Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Starting From Scratch Summer Office Wardrobe in Navy and White

Yes, it still exists: the office with the strict dress code.  Pants only on Fridays.  No visible knees, nor underarms.  Absolutely  no HINT of cleavage...

This is even more challenging in the summer, when it can be sweltering outdoors, but the office will invariable be quite cool.  The rules are made, and the thermostats are set, by men in wool suits, long-sleeved shirts, and an undershirt.  (why, if they dress like this in the heat of summer, do we let them run the world?)

But you can still have a great, fun, spiffy capsule wardrobe!

warm weather navy and white office wardrobe Starting from Scratch
Navy linen trousers – Dorothy Perkins, navy cardigan – Jaeger, navy linen tee – Jaeger, white shirt – Dorothy Perkins, navy skirt – Jaegerturquoise tee – Lauren by Ralph Lauren, hot pink top – French Connection, white blazer – Viyella, dotted skirt - Michael Korspink blouse – Uniqlo (sold out), purple blouse – Diane Von Furstenberg, navy linen top – Jaeger, navy linen skirt – Jaeger, turquoise sweater- Ralph Lauren Blue, white cardigan- Oasis, pink cardigan – Dolce and Gabbana (sold out), dress – L.K.Bennett, navy white dress – Hobbs London, dotted cotton cardigan – Josephmedallion print blouse – Prabal Gurung, white trousers- Viyella,  navy and white sweater- Marni  Edition, cotton cardigan – Linea, navy shirtdress – JaegerWhite shirt – L.L. Bean, white skirt – Marni, floral skirt – Marni Edition,  striped top – Dorothy Perkinsprint trousers – Weekend Max Mara, white tee – Dorothy Perkinsnavy shirt – Uniqlo, navy & white dot stripe shirt – Lands’ End

Remember this color scheme?  A few weeks ago, I showed a very casual summer wardrobe using these colors.  Today, they're going to the office.

navy, white and bright colors color plan for hot weather office wardrobe

The first steps remain very much the same - a great pair of pants, comfortable shoes, a cardigan (or blazer) and a top of some sort in your dark neutral.  Step 3 brings in a light neutral top, and another "bottom" in the dark neutral.  No jeans this time!  A skirt is a must in this work environment.

first four steps to built a Starting From Scratch Summer wardrobe in Navy and White
Navy linen trousers – Dorothy Perkins, navy ballet flats – Vaneli, cardigan –  
Jaeger, navy linen tee – Jaeger, white shirt – Dorothy Perkins, skirt – Jaeger

In Step 5, I've swapped out the summery beach tote for something much more serious.  In Step 6, the bright accent tops and bracelet can stay, with the understanding that you'd better cover up those armpits, missy!  And in place of the very casual waterfall cardigan and capris in Step 7, a blazer and subtle patterned skirt...

Steps 5, 6, and 7 in the Starting From Scratch Navy and White wardrobe
Watch – Daniel Wellington, star scarf – Becksondergaard, sapphire earrings 
Allurez, ribbon chain bracelet – Brooks Brothers, bag – Dorothy Perkins, turquoise 
tee – Lauren by Ralph Lauren, hot pink top – French Connection, bracelet –  
Links of London, white blazerViyella, dotted skirt - Michael Kors
pumps - Trotters

Of course, tank tops aren't terribly useful in this office!  A couple of summery, but much more modest, blouses take their place.  The 2-piece navy outfit is still perfect for work - I've just substituted a slingback low-heel pumps for the sandals.  And Step 10 is usually casual, but we're going to replicate the "top, jacket, shoe" idea with a short-sleeved sweater, a very useful cardigan, and ballet flats that incorporate your 2 neutral colors.  These shoes are particularly practical; any time you mix navy and white garments in an outfit, add these shoes, and the combination automatically looks intentional!

Steps 8, 9 and 10 Starting From Scratch Navy and White summer office wardrobe
Pink blouse – Uniqlo (sold out), earrings – Chen Fuchs,  purple blouse –
 Diane Von Furstenberg, navy linen top – Jaeger, navy linen skirt – Jaeger,
 navy slingbacksJ.Renee, turquoise sweater- Ralph Lauren Blue, white cardigan
- Oasis, ballet flats- Dorothy Perkins

Here in Step 11, I've kept the patterned dress.  Your work environment might consider this a bridge too far, in which case you could look for a printed dress in a more subtle design, or a solid dress in navy.  And Step 12 originally had a caftan, sandals and sunglasses!  (I DARE you to go to work like that...)  A much more appropriate classic dress, and a subtly patterned cardigan will probably excited less comment than a flowing, swirl-printed beach cover-up. 

