Business Casual Makeover – Under $100 – Halogen Animal Print Pencil Skirt

How to add more color, interest & style to your business casual wardrobe.

Today I’m featuring an outfit that would certainly make me feel more excited about going to work on a rainy Friday . . . when my thoughts were already drifting toward a long holiday weekend.

Halogen Stretch Cotton Blend Pencil Skirt - Stone & Red Animal Print

Wow, she sure looks smart. And it’s not just because of the glasses.

The Halogen Stretch Cotton Blend Pencil Skirt features an abstract animal print in either Stone/Red or Black/Grey ($59 from Nordstrom).

I love how the skirt is paired with a coral-toned top and a beige sweater, but I would prefer to see the skirt with a bolder - and therefore more commanding – shade of red or orange instead of a pastel.

For example, the skirt would look great with this Trouvé Mixed Knit Sweater ($40.80 on sale; regularly $68).

Trouvé Mixed Knit Sweater

Other fun options in this color family include this Halogen Three Quarter Sleeve Cardigan, this Anne Klein Cutout Neckline Shell, and this Hugo Boss Button Front Top.

Here’s the Halogen skirt in black & grey animal print, which would prove to be surprisingly versatile. I would treat this skirt as a neutral and wear with any number of solid colors.

Halogen Stretch Cotton Blend Pencil Skirt - Black & Grey Animal Print

Disclosure: this post includes affiliate links for Nordstrom.

Fashion Flashback – Fresh Spring Stripes & Style Inspiration on SNL

The weekly Commandress feature ‘Fashion Flashback’ by Amy (Bergsma) Schwarzenbach features the author’s 1980s fashion retrospectives as a new way to understand – and inspire – contemporary fashion styles.

A constant in my life since the 1980s has been watching Saturday Night Live. From Gilda Radner to Cecily Strong, SNL is always good for a laugh whether the comedians are satirizing current events or just acting zany.

I cannot say, however, that I’ve ever watched SNL for its fashion.

But that changed this past Saturday when Seth Rogen’s opening was raided by a few of his famous friends – including Zooey Deschanel. I couldn’t take my eyes off her awesome pleated red dress. Image courtesy of Celebmafia.

Seth Rogan SNL Opening Monologue

I assumed that the dress would be hard to find and expensive, so imagine my delight when I discovered that it’s part of a collaboration between Zooey Deschanel and Tommy Hilfiger – and costs $169.50.

“To Tommy From Zooey” includes retro-inspired and nautically-styled red, white and blue dresses and accessories. In addition to Tommy HilfigerMacy’s carries fourteen of the sixteen dresses in the line – and each is cuter than the next.

Zooey Deschanel and Tommy Hilfiger Red Pleated Dress

While Zooey is often admired for her retro-quirky wardrobe, this red dress (shown above) seems to channel an inner Duchess of Cambridge. It’s a great mash-up – the dress is youthful despite a high neckline and long sleeves. It’s also wholly appropriate for the office.

With subtle vertical stripes, the line’s white Polka-Dot Printed Shirtdress ($169.50) offers a fresh, playful take on a spring fashion standard. Clothing with polka-dots can so easily appear frumpy or cheap. Not this dress – I love it!

Zooey Deschanel and Tommy Hilfiger Polka Dot Printed Shirt Dress

Zooey Deschanel and Tommy Hilfiger - Polka Dot Dress

More Spring Stripes That Are Perfect for the Office

Coincidentally, I had been planning to feature striped dresses in this week’s column even before watching SNL. Every era seems to offer a fresh perspective on stripes – a truly timeless pattern.

(If you prefer your stripes with Mad Men style, for example, check out the David Meister Dress that was featured earlier this week.)

Ann Taylor’s Awning Stripe Dress ($139) is a perfectly professional dress that displays some personality. It would look even better with one of these fantastic statement necklaces.

And, right now you can save 40% Off at Ann Taylor with the code SPRING4IT – bringing the price down to $83.40.

