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More Fashion, Less Victim: Dress for success!

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Photo courtesy of Kym on lemien.ca

Jes Lacasse is a wardrobe consultant who knows style. She grew up absorbing Vogue, studied costume design and fashion history, and thinks about clothes all the time. Jes does personal styling and shopping for private clients and dabbles in lifestyle design. If you have questions about fashion, she wants to answer them — please e-mail her at jes.lacasse@gmail.com. Your Sweet Bippy is where she blogs about style, shopping, cosmetics and self-love. She is also known to obsess over clothes on Twitter.

Happy summer, sweetnesses! We’re in the thick of it, aren’t we? I’m writing this in my bikini, sitting on the balcony, sipping ice water and enjoying the summer sun (doused in plenty of sunscreen, of course). I hope you’re enjoying yourself and keeping cool and stylish!

On to this month’s questions! Here are a couple of great ones I got this month!

Jes,

Please help me! I need some advice. I start a new job on Monday, and the dress is business casual.  I have 2 shirts that fit (1 blue, and 1 white with lavender stripes), 1 pair of black slacks (thanks Mom) and black shoes. I need to buy more things so that I’m not recycling my clothes during my first week (you know how important first impressions are). I want to exude an air of professionalism and career mindedness through my dress, in order to let my work speak for itself.

I’ve done some research on staples for business attire and they always talk suits and sport coats. My research was basically on askmen.com and YouTube videos.

What is your take on the important items?  I thought I better ask a pro!

Thanks!

Alex

Hey Alex,

This is a great question! First of all, good for you for getting that your appearance influences how your work will be taken!

Now, to the meat of the problem: you have nothing to wear to work!

Here’s what I see are the absolute basics of a men’s work wardrobe in a professional setting with a “business casual” vibe (oh, business casual, you are the bane of everyone’s existence, along with “creative black tie”!).

  • Five shirts
  • Two pants
  • One suit
  • Waistcoat, cardigan or sweater vest
  • Jeans
  • Bag, belt and shoes

And that’s it! It doesn’t seem like such a long and daunting list, does it? Of course, it’s not that simple. Since you are going to have so few clothes, you’re going to have to make sure that everything goes with everything else to ensure as much variety in outfits as possible.

Let’s start by talking about your palette. It sounds like the colours you tend to gravitate towards are on the cool spectrum, so I’m going to suggest that you stay in that spectrum to fill in the gaps in your wardrobe.

You already have a blue shirt, and a white one with a lavender stripe. Find three more shirts in that cool spectrum and you’re set. The colours and patterns (don’t be afraid of pattern!) of those shirts can be left up to you, but here are a few that I think could be nice with what you already have:

Pink check, indigo stripe, black & grey stripe, pewter paisley. All available at Sears, to stay on new-wardrobe budget!
On to the pants! Since you already have a black pair, I would recommend a nice grey pair of trousers. There, that was painless!

Your suit is a pretty big consideration. Since you want to mix and match as much as possible, I think a black suit with a grey pinstripe would be exactly perfect: that way you could wear the jacket with both pairs of pants, as well as with jeans.

Now, the waistcoat/cardigan/sweater vest question: this is very personal. I myself like to see a man in a waistcoat or a cardigan, but that’s not for everyone! If you feel like a sweater vest is going to be what you’re comfortable in, then go for that! Again, you’re looking to be able to wear it with everything else you’ve purchased, so make sure it’s in the correct colour range — a charcoal heather knit may be right.

Your jeans should be of a dark wash with no “weird stuff” going on — this means distressing, whiskering, embroidery, you know the drill. If you might see it on a guy wearing an Ed Hardy shirt, it’s not what you want! They should also be a straight leg.

You already have black shoes, so make sure you have a proper black belt and a decent black bag to go with it. Grafea makes this beautiful black leather briefcase that would be perfect for not just now, but for long into the future (I have it on good authority that their bags age beautifully and hold together for the long haul, so they’re worth the investment!).

And that’s it! Best of luck at your new job, Alex!

Hey Jes,

I’m looking for new shoes for fall, a pair of brown heels and a pair of flats to wear in my office. I want to spend less than $100 on the heels and less than $50 on the flats. I work in a conservative government office, but I want to be able to express myself as well. What should I look for?

Cheers,
Lu

Hey Lu,

Footwear is a great way to embrace trends, because no matter how conservative an office you work in, you can always get away with something a little more expressive in your shoes — of course, you don’t want to go overboard in a pair of Alexander McQueen Armadillos!

When it comes to your brown heels, we’re going to be seeing a lot more reptile skins in footwear this year. If you’re opposed to wearing skin, there are plenty of embossed synthetics on the market that will suit your needs. And since patent leather is also going to be trending hard this year, maybe find a pair with a high-gloss shine to them as well!

Top row: Bandolino Women’s Adiva Pump, Sergio Zelcer Women’s Wayne Pump, Martinez Valero Women’s Rosie Platform Pump

Bottom row: Ann Marino Women’s Glimpse Pump, Irregular Choice Women’s In For The Thrill Pump, AK Anne Klein Women’s Wystere Platform Pump

As for your flats (and I assume you’re going to be wearing them indoors), suede and fabric are both lovely options this fall/winter. This is a place where you can play with a lot of colour — think dark purple, emerald green, red… Whatever works best with your wardrobe!

Top row: Rocket Dog Women’s Magnum Fancy File Ballet Flat, Andres Machado Women’s Yellow Corn Suede Classical Ballerina, Funtasma By Pleaser Women’s Star-16G Flat

Middle row: Sergio Zelcer Women’s Pea Ballet Flat, Aerosoles Women’s Sbeckle Flat, Restricted Women’s Honeymoon Ballet Flat

Bottom row: Kelsi Dagger Women’s Tazetta Flat, BC Footwear Women’s Don’t Sweat Technique Flat, Miss Me Women’s Muse Flat

I certainly hope that’s helpful to you, Lu!

Well, that’s it for me this month! As always, please feel free to e-mail your fashion, beauty and style questions to me at jes.lacasse@gmail.com! Millions of kisses!

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