The All Day Outfit Already In Your Closet: Part I

Casey of Dressed to Code holds out a lemon cupcake from Jenny Cookies Bake Shop.
Are cupcakes the latest accessory?

An Outfit for All

Growing up, the concept of day-to-night was one that never really resonated with me. Where I was raised in Southern California, the hot days and cool nights meant that cycling through three different outfits a day wasn’t unusual. Of course, as someone who works in tech and rarely gets dresses-and-heels dolled up, it still feels mostly irrelevant. However, with Seattle’s long summer days, the idea of one outfit to take me from work to other activities now has merit. As the sun currently sets around 9 pm, this concept is less about day-to-night and more about an all-day look. While nothing work-appropriate is going to take me to the gym, there are plenty of options versatile enough for a variety of activities.

After wearing this look to work one day, I felt very comfortable in my own skin. The sneakers add that critical third neutral but keep me comfortable during my commute and standing at my desk. Even better, my boss wore a variation on the formula the next day. Overnight, it became one of those looks I threw on as soon as it came out of the laundry, and I began thinking about how I could tweak it.

As a nod to this concept of the all-day outfit, I’m posting more than one version this look, along with a few personal notes!

Dressed to Code - The All Day Outfit - Work
Looking back, this outfit is a natural progression from many of my intentional wardrobe choices.

The Outfit Formula

As time goes on, I’ve been expressing a little more of the style you see on the blog at the office. That doesn’t mean complicated or fancy, but I’ve been branching out from the standard jeans and tee shirts. As part of this, I’ve been paying close attention to the clothing choices of women around me at work.  The styles range from jeans and sweatshirts to photographer-worthy street fashion.

One of the outfits I started consistently noticing and appreciating has a few different iterations, but there’s an easy formula:

1. black dress or jumpsuit
2. denim jacket or chambray shirt
3. shoes in a third neutral color

The most common version I see is a knee length black dress with a denim jacket and brown booties or sandals. It’s a great, classic look, and an easy Monday no-brainer.

My wardrobe wishlist already has strong influence from this three-neutral scheme, specifically black-blue-brown. That said, I didn’t own a jean jacket at the time and wasn’t about to wear my heeled sandals to work. (I have since purchased a denim jacket and immediately wore it almost every day for a week, but that’s a story for another post.) One of the great things about moving toward an intentional wardrobe is having cohesive pieces that easily lend themselves to new combinations in the same aesthetic.

Dressed to Code - The All Day Outfit - Work
Swap out the dress, throw on a jacket — this outfit is only the beginning.

Part I: An Outfit that Works

First up is my original pairing for my causal office. For this variation, I layered my dark wash chambray shirt over an old favorite dress and tossed on my white Stan Smiths. You likely have everything you need to pull this off already tucked away in your closet. I’ve also worn this look to work with a black maxi dress swapped in. Unless we’re in a particularly chilly meeting room, I keep the sleeves rolled up, and I like how the turned-up cuffs lighted up the outfit. Not shown in these photos is my badge, which I wore on a royal blue lanyard with this look.

Wearing a badge is certainly a new complication to consider when choosing outfits in the morning. I have two ways to wear mine. The first is a lanyard I wear around my neck, and the second is a combination clip and carabiner badge holder that I can hook on a belt loop or clip on a waistband (similar).

Dark Wash Denim Shirt

This denim shirt (Banana Republic, Riley Fit 2P, Summer 2016) was one I picked up on sale because it checked off all my boxes. The petite fit is comfortable, the material is stretchy, the sleeves roll up well, and the dark wash keeps it a little less casual. Initially, I struggled somewhat to pair it with my dark-wash wardrobe, but once I threw it on over black pants, dresses, and skirts, this no-iron option became a weekly staple. As an added bonus, denim with denim has come back in favor, so I do occasionally just wear it with jeans.

High Neck Black Sheath

I don’t remember why I originally bought this dress (Loft, 00P, ~2009), but I’ve ended up wearing it for two different momentous photographed occasions, first as part of a rare family photo shoot and again for my college graduation photos (shot by Michelle Chan).