Ann Taylor Awning Striped Dress

LOFT’s Stripe Side Shirred Dress ($69.50 in Regular and Petite) would be perfect for those quiet days in the office that crop up in the summer. This dress’ stripes are a bit more jazzy, but it’s still perfect for work.

Right now you can also save 40% off at LOFT with the code SPRING – bringing the price down to a pretty amazing $41.70.

LOFT Stripe Side Shirred Dress

Weekend Stripes

In the 1980s I had an Esprit blue and white striped maxi dress – which, of course, it was not called at the time.

My jaw dropped when I came across Tommy Hilfiger’s Sleeveless Striped Pocket Maxi Dress ($89.50 from Macy’s) – it looks just like my circa 1985 dress. The dress is also available in green and white – and right now you can save 15% off with code EASTER.

Tommy Hilfiger Sleeveless Striped Pocket Maxi Dress

If you want a dressier knit striped dress, behold Nanette Lepore’s Enchanting Striped Dress ($298 from Saks or Zappos). Nanette Lepore has a singular talent for making even sporty clothing look so feminine and lovely.

Nanette Lepore Enchanting Striped Dress

Disclosure: this post includes affiliate links for Ann Taylor, LOFT, Macy’s, Saks and Zappos.

Mad Men Monday (on Tuesday) – Three Dresses with Mad Men Style

The Commandress feature “Mad Men Monday” spotlights fashion that channels the 1960s style of the show’s leading ladies. 

If you’ve heard anyone talking about That Dress after this week’s Mad Men premiere, there should be no doubt that they had Megan’s stunning blue minidress on their mind. (Image courtesy of Elle.)

Mad Men - Megan Blue Dress

Although it’s hard to translate that gauzy little dress into something that you could wear to the office, this Trina Turk Tahiti Print Jersey Dress ($288 from Nordstrom) features a mod pastel floral design that would be appropriate in many creative offices.

Trina Turk Tahiti Print Dress

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Peggy wore two memorable outfits last night. (Images courtesy of Elle.) The first is a jaunty navy shift dress with military style buttons and a pretty scarf. The second is a plaid skirt suit in mustard (Peggy’s signature color).

Mad Men - Peggy Blue Dress

Mad Men - Peggy

I’ve had my eye on this Tory Burch Evie Dress ($375 from Tory Burch) for Peggy for a while. The burlap tweed is a pretty neutral and I love the blue and plum thread woven throughout the dress. It’s the grown up version of Peggy’s school girls clothes.

Tory Burch Evie Dress

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Finally, It will be interesting to see Joan’s wardrobe continue to shift from her early-60s pinup style to finding a late-60s look that flatters her figure. In one key scene, she wore elegant black and white and a gold tassel necklace. (Image courtesy of Elle).

Mad Men - Joan

Instead of her signature watercolor florals, perhaps Joan might try a sophisticated graphic design like this David Meister Striped Woven Sheath Dress ($370 & Made in the USA).

David Meister Striped Cap Sleeve Woven Sheath


I love tassel necklaces, and was pleased to find a contemporary version that is 25% off during the Shopbop Friends & Family Sale. This Chan Luu Rose Gold Chain Tassel Necklace (on sale for $108.75; regularly $145) features a modern mix of rose gold, crystals and silver.

Chan Luu Rose Gold Chain Tassel NecklaceSale Alert – during the Shopbop Friends & Family Sale, you can save 25% off site-wide for both Shopbop and East Dane (men’s apparel), with some brand exclusions. Use code INTHEFAMILY14 through 4/17.

Disclosure: this post includes affiliate links for David Meister, Nordstrom, Shopbop and Tory Burch.

Professional, Smart & Chic – Tory Burch Katie Floral Station Collar Necklace

A work-appropriate look you can get excited about.

Here’s an unusually understated “statement necklace” that combines two classics – pearls and gold chain links – for a thoroughly modern look.

Tory Burch Katie Floral Station Collar Necklace

The Tory Burch Katie Floral Station Collar Necklace ($175 from Nordstrom) is a beautiful necklace that would add polish to any professional outfit.

