Just in time for the weekend, a quick special feature from a very, very special guest blogger….

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On baby m.:

  • Dress: Baby Boden, gift from S2. and K.
  • “Loose Tights”: Hanna Andersson

Baby m. wanted to show you her Thanksgiving dress, which was a very thoughtful gift from my mom’s very stylish friends. For the most part, m.’s remixing skills are being drastically underutilized combining onesies, footies and various warm outer-layers (often with ears!), so we couldn’t resist getting dressed up for such a special occasion. Thankfully, she couldn’t resist cracking a big, toothless grin at her daddy, either, while he snapped this series of photos in celebration of the holiday and her two-month birthday. We’re planning a weekend of studying and snuggling as the semester hurtles towards its dramatic conclusion on Wednesday, but we’re looking forward to more restful days soon. Have a wonderful weekend, friends, and to our academically inclined readers, best of luck whether you’re marking papers or completing them!

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Since she was kind enough to guest post for me while I was on maternity leave, I’m over at The New Professional today, covering for Angeline while she’s visiting her sister. I hope you’ll stop on by and check out my post on strategizing for and sourcing a professional maternity wardrobe.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

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Hello Lovely readers of Narrowly Tailored! I’m so excited for S. and her new little one to spend some time getting to know each other! I’m Kayla, and I blog over at Internal Sequin Issues. Living in the Northeast I’ve become pretty accustom to the changing seasons. As we transition from Summer to Fall, one of the key pieces that will be added to everyone’s wardrobe will be a great coat ( or two or three!). Keep in mind a few key tips when looking for a new coat and you can get through the changing seasons with an amazing top layer.

1. Proportions are Key

Guest Post: White Jacket

( Coat: Weathervane- Purchased at local Goodwill $10)

Knowing what proportions flatter you best is extremely important when it comes to shopping for jeans and tops, why should it be any different for Coats? Nothing is more unflattering than a lovely lady whose coat hits her oddly halfway across her thighs, or hangs off of her shoulders. If you wouldn’t wear a shirt that fell past your waist, than why buy a coat that does?

2. Don’t be afraid of Patterns and Color

Guest Post: Red Pattern Coat

( Coat: Charlotte Russe $5)

Of course it makes sense to stick with neutral color jackets because they go with everything but adding a jacket with a bold pattern or color can really bring a great element to what would otherwise be a dreary day. I not only own this Red Checked coat, but also a Green Plaid coat, a Blue Wool coat and a Purple swing coat, and am shocked every year at how often I can wear them. A bold coat means you can keep your outfit underneath neutral, and let the jacket do all the talking for you.

3. Amazing Coats mean Comfy Clothes

Guest Post: Trench Coat

(Coat: Vintage purchase via Etsy $26)

My favorite part about the colder weather? When I’m adding an extra layer with a Coat, I can sneak a comfy outfit underneath and no-one has to know. Some days you wake up and just don’t want to take off your Pajamas, so why not throw on a wearable alternative and put on a fantastic coat? This amazing Vintage Coat is my favorite comfy outfit friend. I can wear the most boring out outfits underneath, and no-one will be the wiser. They’ll all be to busy admiring my coat.

Coats can be fashionable while they provide warmth and isn’t that the biggest annoyance of the changing season? With a great Coat Collection, instead of dreading the end of summer, I look forward to the weather changing and bringing out my extra layers.

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I’m M. of An Epic Battle in High Heels, where I mostly blog about trying to professionalize my later stage of PhD wardrobe while slaying demons (i.e. my dissertation, applications, and other such projects). Congrats, S. and family!

This guest post is not going to make any sense if I don’t begin with what seems like an incredibly personal admission for the Internets: A while ago my husband I tried for a few–actually, more than a few–months to conceive and didn’t. Don’t worry. This is not going to be a sad post. We’re okay with it.

