While I was in college, I worked in a high-end boutique in Philadelphia. I ended up running the store for a few years after graduation. At the time, though, I was a lowly “salesgirl,” making a few dollars an hour and commission.
The owner let us buy clothes (that I couldn’t afford) off of our commission. We could take the clothes and pay off our account as our monthly commission accumulated, like the opposite of layaway.
It wasn’t until years later that I realized he let us use pre-tax dollars. Despite the blatant breaking of tax laws, I thought this scenario was incredible and took full advantage.
My mom called it, “Megan Math” since I convinced myself that because I was getting clothes with my commission, I was, somehow, saving money.
Luckily my aptitude for accounting became better with age. But my wardrobe has never been as fantastic as it was when I was 20.
The Classic Denim Jacket
It was here that I bought my first grown-up denim jacket with a mandarin stand-up collar and a lived-in wash for $168. I remember exactly how much because I had never spent that much money on one piece of clothing. In 2000, that was on the high end of things for anyone. For a college student living in a dilapidated sorority house, it was insane.
But I loved it and wore it for over 15 years, throughout college, different jobs, early married life, pregnancies – everything. A few years ago, I replaced it with my current jacket. That’s how long you can get out of a better basic.
This time of year, a denim jacket is essential for transitioning your wardrobe between seasons. You can make any late summer outfit ready for the fall by merely throwing one over your shoulders. Which is what I did here,
Wardrobe Essential: The Denim Jacket
I’ve had this denim jacket for a few years now. Luckily, KUT still makes it for $79. I wear it all the time, over dresses, black pants, leggings. It gets just as much use paired with a baseball hat for a Target run as it does with a heel to grab drinks outside on a chilly fall night.
Versatility is key in building a timeless wardrobe. Of course, it’s rare to find something you can wear for so long without it starting to look dated. With a denim jacket, if you keep the lines and styling clean and simple, you’ll wear it for years and years.
Today, I rounded up my top three favorites that will have a lasting impact on your wardrobe and won’t break the bank- in missy, plus and petite.
There’s a reason the wrap dress is iconic. By design, it flatters every body type. The v-neck and the wrap style waist (whether real or faux) pulls the eye in and creates a feminine silhouette. I’ve worn them at every weight and version of my body, from my youthful flat belly days to my current curvier, postpartum frame and I always feel confident.
This time of year, when the weather dips between summer and fall, it’s the ideal piece to have in your closet.
Dresses are so easy. You can zip, or in this case, wrap them around your waist and go. But I realized as I was organizing this post, that there are a lot of bad, and inappropriate for the office, options in stores. Many are too short, too low cut and too informal to wear in a business setting. What I saw being recommended for grown women to wear to work would be more appropriate for a high school dance.
So today we are rounding up the best wrap dresses currently available for fall, in a range of prices and in all sizes perfect if your work is creative, if you have your own practice or you want to feel a little more pulled together in a casual business environment.
In this photo, I am about seven months postpartum. I’m still working on getting my core strength back (I have a long ways to go) and generally feel self-conscious about my midsection. But a wrap dress, in a busy print, helps hid all that and helps me feel like my old self. Whether I have a meeting, a dinner, or date night, they tend to be my go-to.
Longtime readers know, despite my aversion to most prints, I love DVF. I wear her pieces to death, and when I’m ready to retire them, I put them aside in hopes that one of my three daughters will wear them when they are older. Because I don’t have to spend on formal business clothes, this is one of my seasonal splurges.
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My splurge-worthy pick for this season is this shirt-wrap-dress-hybrid. The length, if you are tall like me, is conservative but fresh. It definitely requires a heel, so the dress doesn’t overwhelm you. Wear it if you want to make a statement or feel like tapping into your more fashiony self.
All Time Great
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When I was a stylist, this dress was one of our favorites. By the time I stopped working with clients, almost everyone had it. It just works. It effortlessly goes from the office, to a work dinner. Or you can dress it up even more with a better heel, and a clutch and take it to a cocktail event.
Being a faux wrap, it’s comfortable to wear. You don’t have to worry about it coming undone, the v-neck, while flattering, isn’t too low, and it doesn’t require hiding a safety inside to keep it in place. 🙂
A classic wrap style, this Ann Taylor dress is similar to DVF but at a much more reasonable price. You can pair this with a pump, or a pointed toe flat. Between the comfortable stretch fabric, and not having to wear a heel, I can’ think of a better casual office outfit.
Plus size clothing has come a long way since I first started in this business, but it still leaves a lot to be desired. If you wear plus, you still have a shape, but many designers and brands think you should wear a sack. Makes me crazy. So I wanted to back flips when I discovered this printed wrap in sizes 1 – 3X. Wear it to work, wear it brunch, doesn’t matter – you’ll look amazing.
Keeping outfits simple doesn’t mean they have to be boring. Over the years, as my taste and lifestyle have evolved, I’ve tried to deliberate with my style choices. Classic with a modern twist has always been my wheelhouse. I define that as outfits rooted in better basics, with one or two stylized, maybe trendy elements and an overall tailored feel.
