Now that fall is here & in full swing, it’s time to start thinking about layering pieces for work & weekend! My go-to layering topper for all season is a cardigan. Of course, I love patterns & jeweled embellishments on cardigans, but a solid in any color sparks joy when paired with a printed top & neutral pants, a basic shirt & printed bottoms, or a bold colorblock dress. Whether you’re shopping for fall must-haves or a staple set of cardigans for all year long, Amazon has just the pick for you:
I love the hunter green, which I’ve ordered & have planned for my wardrobe rotation this week, but I already have my eye on the cobalt, navy, ultra violet, & lime styles too! not to mention, this sweater has over 4,800 ratings with 4.5/5 stars.
There are some styles that just never go out of fashion, can work on a variety of shapes, can be worn for different occasions, & that should just always continue to evolve from season-to-season for shoppers. During a recent trip to Kohl’s, I visited one of my favorite brands, LC Lauren Conrad, & was taken aback by the flowy shirred top in navy eclipse & mauve jewel (on sale: $36.99, available in sizes XS-XXL).
It’s not a particularly stunning or show-stopping top—not a major must-have, trend piece, for sure, but I’ve had this top in 4 other style / color combinations from a few years ago & it’s a regular piece that I wear any time of the year. 2 of the dotted styles are pictured below from past Instagram posts, but also, I have this top in pastel pink & black:
I definitely appreciate the outfit versatility that this top offers, especially because it is flattering, lightweight, & feminine without too much drill. Also, I love that Lauren Conrad’s brand has made this top inclusive for plus shoppers in 0X-4X (on sale: $38.99) & petite sizes in XSP-XXLP (on sale: $36.99).
The light layers & loose fit are perfect for any bottom: a pencil skirt & cardigan for the office with stilettos, wide leg trousers & ankle boots for meetings, skinny jeans & a blazer for luncheons, & leggings & ballet flats for weekends. Most significantly, the mauve appears more of a rust in-person, which gets me outfit planning with other fall hues, like mustard or forest green. While I don’t have the tops yet in the pictured colors above, I’m just waiting for the next great Kohl’s coupon to add-to-cart to highlight with plaid, floral, or textured separates & delicate jewelry.
Even though the weather (here on Long Island) is teetering between summer & fall with summer heat still palpable, it’s sweater season in stores! Now is the best time to get the newest colors & cuts in woven wonders, especially if your fall wardrobe needs a refresh. A classic item to have handy for any rotation of fall outfits is a v-neck sweater in either bright or neutral colors—because, as I always say, the possibilities are endless!
I can definitely envision myself getting the green, magenta, & navy, especially to coordinate with a statement necklace & my favorite A New Day pants, leggings & knee boots, skinny jeans & ankle booties, or a pencil skirt & pointy flats for any given fall day! The neutral tones cry out for a bold or jewel-toned companion piece & the brighter colors would match well with any menswear-inspired trouser or juxtaposed texture in lace or jacquard.
When it comes to prepping for the work week, most people schedule & plan out meals for lunch during work, but also at home, whether you’re single or providing for an entire family. However, on top of that, something that I try to do to make my harried mornings a little easier is outfit prep. A typical Sunday night includes me picking out 5-6 full outfits & folding them in a neat pile in order of when I will wear them so that I can get ready steadily each morning before I’m about to get my pre-schooler dressed & fed, along with embarking on my hour-long commute. Here are my steps to outfit prepping success:
1. Check the weather & your schedule. No matter the season, checking the weather will be helpful. For me, hot days mean dresses & laser cut flats with a lightweight sweater for the air conditioned office. Likewise, snow or rain mean that I need to be conscious of footwear & hair styling. Also, if you have an important meeting or post-work event, take into account how your outfit can transition.
2. Build the whole look. Even if I know I’ll be removing a cardigan or other layer for most of the day, I always keep one handy. I’m a cardigan girl, so all of my outfits include either a button-down, flyaway, or cropped topper to complete the look. I try to mix it up each day with length & color, so it doesn’t look like I’m wearing the same piece each day. Also, I put together a top with pants or a skirt & make a note of the shoes I’ll wear somewhere on my phone. I have too many shoes, so it’s worth it—for me—to ensure that I’m varying them each day. If it’s going to be a hectic week, of course, I’ll repeat out if sheer comfort needs!
