How to Have a Stylish Pregnancy (and not spend a fortune)

How to Have a Stylish Pregnancy and Not Spend a Fortune
How to Have a Stylish Pregnancy without spending a fortune

We’ve received many requests for advice on how to dress while expecting. I usually reply to these inquiries individually, but there have been enough over the last few weeks that I figured a post would be an easy way share our tips and allow us to update it as necessary. We’ll be back with non-pregnancy content tomorrow. If you’ve had a baby recently, or even not so recently, let us know in the comments below how you managed to get dressed over those nine months! Feel free to share the good, the bad and the ugly 🙂

Maternity clothes have come a long way. In the almost 11 years between my first and third baby, the options are so much better. Even better are the affordable resources available. I remember when I was expecting Maddie, my oldest, and my choices were A Pea in the Pod, which was so expensive, or Target. Today there are so many more stores and services so you can feel stylish and not have to spend a small fortune.

Some women love being pregnant, and I am not one of those women. This last pregnancy was particularly challenging for me. I had multiple health scares, I was sick my entire first trimester, my anxiety went through the roof in my second, and by my third, I had a severe case of edema.  I’ve never felt less like myself, it was awful.

The one thing I did that helped me manage and recover was working out and eating well. I went to the gym almost every day until I was put on bedrest around eight months. I also made an effort to get dressed and pull myself together. It made a big difference in my mood, especially on days when I felt uncomfortable in my body and just generally gross.

Thank goodness pregnancy is a temporary state. Since it doesn’t last forever,  there is no reason to spend a lot of money on your wardrobe. It takes a little bit of effort, but you can certainly have a stylish pregnancy on a budget.

How to Have a Stylish Pregnancy and Not Spend a Fortune

Here’s what I did to maintain some semblance of style, and not break the bank:

1. Look in your closet.
Before you spend a dime, look in your closet. You’d be surprised by how many things you already own that will work as your body changes, especially in the first and second trimester – all bets are off once you hit your third. Wrap tops and dresses, tunic sweaters and long cardigans are all “bump friendly.” Using pieces, you already have, at least in the beginning, will help you feel like yourself and add some of your personality to your outfits and save you money.

2. Only shop when you need something.

Contrary to what I usually say, when you’re expecting you should piece feed your wardrobe and only pick up what you need when you need it. You can’t anticipate how or where your body will change and every pregnancy is different. If you “stock up” on pieces you will likely be left with items you never wear.

One thing I would buy in the beginning is a “starter set” of basics. This works as nice base for casual looks that will last throughout your pregnancy and for a few weeks after your baby is born.  I liked this one from A Pea in the Pod.

3. Size up before you buy maternity.
Instead of immediately buying maternity clothes, consider buying basics in a size up at affordable retailers. I lived in Old Navy Rockstar jeans (they have excellent stretch) in the dark blue and black in a mid rise cut. I also picked up a few new pairs of Zella leggings, that I ended up being able to wear for almost seven months.

You can also use these pieces when you’re postpartum.

4. Think Outside the Box for Work and Special Occasion Clothes
Here’s the thing about getting dressed when you’re pregnant: casual clothes are easy. Pick up some jeans, a few leggings and filter in various styles of tops as necessary and you’re good.

Work is another story.

If you have to get dressed for any kind of professional environment, being pregnant is a big challenge. I ended up using Stitch Fix and Rent the Runway with a lot of success.

Stitch Fix: offers a beautiful assortment of maternity clothes at affordable prices. I scheduled a delivery for every 3 weeks and ended up buying the entire delivery a few times.  Each time, all five pieces were under $200.

Be sure to communicate to your stylist what you need, how you’re carrying and the price point you’re comfortable spending.

They sent me a few dresses, my maternity jeans, a pair of black pants and a blazer that ended up making most of my core wardrobe.

Rent the Runway: is more than just evening dresses. They offer everything from gowns, and party dresses to separates for work and accessories. I rented blazers, sweaters, and dresses throughout my pregnancy.

Their unlimited service is about $150 a month and lets you rent a rotation of pieces every month. It’s worth every penny if you use it regularly. I ended up using it for four months and you can easily cancel any time.

