Polka Dot Wrap Dress for After Work Events

Polka Dot Dress For After Work Events

Sometimes, when it comes to work, you have to socialize outside the office.  This, shockingly, was never my favorite thing to do. I just found the whole process exhausting.  Does anyone enjoy it? After a long day at work, I barely had the energy to go out and see my friends, so the last thing I wanted to do was pretend to get along with my passive aggressive boss. Even now, though I don’t mind client dinners and functions as much anymore, they are still so very draining.

So what do you do when you’re technically working, just in a more casual environment, where you have to balance schmoozing with cocktails and still keep your poise?

When I’m out with friends, I am usually the first to show up and the last to leave.  What if I miss out on some fun?  I’m 38, and my FOMO is still very real. But I learned early on in my career that nothing good happens after 10pm when it comes to work parties. Nothing.  That’s why I set a time limit and dip in and out.  I’ll arrive within a few minutes of the event starting, and set a curfew with a firm stop a few hours later.  If I’m traveling, I’ll let the host know I have an early meeting or flight. If I’m local, and I feel like I have to give a reason for leaving early, I’ll say I have a sitter with a curfew. Often, I’ll just find the host, thank them and head out; you don’t always have to give a reason.

In the summer, there is the added detail of what to wear.  For some reason, the warm weather creates a landmine of inappropriateness. When I’m not sure what to wear, I always turn to a dress.  This polka dot dress, is the perfect choice for a warn weather function that’s an easy going take on a classic wrap dress.

Polka Dot Dress For After Work Events

Misses Dress, $128  |  Plus Dress, $35  |  Heel, $42  |  Clutch, $95  |  Bracelet, $49  | Earrings, $36

I get excited when I find a dress in missy and plus sizes.  It’s not often that two dresses look so similar. Both have a gorgeous v-neckline, and trend-right, high-low hem.  Polka dots are quintessentially summer.  Inspired by the dress, I wanted to create a look that is a modern take on a classic combination.

The dress has enough going on to let it stand on it’s own.  All you need are a few well placed accessories and a shoe that disappears on the leg.  What’s better than pearls with navy and white polka dot?

This stacked pearl bracelet has the right style and proportion to work with the movement of the dress. Kenneth Jay Lane has a beautiful line of costume jewelry, and when you find it on sale, it’s even better.  To keep the pearl theme going, I used a small pair of studs.  Avoid anything oversized, or you’ll teeter in Pretty Woman territory, and the look will feel too retro.

To keep a modern edge, I used this popular Rebecca Minkoff envelope clutch with a zipper detail trim.  It adds some much-needed contrast to balance the femininity of the dress. Finally, for the shoes, you can wear any neutral to you shoe, like a sandal or a slide with a heel.  The dress needs some height to show off the movement of the skirt.  I used these block heel slides.  They are different from a lot of the shoe options we’ve featured recently but work well, and the suede adds another layer of texture.


3 Barbecue-Ready Outfits To Try This Weekend

Summer BBQ Style - Shorts and Tee
Summer BBQ Style - The Well Dressed Life

Maybe you’re heading to a friend’s house, hitting up a block party or going to your local swim club, at some point over the summer, your weekend is going to involve some kind of barbecue or outside party. When I worked with clients, they would often complain about feeling like they were wearing some version of their work clothes on the weekend. 

It sounds silly but how we dress often dictates how we feel.  If we are looking to relax or take a break, wearing the same thing you wore to Thursday’s sales meeting is no fun. Today, we’re breaking down what to wear to a summer barbecue so you feel great, look chic and can get out the door with ease.

My family is in the season of life where things are busy all the time, and our weekends are filled with a combination of sports, community activities, family commitments and time spent with friends. One of the things I never realized when we had kids, was that our group of friends would evolve to include the parents of our kids’ buddies. When we get together, the kids are outside having a blast, and the parents are inside having just as much fun.

For years I hung out almost exclusively with other entrepreneurs and business owners, especially in the early stages of our company, and I always found it exhausting. It felt more like networking and less like socializing. Entrepreneurs tend to be a bit narcissistic. They like to talk shop; it’s all strategy and struggle, what gigs they booked, their numbers, who’s doing well, who isn’t and I would sit there just wanting to talk about what happened on Real Housewives of New York. It was always so obvious to me that I never fit in.

What’s nice is that everyone in our group of neighborhood friends has pretty impressive resumes, big jobs and lots of responsibilities. But when we get together, we might talk about work, but there is no one-upping or showing off, it’s just pure, uncomplicated, down to earth fun. And no one has an agenda. For someone as wound tight as I am, it’s a welcomed break and, frankly, necessary for my mental health.

