rope Wide Belt

This is a more complicated look than the others I've suggested, but wouldn't J. be stunning in it? I think it walks the sexy/feminine line really well, and the colors, florals, and statement jewelry I've been arguing for all along all makes an appearance.

OK. So what about remixing? How will these things work together?

Pretty well I think!

Dress You Up #1: J. Outfit #8

Dress You Up #3: J. Outfit #9

Dress You Up #3: J. Outfit #10

Dress You Up #3: J. Outfit #11

So what's my overall advice for J.?

1. Branch out in your pants choices--consider different styles of jeans, corduroys, or ponte pants.
2. Consider a knit dress as a comfy alternative to pants.
3. Make the most of being bald--show off great earrings and necklaces!

Who's next? Email me at to sign up!


Ooooh. I love this so much. I have a couple of knit dresses, and actually one that is very similar to the one you posted, but I don't have anything that goes with it. I guess it's time for coordinates and accessories shopping.

What a fantastic selection of outfits!! I love them all, esp. the one with the tall black boots.

great work again!!! I am LOVING those green ankle boots.

I _lerv_ short-haired and bald women. I think only the gutsiest and prettiest dare do it. My mom's been asking me to get an Audrey Hepburn for years but I haven't taken the plunge yet.

After this post, I think I'm going to have to submit to your series - love your suggestions!

1. You are AWESOME at this.
2. That green crocheted hoodie cardigan is on sale for 19.88 and I bought one!

Kylie had chemo? I did not know that.

I love Kylie. I have a certain nostalgic, bittersweet interest in her because she was one of my first girl-crushes. Shut up; I liked her Hayley Mills hotness.

Oh my word. How do you do that? The frame with green cardi/green boots? And the one with the floral dress??

To die for.

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Dress You Up #1: K.


I cannot tell you how pleased I am to present a new feature here on What If No One's Watching! I plan to do as many of these as I can/as many as y'all are interested in, but they will be intermittent, not on a fixed schedule. Basically, I'm going to move something I've been doing for a long time, both online in person, to the blog. I'm going to give fashion/style/makeup advice. If you're interested in being featured, whether or not I already know you, just send your query and photograph to, and I'll put you in the queue!

First up is my friend K. K. has this to say:

I'm a size 18 at old navy, but a size 20 most anywhere else. I'm 5'9"ish and I wear regular length. Also, my feet are not tiny. 10.5 W or 11 regular typically. I haven't set myself an official budget. I own 4 pairs of jeans that fit fairly well. Just plain "the flirt" from ON. Otherwise, I'm pretty hopeless. I need clothes that are put together and present me as being put together but casual, as well as a business casual look, and something more along the lines of interview/formal. I need to own khakis/black slacks for community course work starting soon (to go with a garnet polo). I need shoes and preferably a little cardigan type sweater to wear with it. More than anything, I want outfits that are tied together like yours are, with accessories that really make the outfit. I'm hitting the thrift shops during Spring Break in 2 weeks, but I don't even know where to start! I'm open to advise on best hair ideas and make up as well. I'm def. trying the foundation you recommend.

k front picture.JPGk side picture.JPG

Isn't she gorgeous? What a great first model!

A few other things I know about K., which will influence the kinds of things I suggest:
-she's a busy mom of three little ones
-she's a soon-to-be-graduated nursing student
-she lives in a warm climate

The first thing K. requests as a put together casual look. Since she already has jeans she likes, I'll build a couple of looks around those:

Dress You Up #1: K. Casual Outfit 1
-Old Navy The Flirt jeans
-Old Navy Women's Roll-Up Button-Front Top
-Old Navy Women's Two-Tone Sneakers
-Old Navy Women's Scarf-Print Tote
-Modcloth Great Horned Necklace
-BKE Beaded Slider Bracelet Set

This outfit works because it's very simple, but not sloppy. The button down tab-sleeved shirt is going to feel just like a t-shirt, but appear a bit more structured. The fun colorful sneakers will be comfortable, but still stylish. And the jewelry not only gives a sense of K.'s personality (she loves owls) but brings together some of the colors in the outfit and the bag. Even though it really is just jeans and a t-shirt, the jewelry, bag, and shoes all coordinate (but don't match)--which will give K. the "tied together" look she's after. With all the major pieces coming from Old Navy, this outfit is also really inexpensive (no single piece is more than $30 and most are far less) and easily accessible.

