READERS NOTE: before I jump back in....OMG....I'm here.  I know.  I keep disappearing for prolonged periods. I'm sorry. Its a combination of work, my health, and August being...well....August.  Hopefully as fall approaches (my absolute favorite fashion month - bar-none) I will be re-motivated to post much, much more frequently.  But in the meantime, I apologize profusely.  Now, moving on from self-flagellation...unless you're into that sort of thing...this post IS about leather after all.
Hello TCFKAG! I have followed you on Corporette and have a question for you. I am seriously loving leather pencil skirts for fall, but am overwhelmed by the options. I was wondering if you had any suggestions. I'm looking for black leather, or vegan leather, knee length and pencil skirt. I can't decide if it should be all leather, or with leather accents, or what. I work in a business casual environment, but it's not exactly a creative place and I wear mostly traditional things. This would be a bit of a fashion risk for me, so it has to look super professional! Just leather :) I'm a 4-6 or size 27, I'd like to spend under $200. Thank you!
Wow!  Are you the REAL Blair Waldorf.  You can tell me, I'll never tell.  ;-) xoxo.  Anyway, I'm totally with you on the leather pencil skirt train - I like them, I think they look cool and just a touch edgy, but....then....the little birdie on my shoulder that annoyingly reminds me that I'm a *grown-up* with a *grown-up* job rears its ugly head and I wonder.  Should I REALLY be trying to make leather pencil skirts work for the office? My concerns are really two-fold.  On the one hand, I don't want to look like I am a young professional who can't tell which "fashion" trends ARE appropriate for the office and which aren't (like, I don't care if you wear your formal shorts with heels to as many dates as you want...still don't think they belong in the office.)  Plus, from a practical standpoint, I can't help but think that these things are going to be a bitch to clean.  So as you can imagine, I've been giving it some thought.  In my struggles, I think I've come up with a couple of general rules of thumb (at least for myself)
  •  If the skirt is black, I think the leather should only be accents, since to me black leather is by its very nature a bit more "tough" even in pencil skirt form,
  • If the skirt is another color, it can be all leather - possibly - but it needs to be otherwise very, very traditionally styled, 
  • Only one piece of leather accented wear per day.  At no point should you look like you're dressed up as Biker Lawyer Barbie for the day.
  • And finally, do *not* spend too much money on leather workwear.  I think its going to become a dated trend quite quickly for most of us and....frankly....I think the cost-prohibitive nature of cleaning them is going to make them impractical pretty quickly.
So with those general guidelines in mind....ON TO THE PICKS.
Worthington Leather Pencil Skirt at JCP ($98.99 - a straightforward black pencil skirt - though the picture looks brown to me.  I like it though because, rather than being too tight or too shiny, the seams and zipper dress it down enough for me to make me think that it would be more work appropriate than many others I saw.  One note, based on the info on the website, it does appear to be real leather.*)
Vince Camuto Faux Leather Trim Striped Pencil Skirt at Nordstroms ($89 - this skirt falls on the less is more side of the leather camp - but I think the stripes give it some interest as well. It also comes in red and black.  I like how the side and waist piping in leather gives just that bit of edge that the less adventurous might be looking for.  Paired with either a simple black button down or perhaps a very light, silk deep burgundy button down, I think this would look amazing for fall.  Plus emerald and darker greens are SO in this season.  But for work, PLEASE do not pair it with high heeled gladiator sandals...just for me okay ladies. :-P)
Exact Stretch Studded Trim Pencil Skirt at The Limited ($69.95 - so this skirt obviously takes the idea of leather trim and one ups it by adding studding.  I'm not sure how I feel about it other than....intrigued. For a skirt that involves STUDDED LEATHER, its surprisingly lady-like.  And the price is right - even if you only wear it on nights out.  I don't know - might be worth a look see.  Again - everything else would have to be very primly styled - perhaps a gray shell with a black blazer?)
Riverside Colorblocked Pencil Skirt from Ann Taylor ($109 - I have to say - I really LOVE the color of this skirt, this darker merlot is right on trend and would work beautifully to mix with the other on-trend seasonal jewel tones (like eggplant and teal.)  I also think the color-blocked side panels serve a practical purpose here - leather can be constricting, but with these side panels you can be allowed greater freedom of movement.  And I think the merlot color gives this an overall more refined look.  Its definitely one of my favorite for the "full" leather effect out there.)  Leather Waist Pencil Skirt from Neiman Marcus Last Call ($69.00 - most sizes still available.  This is a Labor's Day Sale.  Okay - I think this is the PERFECT execution of leather in a work skirt - the contrasting color of the leather adds interest and brings attention to it but it remains classy. Plus mixing brown and black is fashion forward without being too aggressive or "weird."  You won't scare any of the older employees at your office, but the younger employees will think you're cool.  And I like the cut of this skirt for people who don't look good in traditional pencil skirts.  A real consideration for people looking for leather accents!!  Its even available in  most sizes.)
Bailey 44 'She Walk in Beauty' Faux Leather Pencil Skirt at Nordstroms ($196 - so this is at the very top of your price range, which is a bit steep for something that is likely a trendy item - but I *do* love me some navy.  Again, much like with the AT skirt above, the side panels would allow for movement but here there is no colorblocking, which I know some would prefer.  On the other hand, I actually like the seam on the front of the AT skirt above.  I think the differences add up to a taste preference more than anything ... as well as a $100 price difference of course.)
Classiques Entier Leather Trim Jacquard Pencil Skirt at Nordstroms ($178 - so, if I had to guess, I would guess that you are going to be seeing SO much jacquard this season that you may get royally sick of it.  But I really like this version with leather trim at the hips and pockets.  Another example of just a little leather rather than a lot, but jacquard will never go entirely out of style - so I think this skirt might have real staying power, meaning that the price tag might actually be worth it.  And Classiques Entier is a fairly decent quality line.  Try pairing with a dark emerald green to be so on trend you might explode.)
ASOS CURVE Exclusive leather pencil skirt with jersey trim at ASOS ($89.44 - so sorry Blair, this one isn't for you, but I wanted to highlight this for my readers who shop in the women's section.  ASOS CURVE has a few cool looking leather skirts right now, but I like this one as a potential work skirt - the color is more neutral than black and if you perhaps go a size up (to avoid too much cling - don't no one want cling at work) I think it could look great.  Plus, again, the jersey trip would allow for movement.  A nice option!  P.S. The skirt also comes in black if you're into that sort of thing.)
*FINAL EDITOR'S NOTE: I haven't specifically addressed it in this post, but the plus side to your budget is that essentially all of these options are faux leather - so your concerns about vegan options are likely moot.  In any case where the leather was not faux, I would have noted it.

So dear readers (if I have any left after my prolonged absences) - would you wear these skirts to work?  What do you think about leather in the workplace.  What does your WORKPLACE think about leather in the workplace.  Or am I just really uncool and is leather totally okay.  Its okay, you can call me a fuddy-duddy, I go to bed 9:30 most nights.  I have embraced my fuddy-duddiness in all its glory.  LEAVE NOTES.  SEND MESSAGES.  I'm happy to be back and need motivation to stay back!  :-)
 
Frequent reader and all around awesome human CBackson submitted this request:

So I'm heading to a gala in NYC in early fall. It's black tie, and although I know that frequently means cocktail (and I'm willing to think about cocktail), I'd love to wear a long dress. The problem? Everything I see looks too bridesmaid-y, too prom-y, or too old (like, beads everywhere). I'm 32, and although I dress in a fairly classic style, I'm thinking something modern would be a fun change for me. I'm a fair-skinned blonde, on the short side, and slim-bordering-on-skinny (I'm a size 2/4, with a fairly boyish figure). I would LOVE to get something that wasn't black. Other than that, I'm open to all kinds of craziness (except maybe animal prints; girl's gotta draw a line). I was thinking $400 max, but would go higher for something timeless.

