The Perfect Spring Sheath

The Perfect Spring Sheath

Back when I was working with private clients, every season there were a few go-to pieces that would end up in most dressing rooms. This dress, for sure, would be one of those pieces. It’s a great staple you can dress up for work or weekend events with a can’t-beat price.

This time of year, weekends are crazy. Just looking at our family calendar for April and May, every Saturday and a few Sundays have at least one, sometimes two events.

I feel like we are going to blow through the Spring and Summer, which would usually bum me out, but my brother is getting married in early September and I am out of my mind excited about it.

Before that, our next big event is my daughter’s First Communion.  That’s what got me looking for a simple, affordable, and versatile dress. If you have any kind of shower, graduation or similar event in the coming weeks this dress might be for you.

The Perfect Spring Sheath

Sheath, $90  |  Necklace, $50  |  Clutch, $70  |  Heel, $99

I ordered it in “serene” (above), but it’s available in eight other colors.  The sheath silhouette is perfect for layering under a blazer (take a look at our picks for classic spring blazers here). For the office or after work, black or navy would be perfect. But, don’t be afraid to pick up a bold color. I have a similar dress in bright pink that I wore to all kinds of events last summer.

For this look I wanted it to be super simple and elegant. I love a nude (to me) sandal, and these by Vince Camuto are different yet still wearable with their 3″ heel. 

For the bag, I’m going matchy-matchy.  This box style clutch in patent leather is quintessential Spring.

Finally, you can skip a necklace if you prefer but I wanted to show it as an option. If you can pull off a bold statement, I L.O.V.E this necklace. The shape will mimic the neckline of the dress and act almost like a collar.  The mix of color adds a really lovely depth to the outfit.

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Springtime Blazers for Work

they add some much needed structure to an outfit and really pull together a look, which is especially important for work.  Spring and summer appropriate blazers are tricky.  If you want the best selection of style and price points, now is the time to shop.
Springtime Blazers for Work - The Well Dressed Life

You would think, the longer I do this, the easier it would be to come up with content.  But it’s the opposite. After working with clients for a decade, and writing daily style tips for three years, there are times when nothing feels fresh and exciting.

So I’m always happy to receive questions and comments from readers.  If you have a question, I guarantee a few thousand other women do as well.  Focusing on your needs makes my time writing much more productive. Instead of spending time thinking about what to write about, I can focus entirely on finding solutions to any of your challenges.

That’s what we’re doing for the next few weeks as we work through the questions you’ve posted over the past month.  For today’s post, we talking lightweight springtime blazers for work.

I’m not much of a light sweater person when layering and more of a stylish jacket or blazer. I think I like the structure of the jacket/blazer. Do you have any recommendations for light jackets/blazers for the spring/summer?” – Laura

 

Laura, I will always pick a blazer over a cardigan.  You’re right, they add some much needed structure to an outfit and really pull together a look, which is especially important for work.  

Spring and summer appropriate blazers are tricky.  If you want the best selection of style and price points, now is the time to shop.

Springtime Blazers for Work

One, $74  |  Two, $168  |  Three, $118  |  Four $111  |  Five, $130  |  Six, $111  |  Seven, $128

For the sake of today’s post I kept the price under $200 and made sure there was not only size variety but color within each style.  I also wanted these to be extremely wearable. 

Almost all of these picks can go with jeans, classic black or white pants, patterned pants, a sheath or a straight line skirt.

One, $74:  Mural makes a nice blazer for under $100. The open, no button detail keeps it casual but you still get structure.  The elongated front detail will pull the line of the body inward, visually creating a slimming shape.  Available in black, white (above), taupe and rust in XS – XL.  Runs small.

Two, $168:  I’ve always loved J.Crew style, but for awhile their quality and size selection wasn’t great.  Over the past few seasons I’ve been pleasantly surprised by both.  Especially their sizes, which now go from 00 – 20.  This cotton linen blazer is available in white, deep water (above), red and black.  Because of the length, it will work best with any kind of trousers or jeans.

Three, $118: This chambray blazer by LOFT is so lovely and perfect for spring.  Pair with dark navy, white or denim bottoms.  Available in sizes 4-18 in regular and petite and in plus here.

Four $111: You have to search for it, but every now and then Talbots has an item that is updated, classic and doesn’t look like Talbots.  Like this notched-collar blazer that comes in blue (above) and black. It will easily be that piece you keep grabbing out of your closet. I special shout out to their commitment to inclusive sizing. This blazer is available in sizes 2 -18 in regular and petite and 14 – 24 in plus.