Classic pieces won’t last you “forever.” Will you wear them longer than trendy pieces? For sure. The point of classic pieces is to wear them in a variety of ways while they are current. Even traditional styles evolve. Line black pants up from the ’80s, 90’s, 2000’s to today, and you’ll see the gradual evolution of a silhouette.
Today’s look is by no means groundbreaking, but it is an example of a classic outfit, built with better basics, with a modern twist: the jogger pant.
Joggers have been around for a while now. What’s nice about them is how they easily slip into the place of a basic black trouser to elevate your look, hence the “twist.”
They are modern, current, and just a bit sporty.
How to Wear Joggers to Work
These pants are by Chelsea28 at Nordstrom for $79. They run true to size (I’m wearing an 8), have just enough stretch to be comfortable but not lose their shape, and best of all – pockets!
You could also try a ponte fabric, like these from Gibson (also at Nordstrom). For something more relaxed, and in all sizes, LOFT has a twill pant is a nice option. Pairing these with a heel elongates your leg and helps avoid the hem of the pant cutting your leg off at an awkward point. But depending on how they fit you, you could wear loafers, slides or even sneakers.
Underneath, a lightweight crepe cami that falls from your body complements the drape of the pants. It’s a more elegant and polished look than a cotton tee or tank.
For an unexpected element, these tortoiseshell pumps from Ann Taylor add some pattern and interest while still acting neutrally. They are higher than what I usually wear but surprisingly comfortable. I’ve lasted all day in them with no discomfort. Right now, they are on sale for 40%. If you can rock a higher heel, they’re a great buy that you’ll wear throughout the fall.
We interrupt our regularly scheduled content to bring you our top picks from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. I went back and forth about covering the sale since it’s starting to feel like gratuitous consumerism rather than the special occasion so many of us remember it as. BUT I asked over on Instagram who is planning on shopping and enough readers raised their hands.
From experience, the sale can be overwhelming. So we are breaking this post into five parts, starting today with pieces for work. Tomorrow we will focus on casual, Wednesday accessories and Thursday our beauty picks. We’ll wrap up the week on Friday with whatever is left, like coats, and splurges.
Before we start, it’s important to know that this post is not sponsored but if you click and purchase something from our links we may receive a very (very, very) small commission.
From July 12th – 18th the sale is limited to cardholders only. I am NOT a person with a dozen store credit cards, but I do have the Nordstrom card, and the benefits are decent. Basically, you receive points that turn into “Notes” which are just credits for future purchases. They frequently have double or triple point days designed to help you earn more.
I should be better at leveraging those days considering how much I spend every year, but I drove to spin class in my flip flops on Friday and flat out forgot my sneakers, so I have to get other things in order before I can micromanage my shopping strategy.
Is the sale worth it? Yes if you know what you need. I have done well over the years because I know the brands that work for me, and have spent on a few better designer pieces included in the sale.
Will I be doing dressing room selfies? That’s a hard no.
Today’s post is not about me. To come up with our recommendations, I searched the sale for pieces you’ve let me know you are always on the lookout for, and reviewed our reader’s purchase history, to create a curated list of options.
As always, we’re including plus and petite within our roundups. Keep in mind just because the item is shown in a missy sizes, they still may have extended sizes within the size scale.
Because they order limited quantities, items sell out fast so they can create a sense of urgency. Most items are not restocked. When they are restocked it’s later in the season.
Blazers for work are a no brainer. I ordered this Halogen double-breasted blazer for its playful, casual plaid. I’ll wear it with boyfriend or dark wash skinny jeans and booties in the fall since work is casual for me. But you can dress it up with your favorite trousers and either a heel or a loafer.
Scroll below to see a few more, well-tailored bottoms that have a subtle pattern that helps add some visual interest to otherwise flat looks. And if you are feeling like shaking things up, these tie waist bottoms are available in a feminine pink that works as an unexpected neutral.
Back when I was a stylist, I always enjoyed working with our handful of clients who needed proper suiting. I love the look of a well-tailored suit and how powerful it makes women look and feel.
As a loyal Theory fan, they are my go-to when I need to be suited. This gorgeous suit (jacket/pant) is classic and modern. It would work in the spring, summer and early fall on the east coast and all year long on the west coast. (Their sizing is all over the place, so be sure to try on and don’t worry if you have to size up – I do.)
If you need to replace your traditional black suit, this Boss pantsuit (jacket/pant) is a show stopper. It’s made with tropical wool, which means you can wear it all year long, in any season.
Simple tops and layering pieces for work are always a challenge. The sale is offering some options but nothing with a WOW factor. There are, however, a few basics to freshen up what you already have, like these Vince Camuto and Boss sleeveless tops.
Most of the items below are under $50, are available in plus size and will work under a blazer, sweater or paired with your favorite bottoms.
Shoes and Boots
I found the shoe department the most underwhelming of the sale. There are, however, two shoes I’m excited to share. First, our Reader Favorite Sam Edelman Half d’Orsay pump is under $80 and available in four classic colors.