3. Pre-select accessories. I have little dishes on my bedroom dresser handy for accessories, in addition to my jewelry boxes & trays that are organized by metal type. Upon selecting the outfit pieces, topper, & shoe, the accessories come next. I usually only do this for 2 days in advance to avoid cluttering my dresser Monday through Friday. This also ensures that I’m putting my jewelry away each day too. I have 5 piercings in each ear, so I select which earring will be the main one, if it’s a drop, hoop, or stud, & then grab a card or 2 of smaller options for my other holes that I’ll grab easily as I’m getting dressed. This applies to necklaces & bracelets too. Also, if I need a belt, I pick one that coordinates with my jewelry.
4. Check for imperfections. I don’t really own much that needs to be ironed or steamed, but I like to plan in advance for those outfits. Rather than folding them on my dresser, as seen below, I’ll steam ahead of time & leave the item hanging somewhere they won’t be in the way if I’m not wearing it until the end of the week & where it will remain in tact. The same goes for checking for fit, holes, missing buttons, stains, etc. You don’t want to be halfway to work when you realize that there’s something irreversibly wrong—in the moment—with your outfit, especially right before a major meeting too!
5. Grab an extra look. I sometimes get overly ambitious with an outfit that I plan, but then when the day comes & maybe the weather changes or I’m feeling bloated, I change my mind & want something more comfortable. Also, I consider factors before & after my work day, such as any errands to run or stops to make, so I’m comfortable & capable to perform those tasks & my outfit doesn’t interfere.
6. Hair! I’m curly all summer long & since my work days have been light lately, I’ve relied on a claw clip or barrette, but once the cooler weather arrives, I’ll straighten my locks & turn to scrunchies, bobby pins, or hair ties, so I plan in advance if I have something that coordinates well with a particular look. It usually ends up on a dish with the jewelry too.
7. Keep it up. The usual Monday mornings when I realize I’ve forgotten to outfit prep somehow always become my most stressful days, setting the tone for more stress. The more frequently I outfit prep to get myself mentally & physically prepared for the week, the calmer I can start my day. Also, by maintaining a weekly outfit prep schedule, at least for a 9-5, I spend more time with my wardrobe & then remember better what I’ve worn recently to make sure I’m getting the most out of my investment by not wearing the same handful of pieces each week & rotating old favorites that make me happy.
8. Adapt as necessary. If you keep grabbing the same top each week, planning to wear it & then you change your mind each time, maybe it’s time to donate it since you may never actually wear it. Similarly, you might find that you’re wearing all black all the time & you’re missing other brighter colors; then, set a goal for the week to celebrate patterns or include a neon each day or coordinate a different take on animal print on Fridays.
To conclude, there definitely other things we all worry about that are way more important in our lives, but if feeling prepared for the week & expressing yourself through your clothing are major facets of who you are, try to outfit prep. Playing dress-up doesn’t have to be just for special occasions. Having fun with what you wear helps with confidence & definitely reduces my anxiety about what lies ahead each week.
Fall fashion doesn’t usually shout out polka dots—at least not like spring & summer style do—but that doesn’t mean it’s not a pattern you can rely on. I love a polka dot piece, especially because it means that I can mix another pattern with it. Particularly, polka dots can work with leopard, stripes, florals, & abstract prints when done right. An easy way to dip your toes into pattern mixing with polka dots—wait for the pun to click—is through an accessory or finishing piece, such as a polka dot shoe.
The Ollio dot pattern ballet comfort pointed toe flat in black @Amazon ($29.99, available in sizes 6-11) is a subtle, stylish, & playful way to incorporate polka dots into your look. I love the pointer toe, which is fashion forward for a street style look, but also elongating for a professional & confident outfit for work.
I’m obsessed with these flats in the black & white combination, especially with the possibility of pairing them with a floral dress, as well as some colorblocking with patterned tights. When experimenting with pattern mixing, try matching up colors that work in both patterns to find success, as seen in my previous black & white outfit post. However, if trying to coordinate black & white polka dot flats like these with another print, then I suggest keeping it solid with classic neutrals, like black pants or dark denim jeans & a bold solid sweater or top in red, magenta, yellow, or royal blue, all of which will really make the polka dots pop.
I definitely love the idea of matching any of these up with floral counterparts when the warmer weather returns, as well as with lighter & more delicate cotton pieces that can be found on sale on the major end-of-season clearance blowout racks.
I’d like to write a whole fairy tale about one princess’ quest to find the perfect leopard print pencil skirt, but when I, as a fashion blogger, can make this story a reality, it’s probably better to just get right to the point. As the transition of seasons approaches, most may think that pastels & lighter weight pieces must be hidden in the back of the closet & taken out of rotation, but that’s not the case when it comes to a versatile leopard print piece. Whether wearing the popular pattern as a top or bottom, or through accessories, it’s timeless for any Style Darling & presents a unique styling opportunity.
