Updated: Jul 31, 2019
A fecal toned suit with shoulder pads that could make a linebacker blush, Golden-Girls-era flesh-toned panty hose, and of course, an office-wide policy requiring all women to wear a 2-inch heel minimum. You may think you are in a 1970’s Anchor-Man-era time warp, but you are actually in Allen Park, Michigan, observing my unfortunate professional attire. It was 2012 and somehow the sight of bare legs in the mid-west could still have you branded a harlot and earn you a proper flogging in the streets by the town elders. How else can one justify the reasoning behind encasing your legs in ringworm-inducing nylons for hours on end?
Allen Park was the cornerstone of all things archaic, but so was my understanding of how to purchase a proper professional wardrobe.
With the office requirement of monochromatic suiting, I pushed the envelope and purchased suits in unconventional and vibrant colors - magenta and crushed purple velvet were among my favorites. In any given week, I oscillated from looking like an exotic summertime fruit to Prince’s portly body double. As I rose in the professional ranks, I expanded my monochromatic suiting to include a rich chocolate-toned ensemble that I wore faithfully to the office every Wednesday. I don’t know if you have ever worn a rich chocolate toned suit, but I assure you there is no such a thing. The first time I saw myself in the mirror, head to toe in a deadened-brown suit, I realized I was far from chocolate and more closely resembled a literal piece of shit.
Barring strip clubs and perhaps a Cardi B. baby shower, where else was I going to wear a crushed velvet purple suit? My expensive suiting failed to serve me outside of the office, and that was a problem - a problem that many women experience with their professional attire. When it comes to work wear, it seems women have resigned themselves to the idea that work and play must consist of two entirely separate wardrobes. Thankfully, there is a better way – let’s call it the magic of a multi-functional wardrobe. Believe it or not, you can seamlessly transition your work wear into all other spheres of your life if you build your professional wardrobe with the right pieces in mind.
So yes, you will be able to wear that blouse to the office, brunch and even a hot date at the local drive through with your partner. How? Let me introduce you to the holy grail of multi-functional professional work wear pieces: the Portofino blouse. Try it once and you will forsake all others.
The Portofino blouse comes by way of Express and is made exclusively of the unassuming powerhouse of a fabric known as polyester. Polyester fabrics are incomparably durable and virtually impervious to stretching, shrinking and staining. Not only will this blouse feel like silk on your fingertips, but it will also outlive most items in your closet. As a woman whose every attempt at sleeve cuffing has left my forearms looking like bulbous monstrosities, the Portofino has convertible sleeves and thoughtful built-in roll tabs that will do the work for you and take away all the guessing involved in achieving the perfect cuff.
Portofino and Black Pant + Jogger Pant
When it comes to multi-functional wear, the key is to find pieces that have built-in embellishments and patterns that can easily take the place of accessories. The more “accessorized” your blouse appears, the easier it will be to transition from work to play. While the color of this Portofino top is a creamy neutral and work-appropriate, the gold zipper adds a pop of shine and flare, effectively taking the place of any need to accessorize. Match this top with a pair of black skinny dress pants and you are set for every professional endeavor in the office. And after the grind of 9-5, the top seamlessly transforms into date night apparel when tucked into a tie-waisted jogger pant with a pair of stiletto heels. Transition complete.
Portofino Meets Skirt + Tie Up
When choosing a Portofino top to go from work to play, an expressive yet tame pattern is key. For instance, if you are going to choose a floral design, be sure that it is balanced with a neutral tone. The beauty of this blouse is that the checkers and floral pattern bring personality, making it just loud enough for the office and simultaneously cute enough for happy hour. This look is office appropriate with uncuffed sleeves and tucked into a black pencil skirt. For a look that is appropriate for a few rounds of White Russians on the other hand, convert the sleeves by buttoning the roll tabs at the elbow. Finish the look with leaving the last three buttons unbuttoned and tying the two ends of fabric together in a double knot. No skirt change required.
Multi-Functional Magic: Blouses
The Portofino Blouse is truly the top of the multi-functional blouse game. With the right embellishments, your Portofino blouse will transition you from work to drinks to your family dinner without ever needing to change clothes. In the struggle between boring work tops and multifunctional professional apparel, there is only one thing to say:
Extra credit for you if you caught that Dave Chapelle/Prince reference!
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