If you’re wondering how the same dress could possibly fit for so long, I was wearing a scoliosis back brace when I initially bought it. Yes, that kind of brace — a bulky, stiff thing from my armpits to my hips. The thick material of this dress hid the brace completely, and looking at the family photos, you wouldn’t have a clue. Side note: If you or someone you love is getting a brace, please reach out to me for support, encouragement, and clothing tips. I have high school classmates who saw me daily and still don’t have a clue I wore one.

Stan Smith Sneakers

If you saw my original post on these sneakers (Adidas, US 6), you know that I resisted buying them for a long time. That said, they’re now the ones I reach for first during the week. Thankfully, they also stay fairly clean and wipe down easily. Because my current pair of jeans is still staining my legs and clothing, the inside of the tongue is now navy. Oops. Additionally, I like the pop of green on the back, which adds just a touch of color my mostly-neutral outfits. Best of all, these sneakers look crisp and white while keeping my feet happy.

Casey of Dressed to Code holding a lemon cupcake from Jenny Cookies Bake Shop.
Nothing says celebration quite like a cupcake, and the blueberry on top coordinated well with the shirt.

One Year Update

This time last year, I was a recent graduate who had just moved to Seattle full-time. Torn between job hunting and taking some breathing room, I soon needed something else to do. This blog began out of a need for something to focus on that felt productive when other aspects of my life didn’t. What I didn’t expect was the warm welcome from the Seattle blogging community, the incredible people I’d meet, and a shift in the way I see myself.

A year later, I am an employed software development engineer, one of several adult-sized steps toward adulthood I’ve taken in the past year. There have been ups and downs, but I’m gaining a clearer picture of my life, my loves, and my let-it-gos.

So, as part one of this celebratory mini-series, I’m toasting (with a cupcake) to professional growth, a significant life change, and hanging in there!

The cupcake is lemon from Jenny Cookies in Lake Stevens, WA. In my informal taste-test, one of the three testers rated this cupcake their top pick.

When your goals seem far away, look back to see how far you’ve already come.
-Casey

Summertime Swimsuits (+ Shipping Saga)

This J Crew halter bikini top in black and palm print covers from the base of the neck to just below the bust. There are two different bottoms, and the black pair has more coverage than the palm print. Both are resting on a grey towel on a medium wood floor.
The palm print certainly pops in photos, but the classic black bikini works well with my fair (sunscreen-loving) skin.

Shopping for Swimsuits

Swimsuits are a place in your wardrobe where it’s easier to add color or try something a little different because 95% of the time, you aren’t wearing anything else with them. At least, that’s true for me. Additionally, I require swimsuits that I can functionally swim in, so underwire and necklines that gape are out. Nonetheless, I still want a flattering, comfortable, suit that I feel good wearing. No surprise, I’m also a fan of classic black suits with my fair skin.

Before this, the lone bathing suit in my closet was better suited (if you pardon the pun) for my own backyard. That is to say, it didn’t quite cover everything I would like covered out in public. It certainly qualified as a “desperation purchase” — you know, the thing you buy because it somewhat fits and you don’t detest it as much as the other 50 you’ve seen? (If that feeling sounds like your entire closet, check out my Intentional Wardrobe.)

As part of my efforts to buy great pieces that will last more than one summer, I was pleased to hear high praise for J. Crew’s bathing suits, even if the price tag was a little high. (Okay, so probably a lot higher than any suits I’ve bought before, but there have been some great sales!) Fast forward two months, and I’m very pleased with the two new suits in my wardrobe.

This J. Crew palm print two-piece halter swimsuit rests on a grey towel draped across a medium wood floor.
This palm-print halter top looks gorgeous in the water and out.

Swimsuits Shipping Saga

TL;DR: It took me a couple tries, but I found a swimsuit in both black and palm print that fits well and feels high quality.

Ideally, J. Crew would carry their swim line in stores, and it wouldn’t have taken me four (!!) orders to get the right combination of style, size and color. Chronologically, those orders were:

  1. Black scalloped bikini set (S, S), black halter set (S, XS, accidentally with charcoal grey bottoms), palm print halter set (S, XS)
  2. Black bottoms (XS, to instead of the dark grey)
  3. Black halter (XS), palm print halter (XS), and black bottoms (XXS)
  4. Palm print bottoms (XXS)

Orders 1 & 2: Let’s try on some swimsuits!

