You can tell that Domestic Outlet will make an excellent teacher from her immediate response to our Starter Work Wardrobe Challenge suggestions. I only posted my ideas here on Monday, and she’s already graded the test and handed it back!

Thanks so much to everyone who participated in the Full Bust Starter Wardrobe Challenge! It has given me a lot to think about and has caused me to question my own assumptions and safety zones with clothing. I found everyone’s comments and advice to be incredibly helpful and useful. As a job update, I finally have my teaching license squared away and will hopefully land a few substituting gigs soon. In the meantime, I’m doing marketing for one of the many alternative transportation companies in Portland. (It pays the bills and is something that I think is incredibly important to the future of our city.) This means I’ll have to dress appropriately for weather and different scenarios: sometimes I’ll be standing on the street, and sometimes I’ll be working a professional convention. From a fashion standpoint, I want to get my two good winter coats fixed. The dog ate all the toggles loops off of one coat, and both could be taken in a bit at the waist.

I haven’t purchased any new clothes yet, but I thought I’d share what I have on my short list, and how your input has influenced my decisions:

  1. I’m sticking with grey and black as my neutrals rather than brown. Truthfully, I never wore my brown blazer much, and none of my brown shoes are worth wearing anymore. So black/grey it is! I appreciated Darlene’s suggestion of sticking with this color scheme. In colors, I’ll be looking for jewel tones (red and teal especially).
  2. I have a blazer! Darlene kindly passed DD Atelier’s generous donation on to me, and the Wool London Jacket fits wonderfully. The sleeves are a little long (an easy fix) and all of my grey pants clash with the grey fabric, but it fits nicely, is made well, and I can use it. A longer review is coming once I get good daylight photos. Question: What colors should I steer away from because they don’t work nicely with this gray?
  3. Pants. As soon as the cold weather hits, I remember how I hate dresses and skirts from November through April. I mostly commute by bus and am a cold wuss. So pants it is! I’m thinking black pants with a bit of a flare like these Express slim flare or these by Banana Republic. I’d like to incorporate other colors eventually. Black is a good starting color, and very compatible with my black dog who sheds a lot. I also like wide leg pants, but A Sophisticated Pair has made a fine argument for slim fit and skinny cut. My only reservation is that organs in my lower abdomen tend not to like it when I wear tight jeans, but maybe trousers would be less constricting than denim.
  4. I might add a skirt or two. DD Atelier’s London Wool Skirt will match my blazer, so that might be nice to have as an option. However, I’m not ready to wear a suit and honestly think women in suits are rare in Portland. Therefore, I’d be more likely to wear it without the blazer. Black skirts like this Ann Taylor pencil skirt or this vaugely A-line one from E Shaktiwould work. If I got a pencil skirt, extensive dressing room testing would be needed to determine whether I felt comfortable in the cut.I have a cap sleeve gray dress with a slight cowl neck, and will get it altered to fit better at the armpits. For this reason, getting another sheath dress isn’t a priority right now. I was tempted to get DD Atelier’s Sydney dress, but the pockets on the butt were a deal-breaker.
  5. Yes, I know I need a plain white button-up without pockets. I’ll definitely get one (or two) from Express, and then keep a Tide To Go stick in my purse. Between this, the two short-sleeved button-ups and the altered purple top, I should have button-ups covered. I also have a teal button-up from REI, but it’s several years old and the technologically advanced fabric is beginning to show its age.
  6. As for other tops, I’ve been looking a lot at E Shakti and DD+ brands. The idea of a wrap style top that actually fits my body is very tempting, and I like polka dots. I also like this pinstripe blouse though this one by DD Atelier lacks the ruffle and therefore might be more flattering. I’m going to keep my plaid shirts to rock the Pacific Northwest pride. Plus, they’re a good middle ground between casual and business casual for visiting the boyfriend’s family or working a shift at my old after- school program. I also rediscovered my green cowl neck long sleeve top and my white butterfly sleeve top, both of which are more office-worthy than the plaid shirts.
  7. Of course I’ll add some cardigans. Here I demonstrate how I block my black sweater to be big enough for my bust. I wore that sweater (with my white button up underneath it) to a job interview, and it looked sharp. Cardigans aren’t buttoned all the way up anyway. I like this Old Navy horizontal stripe cardigan and this pleated Ann Taylor Loft cardigan, perhaps in beet, emerald, or white. I’m also more open to drapey cardigans, provided I don’t try to keep them wrapped across my bust. Who knows, maybe I’ll even finally knit myself a cardigan! I’m also debating turning my pullovers into cardigans, as per this tutorial.
  8. Accessorizing is definitely something that I’ve neglected on a regular basis.
  • I like all the suggestions of bib necklaces, and will add a few to my collection. I do wear dangly earrings with frequency, so for those days, I have some more understated necklaces (or tops with interesting necklines that would draw the eye upwards).
  • I like red shoes a lot, so I’ll add a pair to go with my red shoulder bag. (Actually that’s a slightly different version.) My boyfriend thinks it looks like a grandma bag, though I’m going with all my teaching colleagues who think it looks like a commanding teacher bag.
  • I’ve never been a fan of leopard print, so even though it looks great on Erica of A Sophisticated Pair, I think I’ll steer away.
  • I will also get a red belt to provide an accent and waist definition when I’m wearing my gray dress.
  • I have scarves and shawlettes, and will continue to add more to my closet. So far I only have one woven scarf, and the rest are knitted. Moving forward, I will choose more jewel tones for these small accessories, rather than pastels or muted hues. I’ll continue to knit from laceweight or fingering weight yarn rather than thicker yarns for better drape.
  • My favorite hat ever is brown and pastel and I’ll definitely still wear it.
  • Handknits are a decent part of my style, and I’ll maintain that.

Thanks again to everyone who participated! I learned a lot. And again, I am very thankful to Darlene and DD Atelier for the blazer. It’s an accent of professionalism I’ve never managed to rock before, and I think I can do so now. If you’re interested, here’s the Pinterest board for my clothing and my shoes.