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.

The Best Backpack for Work

The Best Backpack for Work - The Well Dressed Life

For years I was vehemently anti-backpack for work. I would stand in airports and see otherwise well-dressed men looking like they were about to hike Yosemite, and women in pumps with a Jansport on their back.

Most backpacks ruin a professional outfit. They are a distraction and ultimately knock out any sophistication in your look. The wrong one can make even the most seasoned executive look like a new hire.

But given the rise of more casual work environments, and diversity in how people commute to the office, be it on public transportation, or bike, being hands-free can be super helpful.

I changed my tune about backpacks because of this Tumi option. It is by far the best backpack for work. The designers must have been standing next to me in all those airports, watching the vein on my forehead throb, wondering how they can help me and decided to create a better alternative.

The Best Backpack for Work

The Best Backpack for Work

Backpack, $295

If you are a frequent traveler or commute to the office every day with your laptop, this is for you.  It has all the organization you need without going overboard (I hate when a bag has too many pockets and dividers.)  

If you are on the road, it slips over your roller bag handle and sits comfortably on top. The shoulder straps are comfortable and will fit easily over your suit jacket or heavy coat. You can wear it on your back, or carry it by its top handle.

Inside, you have room for a 12′ laptop, and plenty of room for all your essentials. I like that it slips under the seat in front of you on the airplane, and keeps all your in-flight essentials tidy and easy to access.

Because it is Tumi quality nylon, it can take a beating, and stay in great shape. Stylistically, it’s chic and streamlined. You don’t want a backpack that draws attention; you want it to blend into your look.

Need a slightly larger option?  They also make the same style that fits a 15″ laptop.

For more Tumi options, shop this post below.

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Great White Blouses for Work Under $100

Great White Blouses for Work

Let’s talk about spring because I just spent four days without power due to a  snowstorm, and now that it’s finally back up, we’re about to get hit again. This season has been relentless, we haven’t fallen into a routine since the kids were home for the holidays and things are falling off the rails.

When people say they love the snow, this isn’t what they mean, right?

Anyway, I’m trying to focus on the spring. Maybe refreshing our wardrobes will help us hang onto a thread of optimism. I was looking in my closet the other day and realized I need to replace several white tops.  Anyone else?

What I currently have is starting to show some wear so I need to replace a good bit.  I’m not looking to spend a small fortune, under, well under $100 is more my speed.  More than that is not worth it. White shows every stain, yellows quickly and sometimes turn that dingy shade of gray after a season or two.

Even though they are a pain to maintain, I do love a good white top.  They add a brightness to your look, and often breathe new life into items you already own. Here are a few of the pieces I ordered.

I haven’t been to Express in a million years, but when I came upon this Tie Front Blouse I knew I would get a ton of use out of it.  Pair it with a high waisted skirt, or slim line ankle pants.  The top will drape beautifully over any simple bottom.  Avoid pairing it with trouser and jeans with bulky waistbands. I also ordered this Square Neck Blouse. You can tuck it into any bottom for modern look.

From Ann Taylor, this Poplin Ruffle Neck Blouse is an updated version of a classic button down.  Wear it the same way. This Lantern Sleeve Blouse is lovely.  It’s a gorgeous basic, that you can pair with anything and add some interest with a statement or long necklace.

Clients use to love a tie front tops for the spring.  This one from Nordstrom works really well with a light weight ankle pant in any color.  Skip the necklace and go with an oversized earring or bracelet. I ordered this option by Vince Camuto because of how it drapes.  It also comes in pink and black.

Finally, when I use to work as a stylist, every one of my clients had at least one of these blouses by NYDJ.  They just go with everything.  You can pair it with jeans and wear it out, or do a half tuck, wear it on it’s own or layer a blazer or cardigan.  Also available in plus and petite.

White Blouses for Work Under $100

 

Wear to Work Inspiration: Less is More

Wear to Work: Less is More - The Well Dressed Life

Sometimes, we over complicate getting dressed.  In a world where more is more, in my style book, less is more. The trick to looking pulled together without a lot of layers and accessories is paying attention to fit and fabric. When an outfit has simple components, each piece needs to be right. Consider the inspiration outfit below. I pinned it to my Pinterest board a few months ago, and since then it has been pinned over 600 times. I thought given its popularity, we could recreate it affordably, using it as an example of how simple can be incredibly chic.

Wear to Work

Sweater, $68  |  Skirt, $98  |  Clutch, $198 (less expensive option here)  |  Heel, $120  |  Inspiration photo source unknown.

The skirt is the element you want to get right.  In our inspiration photo, the hem hits right at the bottom of the knee. Any longer than this and your leg will look stumpy.  You want to make sure that you maintain the shape of your calves in skirts. When a skirt cuts across your calf at an awkward spot, you will look shorter than you are and your proportions will be off.

We found this skirt at Banana Republic. I like it for a few reasons. First, it’s a great shape.  You’ll need to have it altered to fit correctly, but it will be well worth it. Second, it has a higher waist and will sit at your belly button. It’s super flattering and ideal for pulling off the inspiration outfit. Finally, it’s under $100, comes in black and navy and is available in sizes 0 – 20. That’s awesome.

