+ Three Ways

Two Ways: Madewell Knot Skimmers

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Shoes: Madewell French Knot Skimmer ($98)

From Left, Sunglasses: Ray-Ban Tortoise Wayfarer ($150) Necklace: Morris Double Geometric Pendant ($45) Bag: Burgundy Juno Satchel ($88) Tops: Day Birger et Mikkelsen Drape Top ($220) and Topshop Strappy Cami ($36) Blazer: Factory Boy Blazer ($107) Jeans: J Brand Slim Bootcut in Starless ($187)

From Right, Necklace: Celadon Theda Bib ($38) Rings: Gorjana Aria Ring ($35) and Gold Chevron Ring ($24) Jacket: Zara Gathered Coat ($159) Top: Ponte Peplum Shirt ($78) Jeans: Paige Skyline Jeans ($189) Bag: Rachel Zoe Arizona Satchel ($445)

Some time ago, I was attending a fundraising lunch for a female elected official when the topic of casual Friday came up.  While discussing the appropriateness of denim, the elected official asked, “If leggings aren’t appropriate for work, how can leggings made out of denim be acceptable?”

Until that moment, I’d never seriously considered whether skinny jeans were appropriate for casual workdays.  I couldn’t deny that she had a point.  And when I started asking around, I discovered that several of my friends who work in supervisory roles spell out in their casual Friday policies that skinny jeans and jeggings are not permitted.

Your denim choices depend on your workplace.  But after that lunch, I started wearing slim bootcuts and trouser jeans instead of skinnies to the office.  It just felt like a more professional choice.

For Casual Friday.  This outfit combines a tailored blazer with a slim bootcut, mid-rise jean from J Brand to build a more casual look that embraces professional elements.  The pointed toe shoes should peak out from under the pant leg in a way that will lengthen the leg line and provide a pop of cognac.

I chose a dark teal blazer from J.Crew Factory, and paired it with a wrap-effect blouse.  Given the deep-v on this blouse, you’ll need a camisole.  This Topshop cami works, but you could also go with a simple seamless cami from Ann Taylor.

Looking for a less expensive blouse?  Try this Chelsea & Theodore wrap top for under-$50.  Need a plus-size version?  I couldn’t find an exact match, but this sleeveless grey blouse from Vince Camuto would look lovely under a blazer.

To add more color to the outfit, I chose a burgundy bag.  You’ll recognize this patent bag from Tuesday’s post.  Not crazy about burgundy?  How about this Vince Camuto Billy Tote in a coppery-rust color?  For the accessories, I chose this geometric pendant with clean lines and a pair of tortoise-shell sunglasses.

For the hair, I would wear it down or in a low-ponytail.  For the makeup, I would wear an oxblood nail like the butterLONDON color from this afternoon’s post and a dewy rosy cheek provided by Bobbi Brown’s cream blush.

The casual weekend look is after the jump.  Don’t miss out on the bright red jacket, one of the best pieces I have ever purchased.

For Saturday Dinner.  Just because you’re not getting dressed up for dinner doesn’t mean that you can’t still look stylish and pulled together.  In fact, it’s easier and more fun to layer you casual clothes for chic weekend looks than it is with professional attire.

This outfit features the peplum top from yesterday’s Favorites post.  I like the narrow profile of this peplum and the sleek styling.  It reminds me of his striped peplum jersey top from The Row that I lusted after last year.  Plus-size ladies should check out this $95 Ralph Lauren crewneck top if you’re looking for a jersey peplum.

I prefer to wear peplum tops with skinny pants.  It’s the same concept that encourages you to wear fuller blouses with slim pencil skirts.  The volume from the top can actually help camouflage and balance a thicker hip-area if you get the proportion and the length right.

I bought this jacket from Zara a couple of weeks ago, and I LOVE IT.  It is the perfect pop of color over basic pieces and it’s light enough for the mildly chilly autumn weather.  It’s such a bold red, but the shape is so classic that looks really elegant.  I also found a red ponte blazer at Macy’s in case the long jacket isn’t your thing.

Aqua and red is a slightly daring color combination, so I mixed this celadon bib with the coat for a bit of pop.  If that doesn’t appeal to you, this Kenley scarf from DvF mixes red with fuschia and eggplant for a rich-looking blend.

