Wardrobe boot camp: what to wear on the weekend

Editor’s note: This is series in which we help Styling You readers solve a particular wardrobe or clothing crisis with a little advice and some shopping suggestions. If you think you’d like to be featured as part of a Wardrobe Boot Camp post, then please email me (nikki@stylingyou.com.au) with a couple of photos and a brief run down of what specific help you would like. 

Di is a 35-year-old mum of two kids aged seven and six. She works full-time and wears a uniform while at work. She’s a size 12-14 and looking for guidance as to what to wear on the weekend.

“I think, to be honest, I’ve never had a style. Pre-baby, I was skinny without significant curves. I went from a B Cup to a G Cup when I had my babies. I suddenly had curves with no idea of how to dress them or what on earth to do with such a massive bosom. I have lived in post-baby body limbo ever since,” she said.

Di Keeble wardrobe bootcamp

The Plea

I need some help discovering my style.

I wear pants and t-shirts but want to wear dresses and skirts. Or at least something other than daggy singlet tops. I feel like a 35 year-old trapped in a 20-year-old daggy style space and that’s just not cool.

I need something functional but fashionable on the weekends, after work drinks and going out. I am not bothered with daggy during the week (it’s good to just blend in on the way to work!).

So, on the weekend, inspired, I decided to at least fix my bras. Since I haven’t been “fitted” for a bra in four years, I thought I should get that checked. The conversation at a well-known department store went thus:

“Can I get some help with a fitting?”

“Um … ok … for a maternity bra?”

Oh god. Kill me now. I stopped feeding my kids 5 years ago.

I went through the process, brought three bras with my new “size” but no-one checked me after I selected the bras. So, a few hundred dollars later and with brand new bras that now hurt, I am feeling less than excited, even less inspired (and a little sad that someone thought I was pregnant/breastfeeding).

The tips

1. Kudos to Diana … she’s worked her way through my Unlock Your Style holiday camp. She cleaned out her wardrobe and spent quality time browsing Polyvore and Pinterest but she didn’t stumble across anything that screamed, “that’s you, baby!” It takes time and is always a work in progress. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

2. Wearing a uniform all week is a good thing because it takes the guess work out of what to wear for the majority of the week but a bit like being out of practice with something, it is difficult on those “off” days to know what to wear. A key thing to remember is that it doesn’t have to be a daunting task.

3. Try to move away from the thought that you’re “not bothered with daggy during the week”. The more you play and build on your casual wardrobe, the more easily putting an outfit together will become.

4. It’s crucial to nail those basics (I know, I’m always banging on about that) because if you have pants or shorts that you’re happy to wear, then adding a top and accessories becomes easy.

5. On the bra front, I am horrified. Horrified that that has been your experience. My tip if you’re ever game enough to do this again is to seek out a smaller, independent retailer, explain what happened last time and don’t let them let you leave the store till you have bras that work for you. It’s not just about the size of your bosies, it’s the shape of them too. I found out this the hard way.

6. When it comes to casual dress shopping, look for knit dresses that can be worn now or in a couple of months’ time with tights and boots.

7. Just because it’s casual, doesn’t mean you can forget to add at least one accessory – a statement necklace or scarf is an easy addition – even to a plain tee or tank.

The shopping

I’ve put together a capsule weekend wardrobe that includes pants, tops and a dress as well as key accessories. The emphasis is on fun, easy-wear and easy-to-throw-on garments. You are still young, Diana, so embrace that fun side of fashion.

What to wear on the weekend

1. Mavi jeans @ Birdsnest $139.95 |  2. Motto scoop jersey cami $60 | 3. Target jacket $31.20 | 4. Esprit dress @ Birdsnest $109 | 5. Red Phoenix Emporium Faux Rocco tassel necklace $149 | 6. Nine West heels $139.95 @ Style Tread | 7. Walnut ballet flats $39.95 @ Style Tread | 8. Seed top $59.95 (on sale) | 9. Sussan scarf $39.95

Do you have your week-day wardrobe sorted but, like Di, struggle at the weekend? Or have you got any tips for Di that she could take on board? 

PS. For more autumn-winter casual style inspiration, click on over to my Pinterest board.

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  • Jemma Phillips

    Thankyou for this capsule Nikki. As a nanny I have the same problem of feeling daggy during the week in clothes that can be covered in paint or food and then trying to put together a wardrobe that I feel good in on the weekend. These suggestions really helped.

    I love the esprit knit dress. Theyve got some lovely knits for autumn and winter. Cant wait to go shopping.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Oh great, Jemma … and yes, you don’t have to have an actual uniform to get out of practice in remembering what your style is … good luck shopping!