Amazon: By my third trimester I was huge, I mean, scary, huge. A few weeks before Vivian was born I had to go to my grandmothers funeral, and had four work trips I was committed to, all of which required me to put on a dress and look like a person. I ordered a handful of stretchy dresses on Amazon and called it a day. I wore this dress in black and navy ($35), this short sleeve dress in black ($20), and bought this long sleeve scoop neck dress in three colors ($30). I add a better pump I already owned, wore my better jewelry and ended up being complimented more than when I’m not pregnant.

5. Accessories
Pull out all your accessories: scarves, necklaces, fun shoes, and keep them where you can see them. Incorporate them into your maternity basics to add your personality and style.

6. Spend on yourself.
Don’t spend on clothes, do spend on yourself. Schedule regular manicures and pedicures, get a few blowouts, buy a few new lipsticks. Keeping your grooming and make up neat and polished will help elevate your look when you’re limited with what you can wear.

In the comments below, let us know, when you were expecting, what worked?  How did you manage to get dressed for those long nine months?

6 Style Resolutions for 2019

6 Style Resolutions for 2019
6 Style Resolutions for 2019

The New Year brings the desire for a fresh start. There is something so empowering about the idea of a clean slate. We might recommit to our health, focus our energy on our career, or make small improvements across a few areas of life.

When I worked with private clients, January was one of our busiest months, with lots of new clients since many women decided they were going to put more effort into their style and image in a new year.

Last week, as I was standing in my closet getting rid of my maternity clothes, I felt the need to recommit to my own style.  Between being pregnant for most of last year, homebound in my last trimester and busy with our remodel, I pretty much lived in leggings and sneakers for the last few months. When I did have to get dressed for a meeting or presentation, my options where limited.

I miss getting dressed, and feeling, well, pretty and pulled together.

Given what I do for a living, my wardrobe is in good shape. However, like all women, as
I age, and my life evolves, my needs and preferences change too.

Since my word for the year is simplicity, I want to focus on creating a straightforward wardrobe, that makes me feel stylish, confident and works for our new, even busier life. I don’t want to go full on minimalist – that won’t work for me, but I’m inspired by the idea of pairing down my wardrobe to my absolute favorites, and getting the most out of what I own.

If you’re feeling the same way, and yearning for a simple, yet chic approach to personal style our content this year will help inspire and keep you on track.  To get started, today I’m sharing some resolutions that will help us make this year our best dressed year ever.

6 Style Resolutions for 2019

6 Style Resolutions for 2019

Stay Organized

A messy closet makes your day more complicated.  Your mornings will be frantic; you’ll spend too much time trying to get dressed, you’ll be stressed out because you can’t find anything and you’ll waste money buying things you already own.  Spend 60 minutes cleaning up your wardrobe.  It’s easier than you think, half the battle is getting your head in the game and giving yourself the time to work.

Once you have it clean up, spend a few minutes every week, when you’re putting away your laundry, maintaining it.

I’m taking it a step further this weekend and using Maria Kondo’s “does it spark joy” process.  We’ll see how that goes!

Use What You Have

I’ve cleaned out thousands of closets over the course of my career.  One thing I know for sure is that you have pieces hanging in your closet, right now, that you haven’t worn in months. Once your wardrobe is edited, take a look at what is left and commit to getting as many wears as possible out of your basics. You’ll likely need to bring new pieces in too, but before you start shopping, try to make a few new outfits out of your existing wardrobe.

This exercise will help you think differently over the course of the year. As you start to bring in new purchases, you’ll be in the habit of mixing and matching, and will get the right amount of use out of your clothes.

Be Thoughtful with Your Purchases

Ask yourself two questions when you are considering a new purchase

  1. Does this item bring me closer to my ideal style?  If yes, go to question 2.
  2. Can I wear it three different ways?  If you can create three new outfits with the item, proceed to checkout!

Focus on Your Style

It’s impossible to streamline and organize your wardrobe when you’re unclear about your personal style. Maybe you …

  1. Know what you like but get overwhelmed when shopping.
  2. Like many different styles and have a hard time blending them together.
  3. Tend to buy what fits and is on sale instead of what you actually like.

Finding your style is the first step in true wardrobe building.  Follow these steps to get started.

Last year, I finally understood that my style is always going to be classic. No matter how many fashion-forward pieces I buy, no matter how much I tell myself that I should go outside my comfort zone, inevitably, the trendy pieces stay in my closet, and I put on a cashmere sweater and jeans.