The Katie necklace comes in traditional Ivory Pearl (shown above) and in eye-catching Indian Blue (shown below).

Tory Burch Katie Floral Station Collar Necklace - Indian Blue

Disclosure: this post includes affiliate links for Nordstrom.

Business Casual Makeover – Diane Von Furstenberg on Sale

How to add more color, interest & style to your business casual wardrobe. 

Earlier this year, I featured a few of my favorite wrap dresses in this post about the Diane von Furstenberg x Andy Warhol Pop Wrap Collection.

If you’ve had one of these dresses on your wish list, this may be your lucky weekend because the Diane von Furstenberg Friends & Family Sale is going on through Sunday (4/13). You can save 25% off most items with code SPRING25. (Any new arrivals that are excluded from the sale are clearly marked.)

In addition to the Pop Wrap collection, my favorite spots for browsing are Wear to Work, the Wrap Shop and the sassy chic Animal Prints.

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If you’re looking for the most iconic DVF style, I’d recommend this New Jeanne Two Silk Jersey Wrap Dress in a chain link print ($276 on sale; regularly $345). This dress – and this print – are the modern classic professional dress. It runs small, so consider sizing up.

DVF New Jeanne Two Silk Jersey Wrap Dress - classic chain link print

DVF is also a great place to look for an updated and creative take on business casual separates. I love how polished this breezy Gilmore Printed Silk Chiffon Blouse in Sandscape ($276 on sale; regularly $345) looks with the crisp Amelia Denim Flared Skirt in dark indigo ($220 on sale; regularly $275). This skirt would be a fantastic staple for a business casual wardrobe.

DVF Gilmore Printed Silk Chiffon Blouse in Sandscape

DVF Amelia Denim Flared Skirt

Finally, this Selene Ruched Silk Jersey Dress ($276 on sale; regularly $345) may be the most classically conservative of the bunch. The classic print and shape have been making me look forward to the Mad Men season premiere this weekend – and the return of Commandress Mad Men Monday – for a couple months.

DVF Selene Ruched Silk Jersey Dress

This looks like a Peggy dress to me – and I can’t wait to see what everyone is wearing on Sunday!

Disclosure: this post includes affiliate links for Diane Von Furstenberg.

April 2014 – Best Friends & Family Sales

The spring Friends & Family season is hitting full stride this week! I’ll update this post as new sales come in. 

Lord & Taylor - this is a favorite because it includes bigger discounts than most department stores and includes a very rare discount on cosmetics. Save 25% off almost everything AND save 10% off cosmetics & fragrances with code FRIENDS – ends 4/21/14

Click here to see all of the current beauty gifts with purchase at Lord & Taylor. 

Alex & Ani – April Bangle of the Month – save $5 on the apple blossom bangle with code APPLE – 4/30/13

ASOS – save an extra 20% off sale with promo code XTRA20 – ends 4/13/14

David Meister – save 20% sitewide with code DMFF15 – ends 4/13/14

Diane Von Furstenberg – enjoy an additional 25% off with code SPRING25 – excludes New Arrivals – ends 4/13/14

Elie Tahari – receive 20% off any 2 items or 30% off 3 items or more with code APRIL2014 – ends 4/20/14

Lucy – save 25% off the Everyday & Vital Collections – ends 4/14/14

This sale includes the beloved Lucy Everyday Pant – perfect for travel & anything casual.

Nic + Zoe – save 20% off full-price merchandise with coupon code PJXAPRIL20 – ends 4/30/14

Nordstrom – receive a Free exclusive cosmetics bag filled with 16 samples (valued at $85) with your $125 beauty & fragrance purchase. Online only & while supplies last.

Click here to see all of the current beauty gifts with purchase at Nordstrom.

Rebecca Taylor – 25% off with code RTSPRINGFF14 – ends 4/14/13

Sephora – 15% off for Beauty Insiders – it’s free & easy to sign up for the program – ends 4/11/14

Click here to see all of Sephora’s Weekly Specials.