Most of our activities are casual, but some require a little more effort. With two busy kids and a full work schedule, I like to have a few outfits figured out so I can get myself and everyone else out the door with as little drama as possible. If you have a few outdoor parties on your calendar, let the ideas below serve as some inspiration, so you know just what to wear and can get on with having some fun.

What to Wear to a Summer Barbecue

Shorts and Tee

What to Wear to a Summer BarbecueShirt, $25  |  Shorts, $20  |  Flip Flops, $68  |  Earrings, $58  |  Bag, $50

There is NOTHING wrong with a simple pair of shorts and a tee shirt.  To elevate the look a bit, find pieces with some added detail. I love these scalloped shorts ($20) from J. Crew factory paired with this cotton striped tee from LL Bean.  The neckline on the shirt makes it a little different from a basic tee and the longer sleeve balances the shorts.  I basically live in this kind of outfit on the weekend.  It’s crisp and casual.  Add simple, modern accessories with these double hoop earrings, leather flip flops with gold trip and a trend right straw circle bag.


What to Wear to a Summer BarbecueRomper, $95  |  Sandal, $160  |  Earrings, $99  |  Clutch, $34

I love a romper.  They feel more dressy than a short and tee outfit but still chic and casual.  Yes, it’s a pain when you have to use the ladies room, but honestly, it’s never bothered me too much.  The key to wearing one as an adult, and not looking like you’re shopping in the kid’s department, is to focus on fabric, fit, and balance. This breezy romper brings balance with a longer sleeve, and has a comfortable drapey fit.  It’s like a wrap dress but with shorts.  Since it’s a little more formal, I used a neutral block heel sandal. They’re not inexpensive but you’ll wear them all summer.  Be aware of your shoe choice if you are going to be on grass. Block heels work well, so do wedges and, obviously, flats.  For accessories, I used natural materials.  These bamboo earrings and cork clutch pair beautifully while adding depth and dimension to the look.


What to Wear to a Summer Barbecue

Tunic, $148  |  Sandals, $128  |  Earrings, $38  |  Clutch, $50

Lauren and I like to say; sometimes you have to go all in.  Are you going to a pool party at your local country club?  Or a daytime gathering at a yacht club?  Whether that’s part of your daily life, or your find yourself randomly invited, we say, dive in head first. Sometimes, I like to fly my preppy flag high and go full on Palm Beach with a bold pattern tunic (by none other than Lily Pulitzer) and a pair of Jack Rogers flats.  Finish it off with white tassel earrings and this adorable ($50) white clutch.  Is it predictable?  You bet. But it sure is cute.


Jazz Up Your Basics with Embellished Summer Slides

Fancy Slides to Jazz up Your Basics

A popular topic around here is how to update an outfit with accessories. When it’s cold out, it’s easy to add a scarf, stack some bracelets, even add an interesting blazer. The challenge is when it’s hot and humid out, the last thing any of us want to do is add layers.  So how do you create visual interest and depth without pilling on extra layers?

One word: Shoes.

On the blog, I have a tendency to show neutral, classic, versatile shoe options because I’d rather you “invest” in a few high-quality shoes you can wear over and again instead of having a pile of disposable, novelty shoes you wear once or twice.  But sometimes my practicality is boring, so today we’re featuring a few pairs of embellished slides that are perfect for jazzing up your basics this summer.


Fancy Slides to Jazz up Your Basics

one, $118  |  two, $73  |  three, $72  |  four, $80

Why slides?  In the summer, I often feel silly wearing a higher heel.  Of course, it all depends on the outfit, but generally, a flat, or a low heel, works best with ankle pants, shorts, and skirts with a higher hemline.  They tend to complement the weight of seasonally appropriate clothes and add to the general, casual vibe of the summer.

I was inspired by this first pair I found at Anthropologie.  I love the combination of a bold floral pattern with equally bold embellishments.  Many of you know I’m not a big fan of prints, but I do like a wink of them in an outfit when temps are high. I would wear these, and this similar pair from Steve Madden with white summer pants or shorts, linen pants, or even a simple, solid cotton tank dress that hits at or around the knee.

If you wear a lot of denim or chambray (raises hand), than these Sam Edelman slides are the perfect pair.  I would wear them with my white jeans, relaxed ankle length blue jeans, a box tunic in chambray, or a tank dress in shades of blue or white.