Five, $130:  I love a boyfriend blazer with jeans in a casual or creative office.  You can take an outfit that would look frumpy with a long cardigan, swap it for a boyfriend blazer, and instantly look effortlessly cool.  I have a similar style I picked up a few years ago and pretty much wear it to death.  This style is only available in black, in sizes 0 – 14.  

Six, $111: With this knit blazer, also by Talbots, you get the look and benefit of the structure of a blazer, but the comfort of cardigan or sweater. Because the fabric is inherently casual, you want to pair it with other casual pieces, like stretch cotton or denim.  If you wear it with more formal items, you will look disjointed. Available in cherry tomato (above), iris, black and white, in any size you need.

Seven, $128: Finally, there is nothing quite like the look of a double breasted blazer. The key to wearing this is to keep it simple, just a classic pair of jeans or black slim pants.  Because the buttons are the star of the piece, avoid prints and patterns.  LOFT is also killing it with sizes. This style is available in regular and petite in sizes 00 – 14 and in plus in sizes 20 -26.

Have a question?  Be sure to add them in the comments and we’ll feature it in an upcoming post.

Wear to Work: Flats for the Office

Wear to Work: Flats for the Office
Wear to Work: Flats for the Office - The Well Dressed Life

Lots of requests are coming in for flat recommendations for the office, so today we rounded up the best of the best. It’s a great time of year to stock up on seasonal shoes because there is plenty of inventory and variety within each style.

If you wait until May, you’ll be frustrated with limited options. I kept the picks below versatile, stylish, and affordable, which is relative, so these are all under $130, and most are well under $100.  Be sure to click through the links as each style comes in many different colors.


Wear to Work: Flats for the OfficeOne
, $100  |  Two, $40  |  Three, $69  |  Four, $70  |  Five, $91  |  Six, $54  |  Seven, $59  |  Eight, $98  |  Nine, $130

One, $100: A d’Orsay flat is the most versatile style flat because you can wear it with pants or skirts. Because they are open on the side they have a light and airy feel making them ideal for warmer weather. Available in a rainbow of colors, my favorites are the classic nude leather (above), red suede and leopard print.

Two, $40: Louise et Cie is one of my favorite reasonably priced shoe brand. I have these in black, I purchased them from Nordstrom a year or so ago and I wear them all the time, including when I’m at the airport. If you are looking for a simple but elevated ballet flat, grab these in a few colors at this great price.

Three, $69: I’m featuring these Nine West flats in black patent leather, but they are available in so many colors and prints I don’t know what I like more.  I’m thinking I need their pink watercolor print, or maybe the black and white gingham.  I also love the black fabric option if you want a basic color that adds a bit of subtle texture to your look.

Four, $70: Another Louise et Cie pick, this one is ideal for the office because of the styling. The soft point of the toe will help elongate your leg, an important element of getting dressed that is often lost when you wear flats.  It also has a fun but not frilly bow that adds just the right amount of interest to the shoe. We’re showing it in stripes, because I love stripes, but it’s also available in classic black and red.

Five, $91: Looking for something a little different? These tassel slipper loafers by Sam Edelman are unique but totally wearable.  They work best with an ankle style pant, either tapered or wide legged.  The color featured above is putty.  I also like the poseidon blue suede.

Six, $54: This wouldn’t be one of my lists without a leopard print shoe, and this one on sale at J. Crew Factory is perfect.  It’s a great shape and style with a slim line ankle pant, jeans, or even a simple dress or skirt.

Seven, $59: These are the dressiest option on our list, and another J.Crew Factory find. If you are in a more formal office, but need a flat instead of a heel, these will fill that void. The only thing I wouldn’t wear these with is a cropped pant as the line of the pant hem and the line of the ankle strap will fight with each other. Only available in black, and sizes are limited.

Eight, $98: Utilitarian in style, these slingback flats by Madewell are basic and easy to wear. The featured color (above) is called Antique Purple, but it reads more of a blush. It’s also a available in a preppy orange and black leather.   

Nine, $130: Finally, another d’Orsay flat by Marc Fisher. These feel a little more substantial than the Sam Edelman’s but are slightly more expensive. We featured a cheerful orange suede above. They are also available in the best selection of metallics you could wear every day.

Soft and Feminine Trench

Soft and Feminine Trench

I’m a big fan of the trench coat. When I cinch the belt and pop the collar, I can’t help feeling a little more powerful and sophisticated. In general, coats are an essential element in an outfit. They are your first impression and can either elevate your style or distract from it. This time of year, the trench is such a great outfit “finisher.” Since we are finally able to shed our winter layers and add something light and elegant to our outfits, trench coats make it easy to up your style factor with little effort.

