AJ Wears :: An off-the-shoulder top (to work!)

Can you wear an off-the-shoulder top to the office? AJ Wears Clothes investigates.

After happening upon this article from Vogue last year tackling the issue with some hard-hitting journalism, I was intrigued to find out on my own. Of course, they said it was okay to wear them if:

  1. You work at Vogue (cue MAJOR eye roll)
  2. You work in a creative, casual environment
  3. You balance your sexy, tantalizing shoulders with more conservative pieces.

These rules were followed by a barrage of some of the FUGLIEST outfits I have ever seen. No, not just outfits. Pieces. In what office, nay, WORLD would you wear that dress? The top is okay, but are you suggesting I layer it over (or worse, under?) the dress to make it office appropriate? And who is tall enough to pull off that hemline with ugly loafers?

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I am fortunate enough to work in a pretty casual office. I see someone wearing a company t-shirt and jeans nearly every day, and I suspect the shorts and flip flops will be pulled out as soon as temps rise above 90. Honestly, I always feel a little over dressed around there in general, so why not use it as an excuse to experiment? 

So bright and early (read: 10am) yesterday morning, I bared all (read: shoulders) at work. The results may surprise you...

...or not. Honestly, shoulders are about the least offensive body part you can show. I played hard and fast by the Vogue rules and made sure to wear pants, and I even fashioned a makeshift strap by wearing overalls. WOULD I BE FIRED? WOULD PEOPLE STARE? AM I A HARLOT???

Honestly, they should've been more offended by the fact that I wasn't wearing a bra, but that's another post for another day.

No one even blinked an eye. There were no murmurs behind my back, HR didn't call me out, and my shoulders could finally breathe freely, often oppressed by those terrible, sweaty arm prisons called sleeves. So can you bare your shoulders at work? For this girl, it's a yes.

Top, JustFab.
Overalls, STS Blue (similar from Asos).
Heels, Stuart Weitzman (exact // similar for less).
Bag, Gucci (similar from Asos).

The one where I let an app dress me for a week

I've written before about the eternal struggle of getting ready in the morning. When I worked in advertising, I felt the need to put a little effort into my look since I was occasionally client-facing. Now that I'm tucked away in a cubicle in startup world, my look has further evolved into more of what I like to think of as "effortless." Effortless in the sense that, I put on jeans and a tee and that's as much effort as you're going to get.

Enter: Cladwell. I got an email from their founder announcing their new "outfits" app and loved the concept - each day, the app serves up three outfit combinations based on the weather and what you've tagged as part of your closet.

Unlike other closet curation apps like StyleBook (which I have used for years and also not used for years), you don't have to take pictures of your clothing to add it to your closet, Instead, Cladwell has curated 100s of articles of clothing and shoes to represent what's in your closet. They're not all going to be an exact match, but when "patterned blouse" pops up in my suggestions, I just choose from the 3 blouses I have that match that description. My "tie front blouse" is actually short sleeved. I know what it means. I use each piece as a suggestion, not a bible.

So I decided to do an experiment and let the app dress me for a week. I'll detail what I learned at the bottom, but here's what Cladwell served up for seven days of outfits:

Monday: Sunny, H 81‎°  L 50‎° 

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Today's outfit just took note of the high, which was looking to be a rather warm afternoon. However, my office tends to be pretty cold and it was breezy this morning, so I threw on a jacket over the suggested outfit of the day. See? I'm already improvising.

Top, Elizabeth & Clark // Pants, Old Navy // Shoes, Zara (similar)

Tuesday: Sunny, H 85‎°  L 65‎° 

I didn't really need a jacket today, but I liked the idea of this outfit and thought it looked cute. The bomber was actually useful during office hours, but I shed it for the evening when we went to a baseball game.

Jacket, StitchFix (similar) // Tee, Loft // Jeans, Express // Shoes, Adidas

Wednesday: H 72‎°  L 62‎° with Surprise Rain

Maybe the forecast said rain and I wasn't listening while getting ready, but today's shoes were not prepared for torrential downpour! I was fine most of the day (which I'm guessing the app was betting on), but the rain rolled in at 5 pm just in time for me to take off my taupe suede and walk barefoot to the car. No cute photos today, but the shoes were saved.

Shirt, H&M // Jeans, Banana Republic // Shoes, Steve Madden 

Thursday: Rainy, H 68‎° L 60‎° 

More pigtails for a cloudy, rainy, gross day. I actually worked from home this day, so I just snapped a quick pic before heading to the radio station to record. 