With the first order, the suits all went on sale less than a week after I ordered them, so J. Crew gave me a price adjustment, which was great. In person, the scalloped bikini set wasn’t impressive. The top was essentially unlined, and the overall appearance was nothing special. I loved the black cropped halter bikini top (size S), even if it was a little high on the neck, but accidentally ordered dark grey bottoms (XS) instead of black ones. When I noticed my order said “dark charcoal,” I had a black pair (XS) shipped to store to take advantage of the sale. The palm print halter was the same shape as the black one, but with this fun yet tasteful palm print. Thankfully, both halter tops arrived in the padded version, and while the XS bottoms weren’t as snug as I would have preferred, they did fit.

Order 3: Almost there…

Knowing that swimsuits tend to stretch when wet and hoping that the fit would be better if I sized down, I then ordered XXS seamed bikini boy shorts in black (the palm print was sold out), and XS black and palm print halters. The good news was that the XXS swim bottoms fit better. The bad news was that the black halter swim top arrived without padding this time, even though it had the same item number as  the first. (You’ll notice a series of padding or no padding debates in the comments and reviews.) The XS palm print halter did have padding, but I found that sizing down reduced coverage on the sides of the bust but did not lower the height of the  neckline noticeably.

Order 4: Wait, one more!

Thinking I was done, I decided to keep two suits, the black halter (S) and bottom (XXS), as well as the palm print halter (S) and bottom (XS). Although I checked a few times, the XXS palm print surf hipster bikini bottoms remained out of stock — until just now. (Sadly, I believe I snagged the last one because the size immediately went back out of stock afterward.) It’s on it’s way, and I’m hoping J. Crew will let me return the unworn XS with the tags still on it — fingers crossed. (Update: XXS bottoms did fit better, and J. Crew let me return the XS. Finally done.)

My biggest gripe in all this? Two day shipping through J.Crew is $20. I tried looking for the items on Amazon or Nordstrom, but no such luck. That meant that with free shipping, each of these orders took over a week to arrive. That said, the swimsuits I ended up with feel like they’ll be in my wardrobe for seasons to come, and I’m trying to focus on the (classic and very flattering) positive outcome.

This halter crop top bikini set from J. Crew features a nude-lined, palm-on-white print.
Thankfully, the partially-white bottoms are lined in a medium-nude color.

Fit Notes

For those of you who skipped the shipping saga, I ultimately kept four pieces:

  1. Black – cropped halter bikini top (S)
  2. Black – seamed bikini boy shorts (XXS)
  3. Palm print – cropped halter bikini top (S)
  4. Palm print – surf hipster bikini bottoms (XXS)

As you can see in the photos, the padding in the tops provides some structure. Given more support than your average triangle top, I certainly feel secure in this suit. Better yet, I was able to swim, flip, and splash around without fear of gaping or flashing. The padded cups are also generous enough to avoid an edge-of-padding ridge. While I’d certainly be careful about tying the strings at the neck and back, the ties are more important for keeping the suit on than holding you up. Plus, with the way the tie doubles up in the back, I’m less worried about the string stretching out. That said, the tops hardly count as petite friendly — one inch higher at the neck, and I wouldn’t be able to wear them.

While the difference is slight, the seamed boy shorts have a little more coverage than the surf hipster bikini bottoms. The seam down the side is subtle but elevates the shorts from basic black bottoms to something more substantial. In the photos, I have the palm print bottoms facing down; the lining is a medium nude color. The surf hipster bikini bottoms also cut somewhat higher in the leg than the bikini boy shorts.

Are you a canon-baller, a wade-in type, or a stay dry kind of person when it comes to swimsuit season? I know I’m the one with the sunscreen!

You have a body. Put on a bikini. There’s your bikini body.

-Casey

 

Nothing to wear? It’s not about your closet.

Casey of Dressed to Code is pulling her hair back from her face with both hands. She is gazing down and wearing a ribbed black boatneck t-shirt and dark denim skinny jeans.
Even within the bounds of black and denim, there is so much to play with in terms of shape and texture.

We’ve all been there. You open your closet and there’s nothing to wear. Okay, so not literally. There are a million reasons why you might feel that way, and in my experience, they’re accurately summed up by this quote:


“When a woman says, ‘I have nothing to wear!’, what she really means is, ‘There’s nothing here for who I’m supposed to be today.”

