Comfort vs. Style on the Weekends


Allow me to make myself unpopular: I don’t believe that comfort trumps style on the weekends. I don’t believe we should eschew all things polished and structured in favor of all things soft and comfy just because the work week is on temporary hiatus. I don’t believe that blazers and heels are punishments while jeans and sneaks are rewards. I DO believe that mixing a few refined – and possibly mildly uncomfortable – pieces into your casual looks will help kick your casual style into high gear.

Now, before you bust out the torches and pitchforks, let me explain.

Many women who work day jobs maintain a work wardrobe, and a completely separate weekend wardrobe. The work wardrobe typically includes clean, classic, conservative pieces that reflect personal style but are also office-appropriate. The weekend wardrobe may be somewhat congruent to the work wardrobe … but it also may be COMPLETELY different. Stocked with baggy jeans and sweatshirts, influenced by a sharply defined aesthetic like steampunk or rockabilly, or brimming with frilly romantic, super tough, or highly whimsical pieces.

And for some, this is the only way. Work garb must conform to work rules, and if those rules are rigid and oppressive then breaking them into tiny little bits on the weekend can be liberating. Vital, even.

But for those with a little workplace dress code leeway, I recommend merging work and weekend as much as possible. Maintaining two drastically different wardrobes can cause some style identity crises, and forcing some of your workweek clothes and accessories into weekend wear can heal that rift. Here are some ways to make that process a bit less painful:

One polished item

If the thought of crafting outfits that mix items from your work and casual wardrobes makes your head hurt, start simply: Create weekend looks that include a single fancy, work week-appropriate item. My recommendation is to do jewelry, shoes, or accessories. Jeans and a graphic tee with sneaks is casual, jeans and a graphic tee with wedges is polished casual. Other single items that look fabulous in a casual mix include blazers, cardigans, and scarves.

Lean on jeans

Speaking of jeans, if you’ve peeked inside a fashion magazine anytime in the last five years or so, you’ll have seen about 28 bazillion outfit ideas that revolve around pairing denim with fanciness. If you’re a jean queen, this is great news. Throw on a separates outfit that you’d wear to work – cardigan, blouse, and heels or blazer, sweater, and flats – and swap in a pair of jeans for whatever you’d normally wear on your bottom half.

Prioritize comfort zones

All-over comfort is grand, of course, but we all have bits that are more sensitive than others. In order to make polished weekend looks sustainable and appealing, make sure you tend to your comfort priorities. Is your waistline tender? Then skip pinching skirts and binding tights in favor of flowy dresses or comfy jeans. Are your feet fussy? Then forget the heels entirely and focus on fancification above the ankle. Do you need to be able to move your arms freely? Then abandon blazers and delve into accessories and jewelry instead.

Explore casual alternatives

Jeans and a tee. Jeans and a sweatshirt. Jeans and a hoodie. Although jeans themselves can be a fabulous piece for making an otherwise dressy outfit read casual, there ARE other comfortable, casual options out there. Jersey knit dresses, sweater dresses, leggings and jeggings, ponte and knit blazers, and tunics are a few of my personal faves, but there are loads more. Don’t confine yourself to the casual classics.

Just as it’s always wise to inject your personality into your work wear – pyramid stud earrings for the undercover punk, an embellished silk blouse beneath a blazer for the incurable romantic, bright yellow pumps for the color addict – it’s equally smart to create some continuity between your work looks and your weekend looks. At least, if you’re interested in creating overall stylistic continuity.

Originally posted 2011-05-27 06:17:46.

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52 Responses to “Comfort vs. Style on the Weekends”

  1. Carmen

    I have 3 impediments to nicer weekend dressing:

    1. In KS it’s damn hot in the summers. Not just kinda warm. We’re talking high 90’s into the 100’s from mid-June till Sept typically. It’s difficult to accessorize when it’s that hot. Your fingers swell, necklaces stick, and don’t even THINK about a scarf. Additionally I’m usually running from place to place with 2 little ones making me hotter and requiring more gear (changes of clothes, snacks, drinks, toys, etc). My work week wear is based around air conditioning on crack and you’re often shivering. By weekends I want shorts and a tee with no jewelry…

    I know you’re thinking DRESSES! SKIRTS!…. BUT the thing that’s kept dresses away from weekend wear is that soooooooo many dresses are spaghetti strap or low cut/deep v’s. I’m a busty gal and to get a strapless bra that works, I need basically a bustier… not fun in the summer. I also have no intention of laying a tank on in 100 degree temps in order to cover a bra. That leaves lots of skirts which I’m starting to accumulate. We’ll see if we can work them in!

