+ Career Style

Career Style: Watercolor Prints

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed that fewer women are wearing suits to work.  Whether it be on the Hill or elsewhere, fewer women are buying and wearing suits choosing cardigans and separates instead.  And given that fewer designers are selling suiting and that most of what you can find in the mid to lower price points is pretty basic, I can see why.

I think women want wear color, they want to express themselves, and suiting just doesn’t seem to allow as much room to be creative as separates do.  But that being said, there are just some professions that require a suit.  

This weekend, I headed over to Glover Park to help a junior partner at a local law firm spruce up her wardrobe.  She owned dozens of basic skirt and pant suits, but she was wearing them with boring solid colored blouses and snore-inducing button-ups.  So I combed her closet and found a beautiful watercolor printed blouse and a pair of coordinating purple flats that matched her khaki, charcoal and navy suits with ease.  

Was the look runway-worthy or life altering?  Of course not, but these two simple changes took her basic suit from boring to stylish.  And when you’re surrounded by bland, basic suiting, all you need is a little something extra to rise above the fray.

Below is a reasonable facsimile of the outfit that we created.  This is a look that is attainable, wearable and appropriate for any age range.  So please put away your boring white button-up and try something different.


Macey blouse, 230 GBP
Nouvelle jacket in super 120s – J.Crew, $230
Favorite-fit Super 120s Durham pant – J.Crew, $105
Smitten in Forest, $278
B. Makowsky ‘Ollie – Large’ Crossbody Satchel, $298


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  1. J. says:

    Only thing is, suit pants are usually flared, right? The idea of a ballet flat with flared trousers is flu-inducing. I hate to see women with trousers like that without a nice heel to balance it out. Don't you agree?

    January 18, 2011/Reply
  2. BB says:

    I often wear flats with my pants suits, especially on days when I know I am going to be on my feet a lot. The flats just need to have a pointed toe (so not a”ballet flat”, which has a rounded toe) and the pants need to be properly hemmed, so that your feet don't get lost.

    This is a pretty combination!

    January 18, 2011/Reply
  3. Amy says:

    I definitely do not agree. I wear flats to work with my dress pants all the time. It's much easier trotting up and down steps and it looks just fine.

    January 18, 2011/Reply
  4. Belle says:

    I certainly recommend a pointed toe with trousers. For an esp. wide flare, I would choose a heel but as long as they are hemmed properly flats can be fine. I wish I still lived/worked in a place where 5″ heels were possible without causing scoliosis, but alas, this is the Hill and running behind my Boss at 15mph requires flats sometimes.

    January 18, 2011/Reply
  5. VA Gal says:

    I like this! I really love those green shoes.

    As someone who often has to wear suits at work, I'd add that it's gotten much harder to find decent suiting at the middle price points. The basic JCrew suits will work for me, but most brands seem to be going down in terms of quality. I'm seeing not only less suit selection, but also lots of cheap fabric and crappy tailoring. I have an Ann Taylor suit from 8 years ago that is in much better shape than new ones I see hanging on their racks now.

    Sorry, just had to get that out. Rant over.

    January 18, 2011/Reply
  6. Daniela says:

    Have you seen any slightly less expensive versions of the watercolor top?

    January 18, 2011/Reply
  7. Emily says:

    This is gorgeous, and I've been looking for beautiful silk shells or blouses to wear with suits or on their own with trousers (esp. blouses). Maybe I'm blind but I can't seem to find anything. What sites or shops would you recommend for finding these pieces in a price range from $70-$150?

    January 18, 2011/Reply
  8. Belle says:


    Try this search on Polyvore, you can sort by price range. https://www.polyvore.com/cgi/shop?query=sleeveless+silk+blouses

    January 18, 2011/Reply
  9. MC says:

    LOVE this! Thanks for the tips. I've been looking for ways to spruce up my suits.

    January 19, 2011/Reply
  10. Sarah says:

    I am in love with that blouse!!

    January 20, 2011/Reply