So, there's something I have to confess to you - my dear readers - there is almost nothing I like more than shopping for gowns, especially for other people (so I don't have to pay for them.)  So of course this request from my beloved C. Backson is right up my alley. I'll try to give you a variety of different looks from different designers and in different price points but, for the interested, I've become more and more drawn to the Tadashi Shoji dresses I've seen at Nordstroms and other stores on-line lately. T.S. seems to design dresses that are classic while still having a little modern edge or something that makes it just a bit different.  So there's a better than average chance that a couple of those will sneak there way in here. But I'll make sure to mix it up. :-) 

As for the dresses themselves, I think generally something with a fairly slim fit will look great on you.  First of all, you should take advantage of what sounds like a lovely, slim figure.  But in addition, since generally there's a mix of cocktail length and full-length dresses at these sorts of events, you may be more comfortable in a dress without too much poof.  But that certainly doesn't mean your dress can't have some pizazz.  Okay!  Now on to the recommendations!
Alice + Olivia Open Back Embroidered Maxi Dress at Net a Porter ($395 - from the front this dress looks like a pretty simple lace/embroidered gown, but turn it around and its DAMN sexy.  And honestly, even the lace has a little something sexy about it.  Plus, I actually like high necklines like this on dresses because it creates a wonderful base for jewelry.  This red would be a lovely color for fall.)ML by Monique Lhullier Crisscross Chiffon Gown in emerald at Nordstroms ($298 - what drew me to this dress, first and foremost, is the color.  I think if you want to stand out that a kelly green gown is really the way to go.  Plus, the cut would be flattering on almost anybody and since you're relatively flat of chest I don't think you have to worry about the crisscross neckline [which I think adds some much needed interest to the gown.]  I would consider the possibility of adding a belt at the waist, but that might drag it into the bridesmaid looks, so perhaps just gold or silver jewelry?  Or, if you can find it, navy goes wonderfully with this shade of green so navy and gold jewelry would look fabulous.)
Nicole Miller Printed Wrap Bodice Gown at Neiman Marcus ($208 - I'm not always one for prints on gowns, but I'm sort of drawn to this one for some reason, perhaps because its not *too* busy, you know?  Also, I like that the cut is relatively simple - though I would add some color in the accessories I think. Heads up though - the only size left is a 4 which I know is the upper end of your size range - but I wanted to throw it out there anyway.)

Notte by Marchesa at the Outnet ($394.50 - I think I have recommended this dress to someone before but it remains one of, if not actually, my favorite formal gowns that I've seen floating around out there [though I think when I first saw it was in navy but this lovely coral would do wonders for you.]  And sizes 2 and 4 are the only sizes left!  The gold embellishments add just enough interest to make the dress interesting but otherwise it is a very simple cut.  It is not too grand for the type of event you're going to, but you could wear it to basically anything requiring a formal gown.  Basically, I love this dress - though I realize that other opinions may vary.)
Tadashi Shoji Portrait Collar Pleated Mesh Gown at Nordstroms ($298 - so I know I have also suggested this dress on this blog before [and to you on the 'rette when you first floated this question], plus its basically black, but it is also one of my favorite formal gowns that I've seen in years so I can't help putting it out there as a serious option.  I think the elaborate collar would add a little something at the bust area and the underlay of cream keeps it from being traditional black.  Either way - this may be more my taste than yours but I wanted to include it anyway.)
Twobirds Convertible Maxi Dress in Deep Ocean at ShopBop ($310 - technically a bridesmaid dress, but its a lovely color.  I'm not sure what to do with the different ways you can wear it, but I like the one shoulder design and the color would look awesome with what I think your coloring is.  This is a simple but yet lovely dress and the pleats add a little something special.  Definitely something to consider.  I'd style it with purple and gold shoes and jewelry - perhaps go with a slight peacock look.)
Tadashi Shoji One Shoulder Illusion Gown at Nordstroms ($368 - going back to red and Tadashi, if you want something a bit more form fitting and in the almost mermaid category, I don't think you can go wrong with this dress.  It has the best elements of a bandage dress, but the illusion striping at the bottom and the neckline add interest and enough pizzazz that you'll be making a statement.  But not the sort of statement you *don't* want to make.  Actually, I really like this dress a lot, but don't think I have the figure to quite pull it off - it sounds like you might though!  There is a similar, non-one-shouldered in cobalt that is also lovely if that tickles your fancy.)
Kay Unger gold silk and metallic lace overlay party dress at Bluefly ($347 - so this last one I'm recommending in case you decide to go with a cocktail length dress because, quite frankly, it is a FABULOUS cocktail dress and when else do you have an excuse to wear a gold silk and lace cocktail dress except at a formal gala like this?  Plus, lucky you, only your size is left.  So I'm throwing it out there as an idea, as a counter-balance to what I hope you found were helpful gown ideas.)

So okay!  I hope you found these ideas helpful!!  I know it was fun finding them for you.  Write back when you pick something if you need help picking jewelry and/or shoes (because you know what a BURDEN it is for me to vicariously shop for jewelry or shoes.)  But no matter what, let me know what you go with!  I have to live through my friends and internet friends who get to go to grand galas since I spend most nights at home in pajamas.  So have fun!  Don't partake too heavily in the open bar.  And show off that dress girl, because no matter what you pick, I know you'll look fierce.  Happy Shopping and may the Odds be Ever in Your Favor.
 
Reader Sam-Antha queries:

Turns out I need closed toe shoes to match this dress in the color "bluebird". What shoes can I get under $100 that won't look ridiculous. Heels can't be too tall, I'm already 5'8 and don't want to look awkward in wedding photos. I'm vaguely Beyonce colored so nude shoes are usually a problem. I'm between a 9.5-10 depending on the shoe.

Ah the joys of being a bridesmaid - you think you're good after you've booked your travel, helped plan the bachelorette party and shower, and found a dress.  But the shoes sneak up on you.  The ultimate goal for all bridesmaids should be to find shoes that will be both comfortable AND reusable.  But, I think the first priority should be comfort because DAYUM you stand a lot during the day of the wedding as a bridesmaid.  Okay - so for those playing along at home, this is the dress that the lovely Sam-Antha (that is how she submitted her name so that's what I'm sticking with) is wearing.  
I have to say, overall I like it - though does it have a big bow on the back?  It doesn't show up in the back view but I can't figure out what the model is showing off here.  Anyway - that's neither here nor there.  So my read of this color is basically a light bluish, purplish, grayish mix.  I think it will look lovely on someone of your skin tone.  As for shoes, I think the most obvious choice is to go for pewter or silver - it will match the dress and be unlikely to clash with anything anyone else is wearing.  Other colors that are a bit more aggressive but that I think would look lovely are a true eggplant, a dark navy, possibly a yellow, or a nice cream (no meant to be nude but just meant to be cream - possibly with some bling.)  I'll try to find you options in all of these colors and hopefully you'll like one of them.  One color I wouldn't recommend would be black, I think it would be too harsh with this dress, especially if its a summer wedding.  Now, on to the recommendations!