    A second issue that I worry about while wearing my work wear on the weekends, is ruining my better quality work clothes. My weekend wear tends to be cute tees and shorts/capris that I could lose if I tripped and ripped a hole in the knee, or got food stains on from the kids.

    Lastly, I wear Keens a lot outdoors in the summer. They aren’t sexy at all. I turn my ankles every couple of years and I’ve broken bones in both feet before. With all the outdoors time with kids, the heat, functional shoes that I can run in and play in the sprinkler with, and not wanting to ruin clothes, it all leads to shorts, t-shirts, tanks, and MAYBE, if I’m going somewhere a bit nicer I’ll throw in a skirt.

    So no, I have little continuity between work and weekend wear… and I kinda love it. My weekend wear is easy breezy, non-fussy, and represents time with my family. I express myself in the way I wear my hair (braids, buns), my shades, and my sunny personality πŸ™‚

  2. hellotampon

    This isn’t even an issue for those of us that work in nursing. Sometimes I get a little wistful when I see someone decked out in fancy office-wear, but then again, throwing on a pair of comfy scrubs every morning means I can sleep in longer than I would if I had to put on a real outfit (which, knowing me, would undoubtedly would not “work” if I’d picked it out the night before). It also means that my entire wardrobe is for ME. It’s all “weekend clothes” that fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between “fancy office-wear” and “weekend casual.” I wear a lot of dresses and funky outfits because it’s nice to have fun with my clothes when I’m not in uniform.
    I never thought this before, but I wonder how different my wardrobe would be if I had chosen some other career.

  3. Di

    Interesting. As a stay-at-home mom, I don’t have very much to distinguish my week days from the weekends. My husband is here, but the activities and such are mostly the same. So, I don’t need to have too much need to transition my wardrobe.

    That said, however, I find I turn toward ever-so-slightly dressier options on the weekend. I’m not the only parent on duty, so my outfit might be subject to less wear and tear. Or, we’re heading to a somewhat “special” outing, and I want to represent myself better. Sure baggy jeans and a t-shirt are fine for the park, but if we’re heading to the zoo or someplace, I want to be put together.

    I’ve also been accessorizing my regular outfits a bit more. Fancier earrings, or a scarf looped around my neck. I’m also pondering a more stylish cross-body bag to replace my work-a-day travel bag I’ve been using.

  4. bonnie

    You’ll get no pitchforks or torches from me-I’m 100% with you on this. I have an outdoorsy job that requires jeans and work boots. Dressing up for work would be impractical and innapropriate, so I like to pull together polished looks for the weekend and let my inner fashion diva loose. I am dismayed, however, at how sloppy (or is that casual?) people have become, no matter what the occasion. For Mothers Day I wore a cute sundress, belted cardigan and espadrilles to brunch at a nice restaurant It was not a really fancy outfit. You would have thought I had worn a ball gown to a tractor pull! Not surprising considering that everyone else showed up in what amounted to yoga clothes and sweats. I have seen people show up at funerals and christenings in cut-off shorts and flip flops. I’m all for comfort, but seriously, it really is possible to be comfortable and pulled together. Thanks for another insightful post!

  5. Katharine

    I am lucky. My dress code at work is “casual” and my personal dress code is “that weirdo who does graphics”, so my wardrobe is, more or less, a seamless whole. There are some things I don’t wear on the weekends because I’m still too fond of them and don’t want to, you know, wear the gloss off them by washing them too much or maybe getting the Saturday chocolate croissant crumbs on them, but mostly, anything I’ll wear to work I’ll wear on weekends (depending; not if my weekend involves cleaning the bathrooms maybe) and vice versa.

    There are a few shorter and slightly more worn, or weird, dresses, and some barer tops, which are really not work appropriate no matter what I do, and I do have super sloppy clothes for super sloppy tasks, or painting.

    In general, I don’t believe that style trumps comfort at any time. Almost always, I find that items that are not, ultimately, comfortable, will quietly slink out the back door of my wardrobe; I’ll look at them and realise it’s been months since I wore them, and move them on out for someone less picky. There are plenty of clothes that are both interesting AND comfortable; no need to suffer, at least, not since I don’t work in a place that requires discomfort as the price of my employment (gah!).