Dress You Up #1: K. Casual Outfit 2
-Old Navy The Flirt jeans (just in dark wash this time)
-Old Navy Women's Pintucked Tunic
-Nine West Women's Loredana Flats
-Roxy 'Truthfully' Shoulder Bag
-Delia's Coral Tie-Dye Scarf
LC Lauren Conrad Gold-Tone Simulated Crystal & Simulated Pearl Floral Drop Earrings

Though this outfit appears slightly less casual than the previous one, it would be just as easy to wear. The flowy tunic top should be cool and comfortable, and it's self-belting so that K. can show off her wonderful curves. I love the brightly colored flats and I think a similar pair should be staple for K., who wants to be stylish but still be able to run around. Finally, I'm jazzed about the subtle pattern mixing with the pinstriped tunic and tie-dyed scarf. Once again, all the pieces here should be accessible and affordable, with the most expensive piece being the $40 Roxy bag (and you could easily get something similar at a thrift store or discount store for less money).

Next, K. requests business casual options:

Dress You Up #1: K. Business Casual 1
-eShakti shirt dress
-Old Navy Women's Poinsetta Cardigan
-Nine West Kitten Heel Pump
-Merona Ditsy Floral Clutch
-Full Tilt Flower Statement Necklace

Being who I am, I'm always going to suggest something vintage inspired. For K., I love a 50's looking ensemble based around a shirt dress. Though the whole look may be a little bit over the top for her, finding a plain colored shirt dress that fits her well would NOT be a waste of her time or money. This one is from eShakti, which I love for it's large size range and ability to be altered to measurements. Once K. has the dress, the rest is easy--just about any cardigan and statement necklace would work great. I've paired the dress with a kitten heel here, to make it a bit more formal, but flats would definitely work. And I couldn't resist getting a little bit of ditsy floral in with the clutch--I saw those at Target the other day and they are adorable.

Dress You Up #1: K. Busniess Casual 2
-A Love So Sweet Curvy Plus Size Button Up Top
-Old Navy Women's Perfect Denim Pencil Skirt
-Blowfish Stella Ballet Flat
-Under One Sky Double Buckle Bag
-Zad Etched Flower Large Bracelet
-Peacock Feather Earrings

To put a lot more casual in her business casual, I strongly suggest K. invest in a super-versatile denim pencil skirt. I've paired this Old Navy version with a gorgeous belted tunic top and some slightly over-the-top jewelry. I love this look because it's very put together, but also really fun.

K. also needs a formal/interview look:

Dress You Up #1: K. Interview
-eShakti Edge Pipe Trim Sheath Dress
-Old Navy Women's Plus Double-Weave Blazer
-Andiamo Women's Hallie Pump
-Timeless Black / White Cross Woven Weave Snap Closure Leatherette Satchel
-White House Black Market Blue Quatrefoil Short Necklace
-Metallic hoop earrings

I don't really know how formal interviews are in K.'s profession. What I do know is that I hate suits, and I hate suits especially on curvy women. Suits are still men's clothes, and they are most often not cut correctly to flatter or even accomodate curves. I've found two ways to dress myself for interviews or more formal business occasions without wearing a suit, and I'm suggesting those to K. The first is this look--a fitted blazer over a sheath dress. I love the way this looks--it's crisp and professional, but still feminine and curve-flattering. I love this black/white/royal blue palette, too--it's bold and take-charge looking but not gaudy in the least. At $60 for the dress and $37 for the jacket, it's also a lot cheaper than any suit that's going to fit.

Dress You Up #1: K. Interview 2
-Old Navy Women's Plus Rib-Knit Tank
-Spiegel Plus Sizes Signature Matte Jersey Collection:Shirred Shawl-Collar Jacket
-AK Anne Klein Plus Size Trouser Leg Pant
-Naturalizer 'Badell'

-Nine West Plain Jane Print Handbag
-Briolette Agate Drop Earrings
-Madewell Flea Market Floral Scarf

The other interview option I've enjoyed is a colored or patterned fitted jacket over a plain black base (a black top with no embellishment and black trousers). I like the color combination in this version, which features a matte jersey jacket from Spiegel and a gorgeous silk scarf. I think it works because the color palette is kept pretty simple and the scarf is the focal point. I would not, however, try to pull this ensemble off for a super formal interview, or with flats.

Finally, K. needs something for her community course work:

Dress You Up #1: K.Intership Outfit #1
-Old Navy Women's Fair Isle Tie-Belt Wrap Cardigan
-AE Uniform Polo
-Old Navy Women's Perfect Khakis
-Blowfish Women's Smooth Flat Shoe
-Mixed Bag Designs 720-700 Black & White Damask Zipper Tote
-Unique Vintage Glam Naturale Vintage Style Owl Necklace
-Wet Seal Braided Chain Bracelet

I really, really hate polo shirts. There is nothing you can do to keep them from looking like a uniform, because that's usually what they are. That said, I think this kinda works--the monochrome palette and fun jewelry keep it from looking like you just came from your shift at Target.

