outfit post: no-brainer work outfits "The Print Dress 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.

I think this formula is the least brain-power required formula. When you wear a dress it's just putting one step of putting it on and you're dressed. Then on your way out the door if you grab a cardigan and some shoes - you are now dressed and looking polished. Done and done. The formula I'm sharing today I call, "The Print Dress Formula":

Print Dress + Coordinating Cardigan + Classic Accessories = Outfit

1. Print Dress:
This outfit starts with a fun print dress. The print can be floral or geometric or striped or whatever pattern speaks to you. For me, my main object is to find dresses that have multiple colors in the print that coordinate with cardigans I already own. When I found the floral dress shown above and realized it had purple, green, teal, navy and white in the print - I was excited because I already had cardigans in every single one of those colors.
2. Coordinating Cardigan:
Next pick a cardigan (or jacket) in a color that you love. It can be any color that is found in the print or even one that just sort of 'goes' with the existing colors. I try to pick what I think is a fun color because the cardigan is pretty much the only interesting thing about this outfit.
3. Classic Accessories:
Finally add your most classic accessories. Neutral shoes like black pumps or black flats. A simple necklace or your favorite stud earrings.
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. Do you have any advice for just starting to wear dresses/skirts to work? It may sound like a funny question, but I work in a male-dominated industry (automotive) and am the youngest person by far in the office, and thus am still a bit uncomfortable wearing outfits more revealing than the regular dress pants-dress shirt combo. Any thoughts?


    1. I like to primarily stick with what I feel comfortable in and then just stretch it a little bit beyond that. So maybe start with a black pencil skirt/black dress and black flats and see how you feel?

  2. Amei as dicas do seu post =)

  3. Love love love your work! Posts like these are so useful in the brain dead hour early in the morning lol!


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