Spring In Shiny Oxfords And Patterned Skirts


The daffodils now lining Northern California sidewalks have convinced me that spring, as always, will come. Needs must dream up a new business casual uniform.

Whenever you begin to put together a new look, start with what you already know about your style. In my case, wanting to join in the pattern-mixing fun, I have to take the usual small-figured road, and rely on a single color or color families. Sort of Dries van Noten meets Miuccia Prada, and everybody quiets down. My walking commute dictates the shoe choice. Denied wood-soled platform sandals, I might compensate with oxfords in an interesting shade.

And the bag, oh the bag. A new find. Go look right now at Hester van Eeghen’s site and tell me you don’t find at least three to covet. Not cheap, but half of the cost of a high-end design bag and three times the style of most.

Would this outfit actually work for the office? Doesn’t matter at this stage. Dreaming is the operative term, imagination the territory.

Spring Planning

Once the concept is in place, one has to noodle a bit. Think, hmmm, fuller patterned skirt, contrasting but similar patterned top, oxfords. Watch to see how often something similar shows up in magazines and online. Checking to see where pieces of type might be available. At what cost.

Then you have to go try things on. There’s just no way to launch into a new uniform from online shopping. Too frustrating. Look for the hardest to get/most difficult to pull off piece first. In this case, the skirt. For example, I know I can wear woven short-sleeved shirts and oxfords. I’ve done it for years. What I’m looking for is a skirt that substitutes for jeans. Comfortable in the heat. With a pattern.

And that’s the hunt upon which I’ll embark. Even if an outfit eludes you, pursuit can be lot of fun.

34 Comments

  • 02/21/12
    8:22 am

    Reply

    metscan said...

    Thanks for the link. There were lots of ” new ” looking bags, prized sensibly!
    I agree with you, buying online for clothes is not comparable with trying them on in a store first.
    Only sometimes you might succeed.
    I like your hair comb and the skirt looks timeless. But – oxfords! I had a pair of them for a brief moment, but got rid of them in no time. Absolutely not to my liking; too masculine, imo, grrr.
    So in envy of the spring you are writing about..

    02/21/12
    2:07 pm
    Lisa said...

    I have never minded masculine shoes:).

  • 02/21/12
    8:27 am

    Reply

    hostessofthehumblebungalow said...

    Those bags look very sturdy as do the oxfords. I like that you would choose orange too!
    Fashionable comfortable walking shoes are such a challenge, mine seem to border on the dowdy side and so i have been wearing my boots more often. Oxfords are a good choice.

    I am thinking of getting some Converse for spring.

    Brave you for mixing patterns. I am never good with that.

  • 02/21/12
    8:30 am

    Reply

    kathy said...

    I really like this outfit. Love the mix of prints. Also, a great link to very interesting handbags.

  • 02/21/12
    8:34 am

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    materfamilias said...

    You know I’ll be swooning over those bags in Amsterdam . . . and possibly saying hello to Hester, thanks to your Twitter connections ;-)

  • 02/21/12
    8:39 am

    Reply

    Cathy said...

    What heat? You’re talking about San Francisco. You’ll be back in your winter uniform but peeling layers on your way home.

    02/21/12
    2:07 pm
    Lisa said...

    Ha! I know, I thought about that. But we will have May, and September, and October, no?

  • 02/21/12
    8:57 am

    Reply

    That's Not My Age said...

    I’m a big fan of the Dries van Noten meets Miuccia Prada look – and yes, I think it would work in the office. Looking forward to seeing it on you.

  • 02/21/12
    9:30 am

    Reply

    kait said...

    Oxfords with a skirt? Who knew? Not I. But when I Googled the look, there it was, worldwide. I adore oxfords, but can’t do flats. Am off to find myself a pair with 2.5″ heels…

  • 02/21/12
    9:43 am

    Reply

    Susan said...

    Where can we find this skirt? Love it with the top–an unexpected pair. I can see you in this outfit.

    02/21/12
    2:08 pm
    Lisa said...

    Click the Polyvore, you’ll go through. It’s from netaporter, unfortunately, at a ridiculous price point…

    02/21/12
    3:18 pm
    kathy said...

    Fortunately, (for me anyway) I just checked Net-a-Porter, and I think the skirt has a very unbecoming fit. Even the model looks a bit frumpy in it.
    I do love a few of his dresses however.

  • 02/21/12
    10:06 am

    Reply

    alh said...

    I am finally de-lurking to tell you how much I love this new uniform look. It will be interesting to me if you wear the prints together. I also like the patterned skirts with a white tee and a 3/4 sleeve, waist length, cardigan sweater. Both tee and sweater with a crew neck. Love the oxfords! I’ve been wearing red oxfords with ankle length skirts and dresses the last two months of a very warm winter, and am considering red Keds for summer, when I’ll be doing a lot of cobblestone walking. And probably be in Amsterdam, at least briefly – so thanks for that link!

    What length do you imagine wearing the skirt?
    What about socks? stockings? Will those shoes be comfortable on a bare foot?

