Business Casual: Warming Up in Winter

by Rachel Yeomans | January 21st, 2010   

I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve noticed that during the colder months (that is, 8 out of the 12 months here in Chicago), I wear cooler colors. Lots of blues and greys and browns purples and forest greens and black (which is probably smart, since black attracts heat instead of reflecting it).

Whenever I notice this, I try to offset it by wearing some bright summery colors, and sometimes I feel a little too Kokomo as I trudge through the three feet of snow-slush left on the sidewalks by the Chicago plows.

There is, however, a way to wear nice, warm colors during winter and not look like you belong in a Sandals Resorts commercial. Warm and spicy colors like reds and oranges and mild, limey greens can be paired with dark browns (instead of tan or khaki or nude colors) to bring the summer look into the cooler months.

Let’s take a look at what I’ve done below.

ww3 Business Casual: Warming Up in WinterShimmer Linen Pleated Blazer in Cashew ………. $36
Persian Floral Print Top ………. $17.70
Pencil Skirt in Brown ………. $16.90
Croco-Embossed Pumps ………. $19
Tatlin Necklace in Orange ………. $9.95

First off, can I just say how excited I am than Anthropologie has a necklace on sale for $10? I love Anthropologie. Ridiculously. I just can’t bring myself to pay like $80 for a t-shirt. No matter how adorable it is.

My BFF from Michigan, Amanda, lives in a really painfully small town. They only JUST got a Walmart a couple years ago and it was a big to-do. They don’t even have a Target or a Barnes&Noble or Borders yet. It’s TINY, you guys. If you step outside your front door there, you’re probably already in downtown.

Anyway, she came to visit me in the Chicagoland suburbs and we went shopping and one of the stores we hit was Anthropologie. We found this ADORABLE soft grey t-shirt with a pretty bow made on the front with pink buttons of slightly differing size and hue. It was about $60, at least. And we both decided right then that we’d get a soft grey t-shirt from Target or Express (they have nice tees) or Old Navy, get buttons at the thrift store, and sew our own t-shirt just like that for a fraction of the cost.

We never did it, but we sure felt proud of ourselves for resolving to do so.

Anyway, let’s talk about this, and see if we can’t, through sound reasoning, analysis, and deep introspection, grapple with the layers we use to control the way those around us perceive us, and in doing so come to a better understanding of our own tortured souls.

Or something like that. I don’t know. I took a lot of Advil about twenty minutes ago, so I can’t really be trusted with knowing things.

I absolutely love this blazer from Tulle. It’s not a super bright white, the kind of white where your eyes sting and, if you go outside in the sunlight, people have to put on sunglasses just to look at you. It reminds me of what Eddie Murphy used to say, back when he was really sick of being the only black guy on Saturday Night Live, and being underused and not getting any good parts (this was before he really struck gold on that show). He used to come in to work at Studio 8H at night and put on his sunglasses as soon as he walked in, and when asked about why he was wearing them indoors, he would say, “It’s too white in here.”

Oh, racial tensions.

Anyway, it’s a nice pearly beige, not quite white, not quite nude, but something hovering delightfully in between. That bow is pretty special, too, and it’s feminine accents on otherwise more professional clothing that I love, because it really adds something unique and fun to the outfit that you wouldn’t have if it was just a pearly beige blazer.

As far as warm, spicy colors go, I wanted something with reds and oranges and pale greens, and that’s why this floral top works nicely. It’s got little sleeves, so you won’t have any weird lumps in the arms of the blazer, which always makes me uncomfortable. I usually wear shell tanks or short sleeve tops under my blazers or suit jackets, and it scandalizes my mother (aka, Mama Hoomster) horribly. Most things scandalize Mama Hoomster terribly. If you met her, you’d probably scandalize her horribly.

Well. Unless you were wearing a habit and wimple. She’d approve of that.

But the shirt has pretty colors, including a white/beige that matches the blazer. Since I went with reds and oranges, I didn’t feel like adding a black skirt. For that reason, I went with a dark brown pencil skirt that’s appropriate for the office and the winter season.

I added a pair of crocodile embossed brown shoes; the whole reptile print in footwear is apparently pretty big right now, for whatever that’s worth. And finishing it all off is the orange necklace from Anthropologie to play up these warm colors.

It’s a great way to get away from the sometimes oppressive, dark colors of winter and bring some warmth and brightness to your office wardrobe.

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Huma Rashid is a self-proclaimed root beer connoisseur and a second year law student at John Marshall Law School in Chicago. She publishes her own law blog, The Reasonably Prudent Law Student (, the home of her popular series, Business Casual Superstar ( She likes to address herself by the name of her alter-ego, the Hoomster, and lives in the Chicagoland suburbs with Mama Hoomster, Papa Hoomster, her little brother, and Eustace, her ulcer. In her free time, she likes to write, indulge her graphic design hobby, watch obscure British comedies starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, and think about cupcakes.