Work Outfit Challenges – What Do You Get Hung Up On?

work outfit challenges and obstaclesI’ve been hard at work trying to come up with a four-week work outfit challenge for folks (stay tuned — it’ll be done SOON), but as I’m writing it, I thought I’d take a moment to ask you guys: What do you think are your biggest challenges when putting together outfits for work? Is it that you fall into a rut with accessories? That you buy things and then have no idea where they fit with the rest of your wardrobe? (Or that you keep buying the same or similar pieces?) That you wish items were multipurpose (for example, I want to make it part of the challenge that you take the same — or a similar — sheath dress and wear it four different ways)? Or do you think it comes down to planning — you’re running late and grab something basic to get out the door, and before you know it you’ve worn similar iterations of your “easy outfit” for a thousand days in a row? I’m also realizing that I tend to think of outfits as being about colors and textures, and to a large extent, colorblocking with different pieces of your outfit — and less about “wear X necklace with Y dress.” So let’s discuss: When getting dressed for work, what are your biggest challenges in putting together outfits for work, finding ideas for work outfits, and more? 

Pictured: Shutterstock/101 Imges.

What Color Shoes to Wear with Different Colors of Pants

what color shoes to wear with different colors of pantsReader S wonders about what color shoes to wear with different colors of pants…

Could you do a story on what color shoes to wear with different color pants? I never know if I should find shoes that match the color of the pant, the color of the shirt, black or something else.

Interesting. I’ve seen a handy-dandy guide for men on Pinterest, but I don’t know if I’ve seen one for women.  In general, I’d say that the question also depends on the kind of pants — which color shoes you choose to wear with ankle pants or straight pants matters much less because there’s a stretch of skin; it isn’t a seamless look; on the other hand for a full-length trouser that is closer to the floor (generally a wide leg, flare, or bootcut style) you’re going to get a leg-lengthening effect if you choose the same color shoe and continue the line.  My own breakdown would probably go like this:

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Repeating Outfits at Work: How Often Do You Do It?

Repeating Outfits at Work | CorporetteHere’s a great question for today, ladies: how often do you repeat outfits at the office? A lot has been said lately of capsule wardrobes for work — decluttering closets to winnow your wardrobes to things that “spark joy” — and a lot of that may leave you feeling like you’re totally repeating outfits at work. So let’s discuss — how often is it acceptable to do? Does it matter if a certain outfit is memorable in one way or another, such as by pairing unusual colors or prints together, or involving unusual pieces? And here’s a bonus question — how versatile are most items in your closet, anyway? For example, will you only buy a new item if it will “go” with at least three things in your wardrobe?

We had a great discussion on how often one can repeat outfits at work back in 2013, and I agree with a lot of my advice from there:

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Work Outfits with Black Heels

classic work outfit ideas with black pumpsWe just rounded up a ton of great black heels for interviews and beyond — and they’re such a basic, versatile piece in your work wardrobe you hopefully don’t need TOO many ideas for how to wear them to work.  Still, I thought it would be fun to come up with a few work outfit ideas, including a very conservative/classic interview outfit.

The Very Conservative Interview Outfit

The ultimate goal of any interview outfit is to not have your clothes distract from your resume, your accomplishments, and your words.  Note that your heels should be walkable — enough so that you can trek to a restaurant two blocks away (and back) in comfort. If you’re buying your first suit, do check out our recent roundup of suits for every budget, as well as The Corporette Guide to Interview Suits!

A note on pants suits vs. skirt suits:  Skirt suits used to be considered the most formal option, but pants suits are accepted almost everywhere these days.  (Stay tuned — we’ll do a poll very soon to get a broader voice on the topic.) Still, there are benefits to the skirt suit that make it worth discussing. First, if you’re buying a budget suit, it’s FAR easier to find a skirt that looks good by itself than suiting pants that look good by themselves.  Second, if you’re buying suiting separates, I always think you should seriously consider buying all of the pieces that are offered — and hey, you’ve got to wear the skirt suit sometime, right? (Pro tip: don’t forget to dryclean your suiting separates together, too, so the wear is consistent.) Finally: if it’s raining, snowing, or other nasty weather, I’ve always preferred a skirt or dress — nothing’s worse than wet pant hems! (Proper rainboots are great for your regular commute, but if you’re going to have limited options for changing shoes once you arrive, you may want to read our old advice on how to interview in a snowstorm.)

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Work Outfit Ideas with Summer Blazers

work outfit ideas with summer blazersLast week we rounded up a bunch of summer blazers — I thought I’d put together a few outfits using some of the pieces. Ladies, what are your favorite ways to wear summer blazers? Do you try to make sure your outfit looks good both with or without your blazer, or are you ok with looking a little unfinished on your commute? (Or, is your blazer the afterthought, and do you just throw on whichever blazer you keep at the office?)  

Work Outfit Idea #1: Floaty Blues

In addition to an interesting white blouse and a pencil skirt, I pictured this classic, hip-length blazer with a scarf.  A scarf can be a great way to play with the colors of a blazer if you want to. You can pick out a small color featured in the scarf and use it to tie another element together (such as if you went with a dark green skirt here instead of a simple navy one), to help you decide what color shoes to wear (you could easily go with beige heels with these light colors, but I pulled out the black in the scarf to go with basic black pumps), or even start to play with patterns, such as if we’d mixed a pinstriped skirt with the floral scarf.  My favorite way to wear scarves is long and loose, like a second interior collar to the blazer, but you can check out all of our ideas for how to wear scarves to work. (Plus: if you end up taking your blazer off your outfit still looks more finished than it might if it were just a white blouse and navy skirt.)

work outfit idea - light blue linen blazer with pencil skirt

Pictured, clockwise: Blazer ($77 today!) / necklace / white blouse / scarfwatch /  earrings / skirt / heels

(On the hunt for basic black pumps? Check out our Guide to Comfortable Heels.)

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Three Work Outfits with Nude Flats

work outfits with nude flatsWhile I have a tendency to feature workwear with interesting details for our main TPS reports, I’ve always thought that the Hunt features were great ways to feature some of the more basic items of clothing that truly make up the workhorses of a businesswoman’s wardrobe. So today I thought I’d try out a new idea, and feature three work outfits using the item from our last Hunt: nude-for-you flats. You can see the full roundup of nude flats here, or nude heels here. (Beige flats are a neutral whether they’re nude-for-you or not, but to match your skin shade to find a nude-for-you flat, see the full Hunt for several options in darker shades. Pictured below are the six shoes we featured, but we rounded up a lot of others in specialty categories like comfort, affordable, wide widths and more!)

nude flats for work

Pictured above: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

Below, our three work outfits using nude flats:

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