  • abeachcottage

    fab selection and the jeans are my jean go-to – they hide a multitude of things brought on my baby things and the years….plus they are pure gold in terms of bang for your buck….last wash after wash and never seem to look old…that’s worth paying for in my book….

    shame on the bra fitter!!!! like you would say that in that line of work, hello!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Totally agree, Sarah! Looking forward to jean season very much!

  • Kalyani

    What a great selection Nikki! Colored jeans is a big trend and its tricky to make it look classy, I’m loving the color palette shown here:-) and yes it is good to read about the various bra fitting experiences, so I can make an informed choice as I look forward to moving on from the nursing bras..

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Thanks Kalyani – coloured jeans are very much here to stay but can look fantastic when worked back with neutrals.

  • Dianne

    Omg Nikki… You have nailed an amazing wardrobe selection for this girl. I love it! & have to say Di I would have probably walked out of that shop & not bought a thing! Downright rude I say! Yes Intimo for me too.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      So rude – and yes this selection would work for you too Dianne!

  • Kathryn

    Oh my goodness, what a traumatising experience for Di. I think she could look great in lots of different looks. Good luck finding some new things!

    Weekend clothing is a part of my wardrobe where I need to focus my efforts too. It’s a work in progress. Coloured jeans are great, a bit fancy, but still jeans. I really liked your post on patterned pants a few weeks back and think they are a fab choice too. Nice with a singlet top/t-shirt and can be dressed up with a jacket.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Thanks Kathryn – and yes, printed or patterned pants are the new jeans for this season, that’s for sure!

  • Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo

    Loving those ballet flats (I know! What the?) and may have to invest in some coloured jeans this year to break up my Melbourne uniform. ;)

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I think you do need coloured jeans Kelley – they work perfectly with black ;)

  • Denny

    I live on the Gold Coast and always struggled to find a good bra fitter who stocks reasonably priced bras. I found my solution o/seas in Cape Town where they have a fantastic chain called Storm in a D Cup. The staff also measure with their eyes and I come back to Australia each trip with beautiful European bras at 1/2 the price we pay here in Australia with the added bonus that I can claim back the sales tax at the airport too! Perhaps someone can explain the price difference here or is it the same problem Nikki as the tax/mark up on cosmetics and clothes in Australia that you discovered on your trip to the US?

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Not sure if same store but there is a Storm in a D Cup store in Australia http://www.storminadcup.com.au/? And yes, I’ve had that experience of staff being able to measure with their eyes – and they have been spot on! I suspect the price difference on some brands is because of the import duties – also I think like the US situation – it’s about still giving our retail workers a decent wage.

  • Erin M

    I love all of these suggestions. I’m a fairly small person with a big chest for my size so I have had a lot of trouble finding bras that fit and I actually had in Intimo party and was fitted there and now will only by intimo bras. They fit perfectly and actually make me look smaller AND perkier! lol

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Erin, Intimo is a great way to work with a trained consultant in the comfort of your home or a friend’s home to find the size and shape that suits you. Agreed.

  • Alison

    It took me years to figure out the bra thing as a larger bosomed lady. Different brands work for different people regardless of what they advertise. I have found Simone Perele work for me and my girls and can make me look a dress size smaller! They are more expensive but you can get fitted properly at David Jones or their outlet stores (where the staff are meticulous in making sure it fits and you are happy with it!) I wait for the mid year & xmas sales at DJs or sales at the outlet (they have rewards club) and you can save heaps. I don’t work for them or get paid to promote them its just they have made a difference and they are really great quality. I just don’t bother with any other brands lately. Find one that works and stick to it!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Alison, this is good solid advice. And I love how you’ve found what works for you and have created a buying strategy around that. It does take time to find the brand/style that works for your girls but once you do, it’s a whole lot easier.

    • Thea

      I second the advice about Simone Perele. The staff are amazing and won’t let you buy something if it isn’t right for you. Great service. I buy at the outlet and so the price is generally around what you pay at a department store. Even if it costs more, the service is worth it.

      • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

        Great to hear Thea!

    • Wendy

      Ditto. The staff at the outlet stores are brilliant, not only with bra’s but also knickers and identifying what you need for any conundrum.

