This series on fashion is inspired by a few great fashion related posts and bloggers I’ve been reading lately as well as a really positive response I got from a comment I left on another blog. A young woman was asking what she should get for a work wardrobe without spending a fortune. I gave this some thought and then commented on the ten pieces I’d recommend she get. I got an email back, complimenting my complete list and saying it would serve as a shopping list.

Over the next two weeks I’ll be doing a post on each article of clothing as well as photographing some of my outfits. Enjoy!

Pencilskirtcasual Five years ago, I couldn’t believe I had let myself by a brown/black wool blend pencil skirt from J. Crew for $80. I was a student with a part-time job, I thought as I paid, why am I doing this? That impulsive spending is so unlike me. But intuition must have been at work that day.

That $80 skirt has taken me to cocktail parties, all day workdays in my cube, school functions, and religious celebrations. The wool blend makes if great for all seasons and helps keep the shape of the garmet. A brown skirt with black woven in means I can wear it with most any color and the length is appropriate for more conservative settings. And the “femme fatale” silouette of a pencil skirt is tough to beat!


A pencil skirt with my trusty graphic t-shirt, boots, jean jacket, and leggings (it’s cold in Maine sometimes!) are super casual but put together. For extra warmth, my cotton black sweater could make a cameo appearance as a second layer. (See me working the black of the skirt).

Pencilskirtbusiness Business Casual

I wore this skirt with these knee socks (this exact outfit probably) to work once and my 70 year old always-wears-a-suit boss said I looked “sharp”. Now if that isn’t a compliment, I don’t know what is! I threw on a hat because I’m always looking for more occasions to wear hats. (See me working the brown of the skirt)


Pencilskirtfunky Fishnet stockings in dark pink and a belted sweater (something to update those duster sweaters from a few years ago) are yet another way to work the brown. I have a sparkly tank top underneath and if I wanted to dress this up, I could wear the sparkly top sans sweater. And if you’re going to wear a pencil skirt, you might as well wear some heels (comfortable ones, of course!).

Wool Blend Pencil Skirt, J. Crew, $80

Tips on picking a pencil skirt: First off, if you don’t like skirts, you can do this same thing with wool pants (you can even do wool cropped pants if you want to do fun things with legwear). If you are going for a skirt, get one that hits a little above or a little below the knee. One that hits at the knee looks terrible on; try it if you don’t believe me. Remember you can always hem if you need to go err on the side of longer. The wool blend is important, even if you have to spend more. I’m not trying to get you in all dry cleaning clothes; I just want this to last. (I totally wash this skirt in my normal laundry by the way). A wide waist (see my two inch tab closure?) slims that part of you so if that little detail can happen go for it.

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