Work Wednesday: Ask Belle Edition, No. Two

May 21, 2014

Hi Belle,

I’m just graduating from my Master’s degree and interviewing for nonprofit jobs and jobs in the arts (sometimes both). I recently purchased this Banana Republic suit (skirt and blazer) but am trying to figure out how to style it for interviews and/or for regular work days- full suit? Skirt and button-up with cardigan, blazer optional?

Any tips would be really appreciated! Love the blog. Rebekah

For interviews, you should wear the full suit with a blouse.  Plain white/ivory is best for a very conservative office, try this sleeveless blouse from Pleione or this Vince Camuto blouse with a giraffe texture.  It’s summer, so color might be in order.  I would recommend pale blue, like this J.Crew silk blouse (also in tall), for a safe choice.  If you want to be a bit riskier, try teal, blush or lilac.

For work, you can wear the full suit.  You can also pair the blazer with a sheath dress, like this under-$75 cap-sleeve dress in mint  You can pair the skirt with blouses, sleeved or sleeveless, or with sweaters like this inexpensive short-sleeved one from Land’s End.  You can also wear a button-up, as you suggested, it’s not my favorite look (probably because it doesn’t look good on me), but with a well-fitted shirt, it’s a very crisp ensemble.

Dear Belle,

Can you recommend a few sleeveless sheaths to wear under blazers and sweaters?  I don’t like the extra bulk of sleeves (or the warmth).  I’m looking for some basics, maybe grey or white?  Definitely costing less than $150.

Thank you, Amya

Sleeveless dresses are a great option for wearing under separates or solo, if your office permits.  The key to making an inexpensive sheath look expensive is tailoring.  I know a lot of you think it’s an unnecessary hassle, but our body is not a generic size off a rack, it has individual curves and clothes need to be altered to complement those.  So spend the extra $30 or so dollars and get a custom look at a bargain price.

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If it’s grey you’re after, don’t miss this amazingly chic and simple JNYWorks dress for $119.  I also found this charcoal Vince dress on sale for $97.  Plus-size?  Try this Merona sheath with a ruffle front.  Petite? This Banana Republic sheath with a cool, asymmetric neckline is sublime (also in misses).

This white one by T Tahari has a structured shape, I also like this Adrianna Papell Eyelet sheath (gorgeous).  Petite?  Ann Taylor has a white v-neck sheath (also in misses).  Plus-size?  This crepe dress from Le Suit is nice.

Looking for a color?  This pale mint dress from Calvin Klein is lovely.  You also can’t go wrong with a green sheath like this $98 one from Jones New York.

Dear Belle, 

My office dress code requires nylons.  I feel like I’ve tried every brand and I can’t find a pair that doesn’t make me look like a figure skater.  Do you wear nylons?  Is there a brand you think looks good?

Please help! Cynthia

Luckily, I’ve never had a boss who forced me to wear nylons.  I do wear them on job interviews, but that’s just for safety’s sake.  The only kind I wear are Donna Karan The Nudes because they’re unbelievably sheer.  If I can’t find those, my fall back is Calvin Klein Infinite Sheer.

Ask The Edit, Ask the Editor, Work Wednesdays

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  1. Cb says:

    If you’re ever abroad, try the Marks and Spencer nylons. These (and the pricey Wolfords) are the only ones I like.

    • AM says:

      I second the M&S and Wolfords suggestion! Wolfords are pricey, true, but they feel and look amazing.

  2. v says:

    Target sells a couple of different Hanes nylons for $8.00. I cannot remember the names offhand. They are sheer, and last longer than you would expect for $8.00. I tend to snag mine, so it is one of the few items where I forgo quality in favor of low cost.

  3. Clementine says:

    If you’re in the US, try Marshall’s/TJ Maxx for stockings. I get the Donna Karan ones specified for $5 a pair and when I find my size, I stock up. There’s also a Hanes brand carried there ‘silk reflections’ that work well. Bonus is that at these stores, I can usually find hose in tall sizes. Tall sized hose have really been one of my top 8 ‘little things that make my life so much better’ of the past couple years.

  4. Clare says:

    I have a pair of Pretty Polly 5 Denier that match my fair skintone pretty well: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B6DDLJM

  5. Leslie says:

    Rebekah – Belle’s interview outfit advice is spot-on, but as a nonprofit arts worker, I’d actually caution against wearing a full suit once you’re hired, with the possible exception of your first day. In most cultural nonprofits I’m familiar with, a full suit would look extremely out of place.

  6. Rebekah says:

    Thanks Leslie! Thanks to Belle as well- I’m glad to hear from two professional ladies about this.

  7. Joules says:

    I love those light colored sleeveless dresses you picked! They all look perfect for summer.

    Style by Joules

  8. Kim says:

    I find that if you feel like a figure skater in your hosiery, try a lighter colour. I have very pale legs and so most “nude” options are too dark in colour and very obvious. I usually need to lighten up to an almond or other lighter shade.

  9. R says:

    JC Penney has a pretty good selection of nylon shades (I wear oatmeal when I need to wear nylons and most nudes are obviously too dark) and they’ve held up pretty well.

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