One of my clients wanted to create business casual outfits around Brooks Brothers Caroline Fit Pants, which are flared, fully lined and a lot nicer in person. They work well on curvy hips and thighs, and are fairly high in the rise. Gorgeous fabric, and well made with impeccable drape. My client wears them a quarter of an inch off the ground paired with Sofft’s Vepser low heel pump in black. The pointy toe, longer pant length, and self-colour integrity of the shoe elongate the leg line. The low-heeled pumps are extremely comfortable and work for a higher volume foot with a small bunion. 

The goal of our outfit creation session was to create crisp, professional looks that are a little more fashionable than a regular button-down shirt worn with a blazer. As I shopped my client’s closet, my immediate thought was to layer knitwear over untucked shirts in interesting ways. My client was receptive to this because she enjoys wearing shirts. 

Classic Flared Trousers, Dress Shirt and Pullover

First we layered J.Crew’s Merino Asymmetrical Wool Zip Sweater in toffee over a Brooks Brothers Non-Iron Tailored Fit Dress Shirt in white. We left the bottom zipper half unzipped so that more of the white shirt peeked through, but left the top zipper zipped to create a more professional appearance. The shirt tails peeked out just enough to not look sloppy. We also allowed a little of the buttoned white cuff to peek through from under the sleeves of the sweater. We did not unbutton the cuff and fold it back. Sleeves were left long or scrunched.  

Classic Flared Trousers, Dress Shirt and Shell Top

For the next outfit, we layered Helmut Lang’s Sonar Draped Wool Top over the same shirt, trouser and pumps combination. The sleeveless top drapes in a magical asymmetrical way across the body which looked absolutely fabulous. This particular combination took my breath away. We pulled out the shirt collar, which lay quite flat over the drape neck of the black top. The longer length of the black top covered the shirt tails and created a “jumpsuit” effect, as well as a slimming column of colour. Sleeves were left long or scrunched. Both layered looks are comfortable because of the fluid fits of the sweater and knit top. 

We added a toffee clutch, which is similar to this French Connections Cosmic Hair Clutch, to stay within the colour palette. My client enjoys wearing jewellery so we finished off the looks with stud earrings and a cocktail ring. For outdoors, we chose an arty and soft black drape front leather jacket similar to Vince’s Drape Neck Leather Jacket, instead of the more traditional office wear blazer, classic trench coat or hard-edged moto jacket. A long wool coat in a non-black neutral is on my client’s shopping list, so something like J. Crew’s Stadium Cloth Top Coat would work well too, or even a cape or on trend poncho. 

The Start of a Career Wear Capsule

These ensembles are the start of a career wear capsule that my client can expand. For example, we also pulled out some fluid fit, extra soft printed blouses and tucked them into the trousers. We added a few chunky necklaces inside the collar for a little textural bling. We topped off the look with the same drape front leather jacket, which can be kept on indoors because it’s lightweight. The soft blouses would also work as a layering item under the sweater and sleeveless drape top. But my client preferred the crisp and more boyish effect of the white shirts as layering pieces, and left it at that.