I’ve been on the hunt for a new trench with a few requirements: it couldn’t be Burberry (there are plenty of blogs showing off $1500 trench coats), it needed to be a little different, and under $200.

After searching for hours, I stumbled on this absolutely gorgeous Badgley Mischka Faux Leather Trim Trench, for, wait for it, $130.


Soft and Feminine TrenchTrench
, $130  |  Umbrella, $38  |  Scarf, $40

This trench comes in four soft neutral colors.  Above is “fog,” the most neutral of the options.  It’s available in XS = 0 to and XL =14.  I like that the style is unstructured, so if you are as straight as a pencil, or have curves,  it will work for your body type.  You can easily have this hemmed to hit right below your knee without the alteration affecting the line of the coat.

Because I get idyllic about this time of year, I envision walking in the city, on a rainy day, looking like I just stepped off the set of some romantic comedy.  This will never happen, but it’s good to have goals.  Why not pick up a cheeky umbrella, like this one from Kate Spade.

Finish off the look with a simple scarf.  I spent way too much time looking for one, and, for the record, I have amazing taste.  What I want is a vintage Hermes.  If you happen to have one and have no idea what to do with it, start wearing it immediately.  Mixing such a timeless piece, with modern, better priced items creates an incredibly chic look. I eventually found is this lovely black and white scarf by Ralph Lauren for $40.  It’s an entirely different look than the Hermes, but equally on point.

 

Weekend Inspiration: Patagonia “Better Sweater” Zip Pullover

Weekend Inspiration: Patagonia "Better Sweater" Zip Pullover
Weekend Inspiration: Patagonia "Better Sweater" Zip Pullover - The Well Dressed Life

It’s almost spring, which, in our house, means softball season. Growing up, I lived across the street from our neighborhood recreation center. My bed was tucked underneath my bedroom window, facing the little league field.

On Saturday mornings I woke up to a beautiful crisp breeze wafting through my room and the clanging sound of metal bats. To this day, every time I hear it I’m filled with comfort and nostalgia.

These days our weekends start early, we stop and grab a coffee and spend the afternoon bouncing back and forth between fields. My husband coaches our youngest. I help out on the bench, managing the batting order, teaching the girls to cheer for their teammates and helping the catcher get her gear on and off.

I smile when I hear Bri say the same things my dad tried to teach me: bend your knees, keep your eye on the ball, and, my personal favorite, don’t catch the ball with your face.

After being cooped up in the house for months, the sunshine and fresh air are just what the doctor ordered. I get all mushy watching these little 8-year-old girls swing their bats and drop into “ready position.”

A few of the players already have such fierceness and focus. It makes me so happy to see how they are learning confidence, teamwork, friendship, and determination.

This is our last weekend before the season officially starts, so I’m spending some time organizing the house for spring and going through equipment. It dawned on me that I needed a few things so our weekend mornings run smoothly too. 

I have literally worn through most of my active wear over the winter, to the point that my leggings look sheer (yikes!) and my go-to hoodies are tattered.

 

 

Weekend Inspiration: Patagonia "Better Sweater" Zip Pullover

Patagonia “Better Sweater” Zip Pullover, $99

I decided to replace all my random hoodies and sweatshirts with this Patagonia pullover.  It’s so soft, and lightweight but still warm. It’s called “birch white” but looks more like a very light gray.  Perfect.  I’m going to live in it all season.

 

Weekend Inspiration: Patagonia "Better Sweater" Zip PulloverLeggings, $54  |  Tote, $30  |  Water Bottle, $35  |  Aviators, $65  |  Sneakers, $120

If you want to look pulled together while super casual you have to look at what you’re wearing like any other outfit.  What works best for me is keeping all of these pieces limited to a few colors: black, gray and white.  This way everything goes together with little thought and effort.

Zella Live in High Waist Leggings are our favorite legging to wear outside the gym.  They stay in place, and are thick enough to keep you covered.  (These are the only leggings I have found that do not get sheer with time.)  They also wash well so the $54 price tag is worth it.

We have a zillion boat and totes in our house: one for the pool, one for the beach, one in my car to corral random items. I bought another just for softball season so I can schlep water and snacks, wipes, and anything else we might need for the team.

