Style + How To Wear It

The Style Sheet: Bringing Up Basics

Many of us spend our fashion dollars curating a wardrobe filled with stylish basics.  But, over time, basics start to feel a little boring.  The Style Sheet covers how to add new pieces to your wardrobe that will take a tried-and-true favorite and transform it into something new.

Every woman I know owns a white button-up shirt and a black crewneck sweater.  Of course these simple pieces can be styled into a chic outfit, but switching up the pieces and adding accessories can give you something brand new.

Swap in a Printed Blouse. To get more mileage out of your black crewneck, trade the white blouse for a printed one.  This Rails Kate blouse has a black and grey color palette that blends in well with the black sweater.  Keeping the print in the same color family allows you to wear a cheeky print in a work-appropriate way.

Need a less expensive blouse?  This Forever21 top has a subtle, black and white leopard print.  I also love this large dotted print from Finley.  For something sleeveless, this DvF floral high-neck blouse is wonderful.  Plus-size? Try this dotted top from Forever21.

Add a Statement Necklace. Wearing a dramatic necklace under your collar adds sparkle and texture to your outfit.  This Lizzie Fortunato necklace gives you a lot of shimmer with a feminine bow.  Prefer something simpler?  This BP. metallic collar necklace can be worn with anything.  Other good choices include this starburst collar necklace and this necklace with large black stones.

Wear Color on the Bottom. Don’t be afraid to wear color in new ways.  If you haven’t tried a pair of colored pants or a colored pencil skirt yet, do.  These J.Crew matte crepe pants would add a whole new dimension to a simple outfit.  I also like these Tahari cobalt pants.  Plus-size?  These Alfani pants come in a whole host of colors.

Prefer skirts?  This purple Express pencil skirt could be worn in any season.  This emerald-green Worthington skirt is a real find.

Still looking for other ideas…

Try a Different Sweater. Instead of a classic, white button-up, try a printed sweatshirt or sweater.  A graphic sweatshirt gives you a more casual look.  Or go bold with an animal-print sweatshirt.

Add a Spray of Brooches. We’ve already covered how to wear brooches to spice up an outfit.  Putting together a group of small brooches on one shoulder can make your simple sweater seem like something totally new.  I like this simple, rustic star brooch set.  Prefer a single large brooch?  This bird brooch is fabulous.

Bring in a Pair of Printed Pants. If you’re already a fan of colored pants, try a cool print.  These Jack Wills blue jacquard pants are fantastic.  Talbot’s also has a fun dot print.   Or for something really avant garde, Boden always has crazy prints that walk the line of good taste (and occasionally cross it).

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    21 comments

  1. Emily says:

    Love this post!

    January 22, 2018/Reply
  2. Beth says:

    Thank you so much for this post! Things like this remind me why I love your blog 🙂

    January 22, 2018/Reply
  3. MOnica T says:

    I love the collared shirt under the sweater look…on other people. When I try it, I just can’t seem to get all the elements to lay smoothly and so I spend all day tugging at this part or that part of my outfit, what am I doing wrong?! Also is there a way to do accomplish this look with a bracelet sleeved sweater?

    Love the post!

    January 22, 2018/Reply
    • Kate says:

      Same problem! Best solution (but annoying in its own way): wear a camisole or smoothing tshirt OVER your button up and then put on the sweater. It smooths out the button bumps. But for me at least I end up tugging at the tshirt all day.

      January 22, 2018/Reply
    • Beth says:

      So, I actually bought one of those bodysuit button up blouses from J.Crew and it’s awesome for layering a sweater on top (or when I wear a button up under a sleeveless work dress).

      January 22, 2018/Reply
      • Jenn S. says:

        You’ve got me intrigued with this approach. What do you do you solve/mitigate the potential of VPL-like lines from the bodysuit?

        January 23, 2018/Reply
        • Beth says:

          I’ve been okay with lined suit pants that are more of a trouser cut, non-jegging jeans, and some of my skirts. There’s one or two bottoms where I’ve notice it, but those have a snugger fit and are not lined.

          January 23, 2018/Reply
          • Jenn S. says:

            Thanks Beth, I appreciate the advice.

            January 23, 2018/Reply
    • LS says:

      I’m convinced this issue is partially body-type related. I’m busty and I think there’s too much fabric for it to work unless the shirt is perfectly tailored.

      January 22, 2018/Reply
      • Maggie says:

        I agree. I have a real problem with the crew neck and button down combo. But I feel like it works a lot better for me with a v-neck. A few years ago a reader mentioned wearing a cami over a button down to smooth it out and that really did work well! But I still felt way too busty. So, onward to v-necks.

        LOVE this post! Reminds me of days of old! (I am also really liking the Insta-stories too!)

        January 22, 2018/Reply
  4. Meghan says:

    Belle, just wanted to leave a note to say you’ve knocked it out of the park with blog posts the last few days. Awesome job. Would love to see “Style Sheet” become a regular feature!

    January 22, 2018/Reply
    • Shanghai says:

      I agree! Belle, you’ve been knocking it out of the park lately. I know the blog is often a labor of love for you but you’re killing it. Would love this as a regular feature!

      January 23, 2018/Reply
  5. Carly says:

    Love those Jack Wills pants. Any sense of how their sizing runs?

    January 22, 2018/Reply
  6. beatriz says:

    What a great post! I also hope to see the Style Sheet become a regular feature. (And agree with Meghan; I’m a longtime reader and have learned so much from your blog –thank you!– but these recent posts have been excellent!)

    January 22, 2018/Reply
  7. Stephanie says:

    love this post!!! classic caphillstyle that brought me back again and again because they helped end the boring work outfit rut!

    January 22, 2018/Reply
  8. Jules says:

    Perhaps it’s because I live in Hawaii (where it’s always warm and colorful), but I love how women here dress in all sorts of prints and colors on the regular. I’ve also started seeing a lot more printed pants too, which is a fun look. I stick to skirts, but I have a few fun colors/prints.

    January 22, 2018/Reply
  9. Chloe says:

    Great post!!! I miss colored pants. Where do you buy yours? My work is casual enough to do skinny colored jeans, and they’re nowhere to be found anymore.

    January 22, 2018/Reply
    • Shanghai says:

      Funny enough, I’ve found a couple of pairs I liked at TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack!

      January 23, 2018/Reply
  10. Amy says:

    Love this post Abra!!! More of these please!

    January 22, 2018/Reply
  11. Amy says:

    Fantastic post! I’m in love with that Lizzie Fortunato necklace and trying to figure out how to justify it…

    January 23, 2018/Reply
  12. Ruchita says:

    I don’t own a black crew neck sweater or white button down, but now I want to buy them so I can copy that fabulous Pinterest outfit! I found the following post helpful.

    https://www.puttingmetogether.com/how-to-roll-up-layered-sleeves/

    January 23, 2018/Reply