Looking to dress up neutral basics?  I can see these gold slides with pearl details at the shore. Going to dinner at the beach is always more laid back than in the city.  Wear these with your summer weight “dress” pants and a tunic, or cotton shirt dress or loose fitting sheath.

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Weekend Inspiration: Polka Dot Midi Skirt

It’s been raining on the east coast for days. Maybe it’s the weather, lack of inspiration, or the fact that I haven’t had the occasion, but lately I’ve had little desire to get dressed up. 

I’m hoping, that as the weather clears there’s more opportunity to break out of my jeans and tee shirt rut.  For today’s post, I wanted to show something different.  If I did have a place to go, what would I want to wear that’s the opposite of my jeans/tank/blazer combo. So today I’m showing you how to wear a polka dot skirt on the weekend.


How to Wear a Polka Dot Skirt

How to Wear a Polka Dot Skirt

Skirt, $125  |  Heel, $70  |  Blouse, $98  |  Jacket, $80  |  Clutch, $34

Boden has been at the top of my radar lately, which is funny because generally,  it’s a little too preppy, even for me. When I found this skirt, I knew right away I wanted to make it the key piece in this look.  Take a close look at it.  The pattern is large polk a dots on small dots, which creates a beautiful, layered appearance of texture and movement.  It adds depth to the outfit.

You can wear a number of shirts with this, but I went with a sleeveless ruffle button down.  The ruffle plays off the femininity of the pattern, and the shape of the shirt balances the swing of the skirt.  In this case, I would tuck in the shirt to highlight your waistline. This is an easy piece to incorporate into all kinds of looks, especially with a clean lined blazer for work.

Next, a denim jacket is a springtime must have.  In this outfit you can wear it properly or just drape it over your shoulders.  Aside from keeping you warm, the denim grounds the look and, again, creates balance.

For the shoe and bag, I went a little off script.  I love the idea of using a dusty pop of color as a neutral.  These pink sandals by Sam Edelman compliment the navy beautifully. They have a comfortable block heel and simple style.

The bag is what excites me.  My defalt is always a beige clutch.  Practically speaking, they go with everything but let’s have some fun.  I wanted to show how patterns can also mix and match.  Polka dot and stripes are an easy combination because neither is too busy so they won’t fight with each other.  The trick is to make sure the colors you are using are the same saturation and that one pattern is dominate.  Here the skirt has the primary pattern, and the stripe on the clutch is an accent.  They play off each other and kick up the style factor in a subtle yet impactful way.

Need some more Weekend Inspiration?  Drop us a note in the comments with questions or requests and will add it to our editorial calendar for coming weeks.

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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Weekend Wear: The $55 Moto Jacket You’re Going to Love

Moto Jacket
The $55 Moto Jacket You're Going to Love - The Well Dressed Life

I discovered this jacket last month when I ordered it as part of my Rent the Runway (RTR) Unlimited Subscription.  It’s the kind of piece that is just outside my style sphere, so being able to rent it, and try it out with my wardrobe, is such a fantastic option. I found it to be a great alternative to my typical casual blazer and feels edgy but still classic.

One of the options in (RTR) is that you can buy the items you rent at a discount. When I realized it was on sale for $50, I quickly bought it.  Because I like it so much, I wondered if it was still available at stores, and turns out; it is, $55 for black, and $33 in Navy. 

The only good thing about January is the sales.

I bought both.


Moto JacketMust Have Piece, $55  |  Jeans, $198  |  Shoes, $40  |  Clutch, $198  |  Earring, $38

For me, this is the perfect Saturday night out look.  Whether I’m meeting friends for dinner or spending it with Bri, it strikes the right balance of casual and polished.  There are a few things to keep in mind when creating an outfit around this jacket.  The shape and length work best with either skinny jeans or jeans with a long leg and subtle boot cut.  Anything too full and you’ll be overwhelmed. (To see a variety of jean options at different price ranges, check out our Denim Closet.)

You can throw this jacket over just about anything, though I love how it looks over a turtleneck. That’s right, a turtleneck, I’m such a turtleneck girl.  Bloomingdales currently has an array of colors for under $80.

For a night out, I like a pump.  These silver fabric pumps at DSW for $40 are affordable and stylish. The jacket as a lot going on, so I would hold off on lots of jewelry and accessories. Keep it in one piece, like a long necklace or these earrings. They are simple, but complement the hardware on the jacket without competing with it.  Finally, a silver clutch, like this one by Michael Kors has the right line and shape.  It’s an investment, so think about how often you’ll use it.  For a less expensive option, I like this $30 silver envelope clutch.

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