I have been absent from this blog for an unacceptably long time - I am aware.  Unfortunately, my health has been...not good over the last month.  But I am hoping to have an upswing soon.  Today I was inspired by a black and white polka dotted dress I saw in Boden's daily e-mail advertisement - reminding me of my favorite pattern and one of my favorite dress shapes, the belted sheath.  I am also a fan of this particular neckline, which allows you to wear either statement jewelry *or* a pendant - but still maintains a mostly modest high neckline (especially for those smaller of chest.)
Now - having found such a terrific dress - I thought I'd go about styling it three ways.  One for pure fun, one for a more "sexy" date night or night out with the girls, and one for work.  But we'll go in reverse order - most demure to least demure.  ;-)

Styling it for work

BP Moveover Pointed Toe Flat at Nordstroms ($49.95 - red is so often the color of choice with black polka dots ... and don't worry, it'll make an appearance down flow, but for work I was thinking about keeping things a bit sleeker with patent, pointed toe black flats.)  Franco Sarto Instinct at 6PM ($47.99 - Recommended for those more interested in heels - I think the Mary Jane cut gives it a dash of vintage, but the pointed toe and angled block heel keeps it firmly rooted in the present - and comfortable for work at that.)
Fornash Enamel Bumble Bee Bangle Bracelet in black and gold at SimplySoles ($25 - again going a bit against expectations here - I like using a simple palette of black and gold to keep the outfit relatively neutral - while adding a bit of a wink with the bumble bee motif on the bracelet to acknowledge that the outfit is still fun and youthful.)
Studio Silver 18k Gold enamel Carnelian Pyramid Pendant from Macy's ($37.50 on-sale - finally, I've added a bit of color to the outfit, but again - I think - not in the way people expect.  When wearing polka-dots, most expect colors to be bright and bold, but I think tempering that and bringing it in a bit in a more controlled way gives the outfit a more refined look.  I really like these three items together for a work accessories plan for this dress.)
K. Amato Fan Teardrop Earrings in black and gold at Designs by Stephene ($47.50 - a perfect match for the bumble bee bangle, but also incredibly reusable in their own right - I like these earrings a lot as a basic workhorse for any wardrobe - or at least a workhorse with some edge to them.) 
Giani Bernini 24k Gold over Sterling Silver Diamond-Cut Teardrop Leverback Earrings from Macy's ($110 - honestly probably a bit much for this particular outfit, but so pretty I couldn't resist recommending them.  They'd certainly keep the outfit in the really focused black and gold world.  I love them just as they are, as single pieces of jewelry.)

Styling it for a night out with the girls - bright/vintage fun

Faceted white bead vintage necklace from etsy seller Bonnie's Vintage Attic ($29.95) or again for those preferring a more mainstream retailer Panacea Epoxy Flower Necklace, White at Cusp by Neiman Marcus ($45 - I *like* a white necklace for this [to be honest, its inspired by a vintage white chunky necklace I inherited from my aunt - it gives the look a vintage fun feel for summer without relying on many of the tropes that people frequently do with black and white dots.  White, other than pearls, is really an underutilized color in our jewelry lexicon and I think it would look great with this outfit.)
Ceramic Studs - yellow lemon dots - by etsy seller Hermoosa ($24.95) or for those who prefer more mainstream retailers Kate Spade New York stud earrings in yellow and white at Nordstroms ($34.80 - now 40% off - I love the bright vintage lemon yellow and white with black and white polka dots in the summer.  And I personally prefer studs - though there are lots of fun chandelier or teardrop options out there too.)  Now, if based on these earring suggestions you really wanted a yellow necklace idea, you might consider this one from Dillard's - though I'm not convinced about the starfish accents.  
Bruno Premi in emerald green at Yoox ($59 - I know that a green shoe is a bit different here - though not totally out of nowhere since green and yellow go so well together - but I love these sandals [the block heel would be good for dancing and walking but they still have that sexy look] and I think adding a kick of green at the bottom of the outfit would be just what the outfit needed.  Though for those of you who prefer a wedge - and are a lucky size 9 - these Butter wedges might be just the thing for you.  If, however, you were worried about the shoes being the only green in the outfit, you could consider something like this vintage bangle I found on Etsy (pictured above) that works in both green and yellow - as well as a few other colors - and would be a great way to work the shoes and the rest of the jewelry together into a cohesive whole ($5 used at Sissy's Touch of Grey.)