The crewneck sweater is also from Banana. (updated sweater found here) I don’t usually go head to toe with one brand or retailer, but it’s the best option I’ve found. The price is right (under $60), it’s available in several colors, and it’s washable wool. Notice in the inspiration picture, the sweater is not tucked in. Instead, it’s folded under and gently drapes away from the body.  This makes a big difference in the look. You don’t want something that clings to your shape.  The drape is what makes the look feel elegant.

There’s such practicality to this outfit. You can actually walk and function in these shoes. Over the past few seasons, I’ve turned to Sam Edelman time and again because they are always exactly what I want. I tend to like the most expensive shoes, but I don’t want to be the crazy blogger who only features designer shoes. Sam Edelman is so much more reasonable for the quality and style you get.

Finally, this black clutch is not inexpensive, but gosh I love it. For something less, but equally stylish, check out this clutch by Aldo for under $30.00

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Wear to Work: Halogen Raw Edge Tweed Jacket

Wear to Work: Halogen Raw Edge Jacket - The Well Dressed Life

Apparently, black and navy is a controversial color combination. A fact I didn’t know until a few years back when I tried to tell a client that she could wear her black heels with her very dark navy pants. She was aghast, and I had no idea why. I eventually convinced her that it was entirely appropriate, considering the blouse she was wearing was a black and navy pattern. I left the appointment as I did so frequently, wondering how such a silly job could be so mentally draining.

The fact is there are a lot of old-fashioned sartorial rules that we just don’t have to follow anymore, like wearing white after Labor Day and matching your bag with your shoes. What’s so interesting to me is how some style no-no’s are now considered chic options. Pairing black with navy is a sophisticated color combination and is so easy to pull together.

Today’s jacket is one my most favorite statement jackets in a long time. The price is right. I’ve seen similar styles for $350+. It’s a solid buy now, wear now and later piece. I bought it to freshen up my corporate capsule wardrobe, which makes getting dressed and packing for a trip so easy.

Wear to Work: Halogen Raw Edge JacketJacket, $129

There aren’t a ton of ways to wear this but that doesn’t mean it won’t be in constant rotation. It goes with all sorts of jeans paired with a white shell, or a black tank and skirt combination.  But I’ll probably get the most wear out of it with a simple pant and pumps.

Wear to Work: Halogen Raw Edge JacketPants, $79  | Jacket, $129|  Tank, $6  |  Heels, $75  |  Bag, $48  |  Earrings, $78

Isn’t this so good?

Because the jacket mixes navy, black and white, I strategically used those colors throughout the look.  I used a classic black tapered pant to keep the look clean.  You could wear any style pant, but I would keep it black instead of navy.  To lighten the look, a simple white tank works well.  You don’t need anything fancy here.  I like this jersey tank from H&M (it’s $6).  If you’d like something with a better drape, we’ve featured this Ann Taylor Shell for months and it’s always a reader favorite.  It comes in four colors and an array of sizes.

Where I really get excited is the bag and shoes.  The heels are by Boden ($75) and they are gorgeous.  The navy is rich, and the scallop trim on the side add a feminine detail that works well with the jacket.  They are also available in seven colors and patterns, one better than the next.  Since you’re taking this to the office, I used a tote ($48) that you can slide your computer into with plenty of room for all your daily essentials.  Finally, super simple, but dynamic stud earrings are all you need.  Too much jewelry will fight with the jacket.  Your look will still have wonderful depth because the shoes have texture, the colors work well and the jacket has so much detail.

Size Options:

I like this Talbots tweed jacket that mixes black and navy in a flattering cut.  Available in an impressive range of sizes: Missy, Petite, Woman, and Woman’s Petite.

For pants, Vince Camuto did a similar style in sizes 14W – 24W. On Sale for $53.

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Wear to Work: Liverpool Ponte Knit Legging

Liverpool Ponte Knit Legging - The Well Dressed Life

By now we all know that we shouldn’t wear leggings as pants. But what if we found a pant that was a legging and a pant? Because I just discovered these Liverpool Ponte Knit Leggings (plus size here) and they are the best of both worlds.

They showed up a few days before Christmas in my Stitch Fix delivery. (Yes, I started that up again. More to come in a later post.) I almost sent them back without trying them on. 

“I don’t need another pair of black pants,” I thought. Thank goodness I changed my mind at the last minute because they are fantastic.

Liverpool Ponte Knit Legging

Pant: Missy, $68 and Plus, $89 (Sizes 18 – 24!)

There is a lot to love. The fabric is soft and comfortable but doesn’t look like athletic wear. The waistband sits high (hallelujah!), has a proper waistband and back pockets. These details help make these less legging and more pant. I would still wear them with a top on the long side, but you don’t have to cover all of your bottom if you don’t want to.

