Posts Categorized: reader requests

Reader Request: Styling a Denim Jacket

how to style a denim jacket

Reader Laurel sent this request to me via e-mail:

I was wondering if you would be willing to do a post about how to style jean jackets. With Spring finally starting to thaw, the season of lightweight jackets is upon us, and with ’90s fashion being a big trend right now, I’ve been looking at my jean jacket again, but really don’t know what to do with it. Mine is your kind of typical jean jacket – medium wash, hits at the waist, a little boxy – definitely not high fashion. Any suggestions?

I remember including a denim jacket on my own personal wardrobe must-have list a couple of years ago and having several readers laugh at me. But I’ve stuck to my denim-y guns! My jean jacket doesn’t get loads of wear, but I’ve had the same one for several years and I end up reaching for it at least a couple of times per season. Here are my tips for making a denim jacket look chic and contemporary.

Make sure it fits

So Laurel may curse me for saying this, but that standard-issue 90s denim jacket in all it’s glorious boxiness? It’ll be harder to style than an updated version. Denim is stiff and thick, so few jackets will truly hug your figure, but the ones on the racks now will be a bit more fitted than many vintage styles. Boxy jackets are big for spring, of course, and there are ways to make them work … but if your jean jacket really swamps your figure or totally masks your curves and you’d rather show your body’s form a bit more, springing for an updated one might help. Even thrifting a jacket that was made in the past two to three years may help.

Consider proportion

Since even denim jackets with spandex and princess seams will fit a little loose and boxy on most folks, heeding the proportions of your outfit is key. In most cases, this means making sure your bottom half is relatively well defined, either by a slim pair of pants or a skirt that shows a little leg. Depending on how it fits and how you’re built, your jacket may work beautifully with flowy bottoms, too, like maxi skirts and wide-legged pants. But if you find that you look a little square and curve-free up top, consider balancing the boxy with a figure-highlighting bottom.

Play with juxtaposition

Denim jackets are quintessentially rugged and casual, which means they work wonderfully paired with items that are a bit dressy, frilly, or otherwise not-rugged and casual. Try your denim jacket with a floaty sundress or a sequined tee and miniskirt. Do a fluid blouse and tuxedo pants or a diaphanous tiered maxi dress. Anything that’s traditionally feminine or sparkly or the antithesis of utilitarian Americana.

Go West

Since warm weather is on its way, my inner cowgirl is clawing to get out and I do love seeing denim jackets in Western mixes. Think Sundance Catalog, with long necklaces, dusty boots, and piles of bracelets. Or go for a weathered graphic tee, chino skirt, and fun sandals. Anything that draws in a little bit of rugged ranch life and a little bit of sleek urban chic.

Embrace the unexpected

Looking back over some of my own outfits, I found that I’ve tended to pair my denim jacket with my weird pants. Case in point: The outfit above. I love those pants, but they are definitely cargo sweats with a REALLY tall ankle cuff. Denim jackets are classic and ever so American, so they can work really well with arty, funky, sculptural pieces. So long as the proportions work, that is.

Would love your input, too, of course! How do you style your denim jacket? Is this a classic piece in your opinion, or one you can live without? Other tips for making jean jackets look contemporary?

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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Reader Request: Opaque White Shirts

circleskirt_outfit

I’ve had many, MANY requests flow in through Facebook, comments, and e-mails for help finding opaque white shirts. Some of you are hoping to find button-fronts, others tees, but everyone is frustrated by the dearth of opaque options out there. And I hate to say it – especially since I pride myself on being able to find virtually anything either in person or online – but I, too, struggle to find white shirts that are truly opaque. I’ll occasionally find a knit tee that works fine with just a nude bra, but button-fronts? Forget about it. The Foxcroft shirt shown above is among my most opaque, but even it has a bit of show-through in certain lights.

So I’ll give you my few meagre tips, and open the discussion to everyone in the hope that some of you have found a few brands or styles of white shirts that don’t require work-arounds to wear.

Double-front knit tops

They’re getting rarer, but they do exist – mostly among brands that skew slightly older like Coldwater Creek and J.Jill. Obviously, two layers of cloth – even if that cloth is white – will be more opaque than one. And since show-through is often more of a problem in the front than the back, this style of top can work.

Higher-end and legacy brands

Very few Old Navy or Forever 21 white shirts will be opaque. Bargain brands cut costs across the board to pass along savings to the consumer, and thick, opaque, white fabrics are generally better quality and spendier than thin, translucent, white fabrics. I’m not saying you won’t occasionally find an opaque blouse or tee for a bargain at Target, or that every expensive designer top will be totally opaque. Just that my Foxcroft shirt above is $76 and considerably less revealing than my $20 LOFT clearance rack one. When I thrift, I can tell a Pendelton or Brooks Brothers shirt from a Gap or Express one just by feel; The cloth is thicker, sturdier, and harder to see through. I can’t say as I’ve found any recent styles anywhere that I’d recommend, but I know from experience that older brands, more expensive brands, and brands that cater to mature women are generally less likely to be peddling white shirts that will show the world your bra.

