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Style Inspiration

Steal This: A Stylist’s Work Uniform

Do you have one outfit formula that makes you feel powerful, fashionable, confident, and comfortable? I found my one outfit, and I’ve replicated the formula to create a uniform. This outfit is able to project authority and style expertise while still allowing me to walk 20,000 steps around a mall for 9 hours. Keep reading to find out how you can steal my style.

My favorite blazer from The Kooples, my current favorite Uniqlo jeans, and one of my many favorite sneakers!

If you’re one of our clients, you’ve probably seen me in some variation of this combination many times before: a blazer with color or pattern, a solid shell, jeans, and sneakers (usually substituting booties in the winter and Birkenstocks in the summer). This is my default uniform that allows me to get dressed quickly in the morning without having to put too much thought into my outfit. I never get bored of this combo and Lani never gets tired of telling me how cute my outfits are!

This outfit formula is basically just the third piece rule customized to my style personality. Here are my tips for creating this uniform for your own wardrobe and lifestyle:

Figure out your best-fitting jacket silhouette

I bought so many ill-fitting blazers in college before working at Real Life Style. However, there was one jacket that I bought about 8 years ago from H&M that has always looked amazing, whether dressed up with pants and a blouse or dressed down with jeans and a tee. Lani has told me a dozen times how this is the perfect blazer for me (because miraculously, I still own it and it still looks great). The key? It was a longer silhouette. It sounds so simple, but if you are taller, a longer blazer is going to be more proportional and flattering. If you are petite, a long blazer can sometimes (but not always!) look overwhelming, and you will probably look best in a shorter style.

A shorter blazer usually stops just above the hips while a longer blazer typically comes past the hips.

Another tip I have for collecting blazers, which really just applies to clothing in general: figure out the designer brands that you love and that work for you and keep an eye out for them on sale. I find blazers from The Kooples, Rag and Bone, Equipment, and Vince at TJ Maxx, Nordstrom Rack, Gilt, and luxury consignment stores. My burgundy ALC blazer is actually from a consignment store from my trip to LA!

Pick one point of interest

For as many blazers as I own, I probably own about half as many tops to go underneath. A camisole or sleeveless shell in white or black goes with every one of my jackets, so I own multiples from Uniqlo and ASOS (all machine washable). Because I’m always purchasing crazy blazers with stars or rainbow stripes, I tone the patterns down for work with clean, simple tops underneath.

On the flip side of the coin, you may want to pick great colored and patterned tops and more subdued blazers. This definitely works better for a more conservative work environment. To keep your outfit exciting and filled with personality, I recommend some level of interest whether that be the color, the pattern, or even just the silhouette. This is what brings in the fashion element and keeps the uniform from being dull!

A solid silk or polyester shell is great under a statement jacket. Alternatively, this printed Nic + Zoe top would be amazing under a simple navy blazer.

Don’t be afraid to dress up your sneakers

One of our past blog posts has always served as major style inspiration for me: Suits and Sneakers, A Modern Take. There is nothing I love more than a high-low fashion moment with sneakers, and I think many fashion people agree. Recently I met a client for a shopping appointment and she showed up in an avant-garde dress from Upstairs on 7th and zebra Golden Goose sneakers. Everyone in the store swooned!

From fashion silhouettes to more sporty styles, sneakers take a blazer and jeans outfit from cool to New York street style. I love Vans and Nike because those have been my go-to sneakers since high school. Anything with a glitter or iridescence also speaks to me. For great sneakers, I look at Nordstrom, Bandier, and Opening Ceremony.

This Clarks pair is what we put our clients into for commuting. The Veja is next on my wish list, because it’s holographic of course. The Nike Air Max Dias, Lani can vouch, literally get compliments every time I wear them. Random strangers in the mall, on the streets of NYC, and in the subway will chase me down to ask which shoes these are.

What do you think of my uniform? Will you be stealing my style formula to create your own comfortable but stylish uniform?


Kyle Dunphy is a personal stylist who has been working with clients who want to feel their best and look put-together every day for over 6 years. Learn how you can train with Lani and Kyle to become a personal stylist at The Stylist Studio

You can find Kyle Dunphy and Real Life Style on FacebookLinkedInTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

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