Style File – Summer Business Casual

Summer has heated up properly in Chicago. And now I’m trying to strike the right balance — it’s acceptable to dress a little more casual since fewer students and faculty are around, but not too casual. I can’t look like I’m off to the beach.

The grey, draped shirt is by Zara, but is unfortunately sold out now. Otherwise I’d buy a whole armful, because it has the right amount of drape without completely consuming my figure. (Although I have it in white too.) The skirt is from the Gap and is probably eight years old. I can’t believe it’s still in rotation in my wardrobe. The Kenneth Cole Reaction mock ballet shoes are a recent purchase from DSW, and I found the purse by Pour La Victoire on eBay a few months ago.

I’m loving this purse. Just enough polish for work with a good dose of style. I came to the decision that I couldn’t keep lugging my black tote everywhere, especially to functions with donors. They say you have to dress the part, so I think this fits the bill of chic professionalism.

Style File – Spring Transition

Spring is a tricky season in the Midwest. The temperature jumps from day to day mean that I can sport a tank top one day, and a light wool coat the next.

I started the process of pulling out my warmer-weather clothes from storage and putting away my cold-weather things. It’s always a trip down memory lane to pull out my clothes storage box and rediscover things I haven’t worn for six months. It definitely decreases my urges to run out and buy a whole new seasonal wardrobe.

But I do have one new purchase I’m giddy about. More than a month ago, I found this classic pink boucle jacket by Chanel in a local consignment shop. While it was a major deal at just under $500 (my best guess is that the original price was at least a couple thousand dollars), it was still out of my budget. But I waited and waited.

Finally two weekends ago the price dropped under $300. Still very expensive, it’s a piece that I will be able to wear my whole life — timeless style and the quality of materials and craftsmanship is unlike anything I own. It fits perfectly. The morning the price went down, I was there first thing to buy it. Like I said, I’m giddy about it.

I think it would look lovely with a cream or navy dress or skirt. How would you style it?

Style File – Sample Sale Score

Chicago doesn’t have a ton of sample sales because the number of designers working here is rather slim. Although, we luckily have Elmidae, designed by Abigail Glaum-Lathbury.

I’ve talked about Abigail’s work before on here. She’s a friend that I met when I was in grad school. Whenever I wear Elmidae, my coworkers demand to know who the designer is or I get stopped on the street (this literally happened last week).

So I was super excited to hit Elmidae’s sample sale two Saturday’s ago. A sample sale is a way for a designer to sell off prototypes and old inventory. I got to Abigail’s studio in the early afternoon, but so much of her stock was already sold. Need to get there first thing next time!

I fell in love with the skirt above. It has great movement and is made of beautiful fabric — a floral print attached to a blue and gold woven textile to create a double-faced fabric.

Last Monday I paired my new Elmidae skirt with my vintage black silk tee and black Nine West pumps. I found the necklace in a shop called Muse and was told that it was designed by a former employee. Wish I had gotten her name.

One of the things I love most about Abigail’s work is the innovation of the pattern pieces (in other words, the blueprint used to create the garment). The pattern for this particular skirt is genius — it’s basically a rectangle folded over on itself with a hole cut out for the waist. It looks like separate pieces to create the tiers, but it’s really all one piece, aside from the waistband. Genius!

photos by Travis Haughton – Wasabi Photography

Style File – Sweet Chambray

Today’s style post is short and sweet. On Friday I wore this chambray dress that I’ve had since last spring.

When I first bought it, I would leave the top button undone, but lately I’ve been buttoning it up to the neck. I’m torn whether this dress is too young or not. I think buttoning it to the top makes it a little less sweet.

Although this dress is also impossible to keep wrinkle free. It’s part cotton, part linen, so it seems like a lost cause. But it’s surprising well made for a Target dress.

What do you guys think?

Style File — Birthday Leather

For some time, one of the items on my dream wardrobe wish list has been a leather jacket. For the last year I’ve kept my eye out, but I hadn’t seen anything I thought would work with my short torso, was within a reasonable budget, and fit my aesthetic requirements.