  6. Andi

    I’m a SAHM so I have to be in grubbies a lot during the week. I try to use printed t-shirts or accessories to bring out my goth/punk/sci-fi aesthetic, but it’s a challenge. MY work week uniform is a casual skirt and t-shirt for errands, or jeans and a t-shirt for cleaning. I look for opportunities to dress it up a bit on the weekend, but sometimes I’m going somewhere or doing something where I need to be in grubbies again (or not dressing to draw attention to myself). So my struggle is between my whole self and my public self, more than work vs. home.

    I do think paying attention to your “pinchy bits” is a good idea. I try to only make and buy clothes that are comfortable without being sloppy. If I’m in pajamas, I don’t accomplish anything but if I’m in tight waistbands and pantyhose, I don’t accomplish anything either and I get grumpy to boot.

  7. Geri

    Just a thought, but from this post, it seems that for you, ‘style’ means “polished and structured” and perhaps putting up with being uncomfortable. For me, I think that relaxed and casual can be just as stylish, but in a different way. It’s a different expression of style, one that is closer to my own preferences. I have very sensitive skin, and I don’t think it’s worth putting up with any level of discomfort in my clothing. Just my 2cents worth! πŸ™‚

    • Sal

      No, indeed, I am not saying that style is exclusively polished and structured. Simply that maintaining a dressy wardrobe for work and a drastically different casual wardrobe for weekends can create stylistic rifts, and that forcing some overlap helps. Dressy items needn’t be structured or uncomfortable, they just need to be well designed.

  8. Angela

    I work for a bank in downtown Toronto, I wear a self imposed strict dress code, no flip flops, blouse, tank and cardi, nice dress pants, jacket, etc. I see all kinds of slobs and tacky clothes in the building, that I cringe at daily. As the weather warms, it gets worse, lol…..but I have trouble with my weekend wear, I can’t blend the two wardrobes, so I am going to try your suggestions…also, I never, ever wear a skirt or dress to work, )and I mean never, not for 10+ year, because I hate hose..any suggestions for that?

    • Sal

      Are you required to wear hose, Angela? (I’d do bare legs in summer, if you can.) Have you tried sheer tights with subtle patterns like microfishnets, nude fishnets, or tiny geometrics?

      • Angela

        There is no rule, but I think I look trashy, (over 40, legs not so perfect, :))…maybe if I keep the length just over the knee

  9. gina

    I find my work trousers pretty comfortable, though button down shirts and blazers are less so. I often wear my work dress pants on the weekend, and dress them down by combining them with t-shirts, cardigans and Converse.

  10. two birds

    i agree with you 100%…but that’s not to say that there are days spent in the house wearing nothing but a tank and my old navy snowflake pants! =)

  11. Keri

    I couldn’t agree more! I am a big proponent of dressing up jeans (cuz of work) but also believe that not looking sloppy in whatever you wear is important. What you wear in public is a first impression, and people do make snap judgements on first sight. I think it’s important to express yourself, all sides of you, but that it’s good to have a cohesive closet that can accommodate professional, casual, dressy, etc. And there’s no reason why a corporate wardrobe should not be comfortable. Plus, if you know how to break up a suit you get more outfits and the illusion of a bigger closet and who doesn’t want that?!

  12. Loren

    I work in a ‘buisness casual office’. Mostly this means ‘no jeans (ever at all not even black ones)’ and ‘no t-shirts’. I was under the impression it also meant ‘no tennis shoes’ but that one seems to be much more lax.
    I’ve been slowly working my weekend wear to more office appropriate stuff and my office stuff to things that are more weekend appropriate.
    I love denim skirts, I have a couple that I really like that so that I can trade out my buisness-y pencil skirt for a denim one and be ready for the weekend. I also in my mid 20’s so I have a couple long tunic tops that I wear with trousers to work, that I can trade out for lacy stockings or bare legs, trade my work flats for a pair of heels, maybe toss on some different jewelry, and then I’m ready for drinks with the girls.

  13. joann, sidewalk chic

    I am super-lucky in that my work environment is really casual, so I can pretty much wear whatever I want (honestly, i don’t think anyone would blink if I wore pajamas). I do try to make an effort to dress up for work, and on weekends, I try to go for more casual fabrics, like jersey. Because I wear flats and wedges a lot during the week, I do get more experimental with my shoes during downtime — lots more height for sure.

