The next several Fashion Fridays are going to feature a real life SWAP – SWAP stands for “Shopping With A Purpose!” A few of my darling friends gave me their current work wardrobe conundrums and I took them shopping at the Houston Galleria with the sole purpose of solving them. In the process, we had a blast.
So both this week’s and next week’s post will feature my friend Brandy since she had two conundrums: (1) looking like an executive for upcoming meetings on the East Coast with senior executives in the company and (2) polishing up her casual Friday. We’ll look at No. 2’s conundrum next week, but this week here is the issue: Brandy holds a managerial level position with even more potential and she needs her wardrobe to communicate the gravitas and confidence that she in fact possesses when she travels for a week of meetings with company executives. The third SWAP week will feature an entirely different issue that my friend Julie needed resolved. (And let me know if you have an issue that needs the SWAP treatment – I’d love to feature the resolution.)
Here’s the girls after a successful shopping excursion. The three of us spent four hours shopping at a handful of stores that I knew would have professional options: Nordstrom’s, Ann Taylor and Loft, Banana Republic, Talbots, and J. Crew. I asked Brandy a few questions to understand how to best focus our shopping efforts for that executive look. When I asked what her favorite feature(s) is she decided her overall feminine look because she is petite with curves and long hair. That means she also likes to dress in feminine clothes – skirts over pants, patterns over boring neutrals. Her least favorite feature(s) when shopping is her being right on the cusp of petite – things are either too short or too long but she can almost never find things that fit without needing tailoring. Plus, because of her curves, even work outfits can look racy if she’s not careful.
So you can see from these responses that the last thing she needed was masculine navy pinstripe pants suit for these executive meetings. Plus, she doubted the attendees would be very formally suited. Fortunately, she’s not scared of patterns or colors which gave us a lot of options to infuse confidence and luxury into her look while still keeping her feminine.
I didn’t get a great shot of this lovely modern navy skirt suit and floral blouse we found for the most formal meetings, but here are a few great blazers that she can throw on with neutral trousers and really look the part – effortless chic, not too matchy-matchy, and modern career woman (ignore pants/tees, she was just trying the blazers, from Nordstrom’s and Talbot’s, respectively):
So it may be difficult to tell from the first picture, but this blazer was really unique. It had interesting detailing around the collar and the shoulders, and a yellow color was sewn in alongside the white which made the jacket interesting and versatile. Brandy is already petite, but particularly short from shoulder to waist, so cropped jackets looked great on her. Because she has such curves, she didn’t have to worry about these jacket shapes making her look boxy. Each of these jackets had something interesting about it – an embellishment, a unique color, and interesting trim – that made it look sharper than a simple navy or tan blazer. Both could be paired with pencil skirts or modern fitted trousers and some simple accessories. She did get a simple one button taupe jacket that will be perfect with navy or black trousers or a patterned pencil skirt and a hot pink or blue shell.
Here’s a couple of looks she found for her office, which is business casual, but weren’t quite as executive as she needed for her meetings next week:
The first is a lovely navy peplum top from Banana Republic that accentuates her small waist with a lovely subdued patterned pencil skirt. The second is a simple floral sheath dress from Ann Taylor with a cropped black scalloped blazer she could throw on with this dress for work or with jeans to go out at night. This dress isn’t for all seasons, but it was on sale so it made sense to buy for Houston’s long summers.
The great thing about this shopping excursion is that while we were looking for specific stand out pieces, she was able to upgrade her entire work wardrobe on a pretty reasonable budget. You’ll hear more next week, but overall she got: six blazers (one with the suit, three pictured above, as well as the taupe and a tangerine patterned one), five blouses/shells, one pair of jeans, one pair of trousers, two skirts (one suit skirt) and one dress.
These were her closing remarks the day after the shopping spree, “I learned I look better in skirts and dresses. I look lousy in pants and oversized loose fitting stuff. I love colors and prints. I need to try lots of things on since I stink at guessing what might work for me. Gindi says I am a “spring!” Ha!” (Author note: She looks fine in trousers and she is a spring if you ever had your colors done by season.)