For my birthday, I asked my dad for one. When he said yes I upped my hunt. My preference was for an asymmetrical moto style. I also liked the quilted details I was seeing on leather jackets these days. And I wanted a practical jacket — one I could wear when it was chilly, not something purely for show.

And then I found a jacket from Asos.com that looked like it would fit the bill. I wasn’t sure if it was cropped enough for my short waist, but when it arrived, it was!

I love the quilting on the shoulders, sides, and hem. The jacket has a hint of a boxy shape, but the back is tailored enough so that the jacket doesn’t overwhelm my frame.

The jacket has great zippers on both sleeves too. I think that’s what makes a good leather jacket, the details.

I need to weatherproof it asap. Maybe leather is a little unorthodox for a spring jacket, but I can’t wait to wear it all the time now that the weather seems to be warming up above freezing.

(Thank you Dad!)

photos by Travis Haughton – Wasabi Photography

Style File – Velvet Burn-out

Crystal tee, from Club Monaco

I was intrigued when I came across the top above on Club Monaco’s website. The burn-out velvet top was on sale and there was an extra limited-time discount, so I decided the deal was worth it and bought it.

The texture and colors make it a treat to wear in different ways. The black silk velvet is on a ground of sheer pink, purple, beige, and black chiffon.

Burn-out velvet, also known as façonné velvet, is a pile fabric with a pattern created by burning selected areas of pile fibers with chemicals. Most often, as is the case with my shirt, the pile is made of a natural fiber — mine is silk. The ground is resistant to those chemicals and normally is a man-made fiber — mine is rayon.

Last Monday I wore it with a black tank and my favorite dusty rose skirt. The skirt brought out more of the pink tones in the top. Instead of my normal nylons, I wore a pair of DKNY tights in black noir and my everyday Pour la Victore flats. I accessorized with the gold-colored, linking hoops necklace.

I had a number of visitors at work that day. One class came to see three-dimensional embellishments, and it was fun to pull some heavily textured pieces of embroidery, feathers, faux flowers, sequins, and lace. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my shirt is made of a three-dimensional textile.

Then on Saturday, I met my friend Amy for brunch. When you have a favorite new piece of clothing, don’t you find excuses to wear it more often? I know I do. I went more casual for brunch with a black cotton cardigan, Citizens of Humanity Arley jeans, black tank, and Loeffler Randall mini lynx rain boots. I’ve been leaving the zippers at each side seam half zipped to fit my hips a little better.

Style File – Black and Cream

On Friday, I decided to play with black and cream for my half day at work. I found that even though this skirt has skinny gold stripes all over it, I could emphasize cream over gold with careful accessorizing.

My black elements included a black silk tee, black three-quarter sleeve cardigan, sheer black nylons, and black Pour la Victoire flats. For cream, I wore a stone necklace that I bought while on study abroad in South Africa and the Esley drawstring skirt.

All of these pieces are in frequent rotation, but I liked this new pairing. Something to keep in mind when I feel like going for contrast.

photos by Travis Haughton

Style File – My Alt Wardrobe

You guys asked, so today I’m going to show you what I wore to Alt. I did not ask people to take pictures of my outfits during the conference, so I had to recreate these at home during the weekend.

I tried to bring basics and footwear that would work in multiple outfits in order to save space. Nonetheless, my suitcase was maxed out.

On Wednesday, I wore the above outfit while traveling and to the Friday night dinner. The black Atwell top has sheer, chiffon sleeves, which I find rather clever. I also wore a pair of Citizens of Humanity almost black Arley jeans. While traveling, I wore rainboots, but for dinner I changed into black Nine West pumps. My gold scale necklace by Laura Lombardi finished it off.

For the sessions on Thursday morning and afternoon, I layered a black tank top from Target under a navy silk blouse from Banana Republic. On the bottom I wore an Elmidae patterned, origami-like skirt, Calvin Klein black nylons, and the black Nine West pumps.

