Bubble Sleeves

Statement sleeves are really fun, but they are not always practical. To get my feet wet in this trend, I first dabbled in bell sleeves, which did not mesh well with my pizza-eating, condiment-loving lifestyle. I then gave exaggerated cuffs a whirl, but those proved equally problematic. What finally sold me on statement sleeves are batwing sleeves, which made me feel like one of the gliding mammals (this really appeals to me) without subjecting me to greater soiling risk.

Also fun (and practical) are bubble sleeves. I picked up a few items with bubble sleeves last fall, but really committed to this trend this fall. One of my favorite new purchases is this Vince Camuto Bubble Sleeve Sweater, which comes in five colors and is available in regular and petite sizes. The style is reminiscent of Italian Renaissance fashion, but tempered with modern pragmatism.

Statement sleeves can be intimidating to those who describe their style as “simple,” but there is enough variety on the market right now to represent every degree of an exaggerated sleeve. Statement sleeves can even be subtle, contrary to their name. You can further minimize the drama by wearing statement-sleeved tops with regular skinny-jeans or a solid colored pant.

Vince Camuto Bubble Sleeve Sweater in Deep Claret (size XXSP) || Ann Taylor Kate Refined Flare Trousers (past season) || C. Wonder Leather & Chain Belt (past season) || Louis Vuitton Mon Monogram Neverfull MM Tote || Kate Spade New York Lydia Pumps in Red Chestnut (reviewed here)

This sweater is currently sold at Bloomingdale’s, Dillard’s, Nordstrom, and Vince Camuto, and Zappos.

The Work Sheath (+ J. Crew Resumé Dress Three Ways)

Sheath dresses are (what I consider) a foundational part of any office wardrobe. Sure, they may not be everyday attire for those with casual dress codes, but this wardrobe basic is just the right dose of business.

A solid-colored sheath dress is a white canvas, on which you may splash color–or not. Throw on some dangerously tall peep-toe stiletto heels, and a simple clutch for a night on the town; or put on a coordinating jacket and bore to tears even the harshest fashion critic on days when you want to remove your outfit from conversation.

J. Crew Open-Front Sweater-Blazer (size XXS) || Quay Australia My Girl 50mm Cat Eye Sunglasses in Tortoiseshell/Brown || J. Crew Resumé Dress (size 000; reviewed here) || Michael Kors Runway Watch || Hermes Reversible Logo Belt (size 65) || Prada Saffiano Lux Large Double-Zip Tote (reviewed here) || Corso Como Del Quilted Pump (past season)

While the styling possibilities are endless with a sheath dress, here are three ways that I like to wear the J. Crew Resumé Dress: with a matching blazer; under a long drapey jacket; and as a skirt (with a blousy sweater over it).

And some sale news:

Sale styles at J. Crew are an extra 50% off with code WEDNESDAY until the end of today. As always, shipping is free on orders over $150 (or free on all orders for J. Crew cardholders). My picks:

♥ Another sale that I am enthusiastically shopping is Ann Taylor‘s semi-annual sale. Sale styles are up to an extra 60% off (no code needed), though most are just an extra 50% off. There’s also a promotion for full-price purchases: use code MAKEPLANS at checkout for 46% off full-price styles. The Wide Leg Sailor Pants (from this IG; fits true to size) that I really like is now on sale, though sizes are now incomplete. Some other picks:

Happy shopping!

The Ultimate Capsule Wardrobe: Bleisure

Bleisure is one of those dreadful portmanteaus that I would never use in conversation, but for the purpose of this post, we are going to pretend it is not a word that invites eye rolls.

I feel fortunate that the business trips I take generally include ample downtime, allowing me to meet up with friends and to also explore the area. And as I normally book my own flights, whenever possible I try to stretch the trip to include a weekend to fully exploit the occasion (since travel time is a sunk cost).

Over many trips, I have learned to optimize my carry-on–because I dislike checking bags–to hold enough outfits for a week-long work trip and also accessories to adapt those outfits for casual wear.

When the primary purpose of my trip is work, I generally pack the following: a black or navy suit jacket, a drapey button down, a neutral shell, a pair of neutral pumps or flats, and a skirt, pant, or dress that coordinates with the jacket (essentially just a shrunken version of my “work capsule wardrobe“). Sure, these pieces are boring, but it’s normally best to err on the side of dressing more formally than not when traveling for work (I will never forget having to drop $100 at H&M one trip to buy an unremarkable polyester skirt suit that I never wore again after that trip).

Occasionally, though, I will pack more unorthodox pieces (like a jumpsuit in suiting material) for variety when I know precisely whom I will be seeing and in what environment I will be working. Thus, some “bleisure” favorites are born.

