Thursday, May 16, 2013

medical school wardrobe: building a foundation

lecom dress code

It's been several months since I last wrote about trying to build my wardrobe for medical school. As a refresher, my school has a dress code as follows:

A clean and well-cared-for appearance should be maintained. Women are required to wear 
appropriate dresses of reasonable length or slacks with appropriate blouses. Halter tops, midriff tops, strapless or backless tops or dresses; sundresses, crop pants, capri pants and miniskirts are not permitted. Revealing or tight, form-fitting clothing is unacceptable. Women’s hair must be neat and trimmed at all times, avoiding extreme styles or colors. Excessive body piercing is not acceptable. Women are required to wear shoes or sandals with socks or stockings. Shorts, jeans, T-shirts and sandals with bare feet are not permitted.

In order to have pieces in my closet that I can easily throw on and go to class for 8 hours a day, but still be comfortable and happy with my outfits, I'm dedicating my once "dream purse" fund to add the necessary pieces to my closet. First I'll tell you guys where I stand now, and then I'll discuss the last few pieces that are still needed.

Heels: Black closed toed pumps were going to be a necessity for me. I own very few pairs of heels, and the ones I do own can't be worn more than a short amount of time before I start walking around barefoot (the only time I really have worn heels has been for weddings so...barefooted dancing. Welcome to Wisconsin!). I've heard great things about both the Ann Taylor Perfect Pumps (as recommended by both Mix & Match Fashion and Professionally Petite)  and the J.Crew Miri heel (as reviewed here by Easy Petite Looks) but everyone said that nothing beats Cole Haan shoes. When Chris and I were in Minneapolis, we specifically went to Nordstrom so I could figure out sizing (we don't have a Nordstrom anywhere near Madison). I tried on this shoe, and really liked how they felt on my feet, but if you look at the price, you know that wasn't really in my budget. Knowing my preferred size, I started searching eBay and eventually got lucky when I found this style, brand new, for $90. I've worn them around the house a bit and they feel very nice. As comfortable as walking around barefoot? No, but they are a definite improvement over my plastic Target heels. I've already tried them on with a few skirts/pants in my closet and am happy how they improve my outfits - man, heels really do make everything look better, don't they?

Nude Flats: While I said that I would like a pair of nude flats for my school wardrobe, my current work wardrobe was missing out on them too so I was very excited when I found this Sam Edelman pair at Nordstrom Rack for 60% off of the retail price. They were paid for with the remaining budget money from April, but since I said in March that I would like them for school I figured I should mention them here. These are a great pair of shoes that have required absolutely no breaking in (as opposed to my Revas which took a painful amount of time to get to where they are now) and have extra padding which make them very comfortable. HIGHLY recommend them!

Skirts: I started from absolute scratch here. I own one that is about two sizes too large (but super cute!) and that's it. I thrifted this black A-lineish skirt a few months ago, and then purchased the Fran skirt in April. As much as I want to wear pencil skirts, I'm still unsure about them. Every single one I've tried on hasn't fit right at all - too tight in the rear/thighs and too loose in the waist. I know I could always size up to have it fit comfortably in the seat and then get the waist tailored to fit, but I'm unsure if I want to go through all of that trouble for a style of skirt I'm unsure I even like. I plan on really paying attention to the skirt section in Goodwill in the coming months to see if I can't add a few more cute skirts at a low cost. 

Dresses: Over the years I've accumulated a bunch of cheap dresses from Target and the like. I've sold or donated almost all of them because they just didn't fit me correctly, and now have about 4 dresses left in my closet. I bought this Gap dress a few months ago - I think the color is fun but still in the professional realm, and the fit is very flattering. I got it during a 40% of sale so the price was right over $40. I also bought a light grey faux wrap dress at the Banana Republic Outlet on clearance for just over $20, but it will need to be taken in at the waist. I know both of these dresses will be major staples when I just want to throw something on quick.

Tops: My current tops collection will transition seamlessly from my work wardrobe to my school wardrobe as I'm pretty conservative to begin with. I did purchase two tops with my budget money - a black geometric top which will be an easy way to add interest to an other wise boring outfit, and an oxford popover. The geometric top was around $20 at the Banana Republic outlet, and the popover was around $40 final sale from J.Crew. 

Tights: Because we are required to wear tights when we were skirts or dresses, tights were obviously necessary. I was lucky enough to receive about 6 pairs from Hanes during a recent collaboration so I'm set there! They are comfortable, have held up so far, and best of all, were free ;)  I will need fleece lined and/or sweater tights for the winter but no real need to buy those in May.
medical school dress code

I have around $250 remaining in my budget for school clothes. Here is the plan for the rest of that money!

Pants: I needed to wait until I found at least my first pair of heels so I could figure out the length of pants to buy. I would love to find dress pants while thrifting, but I'm 5'9" so most pants off the rack, and especially a thrift store rack, will be too short. I'm hoping that around the Memorial Day sales will be a good time to look for pants at either The Limited (like this pair), Express (this pair), or Banana Republic (this pair) as I don't plan on paying any where near full listed price for them. I have a pair of black pants that are the length to wear with flats, so I need a pair to wear with heels. I would also like a dark grey pair of dress pants.

White Blouse: The perfect white button up is on list of holes in my closet, and I feel it would be beneficial for my school wardrobe especially. I'd love to try the silk version from Everlane or maybe track down the Equipment version on eBay.

Cardigans: I really don't own as many cardigans as I thought, so a few solid colored ones would be nice to have. I plan on buying these mostly thrifted. 

Shoes: a black pair of wedges would be nice to mix up shoes, and would probably be more comfortable than heels. If I find some in the coming weeks I might actually use my monthly budget money to buy these as I think I could probably get away with wearing them at work - I like this Franco Sarto pair. I'd also love to have a pair of maryjane heels. I think they are just so cute (I love them on Future Lint). This Frye pair and this Fitzwell pair are both adorable, and within a reasonable price range.

(Curious to see how this all worked out for me? Here are all the outfits I wore to medical school!)