Outfit Rehab: Work Wear

You know how you have those outfits where you like all the pieces, but when you put them together something is just not quite right?  After my Black/White/Stripes pairing post, my friend Erin (find her on Instagram) got in touch with me and told me she was having exactly that problem. She loves to wear black and white, but her sister told her she always looks like a waitress. Hmph.

So Erin gave me permission to do a post about her situation and come up with some easy, budget-friendly changes she could make. Of all the outfits she's posted on Instagram, I've never gotten a waitress vibe from her, so I asked her to send me some samples of her work outfits. Here are three examples of what she typically wears to work:

I also needed a little clarification on what changes she could or couldn't make, so here are some background details about her job, dress code, and budget:
  • Erin works at a chemical plant in a quality control lab. 
  • The Dress Code is business casual with close-toed shoes only. She is allowed to wear a slight heel so sometimes she will wear booties, but flats are more practical.
  • The following items are not allowed: high heels, tank tops, denim, leggings, sneakers. 
  • Budget: No more than $50 per item. 
My Suggestion: 

When I saw Erin's outfits, the first thing that came to my mind for an easy change was adding a colored shoe. Especially red since I love the way red looks with a black/white outfit. I browsed around for four different shoe options under $50. Mostly flats, but one with a low wedge heel if she wants to venture into that territory. 

Red flat options

For me, it can be hard to just imagine how something will look on an outfit, so for more visual help, I browsed Pinterest for some outfits that used similar black and white pieces but had the red shoe element instead of black. Of course, these are mostly high heels but it still gives a good feel for how a red shoe would look on her outfits:

Carylee's Suggestion:

I wanted to get another set of eyes on this project to give Erin a few more options, so I asked Carylee for her take on this. I also had a feeling she would come up with something completely different than I did, and sure enough, she did. 

Carylee recommended a change of one item per outfit, and again each of these pieces have a price point of $50 or under. (Depending on current promotion!)

Quick Fixes

I found three more outfits that resemble Erin's but with the changes Carylee suggested:

And for a final virtual before and after, I put Erin's actual outfit in between our two suggested alternatives:

Outfit One: Switch to red shoes or olive pants.

Outfit Two: Switch to red shoes or add a leopard scarf.

Outfit Three: Switch to red shoes or a stripe skirt:

* * *

I tackled some of my own outfits just like this in my Outfit Rehab post, but it was a fun and unique challenge to take this on with someone else's wardrobe and situation. Hopefully between the two sets of suggestions Erin will find something that works for her!

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  1. I so know what you mean. I have that problem all the time. The slight changes that you and Carylee came up with make a world of difference. Your friend is lucky to have a fashionable friend like you. Fun post! ~Cynthia

  2. Her outfits are cute but are a little plain, I love the changes you guys suggested.


  3. Love all your style recommendations to Erin - keep up the good work Gina!!


  4. I love the style changes you and Carylee recommended! They really make a difference!

    Doused In Pink

  5. I love the slight changes that you both added to her outfits! I'm a big fan of red shoes with black and white outfits, so that's definitely one I would do. And adding a scarf is an easy fix too.

  6. This was a great way to see how small changes make a big impact! I immediately thought of red shoes, too, when seeing her black and white looks. I loved seeing the side by side suggestions for her three looks. Great post, Gina!

  7. This was a great way to see how small changes make a big impact! I immediately thought of red shoes, too, when seeing her black and white looks. I loved seeing the side by side suggestions for her three looks. Great post, Gina!

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  9. Agree, I think the slight changes are great! I definitely love the idea of adding a colored shoe and red is perfect! I love that chinese laundry pair!! Great post, Gina!!

    xo, Erica
    Casually Styled

  10. Give me all of the red shoes please! I think they solve everything!

  11. Great work style tips!

  12. I love simplicity, but a little change is always good :) Great rehab!
    We Shop in Heels

  13. I love all these ways to break up the typical black and white, I often feel waitress-y in black and white but these little additions/changes definitely help take away the food service vibe!

    xo, Jasmin

  14. It's amazing what changing one little thing will do! I love how you broke this post up and showed different options. The visuals really help.

    Amy Ann
    The Real Arnolds

  15. Its fun seeing what a few small changes can do especially for someone working in a lab.

    I am a chemist and teach college now but used to work in a lab. Dressing for lab work can be tricky depending on what you do. I of course wore a lab coat but never wanted to have too nice of work clothes because they could get ruined easily. Plus everything had to be comfortable since most days I was on my feet for 8 to 9 hrs a day running samples.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Sara! It's fun to hear from someone who has a similar background to Erin! I do have to imagine working in a lab presents some very particular fashion challenges!

