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Ask Belle: Turning Spring Staples into Outfits

This morning, I showed you pieces that comprise the foundation of a springtime professional wardrobe.  I did my best to add color without going overboard, because, in my opinion, most women look better with some color mixed into their attire.  So here are eight colorful outfits that can be made from the 17 pieces from earlier.

Two Ways to Wear a Faux Wrap Dress:

Dark teal was one of the hottest colors for fall 2012.  If you purchased a few peacock-colored pieces, you can easily carry them over into the spring.  Here, I paired the teal wrap dress with a blazer for the average workday, and with fun jewelry for a more relaxed day or an evening event. 

I added the belt to the first outfit to break up the dress and define the waist.  I would wear it under the jacket, but if you try it on, and like it better over the top of the blazer, so be it.

Love the color of the dress but not the price?  This printed teal wrap is $69, and this green-teal dress is under-$50. Need a plus size option?  Are friends at Suzi Chin have you covered.

A Printed Blouse Two Ways:


I’ve pretty much abandoned traditional suits in favor of sleek dresses or tweed jackets with pencil skirts, but when I do break out my basic business suit, I like to wear a not-boring blouse to compensate.  This floral printed silk number is perfect for that.  It incorporates color and texture without being too gauche. 

I also like how the drape neck complements the neckline of the blazer and eliminates the need for a necklace.  And since it has a sleeve, you can take off your jacket and still look professional. (I’m talking to you women who wear spaghetti strap tops under suits!)  If the floral in the set doesn’t come in your size, I thought this understated printed navy top was nice as was this bright blue top.

Also, I think the shades of blue in the blouse coordinate nicely with the bright blue in the skirt.  The belt completes the look, giving it a finished appearance and the grey and gold accessories let the blouse do the talking while adding a bit of shine.


I love berry tones and bright pinks, and this dress brings together the best of both.  On the left, I paired with some simple jewels and belted the waist to give it a pulled together appearance.  The pendant necklace also complements the neckline.  If you would prefer something with sleeves, this Trina Turk should do the trick.

For the second look, I added the robin’s egg blue sweater.  This might be too much color for some.  If so, sub-in a navy or grey cardi.  I also added the bracelet to give the cardigan something blue to lean on.  Alone it would look a bit haphazard with such a bold dress.

I own a white chiffon blouse, a grey tie neck and a blush chiffon blouse.  They are the most worn, most versatile pieces in my wardrobe.  They are seasonless and can be worn for almost any occasion. This pale tan blouse is a nice choice, and this Ann Taylor blouse is under-$100 and has a lovely tonal print.

An easy way to wear them is with basic separates like this cardigan and pencil skirt.  It’s a great choice for more casual environments or days when you don’t have anything serious on the books.  I also love the way it balances the bright skirt, but the tie gives it enough style to keep it interesting.  The belt pulls it together, and again, the bracelet supports the skirt and helps create an “outfit” out of clothes.

If you combined these pieces with the 15 “casual” pieces from yesterday, there really is not limit to the number of outfits you could create.  The citron sweater could be worn with the navy or the cobalt.  It could be worn under the cardigan, as well. 

The striped shirt could be worn under the sweater or the jacket with jeans or the cobalt skirt.  And you could wear any of these blouses with yesterday’s jeans, or add the cognac bag instead of the grey.  You could also wear yesterday’s necklace with most of these pieces.  Because once you have a foundation of pieces in the same color palette or in coordinating colors, they can flow together effortlessly.



  1. Michelle says:

    Belle – I'd love to know where you got your three blouses. I've tried so many white/beige blouses that are almost sheer and definitely not work appropriate. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  2. Larkin says:

    Belle, do you wear a white or nude tank top under the white blouses?

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  3. Parker - Boardroom Belles says:

    Belle, this posts are incredible and I can absolutely appreciate the amount of effort that goes into such an extensive post! Fabulous! Thank you.

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  4. Erin says:

    Belle, I love the idea of belts. Have bought a few, but haven't figured out how to wear them! How does the belt stay put with skirts and dresses? Especially in the last outfit where it is going over the pencil skirt? Also, on the few occasions you do wear pants, do you use a belt through the loops of the pants?

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  5. Sue says:

    I just love this series. The colors are great. I agree with the blouse issue mentioned above. What do you wear underneath?

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  6. Parker - Boardroom Belles says:

    @Larkin: I wear a ton of white chiffon/silk tie-neck/collared blouses and these brands are great: W118 by Walter Baker via the Outnet (every six months or so, they get a fresh load of reduced priced ware from that brand). The Outnet also recently had a steep sale on Equipment silk blouses and for our post from Jan 16 we featured a ton of white blouses from Zara, Trouve, Loft, Mango, Kate Spade and others. Once I find one I like – if the price is decent – I usually buy 2 or 3 copies because they really are the most versatile thing in a working woman's closet.

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  7. Belle says:

    Michelle: One is Malene Birger. One is Banana Republic. One is Massimo Dutti. MD esp. has a bunch. But Parker is right, Outnet is good too, that's where by Birger blouse is from.

    Larkin: Shimera nude camis from Nordstrom, or one the same color as the blouse if I can find a good match.

    Erin: It really has to fit well first off, so I recommend people buy a belt hole puncher on Amazon. You can also put some caulking on the inside of the belt, let it dry and then wear it. It makes the belt less slippery.

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  8. bee says:

    You have the best blog! You should def write.a book, belle.

    January 24, 2013/Reply
  9. J says:

    This series of posts is seriously my favorite. I'm sure it takes way more effort on your part so – thanks!

    January 24, 2013/Reply