  14. Patti @ NotDeadYet Style

    I am with you on this Sal. I like to look nice for my own self-confidence, and for my handsome guy, when we go out on the weekends. I favor a knit maxi skirt with a polished tee or shirt and some wedges. Always a pair of earrings or a bracelet.

    Sunday with the online NYTimes and coffee, well – old tee and sweat-shorts, and a smile : >

  15. Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

    Sal, what I really love about your blog is the way you give me the vocabularly to think and speak about fashion in a meaningful way. Perfect example: “prioritize comfort zones.” Never thought of my body or wardrobe having comfort zones before–but it’s perfect!

  16. FutureLint

    I dress pretty much the same on weekends as on weekdays (I can just get away with shorter skirts or dresses or things like spaghetti straps on weekends.) To me the most comfortable thing on Earth is a sundress so I wear those a lot on weekends (well, when it’s nice out) and people act like I’m all dressed up and I’m like, dude, this is practically pajamas. So comfortable.

  17. Gale

    I work out of my home and my wardrobe consists of casual jeans and tees…or capris for the spring. I have just added sundresses and skirts to my summer wardrobe this year. I’ve never really worn them before, but due to gaining some weight I’m hoping they’ll be a comfortable way to look good through out the summer while I lose weight. I think they’ll be a great way to look a little more pulled together and still be comfortable.

  18. Ruby

    Nice question, Sal. I love the outfit you’re wearing, by the way. It’s something like what I aspire to wear as casual wear. My workplace is fairly casual–I’m a college prof at a place and in a division where people wear khakis, jeans, blazers or just nice sweaters with skirts. I guess business casual, although no one posts official “dress rules.” I am younger and a bit more “stylish” (as in, I don’t wear beige khakis with a different pastel blouse everyday), but I try really hard not to dress “too young.” Ironically, the few female academics on my campus who do are in their 50s–they can get away with it. By young I don’t mean inappropriate–just closer to what trends young women wear. I fear that if dress too trendily, I’ll seem unprofessional or less serious in the eyes of the students. So for me, weekends mean getting to wear trendier as well as “less professional” clothes. Time to get out the combat boots, paired with short knit dress, leggings, yellow platforms and fitted army jacket. That’s my current weekend wear. Except for the dress (which isn’t terribly short) nothing else in that grouping appears in the classroom.

  19. Apple A Day

    I recently started wearing more polished stuff on weekends and it has made me such a happy lady! I am not crazy about how I look in jeans and a T, why should I wear them just because it’s the weekends? Why should I impose somebody else’s casual dress code on myself?
    For weekends I mix classic and comfy. I may wear a favorite skirt with a cool graphic tee. I may go bolder with the makeup than I do during the week or mix funky cowboy boots or crazier jewelry. I feel relaxed and chic and it really steps up my mood. It’s also nice to be using most of my closet 7 days a week as opposed to 5.

  20. Anne @ The Frump Factor

    No pitchforks from me. I’m totally on board with this and I’d say that a good 85-90% of my wardrobe does double-duty: work and weekends. I wouldn’t mind upping the style quotient of my lounging-around-the-house clothes, though.

  21. Cynthia

    On weekends if I’m going to be seen I don’t look that much different than on work days. I wear the same jewelry, my hair’s always the same no matter what I do, I put on the same powder foundation, lipstick and eyebrow pencil I use to define my face during the week, and I have all sorts of clothes that cross the line between weekday and weekend, especially cardigans, little jackets, knit tops, and knit dresses. I probably layer less on weekends, especially when it’s hot, but I don’t lapse into wearing my pajama pants to the supermarket with a football shirt or anything.

    At least one day out of the weekend, I usually end up on a total vacation from “style” and just put on a pair of jeans or shorts and a t-shirt, and sometimes I layer with stretchy little running jackets instead of cardigans, but I don’t feel like that’s divorced from my regular style, it’s just toned down to be appropriate for the kinds of things I do on my weekends (namely, farmer’s market, grocery shopping, reading books, and drinking beer with middle-aged ladyfriends).

    For me, there are some pieces that just don’t translate well to being part of a casual outfit very easily. Namely, “aspirational” suiting worn by 20-somethings just starting out in the banking business, at price points like LOFT or its mall-store peers (I see a lot of this in Charlotte). I own some such aspirational suiting items, and I have a really hard time seeing them outside of anything but their intended pairings with other mid-level officewear. I bet if Audi owned those same items, though she’d find a way to make them look relentlessly cool.