Ribbed knit tees

I prefer ribbed knits because I find them to be less clingy than non-ribbed knits, but they also tend to be a bit sturdier and more opaque. Now, I’m not talking about the wide ribs like you find in tank tops, but instead about the type of knit used to make “baby” style tee shirts. In fact, many of the shirts I’ve bought that fall into this category are called “baby rib” since the ribbing itself is so fine. Zappos has some examples from Alternative Apparel, Splendid, and other brands. I stocked up on baby rib Amber Sun tees from Nordstrom last year, too, and they were fabulously opaque. Some are thin, but ribbed knits are often a bit beefier than smooth knits.

Nude camis

That’s right, three measly points in and we’re already at work-arounds! Since few of my own shirts are opaque enough to wear on their own, I rely on my nude camis to take up the slack. Mine are cheapies from Target, smooth nylon, and they’re not shapewear but just meant to add another layer between bra and world. (Like this one.) My primary show-through issue is my bra, and this type of cami helps create an unbroken torso line beneath my shirt. In my opinion, utilizing this layering system is more sophisticated than layering a plain white tank top beneath a white button-front. Less show-through, more subtle.

Nude bras

Why am I bringing this up? Because several jobs ago, I met a woman in her early 40s who was wearing white bras with her white tops. Until I mentioned how fabulously invisible nude bras were, and how essential they were for days when white tops were worn. Her eyes got about as big around as saucers, friends. So just in case: A bra that is nude to YOUR skin tone will create less show-through than a white, colorful, or printed bra. Hopefully you’ve got one. Or are going to nab one right after work today.

So why exactly are manufacturers content to churn out translucent white shirts year after year? Cost savings, undoubtedly. But just as women everywhere are baffled by the lack of sleeved dresses available to them, we’re all scratching our heads about this one. None of us actively wants white shirts that show everything, and just about every last one of us would be willing to shell out a few extra bucks for options that are truly opaque. Hopefully the market will hear our frustrated cries and make some changes soon.

Until then, anyone have resources to share for opaque white tees, tops, and shirts? Bought any lately that don’t require nude camis or other layers? Especially interested in brands that carry petites, talls, and plus sizes, but any suggestions are totally welcome!

Outfit details here.

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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Reader Request: Boho Professional

Reader Lena made a request on the AP Facebook page for some Boho professional options. “Harem pants go to work!” she said. Shortly thereafter, Alison at Wardrobe Oxygen did a fabulous post on the very same topic, so I’ve GOTTA point you there, too. (Especially since Allie has a much broader Boho streak than I do.) But I’m happy to weigh in as well!

Certain Bohemian staples just won’t fly in many office environments: Torn or super faded jeans, broomstick skirts, and blousy tunics can work in creative or casual environments, but only the most flexible of business casual offices will accept them on days that aren’t Casual Fridays. But plenty of other Boho faves can be mixed with conservative and structured pieces to create office-friendly looks. Let’s peek at some examples:

Boho at the Office 1

A dress with a fairly Boho print – bold paisley – in a floaty, diaphanous material can work in professional settings if the dress design is trim and neat. Add a structured blazer to the mix to create balance and pick boots or shoes that are more sleek than casual. Then duck back in with accessories like a voluminous scarf and some beaded, dangly earrings to inject a bit more boho into your look. Keeping your palette in warm tones also keeps the vibe going, as cool and super bright colors don’t generally work with this aesthetic.

Boho at the Office 2

Cool tones are not impossible, of course, and using gray as your neutral means you can bring some lovely greens or blues into the mix. A great way to do Boho at the office is to create a fairly conservative backdrop – a flowy cardigan may lend a little Stevie Nicks to your look, but a stately silk shell and classic wide-legged slacks are more subdued – and then layer on some amazing jewelry. An outsized pendant and chunky cuff bracelet can both work in this mix since everything else is so understated. Pick smaller earrings, though, so you don’t hit jewelry overload.

Boho at the Office 3

Maxi dresses just won’t fly at many offices, but if you can get away with them at yours and want to try for a Boho-professional mix, go one of two routes: Pick a maxi with a fairly straight skirt and slim fit (like the one shown here) but in a relatively heavy, non-clingy material like ponte. With this sleek piece as your focal point, you can add a drapey jacket or cardigan, embellished belt, and funky lace-up boots which will just peek out at your hemline. A chunky necklace works in this mix, too. OR if the maxi dress you’ve picked is flowy and/or printed, tone it down with a solid colored jacket, blazer, or cardigan. Pick classic or conservative footwear like flats or pumps and keep jewelry simple to balance out the major shot of Boho that such a dress provides.

Other notes:

  • Use blazers and jackets to add structure to otherwise flowy mixes. They will inject work-friendliness into most outfits.
  • Try to limit yourself to one flowy, diaphanous item per ensemble. Two can sometimes work depending on the mix, but be careful you don’t swamp your figure.
  • As noted above, jewelry and accessories will be key and can make an otherwise plain outfit feel wonderfully arty and Bohemian.
  • Scarves add softness and flow, and are a great addition to outfits of this kind.
  • Boots of just about any kind will enhance a Boho vibe. So long as the rest of the outfit has prints, accessories, or other hints at this aesthetic, lace-ups, knee-highs, booties, grannies, slouches, just about every style of boot will augment the feel. (Cowgirls are questionable in many workplaces, though, so beware.)
  • Use prints sparingly and balance them with solids. This style utilizes so many lovely prints, but print overload may feel too wild for some working environments.

Since I’m not a terribly Boho gal myself, I’ll stop right there. I’d love to hear from those of you who gravitate toward this aesthetic! How do YOU do Boho professional?

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