— Caitlin Moran, How to Be a Woman


 I’ve been in a nothing-to-wear funk for a couple weeks, which means that I have to be careful to not do two things. First, I ban myself from cleaning out my closet. In this kind of mood, nothing in my closet seems satisfactory, and I’m frequently tempted to empty my closet and whisk it all off to Goodwill. Not good. Second, I (mostly) ban myself from shopping for new pieces. In this kind of mood, I’m more likely to shop desperately, in the mindset that if I find that magic piece or two, my current feelings about my wardrobe will completely turn around. (Spoiler alert: It never works that way.) Together, that means that when the mood strikes, the wardrobe stays fixed. No additions. No subtractions.

Casey of Dressed to Code is smiling off to her right. In addition to a ribbed black boatneck t-shirt and dark denim skinny jeans, she is wearing blush leather lace-up sandals.
Just a girl standing in front of a closet, asking herself to love it.

The truth is, when I’m frustrated with my closet, it’s almost never about my closet. There isn’t a magical piece to pull everything together because it isn’t about the clothes. At all.

Three months into my new job, I’m starting to feel like I can tread water. However, I’ve been spending a lot of time at work, and not enough time on the rest of my life. It’s not the closet that I’ve been discontent with so much as my current work-life (un)balance — and the weather. This Seattle winter has been rough. To combat it, I started by focusing ten minutes a day on getting back to a healthier state. Ten little minutes a day: doable. In ten minutes, it’s amazing what you can do: writing in a journal, reading, setting up plans with friends, writing letters, etc. The list goes on. A realistic goal is often better than a big one. You can always upgrade your goal later, and the better you feel, the more energy you’ll have to do some of these things.

Casey of Dressed to Code has her back to the camera with her right arm extended upward to a peace sign. A black t-shirt is tucked into snug jeans with a black leather belt.
Find peace with your life. Then turn to your closet.

Black and Denim: A Closet Classic

Additionally, I asked myself to focus on what I like about my wardrobe. Clearly, there was a reason I bought these things in the first place. Eventually, I came back around to appreciating the theme that dominates my wardrobe: black and denim.

Black

This Madewell Musical Tee is a little snugger than my other black tees, and the boatneck neckline really shows off those collarbones. Altogether, it’s a little bit sexier than my other black tees.

Denim

If you read my review-recall post, you know that I’ve had terrible luck with Madewell denim after initially loving it. That said, having one presentable pair of jeans that might rip at any moment was anxiety-inducing, and after some truly awful attempts, bought another pair as a stopgap. These are the 9″ High Rise Skinny Jean in Larkspur Wash and still tint my legs (and sometimes hands) blue. They are, nonetheless, very comfortable.

Sandals

There’s something about working in such a male-dominated industry hat has me craving heels like never before. Thankfully, these Hinge stacked-heel beauties are comfortable!

Casey of Dressed to Code is perpendicular to the camera with her right sandal crossed over the left. Her right arm is at her waist, and she is wearing a ribbed black boatneck t-shirt and dark denim skinny jeans.
Yes, it’s that Madewell monogram again.

This post does have a happy ending! The sun is shining (hallelujah!), I have some fun activities planned this weekend with the wonderful people in my life. With things picking up, I also scored some truly exciting wardrobe additions, but that’s a story for another post!

(Spoilers on Twitter if you’re interested!)

Let me know what you’re doing to fix or maintain your life balance in the comments below!

Fight for your balance, friends.

-Casey

LBD + Cape! (Rent the Runway)

Casey of Dressed to Code wears a smug expression and a one-shoulder, black dress with a cape billowing out behind her. Bold red lipstick and drop earrings add a touch of color and sparkle to this all-black look, which includes pumps, a small satin clutch, and an Apple watch.
My rented dress had a cape. You could say I was feeling pretty smug.

The Backstory

First things first, while this is not a sponsored post, I have included my referral code. That said, this experience was completely inspired by a sponsored collaboration between Julianna of Blush and Camo and Rent the Runway… influencers at work!

You’ve probably been where I was. I had an event coming up. I had a dress I could have worn, but I didn’t feel great about the option. With the event just a few days away, I was scrolling down my Instagram feed and saw Julianna in a Rent the Runway number. I’d heard of RTR before and even looked before, but I hadn’t previously needed a cocktail dress. (Additionally, I’ve also gone up a few sizes since I first looked into the concept, so I’ve actually entered their size ranges.)