I guess it only took 39 years to  (sort of) accept who I am, at least when it comes to style.

Fill in the Voids

Really look at what you have and consider what you need to build out your current wardrobe.

Do you need more basics?

Could your undergarments benefit from a refresh?

Would a few accessories update your look?

Whatever you need, use this year to focus on it.

Keep a running list so when you shop you stay focused.  If you avoid impulse purchases for 12 months, you’ll end the year with a fully functional wardrobe that reflects your style. Imagine that!

Save to Splurge

Sometimes, a splurge worthy item is just what you need to elevate your everyday basics.  This year, I’d like a new everyday bag that doubles as a diaper bag (without looking like one) and these pumps in nude for work in the spring. I’m saving now so I can make some purchases guilt free.

When you go through your wardrobe, look for items you can resell to help pay for your new purchases.  I’ve had luck selling on Poshmark (I made back about $700 last year) and have sent a few bags full of clothes to Thred Up (made about $400).  This article by Lauren breaks down your options to donate and sell the clothes you no longer want.

Need some extra help?

I created  Four Weeks to a Better Wardrobe, a free series that walks you through the process we used with clients for over a decade. (I “retired” from that work about three years ago to focus on other projects and businesses.)

You can also join our Facebook group and ask any questions you might have in a private and judgement free space.

How to Wear Tights

How to Wear Tights
How to Wear Tights
How to Wear Tights

One of our most frequently asked questions this time of year is how to wear tights. A quick search on Pinterest will show you with a million different ideas, from how to wear purple tights with a leather skirt to fishnets with denim shorts.

I’m thinking, when our readers ask how to wear tights, that’s not exactly what they are after.

So today, I thought we would break down the basics and create a simple and straightforward guide showing you how to wear tights.

How to Wear Tights

How to Wear Tights

Let’s talk about the difference between an opaque tight, a sheer, and pantyhose. It all comes down to their weight, or “denier” which is just the term used to measure thickness.

An opague tight is 30 denier and above. At 30 denier, you cannot see the leg through the tights.  From 30, you can go all the way to 70 – 99, which is like wearing a sweater on your legs.  In general, 30 denier is the most popular and comfortable.

Anything lower than 30 denier, typically starting at 20, is considered a sheer.  At that weight you can see the leg through the sheer.  The lighter the denier, the sheerer the tight, at the lowest denier, around 10, you get pantyhose.

Next up, when to wear what.

Pantyhose

Every time I give a talk, or presentation, the number one question I get is, “can I still wear pantyhose?”

To which I always say, of course! If they are good enough for Kate Middleton, they are good enough for me. It’s just a matter of which kind you choose.

You want them to look as natural as possible.  I avoid the drugstore brands, because really, is anyones skin actually “suntan”? 

Hands down my go-to favorite is Donna Karen The Nude Collection.  They come in every skin tone, from ghostly pale (me) to deep and dark.  Your legs will look flawless but not artificial, and match the rest of your body.  They aren’t the cheapest option, but they are worth it.

I tend to wear them in the fall and winter, usually to more professional or formal events, with a light to medium weight dress. 

Favorite Pantyhose: Donna Karen The Nude Collection

Download our FREE wardrobe essentials checklist today and discover everything the busy working woman needs for a classic and modern wardrobe.

Sheers

For slightly more formal, to formal occasions a sheer can be appropriate.  There is some debate around whether they are frumpy – I think they can look chic, especially if you wear them with either a timeless or more contemporary dress.  They work well with cocktail dresses and a suede or leather pointed pump.

Be sure you buy a pair that evenly distributes the color saturation.  You’ll look sloppy if the color is blotchy across your legs. Again, I go for Donna Karen or Wolford.

Another question that comes up is about sheers with a pattern. 

Personally, I’m not a fan. They rarely do anything to enhance your outfit, can end up looking too busy and fight with the other elements in your look.

I think they look cute on some people, but too kitschy for most.  They are not appropriate for work unless you are in an über creative office.  Of course, if you like them, wear them, but if you’re going for elegant, opt for a traditional sheer.

Favorite Black SheersWolford Individual 10 Pantyhose

Tights or Opaques

Best practice for tights or opaques is to pair them with skirts and dresses of equal(ish) weight.  Sweater dresses, double knits, or stretch ponté fabrics all work well. 

