+ Three Ways

Two Ways: Basic Black Pencil


Skirt: Super 120s Wool Skirt (J.Crew, $118)

From Left, Bracelet: Sold out, similar Citrine by the Stones Cuff ($175) Bag: Brahmin Olivia Rose Satchel ($295) Top: Black Chiffon Blouse ($98) Shoe: Corso Como Leopard Pump ($135)

From Right, Scarf: Salvatore Ferragamo Scarf ($145) Shoe: Footcandy Kitten Heel ($185) Sweater: Ivory Pullover ($44) Bag: Structured Crossbody ($20)

Smoldering Sheer.  My outfits have been monochromatic and minimalist of late.  Perhaps, the winter weather is effecting my mood or maybe I’m just getting older.  Who knows?

Either way, I think that playing with textures and fabrics in the same color palette is one of my favorite fashion techniques.  It looks rich, is difficult to mess up and can be done in any price point.

Here, I matched a basic wool pencil with a black chiffon, tie neck blouse for a nice contrast between heavy and light.  Sheer is also a good way to add a bit of sex appeal to your wardrobe without looking unprofessional.  Just remember that if you need to wear a tank under a blouse, the tank should be the same color as the blouse whenever possible.  If you don’t have one that color, it should be black.  And you should always wear a strapless bra because errant bra strap is not a good look on any woman.

To punch it up a bit, I added a leopard pump.  Black is too boring and a color is too predictable, and leopard is still on trend. 

The gold cuff is meant to be worn over the bottom portion of the sleeve so that it stands out.  A simple stud earring or basic gold hoop, while not feature in the set, would be my earring of choice. 

The bag is also a lovely, feminine top handle satchel that is a good size for the woman who only needs the essentials.  In fact, now that I have an office and more than three desk drawers, I’m looking for smaller handbags so that I don’t spend so much time spelunking through the cavernous depths in search of a chapstick.

As for hair and makeup, this outfit would look best with either a loose wave or a low bun.  I’d also opt for neutral eye makeup, probably a medium taupe, and a sheer berry lip.  But if you want to go a bold and hit the Mad Men angle, try red lips and a thickly-lined eye with a whisper of grey shadow.

Color Me Chic.  This look is very simple, yet very chic.  Sometimes, if the pieces fit properly and the pops of color are well thought out, it doesn’t take much to make five easy pieces look like a lot more.

A woman should have heavy weight, simple sweaters in camel, ivory, black and grey.  They can be dressed up or down and they never go out of style, so consider investing in some nice cashmere as the winter sales progress.

I added this lovely Ferragamo scarf because I think the poppies in the print are so gorgeous.  However, I wouldn’t wear it in a simple wrap.  Instead, I’d tie it into a necklace using this tutorial.  Just remember to un-knot it when you’re ready to put it away or you could permanently damage it.

The bag is meant to play off the orange in the scarf.  If I was carrying this satchel, I would remove the strap and carry it by the handle.  It’s only 7×7, so you could also invert it and slide your hand through the handle but carry it as a clutch.

These sweet, delicate kitten heels complete the look.  I’m seeing more kitten heels in stores than I have in past seasons, and it makes me so pleased.  I stopped wearing stilettos due to a back injury a few years ago, and I never really got back into wearing them even after the incision healed.  So, long story short, kittens give you the femininity of heels without the pain.  Adios, ballet flats.

For hair and makeup, I would go really pretty.  A pink lip, a flushed cheek, a gold eye wash with lightly-winged liner.  While not in this set, I’d also wear pearl earrings to set off the ivory sweater.  I think J.Crew makes a nice pair.  And I’d wear my hair up in a braide or twisted updo. 


    leave a comment

  1. Jessica says:

    Belle– would you opaque black tights with these outfits or sheer black nylons?

    January 3, 2012/Reply
  2. Belle says:

    1) Black opaque always. Sheer tights, shudder.

    2) Probably wouldn't look great with the leopard pumps, so I'd switch in black booties or leopard booties. And I think that might be a little school girl-ish with the kittens.

    3) Would you consider nude fishets?

    January 3, 2012/Reply
  3. Anon says:

    Belle, have you had problems with the J Crew suiting material wrinkling like crazy? I'm always careful to get skirts big enough that don't pull at all along the hip (and usually means I have to have the waist tailored), but I can't wear the J Crew skirts or pants b/c they wrinkle like crazy when I sit. Just wondering if other people have this problem.

    January 3, 2012/Reply
  4. Belle says:

    Anon-I notice some wrinkling, I wouldn't call it a crazy amount though. Just curious, what brand do you wear instead?

    January 3, 2012/Reply
  5. AD says:

    Belle – I am intrigued by nude fishnets, as you often mention them as an option, they just seem SO sexy for work. What brand of nude fishnets do you wear?

    January 3, 2012/Reply
  6. Anon says:

    Yeah, I should probably just try a bigger size in J Crew than I do. My favorite skirts are all Theory and Tahari and Ann Taylor. They have some stretch that's forgiving. But my coworkers wear such cute J Crew suits!

    January 3, 2012/Reply
  7. Belle says:

    AD-I have a pair of DKNY fishnets, really small weave.

    January 3, 2012/Reply
  8. BAB says:

    @Anon- I have a bit of a booty on me, compared to my size, and I have to go up two sizes in J. Crew pencil skirts (which, unfortunately, is the only skirt option offered these days). It's not just you.

    January 4, 2012/Reply
  9. HB says:

    I don't know about J Crew suiting (I work in a very casual office) but the Number 2 pencil skirt in double serge cotton does not wrinkle too badly and I bought the size I normally wear. Just as an fyi.

    January 4, 2012/Reply
  10. Tel says:

    @AD– If nude fishnets are too much for your office (or your personal taste), you may want to consider nude patterned tights. Nordstrom Rack has recently stocked a variety that is nude/beige but with a tan diamond pattern. Versatile and much more fashionable than nude pantyhose, but less sexy than fishnets.

    January 4, 2012/Reply
  11. S says:

    I desperately need new skirts for work, but every pencil skirt I have tried on is either too big in places and therefore has weird pouches, or “fits” but makes me look like I play a slutty secretary on tv. I'm used to the hazards of an hourglass figure by now, but sadly I can only find pencil skirts and it's getting very frustrating when I can't just grab an a-line instead. Do you think this is a problem that could be solved by tailoring? I know you often recommend that but I've only gone to the tailor for pant hemming and jacket tailoring so far. Or do you have any other suggestions?

    January 7, 2012/Reply
  12. Belle says:

    I would go to Nordstrom or a like department store. Even if you buy a pencil from junior's or on sale, you can use their tailor to let you know what can be done. But a tailor can solve almost any issue of they know what you're doing.

    January 7, 2012/Reply