Second, perhaps the best deal of this entire post are the Aquatalia Water-Resistant Booties. If you walk to work in the elements or spend anytime outside when the weather is wet and miserable, these booties are a game-changer. They are an investment but one you will be happy to make if your budget allows.
A big thank you for everyone’s patience this past week. After my grandmother passed away, I was hit with a nasty upper respiratory infection that I’m still battling (thank you pregnancy immunity), had to fly to Miami for a quick work trip and then had to take a few days off for the funeral. I never want to take advantage of your inbox, and since I could barely form a thought, I didn’t think sending out half cooked content was a good idea.
The last couple of weeks have been a lesson in doing the best I can, and how that’s going to look different depending on the situation. I’m delighted to be getting back into the swing of things and getting set up to take a bit of a break when the baby arrives.
I’m excited for today’s post because it’s stylish and practical in so many ways. A few readers have asked about pattern or plaid pants, and how to wear them to work. The challenge I found was finding one that was wearable and classic yet updated. When it comes to prints and pattern on a bottom, you want it to be subtle. You don’t want it to be the first and only element you notice about the look. Instead, it should enhance your overall outfit without being overwhelming.
I decided on these T Tahari straight leg trousers (available at Bloomingdales) for a few reasons. First, the fit. I’ve always had great luck with T Tahari pants, they just work. When I worked with clients I turned to them over and again. I think they are a bit on the short side on the model. I would take the hem down about an inch. Because these are menswear inspired, be sure to have a break at your shoe. This just means that the bottom of your pant hem slightly puddles on the top of your shoe. Proper tailoring is extra important when it comes to patterned bottoms because the pattern will highlight even the slightest imperfection.
When buying a memorable piece (i.e., anything not a basic), it’s helpful to be able to wear it a few different ways. This prevents the item from hanging in your closet, barely worn. Today, we broke it down into two simple looks that use some new pieces and a few that will look familiar.
For the shoes, I used these Marc Fisher block heel pump in black suede. The suede complements the texture of the sweater and the pant, the block heel gives support and comfort, and the pointed toe helps elongate the line of the leg. They’re pretty much perfect.
For the second look I opted for this cozy Old Navy sweater that landed on our October Reader Favorites list. With the holidays upon us, you might have a few office days when you have to get dressed, but maybe you’re just cleaning out files and getting organized for the New Year. For those kind of days this outfit is comfortable but still professional.
The boots are a total splurge but worth every penny. When I would travel to New York, or Chicago in the winter months, these are what I would wear under my pants. No need to carry an extra pair of shoes. Just brave the elements, get to the office and brush them off. They are ideal if you commute via transit to work or navigate a busy city.
Finally, so many of you picked up this wrap coat I wanted to remind you how easy it is to wear. It’s nice because it’s unstructured, so it will fit over bulkier sweaters. It’s on sale for $85 and is still available in most sizes in two colors.
We spend time figuring out our style, purging and organizing our closets, and putting together outfits. Then, we throw on a coat, any old scarf, cover up our hard work and head out the door. Let’s take a minute to create a look with our winter coat thoughtfully so when we walk into the office or enter an early morning meeting; our outer layer is as chic as what’s underneath.
For this post, I followed a few guidelines. First, I set an under $500 price point for the coats, all of these ended up being under $400. Next, these are not the coats you wear in a snowstorm. Instead, they are classic, toppers. Some look like a traditional car coat; others are three-quarter length with a tie waist. They are what you would wear to work, and all can be dressed down with jeans on the weekends.
Please click the links for color options and sizes. Finally, they all have wool in them. I can’t find non-wool options I would recommend.
Stop what you are doing and order this tank, it’s that great. A few weeks back, I popped into my J.Crew Factory (or Mercantile). It’s right next to our local Whole Foods. I don’t usually love food shopping and rely quite a bit on Instacart, but we’re at that point in the summer where I jump at any chance to get out of the house by myself for an hour. I grab an iced coffee, take my time walking up and down the aisles, and before I drive home, take a minute to see what’s new at J. Crew.
My wardrobe needs have always been a tale of two extremes. When dressing to work with our corporate clients, I invest in classic, better pieces. But on days when I’m “balancing” working from home and schlepping the kids to and from the pool and friends houses, their merchandise makes sense. Cute shorts, casual tees, some cotton tank dresses – just throw on and go about your day kind of dressing. Plus, the prices are great, and I don’t feel like I have to dig throw racks as I do at more traditional outlet stores. I’m in and out of the store in 15 minutes.
I picked this tank up about a month ago, and have gone back to buy more, twice. It’s a fantastic stand-alone piece and a layer. Lately, I’ve been wearing it with these twill pants (limited sizes left) and my jeans ( Old Navy Rockstar Skinnies, AG Distressed and these from Article of Society) when it’s not ungodly hot out. It works because of the subtle layer at the bottom, that simple silky detail elevates it from a basic cotton tank to an outfit enhancing piece. Zhush it up with some stacked bracelets and or a long, swingy necklace.