Dress You Up #1: K. Internship outfit #2
-AE Sailor Stripes Cardigan
-Old Navy Women's Pique Polo
-Gap Perfect khaki pants
-Delia's Taupe Messenger Bag
-Maylan's Vintage Style Multicolor Crystal Love Birds Necklace
-Women's ConverseĀ® One StarĀ® Oxfords

If there is a way to make khaki pants (which I also hate for uniform-looking reasons) and a polo shirt to not look preppy and collegiate, I don't know what it is. So, I say if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, and go all out with the retro college vibe. The combination of the striped cardigan and the One-Star Converse actually have me kinda liking this. And I love love love that necklace.

So now that I've suggested a whole bunch of things for K, how realistic are they? Are they remixable? I came up with a couple of remixes:

Dress You Up #1: K. Remix #1

How cute is this for a little-bit dressed up casual day?

Dress You Up #1: K. Remix #2

I love the fun colors in this.

Dress You Up #1: K. Remix #3

K. could even dress up her standby jeans with a jacket, scarf, and heels for night out!

So overall, what am I suggesting? Two things:

1. K. should invest in a few basic pieces that fit her well and make her comfortable. Ideally, these would include: a neutral suit jacket, khakis and/or black pants, a casual fabric (probably denim) pencil skirt, a fitted sheath dress and/or a flare skirted shirt dress, and several colored cardigans.

2. K. should use her thrift and discount shopping time and money to add things to her wardrobe that make her happy and show her personality--jewelry, scarves, fun shoes, bags, etc. It is amazing what a difference it makes just to have a few of these types of items you can mix in with your boring neutral clothes--they make what you're wearing feel and look like *you*.

I also think K. should look for colored shoes (colored shoes just make it look like you aren't playing it too safe with your wardrobe and I love that) and consider the figure-flattering options available with vintage reproduction clothes, especially dresses.

Now, on to the hair and makeup aspect of the question. I like K.'s hair the way it is--I think both the cut and the color suit her face very well and look easy to maintain. I wouldn't change a thing. For makeup, a woman with K.'s schedule needs an easy, doable routine. I'd start with either a tinted moisturizer or a cream foundation, depending on the level of coverage wanted. K. mentioned that she's going to try the Maybelline mousse foundation I mentioned last week, and that ought to be a great start. From there, I'd go with a neutral-ish blush, maybe something like Bare Escentuals bareMinerals Blush or Benefit Dandelion. I'd definitely use a correcting eyelid primer/concealer, since K. doesn't get much sleep--for my money, you absolutely can't beat Benefit Lemon Aid. K. can then use shadow and liner or not--if she wants to, I'd suggest a neutral and easily mix and matchable palette, like the Smashbox Eyeshadow Trio in Shutter Speed or Viewfinder, or, for a more economical option, the Physician's Formula Matte Collection Quad Eyeshadow in any of the available palettes, and a basic dark brown or plum liner, like MAC Powerpoint Eye Pencil Bordeauxline or Stubborn Brown. Mascara is a must, and everybody has her own favorite--for K., I'd recommend a long-lasting, waterproof version, like Cargo Better than Waterproof. Finally, K. needs something for her lips--I really think nearly everybody looks better with a little lip color/shine. For both longevity and ease of application, I can't recommend Tarte Lipsurgence pencil lipsticks enough.

Whew! That turned out to be quite the project! I hope you all enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together! K., does this help? And everyone else, please drop me a line if you'd like to be featured! No question is too big or too small!


This is the cutest stuff ever. K is beautiful, will be drop-dead stunning in outfits like what you suggest, and I am drooling over every single piece of jewelry you picked. Yay, Grace!!

OMG! LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this new feature! It's so informative and I love the outfits you're putting together. Plus I also like that you put where we can get this stuff too! Awesomeness all around. Can not wait till the next one goes up!

I LOVE THIS! I think I'm gonna get in line. You've put together some great outfits for K and they seem to suit her a lot!

You are seriously amazing at this. Those outfits are gorgeous. I am so getting in line.

*signs up*

This is amazing!

Wow, I love this! Great advice! I especially like the interview outfits.

Awesome picks, Grace! I think you absolutely captured K!

I am dead. Those outfits are amazing! I want so many of those pieces.

Loove the owl necklace and the red converse shoes. Sooo cute.

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