Here is my challenge for today: take something that you might consider too dressy for everyday, and make it a work outfit. In this case, I wanted to wear my Rooibos dress. First of all, I absolutely adore this dress. I’m actually planning to make a summer version out of stretch sateen. But… this dress reads a little dressy to me (and once again, I insist that it is emerald green! My camera will not photograph this color accurately.) The problem with this dress is that it’s sleeveless and slightly low in the back, and I don’t usually show either area to teach (well, I will wear sleeveless sometimes, but not with the lowered back.) And it’s a wee bit short – I prefer right at the knee or slightly below. I have skinny legs.
First I did what I do with anything too short: I wear it with flats. I never do short with heels, because then my legs are even skinnier looking, and I feel like it’s too flashy for work. I would wear black tights if the weather were colder, but it’s 65 degrees today – perfect for a lightweight wool sheath dress, but not for tights. Then I had to figure out how to cover the shoulders and back without covering my favorite part of the dress, the pockets. That calls for a cropped sweater or shrug. Apparently fashion has moved on to really long sweaters instead, but I still love my short coverups – sometimes I want to see my dress! This sweaters is dark purple, and I got it at Target several years ago. I like the ties (I am actually planning to make Buttercup by Kim Hargreaves, which is a similar tie style.) I like purple with green, but I realize that’s not a combo for everyone. It helps if the colors are the same intensity, which these are (ie not a light purple with a dark green etc.)
I’m a teacher, and a musician, neither of which are super conservative. I can totally get away with jeans to teach, but I feel like it makes me seem young, which I am trying to avoid (I know I look younger than my age, and I don’t like to be questioned about my qualifications because of that… it’s also why I think this skirt is too short.)
When I make this dress again I’m going to make it 2 or 3 inches longer. But that’s good news for petite ladies – this dress is too short for me in the smallest size, and I’m not crazy tall (I’m about 5’7″.)
Do you have any items you never wear because you feel they might be too dressy for daytime? Any suggestions for dressing them down? I know I am guilty of making lots of dressy dresses and then having to figure out how to wear them everyday. I’m not going to stop with the dresses, so I might as well get some tips!
7 thoughts on “Outfit of the day”
My tricks to working a dressy dress for daytime? Blazers, cardigans, denim and/or leather jackets. I’m a fan of the denim jacket over a fussy dress for a casual look. In winter, a leather jacket and opaque tights helps to pull the look together.
It’s funny you mention this today of all days, as I’m wearing a dressy dress today with a similar wrap-style cardigan on top to work, and had the same thoughts this morning!
I also use a denim jacket to dress down a dressy outfit. Sometimes changing shoes helps, too. I have several pairs of boots–cowboy, biker, etc.–which work with some skirts and dressy pants to tone them down. Mostly, though, I don’t worry too much about looking overdressed. (I’m a six foot tall redhead. Blending is kind of out of the question.)
I undertand your problem. It seems every pattern I select is for a dressy dress not casual dresses. And I have nowhere to a nice dress these days–not even to work. But I can tell you that I picked up some great jackets at–ta da-Salvation Army that I put with dresses. I don’t think the jackets had ever been worn and they were super cheap. Maybe $3.99 and one of them was lined with the pockets still sewn shut. That is a beautiful dress you made too!
I’ve always worn clothes that make me feel a little over-dressed, but I’ve realised that shoes make the different. Now I wear cute dresses with Converse or Dr.Martens and feel very down-dressed, cool but yet elegant. Maybe a funky pair of tights also could do the trick?
I’ve been thinking about this too because I have some pretty sundresses that rarely see the light of day (!) except on vacation, and I think you are right, that a cardigan or shrug is the way to go to dress it down. Like everyone else has said, the shoes also influence the look, and ballet flats or flat sandals (plain, no sparkle) are probably better than heels or a dressier shoe.
A plain, feminine jacket for day would be a warmer choice during the winter, if you can find/make one that’s not too office-looking.
I had a similar issue, though not with a dress… I made Yosemite (from Knitty) in white, and wear it with black trousers. I thought it was a bit too white, so I added a black jacket, but that makes it pretty dressy.
My solution: a glittery belt. It’s braided plastic, black and silver, and it would normally look kitschy but with just a tiny bit of belt and buckle visible between the jacket, it works really well (or so I think).
I think you were actually the one who put me onto this. (Didn’t you post about belts a while ago?) If so – thanks! 😀
I sew a lot of dresses also, and I find that they can be dressed down with casual shoes (low- to mid- heel in canvas or plain leather), and with no accessories to minimal accessories. I also find that simple makeup and a simple hairstyle can dress down an outfit.