Silver and Pewter 

J Renee Women's Emily Pump in grey fabric at shoes.com ($99.95 - These are, to be quite frank, bridesmaid shoes to the max.  But there's a reason women buy bridesmaid shoes - they are neutral, they have sparkle, they match everything, and they have a nice thick heel that are comfortable and can stand up to walking outside, inside, and everywhere in between.  As bridesmaid pumps go, I like these.  The embellishment on the toe box is cute and overall its pretty cute.  But if I had to guess, I wouldn't imagine they'd be reused much.)
Corso Como Women's Littleton pumps in silver leather at shoes.com ($84.15 - I wanted to make sure you had at least one classic almond toed pump in the mix here and I thought these might be just the ticket.  Honestly, these are so nice you could probably wear them to work or with skinny dark wash jeans to dinner or dates.  But I still think they're fancy enough to work with this dress.  Corso Como is a nice brand and I think the stacked heel would be comfortable, though I do wish it was a bit larger.  Overall - if it was a bit more matte I might be considering buying these for myself.)
Nina Evita pump in silver at Nina Shoes ($39.99 - these also come in a darker, almost black, pewter and gold.  They are simple and yet sparkly which is a great feature for bridesmaid shoes, and Nina is basically a bridesmaid/wedding brand (plus $39.99 isn't a terrible price if you never wear them again).  Definitely not a bad option that would coordinate nicely with your dress, though it wouldn't make too much of a statement - which I guess is sort of the goal as a bridesmaid.)

Other Colors and Styles

rsvp Maren dark purple patent pumps on Zappos ($69.00 these pumps come in both this eggplant AND silver and a lovely teal.  The reviews are great and the heel height seems just about right.  I actually really like them.  I think the dark purple would create a nice contrast between the lighter purple of the dress, but the pewter might be a safer bet.  Something to consider at least though.)
Vince Camuto Goldie Pump in champagne at Nordstroms ($88.95 - I love this shoe, especially in the champagne color.  I think it would look great as a bridal shoe and I think it would look fabulous as a bridesmaid shoe as well, especially on a woman with a darker skin tone.  Its got just the right amount of shine to make it interesting without being crazy.  It could definitely be reused.  A definite contender, in my book at least.)
Gabriella Rocha Ginger Mary Jane pump in purple patent at Zappos ($65.00 - this shoe actually comes in about a million colors but I can't quite get past the idea that a nice eggplant would look lovely with this dress.  And this shoe hits a lot of my buttons - its definitely reusable and it looks like it would be super comfortable since the heel is somewhat wider and stacked.  Plus the low heel doesn't look unintentional or like its just accidentally there (like they added a low heel to a shoe that should be high-heeled) but rather like this shoe was always intended to be low-heeled.  Overall I really like it.  Check it out and the other colors!)
Söfft Abbot wedge in copper at Nordstroms ($99.95 - not what I'd normally think of as a bridesmaid shoe, but I really like it and I think a bit of shiny copper would add something to the pale pastel of the dress.  Plus a wedge would be super comfortable on the day.  This shoe also comes in a dark pewter.)
Vince Camuto Stefania slingbacks in steel at Nordstroms ($88.95 - These are in the "other" category because they are slingbacks and a bit higher (3") than I think you may have been looking for, but they are also gorgeous shoes with excellent reviews so I wanted to throw them out there. Reusability factor is definitely high, though I'd worry a bit about comfort, I'd want a pair of flats in my bag with these ones!)
Adrienne Vittadini Cecilia T-Strap Pump in soft gold at Amazon ($35.45 - okay, so the 3.5" heel is probably higher than you want, but I just got my own pair of these shoes (in black patent) and they are hawt as hell and I am totally in love with them.  And if you are going to be a bridesmaid and wear a dress someone else picks for you, you should get to pick shoes that make you look gooooood.  And these shoes would totally do it.  Seriously, they are awesome and would look totally awesome with that dress and when you are boogying down during the party afterwards.  And they are surprisingly comfortable.  Anyway - something to consider.  You can always take them off for photos, its not like people will see with the floor length dress!)

Okay!  So there are some shoe ideas!!  I hope one of them sparks your fancy and you end up with an awesome pair of shoes and have a glorious time at your friend's wedding.  Check back in and let me know what shoes you end up wearing (even if its none of these).  

Readers - have you been a bridesmaid?  What sort of shoes did you wear and did you get to pick them?  Were they nearly as awesome as these?  
 
Reader Turkey Traveler asks:

I am traveling to Turkey and Greece this fall. I'm looking for a travel dress I can wear into mosques and Greek Orthodox churches and be respectful. My understanding is that this means below the knee and shoulders covered. I want something packable and not super hot (temperature hot). So far my best find is at lands end but would like more color options--lighter colors (khaki, light blue) because it will still be sunny. Budget is 100 or less. I am 5 foot 6, size 2.

Hey Turkey Traveler!  Thanks for the question!!  I am so jealous - and I love this question because I love traveling and just went on a big trip out West which involved 2500 miles of driving and mixing up hiking clothes, casual wear, and a little bit of nicer clothes - all of it packed in one carry-on.  None of it wrinkling.  Two thoughts before I get started - one is that I like to go outside the "traditional" travel and "outdoorsy" wear brands for these sorts of things - there are lots of brands and dresses out there that will work perfectly for this that will be nicely in your price range without having to pay the premium that comes with travel brands.  Two - I think you might benefit from a skirt and a couple different wrap tops and or breathable button downs rather than a single dress (given that it will be hot as heck and you might want to switch off the tops) so I'm going to offer you a couple options in that world two. 
Indispensable Knit Wrap Dress from LL Bean ($84.50 - comes in several colors, though I like this blue as it would be a great base piece to accessorize with.  The description says it hits below the knee and as below average height people [what what], I think we should be able to rely on that.  Would probably pack well and be nice and breathable.)
ASOS Midi Dress with full skirt and belt from ASOS ($71.27 - I actually own this dress in another color - it is an incredibly light and comfortable cotton, perfect for hot weather, but it can be rolled up and packed in a suitcase and come out pretty much wrinkle free.  I'm still super happy with the purchase and it was one of my go-to dresses on my trip.  I thought I wouldn't like the midi length on me [I'm 5' 3"] because I thought it would make me look dumpy, but because the skirt is fuller and floaty, it actually looks good.)
Women's Regular Split Neck Half Sleeve Terry Dress at Land's End ($59 - this dress looks like it would be extremely comfortable for touring around all-day [it is a "knee length" dress, but I'm thinking if you buy the regular height it will hit below the knee] - and if you add a more structured belt and some jewelry at night, I think it will dress up well for dinner.  Plus, it is also a color that will serve as a nice base for a variety of other looks.)
Women's Woven Clip Waist Skirt in french walnut from Land'd End ($16.99 on-sale - another one where I think you'll have to buy the regular height to get below the knee, but I think this would be a great, light weight neutral skirt for traveling with - it would basically match any top or shoes.)
Carla Skirt in white Periwinkle from Dobbin Clothing ($38 on sale - I like the idea of this skirt for this trip - its light, would pack well, hits below the knees but is a-line and would breathe, and the pattern would go with most colors.)
Casual Chino Skirt in orange from Boden ($58.50 - okay - so not precisely neutral - but fun!  They do come in white, but the orange is going to wear better over the course of a vacation - get dirtier and frankly (I think) scream tourist a little less.  Because, is it only me, but do we only become neutral wearing, slaves to matching when we are on vacation?)
Women's Petite Cotton Voile Drop Shoulder Tunic in navy at Land's End ($19.99 - I think this shirt would go well with any of the shirts highlighted above - navy being such a great color - and its a very ambidextrous shirt. You can tuck it in, you can leave it out for a more relaxed look, and since you'd likely wear a tank-top under it, if you wanted to you could carry it in your bag with you just to put on when you needed to go into a church [especially in Greece, I'm unsure about street norms in Turkey with regards to covering one's shoulders.]).  
Merona Women's Three-Quarter Sleeve Double Layer Tee at Target ($14 - I like this faux-wrap style a lot and the double knit is heavy enough to travel without getting wrinkled but light enough that it will be comfortable in most weather.  It can also look dressed up enough for dinners out while still looking in place on the street during the day.  It comes in bunches of colors, but I like this purple.  A nice option to consider.)

