My "3-C" Formula for a Perfect Office-to-Happy Hour Look (and the 2-Minute Hair Styling Hack I Swear By)

July 3, 2019

Note to self: when you're being photographed, make sure your pants are properly tied.
Cami: Prologue at Target. Culottes: Zara. Cape Blazer: Mustard Seed L.A.

We all have that one outfit. You know the kind - the one that makes you look effortlessly put together, is comfortable yet chic, exudes confidence and always guarantees you at least one compliment. It shifts sensibly from day to night, and can easily be dressed down in a casual setting or dressed up for an elevated occasion.

For me, this outfit consists of three pieces, each of which draws in the always appreciated "where did you buy that?" whether they're worn together or apart:

1. Cami
2. Culottes
3. Cape Blazer

Without fail, every time I combine these pieces for work, happy hour, a show, a meeting or an event, I arrive and leave feeling empowered (and fun). And while I'm proud to be an outfit repeater (I've been donning this exact outfit - only ever changing my jewelry and purse - once or twice a month), lately I've been purchasing and experimenting with the same pieces in different shades and sizes, or similar pieces from different brands. Regardless, this 3-C formula has proven to be foolproof. So, let's jump in, shall we?

First up: the cami. This V-neck woven version, from the Prologue line at Target, was the answer to many unsung prayers. For nearly a year, I had been looking everywhere for an affordable, pretty and soft cami that felt like it would last through many wears. In my opinion, camis are a wardbrobe staple that offer an elevated alternative to the t-shirt-tucked-into-pants/skirts/shorts look. I fell in love the moment I tried this one on - and at less than $20, it's a steal.

Next up: the culottes. My Zara culottes, which I have in navy and light pink (need to buy them in black and white stat) are probably among the top 5 fashion purchases I've made in my 27 years of life. They're ridiculously comfortable, enhance an otherwise underwhelming outfit (check out the picture below to see how I paired them with a graphic tee in lieu of the typical jeans-and-t-shirt look), and instantly make me look like I've got my life together, even when I don't. Better yet, they're under $40. So far, you've got a top and bottom combo for under $60. Boom.

Queen graphic tee: Urban Outfitters. Shell earrings and culottes: Zara.

And last, but certainly not least, we come to the end of this outfit formula: the cape blazer. Unfortunately, I can't recall where I purchased this sandy-nude piece from (the label reads Mustard Seed; I want to say it was from Tobi or Nasty Gal) but it inspired me to eventually acquire a similar piece (in black) from Target's Who What Wear line. I don't know what it is about cape blazers. To play on the cape aspect, they really do feel as though they carry a superhero(ine) power: the moment I put one on, I feel like a boss, as corny as that sounds. Similarly, the moment I see someone else wearing one, I feel as though they run the show. It's definitely a head-turning statement piece, and while some might find it odd - a former colleague, who purchased the Target piece after seeing me in it, said her husband told her she looked like a student at Hogwarts when she wore it - the general consensus, in my experience, is that cape blazers look fierce. That's all the convincing I need.

Pro Tip: Neutral colors are your friend. There's a reason these three pieces work so well together! Mix and match white, nude, black and brown pieces with olive green and navy ones, and you'll have an impressive capsule wardrobe at your fingertips. Bonus if you throw in jewel tones for an extra punch.

P.S. I'll be featuring a couple of the pieces above in a new and upcoming "1 Piece, 3 Ways" series. Stay tuned!

Now, every grade-A outfit deserves a little beauty support, no? Just as this wardrobe formula never lets me down, there's a little hair trick I utilize on mornings when I need to run out the door but want to look and feel polished. Lately, I've been wrapping just two front sections of hair from each side of my head around my hair wand. It looks a little funny at first, considering that the rest of my hair consists of nearly straight waves (if that makes any sense), but I find that the wanded strands loosen up during my commute, resulting in pretty, cascading waves that eventually blend in with the rest of my mane while giving it a more refined appearance. It takes all of two minutes and makes a noticeable impact.

Hair Hack Part 2: if I have a few more minutes, but not enough to do my entire hair, I'll wand only the outermost layer of my hair. Sounds weird, but it works. What can I say? Time is of the essence - but you never know who you'll run into. ;)

What are your go-to outfits, pieces and beauty tricks? Share them with me in the comments below!