Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fashion Book Review: Dress Smart Women

The used bookstore is the best place to spend a lunch break besides Goodwill, if you ask us. So many lovely tomes at half price or less... Delicious! One of the most fun sections to browse in our local shop is Fashion. As you know if you've been reading, a major challenge of late has been the adjustment of trying to look more professional (and sadly, less young/punk/hippie/fun) in the workplace. While obviously anyone can put on a twinset and pearls or a suit and white button-down, we are seeking ways to put forth a confidence-inspiring facade while still retaining a significant amount of personality (i.e. you'll never catch us dead in a navy double-breasted skirt suit, no matter how "professional" it may be). So we were excited to find this guide, called Chic Simple Dress Smart Women: Wardrobes that Win in the New Workplace.

We've had some good scores at Goodwill since reading the book-- unfortunately no suits, but some great wool pencil skirts, blazers and blouses that are much more professional than what we usually wear. Which prompted a VP to ask if it was "for Halloween." AUGH. Here are a couple of the looks:

Of course we didn't pay any of this ridiculousness. All from Goodwill except tights and shoes (purple- Payless; black- Famous Footwear.) and striped shirt (which has more pinky purple in it- from Kohl's?)

(Oh, yeah, and we lopped off 6-8 inches of curls in favor of an angled bob that has to be flat-ironed every day or put up. Madness. But, on the other hand, it's far more polished than the long hippie chick curls we were rocking.)

The idea is classic and still feminine, more serious than sexy (this can be difficult when you have DDs, as Suzannah of what not to wear points out), while trying not to lose too much of "us". While we lament the fact that purple hair and multiple piercings just don't get taken seriously in an office, even an academic-ish office, (sigh. Miss the lip ring.), it's clear that something had to be done to up the game, because much of our wardrobe came from the juniors section at Filene's Basement or the Vicky's catalog and it's a little bit tooo sexy (or just plain tight).

This book's philosophy is to pare your wardrobe down to essentials and accent pieces instead of buying a whole bunch of crap you're not going to be able to-- or probably shouldn't-- wear.

They suggest four suits as the basis for a full wardrobe, while fully acknowledging that many of us can definitely not afford that to start. Nevertheless, thrifting is mentioned as an alternative to buying new, expensive suits. We hope that the days of "ew, someone else wore that" are gone as we move in to attempted-planet-saving mode!

Happy thrifting and reading!


  1. oh my goodness those purple shoes are GORGEOUS!

  2. Hmm, interested the book recommends suits; I feel like even the better-dressed women in my workplace are wearing mixed & matched jackets/pants rather than actual suits. But I'm totally in favor of pairing it down to a few 'perfect' items rather than lots of also-rans.

  3. Great post! Keep up the thrifting people!

  4. Interesting book, and glad they do mention thrifting as an alternative since truly there is no way an unemployed gal can afford four suits. =)


  5. what an awesome post! i love finding a great fashion book!


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