Then, pay attention to your shoe, avoid a pump, or ankle strap shoe and instead go with an ankle, knee-high or over-the-knee boot.

Favorite Opague Tight: HUE Opaque Control Top Tights

 

Related: How to Look Expensive Without Breaking the Bank

 

Shorts Grown Ups Can Wear

Shorts Grown Ups Can Wear
Shorts Grown Ups Can Wear - The Well Dressed Life

When it’s ungodly hot outside, sometimes the only logical article of clothing to wear is a pair of shorts. But, of course, retail has a way of making it incredibly frustrating for the over 30 crowd to easily find any reasonable options. I say it all the time, but I have underwear bigger than some of the shorts hanging in stores, and I’m not wearing granny panties. And I’m all for distressed denim, but some of these shorts look like they were malled by a bear, with a mind-boggling price tag to boot.

Luckily, there are some decent, even cute pairs to pick up. You just need to know where to look and what to look for, so today we did that for you. Before you say, I don’t wear shorts because I have ugly knees, let’s remember that all knees are ugly. So if you need it, slather on some self-tanner, and pick up some of these finds before it turns back into sweater weather.

Shorts Grown Ups Can Wear

To keep this simple, we broke down our favorite picks by store, with options for every shape and size throughout. Regarding length, it comes down to your personal preference.  I’m 5’10, and my legs are long but not supermodel long, so I like a 5″ inseam.  For some reason, a 7″ feels awkward on my frame.  There is no right or wrong, so focus on what feels right and practically what you can sit down in.  If you are petite, a 3.5″ inseam, may give you some length and help create some height.  When pairing tops with shorts, I go for contrast.  If I’m wearing a shorter short, I wear a 3/4 sleeve top, or a button down with the sleeve rolled.  Anything 7″ or longer, I would go sleeveless.  Again, play around with the proportions that feel right to you.

LOFT

 

OLD NAVY

 

J Crew


Talbots

How to Wear Lilly Pulitzer in the Real World

Celebrate Summer with Lilly Pulitzer
Celebrate Summer with Lilly Pulitzer - The Well Dressed Life

Lilly Pulitzer is a brand that is synonymous with Summer. Have you ever been in one of their stores? I like to step in there in the dead of winter, because for a few minutes I can pretend as though I own a yacht or I am about to embark on a fabulous Caribbean vacation, sans kids. Ahhh. Now the summer is upon us, Lilly seems a bit more “in season.” Recently, Megan featured a Lilly tunic dress, and we thought that we would show you some more options that you can wear this Summer.

It took me many years to make my first Lilly purchase because, well, frankly, the pieces were fun to look at but I didn’t think that I could pull them off. I doubted that it was for me, and thought that perhaps I should leave it to the young sorority sisters of Southern colleges to rock.

But I did take the plunge and I am now on the Lilly Pulitzer bandwagon. However, I am careful with the brand. I don’t want to look like I am wearing a costume, but rather blending these high-quality pieces in with my sober wardrobe mixture of black, gray, navy, and white. I never wear more than one Lilly piece at one time as I find that dips into the costume territory.

Predictably, I started with some solid-colored pieces, and they are some of my very favorites to wear in the summer. Lilly is a bit pricey, but the quality is excellent, so you do feel like your money is going somewhere.