Styling it for a sexy date - finally - here's the red!

As way of introduction - I feel like you can either go with reds or cobalt blue here as a theme for your accessories (if you decide not to go straight black ... which you can but would overlap too much with my above posts so....).  So For each of the items I'm suggesting to style for date night, I'll recommend something in fire engine red and cobalt blue.  Pro-tip though, I wouldn't wear ALL blue or red, I'd wear say red shoes and red earrings - but maybe a silver or gold necklace, just to mix the color up, but I'll leave the mix up to you!  And whichever color you pick, make sure to bring it on the bright red lip!
Louise Et Cie 'Scorpio' Peep Toe Pump at Vince Camuto ($69.99 - there are as many red peep-toe pumps as there are people in the world, but this one is different and special while still looks like it would be comfortable.  It is a textured fish-scale leather in a bright red and the heel and toe accents are dipped in gold enamel.  It is under 4" in height.  I love that its an elegant and different take on the classic red pump.)  If you're interested in close-toed shoes, consider the Adrienne Vittadini Cecilia Pump in Red at Belk.
Kamalikulture Zaylie Sling Backs in Cobalt Blue at Zappos ($69.99 - definitely hot looking - the reviews are mixed with some concern about the strength of the sling though. I think it would be okay for a sometime shoe maybe?  If you're looking for a more traditional cobalt pump though - perhaps consider the Guess Rolene pumps on sale at 6PM right now - they look pretty good.)  
Gold Wing Earrings found on Shoptiques from Langford Market, Texas ($12.90 - okay - the shipping on these is absurd because, well, they ship from a little boutique in Texas - but I feel I would be remiss if I did not share these awesome earrings with my dear readers!  So here I am, sharing.  They also come in a green and gold that is cool too.)
Orion Teardrop Earrings at Nordstroms ($15 - I may or may not have done this whole red or blue thing just because of these earrings. I love these earrings. God. Earrings like these make me wish I could pierce my ears.)
Akuamarina Silver Leaf and Murano Gold Round Pendant Necklace at Forzieri ($70.40 - I know I said I'd stick with red, but this gold murano glass pendant goes so beautifully with this look that I couldn't help it.  Seriously, I love this necklace.  If you do want red - this version of it is red and this other murano glass necklace from the same company is a beautiful, fun red and yellow necklace (might go great with the look above this one as well).  
House of Harlow 1960 Plectra Pendant Necklace in blue on Zappos ($60 - so this is designed to be opera length, but I think you can make it shorter to be worn around the neckline of this dress.  And I love the color and the way it would go with these earrings.  Its pretty cool!)

Okay - since this post is already getting out of control a bit, I'm going to leave it there - though I think if I WERE putting together a date look with these pieces, I might add a bracelet or possibly a different belt than the one that comes with the dress.  But...for now I hope these items lend some inspiration. 

So one dress, three looks.  What do we think dear readers?  Are you happy to have me back?  Have I lost my touch?  How would you style it?  Leave a note in the comment section below!
P.S.  Do you have trouble remembering the names of necklines?  Look at this amazing resource I found when looking for the name of this neckline!  Its great (though it doesn't include this specific neckline - which I'm still not sure what to call).
 
Reader AW of the longer and wider than average feet wrote back to ask

Hi TCFKAG, Thanks for helping me with my wide flats request. I noticed that you mentioned that you love navy and berry colors. Those are my base/accent colors too! Would you mind sharing some of your personal favorites? Accessories would be fun too! Sorry for all the ?'s... I wore a military uniform for 10 years and I am slowly trying to build a quality casual/work wardrobe. PS- too shy to share your blog on Facebook, but I did show your blog to my ma and I am thrilled that she is learning to navigate the internet by looking at your blog.

So - I'm totally happy to do this - within reason.  I can't post pictures of everything in my wardrobe because (a) that'd be insane and (b) mostly because of a.  What I am going to do instead is post my favorite go-to items (mostly work though I'll possibly through in a few casual items) - I'll try to find the originals on-line if they are still available for purchase, but if not, I'll find the closest item I can.  

