Thursday, January 15, 2015

Minimalism & PMT Style Challenge: Wear a Dress

Yes, this is technically a "fashion" post on this blog. Don't worry, I'll wait for you to stop laughing. I have no delusions that I'm fashionable or breaking barriers here. I have, lately, been trying to make my work outfits both more fashionable (in a classic sense, not in a trendy way) and more professional (the "dress for the job you want" concept), although left to my own devices under stress, I revert to a more minimalist, "uniform" style of dress. This post may seem contradictory, and that's because it is; my goals for this area of life (trivial though it may be - though maybe not entirely) are contradictory at the moment.

On the one hand, I really like the idea - in theory, at least - of a uniform. Even in business, it is possible to garner respect in such a simplistic wardrobe. For most of the past few years I've tended, semi-intentionally, towards a uniform of sorts: black slacks, black heels or flats, v-neck sweater, silver necklace. That can also get a bit boring, and though I don't think it will hurt my chances of continuing to move up the ladder at work, I would imagine that dressing in a manner that appears more intentional and thoughtful might be helpful.

I've been putting more creativity in my clothes for the last month or so, but it will be harder to devote energy and thought into that as stress and anxiety from busy season builds up. Enter: the Putting Me Together style challenge. I'm by no means planning to overhaul or expand my wardrobe* to participate in this; I just want to find more creative ways to mix my clothes, and also feel more comfortable wearing outfits that feel a bit "out there" to me.

*My wardrobe is currently probably closer to a minimalist or capsule wardrobe than the average person. I might not be quite down to 33 items (for work; I keep work and casual wardrobes separate for the most part), but I would be shocked if it's more than 50, and I wouldn't be surprised if it's closer to 40. Basically I own:

  • 2 pairs of slacks
  • 2 skirts
  • 2 - 3 dresses (depending on how I style it, one is iffy on work-appropriateness)
  • 2 blazers
  • 3 - 4 cardigans
  • 3 - 4 v-neck sweaters
  • 2 - 3 blouses
  • 6 - 8 tops/tanks that are worn under other things
  • 5 silver necklaces
  • 1 pair of flats (I buy cheap flats that wear out quickly, during the summer I own more)
  • 1 pair of heels
  • 3 pairs of boots

I'm not 100% positive on the tops count, but I guess that is pretty close to 33. Honestly, that is plenty of mix and match and come up with different variations. I used to have about this number of items, but almost entirely sweaters for the tops, which I got tired of. I'm not necessarily trying to change the basic formula, but have more variety within the formula.

Background on my work environment: Officially the dress code is "business attire" (except for Fridays, which is business casual and allows jeans); though suits are often expected when meeting with clients, most people don't wear suits on a regular basis. Men are usually in slacks, button-ups, plus likely either a tie, jacket, and/or sweater. Women's attire is more varied; generally slacks, skirts, button-ups, sweaters, blouses, etc. Some seem to cross the line, in my opinion, with leggings and other more trendy items, which I think need to be included very carefully to be appropriate!


This week's challenge is to wear a dress. The idea being that many women wear dresses during the summer and put them away in the winter; actually I've never been big on dresses, especially for work. I think dresses are easier to make professional in the winter - though bare legs and short sleeves aren't entirely inappropriate in my office, they're definitely borderline, depending on the weather and the rest of the outfit.

I've only this year started coming around to the idea of tights or leggings with dresses (I used to think tights were ridiculously uncomfortable, but I'm now realizing that probably had to do with not sizing up appropriately while at a higher weight). But have gradually been coming around the idea, and wearing dresses occasionally lately. This is an outfit I've worn a few times to work now, and feel pretty comfortable in it (although the whole "belt over sweater" thing was also something I felt self-conscious about at first).


All but the boots and necklace are from Target. The boots are from Payless and the necklace is from H&M.

I almost always wear a simple-yet-interesting sillver necklace, but have a hard time picking on to wear with this, as the pattern is already so busy. The necklace I'm wearing is a newer one, and has a shorter hook option than most of my others, so I can keep it above the neckline, rather than competing with the pattern by overlaying on the dress itself.

Where you do lean on the uniform to trendy spectrum? Is it possible to have a minimalist wardrobe without being boring?

4 comments:

  1. I wouldn't call my wardrobe "minimalist," but I abhor clutter & in the past few years have tried to get pretty ruthless about getting rid of anything that I don't love and wear reasonably often, clothes-wise (but I love & wear waaaaay more things than 33. Like....maybe 133). My office is pretty casual so most of the time if I'm feeling lazy I just throw on jeans or some other type of nice pants and a sweater or tank/cardigan combo. Occasionally I do leggings & a skirt with boots. I've been trying to be more creative sometimes without actually buying more stuff (which I try to avoid unless truly worthy), but it's a real challenge when you're as lazy as I am!

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    1. I tend to buy new things waaay more often needed, but I also routinely get rid of stuff that I haven't been using, so I can still end up with a minimalist-ish wardrobe. Definitely using what I have in more creative ways is something that's the challenge!

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  2. Hey there, found you via GOMI, I like what I see and I'm adding you to my feed reader. :)

    I have a bunch of long sleeve tulle mesh tops in various colours which I wear under short sleeve dresses all year round for work - it means a dress which would usually be in the I'll never wear that to work pile can be in the I can wear that to work and rock it pile. This has taught me to layer it up. I now am happy to wear leggins with a dress - and only with a dress, because I firmly believe Leggins Are Not Pants.

    So that would be the one thing I would add to your list - long sleeve tops for layering. I would also say invest in a good pair of flats rather than many pairs of cheap ones because you'll find it so worth it in the long run. Last time I was in the US I bought 2 pairs of Cole Haan flats - they are the most comfortable shoes I own and unlike all my cheap flats, I can walk for 5km in them without any issues. And given they cost $300 and upwards here in Australia for the exact same shoe I bought for $120 a pair in the US, I did not mind the price tag. :) I have been wearing them regularly for over a year now and they look just as good as they did when I took them out of the box.

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    Replies
    1. Hey, welcome! Especially because you're in the Leggings are Not Pants camp, otherwise, I might have to ask you to leave my blog space. :)

      Ooh, that's a good idea about the long sleeve tops. I definitely utilize cardigans in that way, to mix things up and expand the use of sleeveless stuff, but wearing something under dresses isn't something I've explored before.

      The flats I buy at payless at really comfortable, but yeah, they wear out way too quickly, I need to find an alternative. It's a little harder because I don't wear leather, it seems like the nicer quality ones tend to be.

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