  16. Love the advice you and Carylee gave! Especially the red pumps and olive pants! Great job ladies

    Cha Cha The Fashion Genius

  17. Erin looks great in her B+W Outfits, I also love black and white with touches of red - my favorite trio of colors, especially if it is red shoes, Great post and so much in inspiration, Gina. =)

  18. You offered some great ideas and I think Erin did not look like a waitress either.


    Hope to see you Thursday for TBT Fashion link up.

  19. I love the idea of adding the bright red shoe--it really changes up the outfit and makes it interesting.

  20. This is a fun post! I love the idea of adding the pop of color, I'm actually wearing black and white today with a pop of color on my blog LOL. I also love the leopard scarf idea and striped skirt! So cool!


  21. These are such great suggestions. I especially love the idea of a red shoe, and those pointy toe ankle strap ones are adorable. Nice work ladies!
    xo, Whitney and Blaire
    Peaches In A Pod

  22. Love the addition of red shoes! These suggestions are great!

  23. this is such an awesome post. love it. i basically only wear black, grey or navy pants / skirts to work, though i try to branch out with my tops. my shoes are boring though, i rarely wear heels because it's just not practical (i work in construction and sometimes i have to go to our projects) and flats are really not very popular on pinterest haha. i am totally going to look for some red flats.

  24. Love all of these black and white career looks. And I love the idea of adding the red shoe. So chic!
    Fash Boulevard

  25. I just love this post so much!! Shows just how a few tweaks can really make a difference! The red shoe idea is the one I would choose--love it with everything :)


  26. Great outfit inspiration post! Love the black and white combo.


  27. black and white is a serious go to for work, I esp love the leather leggings with EVERYTHING! haha.

    Eleventh & Sixteenth

  28. I love how you put this together and showed virtual before and afters! I hope it was helpful for her! I definitely don't get a waitress vibe from her on IG either!

  29. Great job styling ladies! I love both your suggestion of adding color to her shoes, and I also love Carylee's! I think that's why I sometimes steer away from black and white too. I do sometimes get that waitress or hostess vibe. I think it depends on what accessories you use.

  30. Aw that's kind of mean that her sister told her she looks like a waitress! I love your suggestions, especially the olive pants!


  31. Great post for working women like us. I love the red shoes suggestion. I love bold colors. ;) Thank you so much for hosting this link up for us!


  32. The pop of colors and just adding layers to an outfit are my way of brightening a dull outfit. I think both of you ladies suggestion were great and should help her in more ways then one :D.

    Kreyola Jounerys | Instagram

  33. Black and white is literally my work "uniform" as Im an attorney. Great suggestions for how to switch it up!

  34. I wouldnt mind going to work if I looked like that. Great looks


  35. This is such a fun idea! I really like both of your and Carlyee's suggestions. Black and white can be such a chic combo and your suggestions make the can make Erin's outfits look great!

    Nicole to the Nines

  36. such a cute post idea! love how you offer real-life solutions to everyday problems, i always feel like my outfits are simple and dull and i love changing up my shoes (especially to my rockin' sam edelman adena flats) to spruce it up x

    Natalie / Salt & Sail

  37. You girls got her all sorted! I do love the trick of adding a bright shoe to a black and white outfit to break it up + make it more interesting!

    Le Stylo Rouge

  38. Love the suggestions you made! It Black and white are two colors that a great to go together but your friend is right - it is often really easy to end up looking like a waitress! Your tips will def. help that from happening next time!

    Rae | love from berlin

  39. This is such a clever post and I love both of your recommendations. As you saw in my last post, I love black and white outfits with red shoes! Great minds think alike. It's the perfect way to to add that perfect fashion punch! My favorite blend is the red shoes and the leopard scarf- amazing! xo

  40. Great options for revamping her outfits! Amazing how the color of a shoe can change the entire look!! Love the scarf idea too...I'm one of those who has to have pattern in almost every outfit I wear, so scarfs are a definite go-to for me....an easy way to change up the look! :-)
    Kellie @ www.ie-style.com

  41. What a fun feature - it's interesting how small changes can make such a big difference! I think I've been guilty of wearing a lot of white ... I think I need to get some red pops of color - maybe not shoes but a bag ;-)


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