A couple of provisos, though my personal style has improved dramatically in the past three years or so, I am still far from the most fashionable person in the world (or even in the 10 mile radius around my house.) In fact, I never thought much at all about my wardrobe until I began reading Corporette. It was there that I learned a great deal about the importance of fit, of finding my true waistline and understanding what clothes work with that, and of the impression made on others when certain faux pas are made or when you just generally represent yourself sloppily, and it was also on Corporette that I learned a great deal about how certain contrasting colors complement each other - and learned that I had a good instinct for those types of questions. I also discovered that I had a special talent for what I do here - internet shopping for others when given almost any parameters. This was quite the surprise since nothing in my background or in my personal style would suggest having these skills or having the eye to select the best looking or best quality items if I did find them.  [Think these skills sound great and would you like a personalized exposure to my method and some back and forth on results - enter the contest and you will be entered in a raffle just for that. 

 As for my workplace style, I dress to be business appropriate for that office, but with just enough color and flare to give the impression that I have enough self-confidence and dymanism to escape the "office wardrobe" of slacks or a skirt, a button down shirt, or a shell and a cardigan every day.  I came to this idea somewhat organically, but if you pay attention long enough to pictures of most powerful female politicians, business people, or non-profit management, they are rarely dressed in just black, gray, or navy. So what I'm saying is - there's a reason this is a shopping blog and not a "fashion" blog where I take pictures of my daily wardrobe (well, that and I'm an attorney hunting for a job...so I guard my internet presence.)  


Finally, before we get started....HELLO AW'S MOM!!!!  Welcome to the crazy world of my mind and the slightly strange hobby that has rescued my budget by allowing me to shop for other people rather than myself.  Now on to the clothes! 

Silk Shell from Ann Taylor in Plum Brandy ($44 - but not available anymore - see also Ponte Peplum Shell at AT Loft ($44.50 - 
Draycott Skirt from in navy at Boden ($52.80 for this option - prices vary based on color.  Fabric is stretchy and soft but utterly professional.  I love it.)
Pewter pumps from Bella-Vita Zappos ($89.95 - two shades of gray) and Cole Haan at Amazon ($147.48 - very lucky sizes only). I love my pewter shoes, wear them daily basically.
Lambswool Navy Blue Blazer at Brooks Brothers 
($139.20 - This is on-sale and an pretty damn good deal for BB. I have a very similar blazer to this (linings different) from a couple of years ago.  I LOVE it and wear it sometimes 4 days a week. In fact, I kind of want to order this  too so I can lessen the load on the first one, plus...POLKA DOTS.  Here is a link to another good looking navy blazer - but I think its in suiting material so less easy to pair with different color bottoms in suiting fabrics..)
Signature Silk Dots Shirt from C. Wonder ($128 - so, I have a lovely silk polka-dot button down shirt from Land's End Canvas maybe two or three years ago (?) that was a Corporette recommendation.  So its obviously not on sale anymore, but this C. Wonder shirt is similar and I love coral and coral-like pinks in spring and summer.  If you want something in red or navy though, I'd check out these great options at Boden. 
Nic + Zoe Red Ponte Sheath Dress (no longer available)  I just recently saw this Land's End dress that is VERY similar.  The radish or cobalt would both be great with Navy.
Tina Silk Blouse with multi dot print from Pendleton (no longer available - but see the Pendleton blouse I posted below.)
Double Strand Beaded Turquoise Necklace on Amazon ($52) and Turquoise clip on earrings ($19.99) own both. I'm including them here because turquoise is a GREAT third color to bring into a berry/ navy outfit.  
3/4 Sleeve Ponte Knit Drapey Faux Wrap Dress in rich eggplant by Land's End ($22.97 but lucky sizes only - I actually own two eggplant purple faux wrap dresses but neither are for sale anymore - but this is the general idea. If and of you, my lovely readers, are the lucky size - I'd snap this up quick. I find my versions of this to be SO very, very, very versatile.
Halogen Seamed Pencil Skirt in Red Beauty from Nordstroms ($41.40 - it seems almost silly to put this up here - but they are the most basic building block of my wardrobe.  I don't actually own this color; I own black, slate gray, fuchsia, and cobalt blue. But this color looks pretty on the screen, so I might just add it to my collection!
THINGS I DON'T OWN BUT THAT I WOULD BUY IN A HOT MINUTE
Striped Knit Boat Neck Dress in navy at Banana Republic ($109.99 lucky sizes only on-line but other sizes may be in-store.)
Floral Print Blouse from Zara ($49.90 - just think with the navy blazer - might need to have a hook-and-eye closure added on the neckline to raise it a bit.)
Floral Ruched Wrap Dress from M&S (35 pounds - but free shipping to US for limited time.)
Capped Sleeve A-Line Dress in sea glass at Talbots ($109 - could wait for it to go on sale since it almost certainly will.  I'm including this because I love the sleeves and the waist definition.  I also think you should consider pairing this shade of blue with all of the navy in your wardrobe, its a beautiful combo. Add in gold, green, or yellow jewelry and you have a showstopper.)
Andrea Tunic at Pendleton ($128 - available in Misses, Petite, and Plus sizes.  I like that its a tunic so you can wear it belted as shown or tucked in and I love the pattern and I've been thrilled with the quality of my Pendleton purchase.  My only tip would be to keep an eye on it and see if it goes on sale, I got my silk blouse from Pendleton for $29.99.  So...maybe don't pay full price?