It still wasn’t more than vague window shopping until I saw the dress: “Black Drama Cape Shift Dress” by Jill Jill Stuart

Yes, it has a cape. That said, it’s still a LBD conservative enough for my occasion. I know some people think black is boring, but I tend to feel more comfortable and confident in black clothing. Plus, CAPE.

Given my challenges with finding things that fit, I expected to be completely disappointed. However, as I scrolled through the comments, I saw two repeated themes: runs small, and runs short. If you’re a petite on the smaller end of the sizing scale, you know that these two “complaints” can be fantastic news for you. After looking for feedback from women around my size, I decided that there was a reasonable enough chance that the dress could fit to actually rent it.

Casey of Dressed to Code tucks hair behind her right ear, exposing Givenchy drop earrings which add a little more classic drama to an already caped LBD from Rent the Runway. This all-black look rounds out with classic pumps from Banana Republic, a small satin clutch, and an Apple watch.
The classic combination of a little black dress and a bold red lip works for almost any occasion.

The Process

I was pleasantly surprised by the contingency planning built into the Rent the Runway system. As unsure as I was that the dress I’d chosen would fit, I became increasingly confident that RTR would do their best to ensure that I had something to wear for the occasion.

Dress + Dates

The obvious first step is picking a dress and the dates of your rental. Note that the cost of a rental varies not only by the dress but by when and how long you want it. Rentals are offered in 4 or 8 day increments. I selected a 4 day rental from Thursday to Sunday for a Friday event.

Size + Backup Size

Rent the Runway allows you to receive two sizes for the cost of a single rental, and I selected sizes 2 and 4.

Backup Dress(es)

You then have the opportunity choose any number of more expensive styles for an “upgrade” in case something happens to your first choice. I selected this Black Palermo Dress by nha khanh, which lacked the drama (read: cape) of my first choice, but would have been suitable for the occasion. This Gizela Dress by Trina Turk would have been another opportunity for a caped LBD.

Checkout

Checking out was relatively uneventful, but my coupon code required a slightly higher dollar amount. Therefore, I added a pair of simple studs to my cart that got me to that higher dollar amount and dropped the overall price. (A waste on their part if you ask me, but this is one of those occasions where a little math saves you money!) Get my referral code for $30 off your first rental here.

Arrival

Rent the Runway guarantees that your dress will arrive by 8pm on the day you’d selected. My package notification system (not a RTR feature) alerted me that my package had arrived around 1pm. I was simultaneously excited and worried about wrinkles, so I asked my S.O. (who gets home earlier than I do) to pick it up and hang them up. I didn’t need to worry. The dresses arrived in individual plastic bags, fresh from the dry-cleaners and completely wrinkle-free. The pair shipped in a high-quality, zipped carrying case. A similarly nice box, tucked into a special pocket, held the earrings.

Moment of Truth

I’ll spare you my nerves and skip to the important part: it fit! I ended up going with the size 2, which was a tad tighter across the hips than I probably would have preferred. However, the size 4 would have revealed my bra at the arm holes. That’s another perk of this dress: I could wear a strapless bra with one shoulder strap on (which is significantly better than fully strapless). The tailoring was incredible, and the fabric was a beautiful weight. While the cape did pull slightly, the snug fit across the bust meant it wasn’t a problem. As I had hoped, the “short” length hit at a flattering height just above the knee.

Casey of Dressed to Code smiles in Givenchy drop earrings with a dramatic Jill Jill Stuart Black Drama Caped Shift Dress from Rent the Runway. This all-black look rounds out with classic black leather pumps from Banana Republic, a small satin clutch with silver hardware, and an Apple watch with black leather and silver band.
The fit wasn’t 100% perfect, but the black color and luxurious fabric were fairly forgiving.

The Cape

In case it wasn’t glaringly obvious, the cape makes this dress. It managed to be a playful element without getting in the way. Simultaneously, the black color kept the dress grounded and sophisticated. I wore my black Canta pumps from Banana Republic but could have also gone with a strappy black dress sandal. While some renters chose a statement necklace, I preferred long, dangling crystal earrings from Givenchy (old). I wore my silver apple watch with the black leather band (no surprise there), and carried a small black-and silver satin clutch (old). (My apologies for the lack of details shots — it was cold!)