Steps 11 and 12, Starting From Scratch Summer work wardrobe Navy and White
Cardigan – Dolce and Gabbana (sold out), dress – L.K.Bennett, navy white 
dress – Hobbs London, dotted cotton cardigan – Joseph

No hair bows here!  And while you definitely still must own sunglasses, they have no place in your office.  However, if you were ever going to break out the big accessory guns (aka an Hermes scarf), this is the time.  And a whimsical, but solid navy, boutonniere is a great little touch on the lapel of your white blazer.
Step 13 accessories for Starting From Scratch Wardrobe Summer navy and White
Square scarf – Hermès, amethyst earrings – Khun Boom, amethyst bracelet
 – Bhavest, turquoise earrings – Guillermo Arregui,bag – Park House, navy floral
 brooch-Ermanno Scervino

In the other version of navy and white that I did, Step 14 was casual outfits!  I guess in a conservative office, white pants and a lovely top qualifies as casual.  Of course, this blouse and sweater will do wonderful things with all of your navy separates.  And Step 15 remains pretty much unchanged - a great dress and cardigan.  I just got a longer sleeved cardigan, and a more work-suitable dress... 

Steps 14 and 15 Starting From Scratch Wardrobe summer navy and white
Medallion print blouse – Prabal Gurung, white trousers- Viyella,  navy and 
white sweater- Marni  Edition, cotton cardigan – Linea, navy shirtdress – Jaeger

All of these last steps share the idea that we're trying to make sure we have a balance between our neutral colors, that we have enough "bridge" garments to link those neutrals, and that our truly "Common Wardrobe" basics are present.  No way you're including a chambray shirt, or a pair of jeans, in this wardrobe, but simple tops in your neutrals should ALWAYS be in your wardrobe.  Just make sure you only wear the Step 17 trousers on Fridays! 

Steps 16, 17 and 18 Starting From Scratch Wardrobe summer navy and white
White shirt – L.L. Bean, white skirt – Marni, floral skirt – Marni Edition,  
striped top – Dorothy Perkins, print trousers – Weekend Max Mara, white tee 
Dorothy Perkins, navy shirt – Uniqlo, navy & white dot stripe shirt
 – Lands’ End

A recap of the accessories, just for reference purposes:

How to build a summer business capsule wardrobe from scratch
turquoise earrings – Chen Fuchs, sapphire earrings – Allurez, ribbon chain bracelet – Brooks Brothers, bracelet – Links of London, bag – Dorothy Perkinssquare scarf – Hermès, amethyst earrings – Khun Boom, amethyst bracelet – Bhavest, turquoise earrings – Guillermo Arregui,bag – Park House, navy floral brooch-Ermanno Scervinowatch – Daniel Wellington, star scarf – Becksondergaardnavy
 ballet flats – Vaneli, white trim ballet flats- Dorothy Perkinsnavy slingbacks –J.Reneepumps - Trotters

Many product links lead you to retailers who pay The Vivienne Files a small commission.  This commission has never been, and never will be, a factor in what items I choose to include in these wardrobes!

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How to build a summer business capsule wardrobe from scratch
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  1. I love these posts, especially the accessories page.

  2. I am so very thankful that my world is casual and relaxed but this is so pretty!

  3. So, a great wardrobe, as always, good work, keep it up! But I'm curious: "Pants only on Fridays" - is there really such a thing? I've never worked in an office or a remotely conservative sector, so I can't even imagine this - how sexist!

    1. Yes, there are even NO PANTS EVER offices. Conservative workplaces still exist - I know people who work in them!

  4. The very pretty navy/white dress from Hobbs London is also sold out :(

    I would never work in an office where they didn't allow pants on women. Sexist. And they can stick it... :)

  5. What a pretty, lovely, grown up wardrobe. Is there a link for the wedge heeled sling back shoes?

  6. Thank you for the ideas how to stay visible and particular in the official enviroment.In our office on Friday we are allowed to wear jeans,but on other days the majority wears neutral tailored clothes.

  7. I live in Florida and have a collection of light cashmere cardigans that I wear in the office year-round. Plus a small heater under my desk!

  8. As always, your accessory choices absolutely make the wardrobe!

  9. I can't help but believe that those strictures are self-imposed/don't-rock-the-boat rules. Even in a conservative office, they can't fire a woman for wearing an appropriate pants suit.

