outfit post: no-brainer work outfits "The Printed Skirt Formula"

There are so many mornings when I wander bleary-eyed into my closet and stare at the clothing zombie-like with zero motivation to be creative with my outfit. I just want to get myself dressed and out the door quickly while still looking presentable for work.

This brain dead "I have no idea what to wear" scenario is when I depend on my tried and true "outfit formula" that was deeply ingrained into my wardrobe psyche by Stacey & Clinton during my many years loving to watch TLC's What Not to Wear.  The formula says: basic piece + interesting piece + cardigan/jacket/completer piece = outfit. This is forever the formula in my brain for getting dressed for work while looking reasonably put together.

Over time that general WNTW formula has developed into a few specific formula patterns in my wardrobe. And since I use this method so regularly - I thought it would make a good set of infographics to share here on the blog. I've been going back through my blog archives to grab some outfit examples of each of those specific formulas I use to share with you.

One of my absolutely favorite things to wear to work is a printed skirt. When I first started working I had two basic & super functional pencil skirts - one black and one grey.  Since I had a good set of basics in my work wardrobe, I started to branch out and I bought a  polka-dot patterned pencil skirt. At the time I was really unsure if I would actually get that much use out of such a 'fun' work skirt. Wouldn't I get tired of the skirt's pattern pretty quickly and end up just wearing my neutral ones instead?

It turned out to be the exact opposite. By wearing the printed skirt I found that I wanted to wear all my existing solid color tops more frequently and suddenly felt like I had a whole new set of outfit s in my closet. So, the formula I'm sharing today I call, "The Printed Skirt Formula":

Black & White Printed Skirt + Solid Color Top + Fun Necklace = Outfit

1. Black & White Printed Skirt:
This outfit starts with a fun printed skirt. (I said black & white print but it could really be any neutral & white pattern.) First, for the bottom, choose your printed skirt. My favorite prints are stripes and polka-dots but other examples might be a cool geometric pattern or pretty floral print.

2. Solid Color Top:
Next add a solid color top. Any color that you are drawn to and like to wear. (You can see I have almost every color of the rainbow above.) It can be a basic blouse or bonus points for texture with a tie-neck or ruffle on the shirt.

3. Fun Necklace:
Finally, I add a fun necklace in a metal or matching color to my top to break up the solid color on top. Nothing too crazy because I already have a print on the bottom. Just something to add some interest. Easy peasy professional.

When I get dressed using this formula I'm not trying to be a fashion standout - it's just more about looking presentable for work in a hurry. So there is no need to figure out an amazing statement necklace or perfectly coordinating scarf. The pants are the pop in the outfit and everything else is background. I feel like this outfit formula can easily be used over and over again for pulled together professional looks for work.  Just sticking with the same blueprint and switching out the individual pieces - the outfits possibilities are endless!

You can find all "formulas" I've posted using this link.


  1. I have a very specific black trousers/patterned top combo "uniform" for work. I've bought a patterned skirt but I only have one colour block top! Got to work on that.

    My other issue is that I can't get my head round tucking tops in. They look fine on others but whenever I try it myself I hate it! Got to figure that out...

    1. I'm the same way when it comes to tucking in, but my favorite trick is to use a belt to create waist definition in lieu of a belt. Since I have fairly wide hips, broad shoulders and a short torso, I use a wide elastic belt in a variety of color/metal combos to give me that definition of tucking a shirt in without the dreaded "extra tummy" look. Additionally, depending on where I wear the belt can change the shape of the shirt to accommodate a pencil skirt, full skirt, skinny pants or wide leg trousers. Hope that helps!

  2. I love this and as a pear shaped gal, I think I'm gonna try to flip it around to wear a solid (in my case darker) skirt, black and white patterned top, and a necklace. Thanks for the inspiration.


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