Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Casual Dressing Experimentation

Earlier Drafts:
I labeled these jeans my first wardrobe workhorse, and these shoes were one of my two "back to school" purchases.

neon-ish pink tank (Rave)
yellow tank (via sister's closet)
colorful scarf (via sister's closet)
dark wash skinnies (American Eagle)
yellow buckle slice wedges (Nine West)

I really appreciate your thoughtful comments on my post from Monday about dressing "professionally."  I want to address them more specifically in the future, because I appreciate that you've all (as usual) encouraged me to think in different ways.  Today, though, I wanted to write a little bit about the goal I mentioned briefly at the end-- to dress better in the casual register.

Believe it or not, I have been a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl most of my life.  I'm not talking about jeans and a cute embellished t-shirt, either; I'm talking about jeans and a t-shirt my mom bought for me at the Nike employee store during my adolescence, when she worked there.  Thankfully, she took that job around the time when they first came out with "women's fit" t-shirts (mid 90s), so the tees did actually fit me, even if they said things like "Nike Running: Choose Your Path."

One of the (unfortunate, I think) side effects of the empowerment I felt when I began dressing differently for work was that I directed all of my styling energy into work clothes and paid no attention to trying to wear casual clothes well.  I actually mentioned way back in my "intro" post that I struggle to put together cute casual ensembles, but the process of blogging has helped me to realize that this is really only due to a lack of effort.  Monday, I said that "now, these ["business" register] clothes feel more me to me than more casual ones."  I recognize, though, that they are quite literally more me because they're outfits I've actually taken care in putting together.  So I am wondering what will happen to my personal style if I put the same amount of effort into my casual wear.  Perhaps I really am more at ease in "dressed up" looks, but I don't think I'll know that for sure until I put a little more effort into my non-work looks.

This is a good semester for the casual attire experiment.  I only teach two days a week, so that leaves five other days to dress differently.  I believe I have conquered the hair straightening demons-- either my curly hair looks better every day, or I get a little more comfortable with it every day leading me to think it looks better every day-- so I'm ready to move on to the next way to challenge myself.

I thought putting on a scarf might be a good way to try something new because I literally never wear them.  IA Katie and Plummy wear them so well, though, that they encouraged me to give them a shot.  I don't own any that I don't put on exclusively for warmth, so cue my sister's closet!  When I was trying to build an outfit around this one, I was tempted to wear it with a white top because it's so colorful, but then I remembered Vickie's choice to pair color with more color during Black-Out week and the positive results it yielded, so I went in that direction.

The only reason I actually own a neon-ish pink tank from Rave is because I purchased it for an 80s party a few years back, and at that time I was more annoyed that it wasn't more neon (and going inside Rave totes took me back to middle school).  I actually tried this combination a few weeks back with a khaki skirt and my hair up, because I felt like scarf+hair was too much going on around my head, but I actually think it looks much better here, and I'm glad I gave it another try.  I also like how the yellow tank underneath plus the yellow shoes sort of ground the bright tank and (I hope) keep the ensemble from being too overpowering.  I actually wish it looked more like this IRL-- for the life of me, I cannot get items in this punchy pink color family to photograph correctly.  (You're not even reading this, are you?  You're looking at my 80s party photo.  Did you really think I was going to mention an 80s party outfit, of which I have a photo, and not show you said photo?  The most awesome part of this outfit was that, when walking through the city on Saturday night to get to the party, I got tons of compliments on this outfit from strangers who had no idea I was on my way to an 80s party.  And I didn't get the impression that they were complimenting me to make fun of me.)

  • Thoughts on this outfit, please?  On this casual dressing experiment, which I fear may really turn out to be a project titled "Skinny jeans 100 different ways"?
  • Suggestions for different casual combinations for me to try?  (Don't worry, I've been scouring all of your blogs, and plan to rip off all of your ideas anyway.)


Miss. Studios said...

This color combination is just awesome! I love it. Shoes made it even more interesting. Share tips after the experimentation. I need to learn about this too!

Plummy said...

I think this outfit looks really cute! I love the skinny jeans cuffed, and the layering of the colored tee's grounds the scarf and is very cute. I often have the same problem with casual clothing--I spend all my time and effort working on my work clothing, and then casual tends to be whatever is leftover! Right now, my casual look is very similar to my work look, except with shorter skirts, and zip-ups or loose sweaters instead of cardigans. I am especially trying not to fall into the trap of 'oh it's casual clothing, it doesn't have to be good quality.' I move so often, I need to have a limited number of good quality items, as opposed to a vast number of crappy quality ones (which has been my modus operendi for the past ten years). Anyways, to wrap up a long comment--you look cute! Good job on a casual look!

