How We Dress: For Work, Part I

As I have mentioned previously, when it comes to dressing for work, I am fairly hopeless. As a result, I have decided to start a new series in which I interview women about their professional attire (with hopes of learning a thing or two): How We Dress For Work.

First in our series is Laiah, who works in Public Health Programming and Communication in the San Francisco Bay Area. Recently re-entering the workforce after completing a graduate program, Laiah is enjoying the opportunity to revise and add to her wardrobe. She describes her approach as “stylish, but simple.”

Here she shares some of her sartorial tips (including the virtues of scarves, her favorite boots, and where to find perfect pants for petites) and three of her favorite work outfits.


How would you describe your philosophy / style / approach?

My workplace is more laid back in terms of clothes than anywhere else I’ve ever worked, so I try to wear the clothes I already have, but not stand out in terms of being overdressed. My office also fluctuates pretty significantly in temperature, so I need to layer (also appropriate for the general Bay Area weather!).

I would also add that nearly every pair of pants I own come from Ann Taylor Loft because I haven’t found a brand of petite sizes that fit me as well (I’m short!). If readers have suggestions, I’m always open to them!

Lastly, I think that my examples are good for a reader on a budget as I don’t think any of these items except for the boots cost more than about $50. You can still look fun and put together from basic staple stores without breaking the bank!


Who is your style icon / what are your sources of inspiration?

I try to blend some of Ann Taylor Loft’s simplicity and professionalism with some of Anthropologie’s bohemian fun. As someone who has recently returned from living on the East Coast for 10 years, I am getting re-used to it being 70 degrees all year long, and so I take a lot of inspiration from other young working women I see on BART! As of now, I only own enough clothes for one season, not a whole year of spring, so sometimes dressing for work is still challenging! 

What item in your wardrobe could you not live without?

My scarves. I have a large collection of scarves of all different colors and textures. These help jazz up an outfit, but also are practical in terms of helping layering. Also, my brown boots; I wear them multiple times per week, and a close friend has the same pair and does the same. They are Corso Como brand.

Outfit 1 


How did you put this outfit together / what was the thinking behind it?

This is a pretty standard go-to outfit for a Friday (or a day that I don’t have any meetings!). It’s work-appropriate but comfortable, and I can also go straight out with friends afterwards and feel comfortable with what I’m wearing.

What do you love about this outfit?

It involves little thinking, and I can match the black top and cardigan with any of my jewelry or scarves, depending on my mood.

Where did the pieces come from?

Jeans: Ann Taylor Loft; cardigan: H&M; necklace: Lou Lou; scarf: Gift. 

Outfit 2


How did you put this outfit together / what was the thinking behind it?

This outfit represents a fairly typical work outfit for me. Sometimes the dress is more formal, but generally I layer on a light dress with a sweater or blazer, tights (if weather appropriate), and boots to look nice but not stuffy. Really the thinking behind this one is I’m generally much more comfortable in a dress as opposed to pants, so I own a lot of dresses that can be work appropriate, but that I can also wear in “real life.” My style is pretty feminine, but I’m a Bay Area kid at heart. I think this outfit certainly showcases both of those elements of my personality. 

What do you love about this outfit?

It’s colorful and fun! 

Where did the pieces come from?

Cardigan: Ann Taylor Loft; boots: Corso Como from Nordstrom; tights: Target leggings; dress: Nordstrom (via Crossroads on Haight St.).

Outfit 3

Laiah-blouse How did you put this outfit together / what was the thinking behind it?

This outfit is a fairly typical workday outfit for me if I’m not wearing a dress or a skirt. Again, it’s professional looking, but not overdressed for a laid-back office atmosphere. 

What do you love about this outfit?

I love this blouse. I would normally pair it with a fun necklace or scarf. I like that the simplicity of the clothes allow me to accessorize in a fun way.

Where did the pieces come from?

Blouse: Nordstrom junior section (the benefit of being petite! — the clothes are significantly cheaper but if you shop well they can still be appropriate for young adults); trousers: Ann Taylor Loft; flats: Nordstrom Juniors! 


Thank you, Laiah, for allowing us to peek in your closet, and for sharing your fun and practical style advice!

For more interviews with women who are forging their own paths, career and otherwise: Follow @shespoised on twitter, or like She’s Poised on Facebook (and select Get Notifications from the drop down menu).

Categories: Fashion

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