Style Stories

Easy outfits to wear when you want to look put together

Ten formulas
by Leandra Medine Cohen
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What do you wear when you want to look (feel) put together, even professional or mature and kind of grown-up but not too grown up, esp when your situation is such that you work from home or (and) spend most of your time with your kids/could probably swing wearing gym shorts and a sweater every day for the next month?

Maybe not the worst thing. I love this Soeur sweater (the pants are from Sea, the sandals are Rene Caovilla and that is a 20 lb comb from The Row)

No season inclines me to indulge in the yearning to look like I have my shit together more than September’s back-to-school. There is something about the (Virgo?) energy of the time that makes it feel like January — as in, the new year (which, technically, for Jewish people, it is) but by a factor of 10.

Here is an entree of straightforward outfit ideas that leave enough flexibility for personality styling (that thing where you make your outfit look like something “only you” would wear). I tried to incorporate classic former season heroes to demonstrate how to build around those too, but I’m going to start with the least straightforward/put together look because it’s also the most fun idea I had in September. (As I write this, I realize that for as much as I wanted to look put together when I made this post, very recently has my attention shifted towards looking like I want to have fun. So I guess that will be next.)

The formula: Classic upper (in this instance blazer and crew neck) x personality skirt + casual accents (fisherman shoes and unexpected sunglasses)

This red rosette has become the most important wardrobe hero of the late summer/early Fall season. It adds so much, even on a tableau like this one, with a carpet skirt and fisherman's shoes. If you’re looking for a good ivory blazer, here’s one I would recommend. It’s the fit on the featured one that’s more important — kind of shrunken and fluted, but not too much. The skirt is here, one left in a sz 36 on The Outnet — but fringe is coming hard for us, so it will not be hard to find another one. And as far as the basics: a good t-shirt to tuck in and layer under things and the fisherman shoes heard round the world.

Onwards to the straightforward ones:

The formula: Classic cardigan x reliable jeans (wide-leg jeans are great this time of year before coats become a factor to consider and start to weigh down all the volume) + sleek belt (for put togetherness) x contrasting color accents (rosette, shoes).

I prefer a crew cardigan to one with a v because there is more flexibility with how to style under it. This one is from Vince. The heathery oatmeal color makes it versatile and gives it a casual edge; Damernes Magasin rosette (these retail for just under $50 usd. The price is in Danish krone; but last week two members of TCA linked to great Etsy shop options too — here they are; ty Kate and Sarah!), Citizens of Humanity jeans, The Row belt, and here are good yellow flats for you. If you’re looking for something more structured, and can spend a bit more, you can go for an acidic gold pair like these from Manolo, or here’s a curveball.

The formula: Trusted summer bottom that you could wear to a place with a dress code (in my instance, it’s the Bermuda shorts, could be something else for you) + delicate Fall piece (in this instance, the top) x direct rebellion to the previous variable (suede cowboy boots).

Have been on a quest to find tops that are not button-down, t-shirt, poplin or knit and so far the closest I’ve come is this seafoam Vince number (and this smocked one). Dries van Noten Bermuda shorts (the fall equiv?), Shiloh Heritage cowboy boots (another option; these are much shorter, but a great shape).

The formula: Oversize top x tailored pants x decorative belt + practical, but still festive shoes

Delphine raw silk button-down (bought in a size medium), Tory Burch belt (comes in white too; I think the key is a dangling charm), Giuliva Heritage ‘Laura’ pants (they also come in denim; a pair like this would work too; these are probably the most similar tho), Doen sandals (or these from No.6)

The formula: Matching layers of cool-weather fabric x casual accessories (suede fisherman shoes, sunglasses) + glamorous accents (gold earrings, red lipstick).

Would wear to the office if I went to one. Grey on grey is like denim on denim (I think it’s the heather effect) in that it registers as a neutral, pairs well with jewelry, and maintains an air of casual freedom dressing. Both the top and pants are from Maria McManus (re: pants, different vibe here, but still good), the fisherman shoes are Grenson’s Queenie, the sunglasses are Delarge and the earrings are from Darmernes Magasin (these or these are a nice alternative).

The formula: Cookiecutter office staple you can’t deny as such (grey suit jacket, suede loafers) x balls to the walls imagined undertaking (sheer net overlay, leggings) + talisman to remind you you’re you (bandana).

Does that formula make sense? Really meditated on how to make this grey blazer feel like a personality piece and landed in this overlay with leggings, not a classic pick for me, but then again neither is the blazer, so the navy bandana was kind of like the reminder that I’m still in here. Skall Studio scarf around neck, Rosie Assoulin suit jacket (from 2015; here it is in a size 6 on eBay; into this one from Anine Bing too, or this from Jacques Wei), the net thing is the overlayer of a Camilla and Marc dress (here’s the most similar comp; I like this one from Noir Kei Ninomiya; sheer mania has set in), plain black leggings, The Row suede loafers and Savette bag

The formula: Shades of office-appropriate material (shirt, skirt) x counter material removable item (suede fringe jacket, but if you’re wearing pants and a shirt for example, it could be a suede belt or shoes or something) + accent to offset the aforementioned (patent leather party shoes)

Flannel shirt from a collab I did with Chava’s Olivia Villanti last year (it’s embroidered in various places with skiiers and mountains and stuff. This Theory shirt is a close, albeit unembroidered alternative. For a bit more $$, here is Toteme’s); Marchen skort (good alt), Emme Parson’s Leandra shoes.(The burgundy ones would be great with red tights.)

Not mentioned in the formula is that I added the white bag to riff on the socks, but the key thing that probably makes this look polarizing is the contrast between the jacket (Bode, but also — then there is this one, more shrunken, or this, more tan and this one just looks…the newest?), and the shoes.

👆🏻👆🏻Here are some close-ups to further accentuate the points made above. 👆🏻👆🏻

The formula: Everyday staple (black bike shorts) + beloved winter accessory of yore (boots) x personally surprising garment to represent spirit of the incoming season (belted wool top — a silhouette I don’t typically choose)

Soeur top, Sezane t-shirt, Maria McManus bike shorts (but any pair of your own trusted spanex will do) will absolutely work and Toteme boots from two years ago. They’ve been reissued in brown.

The formula: Summer staple (lightweight cotton button-down shirt) + heavy counter (cowskin skirt) x accessories to balance the contrast (sweater to match skirt, necklaces to match top, shoes that could go either way)

A page taken straight from the Miuccia Prada book of style with a cardigan around my shoulders, white shirt (LMND), Vince skirt, and old Celine sandals (these are great if you’re a sz.9 and these are just good quality fun). I deliberately chose a flimsy, casual cotton shirt to offset the skirt.

The strand of coral beads and shell pendant (Marisa Klass) are a seasonal contrast to add an element of playfulness to the rest of the thing.

The formula: Fancy dress x casual shoes

A penultimate nod to pure dressing indulgence with a free-form white silk dress from La Collection (this one’s nice too, and what is Ghost? I love this) styled with navy suede loafers (I think the Bode ones are worth it, but also that this velvet friulane style is next to explode).

And then here’s just one other way you might choose to do this, with a single breast knee-length coat (doesn’t have to be gold, doesn’t have to be leather) and flip flops.

Okay, that’s all I’ve got for you this go around. Stay tuned until next week for the answer to the most burning question of the season: what does a red accent do for your outfit?

I’m signing off yours,