This knowing came from both sides of the family. My grandfather, Harry Moody, was a man who knew what looked good on women and made his opinions very clear:
1. Be very careful about patterns (I will be talking about this in future blogs)
2. Always wear good shoes.
3. Always wear clothes that fit.
Interestingly, I've gone to a few psychics over the years for fun, and twice now my grandfather has shown up and given me fashion advice from beyond. No lie. One time he wanted me to know my hair was too short, and the next, he had a comment about the shoes I was wearing. He wanted me to know I had made a good choice. The cool thing is just that morning I had debated between two pairs in front of my mirror.
So I know I'll have my grandfather's blessing as I embark on the odd blog about fashion - with today's topic being business casual and travel. This because I'm getting ready to go on another work related trip and in my line of work as a trainer/facilitator/educator, the dress code is almost always business casual.
But what do I mean by business casual? My work takes me into a lot of schools and/or small communities where a business suit or dressier outfit is just not quite the right fit. Business casual is a professional look that's little more relaxed - but although it's casual, that doesn't mean anything goes.
So how to know what goes and what doesn't? Well, first of all, I think Pinterest is a great place to go for inspiration. I love to put "Women's fashions" into the search box and then scroll through. I have a board devoted specifically to fashion styles and ideas (just click the link to visit and follow) and whenever I see a look or an idea I like, I save it there for future reference.
And then a great practice to get into is to put together outfits based on what you'll be doing either at the start of a week, or before a trip. I do this every Sunday. I sit down and think about what I'm going to be doing in the week ahead and then I put together an outfit for each day, including shoes, accessories, and jewelry. They hang in chronological order in my closet and make for less stressful mornings. As a bonus, they also give me a boost of inner confidence that comes with knowing I've put something I feel fabulous in for that day.
So I thought I'd share some of the looks I've put together for this week's trip, along with some of my thoughts on how I put together business casual and travel outfits.
Look #1 - Travel
The thing about travel is you want to be well put together but you also want to be comfortable, and in my case, because I'm traveling to a small town, jeans and boots are completely acceptable.
I wanted something warm and cozy, because we'll be on a ferry for part of the trip and those boats get chilly, but also something flattering - so I put my look together inspired by outfits I've loved by Ralph Lauren.
When putting together your casual closet, there a few must haves (in my humble opinion) and one of those is a denim shirt because it will take you anywhere and never goes out of style. The same applies for white button down shirts, and well made tees with both long and short sleeves. Save your yoga pants and track jackets for the gym and invest in some comfortable jeans with a little stretch, a denim shirt, button down or a tee, and then pair it up with a great jacket, or sweater. A scarf, cute flats, or boots and you'll be good to go.
For my trip, I've chosen this soft, comfy fringed cardigan with skinny jeans and boots. Not only will the outfit be perfect for a long day of travel, I feel good in it - and as Billy Crystal so famously said "When you look mahvelous, you feel mahvelous."
The fringe cardie is longer in the back than the front and creates a lengthening silhouette. And the fringe itself, adds a Ralph Lauren Country look without the Ralph Lauren Country price.
Finishing the whole thing off is minimal jewelry that makes a statement: A fabulous, clunky men's style watch, and a simple silver ring (that I see needs polishing).
Look #2 - Business Casual
The next two looks I've put together are for the days I'll spend facilitating my workshop - and there are always things to keep in mind, like temperature. I tend to dress in layers, that way I stay warm if the room is on the cooler side, but can remove a jacket or sweater if it gets too warm.
But first, some ideas from me about business casual (and please keep in mind, these are the fashion rules I live by - if they aren't yours, that's okay too. Fashion is always individual).
Dresses and Skirts
- Skirts and dresses are okay as long as the hem falls just above the knees and no higher. You want the hemline to flatter, not detract from your professional look. If you're opting to wear a skirt or dress, a pair of black tights with a black skirt and boots is a great look that's flattering on just about everyone.
- Avoid low-cut dresses or those with high slits.
- Avoid dresses (especially) and skirts that are too tight. Always wear clothes that fit because clothes that fit flatter.
- Go for pants that fit and feel comfortable. I can't think of anything worse than having to go through a day in tight pants, so do yourself a favour and donate anything you own that doesn't fit. If you achieve that magical goal weight you're keeping the jeans for, you'll want to get a brand new pair to celebrate anyway. In fashion and in life, let go of the past. Be fabulous just as you are today.
- If jeans are okay for your business casual look (they are for me when I'm working in schools) make sure to wear dressy jeans in a darker hue that aren't faded. Keep those for traveling, clubbing, and the weekend,
- Neutral colors are best.
- Tights are not pants. Save them for yoga class.
- Blouses, plain shirts, cotton shirts, sweaters, turtlenecks, vests, and sleeveless shirts are all good choices, just be careful that what you wear isn't too revealing.
- Blouses and shirts can be tucked-in or untucked depending on the shirt.
- Unusual patterns are okay, as long as they're not wild. In most cases, though, I subscribe to my grandfather's aversion. This is because your clothes should enhance beautiful you, and patterns tend to take the focus away from the person.
In my line of work, I'm on my feet constantly and so it becomes incumbent to wear good shoes. In fact, I would go so far as to say, the most important investment you can make in your wardrobe is shoes that fit right (and bras that do the same). When choosing shoes:
- Try footwear such as leather shoes, flat trouser shoes, wedge heels, high heels (that you can walk in). Avoid flip flops, sandals and sneakers.
- Always opt for neutral colours (black, brown, grey, tan, khaki, wine, navy) and pay attention to the condition your shoes are in.
I am absolutely crazy about this burgundy "Grandpa" cardie. It's warm and cozy and looks great with these plaid slacks. You can't see it in the picture, but there's a very faint burgundy line that runs through the plaid on the pants. Not too much to be distracting but just right. Team the look up with a neutral tee and a fun scarf to finish.
The shoes are Italian leather in a boot style with a slight heel to add height. I've paired the outfit with a comfortable cotton long sleeved shirt that says "Pop the champagne" to add a little fun, and then finished it with my favourite silver watch, a thick silver ring, and diamond stud earrings.
The second look is also warm, and comfortable. A soft black and grey flecked cardie, teams with an aubergine blouse, black slacks, black wedges, my signature man style watch with a Pandora done in all hues of pink and purple, and a ring with a deep purple stone.
And when you come in from the cold, remove the scarf and you'll be all set to take on the world!
"Don't be into trends. Don't make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way to live." —Gianni Versace