This Old Skin

Dress for Success, or Merely Survival

This morning I had my first big kick-off meeting with my newest freelancing gig, which once again highlighted that after a decade of working from home, there is nothing harder in the world than waking up, showering, putting on actual proper clothing, and getting my ass out the door on time anytime before noon. Which, I know is exactly what literal bajillions of people manage to do just fine every morning, and really: Color me genuinely impressed. Like serious props, guys. I don't know how you do it, because I'm terrible at it. 

The main issue this morning was the completely self-inflicted crisis of not having much in the way of a Professional Wardrobe anymore. I have one nice black suit, a couple okay dresses, a bunch of really, reallllllllly old separates that scream "business casual circa early 2000s" and absolutely zero office-appropriate shoes to pair with any of it. And yet I never, ever remember how limited my options are until I have a meeting to be at in like, an hour. 

The office I was visiting is business casual so the suit felt like overkill (not to mention my black footwear choices are either sandals/flip flops or stilettos/fuck-me heels), but as a consultant/contractor I always feel compelled to dress up slightly more professional than the bare minimum. Wait. I have a blazer somewhere! Blazers are still a thing, right? Where's the blazer?

(Said blazer, by the way, was purchased at a J. Crew Factory Store in the year of our lord 1999. And that's NOT an exaggeration, that's a damn brag, because that's a good purchase. Invest in your classic pieces! Unless you can get them cheaper because of a slightly irregular lining seam! )

So I worked backwards from the blazer, found a super old,  inoffensive-but-not-particularly stylish beige skirt that oh-thank-God-still-zipped and only had a couple visible stains on the waistband, which I then covered up with a slightly newer printed top that I probably panic-purchased the LAST time I had a client who wanted frequent in-person meetings in a business casual setting. Then penny loafers for that added touch of classic frump and "I am afraid I will break my ankle on your slippery lobby floors" look. 

Would it kill me to just buy a couple nice pairs of pants and sensible pumps? Apparently it would, yes. Thanks for asking. 

Anyway, the meeting went FINE. It's going to be a great mix of Stuff I Do All the Time, Stuff I've Done Before But Haven't In Awhile, and stuff that's like THIS IS BRAND-NEW INFORMATION. (And yes, I will be continuing to write here and at AlphaMom and for all my other jobs/clients; this is just bumping me up closer to a full-time 40-hour week, which our household budget is hella jammed about.)

I did not fall down, accidentally drop an F-bomb, or break anything expensive while I was there. 

Then I came home and rapid-fire discovered:

1) My shirt had a faint-yet-noticeable stain, right on my left boob.


Kinda looks like Florida?

2) My cats are why I can't have nice things big vases with fake flowers from IKEA.





Sue W

Hope no kitteh or puppeh toes were cut in the vase breakage. Florida on the boob is better than a bigger state like Texas!

Ashley G

As someone who has to do this 5 days a week, I'm still pretty awful at it. This morning it took me 3 shirts to get one that wasn't wildly ill-fitting or out-dated (why I still owned this crap, I have no idea). Then I realized the only shoes that went with it were $20 flats from Target that the black is literally peeling off the toe. To top all this off, I thought it was jeans day (every other Friday is in this office). It is not. I am just the random HR manager in jeans and cheap broken down shoes today for no real reason other than I'm kind of a clothing disaster.


I hope blazers are still a thing because blazer-nice-jeans-ankle-boots are as fancy as I get in my office. Maybe a little lipstick on my teeth if I'm feeling fancy. Congrats on the new gig!


Stain looks like your boob is a carton about to say something!



Invest on one bent box from MmLaFleur. Mix and match and look flawless and machine wash and wear timeless classics. Put down the one-off separates.

2 pair of 2" wedges, one black and one neutral.


ccr in MA

Real "grown-up" work clothing is hard! I've only worked from home for less than two years, and already I'm firmly in, "What do you mean, jeans aren't business casual? I'm not in sweatpants, am I?" I have very little between sweatpants and funeral-appropriate.

And one of the times I had to go into the office this year, I wore a pair of slacks I hadn't worn in long enough that, as it turned out, the elastic in the waistband was no longer up to the job, so I spent the day feverishly checking that my pants weren't slipping down. I have no idea how I used to do this on a daily basis. Real clothes? Commute time? But how?


And just a reminder, Florida is America's wang.


Hi! So this is is COMPLETELY off topic, but I thought you'd be a good person to ask: we just found out our kiddo has ASD (super high functioning, more like Asperger's according to the doc), and would love to find some helpful books out there. (Helpful meaning not about what essential oils to avoid or how many macrospoonlitersfeet of gluten is allowed...)


I am currently sitting at my desk in my casual Friday outfit of jeans (which I just noticed the tag is still visibly on), a swingy tank that my bra likes to peek over and a black Costco cardigan. Oh and flip flops. #nailedit

BUT! I would like to introduce you to Betabrand and their dress pant yoga pants. Seriously, I have them in every color and print they come in. They even have a matching blazer! Today is 25% off everything.


Hoo-boy, do I feel you. After almost 6 years of working remotely, I'm back to the office part time (still, blessedly, working from home most days). Fortunately, I hit up some major, major sales in the past year--mostly at Banana, when they were doing "take an extra 60% off of sale plus 10% off because you have our credit card," and I swear I was basically stealing things from them.

But just the effort of getting everyone up, dressed and out the door at the same time is CHALLENGING. I haven't really done it since having kids. Like you, I feel so spoiled by this fact, and so in awe of most of my fellow human parents who do this on the daily. OOF.


I feel your pain. I don't work anymore (retired lawyer), but still have to dress up "business casual" for events. I refuse to spend a lot of money on clothes I don't wear often. So I hit sales at Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, etc. Black trousers and a cute fitted sweater or a blouse work a dream. I buy comfy but kinda stylish shoes from Aerosoles, Nine West (also on sale). Accessories like pearls help dress up plain clothes. Amazon is my best friend.


I just told my husband that you are maybe the only blogger I've kept reading since forever. You are so damn funny and smart and, what? I don't know. But, you are the real deal. Thank you.




My cats do that with real plants. I can't have any of that.



Thanks. That's stuck in my head now. Also: must find Friends re-runs asap.


Because the shirt has so much pattern, the stain isn't noticable. I had to look three times to see it.

And about shoes, may I recommend ballet flats? These are my favorites. I've canvassed over 4000 doors in them, and they still look and feel great.


Ohmystars, Karen---I just spit out my coffee at your comment!!

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