Trina Turk – save an extra 20% off both Trina Turk and Mr. Turk sale items with code TTSALE14 – ends 4/13

Disclosure: this links in this post are affiliate links. 

Fashion Flashback – Professional Necklaces That Show Some Personality

The weekly Commandress feature ‘Fashion Flashback’ by Amy (Bergsma) Schwarzenbach features the author’s 1980s fashion retrospectives as a new way to understand – and inspire – contemporary fashion styles. 

If you sometimes bemoan the unoriginality of the “uniform” that professional women are consigned to wear to work, you are not alone. I, too, can attest to having felt stripped of my personality when wearing my most conservative and perfectly appropriate professional attire.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, of course, as it is important to conform to the standards and expectations of one’s workplace.

But every single day? Month after month? Year after year? The covert rebel in me has found an acceptable way to display some personality at the office: with unique and eye-catching necklaces.

As in the 1980s, there is no one type of necklace dominating current fashion. Sure, there are trends and all variety of “statement necklaces,” but right now there’s nothing as ubiquitous as Add-A-Beads (image courtesy of Bargain Hoot) or as faddish as Twist-A-Beads (image from eBay) were in the 1980s.

Gold Add-a-Bead Necklace

Vintage 1980's Twist A Beads Necklace

Current trends in necklace design emphasize individuality and distinctiveness. This is terrific because it gives each of us the opportunity to choose necklaces that appeal to our singular sense of style.

Pearls are Always in Style for the Consummate Professional

A working woman can’t go wrong with pearls. Imagine enlivening your gray, navy or black suit with Panacea’s Pearly Layered Collar Necklace (on sale for $122.50 from Last Call; regularly $250).

Panacea Pearly Layered Collar Necklace

Should you prefer sunset hues to the standard white, another necklace with pearl-like beading interspersed with rhinestones is LOFT’s Short Rose Fireball Cluster Necklace ($39.50).

LOFT Short Rose Fireball Cluster Necklace

Add Interest with Layered Pendant Necklaces

Layered pendant necklaces are a current look that I love. Anthropologie’s Bloomsbury Layered Necklace has a cultured, antique look that reminds me of a former boss whose style always oozed refinement (on sale for $29.95, regularly $58).

Bloomsbury Layered Necklace

This Jenny Rabell Madrigal Layered Necklace is a similar style with a bolder chain and eye-catching beadwork ($68 from Anthropologie).

Jenny Rabell Madrigal Layered Necklace

A more delicate layered necklace that would befit casual Friday or creative professional attire is Lucky Brand’s Gold-Tone Double Layer Pendant Necklace (regularly $35 from Lord & Taylor – but right you can save 25% with promo code FRIENDS). The bird and its nest bespeak spring!

Lucky Brand Gold-Tone Double Layer Pendant Necklace

Contemporary Flair with Ancient Inspiration

Art deco had a resurgence in the 1980s and its influence is also evident in the elegant design of Baublebar’s Etruscan Petal Necklace ($58 from Anthropologie). The color palette of coral, orchid, yellow, and deep blue plus clear rhinestones make the repetitive fanned fringe pattern appear multi-dimensional.

professional statement necklace

Similarly, Boden’s Mosaic Statement Necklace in Seville ($88 & also shown here paired with a lovely Boden spring tweed blazer) has a fresh and clever color palette.

Boden Mosaic Statement Necklace - Seville

Show Off Some Semi-Precious Stones

If you’re looking for something that is both understated and stylish, Boden’s Pretty Pendant Necklace in Papaya, Citron or Silver is simply adorned in semi-precious stones ($48).

Boden Pretty Pendant Necklace

Finally, should you decide to display your confidence with a burst of blue, Anthropologie’s Deluge Layered Necklace ($58) is a sophisticated statement necklace that features jade, turquoise, and gold-plated metal.

Deluge Layered Necklace

Disclosure: this post includes affiliate links for Anthropologie, Boden, Last Call and Lord & Taylor.

Smart, Chic & Made in the USA – Bailey 44 Melina Print Silk Tank (& Two Great Blazers to Wear with It)

“Smart, Chic & Made in the USA” spotlights American-made clothing for professional women.  

