Melissa Nunez is an emergency medicine recruiter with CEP America, a position that calls for a put-together style. Business casual offers freedom to experiment, but the open-endedness can pose a Goldilocks conundrum: What qualifies as not too stuffy—but not too casual?
Melissa gets it just right. Her look is polished but trend-conscious, allowing her personality to shine through. We asked her how she does it.
What’s your daytime work style?
Monday through Thursday call for business casual. I wear ankle-length pants, silk and chiffon blouses, classic button downs, and pencil skirts. I love that printed pants are in right now! A printed black trouser can be equally as neutral as your normal black pant. I’m a more conservative dresser when it comes to fit, but I love playing with pattern and color. I also love mixing more high-end items with inexpensive pieces.
On casual Fridays, I go for jeans. I prefer dark-wash denim in a slim leg and I’m loving the colored jeans trend.
How do you take your look from office to evening?
The easiest way to go from the office to happy hour is a fun lipstick and heels. I love NARS lipstick in Schiap and Stila liquid lipstick in Beso. When it comes to shoes, comfort is king. All my favorite heels are by Nine West or Seychelles.
What’s your weekend style?
Since I live in San Francisco, layering is key! The weather can go from foggy and chilly in the morning to hot in the afternoon. Scarves and cardigans are staples in this town, as are lightweight jackets (mine is army green). My weekend style goes from printed blouses, skinny jeans, and booties for a night out with girlfriends to Levi’s and Chuck Taylors for a day of exploring the city. And a printed tote bag is a must!
What’s your best piece of personal style advice?
When I pick up an item I ask myself, “Can I wear this with three things I already own?” If I can’t, I won’t buy it. This trick has helped me get the full wear out of my wardrobe! And I hang dry everything. It keeps your clothes looking better, longer.
See our stylist's picks on the next page.
Melissa is a walking example that one’s work style doesn’t have to be boring! Her trick is to choose classic shapes in fun patterns and prints and she certainly doesn’t shy away from color. Here are some ideas for the girl who wants her professional look to be just as vibrant as her personality.
Colorful Cropped Trousers
This wool flannel pant is perfect for cooler weather and the color is a reminder that you can think beyond your blacks and grays. The soft pink color is both optimistic and unexpected.
J. Crew "Café Capri in Wool"; $128; available at jcrew.com.
Menswear-Inspired Button Down
There is nothing wrong with full-blown head to toe color. But let’s say moderation is more your thing. A classic white button down is the workhorse of a good wardrobe. You can’t go wrong with this double pocket sailor shirt.
Club Monaco Sailor Shirt; $129.50; available at clubmonaco.com.
The Printed Tote
Melissa says that a printed tote is one of her “musts” and we think that it’s a great way to add interest to any look. Take a simple neutral pant and top and add this bag to make your look go pop.
Marni Floral-Print Striped PVC Shopping Bag; $345.00; available at neimanmarcus.com.
Lightweight Wool Scarf
You don’t necessarily need a heavy knit scarf in the early fall months, but you need options to keep warm when there is a bit of chill in the air. A wool scarf like this one is perfect to help you bridge the gap until you need the heavy layers.
Liberty London British Invasion Wool Silk Paisley Scarf; $175.00; available at bloomingdales.com.
The Fall Investment Coat
If you live in a warm climate, outerwear may be a bit of an afterthought. But if you live someplace colder, consider investing more in your outerwear. You may not think of a coat as part of your work wardrobe, but in the colder months it is the first thing your boss and coworkers see you wearing in the morning and the last thing they see when you exit. And that doesn’t even factor in those out-of-office meetings and work lunches.
VINCE Double Breasted Overcoat; $675 available at vince.com.
Dawn Cassidy is a fashion writer, personal stylist, and previously author of the blog Enterloop. She currently is expanding her Personal Styling services and plays host to intimate events in the NYC market. She is a graduate of Fashion Institute of Technology.