    02/21/12
    2:09 pm
    Lisa said...

    I imagine the skirt below the knee, and I don’t know what to do about socks! Am thinking hard. Thank you for delurking, and welcome.

  • 02/21/12
    10:20 am

    Reply

    Jan said...

    It’s six weeks before we’ll see daffodils here, but the thought that they’re blooming somewhere brings me comfort.

    No to the blouse, but YES to the skirt. I’m quite taken with it.

  • 02/21/12
    10:28 am

    Reply

    Ida said...

    I really like your comb,cannot find one over here..anyone know where I might find one??
    Like the skirt/shape also the way you always find something a bit quirky. Ida

    02/21/12
    2:10 pm
    Lisa said...

    Mette gets her hair things from Alexandre? But this I found at a street fair, so I don’t know. Glad you like. Market opportunity, someone!

  • 02/21/12
    10:44 am

    Reply

    Mary anne said...

    To me oxfords with skirt equals Catholic school uniform. Sorry, no can do.

  • 02/21/12
    11:12 am

    Reply

    Tabitha said...

    Stunning bags, I was just about to order from YSL but I love the stealth luxe that these bags emanate. Hmm, I may have one sent to me when I’m over shortly, they seem to be US based. Thank you!

  • 02/21/12
    11:50 am

    Reply

    k said...

    pattern mixing. . .really? That is one of those fashion editor things that most of us need to ignore. imo

    02/21/12
    2:10 pm
    Lisa said...

    My hypothesis is that mixing two patterns that are very similar in the size of the figure would work. We. Shall. See.

  • 02/21/12
    3:43 pm

    Reply

    rb said...

    I like the look, but would prefer it with these shoes

    http://tinyurl.com/89n7c3u

    (an almost ballet flat but with a strap, so you won’t walk out of it)

    I like the pattern mixing too.

    I also work in SF and I think the last needed element of this ensemble would be a lightweight trench coat suitable for those windy, chilly also-known-as-summer days here. I have been on that quest for three years now and haven’t scored yet. I have one in black that is the perfect weight (Eileen Fisher) but would like a non-black version that says SPRING! in some way. Sadly, because I’m in such a rut, that probably means the right shade of grey.

    02/21/12
    4:40 pm
    Lisa said...

    I always find Nordstrom and Banana Republic to have decent trenches.

    02/22/12
    10:55 am
    rb said...

    This one came closest, a couple of years ago when it was still in stores, but trying it on drove home the fact that “charmingly rumpled” is really hard to pull off (for those of us who are not Columbo)

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/258-NWT-Eileen-Fisher-Rumpled-Cotton-Steel-SMOKE-Trench-Coat-M-/140707369266?pt=US_CSA_WC_Outerwear&hash=item20c2d01132

  • 02/21/12
    4:16 pm

    Reply

    RoseAG said...

    Nordstrom had the best looking Cole-Hahn oxfords, suede with a sweet little colored rubber sole, and darn if my size isn’t sold out…

    Do let us see what you end up with. This is looking like kind of a stretch from someone who’se been wearing pants and v-neck sweaters for 6 months.

    02/21/12
    4:40 pm
    Lisa said...

    It is a stretch. We. Shall. See.

  • 02/21/12
    5:11 pm

    Reply

    Mary said...

    The skirt is ok the top is nice just not together oxfords have to thin a sole

  • 02/21/12
    7:29 pm

    Reply

    SewingLibrarian said...

    This is definitely not my cup of tea, but if you can pull it off, brava to you! I do like the bag and the earrings.

  • 02/21/12
    8:07 pm

    Reply

    Terri said...

    I’ve been searching for this cut of skirt and I have found exactly one in grey. How long are you shooting for? My grey one hits just below the knees. Haven’t tried it with a flat sole though. I’ll be curious to see the look all put together…I just might have a camp shirt I ought to send your way.

    02/23/12
    7:58 am
    Lisa said...

    I had been thinking just below the knee?

  • 02/21/12
    9:14 pm

    Reply

    Tempest in a Pink Teacup said...

    Very No Cal earthy. Cute!

  • 02/22/12
    12:07 am

    Reply

    Sandy Sallin said...

    Everything is cool looking except for the top and skirt. I don’t think those colors would complement your coloring at all, at all! I mean I feel stongly about this. (G) How about something more color blocky.

    You are so petite, in a very strong way, that something a bit closer to the body would give you a sleeker and more yourthful look.

    Just sayin

  • 02/22/12
    1:35 am

    Reply

    Paula said...

    Oxfords + skirt does not work for me, maybe it has to do with the 5’10” and almost having the waistline of a plus-size-model?

    But skirts + sneakers? Definitely a yes! As long as the sneakers come from a fashion label and not a sports label (BALLY is fine)
    http://tinyurl.com/6wn6y5j

  • 02/22/12
    7:55 am

    Reply

    Flo said...

    “What I’m looking for is a skirt that substitutes for jeans. Comfortable in the heat. With a pattern.”