FUNNY EDITOR'S NOTE: For my readers who also read Corporette (i.e. a sizable majority of you, I believe, I just saw  this suit at Brooks Brothers while looking for something else and it appears they've also gotten into the long suit jacket "trend" (that I had no idea was coming back.)  This one is a MUCH more appropriate office length and I like the light gray color more.  It is practically screaming for a belt though.  (I'm still not completely sold on this look - despite the fact that Ally McBeal was on television during my formative years and thus influenced my perception of "workplace wear" AND the Cake song "Short Skirt Long Jacket" that would be stuck in my head all day and make me feel like a BAMF wherever I went.

SERIOUS EDITOR'S NOTE: As you can see, I tried out a new format today.  What do you think?  Does it work and can you associate the links and notes more easily with the pictures or does it break up the flow too much?  Any comments you could give me would be so helpful!  Leave it in the comments below and I'll love you forever and ever!

So there you have it people, my sense of style...or else, some snapshot of my sense of style.  Noticeably absent are the Captain America pajama pants and my LL Bean sweatshirt robe that I spend an inordinate amount of time in.  But we all have our vices, mine just happens to be superhero pajamas.  There's nothing wrong with that!  
 
EDITOR'S NOTE TO MY OTHER READERS BEFORE WE GET STARTED:

Do you enjoy this blog? Would you like to have me help you revamp your wardrobe or get all your Christmas shopping done in August?  Well - then you should enter my contest!  Remember, all you have to do is (1) promote this blog on any social media platform or website, (2) send me proof of such promotion to tcfkag@gmail.com, and (3) wait to see if your name is one of the three lucky names drawn to win the raffle for my personal shopping services performed via e-mail.  Click through to the link just above here to see the full description but most important important take-away: 
  • IF YOU HAVE ALREADY PROMOTED TCFKAG SHOPS FOR THE PROMOTION, SEND ME AN EMAIL WITH A SCREENSHOT OR A LINK! 
  •  IF YOU HAVEN'T PROMOTED TCFKAG SHOPS - YOU SHOULD TOTALLY DO THAT (REMEMBER THAT FACEBOOK COUNTS) BECAUSE THE DEADLINE IS FAST APPROACHING.  
  • THE CONTEST ENDS AT MIDNIGHT ON MAY 30th!!!!  
  • And now we return to our regularly scheduled programming.


Reader AW is looking for a guiding hand
:

Hi, TCFKAG. I love your blog. I had a baby 3 months ago and my feet grew from a size 10 to an 11 wide. I work for the federal government and I would like to purchase a few pairs of comfortable, dressy flats--preferably almond toe-- under $120. Something like these Bandolino Genie flats. I've been looking for black, brown, navy and nude (beige). I like patent material and embellishments, although those things aren't a "must". Thank you for your time TCFKAG. 

