With this outfit, I started with the typical dress pant/blazer combo that is pretty much standard corporate gear. However, I chose wide-leg gray pants instead of black, and paired them with the somewhat unexpected choice of a brown herringbone jacket. Both pieces are fairly conservative on their own, but the combination has more depth and texture than a suit would. Rather than wearing a button-down shirt, I instead chose a batik-dyed argyle sweater and fitted denim waistcoat. The waistcoat gives the outfit a tailored appearance while the denim keeps it relaxed and funky. Finally, I added the rich purple cowl and angora knit hat to mix some color and texture to the muted neutral tones and flat fabrics.
This cowl, by the way, came with the shirt I wore in my 'Thank You -- and a contest!' post; it has leather straps that allow it to be buttoned to the shirt. But I prefer it worn separately, so I just tucked the straps underneath the cowl to hide them for this outfit. Something like this would be an incredibly easy DIY project because as you can see, the cowl is just a tube of jersey fabric with raw edges. All you'd have to do is get a t-shirt, cut a 6 to 8-inch section off the bottom, and voila! Instant cowl. You could even start with a plain white t-shirt and dye it whatever color you wanted. A cowl has a bit more modern an appearance than a scarf, so it's a great way to update a conservative look.
Here are some other tricks I've used to funkify corporate wear, with examples immediately following:
- Put a sheer top over a classic button-down and belt over the top. The sheer fabric softens and feminizes the button-down but still allows it to show.
- Add some shine, either with sequins, shimmery fabric, or metal. One of the big things lacking in a lot of suited garments is any sort of sparkle, so a sequined top peeking out from underneath a blazer, a pile of long, bright silver necklaces, or a metallic scarf really adds some pizazz.
- Wear interesting shoes. Even the most straightforward pencil shirt and blouse combo looks instantly more interesting with a cool pair of shoes. Pair brightly-colored shoes with a neutral outfit, or replace a basic black pair with one that has studs, buttons, or some other interesting detail.
- Go vintage. Even a conservative suit looks amazing and unique if it's from a different era. What was once staid and sensible becomes fresh and exciting when viewed through modern eyes.
- Add an unexpected accessory. I've been getting quite a lot of mileage out of my thrifted men's tie lately, and it's an unexpected twist on even a classic corporate look. Likewise I've worn some pretty eye-catching hats with otherwise 'normal' outfits. As long as you keep the rest of the outfit simple, you can get away with at least one fairly radical accessory.
This list is far from comprehensive. For more great ideas on how to personalize your corporate wear, see Angie's fantastic post over at You Look Fab. And as always, you're invited to stop in and share your ideas.
Hat: Accessorize (Copenhagen)
Jacket: La Redoute
Cowl: from a Just Angels shirt
Sweater: All Saints