When we were in the midst of trying, a number of fashion bloggers on my blog roll, including S., announced their pregnancies and began writing about elasticized maternity trousers and strategies for dressing the gestating body in academic and office situations. Thinking I would soon be dealing with the same issues, I paid close attention. This had an effect on me that I didn’t expect: I reassessed my wardrobe’s pregnancy friendliness and had a hard time of purging my wardrobe of things that had to go but could be incorporated into a maternity wardrobe. I’m also in the late stages of a PhD program and need to work on professionalizing my wardrobe more, but I didn’t want to purchase a pair of dark trouser jeans and a fitted blazer on my limited budget if I could only wear them for another month or so and then would have to buy maternity pants soon after. Furthermore, I had no idea what my body would be like a year later. This put me into a state of wardrobe limbo and it was on my mind a lot when I was blogging at the now suspended Fashionable Academics, but in general women don’t announce “I’m trying to get pregnant and that’s why I’m still holding on to this awful shirt that already makes me look pregnant!”

It feels less strange to talk about it in hindsight, however, so if you’ll indulge me, I will now narrate what was going on in my head while dressing myself last year and trying to conceive. This may be especially interesting to former readers of Fashionable Academics who will have some of my repeat offenses explained:

MVP Red Dress

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I had always wished that I had purchased a Small instead of a Medium for a better fit, but my thoughts towards this dress (which I love) changed the day that S. of Academichic and Simply Bike wrote about how a skirt of hers in a size too big was good maternity wear in the second trimester.  I began to value this dress for its potential flexibility with an expanding belly.

Wardrobe Purge 

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Before “use it or lose it” became a thing to do on fashion blogs, I decided to shame myself into getting rid of pieces that I either didn’t wear, hated wearing, or needed never to wear again.  I’m so glad I got rid of these because I can only imagine what my 5 feet nothing stature would have looked like while in an in-between stage of showing during pregnancy.  But I hesitated to get rid of these because of the roomy shirts and elastic waist skirt.

December – March Limbo

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When I didn’t have a meeting and wasn’t teaching, which was after December of last year, I stopped varying the bottom half of my body as much as I used to because I needed some new pieces, but didn’t want to invest in any because they might be wearable soon after. My solution was a frequent bottom-half uniform:  black jersey knit skirt, black leggings, and black boots (mostly wellies). These would be paired with some sort of sweater/cardi combination.  I figured this was fine, since it was probably how I would soon be dressing out of necessity anyway.

The Discoball Skirt

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This skirt marked the end of limbo dressing. I had eyed this skirt for a few weeks, but had been saving a GAP giftcard for maternity jeans.  When another month passed without a positive pregnancy test, I bought it. It also marked a shift in my thinking on trying to conceive–I kept taking vitamins and limiting my caffeine intake, but I decided that the state of limbo needed to stop.  And seriously, it’s not that much more sustainable than 5 months anyway.  Until it actually happened, I needed to dress for the present and look presentable and professional instead of looking like I was constantly leaving dance class.  And the present also allowed for some frivolity.

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Hi, I’m Millie from Interrobangs Anonymous! S. asked for guest posts loosely themed around transitions, in any interpretation, and I was a bit stumped initially. I’m in my late twenties, in the thick of a PhD, and there’s no major transitions for me on the horizon, so I had no material at my fingertips.  I’ve found that academia slows transitions, sometimes until they’re almost imperceptible: there’s no job transitions in the same way, not usually any major moves, and academic progress can be measured (at least for me) in millimetres. It’s sort of like a suspended animation:  you’re a fully adult member of society, but you’re still ensconced in the bubble of student life.  Of course, some people get married and/or have kids while in grad school, but neither of those are in my foreseeable future.

But they are in lots of other peoples’ futures/lives, and as I near the end of my twenties I’m starting to feel like I’m at loose ends. I’ve been in school now for about ten years, and in that time most of my friends and acquaintances have left school and gotten on with their lives — getting jobs (some more permanent than others), buying houses, having kids — and I feel like I’ve got little to show for the time I’ve spent in university. I know what I’d like to have in my life, and while it’s mostly not on the “get married buy a house and have kids” axis, it’d be nice to be able to paint the walls and buy a table not from Ikea. I want to transition out of this academic limbo, but I’ve still got at least three years I figure with this degree, so it’s not going to happen naturally (or at least not any time soon).