Let’s talk about sunglasses for a moment. I love a good, over the top, designer pair of sunnies, but when you’re fielding balls hit by eight year olds a pair of oversized Gucci’s look ridiculous.  I picked up these $65 of Aviators by Quay Australia “Gold/Smoke” and they are fantastic and don’t cost a car payment.  They will probably be my everyday pair for the summer.

If you are in the market for a new sneaker, I really like my Nike’s. Aside from a sleek design, they are incredibly comfortable and supportive.  Some sneakers are so awkward and because I’m tall (with size 10 feet) they often feel oversized.  These are streamlined and just disappear.  You can train in these and wear them outside the gym.

Finally, spending $35 on a water bottle seemed silly at first.  But I bought it anyway and am so happy I did.  I’m not buying a plastic bottle and wasting half of it, probably saving some money and definitely drinking more water.  Once you make a habit of filling and packing it, you’ll be happy you have it too.

 

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How to Wear Gray Jeans

How to Wear Gray Jeans - The Well Dressed Life
How to Wear Gray Jeans - The Well Dressed Life

A few weeks back we featured these gray jeans in a Weekend Inspiration post.  Since then, we’ve received dozens of request for more ideas to get as much wear out of them as possible. So today we are showing you how to wear gray jeans three different ways.

How to Wear Gray Jeans

How to Wear Gray Jeans

Jeans, $189

I’m not going to lie, this is one of my most favorite posts.  Everything came together just right.  We wanted to show not only three options, but three totally different looks.  Many readers bought these Paige jeans last month, and just as many picked up these Old Navy Rockstar jeans.  We always try to provide as many price options as possible in a variety of sizes.

Let’s start with the prettiest causal outfit ever:

How to Wear Gray Jeans: Casual

 

How to Wear Gray Jeans - The Well Dressed LifeOutfit 1: Top, $49  |  Sneaker, $130  |  Scarf, $13

I’m in love with this mix of soft neutrals.  Remember casual doesn’t ever have to been sloppy, in fact, it can be super chic.  Just like we did last month, I paired pink with gray. It’s a classic combination that looks so fresh.  I like this simple fleece Gibson top.  It’s under $50 and comes in four wearable colors and an array of sizes including petite.

Can we talk about these sneakers?  Because the are heavenlyCole Haan makes such a good shoe. These, in a soft dove gray buttery leather, are the chicest sneakers I’ve ever seen.  They are not inexpensive, but might be worth the spend if you are in the market for a weekend sneaker that makes no effort to look like a sneaker you would wear to the gym.

Finally, this scarf is exactly what I was looking for.  It’s equally soft and muted, and adds just the right layer without bulk.

How to Wear Gray Jeans: Date Night

How to Wear Gray Jeans - The Well Dressed LifeOutfit 2: Sweater, $30  |  Heel, $70  |  Bag, $35

Hello, date night.  One of the easiest ways to wear gray is in a monochromatic outfit. To pull off all one color, you need to work in shades of that color.  If you wore the exact same tone and saturation of one color your outfit would be flat.  Instead, look for varring tones.  This will give your look depth and interest. Here, we did just that.

I don’t think I want to spend more than $30 on an off the shoulder sweater.  I’m wearing it a few times, and then I’m done, so this one from H&M is just what I want.  For the shoe, I went with these simple suede heels.  They are higher than what I would wear all day, but for a few hours I could manage.  Dolce Vita makes a decent heel, especially when they are on sale

For the bag, I found this gorgeous burgundy suede crossbody that can easily be carried as a clutch.  It’s $35 at DSW, a steal if you consider wearing burgundy is the equivalent of a neutral.  To pull the look together with a burgundy lipstick.

How to Wear Gray Jeans: Brunch

 

How to Wear Gray Jeans - The Well Dressed LifeOutfit 3: Sweater, $102  |  Heel, $120  |  Bag, $595

Finally, an everyday outfit.  You can wear this to a casual work meeting, or brunch with friends.  I like to combination of beige and gray, it’s wonderfully sophisticated. We featured a similar sweater last year in gray from Banana Republic, and readers went crazy for it.  This version is available in black, gray and beige.  You’ll leave the cardigan on, so layer a simple shell underneath.  Old Navy makes a fantastic and crazy affordable tank.

The shoes are a bit of a trend. They have a V-shaped topline, so they almost look like a hybrid of a pump and a bootie.  The bag is a total splurge, I know.  I like its look and line. Even though Coach jumped the shark for a few years ago and sold out by covering every single product it made with a hideous logo (I have no strong opinions) when they actually make a traditional handbag, it’s gorgeous.

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