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    Poor Diana,I think that is appalling that she could not get fitted for a bra in her size,I have never been that big but my bust size has changed a lot over the last 20 odd years I went from a decent sized C cup to a DD cup after having my son and those boosies were huge and did not match the rest of me,fast forward to now where I am a B cup with the wet sock look happening,a good bra is crucial to how you look in your clothes and how you feel(i just watched your vlog Nikki about Bras it was great ).The only tips for Diana I have is get a few scarves It changes the look of tops and knits,some boots maybe for the cooler weather and I agree Nikki don’t settle for daggy because you don’t have to,you can look nice and be comfortable in a chic outfit,and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money,I really think it affects your self esteem as well,look good feel good .I love the capsule wardrobe Nikki,good mix and match pieces,and Diana get those bosoms re fitted into the right size.you should be comfortable and the right bra will change how your new outfits look ,have fun getting your new weekend wardrobe!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Lisa, totally agree … a few scarves can give a casual look an edge. And don’t settle for daggy!

      • Lisa Mckenzie

        No I don’t do daggy unless I am cleaning the house!

  • Marianne

    While I don’t have a company-issued uniform for work, I do have one of my own, as I tend to wear the same outfits each week – especially since paring down the wardrobe at the style bootcamp in January! I find, like Di, that I still don’t really know what my own personal style is, and it can be a little overwhelming trying to put something together from the non-work part of my wardrobe. I love the suggestions you have put up there Nikki, but being up in Cairns, wearing knit dresses, boots, jeans and scarves isn’t something that really works for me (unless I can wrangle a trip down south where my boots and scarves get worn non-stop!). I’m still searching for some really lightweight jeans/pants that I can wear in our ‘cooler’ months with t-shirts and light scarves. Any suggestions of where to look?

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      No, you will not be able to do knit dresses Marianne! Have you tried the Country Road jeans/pants? They’re pretty lightweight. Also, as the US is coming into spring/summer, it’s worth checking overseas stores as they’ll be stocking the right weight for you now. I’m sitting here today in my red NYDJs and it’s 26 degrees and quite humid and I’m ok in them.

      • Marianne

        Thanks Nikki – will give them a look. I’m starting to think that some lightweight scarves and statement jewelery will be on my shopping list to help give my basics a facelift as we move out of summer.

  • http://silverhuang.com/ Silver Huang

    I would like to reassure Diana that it does get easier! I started off with advice from Nikki {I was absolutely 100% fashion noob} and continued by {religiously} following her blog and now, one year plus later, I’m confidently shopping for clothes {and shoes! and bags!} that apparently ‘suit my style’! A style I never even knew I had! I just ‘developed’ my eye over time and practice and now I have people complimenting me on how I look even if it’s just a casual and basic long-sleeved shirt with shorts, nude flats and a necklace.

    I also think it’s a lot to do with one’s carriage and confidence. If you think you look good, you do! And other people will pick up on it.

    One tip is not to rush it. I spent hours just looking, trying on and reading without buying. Get the feel for all sorts of clothes and don’t be afraid to try anything, anything! Because you don’t know what suits you till you try it. Also, this may sound weird but don’t go with friends. Go alone. And the best companion is a male companion. Trust me. I was lucky that both my ex-partner and current partner have a good eye and they know {and dig} what I look good in. So when it comes to looking good in clothing, the word of a trusted male companion I put my faith in!

    Good luck!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Oh Silver, thanks so much. I’m really impressed at how you took the style challenge on and have continued to work on it. I love your advice not to rush it. So true.

    • Dianne

      I can’t agree more about shopping alone or with guys… I find I’m influenced by the personality of the woman I’m with & usually regret my purchase…

      • http://silverhuang.com/ Silver Huang

        I figured there will be times I have to trust my own judgement, it’s my fashion, my look, my responsibility, so might as well start out early practicing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Johanne-Taylor/100000780773879 Johanne Taylor

    Like the look of that scarf- maybe I can fit one more in my wardrobe!
    As we are coming into winter, I’d add some cute bright runners and/or ankle boots.I have some red converse lookalikes from Kmart that brighten up a simple pair of jeans (or even yoga pants) for easy mid-week casual dressing.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Always room Johanne! And thanks for your tip – some casual sneakers are very handy.

  • http://twitter.com/ingidefygravity Ingi

    Thank you so much for this! I’m hopeless when it comes to putting everything together, so it’s nice to see a selection of things that will work together! About to head off on a cruise, so casual wear and nice things to wear to dinner are high on my priority list!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Oh, a cruise! What a lot of fun. Take some key accessories with you to make your outfits seem even more special.

  • Kelly

    I think when you have to wear a uniform especially when there is no room for individual style it is very easy to forget what your style is. I love those suggestions Nikki, those Mavi jeans are gorgeous!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I totally agree, Kelly .. it’s not being able to “practise” that style everyday.