Okay!  I hope these options help you out in shopping for your vacation and you find one or two options you like!  One more tip before you depart - there's a reason that scarves are very popular in Greece and Turkey even with women who do not cover their hair for religious reasons.  You might want to buy a couple scarves (either at home - or even better once you get there!) both for awesome stylistic purposes AND for sun protection.  Plus, then you can use the scarf to wrap around your shoulders inside churches and other places of worship and feel extra secure that you are respecting the holy spaces.  Win, win, win.  And if you happened to find a nice Turkish scarf and wanted to send it to TCFKAG for all her awesome blogging...well...that certainly wouldn't be remiss. ;-)  Just kidding.  Sort of. HAVE FUN!!!

 
Reader KG asks:

Hi TCFKAG! I'm in my mid-twenties and have been thinking about trying to create a more cohesive personal style lately. So far my shopping style is haphazard and I just buy what I like. My closet isn't bad, it's just not memorable. I'm trying to go about this by selecting a fashion icon (Jackie O) and trying to go from there. But I get a block when I'm actually shopping. What I really would love is a list of 5-10 modern Jackie O must-haves to get me started on building an awesome wardrobe. The details: Size: generally size small/2/27. I'm a skinny hourglass. Price Range: Lower is always better. Max prices would be $30ish for shirts, 100ish for pants, 75-100ish for dresses, $50-150 on shoes. But I love to fall in love and goggle at out of reach clothes too, so don't feel too limited. Hair color/skin tone: Super pale skin, brown hair Event: Everyday work and weekend clothes. I work in a pretty casual industry, so I don't need suits or really formal stuff. Shoes: Size 9.5, and definitely partial to flats.

Hey!  Look - I'm back. Sorry for the longer than expected delay in return. I got back from a PHENOMENAL vacation (go here to see photos) and then I got very, very, very sick. So my return to the world of vicarious shopping and blogging was delayed. But here I am and your question tickled my fancy. It also gives me a chance to expound for just a bit on a topic that has come up several times on Corporette and just generally in work environments I've been in in the past (but which doesn't necessarily apply entirely to your question). I have absolutely no problem with people having a defined personal style; in fact, I think its a great way (though not the only way) to guide your wardrobe and your closet into a cohesive unit - thus allowing the set of clothes you own to work well together as separates and saving you both time and money in the morning. 

But, with any style choice, you have to walk a fine line in the workplace. With the Jackie O inspiration, frankly, it would look incredibly odd for a twenty-something to be walking around right now wearing pill-box hats and chanel suits. And as with one of my recent posts, people who are more "goth" or edgy in their personal style have to find a way to reign that in for work. But I don't think this just applies to "out there" stylistic choices. If your style is "preppy" for example, a fairly well accepted style choice in the work place, I still don't think you can buy your entire work wardrobe from Lilly Pulitzer or LaCrosse.  And if you're into fashion and really like getting dressed up and looking trendy, I would think twice about wearing an Akris suit everyday to a more casual business casual firm, no matter how awesome you would look, because the edginess would likely throw off your superiors. What am I trying to say? With any style-inspiration, its all about taking that inspiration and working elements of it into a modern business or business casual wardrobe. No matter how loyal you are to the "look", you have to remember that your work wardrobe is *not* about expressing personal identity (with, of course, the exception of dressing to match the gender you identify with) - its about looking professional and pulled together. But there's also no reason that has to be boring. Hence the meeting in the middle. So just remember, you want to be remembered as the woman who filed a kick-ass Motion to Dismiss or solved the network problems that had been plaguing the office for months; that is what your office identity should be. You do *not* want to be "Jackie O girl" or "Mad Men girl" or "goth girl." Your style should be a secondary identity but not a primary one. If you pull that off, then you have achieved greatness my friend.  NOW!  Moving on to the actual meat (and FUN) of the question.

