Carla’s work style is sleek and pulled-together—as a manager with the federal government, her office’s dress code calls for professional attire (“casual” doesn’t fly). Weekend looks are relaxed and fun, but for her work wardrobe Carla seeks out timeless, high-quality pieces. What’s her secret?
“I determine the quality of clothing based on the fabric, the strength of the seams, and the quality of the details, such as lace trim,” she says.
Talk about attention to detail.
What’s your daytime work style?
My daytime work style is classic and polished: I love wearing a sheath dress with a stylish scarf and sling-back pumps.
How do you take your look from office to evening?
If I’m planning a night out, I usually wear a pair of slacks or ponte knit pants and zhuzh it up with a popped collar and jewelry—especially status link necklaces in silver and gold.
What’s your weekend style?
Weekends are more casual—you’ll usually find me in a maxidress or crop pants. Some other favorites of mine are large scarves tied to make a vest, which I pop over a shirt, and leggings with slip-ons or flats with cutout designs and a hint of metallic color.
What’s your best piece of personal style advice?
Always wear something you love and that makes you feel confident. I think clothing should be timeless and stylish; I’d rather buy trendy accessories than trendy outfits. If I think an item will last more than one season, it’s worth buying.
See our stylist's picks on the next page.
“Casual doesn’t fly” at Carla’s federal government job so she seeks out timeless, well-made pieces. Carla always checks the quality of clothing construction and fabrication before making the investment. Here is how to get her look.
1. Sheath Dress
Carla is wise to pay attention to detail whenever she buys clothes. This sheath dress may have a classic shape but the delicate pleating, grosgrain trim, and feminine cap sleeve take this piece to the next level.
Club Monaco “Ariana Wool Sheath Dress”; $198.50; available at clubmonaco.com
2. Stylish Scarf
Carla would rather buy trendy accessories than a trendy outfit. We think that’s a great strategy. A splash of color in the form of a printed scarf can perk up any outfit.
Ann Taylor “Atrium Scarf”; $59.50; available at anntaylor.com.
3. The Slingback Pump
There is something so elegant about a slingback pump with a narrow rear strap and tapered heel. We think that this one is a great option.
Ralph Lauren “Aaliyah Leather Slingback Pumps”; $98.00; available at lordandtaylor.com.
4. The Classic Pant
In a conservative work environment, you can never go wrong with a classic pant. The narrow leg and slight flare of this pant is a fantastic choice.
Rachel Zoe Flared Pinstripe Pants; $250.00; available at neimanmarcus.com.
5. The Matching Jacket
If you find a pair of work pants that happens to have a matching jacket, consider going ahead and buying the set. It’s like getting two outfits in one. You can wear the pants separately, perhaps with a tailored top and statement necklace. And then wear them on another occasion paired with the jacket as a set. While it’s hard to call the pants suit trendy, it has been more popular than ever the past couple of seasons. Wearing a suit doesn’t take a lot of effort but you’ll look instantly pulled together and polished, perfect for important meetings.
Rachel Zoe “Christina Fitted Pinstripe Jacket”; $425.00; available at neimanmarcus.com.
6. Ponte Knit Pant
Shape retaining ponte knit is both comfortable and stylish. This straight-leg cropped pant is a solid choice.
Michael Kors Straight Leg Ponte Knit Pants; $74.50; available at shop.nordstrom.com.
7. The Crisp Cotton Button Down Shirt
Carla likes the crisp look of a popped collar on a button down shirt. To duplicate the look, seek out a cotton shirt with enough body to the fabric so that the collar stands up; avoid flimsy material like silk.
Eileen Fisher Long Sleeve Button Down Cotton Shirt; $138.00; available at macys.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.