Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Reader Question: I Need Help Dressing like a Grownup. (Part I)

Gleemonex is 36 and a full time working mother who asked us to help her dress more like a grownup. She assesses it here:

"The look I'm going for: Confident, current (trend-aware but not trendy), age-appropriate, but with a youthful air. Somebody you'd take seriously as your manager, but whom you also might run into at a Radiohead or Pixies show.
I’m just shy of 5’5” and a very fit 140 pounds... I seem to wear a size 6-8 most of the time. I love my legs and collarbone, and my arms & back look pretty good right now, but my 36D bosoms are more trouble than you might think … so hard to dress “cute,” since with a rack like this, what looks cute on a B girl can look bovine or whorey on me (and I can never, ever not wear a proper bra, which means nothing one-shouldered, unfortunately). 
I CANNOT ABIDE a high-waisted pant or jean of any kind. It needs to sit on my hipbones or I flat will not wear it. Mostly this is because I have longer legs & shorter torso, but also a high waist makes me feel like I could tuck my boobs into my pants, and that’s not a good feeling. I like a fitted midriff in a shirt, since blousy ones make me look like Annette Funicello or a pregnant lady (which I am not at present). (Either one.)"
I'm letting Marianne handle the casual outfits (tomorrow) because she has more freedom in her workplace dress code and I am tackling some work looks that will gain respect but still look current and a little edgy. You don't have to be boring to be work-appropriate, but it helps to wear more structured items in order to look pulled together. With that in mind, I decided to do three looks - separates, dress, and pants.

What I think she needs: Simple well-cut basics that she can make more interesting with a statement necklace, a fun top, or some unexpected color. Also, bags and shoes can make or break a look. Nothing ties together an outfit more than the right accessories.

So, here's what I came up with:

A pencil skirt is the perfect classic piece to own, but the animal print keeps it from being too boring. The bronze detail in the top picks up the bronze in the skirt and the grey and black accessories keep it all tied together. The blazer keeps it all professional and nipped in. All neutrals, but it doesn't feel neutral.

Next, pants:

How to make grey trousers less meh? Pair with a bright top, a lush velvet blazer and an unexpected dark purple bag instead of the usual black. The earrings give it an extra pop of color just because I say so.

And finally, my favorite, the day dress:

Everyone needs a day dress that makes them feel amazing. Pair it with tall boots, a statement necklace and an enviable bag and watch the hell out. If you must tone it down, that's what the cardigan is for.

And finally, a wildcard just because:

So, what do you all think? Would you wear these looks to work or did I miss the mark?


  1. I would wear any and all of those. Unfortunately, it's looking like October is going to be shop-free for me. Le sigh.

  2. I would wear any and all of those. I think post-GAAD I'm going to put a little effort into being able to look more grown up some of the time.

  3. FYI - I spotted a pair of those teal Frye pumps in your last set in the sale room at Belk in Cool Springs over the weekend. I think they were in the $30 range. They were a little too big for me, or I would have snatched them up!!

  4. LOVE the picks! She seems to have a lot of the same body issues I have. Short-waisted and my 34DDs get in the way of everything! In standard sizes, I'm a 4-6 on the bottom but a 10-12 on top but my waist is small and so are my shoulders so, there's always the maternity top effect or the shoulder seams are coming down my arms. It sucks so bad finding the right tops and dresses!

    Blazers with low set buttons work well since they don't gape around the tatas. Tops like the one in the first outfit are great too since they don't have shoulder seams and you can tuck them in. Wrap dresses are a godsend.

    I think you did really well!

    Also hemming a nice pair of trousers costs about $10 (at 5'1" I'm always having to hem) and you can get a button up blouse or sheath dress taken in at the waist side seams easily for the same amount. It's worth tailoring to feel good in your clothes, and it gives you more options when you're shopping.

  5. I like everything too, except maybe the red top. I mean, I like it, too, but as a fellow bosomy/bovine person, anything with a high neck seems to visually lower my bustline a good three inches. I guess I would just have to see it on to make the call.

    It's hard to strike a balance between a low enough neckline to not push the girls down, but not getting all cleave-y at the office. Great picks, though.

  6. I LOVE THIS!!!

    Home run, Adrien! Outta the park! I ... seriously. I can't even tell you. This probably seems simple and obvious to you, but -- to me, it is FRICKING GENIUS.

    Thank you, thank you, a thousand times thank you!

  7. Gleemonex, you are more than welcome! I'm so glad you like the outfits.

    And Emily, you might be right. The color was the main focus of that top, but I see what you're saying about the high neckline.

  8. I must add that there is no substitute for a "real" bra from an actual bra fitter. I have a thin, petite friend who is a 32DD, but now that she's been professionally fitted for a bra, you would never guess her boobs were that huge for her frame. It's amazing what the correct bra can do.

  9. I too believe in the power of a proper bra fitting -- I get mine done every year, even though I hate being measured for anything, ever. The right brassiere is a LIFE-CHANGER.