I guess the first question is .... what did Jackie O wear?  Of course her style changed somewhat throughout her life, but she was known for clean lines, classic styles, simple colors, collarless blazers, and in her early years a-line skirts.  She was a style icon of her time and always looked pretty amazing. She was also very New Englandy (is that a word....it is now) - trending, especially later in life, towards a sort of maritime look in her casual wear. Now, I have to admit up front a STRONG affection for Jackie - and frankly the whole Kennedy clan. I'm from New England (in fact a large chunk of my family is from Newport, RI) and I'm Irish-Catholic. What does that mean? That means that there were pictures of JFK and Bobby Kennedy up in all of my elderly relatives houses next to the pope. They were a very big deal for Irish-Americans in the 50s and 60s and it may be hard to understand now, but Jackie was their princess. My now deceased great-uncle went to JFK and Jackie's wedding, just so he could see them come out of the church and shoot a picture - the resulting picture (she looking pretty startled) was one of his most treasured possessions.  But really - how could you not love them? (By the way, that's a rhetorical question, I am well aware of the reasons that JFK was problematic.)
So - given this is my first post back AND its Jackie O, I'm going to do a slightly different format.  I'm going to post a picture of her that caught my eye - trending from the more business formal to the more casual - and then I will post  more modern items that I think would do a good job of recreating a similar look - without making it look like you were playing 1950s or 1970s dress-up (I will be doing various J.O. eras - she had fabulous style in all of them.)  So lets get started!
So - the Chanel suit with the pill box hat is, of course, a classic. Its practically iconic. But I also think its pretty dated for a young attorney at this stage of your career (and I'm just going to assume point blank you're not wearing pill box hats to work.) I also think its critically important that you get something that highlight the waist a bit more and is, frankly, a bit more flattering. But I have some ideas about suits that might give the same effect but without the stiffer, throw-back vibe.
Front zip moto in coral from the Limited ($49.99 also in yellow - I honestly think in your case that separates are the best way to go, since you don't need a full suit. You can get the vague look with a bit more modern flair.)
TopShop Fleck Bouclé Jacket at Nordstroms ($150 - a bit above what I imagine you'd want to pay for a blazer - but otherwise I think its perf. Its cute and modern and I love the color - and if you can get past the horrendous styling on the model it would be great for work (especially with gray.)
Bouclé Jacket at Mango Outlet ($79.99 on-sale - I think this blazer is cool and may fit a bit more with her later style - more in the seventies look - but I really like it. Especially if you tried something a little interesting and paired it with a black turtleneck, for example.)
So - other than the unfortunate Chanel suit - one thing Jackie was very good about was picking dresses that emphasized her natural waist.  Now - I'm not sure where your waist is precisely, but I'm going to assume for the purposes of this exercise that, like her, you had a fairly mid-range natural waist (which was great for her - it seems to have allowed her to wear things that hit everywhere from just below the rib-cage to almost a dropped waist....the lucky duck.)  So here I'll be showing a few work appropriate dresses that have nicely defined natural waists - but would also work as essentially a business casual suit separate with a blazer thrown over them (perhaps one of the blazers above - who knows.)  For that reason, I'm sticking mostly with the neutrals here, black, gray, and navy.
Belted sheath dress at Jones New York ($99 - in navy - you may notice a lot of higher necklines or boat necklines in this post.  That is intentional - it is one of the hallmarks of a "Jackie O" look.)
Ellen Tracy Belted Sheath Dress at Nordstroms ($128 - I like that the longer belt on this gives it a touch of interest - though I'd be excited to see it in person. The boat neck is lovely though.)
Anne Klein Swing Dress - Short Sleeve Belted Honeycomb at Bloomingdales ($89.95 on-sale - I love this one. I love the tiers on the skirt and the simple neckline. It would work well under a blazer or on its own and it gives off the right vibe I think.)
Tahari Belted Sheath Dress at Nordstroms ($128 - I like the shape of this (and pockets!) but I always worry about length with Tahari a little.)
Lauren Ralph Lauren Two-Tone Sleeveless Dress "Henshaw" at Bloomingdales ($134 - like the Anne Klein above this is also described as a swing skirt - but I love how the waist here is defined by the simple horizontal lines - without the need of a belt. If only it had sleeves it would be perfect.)
Lauren by Ralph Lauren Knotted Matte Jersey A-Line Dress at Nordstroms ($130 - I like this LRL too.  It has cap sleeves and the cross-knot waist accent is a very modern way of creating the same waist definition that Jackie O had above. Plus while the color is more vibrant, it can still be used as a neutral for the office.)
So, there may not be universal agreement on this, but I think Jackie's 70s style was absolutely fantastic. She didn't fall prey to some of the more hideous excesses of the period, but instead stuck with her figure flattering, chic look - but added a little more flair and a little more.....disco....for lack of a better term.  Take this look for example.  50s and 60s Jackie would never have rocked a super swag, collar popped trench coat and corresponding trousers.  And yet she looks fabulous.  Also...I think she's the only reason that sometimes I think that very sparing use of the turtleneck in your wardrobe is absolutely a go (see e.g. with the Mango Blazer above.)  But generally, what I would take away from this picture, is the power of a well tailored pair of straight leg (or slightly boot cut) trousers, a fitted blouse or short, and an awesome trench coat.  
Now, I will acknowledge, it is essentially an exercise in futility recommending pants blind over the internet because of simple size preferences, fit preferences, and the magic "it" that is impossible to capture via the world wide web. But take this from Jackie O - you should want your pants to fit - and don't trust catalogues as a judge for how pants fit - if you have lines pulling across the front forming that sort of spider shape across your pelvis (you know the one) they're too small.  If when you sit down, they ride up and show your whole sock, they're probably too short. If when you walk, you trip over them, they're too long. And if they dig into your stomach and make you uncomfortable, they're too small.  My best tip - buy the size that fits your thighs, hips, and stomach....the rest can be altered (and get a Nordies debit or credit card so  you can get some free alterations too.)  Okay...moving on, here we go.
Seasonless Straight Leg Pant at White House Black Market ($88 - I know I just said how I wasn't going to recommend pants - but I like the look of these - they're a bit different than all the other "straight" or "wide" leg pants. Might be worth a gander at this price. Readers - has anyone worn or purchased these?)
Silk Chiffon Houndstooth Blouse from Brooks Brothers ($91.20 - in trying to figure out what the modern equivalent to the turtleneck would be - I bet it would be something like this blouse. Its formal, but with a pattern and a bow to keep it interesting. In fact, Jackie liked neck bows as seen here, so you'd be keeping it on theme.)
Mark New York Asymmetrical Zip Front Belted Trench Coat from the Bon Ton ($140 - so I'm going with a bright color on this trench because sometimes we forget that Jackie was actually *really* fashionable. She wasn't just demure and proper; she was one of the first First Ladies who was young enough to be a "fashion icon." Yes her style seems a bit prim now, but she was cool back then, so a Jackie O inspired wardrobe doesn't have to be all prim all the time.  Is all I'm saying.
The Kennedys as I assume many of you know are Cape Codders - they have a huge house on the cape and most of the kids grow up there and spend a lot of their time there in the summer. I'm not sure what Jackie's relationship with Newport was, but I think she also spent a fair amount of time on the beach in the summer.  After JFK died, she married a yacht dude (I won't pretend to know what he did.)  Basically, her casual wear definitely had a fancy maritime theme.  Three elements that really defined her look were her cropped pants, her scarfs (traditional square ones, I think), which she would wear on her head or around her neck, and her flats (not pictured above as she's wandering around barefoot....like a peasant...or Britney Spears during her breakdown. But in other pictures it appears for flats she favors a box toe or a slight point with a buckle or other minimalist decoration on the toe box and either flat or a low square heel.  We won't discuss in too much detail her taste in heels, we'll chalk it up to the era.)  As such, I'll focus on these three items for "casual wear" assuming - probably rightfully - that you have t-shirts or blouses that you can wear that will go nicely with these items.
Caslon Chino Ankle Pants from Nordstroms ($34.80 - so, the Halogen brand cropped pant which comes in a variety of cuts and fabrics gets great reviews at Nordies, but I think I like these chinos a bit better. The cuff gives them a little more of a relaxed flare, while still keeping them looking good - plus I love this navy color - though they come in like 20 colors.)
Slightly Curvy Perfect Twill Ankle Pants from Eddie Bauer ($39.99 - if you are considering a more formal cropped pant - I think these Eddie Bauers might be a good fit for you.  They are mostly fairly straight, with the pressed seam in the front, but the slightly curvy cut will fit your slim hour-glass shape better.  I wish they came in more colors though...I feel like the whole point of cropped pants is fun colors; I'm almost sure of it. For ones that maybe aren't as curvy friendly but come in WAY more fun colors, check out the Hampton fit cropped pants at BR.)
Linen Straight Leg Pant from C&C California ($48.99 - so these are a bit off the radar - but for a modern "oh, you know, I'm just running from the beach to my yoga class to coffee and I just threw this look together" pant - I really am drawn to these.  They look amazingly comfortable and yet way more stylish than most similar pants. At least worth a look - especially if paired with an appropriately "just thrown together" tunic and some jewelry.)
Vintage Christian Dior Paisley Silk Scarf from American Apparel ($50 - I may or may not be having a stroke right now, since I'm willingly listing an item from AMERICAN APPAREL - but this scarf is SO PRETTY and is allegedly vintage Dior.  Either way, I love teal, I LOVE paisley, and it would go amazingly with the color palette we've been building so far [always an important consideration when adding new items and accessories.])
Vintage Waves Square Silk Scarf from Lord and Taylor ($30.44 - I love this bright yellow, it would really take a lot of gray and navy and even black outfits into summer with just a tie of a scarf. Plus this is a color I know Jackie favored [at least in the color pictures I saw of her] and I just think its lovely. This particular scarf would go especially well with say a gray or navy dress as a way to add some interest without needing to add layers in the heat of the summer. Plus its a great price for silk!)
Harmony close toe flat in dafodil from Sole Society ($59.95 - I have to tell you, I LOVE these, and I'm thinking of getting them for myself. And they feel like exactly what an updated Jackie O casual flat would be. You have the box toe and the buckle on the toe box and yet the color and the patent really scream fun. Plus the yellow will add some pop to otherwise neutral weekend or casual [or work] attire.  These are kind of amazing....I might be personally in love though I recognize they are not everyone's cup of tea.)
Sesto Meucci Exedra Flat from 6PM ($96.99 - so based on pictures of her actual shoes - these may be the most similar to Jackie O's casual flats that I could see on the current popular shoe market.  Which, is kind of funny, because this sort of vaguely male style flat is totally back in style right now. And these would be insanely comfortable [they also come in tan] but they are not as cute and adorable as one might hope. I have no idea if it was a Jackie O thing or a that period thing, but there ya go. She did wear more dressy flats for formal occasions (based on the pictures at least.)
Enzo Angiolini Pointed Toe Flats - Danville Metal Tip at Bloomingdale's ($72 - another pair of flats I love....this is a real problem.  These are great, I think the nice thing about leopard print is that you can basically wear it as a neutral [especially when its a shoe] and no one will really care.  Plus, I'm still not over the metal toe cap thing.  Other people may be, but I'm not, who doesn't want their toes to shine? Not me!  And if you're wondering if Jackie O would ever wear animal print, here is photographic proof she would.
So, we have come to the end of our epic journey....the Little Black Dress.  Perhaps not as famous for her choice of a LBD as, say, Audrey Hepburn, our First Lady in question sure knew how to make one work. I especially like the one in the above picture - completely appropriate for the wife of the President and yet stunning none the less (though I think in the modern day we'd ramp up the jewelry and the shoes just a bit.)  The bottom two dresses are different.  The one on the left is presumably still during the Presidency and it is a more formal event. But I like the deeper dip in the neckline. You can see her jewelry and her toned arms. This is Jackie O outside a boatneck!  Huzzah!  On the right is something entirely different. This is later in life (probably in the 70s - a google image back search couldn't turn up an origin) but her tastes have matured and she has been freed to be more sexy and fashion forward. Despite all that, and in the middle of the fashion....adventures that were the 70s.....she still looks classy and timeless. She could turn up to a gallery opening today in any of these looks and look in place - and in the end, isn't that the goal? (Well not always, but sometimes. Probably not with Lady Gagas meat dress.)
T by Tadashi Off the Shoulder Bandage Dress at Nordstroms ($138 - also available in red and blue - this dress is presented in honor of Ms. O's sexy later years.  Because having Jackie O as your style icon doesn't mean being prim and proper forever.... sometimes it means off the shoulder bandage dresses.  That's what we are remembering with this dress. ;-].)
David Meister Illusion Top Cocktail Dress at Neiman Marcus ($161 - I like this dress a lot - I feel like its classy with just a bit of sex appeal, just like Jackie.  It would be great for a formal work cocktail party type thing or as a guest as a wedding. Its screaming for dangly earrings, bangles, and brightly colored shoes [and possibly an opera length necklace, if it doesn't mess with the effect of the neckline.])
Bridge V-Neck Dress in Black from Reiss ($240 - also available in red - I feel like this picture likely does not do this dress justice. But it is the ideal sheath dress for fancy occasions, the perfect blank slate on which to build your jewelry and shoes and hair and make-up; with the up-side being that you can wear it to work as well. Also if you click through you'll see the back dips down just a little, which I really like as a detail. To bad the picture is so terrible.)
Kate Spade New York Lorelei Dress in "black/clotted" at Piperlime ($248 - okay my budget is all out of control on these....look at them as long term goals?  Sorry.  But I love the checkered design on this one and the pockets and the classic shape.  I also think it would be wildly flattering on someone with a slightly curvy figure [I say that as someone with a slightly but not super curvy figure....if that makes sense.])
JS Collection Peek-a-boo lace Cap Sleeve Fit and Flare Dress at Edressme ($270 - so I was trying to avoid lace, mostly because I feel like we're all going to look back at this period in 10 years and wonder if there was something in the water that made us all have a lace fetish, but everything else about the cut, the shape, and the fit of this dress is lovely...so here ya go.)
Carmen Marc Valvo Crepe Bottom Cocktail Dress at Bergdorg Goodman ($226 - so - I won't lie, this is only available in a size 6 - but I just think its lovely so I'm sharing it anyway. If any of my other readers are a size 6 and are looking to add something in the same style to their wardrobe, this might be a good match for you!)
So that's all she wrote folks. Did I miss any clear "Jackie O" necessary wardrobe elements? If so, give Reader KG a heads up in the comments! And I'm glad to be back - I missed you all!!  Look forward to hear from all of you going forward over the next few days/weeks. And since I couldn't share ALL the amazing photos of Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis I found during the making of this post, I will leave you with just a few more (clearly its too bad I don't have the picture of her looking shocked/terrified from when my great-uncle jumped out and took her picture on her wedding day.....)
 