    1. Of course they can. They can also require that female staff wear hose. I even know a judge who will not "allow" a female attorney to come to court in slacks; they must wear dresses or a skirt suit.

    2. If your dress code is part of the terms of your work, they can require you to wear anything they deem "necessary" for your job. Hosiery is definitely still required in lots of places, and knees are utterly forbidden in a lot of places too... Their explanation is that clients are conservative, and thus people working with those clients must also be conservative.

  10. I noticed the pink Uniqlo blouse, which is now sold out. I actually bought it when we were in London in July and love it. The only problem is I think it's a bit see-through for over 60s like me - what would you advise wearing under it? I have a white camisole but it's not quite right! I think this capsule would make anyone who is unfortunate enough to work in a stuffy office feel a lot better about their work outfits.

    1. Shapewear as close to your skin color as possible, with wide straps that cover the bra strap...or something similarly opaque and shaped to the body well enough that it is hard to tell what's going on under the blouse.

  11. Hi, Janice:
    I wanted to ask you a couple of things, but I can't find an email address for you here. Is it on the blog and I'm just not seeing it?
    My questions are: 1. How do you store your scarves? I don't have many, but I'm looking for a good, safe way to store them.
    2. Would you ever consider doing a "boho" capsule? I'm in love with Gudrun Sjoden right now, but I wouldn't want to buy their whole line. What do you think?
    Thank you! And congrats on your 1,000th post!

    1. Dear Sandra,
      My scarves are all kept in a couple of drawers of the Elfa shelving that's in my closet that is as close as I get to a dresser. I pull them out and organize them from time to time, as they do get rumpled when I dig through them.

      I'll work on boho. I'm not really sure what qualifies as boho - someone want to give me some specific style or detail suggestions?


    2. I hope someone else will jump in here, but when I think boho, I think gypsy skirts, shawls, layered look, loose and unstructured. As I mentioned above, Gudrun Sjoden, and possibly Blue Fish artwear.

      Anyone else?

  12. I second the idea of a boho capsule--for work, if there is such a thing. I'd love to express my naturally boho personality while still looking professional.

  13. A belated congratulations on your 1000th post!
    Wishing you joy and happiness!
    Thank you for all the hard work!!

  14. As always, a lovely selection. I'm going to go against the tide here: I love formality. Jackets, structure, good fabrics, great accessories. I'm still sorry its mostly gone from daily life as I just look sloppy in casual clothes.
    Yesterday I had a meeting at the bank and wore a new jacket, pencil skirt, silk scarf...Now I'm back to figuring out how not to look like a slobby blob while I walk the dog...
    BTW I loved the section in the Dress Doctors relating how people wanted to wear luxury clothes at home to relax in during the 1930's. Begone stained jeans for at home wear!

  15. Love your work.

    Vancouver, Can

  16. This is the perfect wardrobe for me - the colors and the styles (and yes, there are still some of us out there that prefer a more covered up look). I am retired so no office rules, but my lifestyle is either extreme - super casual during the week, (although not sloppy, I like to have fun with clothes and look nice even if I am at home) yet professional dressy on Sundays. Even though I don't have a 'need' for lots of dressy clothes, I love dressing up and am willing to have a few more dressy clothes than my lifestyle circle graph would call for.

  17. wow! I prefer oranges, greens and cobalt blue for my accents, but this is really helpful.........

  18. Another great post. I am working on a navy and grey capsule wardrobe and found THE perfect necklace. It also has shades of brown and so I can wear it with brown and black. It is my idea of a piece of jewelry to build a wardrobe around. She has several variations, many in solid colors but this is the one that struck my eye. Diana Broussard Nate necklace in baby seal. You can zoom in on these two websites, but I don't believe they truly capture it. I am only including the websites so that you can see it. Might you do a post on this necklace?


  19. I love this wardrobe. I've never got over a colleague who wore flipflops, a skirt like a sarong, and a lowcut t shirt and wondered why the men never took her seriously! If you want to challenge for the managerial jobs you HAVE to dress like a manager. That's the corporate world.

  20. I have a request Janice, if I may... I love this particular post, because it incorporates MY colours. I work with a palette that is based on neutrals of black, navy and white. My colours are pure, bold and saturated. It is rare that you do an outfit combination that does not incorporate grey, beiges, or brown. Not that the colours you choose aren't gorgeous together! They just aren't for me. So is there any chance that every once and a while you could base your combinations on these neutrals? I'd love to see a "starting from scratch" for example, that I could more closely follow - I LOVE playing with these capsule wardrobe ideas.