Millie with black skirt, yellow cardigan, and red orange and black scarf.

At the same time, September is always a reinvigorating month for me. After a few months of loose hours and loafing around in the sunshine while my model churns out numbers, September is a time of sitting down and getting stuff done with those numbers. This year in particular feels like a fresh start with a good bracing mug of tea to get me going, and while I still can’t paint my apartment walls, and I already have enough Ikea tables to last me for a while, there’s other ways in which I can transition.   I’ve matured a lot in the past few years, and I think I’m ready to transition into the organized, together, productive, and yes, stylish, lady I’d like to be. Since there’s no foreseeable transitions ahead, I can take the time to do this right, without pressure on my or my wallet. It’s not a major transition, but if academia’s taught me anything, it’s that subtle transitions are just as important as the big obvious ones. The subtle transitions are the ones that let you get somewhere you didn’t even know you could go, because you got there while you weren’t paying attention to it. That belt over my cardigan up there? It just sort of happened, though not that long ago I’d never’ve left the house with it; my style evolved when I wasn’t always paying attention to it.

So, here’s some of the things on my list of things to try to do to feel less stuck, less restrained, and more polished:

  • Get proper bras. I’ve bought my bras at La Senza for years now, always the cheapest ones available, and if I’m honest they’ve never really been comfortable. When I was younger my logic was “I don’t like bras, so I’ll buy the cheapest one so I’m not spending money on them,” which is totally counter productive. So, proper bras, no molded cups.
  • Get more regular sleep. I’m pretty good about this for the most part, but I generally stay up too late, and need to get in the habit of being able to be up early without it being an ordeal.  The fact that my supervisor is rarely around in the early mornings doesn’t help, but I need to work beyond what’s the easiest a
  • Be conscious of my posture, and stand up tall. I slouch a lot, but it’s bad for my bones and makes my muscles sore at the end of the day. I’ve been working on being comfortable taking up space in public, and that’s all about posture and attitude.
  • Toss* any clothes that are decrepit or don’t fit. I fear this will take out literally half my wardrobe, but after pulling a tank top out of my laundry that had disintegrated in the pits, I realized that this is very necessary. Again, I have a habit of buying the cheapest available thing because I know it won’t be just what I want it to be and am reluctant to spend money on something that doesn’t fit. At the same time I’m a grad student who doesn’t have oodles of money to spend on clothes, and am apparently to big for some retailers to want my money. This will be interesting. (* Toss = donate, give to friends, use for dishrags, etc)
  • Try new shapes.  While I’m very good about trying new food, I’m more reluctant to try new shapes of clothing, because in the past I’ve used clothing as a way to blend rather than to stand out, and unfamiliar shapes tend to make me feel conspicuous.  But new doesn’t equal conspicuous or outrageous, and breaking out of my narrow sartorial comfort zone will hopefully make me feel more secure in breaking out of other comfort zones.

All of these sound like basic things, but I think putting deliberate and considered effort into it will help me feel less like I’m scrabbling through my wardrobe/degree and more like I’m a professional, on-top-of-her-game student. I’m trying to fake it (with my dress and demeanor) ’till I don’t feel like I’m faking it (with my brain) anymore!

Has this sort of thing worked for any of you? Any advice or additions to the list?

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Hi Narrowly Tailored readers! Angeline from The New Professional here. While S. is resting peacefully with the bean (one can hope), she asked several bloggers to sound off on variations of a theme: adaptation.

Adaptation in professional dress can be prompted by a number of factors: job change (to a different position or a different company), office management turnover or major career change, such as a lay-off or resignation. If you’re staying in the same industry, your workwear may not change much from workplace to workplace, but leaving the office environment entirely? What do we do with that?

Let’s take into account why we dress professionally in the first place: it’s often required to some extent by our employer and we want to be taken seriously by our colleagues.  For freelancers and entrepreneurs, the need to look professional extends beyond our home office or coffee shop spot—every interaction is a potential opportunity for networking and business development. That doesn’t mean you should be wearing your suits to Starbucks, but rather finding a professional-casual balance that works for you.