    Mixed prints is a wonderful idea! I see it done beautifully in interiors, the mini check put with the larger floral or plaid, both carrying the same undertones, in fact the combo is often marketed in pairs under the heading of “companion prints” to make it easier for the designer to present to the client — in my experience, the concept is rejected more often than not. But I love it, I love your idea.

    Springtime now, looks like it’s time for your readers to take up ammo and reload. You know I adore you, but you are back trying to hide that KILLER bod of yours, and if I may say so, you would really “rock” the trumpet/fit-n-flare cut like nobody else, you are built for it.

    I’ve been over on polyvore and searched the trumpet cut, here are 3 examples just to show you the subtleties of un-bunching your waistline; 2 trumpets and 1 dropped yoke. And, worn with a low-heeled oxford, well the kick in your step and the flip of the flare are going to produce catcalls as you stride your way to work, so prepare thyself.

    Don’t look at color, or fabric, or lengths in these examples, focus on the cut of the skirts, the architecture around unbunching your waist + hips.

    http://www.johnlewis.com/326993/Product.aspx

    http://www.johnlewis.com/313738/Product.aspx?source=63325

    http://www.farfetch.com/shopping/women/christian-dior-vintage-long-flared-skirt-item-10155899.aspx

    02/23/12
    7:59 am
    Lisa said...

    Ah, the dropped waist. Used to do that in my youth. Good idea, I thank you. Although if I got catcalls I’d wonder what the callers had been smoking. In SF that is not a rhetorical question.

  • 02/22/12
    9:49 am

    Reply

    Englishvers said...

    I love a good sturdy pair of Oxfords. They somehow reminds me of my formative years at boarding school, and I do believe they suit me better than ballerinas, although I’m a dancer. Some say Ocfords with patterened skirt is a no go, but is there such a thing in Fashion?

    02/23/12
    8:00 am
    Lisa said...

    I think there is no such thing these days:).

  • 02/22/12
    10:29 am

    Reply

    Patsy said...

    Skirts are hard. I’m tempted to just order one of these in every color and wear them with polo shirts and oxford shirts.

    http://www.etsy.com/listing/87930863/black-and-white-striped-katie-skirt?ref=v1_other_1

  • 02/22/12
    12:28 pm

    Reply

    Jessica said...

    Love oxfords and a skirt!!! It’s been a whuile but I used to wear that look a-lot! Maybe it’s time to give it a try again…especially with a full skirt, been drawn to them lately.
    Happy hunting!
    xo J~

  • 02/22/12
    3:13 pm

    Reply

    Susan Tiner said...

    I was going to ask what you plan to do about socks/stockings but I see you’ve already replied to another commenter that you’re not sure. What have you done in the past?

    Skirts are fun but it’s so hard to contemplate going back to wearing stockings in warm weather.

    02/23/12
    8:01 am
    Lisa said...

    Used to wear ankle socks. Fairly sure that won’t work at 55…

  • 02/22/12
    5:46 pm

    Reply

    Emmaleigh504 said...

    I like this look! The only thing I would change for myself is making the skirt a mini and possibly straight, but that’s just my personal preference.

    The more I look, the more I love that top!

  • 02/22/12
    7:55 pm

    Reply

    Christine said...

    “What I’m looking for is a skirt that substitutes for jeans. Comfortable in the heat. With a pattern.”

    You live within the penumbra of that mecca of textiles, Brittex. I suggest you identify the cut/style you like and then search out and develop a relationship with a local professional Seamstress. Those who work for theatre companies, the opera, and the ballet often are happy to take on custom commissions between shows; at comparable skill but much better rates than couturiers. And if you find a pattern you really love you can purchase extra fabric for the day when your skirt needs replacement.

    02/23/12
    8:00 am
    Lisa said...

    I would so love to have a signature skirt style. That would comfort my soul.

  • 02/23/12
    4:40 am

    Reply

    Karen said...

    I love the top and skirt together, but NOT for the office – at least not for your office. Too distracting. The other items are wonderful.

  • 02/24/12
    5:17 am

    Reply

    Duchesse said...

    Keep the oxfords! They are far more original than other suggestions, and they are “you”! Terrific outfit. It is, at the same time, in a different register from your winter uniform, more Arty Cousin, quirkier. So I would also add a few solid skirts in the style that works for you. Some hot day you might also want a shirt or shift dress; you’d look great in those, too.

  • 02/24/12
    9:22 am

    Reply

    Tabitha said...

    Lisa, I’ll email you my dates, 9 days from roughly mid March.

  • 02/26/12
    7:12 am

    Reply

    mags said...

    I LOVE these prints together, but haven’t the moxie to wear it. Simply thinking of it scares the living hell out of me! Mother would approve. I do believe she delighted sending me to school, on dodge-ball day, wearing one of the print dresses she proudly made me for me. I resisted. She insisted. “But honey, it’s so feminine”. I’ve been scarred for life! Fond memories…

  • 03/03/12
    9:56 am

    Reply

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