Casey of Dressed to Code pairs Givenchy drop earrings with a dramatic Jill Jill Stuart Black Drama Caped Shift Dress from Rent the Runway. This all-black look rounds out with classic black leather pumps from Banana Republic, a small satin clutch with silver hardware, and an Apple watch with black leather and silver band.
This dress may have only been around for the weekend, but these accessories will be with me for many years.

Ready to Rent the Runway for yourself? Get my promo code here.

Would you rent clothing for special occasions? What about on a regular basis? Or would you rather save toward a purchase of your own? Let me know why in the comments below!

 

Dress like the best version of yourself.

– Casey

Overalls: Not the Uniform Anymore

Casey of Dressed to Code pairs light denim overalls with black and silver accessories: a wool hat, statement silver disc earrings, and a black and silver Apple watch.
Amp up a casual outfit with three accessories.

Getting Dressed

When was the last time you got dressed without taking someone else into account? If you’re anything like me, you think about the weather, what’s clean, the occasion, and… societal expectations. I’d like to say that I dress for myself and only myself, but that’s just not true. In a visual world, we use our clothing and style choices to convey who not only who we are but who we want to be.

Fitting In

In case you’re new to Dressed to Code, I’m a software developer. As such, I work at a technology company with other people who also code for a living (Shocking stuff, right?). However, you’re probably already aware that women are significantly underrepresented in STEM fields, and that the tech industry has a reputation for hoodies, jeans, and sneakers.

Long story short, I’ve been wearing the uniform: jeans every day and sneakers many days. My Madewell Whisper Cotton Tees and Patagonia Better Sweater make frequent appearances. Is it physically comfortable? Absolutely. Is it emotionally comfortable? Here’s the reflective part of this post: I’m wearing these things to blend in. I’m wearing these items because it’s easier to go along with the unofficial uniform. It feels safer to mimic what other are wearing. It has also been raining almost nonstop for the last month.

Pair a classic pair of overalls with black accessories to keep things from straying too far into your childhood.
Seattle has been extra gloomy this year, so even a brief moment of sunshine is worth smiling about.

Standing Out

After hours, I spend plenty of time scrolling Instagram and scrolling the new arrivals at Madewell. Enter these overalls. Blogger Natalie Borton styled them six chic ways. Julia Engel of Gal Meets Glam praised them as “Finally… overalls that I don’t hate.” I saw them in store and figured I try them on, get them out of my head, and never think of them again. It didn’t help. Surprisingly, I actually liked them on. They were comfortable but cute. Somehow, these overalls fell outside my norm but right into my wheelhouse.

I’ve bought pieces for special occasions or circumstances before, but I’m pretty sure this pair of overalls is the first article of clothing I’ve bought “for the weekend.” (Maybe that’s another step on the path to adulthood.)

I might be wearing the tech uniform to fit in, but I bought these overalls for me, as a little act of rebellion against the uniform. I styled them with the hat that always makes me feel more put together, and fun earrings that would be minimalist statement earrings if such a thing existed. Oh, and sneakers.

This overall, t-shirt, and sneakers combination is perfect for running errands or to brunch.
This overall, t-shirt, and sneakers combination is perfect for running errands or to brunch.
Whether you're cleaning the house or just dancing around it, these overalls feature pockets and buttery soft denim.
Whether you’re cleaning the house or just dancing around it, these overalls feature pockets and buttery soft denim.

Links:

Overalls – Madewell Skinny Overalls: Dropped Hem Edition (S)

Tee – Madewell Radio Tee (XS)

Sneakers – Nike Free Rn (7)

Hat – Morley Hat from Moorea Seal (Adjustable)

Earrings – Old, from Target

Watch – Apple Watch, 32 mm with Black Classic Buckle Leather Band

Notes:

1. I wear a size 26 in Madewell denim, and I sized up to a small for a more comfortable fit in the overalls. 2. I had them hemmed with a traditional denim hem (for free as a Madewell insider) because I wasn’t a fan of that particular dropped hem. 3. It’s been cool and rainy here in Seattle, so I swapped the hat for a black scarf and threw on my North Face Thermoball to run errands.

 

Be conscious of not only who you are but who you are becoming.

-Casey