For those shopping along at home, here are the (very nice, in my opinion) navy and/or black flats from Bandolino that Reader AW likes so much.  I think they would be great for my readers without size 11W feet - they are a beautiful, professional flat with just enough something, something to prevent them from being too grandmotherly (we can't all be Macklemore.)
So I have got to say, your feet growing and widening after child birth is definitely a mixed blessing.  On the one hand, all new shoes!  On the other hand, you now have feet that would make excellent flippers (my 16 year old swimmer self is totally envious by the way.)  But moving on, those Bandolino's seem quite nice - too bad they don't come in either an 11 OR a wide.  [Insert me shaking my fist at the shoe gods here.]  But I'm sure I can find you some options you like.  I'll try to fit all your preferred color needs - but if I come across another color you might like [cough gray cough] I'll make an executive decision and throw it in there.  One other last minute thought - would you consider a loafer or oxford (they are super in right now).  If so, you might consider looking at men's shoes - many retailers, like Cole Haan for example, make absolutely beautiful oxfords and even some loafers that would look lovely on women and a size 9 wide (or possibly even regular) width men's shoe would be MUCH easier to come by.
Vaneli Serene quilted flat with patent toe-cap at Zappos ($125) - a bit expensive but for some reason I'm very drawn to these.  They have the patent toe cap you like and the quilting is very classic.  They come in a variety of color combinations between the shoes and the toe cap.  Reviews are quite good.
Naturalizer Valya Pump in Inky Navy at Amazon ($68.99 - navy patent leather - the only color left in your size but also navy which you do need!  So, there are a few Naturalizer options in this post, I am not a secret shill for them, but as a brand they seem a good option for those with wide feet.)
Walking Cradles Women's Ringo Ballerina Flat at Amazon ($130 - a bit above budget but the one review says they are like "walking on air" - and I like that they are simple but with a little bling.)
Hush Puppies Candid Wedge in tan at Amazon ($49.99 - so, I bought the coral and cream version of this shoe a couple of weeks ago and I love them.  They are so comfortable, SO comfortable.  I don't ever notice it has a wedge and I wear them basically everywhere.  They come in lots of colors but I thought you'd like the tan for your brown shoe option, trust me on this ... you should DEFINITELY check these out.  Oh - AND you'd be paying $10 less than I did two weeks ago, which at that point was $20 less than everyone else was charging so you'd be getting a deal!  Seeing the price go down again just makes me want to buy them in two or three more colors!!)
Naturalizer Women's Heath Flat at Amazon ($59.99 in the color shown - this comes in several colors including black and an AWESOME gray or brown tweed which would be AMAZING for winter.  But I love this pewter and I think it would be a great workhorse in your wardrobe so I'm suggesting it.  But there's only one left in stock as of tonight so....get on that if you want it!  Otherwise check out the black version which is also pretty amazing.)
Ros Hommerson Metro flats in Camel Kid from 6PM ($59.99 - not sure what shade is actually nude for you, but I hope these are close, if they are I like the bow with some subtle shine and they may breathe for summer.
Naturalizer Vision Flat in Inky Navy at Amazon ($69.95 - another Naturalizer where only navy is available but its cute and I wanted to give you another navy option so - here it is.)
Comfortview Ava Pump in the natural cognac combo at Amazon ($29.77)
Aerosoles Teashop Ballet Flats in red tweed at Amazon ($59.99 - maybe not for summer but once fall roles around I think these flats would be amazing and a great office shoe - probably one of those surprise workhorse items.)
Bass Women's Bedford Skimmer in red at Amazon ($69 - available in black also - love the classic styling but I think the red brings it into the modern world.  A very nice looking option.)
Naya Ava Dark Pink/Dark Venom Floral Flat at 6PM ($64.99 - this bottom row is for shoes that you might not need but you may never have known you wanted - since, you know, my bottom row is where I go rogue.  Anyway, I thought these floral flats are fun as all get out and would be great for going out to drinks or dinner or even to a casual wedding or cocktail party.  Fun way to add a pop of color to an all black ensemble as well!)
Giorgio Brutini Men's Loafer in wine at Amazon ($52.95 - men's wear inspired loafers and oxfords are all the rage right now in women's shoes - why not go straight to the source?  This loafer is lovely, it looks well constructed, and the color is to die for.  And of course a men's size 9 is easier to find - plus I wonder if you'd even BE a wide in men's shoes.)
Ross Hommerson Monet peep-toe flats with polka dots at 6PM ($34.99 - because everyone needs fancy shoes, right?)

