I met my friend Alice, a banker, for dinner at a hip rooftop hotel lounge. We enjoyed a pitcher of margaritas and ate dinner immersed in conversation. Only as we were leaving (at a terribly respectable hour) did Alice look around and comment, "We are the oldest people here." What made her feel old was not our ages, 51 and 61 respectively, but how she was dressed.
She had come directly from work, and wore an elegant gold suit, couture-made from silk her DH brought from a trip to Asia. The cut is very similar to this Tahari suit, lifted by the lustrous silk. It was formal and safe- not for a bank, but for the bar.
Underneath, she wore a bitter chocolate jewel-necked top and a jaw-dropping gold and topaz necklace that one day I will photograph to show you. Stockings and pointy French pumps. This is executive, haute-business attire; she was ready for the boardroom, but not the bar.
What Alice noticed when she clocked the 30-something crowd before departing was the short skirt or dress length, the long, loose hair, the bare legs and sandals that spelled jeunesse doreé. She felt much more 'proper' and older than everyone else. As I looked at her, I realized she could have de-businessed her look with a few quick moves.
For Smokin', Substitute
To look more relaxed, a bit mussed and not-too-co-ordinated outfit helps.
If leaving a full-on business setting, peel off the hose and change to a pair of sandals. Shown, Stewart Weitzman "Thrill" sandal, $238 from Zappos.
Swap a blouse for one of those non-basic tees like J. Crew sell and lose the jacket. Shown, J. Crew cotton ruffled scoopneck tee, $39.50.
A linen scarf or shawl takes the suit down another notch, and comes in handy as the night cools. Shown, Epice striped cotton and silk scarf from Goldyn, $174.
Jewelry is an easy way to shift from corporate drag to lounge-ready, and besides, this is an excuse to pick up a few fun pieces.
Remove work jewelry and add oversized beads, or change your earrings to funkier dangles. (Shown, Anthropologie Hanging Lantern Hoops, $110.)
Alice says she's tired of getting up every morning and putting it together, but she does a superb job of executive dressing, and at her level, it's the required uniform.
And back to business
The day before we met, I was invited to a corporate meeting, and was suddenly wrenched in the other direction.
I had to scramble to devise some semblance of Alice's chic. Astonished at how quickly I had lost the touch, I ended up wearing this jacket, a black soft-pleated skirt, and a cream Boss scoop-neck knit top.
This apparently passed muster, but I felt like an imposter, hermetically sealed into my clothes. I thought, if I get hired for this project, I have to buy some more business clothes, oh no!
Do you have to hop between worlds? How do you do it?