What to Wear to a Shutdown

At midnight, the federal government began unrolling a partial shutdown. Some Hill staffers and government employees are considered “essential personnel,” so they will expected to come to work like usual.  However, this won’t be a typical work day.

In this new, lawless land, some offices are relaxing their dress codes to Recess Friday status, while others are maintaining the appearance of professionalism despite the lack of foot traffic in the marble halls.  But since no one really knows what the rules are, I suggest we throw caution to the wind.

Plus, how many opportunities to construct a chic, uber-casual outfit will I have on a blog about professional fashion?  This legislative meltdown should be good for something.  So I present a Pinterest-inspired outfit that I’m not sure can be worn to work but looks great nonetheless.  Frankly, it was this or black arm bands, hip flasks and waterproof mascara.

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From Left, Earrings: House of Harlow Sunburst Studs ($38) Sunglasses: Ray-Ban Aviators ($150) Bracelets: Tahari Dome Bangle ($38) and Pave Link Bracelet ($38) Bag: Rust Leather Hard Tote (70 GBP) Shirt: Demylee Shirttail Tee ($83) Jeans: Current Elliott Skinny Jeans ($216) Scarf: Mango Kit Scarf ($40) Jacket: Madewell Outbound Jacket ($158) Boots: Louise et Cie Vosse Bootie ($149)

I chose the distressed denim for the subtle political statement, and because I’ve developed an unexpected love for ripped up denim.  If you’d like a distressed pair for less, you can either cut them up yourself or have a look at this pair from Old Navy.

This striped top from Steven Alan is a great layering piece because it’s lightweight and it has a shirttail hem to cover the rearview.  I also like the gradient stripe on this Vince tee, currently on sale for 20%-off at Bloomingdale’s.

A knit infinity scarf and a military-inspired jacket complete the foundation pieces.  If you’d like a warmer jacket in the same chic olive color, Land’s End offers this fleece-lined outrigger parka with a hood for $80.  It also comes in a few other neutral colors.  As for the scarf, I like this Mango one, but this chunky Asos number is much more my speed.

The boots make a bit of a statement without getting too crazy, but if you’d like something cheaper, these Merona boots from Target are quite similar.  Want something taller?  Ciao Bella restocked their cognac boots at Bluefly, hooray!

For the accessories, I layered two bangles and paired them with a textured stud earring.  You could also add a wood cuff , or perhaps, go the really inexpensive route with this $7 stack bangle set from Forever21.

As for the purse, I detest when my brown boots match my brown bag exactly.  I don’t feel that way about black, just grey and brown.  Thus, I grabbed this rust-colored bag from River Island, but you could also try this paprika-colored Melie Bianco hobo from Amazon.

For the makeup, something breezy like NARS The Multiple in a pink shade like G-Spot or Riviera.  Also, some waterproof mascara couldn’t hurt.  The phones are bound to be brutal, if they’re even turned on.  And for the hair, I would try a high ponytail or a bun for ease.

P.S. I know that some of you have been deemed non-essential.  Others are Vets or citizens impacted by the shutdown in other ways.  I have the luxury of knowing where my next paycheck is coming from and when.  But I wanted to do a lighthearted post to cut the tension, and I hope that this gets resolved quickly for all of our sakes.



  1. Spiritmom says:

    I love the lighthearted post. My husband is serving in Afghanistan and I haven’t even asked him how he feels like to have the biggest group of collective idiots on the planet running our country into the ground. Instead I tell him how much I love him and I’m so proud and not a moment goes by that I don’t think of him. God help us all.

    October 1, 2013/Reply
  2. Paige says:

    Thanks for the Land’s End fleece-lined parka suggestion! I’m in the market for an autumn, transition-weather coat, and this looks perfect (and a great price-point).

    October 1, 2013/Reply
  3. Laura says:

    LOVE this! There is enough irritation, frustration and irateness already. Clearly what we really need is a laugh!

    October 1, 2013/Reply
  4. Bernie N. says:

    I am a non-essential employee, but life goes on. I just ordered the Ciao Bella Renee boots from Bluefly for an upcoming trip to Europe. I hope they’re as good as you say they are; I trust your judgment!

    October 1, 2013/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I walked 4.7 miles in mine on Friday night and only had some mild discomfort. They’re the only pair of shoes I can do that in. But make sure to break them in a bit first to soften up the leather.

      October 1, 2013/Reply
  5. KC says:

    Beware of Bluefly. I ordered the Ciao Bella boots at the end of August, tracked the shipment of them to my town at which point they were returned to sender for an improper address. Apparently they had this problem with a huge group of orders. After four weeks of asking for updates and not reaching anyone who knew what was going on, my boots just reshipped yesterday. Hope everyone else has a better experience.

    October 1, 2013/Reply
  6. m says:

    Hahaha. Thanks for the bit of levity on a downer of a day.

    The outfit in the photo is pretty much exactly what my colleagues wore to work today. I wore a dress and heels and got comments all day (erm, half-day) on how dressed-up I was.

    October 1, 2013/Reply
  7. m says:

    Also, YAY for the return of jeans-and-jacket weather. My weekend project is stowing away shorts and sandals and bringing out the sweaters!

    October 1, 2013/Reply
  8. Ellepeakay says:

    Belle, I know this a professional wear blog, but I would love, love, LOVE if you would throw in more super casual wear posts like this. (I know you do some casual looks wih the Two Ways posts, but even those are often dressier than this). I’ve currently left the downtown world to hang with my baby in the ‘burbs, but I don’t want to fall in to dowdy territory and I still follow your posts every day.

    October 3, 2013/Reply