Posts Categorized: reader requests

Reader Request: Styling Seersucker

styling seersucker

Reader Dina sent me this question via email:

I bought myself a seersucker blazer [with gray and white stripes]. I’ve been trying to incorporate more blazers and office appropriate summer cover ups for the over air-conditioned spaces and this seemed perfect for the summer. I went out to see a play over the weekend and put the blazer on with a black skirt and coral tee. My husband looked at it with a big “No, you may not wear seersucker with black,” and that comment (which was very loving!) plus the fact it was a bit too boxy for that particular skirt made me change my outfit. But I was left with a burning problem: How do I wear the blazer?! Most of my bottoms are darker in color and I tend to not wear jeans to the office. I had dreams of adding this to a black sheath dress and now I’m left unsure!

Seersucker is definitely a very summery fabric, and because it always involves a white stripe combining it with black might seem to make sense since black and white play nicely together in most cases. But black definitely brings down the light, seasonal vibe of the fabric and pattern.

 seersucker blazers

Left – Dress Barn, Right – Gap

The outfit on the left might actually work better with a white shirt – it would then become a remix of the dark blazer, seersucker pants outfit shown at the top of this post. Even better, though would be a blue shirt that mirrors the blue in the stripe a bit more accurately, paired with light bottoms like white, stone, or tan. The outfit on the right is considerably more casual, of course, but feels more balanced because there aren’t any super dark elements drawing the eye to a specific spot.

seersucker done right

Left – Nordstrom, Right – Macy’s

Both of these outfits are fab. The one on the left includes blue trousers that are darker than the blue in the seersucker, but still relatively light and complementary. Light sandals with a bit of blue in them feel fresh and fun. The outfit at right might be a bit more seersucker than you’d want to wear everyday, but you could swap out the skirt and top for a white dress, or omit the blazer entirely and go for a solid white top and it would still be dynamite.

Overall, lighter, paler colors will likely work best. White is great, pastels too, but even jewel tones will probably feel more natural than black or other super dark colors and neutrals. Most seersuckers are white and pale blue, but you’ll see variations in pink, gray, and other shades on occasion. In those cases, you could definitely pull out the featured color and pair with a white or pastel top and some fun accessories.

seersucker print mix2

And if you dig print mixing, you could tie in another print with white as the background. This particular print works well because although it is somewhat dark, the lighter pattern throughout lifts it. Also that shade of blue works beautifully with the grayish tones that are created when this particular suit is viewed from afar. Seersucker stripes are very small, so print mixing won’t feel super in-your-face!

I do love bending and breaking fashion rules, but my old-fashioned side warns against wearing seersucker outside of spring and summer. It’s a very traditional fabric that’s mean for hot-weather wear, and looks its best worn during the warm seasons and paired with light, bright, airy colors and light, bright, airy accessories.

That’s my take, anyway. Any of you folks seersucker devotees? Do you pair yours with black or dark colors and find that it works well? What other tips would you share with Dina and the rest of us?

Images courtesy Gap.

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Reader Request: Styling Sheer Fabrics

Lovely reader Holly e-mailed me this question:

I am obsessed with sheer blouses. Your post about “Dressing Our Imaginary Selves” made me realize that sheer blouses are my thing. I am drawn to them, but I don’t know how to wear them. I would love advice on how to wear them professionally and somewhat modestly (I’m fine with a tank underneath, but no bra or navel-showage please!). Do you tuck them? Leave them flowy? Wear with pants? Skirts? Under a sweater or blazer? What do I do with them? I especially love white and cream-colored sheer blouses, and find them harder to style than colored sheers.

Above you see me in my single sheer item, so I just barely feel qualified to comment! I’ll give my input – based on my observations and work with clients – and then turn to you readers for more tips and suggestions.

sheer blouse rules

The visible bra isn’t terribly taboo in France and other parts of Europe, I’m told, and here in the U.S. we’re warming up to the idea. Gradually. But in a professional or office environment? No chance. A sheer blouse should be worn with an opaque underlayer, even if the sheer blouse is just peeking out from under a blazer or jacket. A bralette or half tank is not enough, as you want to cover your torso and navel, too. For sheer tops worn alone, my eye prefers a tank or cami with straps wide enough to cover your bra straps since a big tangle of skinny straps occurs otherwise. Tucking the tank into your skirt or pants works well if both pieces are the same or similar in color, as this creates a column of color and allows the blouse to shine.

In terms of tank/underlayer color, you’ll likely be able to eyeball your best options. Although nude camis and tanks are often recommended for blouses that are accidentally sheer, in the case of a blouse that has intentional sheerness as part of its design, you might opt for contrast instead. But it doesn’t always work well.

sheer blouse layering

The safest bet is to utilize a tank that is the same color as the blouse. Black tank, black sheer blouse, great pairing. White tank and white sheer blouse can look very chic and artistic, too, though you want to do this only when it’s pretty clear that the blouse’s sheerness is intentional. Using a white tank for everything won’t work well, as you can see in the white tank/turquoise blouse example above: The white looks blocky and unintentional, creating more contrast than is ideal for the pairing. A matching tank or a tank in a complementary shade of blue would’ve worked better. Layering a sheer color over another color can be a great way to create gorgeous, rich looks. Harmonious contrast can be created with similar colors or shades that play well together, as well as layering a solid sheer over a pattern.

As you can see, most of these examples show sheer tops being worn untucked and their underlayers untucked as well. But the white-on-white example shows how length discrepancies can make the untucked look seem a bit odd. When untucked, you ideally want your tank and blouse to be the same length, or your tank and skirt/pants to be the same color to create the column referenced above. Since tucking your blouse into a skirt often creates great proportions, tucking when wearing with a skirt will work well for many. But it’s really down to personal preference, as is your choice to go with a skirt or trousers.

Sheers can certainly be layered under sweaters or blazers, but their sheerness will be mostly masked. If you want just a tiny hint of sheerness at the collar and cuffs, this is a great option. To showcase more, do your sheer/tank combo on its own.

Now, if you work in a law office, conservative corporate environment, or other workplace that has fairly strict and modest dress codes, sheers are a risk. They can certainly be done tastefully, but are still a little more revealing than opaques by their very nature. If you aren’t sure how sheers will fly at your office, ask your HR rep or boss before wearing. Better safe than sorry.

And that’s all I’ve got! You fans of sheers: What else would you add? How do you wear and layer your sheers? Do they work at your workplace? Anyone sporting the visible bra look? How do you deal with length discrepancies? Let us know!

Images courtesy ASOS, Nordstrom, Nordstrom

Grid: Nordstrom (black), Nordstrom (white), Nordstrom (turquoise), Nordstrom (navy)

**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: Long Over Lean for Petites

Fabulous reader Emily – who I was lucky enough to meet and chat with when I was in New York last summer – e-mailed me a while back asking about making the long-over-lean formula work on a petite frame.

Lately, all I want to wear are leggings and longer things on top – which I realized is: Sally’s Long-Over-Lean formula. Thing is: I own 1 pair of ponte pants, 1 pair of cheap leggings, and 1 pair of sort-of-skinny jeans. I’m 4′ 11″ as you might remember. I carry my weight in the belly. Literally in the belly, as in, could be 5 months pregnant all the time (I ain’t). Clearly if I want to make this happen as My Look, I need more leggings. And more long swinging / pooch-hiding sweaters. BUT!!!!! (Here’s my question): DO I want to make this happen as My Look? I’m short. If I wear a long sweater on top, I think I go 50%-50% in terms of body division. Not the Golden Mean by any stretch.

Emily was kind enough to let me use some of the photos she sent along to me in hopes of helping others struggling with the same questions. So here’s what I told her:

The thing about the Rule of Thirds is that you can totally forget about it absolutely whenever you want to. If this is what you want to wear – tunics and leggings in various combinations – and you feel comfy and fabulous and like yourself wearing those items, then you absolutely should. Rules be damned! Now if you’d like some middle ground – if you want to make the long-over-lean look work and incorporate a couple of traditional figure flattery maxims – here are a few things you can try:

longoverlean_petite_3

Visually elongate your legs

Try wearing like-colored leggings and boots. I say boots because even a little peek of ankle breaks up the leg line. Boots that are the same or close to the color of your leggings – even like-colored ankle boots – would be super. And they can be flat! Visually elongating your leg line by wearing similarly colored leggings and shoes will help this look feel more balanced.

Be strategic about focus

Take charge of where the observing eye lands. In the gray tunic/black leggings outfit, Emily is divided just about in half and where those two pieces meet is a high contrast break. The eye goes right there. She could draw the eye upward and break up her figure a bit by wearing a scarf or necklace. This will achieve two goals: It will create another segment of her figure, and it will keep focus away from her midsection, which she’s self-conscious about. For a different tactic, she could draw the eye up and down her figure by wearing a long necklace. I know that may seem counterintuitive, but it will help elongate the figure a bit.

Do low contrast layers

The gray tunic and black leggings are totally cute and I told Emily she should absolutely wear them. But a charcoal gray, dark brown, or other darker colored tunic would help her create a column of color – an unbroken line of color from shoulders to feet – which helps unify the look and create a taller-seeming silhouette.

longoverlean_petite_1

This yellowish tunic is probably too tight. Since it’s a cardigan, it could be worn open over another tunic-length layer instead of buttoned and belted. Another way to do the column of color with this formula is to wear a like-colored long cardigan and leggings, but a different color on the inside. Of course, to do this Emily would need yellowish leggings, so I told her not to pursue this option with this specific piece … but maybe give it a shot with others.

longoverlean_petite_4

Don’t worry about it

Emily sent me a photo of herself in clothes that she says create a more traditionally “flattering” silhouette on her – the top and skirt on the left. And she looks dynamite in that outfit, it’s true. But she looks cool and funky in her tunics and leggings, too. As I said above, some of the things you want to wear won’t “work” with your figure in ways that Tim Gunn would embrace. But Tim Gunn isn’t here. When it’s important to you to create a visually balanced, tall, slender silhouette, do that. When it isn’t important to you to hit those marks, don’t worry about them. Figure flattery is limiting, but personal style is unlimited. You’re the boss.

Any other petite women out there wondering about the long-over-lean formula? Are you doing any of the things I suggested? Other recommendations for Emily and other petites who love leggings and tunics?

PLEASE NOTE: Emily is not a blogger herself and has very generously offered to let me post these photos to illustrate how she’s attempted to tackle this specific dressing formula. If you chose to comment on this post, express your views respectfully and civilly or they will not be published. I’m happy to participate in a discussion that includes contrary opinions, but will not tolerate cruelty. Also be courteous and kind to each other when responding to remarks from other readers.

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