Sunday 18 January 2015

Business Casual Closet Remix

Of all the fun opportunities this thrifting adventure has brought me, working with real life women on affordable style is my favourite!  Today, I met Kristen to go through her closet before our planned thrift shopping trip in a couple weeks.
She is kind enough to give half to her husband.

Kristen is a smart and spunky 26-year-old who is rising through the managerial ranks in the university campus setting.  She is driven to succeed and knows the importance of having a style that reflects her ambition.  Her workplace dress code is fairly liberal, allowing denim and even more casual pieces, but Kristen wisely has been upgrading her style with the goal of polished "business rocker-chic casual."  Yep, we made up that highly technical term!  Kristen's Pinterest style board has a distinct vibe that perfectly reflects her personality.  She is feminine but edgy, tends towards black as her main neutral, and likes contemporary patterns like plaid and stripes.  She has a wide-range of duties and needs to be able to move easily then put on a blazer for a meeting.  Here are some of the looks we came up with from her existing pieces!
This knit sheath dress was the perfect opener to discuss the "rule of 3" - your ensemble needs 3 noticeable elements to be "complete."  This may be a colourful tank peeking from a button up with a cardi or blazer; a dress, jacket and necklace; or swap in a belt, scarf, earrings or bangles for one of those elements.  Try it for yourself - with only 2 elements, things look ... boring mannequin.  Whether you have 3 layers, or a main top + a finishing piece + an accessory, or a dress + 2 accessories, aim for a minimum of 3 for a great look!
Wear a chambray or button-up UNDER a dress for added versatility.
A pop of colour through accessories adds interest!
Kristen is not afraid of wearing black and brown together!
Same dress, scarf and boots, totally different look!
Kristen is also not afraid of wearing blue and black!
We discussed that you can mix and match neutrals freely as a general style principle.
Though we concluded this dress is too unstructured for work, Kristen can still wear it for the rest of her life!
We liked the lace-up boot for a biker vibe, and the tall boot for a more classic look.

Next we moved onto pencil skirts!
Kristen LOVED the plaid shirt/pencil skirt combo!
A quick Pinterest search revealed that this look is a favourite of fashionistas!
Another easy and age-appropriate look: pencil skirt + statement tee + blazer.
A unique and fun print like this space tee is interesting without being *too* edgy.
This grey pencil skirt is totally versatile!

The fourth look features a fairly conservative top.  We discussed that adding some kind of edgy touch to otherwise tame pieces allows Kristen to stay true to her style aesthetic, so she added boots with studs and a neutral skull-print scarf to rock it up!  The fifth look illustrated an easy style formula: short over long over skinny.  Works every time!  

With skirts and dresses, Kristen can wear leggings with booties and boots, or tights with flats to keep the leg line continuous.  Next we moved onto pants!
Kristen has a few pairs of classic skinny work pants.  She only needs to apply the basic style principles to get a look that works.  We discussed that adding "default black" shoes or scarf is a move that anyone would make, but stepping out of the default and reaching for a pop of colour or pattern mix is where personal style starts to show!
Same principles - short over long over skinny, rule of 3, pop of colour!
On the right, Kristen's mix of colours works because they all have similar hues.  Her black belt and blazer anchor the look.
Navy polka dot ankle crops - LOVE!
Swap out the finishing elements for a totally different look!

Kristen has a relatively small wardrobe - relative to me anyway! - yet she managed to create so many looks following some basic style principles:
  • the rule of 3
  • short over long over skinny
  • pop of colour rather than default black
  • mix dressy with casual
  • mix and match neutrals
  • stripes as a default easy-to-mix pattern
  • add an edgy element to otherwise conservative pieces
We also discussed reorganizing her closet - putting all the dresses together, all the blazers/cardis/finishers together then arranging tops by colour.  Put accessories on a cork board or hooks so they are easy to see.  The goal is to make your closet system as user-friendly as possible to take the frustration out of getting dressed in the morning, and Kristen is well on her way!

There are a few holes in Kristen's wardrobe and I can't wait to take her thrifting to see what we'll find!  Stay tuned for the next chapter in our adventure!  Meanwhile, thanks for opening your closet to me, Kristen!  I had a great time and I think you look amazing!


  1. All great looks, and I love her style!

    1. Thanks Amy! Me too - Kristen has a cool edgy vibe to her style - I love it! And she easily agreed to let pieces go that didn't fit that vibe!


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