So that's all she wrote, at least for now.  Reader AW, I know it took me a bit of time to get back to you, so I hope I'm not too late and you haven't already found all your new shoes.  Either way - going forward - I hope these ideas will help!  Also, just a general tip, I found in my searching that the Endless/Amazon site and the 6PM site had the most options for cute wide shoes (Zappos was pretty disappointing actually).  So - hope that info is helpful going forward.
 
Its been awhile since I did a polka dot post - and those were mostly darker shades.  Well, Ann Taylor inspired me today to do a post on summery polka dot prints.  
The scarf is the Retro Dot Border Silk Scarf in guava ($68) - its made of silk, which I like, and I love the color combo for spring or summer.  Or even for fall or winter to add a pop of color.  The skirt is the Summer Cotton Stretch Dot Pencil Skirt in guava also ($88) and of course you KNOW I like it.  Now on to the slightly more complicated question - I think I even like the full outfit together - though it might be a bit too much pink for work for me.  A wise friend recommended a green polka dot skirt instead on the bottom and I think that would be brilliant.  Either way - here are a bunch of polka dot items in bright colors for spring and summer (and just for whenever you're in the mood for bright colors.)  I'm also doing a mix of casual wear, work wear, and even cocktail dresses - for all your various polka dot needs.  ;-)
Polka Dot Jacquard Pencil Skirt in yellow and white at The Limited ($59.90 - 40% off sale also - comes in navy and white too - does anyone own this because I love it and would love a review in the comments!)
Keds Rookie Dot Laceless Sneakers at Nordstroms ($49.95 - so cute.)  See also these Keds for Kate Spade kicks in Blue and White polka dots from Nordstroms  ($75)
Z-Spoke by Zac Posen Polka Dot Jacquard Dress in orange/taupe at Piperlime ($550 - Expensive - but pretty.)
Sweetheart Polka Dot Dress in Navy at Betsey Johnson ($132 - love this though I know its not as brightly colored - but I would accessorize with bright yellow or kelly green for summer.)
Ralph Lauren Sleeveless Polka Dot Blouse at Lord & Taylor ($95.40 - limited sizes at L&T - more sizes other places for more money.)
Ralph Lauren Polka-Dot Silk Skirt ($109.99 - fun for a casual day - and its silk.  Price is reduced on sale.)

So many polka dots - so little time.  Found any really quality summer polka dot items out there?  Want to see more polka dots on something else?  Let me know in the comments.  :-)
 
Another inspiration post!  I came across this Hampton Tote (POLKA DOTS) at Gorjana & Griffin today and immediately thought it would be perfect for summer toting needs.  I love the print (obviously) and the bright red lining.  I also love the size - which is perfect for summer day trips to the beach or for picnics...or to the mall.  Whatevs.  The price isn't bad either - coming in at $48 with free shipping - and its made of a sturdy cotton canvas, which I like.  These types of large totes could also make alternatives to more traditional diaper bags for some mom's.  But here are a few other options if this doesn't suit your fancy.
Topshop Canvas Carry-All at Nordstroms ($75 - a nice neutral option with a longer shoulder strap.)
Nordstrom Stripe Tote at Nordstroms ($88 - classic stripe pattern, though I worry about the comfort of the straps.)
Neon Trim Canvas Tote Bag at Last Call by Neiman Marcus ($52.50 - nice way to get in on the neon trend.)
American Rag Convertible Tote in coral at Macy's ($40 - love the color and that it folds for when its not full.)
Stick Print Tote Bag in Red at Last Call by Neiman Marcus ($52.50 - this one is just fun - in a couple of colors.)
DVF Loves Roxy Tote Bag at DVF ($68 - I don't normally recommend something with a recognizable name brand in it, but I love the black and white print with the orange bottom and the matching change purse is cute!)

Okay - I hope you like these!  Obviously I've gone for whimsy here over things that are work appropriate or more "hard-core" sturdy totes.  Mostly that's because that's what I like, but I still think these would be pretty tough and hold up against some abuse.  What do you think?  Anyone have any good canvas tote bag recommendations?