What to Wear to Work – Spring Edition

All words/styling: Merin Guthrie & Emma Fisher
All photos: Dakota Fine

Reading this at work? Pause – what are you wearing? (Look down at your outfit.) Black? Grey? Let’s talk.

Fashion this spring and summer is all about color. You’ve seen the Target ads… “Color Changes Everything!” Well, not really, but it is a nice break from the winter blahs. And with the lovely spring weather we’ve been having since, er, January, you’ve really got no excuse.

But, as the Grinch wondered while plotting to steal Christmas, how? It’s lovely for models to thow on a pink sheer mini dress and parade about town, but it’s a little trickier for us real people. You know, folks who work real jobs in real offices. And it’s not as simple as just throwing on every neon item you see at Forever 21. Neon can be intimidating.

BYT Style to the rescue! Some very doable thoughts on how you can wear color to work this spring. To prove that you can do this, we shoot on location in an actual office with actual workers: the very gracious Sorg Architect’s U Street Architecture & Design studio. Lighten up, folks!

First, the dudes:

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Think Pink. It goes far on men and women love it (trust us). Mark (left) rocks out with Hugh & Crye’s CP3 button down with Alton Lane oatmeal linen pants. Shaymar (right) goes long in raspberry (gasp!): Hugh & Crye schoolnight shirt and Alton Lane berry linen pants.

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Candy Cane Stripes. We know you have a striped tie in your closet. Grab something a little bolder – why not orange, green or a bright blue? Alton Lane green check shirt with blue stripe contrast, Mark’s own beloved khakis, Hugh & Crye tie (now on sale!) and our new favorite Rachel Pfeffer Design bike cufflinks.

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If casual is more your thing, plaids and ginghams large and small are the way to go. On Mark: Hugh & Crye blue and green senna shirt, Vandalist pullover from Redeem, beloved khakis. On Shaymar: Hugh & Crye first step purple gingham shirt, his own handmade belt (we know, crazy good), double washed vintage green khakis from Ginger Root Design. Both guys don glasses from DC’s own Panda.
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Ever tried shorts in the office? Go with something crisply detailed like the Ginger Root Design remade grey and tan accented pair that Shaymar’s chillin in. Pair with a classic blue shirt like the Hugh & Crye’s Williamson, a brass cuff from Metal Musings at Ginger Root, and – we’re not kidding here – a belt that Shaymar designed and fabricated himself. Pick one up at next weekend’s Pixie pop-up at Lumen8.
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The Bow Tie. Okay, so it’s likely that you’re sitting there in a suit thinking, “shorts definitely won’t fly here.” Cool. It’s time to reclaim the bow tie. It’s the perfect place to add a pop of color. Shaymar walks the line between banker sleek and downtown chic in a Ginger Root Design vest, charcoal Kai-Aakmann pants from Redeem, Hugh & Crye’s pink lil league gum shirt (now on sale!), all tied together by an awesome pink corduroy bow tie by Accoutre. Mark plays it cool in a Ginger Root Design vest, navy Kai-Aakmann pants from Redeem, Hugh & Crye’s pink Baudelaire shirt, topped with an orange Accoutre bow tie.

A word about our models: They’re real people – just like you and me! Mark Chalfant is the Artistic and Executive Director of Washington Improv Theater, the coolest bunch of players in town. Shaymar Higgs is a general man about town, a self proclaimed Renaissance man and student of life. Whether working as a pastry chef, designing skateboard parks as part of Dude Skateboards or creating amazing clothes and wares for Peerless Creatives, he’s pretty inspirational.

Now on to the ladies…

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We know it can be a challenge to do head to toe color, so we’ll ease in. Throw in a burst of yellow here or a fun print there, and just layer with your typical (read: more conservative) work wear. Instant improvement. Try a pastel first… On Linda (far left): green vintage skirt work with a vintage scarf as belt, both from Treasurynavy silk Madewell top, rust orange fascinator from CIAONINA (our new obsession), and super cute Accoutre bow tie bracelet found at Ginger Root. Janan (center left) keeps it light but neutral in beige pants from Violet Boutique (DC’s best kept secret), Madewell’s melon polka dot blouse, and CIAONINA collar.