However, when it comes to a professional look that offers both creativity & boldness, I recommend a leopard print pencil skirt. This is one of my power pieces—in lieu of a preferred power suit. Leopard print can include any color combination from the traditional golden-khaki-black to fun & bright tones too.
These skirts can be paired with a button down shirt & stilettos, tee/cardigan combo with pointed ballet flats, scoop neck sweater & statement necklace, or cami/blazer + drop earrings, which is only the beginning, playing up different hues. Try a red, mustard, burgundy, or olive top with a more neutral-toned leopard skirt or for the yellow, pink, & blue option shown, mix it up with a pinstripe shirt with tennis shoes, ombre tee & denim jacket, or pastel sweater set & platforms to emphasize your softer side—no matter the trends or season.
The picture from 2017 was taken in front of my parents’ house in Lake Grove for my first day of teaching (as Professor LeClair) a college class & I had no idea the path I was about to fashionably forge or how my life would change over the next 5 years! When I recently uncovered the tropical dress from deep storage (that I was unable to unpack or even mentally tackle for a good 2 years), I remembered that I hadn’t worn the dress since that very first, nerve-wracking day of a career I never wanted; however, with the launch of my sixth academic year as an English professor (as Professor Gambino), I thought it was “fitting” to break it out again.
Of course, I accessorized it differently, opting for white accents & skipped the belt, but it’s good to know that 40 or do classes later, I still got it! The top picture on the right was taken this morning, a beautiful summer morning as the buzz of academia awaited me & called so many back to their jobs after a long break. I’d like to look back on both of these moments as bursting with possibility & new starts, reminding myself that they do come back around, even when it seems like fate has stuck you in a never-ending cycle.
Ultimately, recycling old favorites to make them feel new again & doing my very best to live the stylish life (one day at a time) are goals that I hope to uphold now that I’ve reclaimed a part of myself (& my style) in finally having my wardrobe where I want it to be. Stay tuned for more detailed updates on the unveiling of my cloffice (a.k.a. Style Darling Daily headquarters).
As for the outfit: The dress is an oldie from my stylist days @Dressbarn, as is the black bolero. The recent picture includes a @New York & Company cardigan & @Ardene flats, as well as oldie @Dressbarn drop earrings.
While the weather is still prime summer here on Long Island, it’s definitely cardigan season in stores. Beyond shoes, earrings, & dresses, I’m a sucker for cardigans—my favorite, feminine outfit topper for any occasion. It’s definitely been part of my regular work uniform for decades now! Some may argue that cardigans are “frompy,” but I love the variety of necklines, button styles, sleeve lengths, & other special details that transform a look from everyday to special. Not to mention that a cozy knit sweater is super comfortable compared to an overly-structured blazer—just my opinion.
My go-to source to shop for cardigans is New York & Company. Even though they’re strictly online now, they continue to be reliable & impressive with their cardigan selection for the professional & fashionable Style Darling. While they reproduce their staple Chelsea cardigan each fall, my hunt for something different in terms of a cardigan always leads to success with this retailer. Specifically, the peplum button-front cardigan (on sale: $39.00) is available in sizes XS-XXL & in 4 rich & regal colors: black, dark purple, golden seal, & navy.
The flattering fit & flare look is the perfect options to show off your shape when pairing it with a blouse or cami, along with skinny jeans, straight leg printed trousers, bootcut pants, a pleated skirt, or a pencil skirt. These fall-ready hues are ideal to match with the season’s most popular patterns & materials, such as plaid, lace, velvet, jacquard, faux leather, or dark denim. However, I’ll add these to my cart when the price drops a little more and/or I receive a reward certificate in order to get the best possible deal since this cardigan is categorized as a “City Steal” & is excluded from most of their coupon code deals.
When I find an article of clothing I like & can see myself wearing it on the daily, I become obsessed & can’t stop thinking about all the styling possibilities & if I should just get 1 every color! Sometimes, 1 in every color is excessive, but when it’s comfortable & versatile for nearly any season, why not?
With over 26,000 reviews, a 4.2/5 rating, & a variety of over 20 colors to choose from for both necklines, I’ve added to cart! Though, I prefer more of a scoop neck, as opposed to v, myself. Also, I appreciate that this is a piece I can share with readers of any size too!