I pretty much lived in these since the holidays and found that tops that hit at around my hipbone worked best for my proportions. Of course, you could wear something longer. If you do go longer, look for something with a bit of swing that cuts away from your body. Below is two ways you could wear these to a casual and creative office.

 

Day in the Office 

Liverpool Ponte Knit Legging

Outfit one: Blazer, $298  |  Shell, $40  |  Bag, $378  |  Scarf, $35  |  Boot, $83

Navy and black is a chic and sophisticated combination. This navy blazer by Ralph Lauren is the stuff of dreams. It hits around the hipbone giving you the length we’re after but fitted to show your shape.  I love a gold button but if you’d like something more traditional and in a variety of sizes, including petite and plus, check out this Talbots optionFor a less expensive look, this Lush blazer is on sale for under $30.  You could pair any of these blazers with a black or white tank. I prefer white as it adds a crispness to the look. Both colors are available in the Ann Taylor tank.

One of the reasons I love these pants so much is because you can layer a boot over them seamlessly. I have these Nine West boots, and they are the best shoe I’ve bought all year. The heel is reasonable (ish), they are comfortable, and the price is right. To bring the look together I used this navy and black scarf. You can loop it around your neck or tie it to your handbag. Don’t get stressed about it, the messier you tie your scarf the better. I kept everything else simple in this look. Add your daily jewelry, grab your work bag, and off you go.

 

After work Dinner and Drinks

Liverpool Ponte Knit LeggingOutfit two: Sweater, $80  |  Necklace, $50  |  Bracelet, $48  |  Clutch, $128  |  Pump, $119

For the second outfit, we still kept it simple, but bold color, a statement necklace, and patterned pumps make it look so much more complicated. I’m pretending we are closer to spring than we really are and using a poppy, hot pink cashmere sweater. I reads red online but it’s a bright pink. C by Bloomingdales makes high-quality, reasonably-priced cashmere. This comes in a ton of gorgeous colors, but the pink feels fresh and preppy. Need plus size?  Look at Sejour, a private label at Nordstorm, for high quality basic sweaters.

A simple tip to make any outfit look and feel cohesive is to repeat the main color (black in this case) three or five times. Here, I included a black crystal statement necklace and animal print pumps, in addition to the pants. A few things make this impactful. First, three is a key number because it creates a pattern. Second, the placement of the pieces is essential. If you were to divide your body into thirds, the main color is in each section. This creates balance and harmony. Cool, right?

I rounded out the look with a black and gold bangle; you can wear one or stack them up your arm. I included this clutch because you can slide it into your work bag and grab it for dinner and drinks. Also, I just really like it.

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Wear to Work: Feminine Loafer

Wear to Work: Feminine Loafer - The Well Dressed Life

Here’s the deal with how I get dressed for work: I either look lovely and professional or so bad I would deny I spent a decade dressing people. I’ve always struggled with that category between professional and super casual. Frankly, part of it is just laziness. If I know I’m not leaving the house or will be the only one in the office, I can talk myself into spending the day in my gym clothes. But, I can’t deny that I feel better and get more done when I’m dressed well.

Wear to Work: Feminine Loafer

Around the holidays I started to pick up a few pieces to build out my casual wardrobe. (I feel like I’m always doing this!)  Thinking strategically, I wanted to be able to have enough pieces to pull an outfit together quickly. We’re talking 60 seconds. I bought a fresh pair of black pants, a few crew neck cashmere sweaters, and these loafers with pretty and feminine pearl detail.

They are a nice change from my go-to boots without feeling as precious and impractical as a pair of pumps. Loafers can feel too heavy or masculine, and while I like a good menswear look, it doesn’t always complement the rest of my pieces. The pearl accent give these a feminine feel while the slim shape of the shoe keeps the line of your body long and lean.

I’m currently wearing these loafers with a pair of slim pants (featured below) and rotate a few simple sweaters, most from J.Crew factory. I also like them with a lived-in pair of boyfriend jeans and a casual white button down.

This time of year, I only want to bring in pieces that will transition with the seasons. Below is an example of how you can take these loafers into the spring, perhaps in a casual office or one that leans creative.

How to Wear a Feminine Loafer in the the Spring

 

Wear to Work: Feminine Loafers

Shoe, $90  |  Pant, $89  |  Top, $68  |  Earring, $23  |  Bag, $265

Let’s start with the pants (size 2 -18) For the last few seasons I’ve been thrilled with Vince Camuto’s pants.  They fit well, have a classic shape, and are under $100.  #winning.  You can wear them to work and socially easy-peasy. The top (comes in regular, petite and tall) has more going on than what I usually go for – and I love it!  Will it be for everyone, no, but use it as inspiration.  If you like the idea of a more conservative gingham, I like this tunic, or this button down shirtThe earrings mimic the detail on the loafer, it’s subtle but intentional.  Finally, Dagne Dover makes a good, sturdy, straightforward tote.  If you’re a lady that likes a quality bag without any logos or over the top hardware, The Legend Tote is for you.

Shop Loafers and Other Finds in this Post