How to Wear Lilly Pulitzer in the Real World

How to Wear Lilly Pulitzer
1. Essie Dress, $98 – This is such a versatile and easy dress. Pair it with a pair of gold flip flops and you’re DONE! You could add a denim jacket if it was chilly. It can be worn for errands, brunch, a casual dinner. I’ve even worn it as a cover up. This dress does it all.
2. Terri Cashmere Wrap, $228 – I have this soft and cozy wrap in black and I wear it year-round. It’s awesome for travel. It’s currently only available in navy, which is beautiful.
3. Jane Maxi Dress, $248 – I don’t own this…yet. But I am currently obessesing over it and visit it on the Lilly site almost daily. Isn’t it regal? I bet it would make any woman look like a tall drink of water. Though I would wear my cuff on my wrist, not on my arm like shown.
4. Elsa Silk Top, $138 – A Lilly fan fave, the Elsa top comes in an array of colors and patterns. Of course I’m thrilled that it comes in black. These tops are easy dressing; just add some gold earrings and some white jeans and you’re out the door.
5. Edita Cardigan, $138 – In my opinion, it’s always a good idea to have a thin white cardigan handy for breezy nights. I don’t always want to turn to a denim jacket.
How to Wear Lilly Pulitzer
If you’re ready to try out their signature prints, I picked out a few suggestions that I find to be cheerful and fun. I gravitate towards the blue prints, obviously, but don’t be afraid to try out your favorite color.
1. Felizia Silk Dress, $258 – This faux wrap dress with a blouson waist is right up my alley. It would look amazing with a white clutch and simple stud earrings.
2. Parigi Maxi Dress, $228 – I feel like you can get away with a bold print in a maxi. This one is so forgiving and comfortable.
3. Sleeveless Avery Top, $98 – Pair this cute top with white shorts or white jeans. I love that it doesn’t cling to your belly but isn’t a tent either.
4. Olive Swing Dress, $168 – The background of this print almost has a tie dye feel to it, which I love. And how great is the back detail?
So what do you think? Do you feel inspired to go all-in with your inner prep?

What to Buy at the Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale

What to Buy at the Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale

A million thanks for filling out our Reader Survey yesterday.  I’m overwhelmed by the responses, and your kind words will carry me for a long time.  I so appreciate your new ideas and was thrilled to hear how much you are enjoying all of the new content.  You gave me so many new ideas, including bringing in different contributors and expanding into more dynamic content to cover an array of topics relevant to modern women of all ages and all seasons in life.

We have a lot of exciting things to work on this summer!

Today, we’re interrupting our regular Wear to Work post to round up some “must have” pieces from the Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale.  When I used to work with clients, I practically lived at the King of Prussia Nordstrom this week. For years, Nordstrom was my number one go-to store.  But lately, I’ve found them to be somewhat lackluster. The merchandise is SO YOUNG and trendy, and the prices seem only to be getting higher. Maybe I’m turning into a fuddy-duddy, but Lauren and I spend more time sending each other links to ridiculous items than we do cute options.

The good news is if you know the brands and styles you like, you can search the sale quickly(ish).  That’s just what I did for today’s post.  If you like something, act fast, sizes and styles become limited quickly, and the sale ends on June 3rd (also, how is it almost June???)

What to Buy At the Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale

 

What to Buy at the Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale

Raincoat: was $200, on sale for $129.90 | Slide: was $59.95, on sale for $35.90 | Jeans: was $89, on sale for $59.63 |  Gingham Shirt: was $49, on sale for $29.40 | Crossbody: was $56.95, on sale for $34.17 |   White Jeans: was $109, on sale for $72.90) |  Tweed Jacket: was $698, on sale for $418.80 |

Traveling abroad this summer?  Depending on where you are heading you may want to pick up a packable rain coat.  This one by Cole Haan is lovely and practical.  I like the red, since it adds some color to your basics, but it comes in six other highly wearable colors.  (Was $200, on sale for $129.90.)


Speaking of traveling abroad, I spent two weeks in Europe last summer, with a week in Croatia.  (You can read about it here, it was incredible, and I want to go back.)  It was hot, and we walked an unbelievable amount of miles a day. I brought along a slide similar to these and wore them every day with shorts and cotton sundresses. They were just the thing to keep me comfortable, help my feet “breath” but kept the look polished.  Available in four other colors including metallic gold and silver. (Was $59.95, on sale for $35.90.)


In the warmer months, life gets a bit more laid back, so a pair of relaxed jeans is a nice addition to your weekend wardrobe.  These KUT ankle jeans can be dressed up or down.  You can make them sporty with updated sneakers and a simple tee or, create contrast by adding a silk blouse and feminine heel for a date night out.  (Was $89, on sale for $59.63.)


Being unapologetically preppy is back in a big way.  Just look at the success of Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James.  If you like a little prep in your look (I sure do) but don’t want to spend $200 on a button down (I sure don’t) pick up this gingham button down from the BP department. It’s available in navy and pink, wear it with white jeans or roll your sleeves and pair with your favorite shorts.  (Was $49, on sale for $29.40.) Size note: Nordstrom’s site says this runs true, but my experience is everything in BP runs small, especially in the cut of the arms.


