February 7, 2014
Many people ask me about what to do with their interview suit after they’ve interviewed… so I’m going to show a week of work attire that uses your suit as separates. Just as the daily crossword puzzles become more difficult during the week, these outfits become progressive more casual…
(1) I’m working with a palette of navy, grey, beige, pink and white.
(2) I’m going to show the same shoes repeatedly, just to emphasize the utility of a few pair of good shoes, rather than my usual unique shoes for each outfit.
Monday is our dressiest option – use your suit jacket over a contrasting dress, or use your skirt as a base for a tweed jacket and silk blouse.
Tuesday moves the blazer into a pairing with camel wool pants and a simple silk blouse. The skirt is paired with a matching cardigan and a beautiful scarf for a slightly more relaxed, but still work-appropriate look.
Wednesday – grey pants are obvious with a navy blazer, and get perked up a bit with a silk blouse. The shoes are a bit of an adventure, but might be a nice statement for the bolder among us. A patterned cardigan is another option with your navy skirt, and a beautiful scarf is your perfect accessory.
Tweed pants are great with a blazer and a simple sweater. The skirt is still work-worthy with a turtleneck sweater that’s predominantly navy, but with a bit of texture for interest.
Friday – khakis and a striped tee shirt can still go to many offices if topped with a blazer. And your skirt is a great base for a printed silk blouse and a cheery pink cardigan.
Okay, I know that you probably DON’T want to wear your suit on Saturday, but a navy blazer is a great option with jeans and a simple oxford shirt… The last outfit – I know it’s quite “out there” – but I like to push the occasional envelope…
Here’s your complete work outfit, with a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt thrown in for versatility:
And here are additional outfits that you’ll find in this closet, that DON’T use the pieces of your suit!
I love this. Every bit of it.
Almost makes me want to go back to work…almost…
I am continually amazed at your creative combinations. Thank goodness I found this blog! You've given me much needed inspiration in rethinking my wardrobe selections.
The problem I have w/ navy skirt suits and navy skirts in general is: what do you wear on your legs? I hate regular "hose," navy tights never match…etc. Any solutions?
Janice Riggs says
Back in the day, I would buy the motherlode of matching tights the day I bought my suit. Or, when my work required, nude hosiery. Much as many people don't like them, they're still required in a lot of offices. I suppose you could go without hosiery, but that gives me the willies….
I agree with Janice R. I have navy as one of my neutrals. You can match if you shop around. But I've found that the opaque pantyhose that are not quite of tights weight work just fine and look almost like tights. – and match all my navy stuff. Hope this helps.
also.. you want to find the darkest navy "almost opaque" stockings you can find. – they are most likely to look great with all "variations" of navy.
Yep, I'd wear grey opaques in winter and either bare legs or slightly patterned (i.e. small fishnets, subtle polka dots) nude stockings in warmer weather. Somehow I feel the patterns make the nude stockings less frumpy.
Living in the south, pantyhose seem to be fashion optional in even the most formal office settings, which gives me the major willies. Do I even want to ask about wearing a slip under dresses and skirts? I'm sorry, but I feel naked without one.
I think the slip is only necessary if the skirt or dress are unlined. Without a smooth slippery layer, clothes just don't hang well. But most likely both a suit skirt and the dress would be lined.
Like Anonymous at 7:38, these outfits are so beautiful I almost wish I didn't work in uber-casual high tech. Almost.
Denise from Active Living Zoomers says
Recently discovered you blog. Love, love, love it! I am totally challenged when it comes to putting outfits together. I now have a file with all my favourite outfits you have put together and will have it in hand when I attempt my spring/summer wardrobe purchases! thanks for all the hard work you must put into each post.
Thank you so much, Janice, for this post. I'm now working at an office again after 3 years working at home. I actually love my work, but I'm slowly building an office wardrobe. I have a navy suit – jacket pants and skirt! This is sooo helpful! Now I know I don't need to buy so much more to have variations.
I would love to be able to wear these clothes to my place of work. But there are enough great ideas here even if I turn it down a notch. I have been known to 'double up' on occasion with hosiery to get the color right. That might not be ideal, but keeps me from going crazy because my legs look all wrong.
(I usually just wear navy skirts with black Spanx and black shoes which definitely simplifies things. If I wear a black belt or have some black as well as navy in my jewelry or scarf, this looks purposeful.) Janice, I love these suggestions. My suit jackets have gotten very, very little wear lately. Somehow, a cardigan always looks fresher and more stylish.
Janice Riggs says
Men wear black leather accessories with navy garments, so we shouldn't feel that matching the navy thing is a big deal. And I know what you mean about cardigans, but nothing can beat the structure and crispness that a blazer brings to your day! I don't wear my own as often as I should…
Yes, I struggle with feeling far too stiff and formal in suit jackets or blazers.I do manage to wear a ponte knit jacket 'cos it's stretchy and comfy so feels less formal. I love how your outfits have a more casual look pepped up with the suit jacket – I need to master that idea!
Seconding the ponte knit blazer as striking the right note between business formal and business casual.
I love this and I don't even have a navy suit! Just so you know, the link for Friday's pretty pink sweater doesn't work.
Janice Riggs says
Thanks for letting me know – I think it's fixed! have a great weekend,
cheryl :) says
I don't own a suit or have need for one but I love the versatility you have shown here. Fantastic.
This is a fantastic post.
I too LOVE this post except for one question. Why did you have 2 pairs of beige almost identical pants but not a pair of navy?
Janice Riggs says
My general advice, for those of us who have to wear suits, is to get the pants, and if at all possible get a dress that matches too. I seriously considered navy pants, but I wanted to show the possibilities of not matching the jacket exactly. I wish the tan pants looked more different from each other – I was intending to show camel wool pants vs. khaki twill trousers… in photographs, they're hard to distinguish.
Saturday is my favorite! You GO girl!! LOL You do a great job. And it is always very brave to open yourself up to comments by everyone. And it's true about jackets: they are so powerful in terms of "upping" the ante on an outfit. As someone who also works in front of a computer a lot, just adding/remembering jackets can make a HUGE difference in an outfit. A jacket and some nice shoes can make it look like I was wearing my jeans on purpose. LOL Thanks for another great post, as usual.
The Saturday skirt outfit is fun! I've seen this (sporty+dressy) in fashion magazines and it never made sense to me until I saw this version. I'm glad you included it.
Yesterday I was at a job interview in my navy suit, so this post really hit me.
Turning to more corporate environments after working in academia and being on maternity leave I went through my closet. With a bunch of clothes at the tailor I still seem to have a decent wardrobe, but your post stated what was obvois to me preparing for the interview: I need more shoes! Seriously. Shoes that are apropriate for the weather, the clothes (trousers versus skirts) and the occation.
Thank you for great posting!
Dr. V.O. says
Brilliant, wonderful post — just the inspiration I needed to pull my JCrew cotton suiting (pants, skirt, blazer) out of its suit bag and wear it rather than store it. Love this! And thanks to all for the stocking advice.
Is this a wardrobe with navy as the core, or grey as the core? Or navy, grey and beige as a core, in other words 3 core colours? I need to know the rules so I know how to streamline my items.
Janice Riggs says
This would probably have been drawn from a navy and grey core wardrobe, with a solid representation of beige or camel as an accent color. Or it could also be a three neutral wardrobe; I'm flexible that way! For someone who actually owns and has to wear a navy suit, the three neutrals, with navy and grey as the really conservative pieces, and beige as the slightly more relaxed, would probably be a great solution.