Statute of Limitations

Time sure flies by quickly. About this time a year ago, I became a new member of my profession. Last weekend, I sent out many congratulatory messages to classmates who got the good news. I still have a long ways to go before I can consider myself a seasoned veteran, but I'm finally starting to feel at ease and settled in.

One issue that I still contend with is how to look professional yet still retain an individual style. My office attire can be somewhat creative and colorful, but my "suit day" outfits...not so much. Suits present an inherent limitation to what I could do. I try to brighten things up with some accessories and colorful dress shirts, but in the end, I remained very...generic.

The longer I've been in the work force, the more my style changed. To my dismay, I gravitated more toward black, gray, blue, and beige--all the "boring" colors, even on days when I do not have to wear a suit. As much as I tried to go back to my more colorful ways, I realized that this more conservative style of dress is here to stay, and I will have to accept that. I just don't feel like wearing those bright colors anymore. At the same time, I do not want to feel like I am stuck in a fashion rut.

This week I decided to remind myself that a limited, muted palette does not have to be boring. Limitations do not have to be constraints--they sometimes challenge me to rebel a little, forcing me to work the system and still come up with something new. I've always been an advocate of keeping things simple and create interest using a mix of contrasting shades and textures. Hence, I decided to build an outfit piece by piece, like layering paint with a palette knife. Since I hate going around with matching jacket and bottoms on my suit days, I decided to make myself come up with non-matching suit outfits using shades of only two "conservative" colors--black and beige. Yesterday's outfit is something that I can actually wear for court. I did not have as much success today, but it was still something fun and put together.

Yesterday: Theory blazer, Forever 21 charcoal gray vest, Mike & Chris bow top with bell sleeves, Studio M black trumpet skirt, Target black tights, Payless black patent pumps.

I got this jacket on the cheap when I was in Minneapolis, but because it has no matching bottoms yet, I've been struggling to figure out what to do with it. Now I finally have the answer. The patterns and textures of all the pieces are very different, yet they work really well together.

Today: J Crew black wool funnelneck sweater (with some white wooley fibers mixed in), Sublet Clothing cardigan, Development blazer with thin white pinstripes, $1 belt from Ross (which I have had for ages), Banana Republic skirt (from clothing swap), Kenneth Cole purse, Target black tights, Ciao Bella black peeptoe oxford booties.

Since I went with the light jacket/dark bottoms combo yesterday, I decided to go with a dark jacket/light bottoms ensemble today. It is not as streamlined as yesterday's outfit, since the layers of sweaters bulge around the middle. The funnelneck sweater is shorter, so it refused to stay tucked into the skirt. It would have also helped if I pressed the front of the sweater with an iron; the button holes seem to be all stretched outward. While I would never wear this to court, it is a fun office outfit.

I am glad that I finally found a pair of oxford booties I can live with; it has been a very, very long search. I wanted something comfortable with a slender heel, and it had to be on the cheap side (of course). While I am not crazy about the peeptoe part, it is something I can live with--it is not noticeable when I wear black tights. The positives trump that comparatively minor complaint. The price was right (having a DSW $10 off coupon helps), and the comfort is as good as it gets--it doesn't even feel like I am wearing sky-high heels.


yulanda said...

I love how you made conservative look interesting. They're both great looks.

ambika said...

I'm *really* loving that first look. It's making me re-think beige (a color I shy from) entirely. Very glam and chic but subtly so.

ae. said...

Very, very cute. Love the new Oxford booties.

michelle said...

I love these outfits! I feel you on the professional dressing pains - I just started teaching as a professor this fall. Fortunately, I can dress down a bit on the days I don't have class. Yesterday, because I knew I didn't have meetings, I dared to wear jeans to the office.

Fabulously Broke said...

I agree with yulanda. I am loving the white vest on the grey turtleneck!

Sales Rack Raider said...

Thanks, everyone!

Fabulously Broke--I didn't have a white vest, so I used a cardigan to try to achieve the same effect. Glad to see that it worked!

Michelle--congrats on becoming a professor! I think you have it harder fashion-wise than I do...it's hard to achieve the balance between looking authoratative and chic, but I'm sure you do that quite well.

ThatBeeGirl said...

i'm digging your creativity in shooting the pics of the outfits. the colors in the parking garage one are rad!

Sales Rack Raider said...

Bee--Thanks! I got tired of taking pictures from the same spot in my living room, so I figured I'd try something different. I'm quite surprised by how vibrant the garage colors are...I should take more shots there more often.