  22. Kenzi

    I’m the opposite! On the weekends is actually when I can let my style shine through. I run run run so much during the week I just throw on something basic for work and go. The weekends are when I am able to have the time to accessorize and ponder my outfit a bit more.


  23. Katie

    I work in a casual work environment, so work and weekend wear is intertwined. In those days where I can wear jeans – I wear them – usually with some kind of a lightly frilly top and a cardigan or blazer. I wear heels ALL THE TIME – except lately my feet have been giving me problems. I’m often seen in dresses and the long over lean look, though (tunics and leggings) and this is mainly due to comfort alone. Jersey and flowing fabrics are a staple for me.

  24. Diana

    My work environment (academic lab) is really casual, and basically there is no dress code (well, we are technically supposed to wear closed-toe shoes but everyone just openly breaks that rule unless inspectors are around, in which case we all have a pair of closed toe shoes under our desks anyway). I can pretty much wear what I want all the time, so I don’t really have a “work” versus “weekend” wardrobe. I guess there are some things I don’t wear to work to maintain a somewhat professional appearance – short shorts, really skimpy tank tops, etc – and some things I’ll cover up a bit for work – the miniskirts get leggings underneath, the spaghetti strap dress gets a shrug over it, stuff like that.

  25. Anne

    Sally, this is certainly a thought provoking post. I happen to be a part- time teacher in our neighborhood school. I consider it a great gig. I get to keep my students for three years, I am friends with most of their parents and get that extra connection by being able to share sporting and community events with them. It does however make me feel a bit as if I am in the spot light all the time. I take pains not to show up at school or around town in athletic wear, grubby clothes, or anything too sexy. (the last one is no big deal, I don’t really push the sexy envelope) Also, when I am teaching, I take pains to make sure my tattoo is covered (that means no skirts and shorts) other than covering the tattoo, my wardrobe from work to home stays pretty consistent.

    Where I really have a problem is outfitting the Hubs (Hubby). He wears chinos and button-down shirts for work everyday and wears a suit or sport coat a few times a month. On the weekends he is extremely casual. We go out about twice a month and on most of those occasions, I tell him that we don’t look like we’re going to the same place. Do you or Husband Mike have some tips on blending the hub’s wardrobe? Right now it feels like I am trying to maintain three separate wardrobes for him. Mine is a fan of Quicksilver as well and we are lucky enough to have an outlet about 15 minutes away. How do I blend at least the work and social if not the “grubby” wardrobes?

  26. Stephanie

    I’m a stay at home mom so wash and wear is important. Beyond that I try to look nice while still being casual and comfy. I don’t do a lot of accessories but try to buy tops and dresses that have a bit more detail then your traditional old navy v neck tee. I never wear heels though. I almost fell on the stairs caring my son in a pair of heels I had no business wearing 8 years ago and swore them off. I have cute flats and at the moment wear my gray toms everywhere.

  27. rb

    I do maintain a separate work vs casual wardrobe, but that’s mainly because I am really quite business dressy for work, and most of those items are dry clean only, which doesn’t mix well with two kids and two cats and cleaning and gardening.

    However, my weekend items are quite dressy and special as well. I learned from a very difficult period in my life that if I don’t make the effort to get dressed and do something with my hair and maybe put on a little makeup, even if only lipstick, then I just make myself feel worse. So my dressing well and grooming on my days off work is really about taking care of me.

  28. Trystan (the CorpGoth)

    Over the past few years, I’ve been trying to up my weekend-wear game from jeans & band T-shirts (which looks too teenagery, in addition to being sloppy) to something more polished & similar to my CorpGoth style. Finding the right balance of comfort, edge, & polish is tricky. My big hangup seems to be that I want to “save” “good” clothes for work, as if weekends don’t “deserve” nice things. Weird, I know, & I’m not sure where or when I got that into my head.

    • Sal

      Not weird at all! I think many women feel the same way, and it leads to wardrobe fragmentation.

