Remember those uniforms you had to wear to school as a kid? If you were a private schooler, they’re are all too familiar. You’d embellish the collar with pins and patches, sport a partially tucked shirt to class or roll up that skirt an extra inch or two – all in the name of self expression (and being rebellious). Yet, despite your best efforts to skirt the rules, the uniform still felt stifling and impersonal. Graduation couldn’t come soon enough, and casting aside those garments for the last time, felt like a glorious emancipation. A feeling I often liken to the demise of traditional office attire.
To the button-down, the blazer and the pencil skirt, I say good riddance! I’ve buried these pieces in the depths of my closet, where they’ve long since remained untouched and unworn. I’ve championed the ever-changing landscape of the modern office, where ‘business casual’ taken loosely means that jeans and dress shorts are acceptable as long as you look polished. The beauty of those terms, suggests that when it comes to shopping for office basics, anything is game.
The workwear ready look I’m sharing today, calls into question some of the unspoken rules of styling that have been drilled into me over the years. You may be familiar with many of these already, like never pairing blue with black or mixing prints. Whatever rulebook you’ve been using as your guide, I suggest you burn it. You’re better off that way.
I’ve always been a huge fan of animal print; whether it’s work appropriate is debatable. It’s been argued that the print is too ‘loud’ for the office and should be reserved for evening only. I’ve also heard it should belong exclusively in winter wardrobes. I tend to disagree. If you’re going to wear animal print to the office, layer it on top of a neutral piece. I’ve chosen an olive-hued shirt dress, but you could just as simply pair it with skinnies and neutral top. Think solid colors like white, black, cream or other tone that complements the print. You can also play with cut and style by opting for a peplum or eyelet top, or flowy peasant blouse if you’re looking for an airier ensemble in the summer. If you’re mixing in a second print, be certain the colors don’t clash. Remember, your neutral piece is the anchor the ties the entire look together. It harmonizes the ensemble and is integral to the overall aesthetic.
I’ve styled this look in some variation or other, many times to the office. I’ve often switched up the scarf for a jacket on chillier days, opted for showier costume jewelry or cinched the waist with a chunkier leather belt. The versatility of the dress makes it possible. To reconstruct this look, opt for pieces from your closet that make a good foundation (remember the neutrals!), then build from there with jewelry and accessories that pop. Most of the items I’ve pulled for this look I’ve had for a while; others I’ve snagged for a steal. My favorite recent find is the pair of calf hair leather slingbacks I’m styling in this shoot. I’d been coveting a pair of Valentino’s (without the hefty price tag!) for a while, and chanced upon these beauties by BCBGeneration at just the right time. I’ve paired them with a handcrafted, leather barrel bag in leopard by one of our very own designers at LILA Fashion International. I love the size and unique shape of the barrel, and how roomy it is. I’m also a longtime fan of the crossbody; having my hands free means that there’s one less thing I need to juggle on-the-go. How perfect is that? As for the Aphrodite Pearl Necklace and Bracelet Stack I’m styling, these pieces are from our very own line of LILA Luxe Jewelry and have already been spoken for – however you can shop similar pieces from the collection in our e-shop.
I’d love to see how you take this look and make it your own, keeping in mind that you don’t need to blow your budget to look polished. The ‘polish’ is all you. All for now. xo.
Dress // T.J. Maxx
Aphrodite Pearl Necklace // LILA Fashion International (SOLD OUT)
Aphrodite Bracelet Set // LILA Fashion International (SOLD OUT)
Scarf // From Paris, gifted to me by a good friend!
Belt // Tory Burch
Leopard Barrel Bag // LILA Fashion International
Shoes // BCBGeneration
Photography: Audrey Gallagher
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