Pretty, pretty, pretty! I can’t stop admiring the unique design and lovely “flowering paisley” print of this Bailey 44 Melina Print Silk Tank ($161 from Nordstrom).

Bailey 44 Melina Print Silk Tank

The top is smart too – the back is made from sage green stretch jersey that will make the top’s ruched silk fit in all the right places.

I wouldn’t wear this top on its own to the office, so I’ve picked two Made in the USA blazers to go with it.

At the traditional and more formal end of the spectrum, this Theory Gabe B. 2 Jacket ($395 from Nordstrom) is about as classic as it gets. It comes in six neutral colors – I’ve shown Grey Oat here.

I love the jacket as a separate, and you can also check out the matching Theory Emery 2 Stretch Pants ($275; available in all six colors) and Theory Golda 2 Pencil Skirt ($200; available in three colors).

Theory Gabe B. 2 Jacket

For a more casual office – or perhaps a casual Friday – this Splendid Indigo Dye Cotton Blazer ($178 from Nordstrom) is a perfect piece for making any outfit look polished and professional without looking stuffy or overdressed. It’s also machine washable.

Splendid Indigo Dye Cotton Blazer

Disclosure: this post includes affiliate links for Nordstrom.

Professional, Smart & Chic – Under $100 – Charming Spring Pumps from Sole Society

A work-appropriate look you can get excited about. 

Last year, Sole Society (the fantastically affordable shoe and accessory brand) hit it out of the ball park with their Julianne Hough for Sole Society Anneke Pump – a chic and slightly edgy midheel pump that you can still find at Nordstrom for $59.95.

Julianne Hough for Sole Society 'Anneke' Pump Black - valentino rockstud style shoe - studded black pump fall 2013

Right now I’m admiring a couple cool new spring designs that are getting equally rave reviews.

First up, the delightful Sole Society Meryl Pump features a chic navy and black geometric tile print, pointy toe, walkable midheel and a very sleek bow – all for under $60.

Sole Society Meryl PumpThe Meryl Pump ($59.95) is available in Navy/Black print or Black from Nordstrom and in Navy/Black Print, Black or Bark Ecru (shown below) from Sole Society.

Sole Society Meryl Pump - Bark Ecru

Second up, the Sole Society Yasmin Pump features neutral colors with a touch of metallic and a slightly higher heel.

Sole Society Yasmin Pump - Ecru


The Yasmin Pump ($49.95) is available from Nordstrom and Sole Society in Adobe/Patino/Black (shown above), Ecru/Bark/Platino (shown below) or Black/Off White/Blue Mist.

Sole Society Yasmin Pump

Disclosure: this post includes affiliate links for Nordstrom and Sole Society.

Business Casual Makeover – Under $100 & Worthy of a Haiku – Söfft Abbott Wedge Pump

How to add more color, interest & style to your business casual wardrobe.

I’m always excited to find a stylish “comfort” shoe that looks like it would more at home in Cinderella’s closet than in her stepsisters’.

If you add affordable to the mix, I may have to start waxing poetic about discovering the holy grail of work shoes.

In the case of the wonderful shoe featured in today’s post, perhaps a haiku will do:

Two-inch wedge heel pump;

Shiny copper; pointy toe;

Fair price. True delight!

Sooooo, check out this Söfft Abbott Wedge Pump that is currently on sale for around $45 to $70 at and Nordstrom (marked down from $99.95).

Söfft Abbott Wedge Pump

That’s a lovely shoe that has achieved an admirable mix of comfort and style!

The Söfft Abbott Wedge Pump is $69.95 from Nordstrom in Copper or Pewter (medium and wide) and in Black or or Red (medium, wide or narrow).

The Abbott Pump is also available in six different colors (medium, wide and narrow) for about $45 or $55 from (which seems to have fewer sizes than Nordstrom right now).

I’ve shown the Copper above and the Red below.

Söfft Abbott Wedge Pump - Red

Disclosure: this post includes affiliate links for and Nordstrom.