Frugal Fashionista: Office Chic

Most working women spend more hours per day in their 9-to-5 apparel than they do in their pretty going-out frocks. So why is it that more than half of our closets are often dedicated to the latter? Despite the conservative office cultures that often dominate, there’s no excuse for being drab in the daytime.

For this edition of Frugal Fashionista, we asked Kenya Gregory, a DC stylist and budding fashion designer, to come up with an office-appropriate outfit that works for a Washingtonian woman on a budget.

Gregory was given $150 to find a getup worthy of a business-casual office. For the purpose of this exercise, we assumed Gregory was dressing for an average-shaped woman and that she owned a handbag suitable for day-to-day wear.

Here’s what she picked:

Ruffled pencil skirt: $58.50 at Bloomingdale’s.

Simple black slingbacks: $46.90 at Nordstrom.

Ruffled shirt: Designer’s own, from the Kenya Gregory Collection.

Total: $105.40.

“I chose this outfit because it’s feminine, sophisticated, and smart,” says Gregory. “I enjoy creating tailored, polished looks that are vibrant, crisp, classic, and contemporary all at the same time.” Gregory says she spent the most time choosing the shoes, which are the biggest giveaway of a cheap outfit. These pumps work with a variety of outfits, including pants and skirts, and the lower heel will be comfortable on treks to and from the Metro or meetings. “The shirt and skirt send a message to officemates that says, ‘My dress may be office casual, but I still take pride in my appearance,’ ” says Gregory. Plus, the high-waisted pencil skirt is the perfect blend of modern and classic style.

We say: The outfit is certainly a Washington standard, and we love the high-waisted-pencil-skirt trend, which works well on a variety of body types. We agree with Gregory that shoes are an integral part of any outfit, and these are certainly versatile. The ruffle on the front of the skirt is an excellent and modern addition but is definitely best suited to a plain blouse—perhaps in a bright color for spring. We wish Gregory had added a little bit of extra pop with jewelry—a simple watch or great diamond studs would have added simple sophistication.

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