Dress Down Your Favorite Blazer

Who said that blazers are strictly reserved for business casual? There are plenty of different ways to dress down a blazer. Traditionally, blazers can look very smart and sophisticated. They can easily dress up an outfit. However, what if you want more options out of your blazer – mainly ones that are more casual and dressed down?

One of the easiest ways to dress down a blazer is to team it with something denim. Dark denim jeans are great for working a smart casual look. If you want to dress down your blazer even further then go for faded or distressed denim.
Dress down your blazer in a matter of seconds just by rolling up the sleeves. It is an easy way to add a casual air to your outfit. If you are going to roll or scrunch up your sleeves, it is probably best to do it on your least precious blazers. You would not want to be creasing your best and most expensive blazers!
A blazer and heels can look really dressed up. If you are going for a more casual look, then stick to one or the other. When you want to wear your blazer in a dressed down way, slip on a pair of flat shoes. Ballet flats are still pretty smart and polished, so try a loafer or sandal instead.
Accessories can completely change your look. To work a dressed down look, stick to casual looking accessories. Keep things fairly minimal too – even fun and playful looking accessories can look over the top and dressed up if you have too many of them.

What Gretchen Wore

This is my new favorite top for fall. I just found it a couple of weekends ago at Dress Barn on sale for $19.99. Today I simply paired it with my black pencil skirt and aqua green statement necklace. However, this top is so versatile I will be pairing it with scarves, jackets and different necklaces all fall and winter.

Tips for Saving Money on Clothes

So, the last time you went shopping you ended up spending way too much and now you are really regretting it. This happens to almost everyone, including me. Saving money on clothes does not have to be difficult though. Here are my top tips for saving money.

1. Shop in-store, not online. I would not take online shopping completely off the table, but I will say that prices are often a lot less in retail stores than they are online. My theory for this is that stores do not have the physical space to hold as many clothes, so they are much more likely to mark things down, whereas online stores use big warehouses and they are in less of a hurry to cut prices. I do almost all of my shopping in stores. Plus you get to try them on!!

2. Use coupons and promos. Before you head out to shop, I recommend taking a moment to gather coupons and bring them with you. My favorite way is to set up a free email account and sign up for emails from your favorite retailers. Do not be shy about asking the store manager if there are promos going on that day. I often find they have coupon codes they are willing to share, and there is more wiggle room and potential for negotiating than you may think. And if you qualify, do not forget to ask for student and / or military discounts.

3. Pay attention to the calendar. Black Friday might be a great time to shop for electronics, but it is not necessarily the best time for clothes. There are two main seasons in retail, and when those seasons switch are the best two times to save money. These switches occur right after Christmas, and at the end of June.

4. Determine the retail cycle. Beyond the two major retail seasons, stores have smaller retail cycles where they get new merchandise in, and mark old items down, and so on. When new clothes go on the floor at full price, the old stuff is reduced. A few weeks later, they start marking down the new stuff, with smaller discounts. A few weeks later, they get ready for the next shipment and a lot of the store goes on sale. How to find out where you are in the cycle? Just ask. Stores will be happy to share this information with you.

5. Predict future markdowns. Finding out how long an item has been in the store can help you decide if now is a good time to buy it. If a store just got the item, but only a few are left, then you probably will not get a clearance price and a coupon or promo is your best bet. BUT if an item has been in the store for awhile and there are tons left, then you can usually count on that item being marked down.

6. Look outside the sale rack. As a budget shopper it can be really easy to put on blinders and race to the back of the store and only look at the clearance section. But you actually want to look elsewhere for your best deals. When retailers have tons of one item left, that they will often put them on a rack together, not mixed in with other clearance items. So look for sale signs throughout the store, and not just clearance in the very back.

7. Check multiple stores. If you find the deal of a lifetime but it does not fit, then do not give up. Find out if another store in your area has that same item in your size. A short drive could be worth it, and some stores will even ship that item to your house directly from a nearby store.

8. Sign up for credit cards. We have all been asked by sales people to sign up for the store credit card. If you do not shop there often, are not good with credit cards, or are working on improving your credit score, then it is best to say no. However, if you spend a lot of money at that store, and pay off the balance in full each month, then it is something to consider. Stores often give card holders exclusive coupons, and even better, some send you rewards like $10 for every $200 you spend.

9. Make friends with a manager. Many higher end stores will put you on an email list for exclusive events and sales that are local to you, and if you befriend a manager or store associate, they more than happy to keep an eye on an item for you and / or let you know when specific markdowns are happening. Having a friend in the store can really help.