A Corporette reader, Lost in the Racks, asked:

Big dinner coming up SATURDAY NIGHT [emphasis mine] with SO and his firm (900+ employees). No idea what to wear. He’s wearing very dark grey pinstripe Hugo Boss European cut suit. I need to look amazing – first time to a work function with him. I’m 5’10″ and usually a size 12 – curvy (38DD). Help?

So, LitR, I'm sort of letting you jump the line here because it sounds like your event is tomorrow?  If that isn't true and its next Saturday - well - you're still a bit pressed for time but you could order from SOME online retailers (Zappos, Amazon, on-line only Nordstrom's dresses).  But for the sake of this post I'm sticking to "things that I think are available at most malls in America" but simultaneously "still look fabulous enough that you won't look like you bought it the day before."  I assume you volunteered your husband's suit to describe level of dressiness and not a matching issue - since almost everything in the world goes with gray - but I'll try not to clash (and if you need to, you can always buy him a new coordinating but not too matchy-matchy tie.)  Or better yet, let the guys in the men's section of a department store or suit store do it - they are much better at it than us mere mortals.

So I'm going to add some styling and possibly actual shoe and jewelry advice, because in the end what makes an outfit for an event like this sometimes isn't the dress but rather how you accessorize.  Also, on a final note, I know most people would head straight to the "LBD" section for this one - and that's fine - but I think some color would be great for this.  I mean, its a middle of the summer party and *you* don't have to be conservative to avoid "embarrassing" yourself in front of your bosses - you just have to be appropriate, if the difference is clear. So I'm going to suggest some color but I'd definitely suggest you look at my "wedding guest black dress" post (which has both LBDs and non-LBDs), my "teal" cocktail and work dress and my "little red dress" post from before for other ideas.  Many of those dresses, especially the Nordies ones, may be available at your local mall - but I'd call ahead to check.  Now moving on to some ideas specialized just for you.