Sweater, Forever 21 (love this thing, on sale for $10!) // Jeans, JustFab // Flats, Gucci

Friday: Sunny, H 89‎°  L 80‎° 

Thanks to the humidity to the days before, Friday was steeeeamy. I stepped it up when deciding between my three outfits and went with a skirt. I had an event later that evening I changed into a dress for, so these shoes were able to do double duty.

Tee, H&M // Skirt, JustFab // Wedges, Forever 21 (similar)

Saturday: Sunny, H 80‎°  L 68‎° 

Another gorgeous weekend in the books. This is one of my favorite dresses to just throw on and go, so I almost ALWAYS wear it when the app suggests. Didn't really need the jacket during the day, but it got cooler and windy when we were patio'ing and it turned out to be a great thing to have.

Dress, Calson // Jacket, Gap // Wedges, JustFab

Sunday, Partly Sunny, H 84‎°  L 70‎° 

Definitely starting to feel more summery in the Natural State now that June is almost here, so I let it flow a bit for the weekend in a camisole, ripped jeans and wedges while we ran our typical downtown errands. 

Top, Loft // Jeans, JustFab // Wedges, Gianni Bini (similar)

So how did it go?

This was both a fun and interesting challenge. Since Cladwell is new, they definitely have a few things to work on - some of which they've already made changes to since I started working on this post. One of the main requests on their iOS App reviews is definitely more items - they've already added at least 100 more since releasing, and have a special form you can fill out to ask for specific items. I've got a request in for overalls.

They've also added the option to "refresh" an outfit directly from the suggestion each day, so if you like the general idea of an outfit but not a particular piece, you'll get new suggestions. You can also reset your three options for the day completely, or choose a particular item from your closet and see outfits with just that piece. Another pro I forgot to mention in the list? You can log these outfits and see stats on how often you wear what's in your closet. Of course, this doesn't really help if you're not wearing that exact combination for the day.

One big con for me is that their algorithm is still learning, so sometimes it'll suggest shorts mid-week when I'm supposed to be at the office, or a shift dress and heels on a Saturday. I hope to see them continue to tweak, and then offer further specialization to outfits as well. I think it would be a SUPER powerful app if you could customize it to your own needs - say, business casual outfits only for M-Th or only showing outfits with flats. If they develop a honed filtering system that helps you get the most out of your closet, and not just the outfit suggestions, this will be a home run.

The app is $4.99 / month currently, with a three day trial so you can give it a shot. It's definitely aimed at those who want to do the whole "capsule wardrobe made easy" thing, but taking the thinking part out of getting ready in the morning may be worth it in the long run! Let me know what you think if you try the app - this is a non-sponsored post, so I'd love to hear honest reviews from those of you who have tried and how you're making it work (or not) with your lifestyle.

UPDATE: I got this comment from Cladwell on some upcoming features and the exact item thing and thought I would share: Just so you know, now you CAN choose a specific item that you want to wear. Click that item in your closet, hit "show outfits" and then on each outfit it curates, there are three dots in the bottom right corner of each outfit. Click that, and hit "log this outfit" (So, more control that way). Yay! 
Also, we here you on some of your other cons! We are creating a new update where you can "categorize" your closet so that you can have different wardrobes for work vs. weekend. 
You'll also be able to edit outfits in the new update, so stay tuned!! That way, if you don't like the outfits you get or maybe want to swap out different shoes, you have more control. 

AJ Wears :: A Two Piece Dress

In my never ending quest to build the perfect versatile wardrobe - particularly for travel - I love little hacks like today's "dress." The first time I wore it, my friend Maegan commented, "Cute dress!" and I pulled the waistband of the skirt out with excitement and said, "IT'S TWO PIECES!"

Yes, this two piece set is a modern wonder. I imagine I'll pack this for my summer excursions and wear the top with white pants and wedges, then the next day the skirt with a white silk tank. At night, I'll put the two together for the perfect dinner dress and wonder if people can smell the fact that I've worn the same two pieces for three days in a row. Easy, breezy, travel Febreze (the Gain smell makes it feel like you actually did laundry). 

Speaking of travel and walking in general, these JustFab flats are my latest favorite find. They're just dainty enough that it feels like you're wearing a dressy sandal, but comfortable for walking. For some reason the pathetic excuse for a heel still makes me feel like I'm wearing heels, so that's a win in my book.

Top, JustFab (exact).
Bottom, JustFab (exact).
Heels, c/o JustFab (exact in several colors).
Necklace, local boutique Fringe.

This post is not sponsored by JustFab but might as well be, since I'm a walking model for them right now. I am a Brand Ambassador, though, just for some full transparency stuff so the FTC doesn't come for my very fashionable bones.