Update Your Fall Wardrobe ~ FOR FREE

Transitioning from one season to another can be overwhelming and expensive if you are not prepared. However, you do not have buy a whole new wardrobe just because the weather has cooled down. Check out my three top tips for using your current summer clothes to your advantage. By adding the right accessories, which you probably already own, you can turn your summer clothes into all weather wear.

1. Reuse Your Sundresses. Just because a dress is lightweight or a bright color does not mean it has to be banished to the back of your closet from October to May. Layer a denim jacket or chunky sweater over it and / or pair it with knee high boots to counteract cold weather and create an entirely new look.
2. Layer, Layer, Layer. Tank tops and lightweight shirts do not need to be retired as soon as the air turns cool. The trick is pairing these summery items with your favorite corduroys, wool skirts, cardigans and other fall staples.
3. Choose Accessories Wisely. You can make anything summer feel like fall with the careful addition of tights, jewel toned scarves, suede boots and booties, and large leather handbags.
Inspiration from Pinterest.

What Gretchen Wore

The weather has finally started to get a little cooler, which can only means one thing – SCARF weather!! This is probably one of my favorite accessories, because they are so versatile. I have had this blue pencil skirt ($49.99) for a couple of seasons. If you remember, I have one in magenta as well. You cannot go wrong with a pencil skirt. I added my new black lightweight sweater that I scored for $19.99 a couple of weekends ago. Then I wrapped a leopard print scarf around my neck to bring the look together. I added my black flats, so I would be comfortable at the office, and off I went.

What Does Your Work Look Say About You?

Anyone who thinks a person’s shoes are not informative of who they are is making a mistake in my book!! Clearly, a pair of five-inch stiletto sends a very different message than a beaten up pair of tennis shoes. Am I right? Can a shoe tell you about a person? And for that matter, what about your work style? Do clothes really make the woman? According to data from Highest Paying Careers, 65% of bosses say that dress could be the deciding factor between two job candidates. 65% people!! There are a lot of little factors that add up in terms of your work style, but here is my take on how they are perceived.

The Fashionista Look
This is the woman who is top of all the trends and looks like a million bucks every day. If you work in fashion then being on top of trends is often a job requirement, but in other industries this could work against you. The perception could be that you spend a lot of time keeping up with trends, so it seems you think about clothes more than about the job.
The All Business Look
This is the woman who looks like she has been wearing her power suit since she was fifteen. She is all work and no play. Jeans are for the weekend and no other time. She laughs in the face of Casual Fridays. Funky for her is a cardigan instead of a suit jacket.
The Sloppy Genius Look
This was a coin termed by Real Simple Magazine but every office, especially those in creative fields, has one of these. It stresses that you are working so hard that you cannot be bothered to do anything with your hair or wear something that matches. Even if you are working hard you need to take the time to look put together.
The Adorkable Look
This look is the girl who makes heavy-rimmed glasses the focus of an ensemble. But what really makes this look stand out is all the bright colors. Bright colors can be great, but be aware of the psychological effects of colors.
The Out-of-Date Look
Just like the really fashionable woman can look like she cares more about shopping than work, so too can being unfashionable hurt you. It can make you look behind the times and automatically age you. This is not to say that you cannot wear a classic suit or button down shirt, but if it does not fit right, it can put you at a disadvantage. Get a tailor!
The Beyond You Look
It sounds strange, but dressing too well can sometimes be bad for your career, especially if you are an entry level employee. I am not saying do not dress to the nines and look super professional, but it might be too early for you to carry your Birken bag if you are a 25 year old working at a non-profit. The consequence could be that the associate will have to prove herself even more.
The Too Young Look
It can be really hard to figure out how to dress professionally, especially if you work in a casual environment. But just because you are not in a zipped up corporate office, this does not mean you should dress like you are at the club. Dressing too young can prevent you from moving up in a company. That goes the same for dressing too sexy.

What Gretchen Wore

I am going to a wedding in a couple of weeks, so I was looking for something new to wear when I came across this burgundy lace dress online at lanebryant.com. As you know I frequent this store often, so I knew my size. I had a $25 coupon if I spent $50, making this $79.95 purchase only $54.95. Today I just added a couple of necklaces and a strappy bronze Nine West shoe, but this fall I can add a jacket or a scarf changing the entire look. I plan to get many different looks out of this solid burgundy dress.