Then go for big color… Janan (center right) paints it bold with a yellow Gryphon jacket from Wink, the perfect ladylike shift from Nana’s new house line, and Metal Musings brass cuffs and a classic lady tie from Ginger Root. Not to be outdone, Linda (far right) chooses a bold red printed silk Madewell skirt, a vintage blouse from Treasury, and a shrunken navy blazer from Madewell.

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Pastels feature prominently in spring fashion, but avoid being the Easter egg chick by taking a sleek Out of Africa approach. And have fun with it, as Mason surely does in a sea foam silk blouse and neutral silk skirt, both by Madewell, vintage white studs by PhulEffect and a vintage LL Bean belt (a Value Village find, naturally).

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Pastels and Neons. This is your mantra for the next six months, ladies. Mix deep saturated neons with clean white, like Jana does in hot pink Paige pants from CUSP, and a chartreuse sheer Fun2 blouse and white Ovi jacket, both from Violet Boutique – and both under $50, we should mention. Linda looks downright dainty in an apricot fascinator from CIAONINA. If you think you can’t pull this off, think again. It’s super easy to put on and looks good on everyone.

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The devil is in the details. From lady who lunches to nautical stripes, mix and match and accessorize. Mason, top, is ready for tea in a blue and green watercolor dress and beige gloves from Treasury topped with a chunky Rachel Pfeffer ring found at Ginger Root. Linda, middle, ties a splash of color and more than a hit of print together with a vintage belt. Pink tank dress works as a top and picket stripe skirt, both from Madewell. Janan, bottom, piles color onto a basic white French Connection dress from CUSP, with a hand-painted Elizabeth Graeber purse and neon watch from Violet.

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We all know that it gets hot in this town come late June. And picking an outfit that you won’t sweat through walking to work can be a conundrum. Mason looks sweet in breezy cotton and linen: Ginger Root Design cotton top and linen shorts, CIAONINA pink sparkle headband and yellow ring from Violet.

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We had to shoot color-blocking outside, cause it’ll take you through work and straight into happy hour. Linda channels a mid-sixties Jackie O in a navy and white tweed Rebecca Taylor jacket and colorful Alice + Olivia skirt, both from Wink, worn with a yellow Fun2 blouse from Violet. Janan is super comfy in a Madewell buttercup tank dress, chevron stripe 12th Street Cynthia Vincent sweater from Wink and turquoise necklace by PhulEffect. Mason shines in a Julie Dillon colorblock dress from CUSP paired with a vintage belt and gloves (from the Pleatherette treasure trove) and a PhulEffect pearl drop necklace.

Side note – we’re big on mixing and matching, so we gathered clothes and accessories from local designers, vintage shops, boutiques and national brands. We’ve got just about everything here in DC, and all of the designers and shops are lovely to work with.

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Even lovelier were our models. Janan Graham is a freelance graphic designer and photographer who is new to the District. With her bubbly personality and serious modeling skills, we think she has a bright future here. Mason Hubbard is a soon-to-be law school graduate, and will be joining a local firm this fall. We have tasked her with bringing color to the legal dress code. And we know that Linda will carry the color torch from her platform. Don’t miss her Nom Nom Bling Bling blog, one of our very faves.

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And finally, many thanks to the designers and shops that pitched in for this editorial!

  • Designers: Accoutre, Alton Lane, CIAONINA, Elizabeth Graeber, Hugh & Crye, Metal Musings, PhulEffect,
  • Rachel Pfeffer Design, Panda
  • Shops: CUSP, Ginger Root Design, Madewell, Nana, Redeem, Treasury, Violet Boutique, Wink
  • Location: Sorg Architects Architecture & Design Studio
  • Photography: Dakota Fine
  • Concept & Styling: Pleatherette
  • Models: Mark Chalfant, Janan Graham, Shaymar Higgs, Mason Hubbard, Linda Park

To go behind the scenes at our shoot, check out last Friday’s exclusive video…