Navy as a neutral is often overlooked, but it can serve the same purpose as your go-to black bag while softening the look for the warm weather.  While I tend to spend on handbags, there is something about a summer bag that makes it hard for me to justify a high price tag.  Plus, I like to use the summer to take a break from shopping or at least limit the amount I spend.  That’s why brands like Sole Society are so great.  You can get an updated, or trendy piece without blowing your budget.  This navy crossbody bag is roomy and streamlined.  It works as an everyday, casual bag and looks best with neutral to you tones, rich tans or any metallic.  (Was $56.95, on sale for $34.17.)


Ready to jump into the world of white jeans?  Go with the under $100 option with these NYDJ ankle jeans. They have a subtle slit at the hem giving them a casual vibe that can work with anything from a block heel sandal to a slide on sneaker.  Available in seven other colors.  (Was $109, on sale for $72.90.)


If you have the budget and wardrobe need, consider picking up a statement jacket for the office.  Lafayette 148 is expensive, even on sale, but the quality is on point.  The pieces are lined, the details are well done, and they are cut in a way that they feel good on your body. I have a similar version to this navy tweed jacket from years ago and wear it all the time.  You can pair it with a navy skirt, sheath or pants, or, if you work in a traditional office with casual Fridays, wear it with your dark jeans and a heel.  (Was $698, on sale for $418.80.)


Updated: Varsity Tee SOLD OUT.

 

SHOP THIS POST 

 

The 6 Pieces To Wear with Black in the Spring

The 7 Pieces To Wear with Black in the Spring
The 6 Pieces To Wear with Black in the Spring

So many of us have a closet full of black clothing, but when the weather turns warm, they suddenly feel heavy and out of season.  The good news is you can transition many of your black pieces into spring-right outfits by adding a few strategic basics.

As we start to move into warmer weather, take few minutes to peek in your closet. If you have black wool pants, cashmere sweaters, or anything heavy and lined, you can move them to the back for next fall and winter. Keep you lightweight pieces, in seasonally appropriate fabrics, in the rotation for spring and summer.

Black can be worn year-round (thank goodness!). The most important element to focus on is fabric and style. A classic double wool blazer could be replaced with a single button rayon or cotton blend. Swap out straight-legged, lined trousers with slim cut ankle pants. Then, add seasonally appropriate separates to keep the look balanced.

The 6 Pieces To Wear with Black in the Spring

Black Pants, $89  |  Black Tank, $95  |  White Blazer, $74  |  Striped Top, $28  |   Turquoise Necklace, $90  |  Neutral Pump, $72  |  Polka Dot Scarf, $89  |  Denim Jacket, $79

I’m a big fan of creating a “base” or a “column of color.”  Here, I paired simple black pants and a tank as our base.  You could also use a dress like this sheath. Once your base is established, with pieces that work best for your body type, you can add layers that bring the look together. Below are my favorite tricks to bring black into warmer weather:

White Blazer, $74: Give your body and long and lean line by adding a contrasting blazer over you column of color. Black and white is the most classic spring combination.  It feels pulled together and deliberate.

Striped Top, $28: God forbid I go three days without talking about a stripped top.  But, it’s officially that time of year and I love this nautical inspired one with gold button shoulder detail that’s under $30 from Brooks Brothers.

Turquoise Necklace, $90: Years ago, Ralph Lauren did an ad featuring black gowns with oversized turquoise necklaces and I found it strikingly beautiful.  You can take that idea into real life by adding something like this multi strand turquoise choker to a simple black sheath and head out to an after work event.

Neutral Pump, $72: Instinctively, when we wear all black, we tend to go right to a black shoe. To lighten your look, pair your black dress or black base with a neutral-to-you shoe. It’s an elegant way to extend the line of your leg and enhance your height.  Sam Edelman makes a great, basic pump in a range of colors, currently on sale for $72.

Polka Dot Scarf, $89: When in doubt, add a scarf.  Scarves are a simple way to add layer and interest without creating bulk.  I’m crazy for this oversized black and white scarf on sale at Club Monaco.  You can wrap it over a dress, or loop it around you neck and layer it with blazer.

Denim Jacket, $79:  Finally, a denim jacket can be layered over just about any piece and make it ready for spring.  Throw this over a dress or your black base, add a scarf and finish with your neutral shoe.  You can make it work for the office or the weekend.