  29. Erin

    Pitchfork aloft! Just kidding. But, I dare you to reconcile my Monday-Friday (big law firm) with my weekends (I adore band t-shirts and have a 1.5 year old to chase). I try to wear things that fit properly, are not worn out, and wear makeup and comb my hair. That is the extent of the effort I’m willing to put in on the weekend, unless I am going somewhere nice. No. Weekend. Spanx. πŸ™‚

  30. elise

    Dear Sally,
    Truly, I owe you so much. I’ve learned a lot and it’s been nice.
    I just want to say thank you and,You Look Marvelous Darling !

  31. Mrs.M in MI

    I’m afraid I have to disagree with you on this one, and here’s why:

    I invest a lot of money into my work clothes. I choose to buy expensive, high quality clothing items that look like it. This is partly a condition of my sales job and partly my own choosing.

    Since I do have to save up a bit to buy work clothes my work wardrobe is small. The items are really put through their paces, yet I want them to last as long as possible. So I do not wear them but to work, to decrease the wear (and need for expensive dry cleaning).

    This isn’t to say that my casual wardrobe is sloppy. I still like to look put together on the weekends, albeit generally with thrifted finds and cheapies. I just won’t be wearing any of my precious work clothes during my downtime.

    • Sal

      That makes perfect sense, and your situation constitutes an excellent argument for maintaining separate wardrobes!

  32. J

    Cute outfit! Blouses and knit tops are easy to do either way, wear it with a black suit jacket and pencil skirt for work and skinny jeans and cardigan for weekend. I love blouses with fun (but not too crazy) floral patterns because it makes a work outfit a bit more fun than just the standard white button down.

  33. Rachel

    I’ve been thinking about this recently – I noticed that I don’t tend to accessorize on the weekends, and I was wondering why. In part it’s because I don’t put on “real” clothes until I’m just about to leave the house, so if I’m getting dressed just to hit the grocery store, it seems like a lot of effort to put on a whole outfit that will come off again as soon as I get home. And in part it’s because I have clothes I really like that I wouldn’t wear to work – t-shirts with silly sayings, tanks that aren’t dressy enough for work, jeans. Weekends are my only time to wear them. I am trying to pay a little more attention on the weekends, though.

  34. Gracey at Fashion For Giants

    I’m all about still having some style on the weekend. Except for those days were I literally don’t leave the house I try to make sure I have some style in my outfits. Cute flats, scarves, something.

    Also, never sweats because I don’t find them flattering to my shape, but I do wear the heck out of some leggings on the weekends.

  35. Courtney

    Oh, this is such a good and timely post! I finished my semester last week and am now entering the fashion no-woman’s land of humid summer with few professional obligations.

    A couple of years ago, my then-5yo asked me, “Why do you always wear dat same fing? Dose shoes [Keens], dat shirt [one of many interchangable black tshirts], and dose pants [olive or khaki capris.]” Ugh. Called out! I did go upstairs and change into a skirt and necklace, although I think I kept the tshirt and Keens.

    I really struggle with weekend/summer dressing, partly because I move from kid-wrangling to gardening to the grocery store to a bike ride to the park, and an unremarkable t-shirt/capri/Keens uniform takes me all those places.

    Perhaps thrifting will help, as I won’t have the mindset that clothes are too nice for the park or the zoo or the store.

  36. tiny junco

    Sal, i’m wondering if you could list some symptoms of ‘stylistic rifts’ or ‘wardrobe fragmentation’. i mostly mix it up, but like to keep a few things ‘for nice’. there are plenty of reasons, practical as well as psychological, for creating a wardrobe in either style – all one piece or separates weekend and workday (for some reason my roommate who worked packing fish comes to mind…. πŸ˜‰ i figure if you’re happy and it works, what’s the trouble?

    my reason for keeping a few pieces ‘for nice’ comes down to Emily Cho’s query to more artsy/funky style types “Sure, you look different from everyone else; but do you ever look different from yourself?” i’m wondering what specifically would lead you to recommend someone try mixing it up (great ideas to get started on that). thanks! steph

    • Sal

      If you’re happy and what you’re doing works, there isn’t any trouble. I think that many women – and I used to be one of them – have two (or more) distinct styles going on, and feel strange juggling them. Especially if there’s a sharply defined work/casual dichotomy, both wardrobes typically benefit from some mixing: Work wear becomes more interesting and personal, casual wear becomes more polished. Doesn’t mean you can’t reserve certain pieces for special occasions, of course. Overall it’s just an adjustment in philosophy that allows for wearing all of your clothes all the time instead of relying on strict categories. I’ve worked with lots of clients and heard from lots of readers who don’t enjoy maintaining completely separate dressy and casual closets, so this advice is mostly for them!