A-Dubs said...

'Love it. I, too, am addicted to the skinny jeans for casual days. They're just toooooo easy to combine with, well, everything even remotely casual. And as you demonstrate, again, here, they're the perfect pants to roll for optimal shoe highlighting.

Also, I think this is the first time I've enjoyed the "bib" scarf (well, since I did it myself in the late eighties).

My only suggestion for other casual wear is to try dressing down your work skirts and dresses. My wardrobe is work wear heavy as well, and it's been fun to add tall flat boots, t-shirts, and casual scarves or jackets to my more formal teaching skirts and dresses.

Between Laundry Days said...

My thoughts on this outfit are that it is awesome. You totally seem to have perfected this particular brand of casual dressing.

I was a long t-shirt and jeans gal, too, and I went through a similar work-clothing trajectory when I started blogging. Luckily, I've found massive amounts of casual wear inspiration in the blogosphere, too, and have been able to branch out with my weekend wear lately!

Iris said...

I think the outfit looks great and I love the way your tank tops pull out some of the colors in the scarf :)

Diana said...

I like this outfit a lot - the colors and the layering with the cuffed jeans give it a really fun look. I am a big fan of scarves worn as accessories (rather than solely for warmth) and am really excited that it's now cool enough to wear them again. They're so easy and fun and can totally change the look of an outfit, plus they keep your neck warm so you can keep wearing your summer tops (I dislike high-necked tops in general on me, so a scarf is really useful). A long floaty cotton or silk scarf wrapped around and around your neck is a fun look, as is leaving the long ends dangling. I also like the bib style triangular scarf like you're wearing here. (There are tons of cool ways to wear/tie your scarf and they can really change up your look.)

Julia said...

I really like this outfit! The colors are great and the styling with the scarf really makes it all click. Those shoes are fabulous - they're yellow, but really almost a neutral.

I think this is a great casual outfit.

Scholar Style Guide said...

Thanks for all the feedback!! I was feeling kind of so-so about this outfit when I wore it, but I thought it looked good in the photos, and your comments are encouraging!

A-Dubs, great idea about re-purposing my regular "work" attire. I'll have to think about how I might be able to do that.

Julia, I love that feature of the shoes, as well. I've been wearing them to serve alternately as a pop of color and as a neutral. Add the slice wedge and the buckle and they're pretty much my dream shoe.

The scarf is actually a really long one that I've wrapped around my neck three times at alternate lengths here. It has a grey hue as its base color so I am planning to see how it works once I'm ready to pair it with my grey slouchy boots, too.


La Historiadora de Moda said...

I just wanted to stop by and let you know you're in the back to school conference panel I posted this evening.

I am a fan of the color palette here and the scarf. And, as always, these skinnies look fab on you!

Courtney Erin said...

I really really like this - the colors all work together and make a statement (in a good way) and the layering adds a lot to the look as well. It's great!

xoxo ~ Courtney

Ana - Toil and Trouble said...

This is a simple outfit in terms of the pieces used, but the color combination is so interesting I can't stop looking at it! Awesome!

- Ana


I definitely agree with A-Dubs - I absolutely love pairing skirts with t-shirts, hoodies, and/or comfy flats for a casual alternative to skinny jeans (which I struggle to not live in, too). Looks like you're on a great path to cornering the casual market on your own, though!

What Would a Nerd Wear said...

oh my gosh, i know what you mean! i have a lot of trouble being chic and casual, too, which is why some of my not-teaching outfits keep not ending up on the blog (um, who wants to see me in a hanes tee shirt for the fifth day in a row?)
i think you look super cute here and i love the yellow and orange-red colors!

Nate C said...

What, no casual belts in your massive collection? ;) Looking good, Lizzie. I like the smile as the perfect accessory.

Scholar Style Guide said...

Thanks for the feedback on the colors! As you all might know by now, I tend to favor 'cooler' colors in the blue/green/purple family, so these hues were definitely a branching out for me. I'm glad to hear you all think it "works."

Monkeyface, I like skirts with casual wear, but I feel like higher hemlines connote "casual" more effectively. I don't know how to go about making a knee-length pencil skirt "go" with a t-shirt. I'll take another look at your blog and focus on finding specific types of combinations like this. Thanks!

Hmm. Causal belt. I have a few that could work. Good thought, Nate.

And really, everyone, not a single comment about my 80s outfit? That took a lot of work! LOL. : )