The Clue-theme party was Thursday night, and everyone was supposed to choose a color — white, mustard, scarlet, plum, green, or peacock. Originally I aimed for peacock. But when I got dressed at Alt, everyone told me I was wearing green, not “peacock”/teal. I’m still confused because this outfit reads teal to me, but my husband also thinks it’s green. Oh well.

The ruffle bottom dress in “viper snake” is by Aqua. I kept on my black Calvin Klein nylons and changed into Asos high heels. I accessorized with a spike and beaded bracelet by Spike of Creativity and a Cole Haan wristlet.

Friday, I wore a look you may have seen me in on the blog before — my deconstructed Abigail Glaum-Lathbury jacket over the black tank top from Target. On bottom I wore a rose-colored skirt I thrifted. I finished the outfit off with my new Pour la Victore Adeanna black flats and a clean pair of Calvin Klein black nylons.

The mini parties on Friday called for something festive, so I decided to wear the fascinator I wore to high tea during my bachelorette party. The red silk tee is from Club Monaco and the vintage 1940s skirt came from one of my favorite Etsy sellers. I also wore the black Nine West pumps. For accessories, I found a 1940s matching set — star necklace and star clip-on earrings.

I went for something more comfortable for Saturday’s workshops. I wore my abstract cloud-print blouse from Calvin Klein over the black tank top from Target. I rewore the Citizens of Humanity Arley jeans and Loeffler Randall mini lynx rain boots.

Also, I wanted to show you guys my business cards. If you haven’t heard, business cards are a big deal at Alt. Some people really pull out all the stops. My husband Travis and I designed the cards, and I had them printed by Moo on their luxe card stock. I really love how thick they are, and I’m smitten with the design. I have to give Travis credit for the back of the card — the reverse color and blown-up corset was all his idea.

Style File – New Black Flats

Before the holidays, I mentioned that I was in need of new black flats. My old ones were majorly scratched and abraded. They were so stretched out that sometimes they would slip off my foot as I was walking. They were beyond salvageable.

So I had my eye out for a new pair. When I saw that Gilt.com had a Pour La Victore flash sale, I came across these Adeanna Flats. I used the Christmas money my grandparents gave me (thanks Grandma and Dziadzia!) on them.

I love these shoes. They run small, so I had to trade my normal 6.5 size for size 7. The insole has a comfortable cushion under the ball of the foot. The black leather is stiff, which gives them a structured look. Unfortunately that firm leather doesn’t have much give, so it’s taking a little bit of time to break them in.

These flats have worked their way into my daily wardrobe. On Friday, I wore them with a red Eddie Bauer turtleneck, Shelter Protects You belt, Asos black skirt, and Calvin Klein nylons.

On an unrelated note, you may notice a few changes to this site. Pink Slip Industries gave it a little makeover, so there is new menu bar, Recent Favorite Posts section in the right column, and other little tweaks. Also, my husband Travis shot a new portrait of me with my updated hairstyle. Hope you like the new additions!

photos Travis Haughton – Wasabi Photography

Style File – Puffy Coat

On Friday, I stopped on my way home from work for a French baguette to go with left-over chili and a fancy bottle of beer for my dad’s birthday.

It’s cold in Chicago now. Very, very cold. And I felt a little disclosure was in order — I am not one of those women who can pull off a chic coat to match their ensemble. I envy them, but Chicago is just too cold and my commute requires too much time walking and waiting for public transit outside. When that stinging wind hits me, I stop caring about what I look like.

A little more than two years ago during my first winter in Fargo, my mom bought this full-length, Eddie Bauer, down coat for me. It looks a bit like a walking sleeping bag, especially if I put the hood up, but it’s super warm and comfortable.

I pair the coat with convertible mittens I got from Macy’s three years ago and a beret from H&M.

I almost always wear flat shoes while commuting, and I change into my heels at work. I also carry a plain black tote. It’s big enough for my heels, lunch, book, and handbag. Makes getting to and from work a little more trouble-free.

photos by Travis Haughton – Wasabi Photography