      • tiny junco

        thanks for the explication, i’m getting more of a feel for what you’re getting at. it sounds as if someone is feeling stylistically schizo and can’t really put their finger on what’s bugging ’em, your rec would be a great exercise to try – it doesn’t cost a dime and could shed a lot of light on how a person wants to relate to their wardrobe.

        it’s funny, most of the ladies i know are the opposite – they have high stress, long hour jobs that require a certain professional look. So they enjoy the chance to have a different weekend wardrobe in order to create psychological distance from their jobs. and Sheila of Ephemera comes to mind as a lady with very distinct work vs. casual vibes – i’ll have to hawk her pictures now to see how much actual wardrobe overlap occurs between the two πŸ˜‰

        happy weekend! steph

  37. Birdie

    Growing up, I was the biggest tomboy. I never even touched dresses from age 5-21. But now, I take much more care in how I dress, and I feel frumpy and ridiculous in jeans and a tshirt. Thanks for the post, I’m still learning how to dress liek a normal chick lol

  38. Mortira

    I am definitely interested in creating overall stylistic continuity! But, I work from home, so this comes easy for me. I do have my closet organized into groups of “going out” and “home” clothes – home meaning everything within a few blocks of me – but they can easily blend together when I need them to.

  39. thecandiedmango

    I like and agree with this post, but some strange workplaces are actually too casual to allow personal style to mesh work and weekend wardrobes. When I was working on my internship last year (at a cereal-production facility, if you’re curious) the dress code was pretty much confined to the following:
    -solid colored tee shirt or simple polo without pockets, preferably nothing with buttons
    -jeans or khakis, slacks for management teams (aka not interns)
    -steel-toe, non-slip boots
    -hair net + hard hat + orange safety vest + goggles + ear plugs
    -no jewelry (excluding wedding rings)
    -no accessories aside from a plain belt
    -no fun

    It was actually so confining that I ended up dressing up on weekends and sometimes in the evening after work just to feel more normal. I’m hoping that any future jobs I work will have a more formal dress code because it was really, really boring to dress like that 5 days of the week.

  40. Anat

    Thinking about this, I have to say that, as a few others have expressed, I am mostly concerned about minimizing wear and tear on my work clothes. Not necessarily because I spent a lot of money on them (I usually don’t), but once I’ve decided that they are work appropriate (for me), I prefer to keep them away from weekend activities that could do them harm. Over the weekend, I want to sit on the patio without worrying too much how clean the bench is, I want to get down on the floor, I may want to cook or do all kinds of things which I simply don’t want to expose my work clothes to.

    Also, since I feel quite ladylike during the week, it’s nice to get a bit of a cooler, more laid-back vibe going over the weekend. I actually feel that it enables me to be more expressive in my dressing, because it adds variation. I really like that and don’t feel any desire to eradicate that distinction.

    Of course I respect and admire any decision other women make for their weekend wear – this is purely my personal preference.

  41. Stacybeads

    My workplace is quite casual, so if anything I’m more likely to be overdressed for work, rather than overcasual for weekends. And somewhere in head there’s always this voice telling me that anytime I’m wearing a dress, I’m dressed up. That dresses are by definition not casual. Maybe because my mom never wears dresses?

  42. C.Thia

    I agree with the idea of making sure both your work and casual styles represent your true style as much as possible and keeping things a little dressier even on weekends. However, I do like to keep a portion of my wardrobe reserved for work only as a way of preserving a certain psychological space.When I need to buckle down and work, even at home, I can just put on one or two pieces from my “work” wardrobe and be instantly transported to that mindset. It also helps prevent me from slipping out of that mindset at work if I keep my casual wardrobe out of the office. Both my work and casual styles are the same, but certain pieces never migrate from one sphere to the other for psychological reasons.

  43. Cel

    I need my work and casual wardrobes to jive. I don’t have a lot of money, and after losing a lot of weight and now needing to replace a lot of my clothing, I can’t go spending tons of money on two separate wardrobes. While what I wear to work isn’t something I’d wear say, to sit at home and play video games, I make certain it’s all clothing I feel like MYSELF while wearing. Even if it is a little dressier, it’s still me, and I have no problems wearing a dress from work out to a nice dinner, or even just to run some errands.