Suit Up!: Cute and Colorful

Nov 16, 2010

Yesterday, I was walking through the halls of the Capitol Building when I spotted a handful of newly-elected Members and their staffers walking to a briefing.  And while the men looked dapper in their best suits, the women looked…well, cold and uncomfortable in their sleeveless dresses and skyscraper platform heels.  As I passed the newbies in their seasonally-inappropriate attire, I thought to myself, “They’ll learn.  Oh, how they’ll learn.”

No matter what the temperature is outside, the Capitol Building is always a balmy 52 degrees because thousands of tons of granite and marble don’t exactly get cozy warm.  This means that ladies need to wear sleeves.  Or bear skin parkas, but those can be tough to find.

Also, the sheer size of the Capitol is something that few newbie staffers are prepared to handle.  You see, it doesn’t look like it’s a long way from Rayburn to the House Floor until your jogging through the corridors at lunchtime trying to catch up to your power walking Boss, dodging tourists in an interactive game of Frogger.  It’s at this point that the Ladies of Capitol Hill begin to wish that horrible things would happen to the man who invented high heels. 

So for those new staffers who want to look pretty and professional, I encourage you to buy a suit.  It has sleeves, yay! And it looks great with a pair of simple 3.5″ heels with rubber soles (rubber soles are key).  You can look great while staying warm and comfortable. 

This week, we’ll be featuring some basic professional outfits that will help you transition into the new Congress in style.  Godspeed, rookies.

J.Crew Wool Gabardine Suit (Jacket, $188::Skirt, $120)

While I prefer the J.Crew 120s line for durability and quality, the wool gabardine line is a slightly less expensive choice, which is better for the newly hired.  If this is your first suit, I suggest that you buy either black or navy.  I also suggest that you either buy the skirt and the pants or just the skirt. 

Trust me, the skirt is the more versatile and professional option since it’s too hot to wear pants in D.C. for five months out of the year.  Especially wool pants.

J.Crew Jackie Cardigan ($62)

While I greatly prefer the longer cardigans for casual wear, this shorter, retro cardi is great for layering.  And as we all know, layering is the key to looking chic in simple pieces.

Mossimo Ruffle Tank (Target, $20)

Unlike their pastel brethren, bright colors can be worn all year long.  For this outfit, I’ve paired a bright raspberry blouse with a neutral suit and cardigan to add just a pop of color.  If bright pink isn’t for you, I would suggest a deeper berry color like this top here.

Soft Bow Belt (Anthropologie, $28)

Adding a belt is often the easiest and most inexpensive way to pull an outfit together.  Here, I used a purple belt to compliment the berry colored blouse and add another shot of color.

If cute and colorful isn’t your style, check back tomorrow when we explore how to use strong shapes and textures to lift a monochromatic outfit.  Because while I love color, it’s not appropriate for every occasion.  See you ladies tomorrow!

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  1. JC says:

    Personally, I swear by Cole Haan Nike Air shoes. I have pairs that are 3-4″ tall, and I'm still comfortable running around in them all day and multiple times in a week.

    And if you're anticipating doing a lot of running, may I suggest Mary Janes, t-straps, or boots? My first few months were marred by an incident where a shoe flew one direction and I flew another, right in front of a gaggle of interns.

  2. BJ says:

    Love! Thanks Belle 🙂

  3. Meg says:

    Also to the shoes, Naturalizer heels aren't being made like your grandma's shoes anymore – and I tend to have awful luck when I try to run around in slingbacks, there was a staircase incident we don't talk about. I recently found a pair of these 2.75″ heels on sale, and they're great. https://www.zappos.com/naturalizer-bohemia-black-leather?zlfid=111

  4. A says:

    Great post! The everyday work outfit we take for granted after a few years inside the Beltway. : )

  5. Belt Challenged says:

    Thank you for this, Belle! I am belt challenged and never seem to pull off wearing a belt outside of beltloops (it'll slide down, hang at an angle, etc.). As a result, I never feel completely polished. Do you have any tips? Where would you put the belt on this outfit?

    P.S. I'm actually wearing a very similar outfit today, but left my belt in my purse for lack of courage!

  6. Belt Challenged says:

    Thank you for this, Belle! I am belt challenged and never seem to pull off wearing a belt outside of beltloops (it'll slide down, hang at an angle, etc.). As a result, I never feel completely polished. Do you have any tips? Where would you put the belt on this outfit?

    P.S. I'm actually wearing a very similar outfit today, but left my belt in my purse for lack of courage!

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