Suit Up!: Layered Neutrals
Nov 17, 2010
Yesterday, I mentioned that there are times when it is simply not appropriate to wear color to work. For example, when working on the Hill, you should never wear color to a committee hearing. Why? Because the staff often sit behind the Congressmen, and you don’t want the C-Span viewers to be distracted by your bright citron blouse. So if you can’t wear color, how do you create a professional ensemble that doesn’t make you look like a Dominican Nun?
Neutral outfits can be interesting if you’re willing to play with textures and layer the clothing and accessories. Some textures to consider include sequins, lace, ruffles, tiered layers, pleats, chunky knits and different types of fabric like layering chiffon tops underneath a wool sweater. For today’s outfit, I decided to stick with something simple and mix in a subtle bit of sequins with a lightly textured jacket and a long chain necklace.
I don’t usually wear pant suits (because I prefer skirts), but they seem to be the uniform of the realm on Capitol Hill. So why not encourage women to wear a modern pant suit with tailored trousers and a slightly longer jacket? The color of this suit is also light enough for seasonless wear, which is very important for poverty stricken staffers.
A simple white shirt. Not much to say here. Just make sure you starch the collar.
Layering a lightly sequined casual top over a business shirt is a great way to get more wear out of both shirts. If you are going to wear this look without the jacket, I recommend that you roll the sleeves up a bit.
This necklace is long enough to balance the collar of the white shirt with the horizontal stripes and jacket. It reframes the neckline and provides a focal point for the outfit. And the dash of industrial chain offsets the shimmer on the tee without adding too much silver.
As for shoes, you’ll want to go with a charcoal or dark grey pump to add some depth to the light grey palette. Personally, I like kitten heels with pantsuits, so these Diani shoes would be my choice. I also think that pant suits require pointed toe shoes because it creates a longer leg line and makes your stems look slimmer.
Just because you should wear neutrals doesn’t mean you should wear a white shirt under a black suit and call it a day. Adding textures and playing around with different shades in the same color family is a chic way to spruce up your basic pieces. There’s never a good reason to dress like a penguin.