+ Three Ways

Two Ways: Mermaid Racerback Cami


Top: Mermaid Tank ($68)

From the Left, Earrings: Windy Mink Drops ($70) Bag: Dooney & Bourke Janine Satchel ($278) Shoe: Kate Spade Licorice Pump ($298) Blazer: Rebecca Taylor Sanesi Jacket ($178) Skirt: Double Serge Pencil ($90)

From the Right, Earrings: Gorjana Carmel Stud ($25)  Sunglasses: Kors Claremont Sunglasses ($95)  Bag: Sparkle Stripe Tote ($50) Shoe: DV Pansey Sandal ($69) Shirt: Isla Chambray Shirt ($55) Shorts: J.Crew 4″ Chino Short ($45)

Polyvore Set Here.

For the Office.  I don’t mix separates very often, I just prefer suits, but this look is punch perfect.  I love the way the shapes, patterns and colors come together to create a look that is undeniably feminine while still being work appropriate.  I’m also crazy about the cut of the jacket, so much so that I might be able to forgive the fact that it’s linen. (Damndable wrinkles!!!)

The accessories for this look are pretty straightforward.  The patent tan pumps are good for summer and can be worn with pants (pointy toe!) or dresses and skirts.  The bag is a structured satchel with clean lines and rich-looking materials.  And the earrings are a slightly funky coral drop to complement the color of the skirt.

For the hair, I would choose a bouncy ponytail or a loose updo (not too low, or the collar on the jacket might undo it as the day goes on).  The makeup should be simple with a bit of sparkle on the lids and lightly coral lip color.  Not something overtly bright, you need just a hint of color.  

For Annapolis.  This is a warm weather vacation look for the woman who isn’t planning to sun on the beach but will be near the water.  It’s the kind of easy outfit that would be perfect for a light lunch on the wharf on a sunny, breezy day.

The button-up shirt is meant to be worn as a loose cover up over the blouse, a more relaxed alternative to the classic cardigan.  You can tie it in front, let it hang or button it up a bit and tuck it in (not too much buttoning though). And the accessories are light and casual but still stylish.  

For the hair, I would try a loose braid or beachy waves.  For the makeup, I wear as little as possible with some light bronzer on the cheeks and temples and a fun lip gloss.

This might be a good time to talk about shorts.  It’s not a pretty conversation, but it’s one we should have.  Women who work long hours don’t often have the thighs of a Brazilian supermodel.  Occupational hazard.  But when the weather gets hot, a lot of women start wearing short-shorts which are not flattering on them.  They wrinkle and rumple when they sit and draw attention to things that most women do not want attention drawn to.

The 3″ short is not suitable attire for most women over 22.  A 4″, 5″ or Bermuda short is usually a much better choice.  Myself, I end up in the 5″ short, and I try to avoid light colors.  I own one pair of navy, which I wear when I’m out West.  (When I’m in the city, I’m strictly a skirts and dresses girl.)  The lesson here is: If you’re going to wear shorts, choose a short that is flattering on your body not the model in the picture. 

Now that we’ve discussed what kind of shorts you should look for, let’s talk about where you can wear them.  Shorts fall into a category known as casual attire do not try to force them into being something they are not.  You cannot wear them to the office unless you work on a golf course.  And if you work on the Hill, even during recess, short-shorts are not appropriate for work–even if you wear them with nylons.  (I kid you not, there are people who think that’s okay.)


    leave a comment

  1. MaryCate says:

    Um, I've seen shorts and tights in the winter… but shorts with nylons? seriously, who are these people? I love the J.Crew 5″ shorts, I think I bought them in every basic/neutral color last year and I ordered hot pink for this year. Any tips on how I should wear my new, and somewhat insanely bright shorts? https://www.jcrew.com/womens_category/shorts/chinocotton/PRDOVR~68925/68925.jsp in “Neon Pink”

    April 24, 2012/Reply
  2. Anon says:

    Hey Belle – Thanks for the shorts statement, I've been wondering about that. As a short woman, can I get away with shorts, or should I stick to skirts and dresses as well?

    Thanks! 🙂

    April 24, 2012/Reply
  3. giggling gourmand says:

    I'm going to disagree on the shorts front. As long as you can't see celulite sometimes a shorter short with a wide enough leg opening is more flattering beucase it makes legs look longer. The problem comes with short-shorts that are too tight.

    April 24, 2012/Reply
  4. N says:

    Um, the body/age-policing in this post is super off-putting. I agree with giggling gourmand; clothes that don't FIT are definitely not a good idea. That said, I'm cool with my non-Brazilian-supermodel gams and don't care to wear long, lonely-goatherd shorts that make me look shorter/stumpier than I am.

    April 24, 2012/Reply
  5. S says:

    I agree with you Belle on the size of the shorts – but have to also agree with the posts above. When I wear longer shorts it makes my legs look stubby and gross. Perhaps, I should be avoiding shorts all together, but I'm choosing shorter ones for now while I'm still in my earlyish 20s.

    April 24, 2012/Reply
  6. Allison P. says:

    I completely agree with Belle on the shorts issue!!! I'm 24, size 0, and have not worn shorts in years. Sitting down in shorts looks horrible regardless of your size (hello pancake thighs) and can you really go all day without sitting?

    April 24, 2012/Reply
  7. Belle says:

    I'm not saying you have to wear shorts down to you knees. A 4″ short is one tiny, but important inch longer than a 3″ short. I'm not asking you to wear Mom jeans or something. As the sales lady at J.Crew once told me, “You'd be surprised what a difference an inch can make when you're trying to corral less than toned thighs.” And by george, she was right.

    IT also mitigates that unsightly inseam/crotch wrinkling you get when you wear chino shorts that get mushed when you sit down.

    April 24, 2012/Reply
  8. gingerr says:

    I fall in with the “sometimes shorter (but not too short) shorts are more flattering.” I have short legs and to the knee shorts make my thighs look huge. Shorts that end mid-thigh, well below the fleshy part of my upper thigh, give me more leg line.

    It's my opinion that there are NO office jobs in the DC area, at least where there is A/C, where any short is appropriate. If it's so hot you're thinking about shorts look in your closet for a full summer skirt instead.

    April 24, 2012/Reply
  9. R says:

    Any idea on the fit of that shirt? Looks great. I'm considering a XS or S. Does it run smaller?

    April 25, 2012/Reply
  10. Belle says:

    R: Just as a general rule, I think this less expensive brands (which are made for teens) usually run a bit small.

    April 25, 2012/Reply
  11. elz says:

    What a great set. I love the simple accessories with a pop of color. I also need an extra chambray shirt; this might be a good one.

    April 25, 2012/Reply
  12. cara says:

    Seriously… I need to know… who are these people wearing short shorts and nylons to work? I feel like there has to be a good story to go along with that statement. Do tell! 🙂 I also think shorts are a tough sell across the board- I keep buying them and then when I try to wear them I hate them and they never make it out of the house. I WANT to like them because dresses and skirts have limitations, especially in DC summers.

    April 27, 2012/Reply