Your exact formula and preferences will vary based on your own style and the demands of the new work you’ve chosen, but here are some tips to get you started to looking polished and professional and grow your freelance career or business.

Do your research. You’ve probably done a bit of reconnaissance into your new field. What do others in your field wear? Are there any physical requirements that you should take into account (will you be on your feet much, getting your clothes dirty, etc.)? The worst outfit is always the one that is inappropriate for the situation, whether it’s overdone or underdone.

Mix and match. From my observation, freelancers tend to strike a balance between work and casual wear, since their days usually involve some business interaction and some working alone. Plus, with the elimination of a regular salary, you don’t want to be spending money you haven’t yet earned on new clothes. Not all business and casual wear will be able to make the transition, but you’ll be surprised at how much of it can.

  • Dressing down business wear: Split up your suit sets and pair each separate with a more casual piece. Blazers with a dress, for example, or pencil skirts with a tee. Roll up your shirtsleeves and leave an extra button open over a cami or tee. Soften a trouser-based look with an embellished cardigan and open-toed shoes.
  • Dressing up casual garb: Add polished accessories, shoes, and toppers (blazers, cardigans, jackets) to instantly dress up a casual look. Fit is key here…clothes should be flattering and fit your body well.

Be confident. This goes for any kind of dress code or outfit, but is even more important as a freelancer. Your work is your calling card, not your ability to follow an HR policy. Above all, how you dress be empowering to you. Your confidence in yourself will inspire potential clients to place their confidence in you.

Know your audience. While business wear could get you from 8-5, M-F in the office world, you have much more of an ability to adapt to your customer or client in freelance work. Don’t be afraid to bust out a suit if you’re headed to a corporate client or bring out some boots for a farm visit.

Continue adapting. Just as in a traditional office-based career, freelancers and entrepreneurs grow and advance in their careers. Don’t be afraid to tweak things when your business starts booming or when your clientele becomes more high-brow.

How do you strike a balance between casual and professional wear? What pieces do you find to be the most versatile? Do you have any other advice for first-time freelancers or entrepreneurs?

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BiblioMOMia intro

Hi everyone! I’m Amy from BiblioMOMia, and S. asked me to step in for a couple of guest posts while she’s away getting to know her Bean. A huge welcome to her little one, and congrats to our beloved S.!

As a doctoral candidate and relatively-new mom (The Pup is now a toddler of 18 months), I know how hard it is to feel put-together, stylish, and professional right after you have a child. In fact, those difficulties directly lead to me starting my own blog, because I couldn’t find anyone else who was navigating the dual worlds of motherhood and academia. I remember attending a department lecture when The Pup was 3 weeks old, and I had no idea what to wear – after hours in my closet and a few tears, I finally decided on black skinny pants, an olive cardigan, and a purple nursing tank with a great flowered trench coat. I remember feeling exhausted by the challenge of my changing body and my changing perspective.

One of the hardest parts for me (other than the massive amount of laundry caused by a baby with acid reflux) was figuring out not only how to dress my postpartum body for breastfeeding, but also how to incorporate the trends of the seasons into my new outfits. Life is totally different when you’re dressing around a stomach that still feels a bit like jello, and you need access to your top half about every 3 hours, and you’re carrying around a cute little blob of flesh (hi, Bean!) everywhere you go. So how do you find the right new trends to work with your new life as a new mom?

Clothing styles right now are very friendly to the postpartum body, so you’re starting from a good place already. Here are my picks for styling some of fall’s biggest trends on the postpartum body…

BiblioMOMia 1

Stripes

I can hear most of you scoffing right now. Cool down. The fact remains that most patterns – even stripes – are a wonderful distraction from areas you’d rather not highlight, and that the old myth of horizontal stripes is just patently untrue. Also, many of this season’s stripes are coming in lovely draped shapes that would be wonderful for layering over a nursing tank. Keep the scale of the stripes small, and keep the shirt loose around your waistband. Stripes are an instant classic, and they’re relatively effortless.