To complete the look, I added a few sleek rings with interesting shapes and inexpensive price tags.  (That chevron ring has been on my mind for a while.)  I also chose a chocolate bag to pair with the shoe, but not match it.  If you need something less expensive, try this Piazza Ave Hobo for $129.

For the hair, if you go with a necklace, where it down.  If you choose a scarf, wear it up, maybe in a bouncy ponytail.  For the makeup, how about a sheer red lip from Fresh and a crisply lined eye?  I love my new eyeliner from Tom Ford.



  1. Rachel says:

    I can see how some might not consider skinnies office appropriate. I think the difference between leggings and jeggings and skinnies is the material. A thicker material makes a difference. When you think about it the only major difference between bootcut jeans and skinny jeans is the opening at the feet. Both are going to be pretty form fitting in the rear and thigh. If my calves should not be shown off, then how are skirts acceptable?

    September 26, 2013/Reply
    • Whitney says:

      For me jeggings and super skinny jeans are not office because they hug every single curve of my legs (not just calves) in a way that I think shows more than needs to be. The only jeans I wear to work are a strait trouser leg, the feel more polished regardless of material.

      September 26, 2013/Reply
      • Rachel says:

        But if you’re wearing a bootcut, aren’t they hugging your hips, thighs, and butt as well. Just looking at the one’s Belle posted, the only noticeable difference is the leg opening and (maybe) the rise. And you can get a mid-rise skinny.

        September 26, 2013/Reply
  2. Liason on the go! says:

    Been meaning to send this as an email as an Ask Belle but never got around to doing it. Will try the comment route for now. So, I am a former hill staffer that is now in govt relations, but at a non-profit. I spend lots of time on the hill and am also a spokesperson for my org so I also do a fair share of tv interviews. I’m a new mom (read: no bandage dresses or 4 1/2 in heels for me) on a tight budget, what are your fall must-have items that you recommend I splurge on? While i’m on a budget i’m ready to go the extra mile to find cute, professional outfits to wear.LOVE your blog, by the way!

    September 26, 2013/Reply
  3. Addison says:

    I agree. Jeggings and skinny jeans are not the same thing. And even if they were, you can’t really compare jeggings to leggings as the elected official did. Leggings are inappropriate for the office because they’re not real pants. But jeggings are just jeans made from a slightly thinner stretchier material. They still have pockets, a button and a zipper

    September 26, 2013/Reply
  4. LadyMacbeth says:

    Hi Belle,

    I don’t think there’s a link to the bag in the “Casual Saturday” storyboard.

    September 26, 2013/Reply
  5. J says:

    I was just wondering how you thought the jacket fit (big, small, true to size)? I sometimes find that Zara can run a little small on certain items. Both are beautiful outfits!

    September 26, 2013/Reply
    • Belle says:

      True to size.

      September 26, 2013/Reply
  6. Anna says:

    I don’t think jeggings are office appropriate, but skinnies are acceptable if they are a thick material and not skin tight. Bootcut looks dated on me and I don’t like wearing trousers because I walk to work and would have to wear flats on my walk and then switch to heels. I usually rock skinnies in a thick material that are a bit bunched at the ankle (more flattering on my hips and giant calves) with longer tops – not tunic length, but definitely going a few inches past the waistband.

    September 26, 2013/Reply
  7. Stephanie says:

    Not a fan of flats and bootcut jeans. You would have to hem them pretty short. So for that reason I vote skinny jeans (real jeans, not jeggings) are okay for casual friday.

    September 26, 2013/Reply
    • Belle says:

      You alter one pair to wear with flats and one for heels. Most women actually look taller in a bootcut or a trouser than a skinny because the more evenly distributed width lengthens the leg elongates a pair shape.

      September 26, 2013/Reply
  8. Meg says:

    I have to agree with avoiding skinny jeans. I don’t know what it is but they just look less professional to me. And I know it’s just the difference at the calves because I will wear my skinny jeans with boots to the office. I can’t explain it!

    September 27, 2013/Reply
  9. Jamie says:

    I can understand why you would advise against skinny jeans in some offices, but why not a straight leg instead of a bootcut? I think a straight leg would look better with flats than a bootcut but is still “loose” (not sure if that is the right term) enough to be office appropriate.

    September 30, 2013/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Straight legs are a good alternative. I just decided to go all the way to a bootcut or a trouser. Nothing wrong with a straight though.

      September 30, 2013/Reply