This is the third in a series of 4 posts brought to you by Nordstrom.com: Think Less Buttoned-Up—it’s a New 9 to 5.
It’s harder to pull together a professional outfit when commuting on foot because you have to account for the elements and make sure those pretty little feet are happy. But with a little extra forethought, there are always solutions. The goals are to feel comfortable while you commute, and look polished upon arrival.
The outfits below illustrate a commuter-friendly business casual week day option and a casual Friday alternative. We’ll leave variables like snow and very heavy rain out of the equation because those elements require more specialized items.
Weekday Business Casual
- Bottoms: No one is stopping you from wearing skirts and dresses, but most of my clients prefer the practical trouser option when commuting on foot. The Anne Olivia stripe trousers pants from the Loft are great (also available in tall and petite). Pinstripes are a chic classic, and to my eye a little more interesting than a pair of solid black pants.
- Top: Fine gauge sweaters, blouses or button down shirts are comfortable layers under a jacket or trench coat. Finding tops that are fairly crease-resistant and don’t show marks left by perspiration are an added bonus. Ann Taylor’s drape wrap top is elegant and comfortable. Pop a pretty camisole or tank top underneath and leave it un-tucked over trousers.
- Jewelry: Brighten up black with a necklace or/and bracelet. Long pendant necklaces are trending, which makes the coin pendant necklace from Kenneth Jay very fab.
- Topper: Your choice of topper depends on the weather. If it’s fairly chilly, Calvin Klein’s belted poplin trench is versatile (also available in tan and black). It double duties equally well over jeans for weekend wear and makes a super addition to your traveling wardrobe capsule.
- Comfy shoes: Pumps with low stable heels and soft footbeds, like Bella Vita’s Wow pump, are a good compromise between foot comfort and dressy styling. When wearing black from head to toe, adding texture to the ensemble creates depth and interest. Patent footwear is one way of creating texture. Remember that you can doctor shoes for comfort with extra soft insoles, arch supporting inserts, foot petals and knee highs. If all else fails, commute in footwear that keeps your feet smiling and switch out your shoes at work.
- Comfy Handbag: You have several handbag options. Some like to travel with a large flat shoulder bag like the B. Makowsky lizard embossed leather tote. Others prefer to carry a small handbag and briefcase.
- Extras: Commuting with a mini fold up umbrella in case it drizzles is wise. Wear a dressy scarf simply for insulation while on foot, taking it off once you get to the office. Or, leave it on making it part of your indoor outfit. Donna Karan’s Tex stripe silk Georgette scarf packs a pretty Spring punch.
I’ve chosen a black and grey colour palette, but you could have chosen a navy or earth toned palette, and added more colour. It’s also clever to carry a little emergency kit in your handbag so that you can freshen up at work. Items like a hair brush, make-up bag and lint brush can come in handy.
Wearing relaxed professional clothing on Fridays is becoming the norm. The trick is to create the same amount of professional polish with more casual ensemble pieces. Enter smart casual dressing, which more often than not works like a charm.
- Bottoms: Flared leg jeans, like Cookie Johnson’s Prosper stretch trouser jeans, are all the rage this season. If these look too dramatic, opt for a slimmer denim trouser silhouette, or a pair of dark wash bootcut jeans.
- Tops: A blouse like Calvin Klein’s lace front top with fun roll-tab sleeves provides a relaxed look in a dressy way. Tailored sweaters, structured knit tops and button down shirts are other options.
- Jewelry: Wear earrings like simple white gold hoops from Macy’s instead of a necklace.
- Topper: Because commuting on foot often requires a warmer layer, keep out the draft with Kenneth Cole New York’s sateen walking coat (also available in sand and black). Again, a Spring coat like this looks equally fabulous worn with a knit top and casual footwear over the weekend. Love those items that do double duty!
- Comfy Shoes: Change things up with a low heeled bootie like the E325’s from Fidji. Wear them with trouser socks that stay up and I can almost guarantee happy commuting feet. No need to wear pumps all the time.
- Comfy Handbag: A structured handbag always looks professional, but a semi-structured bag will do just as nicely. Halogen’s double pocket leather tote zips up securely, while its cargo pockets provide easy access to a phone, lipbalm, tissues and keys.
- Extras: Scarf and mini fold up umbrella are optional, as are a pair of sunglasses.
You might need to tweak these guidelines for your climate, and because the prerequisites for comfortable and polished commuting can differ from person to person. At the very least, these formulas will provide a starting point. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section below. My job involves a lot of commuting on foot, so I’m all ears for extra tips.