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Ask Belle: Spring Style for the Office

Yesterday, we talked about the foundation pieces that I think comprise a stylish casual wardrobe.  Today, it’s time for the work wardrobe.  And retasking my brain to stop think about black, leopard, chunky knits and boots was not easy…I may be ready for spring, but my closet isn’t.  

Suit: J.CREW Super 120s Aubrey jacket and pencil skirt ($159 and $118) Dresses: HUGO pink wool sheath ($405) and DKNY twisted jersey dress ($234) Shoes: Geox grey pumps ($118) and LK Bennett Shilo Pumps ($305) Earrings: Crislu Studs ($65) Bracelets: C. Wonder Enamel Cuff ($78) and Kate Spade Idiom Bangle ($48) Necklace: Gold Clover Nacklace ($45) Blouses: Kenna Floral Blouse ($42) and Limi Feu Collar Blouse ($295) Sweater: Tippi Cardigan ($85) Skirt: Cotton Pencil Skirt ($110) Sunglasses: Avilla Sunglasses ($90) Belt: Vicoliventi Belt ($39) Bag: Bailey Shoulder Bag ($199)

Suits. A basic suit is a must have.  Even if you only wear it once or twice per season, it’s better to have it and not need it, than not have it.  I still think J.CREW makes the best suit for the money.  I own two and they have worn very well.  If you’d like something cheaper, I’ve heard good things about suiting from The Limited.

Dresses.  If you wear dresses, you should have at least a basic sheath and a jersey dress in your arsenal.  I chose this pink dress because I wanted something bright in a basic shape.  If you’d like something less expensive, this Anne Klein dress is under-$100 and this Elle dress from Kohl’s is just $30.  And the Anne Klein suit also comes in plus size

The twisted jersey dress is such an easy piece.  It can be worn on casual Friday, relaxed workdays and to dinner with clients.  I love this deep teal so much, I might just have to buy this one.  If you need something a little less expensive, this red dress is similar and if you need a plus size option, this dress is a good choice.

Shoes. If you’re starting to build a wardrobe, basic pumps are your best option.  I’ve heard ah-may-zing things about the LK Bennett pump.  I keep putting them in my Nordstrom cart and then taking them out.  I believe shoes are an investment piece, but if you’re looking to save money, these Jessica Simpson pumps are pretty close.  As for the grey pumps, I love the Geox pumps because they have a rubber sole that absorbs shock making them more comfortable.

Jewelry.  For the office, I wanted to choose pieces that were versatile and understated: a crystal earring, a simple pendant, and two bangles.  I chose the C. Wonder enamel bangle because I loved the color combination, and I needed a little something that popped.  If you’d like something cheaper, this cut-out, geometric bangle is great and $17.

Blouses. I love a basic ivory blouse.  On hectic mornings, you can throw it on with a pencil skirt and some pumps and call it a day.  Need a cheaper one?  This Ann Taylor Loft top is nearly identical and under-$50.  Plus size? I couldn’t find a tie neck blouse, but this ivory silk button up is lovely.

I also like to have a printed blouse in my wardrobe for bringing interest to neutral jackets and cardigans.  And the drape neck is a great choice because it eliminates the need for a necklace.  Prefer long sleeves?  Try this top instead.

Sweater.  I’ve moved away from wearing cardigans over the years, but I still have a few.  I love the J.CREW Jackie and Tippi cardis because they wear well and come in all the basic colors and a few seasonal extras.  Need plus size options? My friend LL has had really good luck with Old Navy cardis, this printed cardigan is one of my favorite pieces in her wardrobe.

Bold Pencil.  It can be easy to fall into a neutral rut, so I think it’s important to have a bold or brightly colored skirt in your wardrobe.  If you like pants, you could easily sub in a pair of cobalt trousers instead, but I like skirts best.  Plus size ladies can also indulge in some bright blue with this Calvin Klein skirt.  Whatever your favorite color (pink, orange, citron, red…) don’t be afraid to bring a little life to your separates.

Accessories.  For work, I prefer acetate sunglasses in tortoise shell.  Unlike Miss M who has a collection of designer shades, I love the Michael Kors and Marc Jacobs lines that are under-$100.  They’re stylish and won’t break the bank.  

A belt is a great accessory because it can really pull an outfit together.  Sometimes, I put one on and just marvel at how much more polished I look.  I like this belt because it have clean lines and a metal accent, not a huge, obtrusive buckle.  I also like this stretch belt for the same reason.

This snakeskin bucket tote is making its second appearance on the blog.  I just love the print, it works with so many colors and outfits.  Need a cheaper option? This Steve Madden tote is similar and $65.  

Building a good collection of staples is important because it makes getting dressed so much easier when you know what you have looks professional and fits well.  No matter which pieces you choose, knowing how they work together is just as important as having the right ones.  So check back at 1:30PM for some outfit ideas.



  1. nandeeta says:

    you are amazing! i own some of these things and put them together without any creativity. i appreciate the new ideas, Belle.

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  2. Andrea says:

    IMO, LK Bennett shoes aren't worth the money- right off the bat, you need to get them resoled.

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  3. dancinglonghorn says:

    I love these capsule posts! They are so helpful and I agree with nandeeta that they help me see new ideas for putting together pieces that I own already.

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  4. Ella says:

    1) Fantastic series of posts. Thanks, Belle.

    2) I'm buying that teal dress n.o.w.

    3) Forgot to say it a while ago- thank you so much for not truncating your posts on Google Reader. It really irks me, and I have stopped following some blogs because their content isn't worth the additional click. I've tried to make an extra effort to click on your links in order to show my appreciation. (Just re-read. This sounds cheesy but is 100% in earnest)

    January 24, 2013/Reply