I’d style these with any kind of printed pant for heading back to the classroom, such as a window pane or plaid, with pointed ballet flats; a pencil skirt in lace or jacquard with stilettos; dark denim jeans with ankle booties & a statement necklace; or a jeweled cardigan & my favorite dress pants. As I await my order to arrive, I’m super excited to share another fabulous 1 in every color find since timeless, fashionable, & comfortable basics—at the right price—are a must-have for any time of the year, as well as for any professional or social situation. I could wear this casually for a lunch date with friends on the weekend or dress it up with some luxe satin or blinged out pieces for somewhere fancier.
One style of shoe that’s growing on me (& the trendiest this past spring-summer) is the mule, which always gave me pause since I like to feel a footwear all around my foot—with the exception of flip-flops. However, as I’m getting ready—mentally & stylishly—for the fall semester, as many teachers & professors are, I have my sights set on fashionable, but comfortable footwear.
The Time & Tru twist mule @Walmart ($16.98, available in sizes 6-11) is the answer, especially in black & blush! The low heel & twisted front present a stylish option to coordinate with any blouse & trousers look for parent-teacher conferences, a midi dress & cardigan for the first day of school, or a pair of dark denim jeans with a button-down.
Also, one thing to keep in mind when viewing the miles online versus in person is the difference in shade for the blush pair, as seen below from my discovery of the shoe in-person:
I did try these on & they were comfortable. I didn’t get far walking in them, but they’re still on my mind. I do wish they were available in navy or olive since those are some of my favorite summer-to-fall transition hues.
Just as fruit prints & tropical patterns are signature to summer, houndstooth is a symbol of fall as fashion transitions from the lightweight to the heavier layers. In fact, wearing houndstooth is one of my favorite ways to greet the fall, no matter the color combination, although black & white is the more traditional route. I love a modern take on houndstooth with varying sizes, styles, & colors; particularly, the new Check It Out collection @New York & Company. The black houndstooth that we all love to wear with more subdued solids is brightened with more than white as we see bright yellows, kelly green, & even magenta to experiment with this fashion forward menswear-inspired print. I’ve selected a few tops, bottoms, & shoes that are my favorites to recommend anyone who dares to be bold with this striking pattern.
First, I love the combination of houndstooth on these tops with the details over a trimmed neckline, neck-tie bow, & solid collar, which are perfect to match with a pencil skirt & pumps, joggers & ankle boots, or jeans & ballet flats.
Next, houndstooth certainly makes a style statement on the lower half, especially when coordinating with a pullover sweater & layered necklaces, classic tee & statement necklace, or pleated cami & tailored blazer.
As we’re headed into mid-August & all the back-to-school merchandise is out in stores, it’s an exciting time to get thinking about fall fashion & how to transition favorite summer pieces into the next season. Particularly, when starting the new school year, having versatile, stylish pieces that are also comfortable–bonus!–makes the getting ready process easier & more exciting.
Another options includes Time & Tru’s 3/4 sleeve smocked midi dress($24.98), which is also available in sizes XS-XXXL & 4 patterns: rustic red painted peony, black plaid, papyrus beige patchwork, & peach glaze batik leaves.
Of course, any of these dresses would like darling with a pair of neutral slides, a charm bracelet, & some drop earrings for this summer, but the classic & colorful prints match with some signature fall hues, including burgundy, mustard, olive, navy & brown, which is why the following cardigan suggestions are perfect to match up with these dresses for cooler days.
During a recent black hole viewing of Instagram stories (I’m not the only one, am I?), I came across a blogger sharing their interpretation for summer-to-fall teacher outfits, including A New Day’s high-rise slim straight pull-on pants @Target ($25.00, available in sizes XS-4X). There are 2 qualities about these pants that I loved right away: 1. They’re pull-on. Ever since I’ve had my daughter, pants with zippers are the enemy & pull-on pants are my loyal subjects! 2. They’re available in 8 neutral, professional colors / patterns.
The variety includes navy (windowpane), black pinstriped, gray (plaid), gray (& black/purple houndstooth), cream, green, brown, & black. So far, I’ve ordered all, except the black because they weren’t available in my size, & I’ve received the navy & gray houndstooth. They’re very comfortable & run true to size. I love the length (being that I’m 5’3″).
For a professional day, they will pair nicely with a blouse-cardigan-ballet flat combination or a short sleeve sweater & statement necklace with mule heels. I’d love to style these pants for more than just work though. When headed somewhere more casual, I can see pairing the solid options with a dolman top & sandals or a printed tee & wedges. As always, the possibilities are endless! Check out some options by A New Day sold @Target below:
Lastly, an outfit isn’t complete without some stylish (& affordable shoes). Target really knows what they’re doing when it comes to products in the line for A New Day as so many neutral pieces can be coordinated, especially with the pants: