Joe Fresh colorblock shift dress
Dress, Joe Fresh; blazer, J. Crew Factory; shoes, Nine West; bag, YSL (via eBay)

I feel like I’ve shown you this dress a million times, and let’s face it, there aren’t a million different ways to wear it. But I still love it, and this particular outfit does feature new shoes and bag, so you will forgive the unoriginality repetitiveness, yes?

Joe Fresh colorblock shift dress
wee bit too short?

I’ve typically worn this dress with flats before, because the hemline is a wee bit short for the office. I think it’s passable in this case because the cut of the dress is quite loose, and the neckline is very conservative, so the overall look is not particularly provocative. (Also, I have seen colleagues rock the shorter hemlines, so maybe I’m just the old fashioned exception.)

Speaking of old fashioned preoccupations, how do we feel about nylons? I’ve never been a huge fan of nylons – I refuse to say the “p” word – and that hasn’t changed, but I’m starting to feel quite strongly about their usage in the office. I know that some of you guys will vehemently disagree, but just as yoga pants have no place in the conservative office so, conversely, I feel like there is never an appropriate time to not wear nylons. If that rules out cute sandals in the summer, so be it. Go ahead, tell me that I’m hopelessly behind the times.

Joe Fresh colorblock shift dress
necklace, Banana Republic
Joe Fresh colorblock shift dress
more details

In other news, I hate my top knot/bun situation, but I’ve been struggling with work-appropriate up-dos for my current length of hair. Suggestions? Keep in mind that I have two left hands, limited time, and an aversion of excessive bobby pins (they give me major headaches). Oh, and also: tiny insect head syndrome.

Joe Fresh colorblock shift dress
sad top knot is sad

Note: Thanks to a lovely reader, I finally managed to figure out how to add a Like (and Share!) button to every post. Hopefully this will make it easier for everyone to say “hi” without, well, actually having to say anything. Of course, comments are just bomb awesome, so keep ’em coming. Thanks, gang!

44 Comments on This Old Thing, Again

  1. I hate nylons and don’t wear them as a rule. In the winter it’s tights only (in all colors) and in summer it’s bare legs. I find that even for conservative meetings in European countries, there’s no issue with this.
    I do have an issue with wearing sandals for client meetings, so usually it’s bare legs and shoes that do not show toes.

    • That’s interesting! I like hearing perspectives from different places.
      I’ve gone bare-legged in the summer before (who knows, I may again) but now, I don’t know – I feel like an (office) outfit is incomplete without them. I’ll be interested to hear everyone’s views on this.

      • I’m the same–tights in the winter, bare legs in the summer. Granted, I’m in academia which is probably a tad (a lot) less formal. Even with bare legs, I’m the most dressed-up!

        • I can see that. I bet most students are pretty casually dressed, for starters. I remember, in my undergrad especially, that most people wore jeans most of the time.

    • I hate nylons with a passion and refuse to wear them even in my conservative legal job. In the winter, I wear tights and go bare legged when it’s warm. Now that nylons are very sheer, I don’t think the judges even notice from afar if anyone is wearing them.

      • Late response, but I too am on team No-Nylons. I was a lawyer, and now I work in politics (so both conservative industries), and no one I know has ever mentioned my lack of leg-covers (except maybe in the winter to ask if I’m not cold without tights). I find them wretchedly uncomfy so I refuse to wear them.

  2. Apparently you have to have a wordpress account to use the like button? I like the outfit – neutrals with the necklace for interest. I’m no good at updo’s, so if you figure out something easy, I’d love a tutorial!

    • Oh, bah humbug! That sucks. Sorry, guys! Thanks for trying.

      I don’t know if I’ll ever master any up-do sufficiently well to do a tutorial, but if I find one I like, I’ll link to it for sure 🙂

  3. I save my sandals for the days I’m wearing ankle pants. Yes to nylons with skirts and dresses, although for the colder months I stick with tights.

    • Actually, that’s not a bad idea. I don’t have a lot of (dressy) sandals, but I could give the combo a try this summer – thanks!

  4. Great outfit – I’m slightly obsessed with those shoes! As for nylons, I’m starting to think along the same lines as you. After wearing tights all winter long, I feel a bit naked without something on my legs to complete the outfit.

    • I’m really liking them a lot, even though they’re slightly ugly looking (it’s that high vamp – it takes a bit of getting used to). I wish I could tell you what they’re called but all I know is that they’re Nine West (via Winners) – I haven’t been able to find them online. They remind me of the Vince pumps that were (are?) all the rage last year.

  5. Have you tried spin pins? I think they’re made by Goody, and they make updos so much easier! I usually use them for a low bun, and they keep even my thin hair in place!

      • The Gibson is lovely! I think it IS named for the Gibson girl, which makes it even more awesome. But question: how do y’all get some volume up top, around the crown?

    • I have those! I’ve used them for buns, but I find I still need a few bobby pins as well. The thing is, I need an updo with volume at the top (because my head looks insect-tiny with my hair pulled back), and buns don’t tend to work unless I (a) tease my hair (which I can’t/don’t want to) or (b) make a very high bun (which usually ends up giving me a headache). I know, #firstworldproblems

  6. You have my vote on wearing nylons. Being completely dressed brings the look ‘up’. I translate what I learn from you as appropriate business wear to appropriate church wear. This is a personal pet peeve I have. So many women are too casual when they are sporting bare legs. With some I think do it as an act of rebellion. Others as misinformed fashion wannabees. There is a whole lotta girls that aren’t being taught better. I loved reading that nylon sales went up in Great Brittan with the last royal wedding because Kate was wearing them.

    • I forgot that Kate always wears nylons – I wonder if the Queen handed her a dress code (and if she’s following it).

      I do think that nylons look more polished and, personally, they’re a bit of a cheat: if my legs aren’t perfectly smooth and bruise-free (hey, klutz over here), nobody has to know thanks to nylons.

  7. As a couple of commenters above; dark tights in winter, bare legs in summer but never sandals in the work place.
    My first job after university was a large international insurance company that had a very thorough (6 page) dress code.
    Now although having worked in other fields I find I still stick to it. (Also possibly strongly influenced by school uniform rules- I think I need to clarify I’m only 34, so this isn’t too long ago!)
    Also- I think that the dress is fine with these heels but possibly mainly due to the ankle strap, and I’m a fan of the top knot!

    • It’s funny: my first job out of school I worked in a VERY conservative work place, and we were required to wear suits, nylons, and close-toed shoes every day, no exceptions. At the time, I haaaated the whole thing, but I’m finally coming around all these years later – I prefer wearing nylons, hate peep-toe shoes. I’m still not a fan of suits, so at least there’s that.

  8. Love this outfit! It’s conservative but still fun. I think I need to find my own miracle dress that looks good with everything.

    I am firmly in the wear nylons to work camp. Bare legs feel too casual to me for work. Nylons give my pasty legs some colour! Otherwise I fear the pasty white-ness would be blinding. Also, Princess Kate wears them. Good enough for me!

    • That is also a good point! I tend to wear nylons that match my (pasty) skin tone, but I should branch out and get something a shade or two darker in the summer and call it a “tan”. LOL!

  9. Yeah, I’m kinda with you on the nylons – expect for July and August, I hate being bare-legged. I work in a casual office where most of the women think leggings are pants so I feel overdressed a lot of the time. But my mom always made me wear nylons when I was younger, so it doesn’t seem that strange to me, and I think they look super classy 🙂

    • Maybe it’s a question of familiarity?

      At this point, I think I’d hate working in a casual office if it meant having to dress down or always dealing with comments about being “dressed up”. As much as I don’t always enjoy wearing blazers, for example, I’d much rather do that than wear jeans every day. I’m sure some people wouldn’t give up their yoga pants though.

  10. I used to be anti-nylons but that’s mainly because I couldn’t find any black ones that wore well or nude ones that matched my skin tone. I finally found nude-for-me nylons and now that I have, I can’t go bare legs even in summer.

    • That’s true – having a go-to brand (at least until Winners stops getting them in) helps a lot. Nylons that are the wrong colour are the worst!

  11. I’m also in the tights in the winter, bare legs (but no sandals or other open-toed shoes) in the summer camp when it comes to dressing for work in a business-casual corporate environment in NYC. Summers get a bit hot, humid, and gross, so I feel like most women would avoid nylons in the summer. I did wear nylons during my interviews in warm-weather months, but I felt like that wasn’t necessary. I wonder if I’ll change my mind once I’ve been working for longer!

    • I’m sure my feelings would change if I didn’t work in an air-conditioned office, with a relatively short (public) commute … not to mention that my home town rarely gets insufferably hot. Still, I think you made the right call for interviews at least.

  12. So what nylons do you wear? I am pale like you and used to wear a slightly pink hued pair from Victoria’s Secret. Now that I am back in California, I have never seen anyone wear nude nylons ever.

    • I wear Calvin Klein ones I get at Winners (TJMaxx) for $6 a pair. They’re silky and match my pasty skin tone perfectly without looking chalky white. (I wear “light 2” and they’re a 20 denier, for reference) Most of the time, a pair can last up to 3 weeks, which I feel is pretty good considering the price. I’ve been wanting to try Wolford nylons – which are crazy expensive but supposedly amazeballs – but I haven’t found them locally in my shade.

      Oh, the other thing I would mention as my general tip for feeling comfortable in nylons: size up. I don’t like the control top feature, which is pretty much unavoidable, so by sizing up, I get less of that “strangled midsection” feeling.

  13. Those shoes! Ah. You look great. I notice you always have a lovely manicure: do you get it done, or do them yourself? Strategy? I have such a hard time keeping mine painted but the moment they’re bare I start chewing them. Terrible, I know. Any nail advice would be much appreciated.

    • Don’t feel bad – I used to chew/bite my nails too. I get gel nails every month, and have been for years. I used to get just plain clear gel, which meant I could easily paint my nails at home whenever I felt like it (having the gel base made manicures at home really easy – just slap on some polish, no base coat or top coat, and go). Recently, I started getting coloured gel nails, just to switch things up. I get a sort of reverse French style, because it helps to conceal re-growth better.

      I have never had a problem with gel nails, but if you are thinking about trying them, I would add 2 caveats: (1) they can be expensive if done right (you will need to go every 3-4 weeks for maintenance, and the cost can be high depending on your location) so they’re not for everyone, and (2) you do NOT want to scrimp out on them, if you do get them. I have no problem going to a cheapie nail salon for pedicures, but I would never, ever get my nails done there. I’ve heard too many horror stories.

  14. Kate I have possibly the perfect solution for you. In my line of work my nails take quite the beating so typical manicures never would last long before chipping. While acrylic nails last longer they run the risk of looking very fake on my hands (not to mention they can be hard over all on my nails). So at the recommendation of my boss I actually got a gel manicure. It looks like a regular manicure, but lasts 2-3 weeks before beginning to chip and the nail grows out. I have mine done at the local cosmology school and it runs me less than $15 a time to get them done.

    As far as this outfit I am torn-I like it, but don’t all at the same time. I can’t put my finger on it yet. It’s like something is missing or possibly over the top. I think it’s the loose fitting compared to the structure of the shoe if that makes sense.

    • I think gel manicures (as opposed to gel nails) can be a good compromise for people who don’t want to commit to the regular maintenance. As far as I know, gel manicures have no impact on your real nails so you can stop getting them whenever. I don’t know how long they last, or if they strengthen your actual nail. My nails break easily, so having the gel on top means that they’re pretty indestructible. With that said, if I were to take the gel off, my nails would be thinner than usual, at least until they grew out completely.

  15. I was never a big fan of nylons (that awful nylon tummy line makes me crazy), but definitely never open toed shoes at work…toes and business just don’t mix!

    • I used to wear peep toe pumps, but not anymore; to be fair, it’s purely a comfort decision, not anything style-related. I think peep toes can be OK provided the shoe is otherwise office-appropriate. I just find them so uncomfortable, I don’t see the point of them.

  16. Nylons may not be my favorite thing to wear but I do believe that when you are wearing office attire – it finishes the outfit. And honestly – just me – but bare legs with suits just seem odd (unless your legs are flawless – mine aren’t)

    • Totally agree – just this morning, I banged my shin on the corner of the bed hard enough to draw blood. You can imagine what my leg looks like; not even nylons can help – opaque tights it is, LOL!

  17. You’ve been wearing nylons this whole time??? I had no idea. I find sheer flesh-colored hose odd – the point is for the legs to look naked but not actually be naked?