Ponchos and Capes

Yes please! They’re like built-in nursing covers, cozy both for you and for your little one. They’re absolutely flattering when you find the right cut for your body type – avoid versions that have way too much fabric or a very thick knit. Also, I think a neutral color is probably best here, or Barney Syndrome is a distinct possibility.

Flared Jeans (and Hi-waists)

Flares are back in a very fun way for fall, and they’re a great shape for new moms – they definitely help to balance out a newly-larger chest. Also, many denim labels are finally raising their waistbands, which helps to control the dreaded pooch. Although many people think flares can only be worn well with heels, I think they look awesome with TOMS (and even Danskos).

Red Lipstick

The retro-red lip is everywhere this season. For such a small thing, it makes a major impact. Personally, I also find that it distracts from the circles around my eyes when The Pup keeps me up all night, and the easiest way to wear it is with very little (or no) other makeup. Use the great new lip stains – like pixi’s lip blush or Revlon’s Just Bitten – to keep kissing that baby’s head even with your fabulous red lips.

Loafers

Whether heeled or flat, leopard or patent, loafers are an amazing shoe option for new moms. They’re totally stylish, extremely comfortable, and wear-with-everything versatile. Try a thick heel or wedge if you’re going for height, and a fun pattern or finish if you’re staying flat – these are not your mama’s loafers!

Headbands

So you haven’t showered in 3 days. Just tie back your hair, put on a headband, and you look polished instead of disheveled. There are so many pretty options, from metallics and rhinestones to felt flowers and plaids. However, make sure you look like they’re for you, and not borrowed from your teenage sister – think sleek and sophisticated instead of overly girly. Buy a few.

BiblioMOMia 2

Bright Colors

The color palette is BRIGHT this season – although traditional autumnal shades like rust, mustard, and olive are still around, they’re being paired with vibrant tomato red, cobalt blue, and neon green. It’s easy to add a bold color to a layered outfit, whether with a scarf or some fabulous bright shoes. Or, go bold with a super-bright sweater or saturated denim – but keep the rest of the outfit simple.

Army Vests

There’s nothing better than a vest for easy breastfeeding access! A vest is also a great option when your post-pregnancy hormones are causing your internal thermostat to go berserk, and you have no idea if you’re hot or cold. Wear a nursing tank and tee underneath, then unzip as necessary. The longer styles in stores for this fall are super-flattering on any shape, and it’s an easy wardrobe update with a single piece.

Denim Shirts

Classic denim shirts started showing up everywhere in chambray over the summer, but I love the darker denim version for fall and winter. Like any buttonup shirt, you’ll have easy access for breastfeeding, as well as a traditional silhouette that can be worn with almost everything. Try wearing it open over another shirt or tying it at your waist for an updated look.

Maxi Skirts

They’re like wearing pajamas in public. Do I really need to say more? If you don’t have one yet, it should be your first fall purchase. Look for a thick but soft fabric that won’t show any bulges, and a draped but not medieval silhouette. With tights and boots, maxi skirts are extremely toasty, too.

Draped Tops

If skinny jeans have given us anything, it’s a veritable wealth of draped, flowing, and flattering tops to distract from a postpartum belly. You don’t want to cover yourself up with too much fabric – you want to highlight trim areas like your arms, chest, and neck while giving your stomach a bit of breathing room. Extra benefit: these shirts are great to layer over a nursing tank, and easy to pull over a baby’s head during a nursing session.

Arm Candy

Bracelets are about to become your best friend. In the early weeks of babyland, dangling earrings are still a possibility. However, soon your little one is going to be grabbing everything in sight – especially earrings and delicate chains that hover right around his mama’s face. Bracelets – whether bangle, chain, braided, or cuffed – are a totally stylish option that your little monster won’t destroy quite so easily. Wear a lot of them – The Pup always steals them from me to play with in the car!

However, remember that all of these trends pale in comparison to the smile on your face when you introduce friends and family to your little one. Don’t expect everything to be normal right away – the reality is that you’re going to experience a totally new version of normal, and especially if you’re breastfeeding, those body changes might continue in some way in the months ahead. Embrace them. And then put on some red lipstick.

My best to S. and her new family! Congrats, Mama.

BiblioMOMia

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