Ivy & Blu for Maggy Boutique at Nordstroms ($168 - the reviews are mixed, but you'd be trying it on first. Its available in your size at 2 of the 4 stores near my house so I figure you have decent odds of it being available near you.  I think a fun floral would be great for a summer work party because well its summer.  I'd keep everything else simple, nude or gray heels, maybe a silver or gold bangle, pendant necklace and maybe even just stud earrings.)
Cascade Hem Sleeveless Dress in palm frond from Ann Taylor ($79.99 - so I would normally not recommend asymmetrical hemlines, I just usually don't like them, but something about the execution of this one works for me.  Plus the color is great, I like the top, the price is right, and its available in-store in lots of locations.  So it might be worth a try-on at least.  Most reviews are good - saying its flattering and a nice length for the taller set.)
Textured Cotton Sundress in polka dot from WHBM ($160 - WHBM has this fun polka dot dress - they also have a couple great striped dresses.  If you're hitting a mall, I'd hit them up first. They're one of my must stops when taking my friends dress shopping and they are always amazed by how much they like the dresses and how flattering they are...including both x-shaped and fairly short to tiny, thin, and tall.  So they have variety.)
Tadashi Shoji Lace & Tulle Cocktail Dress at Nordstroms ($298 - you'll have to check store availability - this is a repeat for me from the teal post - but I just love it.  A more modern take on the lace trend, a beautiful teal, looks long enough that should work for a 5' 8" person, wide shoulder straps and high neck should hold the girls, and the ribbon detailing at the waist line should help emphasize a variety of natural waist lines.  Also comes in a lovely cantaloupe color. Maybe worth the splurge since it would be a great dress for weddings and such?)
Banded Drop-Waist Dress in black at WHBM ($160 - if I was you and looking for a little black dress for this, I might seriously consider this one.  It has 11 reviews and a 5 out of 5 - with lots of reviews saying it looks great on curvier figures.  I think it would really work well with your assets [as they say in the boob trade lol] and the banded section through the bodice and stomach looks forgiving but while still having a nice a-line twirly skirt at the bottom.  Yes, I'm a grown-woman who likes twirly skirts and I'm proud. A pair of red pumps and a bright red lip with some great jewelry and this would be a great "guest at a company party" look.
Colorblocked Pleated Sleeveless Dress in tropical jade at Ann Taylor ($148 - this dress practically SCREAMS summer at me and if this color flatters you it might be perfect.  Add a long necklace or pendant, some nude or metallic sandals, and maybe that bangle she's wearing and it's a great look.  A nice mix of formal and fun. I'd bring a cardigan or wrap though.
Etched Leaf Wrap Dress at Talbots ($109.00 - available in all sizes and should be in store - I think a lot of wrap dresses might be too casual for this event, but since this one has a pattern, a very nice one in my opinion, it dresses it up enough that I think it works.  Again with a bit of extra jewelry and nice shoes and you've got a good look; plus wrap dresses are just SO flattering and look so good on bustier women.)
Adrianna Papell Jersey and Taffeta dress at Nordstroms ($178 - I wanted to include one dress that was really a more formal "event" dress - unfortunately this one isn't available in stores near me but you should check with the stores near you.  Or look for something with a similar wide-v-neck and fit and flare skirt - which I think would be a great formal dress shape for you.)
Side bow dress in bright red at The Limited ($79.90 - possibly with an additional 50% off - the sale is difficult to understand.  There is also a black version of this dress and this is called red though on my screen it looks orange.  Either way, the Limited is getting great props everywhere for its new resurgence  so I'd definitely check it out for a mall option for a dress.  [Oh and I secretly hop this is orange - I love orange.])
Adrianna Papell Sleeveless Beaded Tulip Hem at Macy's ($199 - this is a brand new Papell as far as I can tell, at least I've never seen it, so I'm throwing it up here just because I like to keep people informed - I'm not actually sure you could get it in time for your party LitR (sorry).  Its definitely an interesting dress, I love the fish tail ruching, but not so sure about the beaded neckline - would have to see in person I guess.  I am a HUGE fan of burgundy though - so they've got me there.)
And Now Just a Few Accessories Suggestions ... Because of Reasons
Cole Haan 'Chelsea' Pump in laquer red patent at Nordstroms ($148.95 - if you decide to go LBD - these amazing red Cole Haans, which for my money are the best red heels out there, are for sale on 50% off - might be worth treating yourself.  Everyone needs a pair of go to red pumps! Though when I explain that to my husband he doesn't seem to understand it.)
Green/turquoise/gold jewelry at F21.  (Bracelet and chevron pendant).  Forever 21 is my absolute favorite place to shop for "one time only" jewelry at the mall - they have fun/funky stuff and frankly it rarely ends up being one time only.  These would be great with one of the teal or black dresses, for example.
Cejon Metallic Crocheted Evening Wrap at Lord & Taylor ($28.50 - a lovely crocheted wrap that would be perfect for a slightly cool evening summer event.  Dillard's has a slightly better picture of it but not everyone has Dillard's.  And I think you could totally wear a gray/silver wrap with gold jewelry if anyone's wondering.  Cejon actually has several lovely wrap/scarfs in metallics at L&T right now if anyone's in the market.)
Okay LitR - that's what I got for you tonight. I hope you find something that makes you look and feel incredible (without making you wear your grandparent's clothes). But really, just have fun and take advantage of what I hope is an open bar. The goal here is just to look nice enough that you fit in - the nice thing about going to your husband's work events and not, say, your own is there's no one to impress. :-) 

P.S. To the other Corporettes who are hopefully now reading this blog instead of just the tumblr (or nothing before).  There is a tab on the top of the page entitled "Vicarious Shopping Questions" where you can submit your questions directly and they won't get lost in the shuffle of a Weekend Thread that gets out of hand and I just forget or lose them (which happens sometimes!)  


Also, if you haven't been reading the blog at all, you may have missed the announcement that I have started a PERSONAL SHOPPING SERVICE through TCFKAG Shops.  You can click on the tab at the top of the page logically titled "Personal Shopping" to learn all about it - but the upshot is if you have a particularly complicated or involved question - or would like help with something like restyling your whole wardrobe or picking out a new wardrobe after significant weight loss....something like that, you should consider hiring me as a personal shopper.  I'm fairly cheap as these things go and it will be a more interactive, on-line process via e-mail or video chat (if you prefer).  Or, if you live in the Boston/Greater New England area - it might even be in person.  So take a look see at the info and submit from that form if you are interested!!!


Okay - that's all the announcements.  Hope you like the dress ideas and happy shopping. Other readers - I know Reader LitR has to go buy these items at the store, but if you are going to buy any of them - I'd be super touched if you bought them through the link on the website because when people buy things through my links I make a little money which is both cool and I get adorably excited about it (think $10 per, like week, and you'll understand why its adorable.)  Gosh - REALLY, really checking off now.  :-)
 
Reader ET wrote in a really long time ago and asked:

Hi! I'm looking for a nice crochet lace dress, preferably with a fitted waist and short sleeves. There's a lot of lace out there right now but nothing that seems quite right. A contrast with the underlay isn't absolutely necessary, but I don't like all white/cream. Cream lace with black/navy/purple underlay, or some dark lace in general would probably be the ideal. I love the black crochet lace with cream underlay of this dress: Wilfred Quai Dress  the only issue it being a bodycon that I struggle to get myself into. It's a bit pricier than what I'd like for something I'm not sure about, but am otherwise willing to pay around that much if it's really perfect. I actually would have liked this Maitland Lace Dress from Anthro okay except that the skirt kind of fell flat. I tried it on and it just didn't do anything for me. I'm typically a size 12 if this helps at all. Sorry if I'm giving too many requirements! Thank you!
Okay, reader ET, I'm really sorry this answer is SO belated - I actually sort of hope you've found your dress already.  Or that you've successfully phoned home (I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself, literally...couldn't do it.)  Anyway - on the off-chance that you haven't - I think I've seen some good ideas out there for you.  But first, for those following along at home, here are the dresses Reader ET sent in as examples.
Picture
Click through to see actual dress with black underlay - there was no picture of it on the model.
Both of these dresses are pretty - but nothing is wildly special about them.  And I do love when retailers use "body-con" to just mean "really tight" instead of what I think it *should* mean, which is form flattering.  Ugh.  So lets get started on finding better options.
Midi Dress in Crochet Lace from ASOS ($64.49 - so the burgundy in the picture is apparently no longer available (boo), but the black version's details didn't show up well so I went with this picture instead.  I like that this is fit and flare, though its sleeveless and not contrasting, and the price is right.  I recently bought my first "midi" dress form ASOS and I surprisingly like the length, its fun and "twirly, if that makes sense.)
Eliza J Lace Cap-Sleeve Dress at Dillard's ($106.80 - available in all sizes - I like the light blue crochet with what looks like a silver lining - its not a pairing you see much.  I also like the belt to emphasize the fit and flare.  I hope its longer than it seems on this model and I also wish the pictures on Dillard's was better so we could see the details better.
Elie Tahari Lolly Dress in teal/coral at Elie Tahari ($358 - okay, so obviously this is WAY out of budget, BUT, it is also already on half off and all sizes are available at the Tahari site - so the price may drop further.  I also think it fits your needs well and when I saw it, it was so pretty I took a picture of it through the store window at the mall.) For anyone who likes this, Muse has a similar but clearly not as cool version.
Sonia Black Lace Bodycon Dress from Reiss ($230 - so this is another "splurge" i.e. out of budget dress - though slightly less dramatically so.  But I like many things about it, it has the black over cream overlay that you like.  Its bodycon, but from Reiss, so it probably means bodycon as in form flattering.  And the detailing at the waist and boob area (for lack of a better term) gives almost the effect of a belted dress without actually wearing, you know, a belt.  Perhaps it will go on sale?)
Graceful Gaiety Dress at ModCloth ($164.99 - I adore this dress and there are only two left, but hey, one is in your size ET.  I just think this dress would stand out in the best possible way - its vintage but not dated.  And the color would look AMAZING on a wide variety of skin tones.  I know its not exactly what you came here looking for - but I want to throw it in the mix.) 
Ivy & Blu for Maggy Boutique Cotton Lace Dress at Nordstroms ($178 - so its hard to tell from the picture - but the description says this dress is a lighter pink lace overlaid on a brighter pink lining. I bet it would look lovely in person.  I like the elbow-length sleeves and I'm a sucker for a boat neck.  Also, I think with a structured blazer you could probably wear it to work.  An interesting option anyway.)   
Hand Crochet Dress from Boden ($187.60 - this was one of the few truly *crocheted* dresses I could find out there - most just being lace with a crotchet like pattern.  This is the navy dress, so you can't really see the details, but click over and zoom in and the detailing in the crochet is beautiful.  I know its long sleeved, but the sleeves are fairly lightly knitted so they may stay cool for the summer.)
Suzi Chin for Maggy Boutique sleeveless A-Line dress at Zappos ($169.99 - its really a shame this one is sleeveless because its a really pretty take on this whole contrasting overlay look - the lace/crochet/cutouts are entirely different and the shape is just great.  If its not right for you Reader ET, I wonder if other of my readers might like it for summer and spring parties and events ... or Easter Sunday.  :-P)
Okay - so those are a lot of options - most of which don't precisely fit your needs but are cute anyway.  Let me know if you like them (or if you've already bought something since I'm a slowpoke.)  I hope you find something that makes your crochet loving heart go pitter-patter.  Good night and good luck.....at the mall. (God I'm such a dork, why do you all come here?)
 
Reader LM takes the bow before the event and asks:

Hello TCFKAG! Found you through Corporette (longtime reader/lurker) and I have a fashion question for you... I know I am super-late to the party, but I have been wanting some tie-neck blouses to wear tucked into pencil skirts at work or with skinny jeans and heels at night. I like the styles that tie up high - e.g., closer to the neck rather than the boobs (if that makes sense). Can you help me find some reasonably priced, cute options, preferably under $60? I am open to solid-colored or patterned. I am about a size 8 (usually M). Thanks in advance!

Let me first thank you profusely for NOT calling them by the other name that shall not be used for these blouses that I frankly think is gross and icky and I react to it like some people react to the word moist.  So - yeah - lets stick with tie-neck blouses, shall we.  And as far as missing the boat, if you missed the boat, then everyone else who's wearing them right now missed the boat by a couple of decades, so missing the boat by a year is just a blip really and hardly can be called super-late.  Fashionably late, sure, but that's the way to be, right?  Moving on to the actual CLOTHES now.  Lets find some blouse that shall not be named.  As a warning, at that price point most of your options will likely be polyester or poly blends, but I'll try to do my best to find some deals on real silk or silk blends too.   

Picture
I'm on a total How I Met Your Mother kick tonight, don't ask me why. These things just happen.
One more quick note about shopping for tie-neck blouses - many if not most of the tie necks are in fact adjustable, so they can either be tied higher up at the neckline or lower at the boob area (for lack of a better term) so what you see on the website is a styling choice of the retailer and not the exclusive way the shirt can be worn.  So you want to double check those product details if you see a tie shirt you like but its tied in the wrong place. 
9 & Co. Solid Tie Neck in Summer Straw at JC Penney ($25 - really for a basic neutral for under blazers or suits - the price sure is right.)
Freeway polka-dot tie-neck blouse from Dillard's ($35.40 - long sleeves and polka dots - yay!  Polyester, yes, but machine washable...so that's nice.)
Max Studio Georgette Tie Neck Blouse in Red at Loehmann's ($39.99 - I adore the v-shaped detailing on this shirt behind the bow and the sleeves and the color.  The tie is low but PRETTY.)
Sleeveless tie-neck blouse in mint green at Calvin Klein ($34 with additional 30% off at check out - poly-blend - love love love - simple, understated, and gives the tie neck the pride of place.  Also comes in a brighter blue.)
Geo Print Bow Blouse from The Limited ($49.50 plus 50% off tops with code - made of silk crepe de chine - I l.o.v.e this print and though the bow may be low, I wonder if its adjustable OR if a tailor could add hook and eye closure to raise it a smidge.  Either way, I think this is my favorite.)
Tie Neck Polyester Blouse in Lemonade at Vince Camuto ($79.00 - new product, I'd wait for sale, but how perfect is a bright yellow blouse for summer?  Perfect under navy or with gray or white - I love this.)
Bow Tie Blouse in black/camelia multi at Ann Klein ($49 - luck sizes only, but includes yours.  Least helpful model picture ever - but looks really cute and great print.)
Nine West Platinum Charmeuse Tie-Neck Blouse at the Bon Ton ($34.98 - ummmm, I think it might be great for an office Christmas party under a black glittery blazer or with a red pencil skirt and black cardi. Its glitz without GLITZ, definitely tie the bow differently.)
So!  I hope these options give you a few ideas to add a little new flare to your summer wardrobe.  Who doesn't like adding a bow to their clothes.  Its like you're a gift that you get to unwrap at night (or someone ELSE gets to unwrap....BAZINGA.)  Man, the dorky tv references are flying fast and hard tonight.  Think that's a sign its time for me to log off.  Well, LM, please come back in the comments and let me know how you make out.  

AND TO MY OTHER READERS, THE CONTEST ENDS TOMORROW AT MIDNIGHT.  HAVE YOU ENTERED?  IF SO, YOU NEED NEED NEED TO SEND ME AN E-MAIL AT TCFKAG@GMAIL.COM.  BECAUSE DESPITE MY BEST EFFORTS AFTER READING MATILDA AS A CHILD, I HAVE NEITHER TELEPATHY NOR TELEKINESIS.  SO ENTER!  WIN!  LET ME SHOP FOR YOU PERSONALLY!!  (AND REMEMBER - FACEBOOK COUNTS.  AND IF YOU HAVE NO SOCIAL MEDIA, YOU COULD EVEN SEND AN E-MAIL TO SOME OF YOUR NEAREST AND DEAREST FRIENDS.)  


okay....no more big letters they scare me.  good night all.  good night moon.  good night girl in the polka-dot balloon.
 
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.