After you have selected a color palette, depending on the season or your mood, you can add a print or two to liven your outfits. Here, I selected a leopard print to go with a base palette of beige-red-and-black.

The outfits featured here are most suitable for moderate temperatures (and also well air-conditioned office spaces). They don’t translate well photographed against a white wall and in warm indoor lighting, but are all outfits I’ve worn and have felt appropriately-dressed in.

The centerpiece here is the black jumpsuit in a crepe material, which has a number of trendy details–notably bows on shoulder and wide pantlegs–that can be minimized easily or highlighted effortlessly. Wear any blousy sweater over the jumpsuit* and “shorten” the top with a belt–kind of like what I did to the dress below.

*While wearing a sweater over a jumpsuit isn’t a practical choice when one is in a rush to relieve oneself, it isn’t that much worse than trying to use the bathroom when wearing a jumpsuit.

Or wear a light layer underneath. It’s a foolproof piece.

The jumpsuit that I’ve featured here is from a past season, but here are a dozen or so options that span the spectrum from casual to dressy.

And here are fifteen outfits created using the fifteen pieces from above:

I won’t rehash the guidelines for travel-friendly clothing that I mentioned in this post, but do encourage those of you looking to pack for a leisure trip to refer to that post for ideas.

And if you are taking a longer bleisure trip, please check out the “30 Outfits in a Bag” series that I wrote some years ago. It’s a three-season travel wardrobe that I still consult from time to time.

Related Posts:

Flared Floral Dress (+ J. Crew Three-Strap Sandals)

I hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend. Today’s post is short, because I just want to quickly highlight two recent purchases that I have really enjoyed. They both happen to be 40% off this weekend, so I hope those of you who are interested get to take advantage of these sales.

The first is these incredibly comfortable Three-Strap Sandals from J. Crew (use code GETAWAY for 40% off). I took them in my normal J. Crew size, and found the fit to be consistent with my other J. Crew shoes purchased in the last year (the fit got slightly wider at some point in the last five years, but I can’t pinpoint the precise point in time when the change happened).  They require no break in period, and are comfortable for even purposeful walks. With summer shoes, however, I always recommend applying anti-blister balm (or any lubricant… in a pinch clear ChapStick works just as well) to your feet in areas of high friction.

And the second is the “Classic Backpack” from Abercrombie & Fitch (online prices reflect the storewide 40% off promotion). I am a big fan of the slip pockets in the front, the zippered pouch in the back, and the zip closure that secures everything in the main compartment. It is surprisingly capacious and replaces the various canvas totes that I normally use when biking to picnic spots.

Zara Flared Floral Dress (size 13-14) || Zara Batwing Sleeve Sweater (size S; past season) || c/o Ann Taylor Rattan Straw Bag (past season) || J. Crew Three-Strap Sandals in Suede in Pale Mocha

I probably won’t be updating the Memorial Day weekend sale roundup post again, and will instead include any new sales in the next weekly link roundup.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Plaid Scarf

Regular visitors of this blog know that I have a financially ruinous relationship with Zara (it makes up 40% of my outfit here), and I know I am not alone in this struggle, as Inditex, Zara’s parent company, reports unrelenting growth in sales quarter after quarter.

But with other fast fashion brands nipping at its heels and the retail sector continuing to fester, Inditex has chosen to sacrifice profit for market share/revenue. Bershka (whose name, btw, like nearly all Inditex brands, has no story or “meaning”), Zara’s Skipper/Hollister/Robin, opened its first US store last week. Bershka has been in existence since 1998, and has both online and physical stores in several dozen countries, but I personally can’t distinguish its offerings from Zara’s Trafaluc (TRF) line or even some of the lower-priced pieces from the main collection. It exists to compete with the Forever 21/Primark/H&M/Mango of the world, though I question ITX’s decision to introduce the line here considering the brand’s relative obscurity in the U.S.

Despite my lack of faith in Bershka’s future in the U.S., I will happily shop there because it combines Zara’s design sensibility with a “junior fit” and cheaper prices. What’s not to love?

Zara Batwing Sleeve Sweater (Size S) || Sole Society Oversize Plaid Wool Scarf in Navy Combo || Zara Skirt with Gold Buttons (size XS) || Salvatore Ferragamo Ginny Score Medium Leather Shoulder Bag (also here and here) || Franco Sarto Mast High Boots in Navy (also here and here)

For those of you who missed this announcement last week: everything is 50% off at Ann Taylor with code ALLTHEWAY. Some picks: Wrap Coat, Wool Cashmere Turtleneck Sweater, Boiled Wool Turtleneck, Wrap Coat, Pleated Full Skirt, Ruffle Sleeve Sweater Dress, Ruffle Trim Flare Cuff Top, Shawl Collar Wrap Coat, and Heathered Flounce Top.

Happy shopping!

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