[how.what.wear.] matchy matchy, office edition.

Hey there. I know, it’s been a while.

That, my friends, is what I’d like to call an “unintended blog break/suffocation by reality” in which my attention had to be diverted to other, more grown-folk matters. At least I’m back… for now. 

As much as I detested my years of uniform-wearing during elementary and middle school, some mornings I feel so ill-prepared for the day that its reflected in my attire. Ugh. For someone who spent nearly a decade wearing suits and heels around college and high school campuses during debate tournaments, you would think putting together pieces for a professional ensemble would come easily to me. So very wrong.

I guess it’s because of those times of odd uniform regulations — some judges preferred female competitors to wear skirt suits rather than pants, others preferred that I add some color instead of head-to-toe black  —  dressing for a rather lax office environment requires more thought since I don’t want to stick to the basics. You know what they say, dress for the job you want, not the job you have. So… what job do I want? Who do I want my colleagues and superiors to see me as?

I’m fortunate enough to work in an environment where the attire isn’t completely stuffy, jeans are more than acceptable, and my quirky clothing choices are seen as cool rather than clueless. So when taking a stab at this whole ‘dressing for success’ business, the concept of matching sets — elements which can be pieced together to create a single sleek look — is something I can use to extend my creative wings.

Going beyond that of solid black + solid black + solid black combination, the year has offered up a wide range of hues and prints — all for the sake of streamlining.

always judging camping print

subdued scenery with tibi / alwaysjudging

You would think no rules are necessary when it comes to matching sets, right? With the sea of options for finding and creating matching sets, navigating them and not channeling a pre-schooler with these points of direction come in handy:

[1] keep it simple.

When it comes to creating sets, you want to keep the ensemble clean — and simplifying the cut of the fabric is the way to do it. Regardless of whether the pieces are printed or plain, if the structure remains streamlined and in proportion, the pieces will not only work together but also with the rest of your closet. A three-for-one! The two items together should form a clear silhouette, one without distractions and bells and whistles.

collage floral asos

flawless in floral / asos

collage zara

soft, flowy, feminine / zara

printed tropical zara

subdued and sporty / zara

As visible with the sets here, the cuts are simplified and without fuss. Even with a lowered hemline and peplum flare on the skirt, the tomboy box top of the first set keeps the final look grounded in femininity. The second set is loosely flared, the pinch of a faux belt adding shape to the form. Zara’s duo colored contrast print set (above) is more form-fitted, two black sleeves the only break in pattern, adding a sporty edge to an otherwise dressed up set.

[2] layer it up.

Its. Always. Cold. at my office. Hell, I don’t think I’ve ever worked in an office with temperatures higher than 65 degrees. I usually keep my moto coat hung on the back of my desk chair, wrapping it around my shoulders or wearing it backwards when I start losing feeling in my hands and fingers. Admittedly, its definitely more ‘lost hobo’ than ‘corporate professional.’ Layering builds the pieces from two to three, but is also functional because the layer of protection from hypothermia is part of the ensemble rather than a distraction.

collage plaid suit

girls on film plaid suit / asos

collage suit 2

channeling a summer vacation / asos

 [3] dissect and assemble.

At the end of the day, the silhouette is essentially two (or three) separates which can come together as a single piece. Case in point: a shell + skirt = a pseudo-dress. Blouse + pants = jumpsuit. So when picking the pieces to bring together, make sure it can fool the eye into thinking of the sum being a whole. You can break up the monotony by adding the thin line of a belt, layered necklaces, or even a contrasting piece to join the ensemble.

fruit print zra

the prints come together to fool you / zara

warehouse floral set 1

abstract print two-fer / warehouse

[4] avoid the potato sack

Since you’re putting together a look that is multiple pieces to appear as one, if the fitting of the pieces is off, the resulting shape is… well, shapeless. Proportions are essential to looking professional and put-together when the items are coordinating rather than ‘matching,’ but fit is even more important when in the same hue or pattern.

collage suit 1

two in one / asos

collage orange set

brightly textured / asos

With both the brush strokes set (above) and the orange skirt set, it is important to highlight the fit of both pieces. One resembles a fit-and-flare skater dress, the other could easily be a luxe jumpsuit. In both instances, the fit of the two together is in sync.

As we go from summer to fall, I’m looking at this 2-for-1 shortcut to be my savior for those days when I have to quickly look polished (+blazer or button-down) or even go from the office to after-hours (swap out one piece for another). Coordinating never looked so easy.

Back to working in the studio… set your Google Calendars for September 22! Something ancient this way comes…

-Nita

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