Cold Shoulder Tops… and the Office

Can you wear cold shoulder tops to the office? Workwear fashion blog Corporette weighs in.Can you wear cold shoulder tops to the office? Reader L wrote in wondering whether cold shoulder tops are work-appropriate… Here’s her question:

Cold shoulder tops seem to be everywhere. Are they ever appropriate in the work setting? I’ve seen some that would look acceptable as a sleeveless tank or cardigan (for more casual environments), but there’s something about the “cold shoulder” that feels more risque.

Interesting question, Reader L! We got into this a bit in our chat about the trends we won’t wear to work, but as always trends get muted and change the longer they go on, so it seems like it’s deserving of a fuller discussion. I will note that a number of stores (sigh) include such styles in the “wear it to work” section. I’m curious to hear what readers say.

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Style vs. Trend vs. Frump (Or, How to Cultivate Style)

style-vs-trendThere were a few intriguing comments in Friday’s open thread about brooches and whether they were in style, with some readers even suggesting it might be a matter of age. To me, though, this kind of comes down to style versus trend — and I thought it might make an interesting discussion here. After all, don’t stylish women wear what they fancy — trends be damned? On the flip side, if something was once very trendy and is not any longer, at what point does it cross the line into frump and being “out of style”? How do you cultivate a style instead of merely following trends? (Pictured: The Glamourai.)

For brooches, for example, I 100% agree that they are not trendy right now. They did go through a brief moment of trendiness in the early aughts — for some reason 2003 sticks in my head, along with an episode of What Not to Wear where Stacy London was suggesting women add two or three brooches at a time to sweaters, coats, and more. Somehow, though, I had found my way to brooches before that — buying a ton of them at the Eastern Market flea market while I was in law school — and I still wear them now. (Here’s my advice on how to wear brooches.) As some readers pointed out, the excellent blogger Adina at Blue Collar Red Lipstick also wears them — and I also think often of a great post on The Glamourai (pictured) about how to wear particularly heavy ones without ruining your clothes.

Now — this brings us to another dynamic: frump. If something was trendy many years ago and you continue to wear it after the trend has passed, are you going down the slippery slope toward frump? I tend to think of frump as being more about ill-fitting, unflattering clothes and, perhaps, a general harried demeanor (wild hair, stains/wrinkles, unintentional half-tucks), but it’s an interesting question to ponder. For example, years after skinny jeans came in style, I insisted that my style was bootcut jeans, refusing to buy any skinny jeans until years into the trend. Now that bootcuts and flares are becoming trendy again, though, I see readers noting that their style is skinny jeans (or, specifically, skinny jeans with tall boots) — but that look is starting to look more and more dated to me as well. (It’s interesting, as I type this and reach for a word other than frump, to realize that the phrase “out of style” is what I hear most often, but obviously it’s maddening to talk about being stylish and not being “out of style” without feeling like it’s devolving into an “orange orange orange orange orange” kind of situation.)

What’s even more interesting is how quickly fashion trends move. When some retailers put out new clothes every few weeks, and others copy runway styles much, much faster than ever before, it feels even more like you should find your own style, rather than be a slave to trends and replace your entire wardrobe every season. So how do you cultivate style that transcends trends, without risking being thought of as “out of style”? I’m genuinely curious to hear what you guys think about it!

Here are a few specific fashion/makeup things for you to ponder — are they stylish enough to transcend trend? Does your thinking change if we contrast a “hallmark look” (think Iris Apfel and her eyeglasses, Anna Wintour’s bob, Carolina Herrera and her crisp blouses) with “I thought it would be fun with this outfit”? And — when does it cross the line into an affected look, where you think, “ah, she thinks she is Miss Fashion,” perhaps like with the bustiers/ties mentioned below)?

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Four Reasons to Do a Seasonal Clothing Review

Four Reasons to Do a Seasonal Clothing ReviewWhether you’ve got a small apartment closet or yours rivals that of Kim Kardashian’s, reviewing your clothes on a seasonal basis is still a great idea. I’ve always been a fan of seasonal clothes storage, using clear sweater bags to store out-of-season fabrics, colors, and styles — as well as physically moving out-of-season clothing to the back of the closet, and moving more seasonally-appropriate clothing to the front. I even do this with socks (I only wear no-show ankle socks in the summer) and lingerie (I don’t wear lacy bras with summer t-shirts and dresses, and I’ve also found I have a preference for unlined bras in the summer, as a foam lining or whatnot can feel a bit hot). Some pros to a seasonal clothing review that I’ve found over the years:

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2016 Trends: What WON’T You Wear to Work?

2016 trends to avoid wearing to workI’ve noticed a few trends that seem to be EVERYWHERE of late, and I thought we’d discuss, if only because so many of them seem inappropriate for officewear — I’d love to hear your thoughts.  What trends WON’T you wear to work? Every office is different, of course — know yours! — but it’s always fascinating to hear the reasoning behind them.  I was intrigued to see readers noting that any lace-up shoes (including flats) were inappropriate for their offices, if only because that feels like a trend that’s been around for several years, and while I can see the sex appeal of lace-up high heels, the flats struck me as almost ho-hum.  On the flip side, jumpsuits for work seem to be something that’s gaining ground, with tons of readers noting that they’ve worn jumpsuits to the office regularly.  As we’ve noted before regarding trends and a conservative office, we’re against any trend that’s body baring, illogical, or too “new.”

Pictured, clockwise: Huge exposed zipper / cape blazer / high slit / culottes / off the shoulder top

We haven’t talked about trends in a while, so let’s discuss… Some trends I’m seeing more and more of:

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Wearing Fun Glasses at Work

fun glasses at workDo you wear “fun glasses” to the office, either as a hipster statement or geek chic? Would you consider a bright and wacky pair of glasses for work, or do you try to stick to brown, gray, or metal frames? Do you judge colleagues if they’re obviously wearing Warby Parkers or “cool kid” glasses? Some readers used to joke that thicker-framed, geek-chic frames were birth control glasses — do you still think of certain styles like that? Do you switch glasses up based on your mood and outfit (treating them as jewelry or an accessory), or do you have functional pairs, like “important meeting” glasses or “working alone at office at night” glasses?

We’ve talked about some of my favorite spots for buying glasses online — I’m still addicted; I just got my first pair of Warby Parkers and another two pairs from GlassesUSA — but we haven’t talked about the propriety of geek chic glasses at the office in years. So let’s discuss.

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Exposed Zippers, Shiny Fabric, Sharkbites, and More: What Do You Hate?

hated-workwear-design-detailsWe haven’t talked about your most hated design details for women’s workwear in far too long — so I thought today it might be a fun open thread. I know readers were recently talking about their hatred of exposed zippers (which I agreed with several years ago, but I guess I’ve been worn down by their omnipresence — the exposed zipper is everywhere!), and many of shared their hatred of unlined pants for a while now.

For my $.02:

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