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

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

Thinking Thankful Thoughts After Thanksgiving

Casey of Dressed to Code pairs a swingy black t-shirt dress with blush leather lace-up heeled sandals, a gold and green pendent necklace, and a silver Apple watch.
It was warm and sunny in Southern California for Thanksgiving with family and friends, perfect for pulling out these two pieces.

When you think about it, the combination of Thanksgiving and the following (now overlapping) shopping days is more than a little contradictory. We spend a day thinking about everything we are thankful for and then participate in rampant acts of consumerism. I say we because I also took advantage of the sales to pick up some things I’ve had my eye on. (Spoiler alert: I think all the things I ordered are black tops. Oh, well.)

In the spirit of extending the critical period of thankfulness, I’m going to talk a little about Thanksgiving as everyone else has moved onto Christmas trees.

I’m thankful for things that work out.

We ended up booking last-minute flights to Southern California to join my family for Thanksgiving day. Long story short, our original flight was overbooked. However, if you saw my Instagram post, you also know that we ended up being upgraded to first class. Thanks, Delta! I can now say that I have successfully eaten soup while experiencing turbulence.

I’m thankful for family and friends.

Miraculously, we managed to pull off surprising my dad! Let’s just say that there were several seconds of stunned staring after he opened the door, followed by hugs all around.

On the big day, the house filled up with people, some of whom have been fixtures at the annual event for as long as I can remember. The kids gleefully frolicked in buckets of Legos, and the adults had a good-natured competition between two similar side dishes. I certainly wasn’t complaining about duplicates of sweet potatoes and stuffing, some of my favorites.

Casey of Dressed to Code pairs a swingy black t-shirt dress with blush leather lace-up heeled sandals, a gold and green pendent necklace, and a silver Apple watch.
I ate a lot of pie, but you’d never know with this great dress.

The weather was warm and sunny, so this comfortable, swingy Socialite dress from Nordstrom  was great for the eating marathon. My mom made me a special dairy-free version of her apple pie, which was fantastic. (I think I ate at least 50% of that pie by myself. No regrets.) I was also happy to have an occasion to pull out these Hinge ‘Drea’ sandals again.

I’m thankful for safe travels.

There are so many things I could list specifically, but most of all, I’m glad for this trip. I’m glad to have traveled safely, seen people (and pets) I care about, and had the means to do so. It’s so important to realize every day what privileges we have in this world. I have people who love me and a roof over my head, for starters.

I’m thankful for my homes.

My childhood home will always be home to me, but I’m also grateful for my new home here in Seattle. I have a warm and welcoming place with a person I love, and I’m excited to start new traditions together.

Casey of Dressed to Code pairs a swingy black t-shirt dress with a gold and green pendent necklace, and a silver Apple watch for a casual warm-weather Thanksgiving outfit.
This necklace is a costume piece from my great-grandmother, so it was a way to incorporate a little bit of family into my outfit.

Moving forward in the holiday season, I’m aiming to continue the spirit of Thanksgiving. I want to stop and appreciate what I have and who I love. After all, thankfulness, togetherness, and joyfulness comprise the essence of holiday magic.

What are you thankful for every day?

“It’s not enough to love if you don’t also appreciate.”

-Casey