Three Levels of Dress: Kimono Blouse Two Ways

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As I’ve mentioned here before, I have some issues with Level Two in my wardrobe: I don’t really have any. Basically, I have formal dresses, and then jeans and sweatshirts.

There are several reasons for this, but the main one is that at the moment, dressing up is not required for my job. I am rarely in a situation where Level Two is required. I don’t usually want to allocate my not-so-sizable resources to clothes I won’t wear as often.

I’ve realized that this problem can be solved by just adding certain pieces to my wardrobe than can be dressed up or down. At the moment, getting a cute little FG pantsuit isn’t the most practical option for me. But adding things like sweaters and blouses that can be worn with many kinds of bottoms is a different matter.

I actually didn’t really own any blouses. I picked up my first one today. It’s a little out of my comfort zone, but I fell in love with it because it looks like Dark Autumns’s candlelight white to me, and I’ve been into floral prints lately. While I often have trouble with unstructured pieces, I decided that the cropped and boxy fit made it okay for Flamboyant Gamine. I came up with two outfits based around this piece, one for Level One and one for Level Two. I’ll walk you through these two outfits and my thought process.

The star of this post is, of course, this Floral Print Kimono Top from Zara. For a crop top like this, high-waisted skinny jeans, which are flattering on me, probably because I’m long-waisted and it balances me out, are an obvious choice. I went with a waxed version in merlot, because the floral print has some dark red in it and it’s more interesting than basic black. I also picked up the merlot in a studded wrap bracelet for a Fitbit Flex. I think this is a really cool piece, even though I don’t have a Fitbit. Part of why I don’t have one is that I don’t like accessories that look more like tech than accessories, so this is a fun, casual piece of jewelry to disguise it, if you do have one. I did select black for the shoes because I wanted to include the Wild Diva shoes from Amazon. These are fake Valentino Rockstuds, and they come in a huge range of styles, colors, and finishes, and they’re insanely cheap. I have them in the leopard-print, sueded, ballet-slipper version, which I also considered for this outfit, and I might do that in real life, because I’m going to be more limited in terms of my shoe collection, but I felt there wasn’t a true connection to the rest. Instead, I went with shiny black, which calls back to the black outline of the print on the top. I just found some fun ear jackets for the earrings.

I think that for some people, this skirt wouldn’t really seem like Level Two. But since my legs are short, it would look as short on me, and I think the rocker edge it has brings it where I need my Level Two to go. While I don’t think the Fitbit cuff would be inappropriate for Level Two–I’m sure people wear their Fitbits to work; otherwise, what’s the point?–I wanted to glam it up and a little more, and added a cuff that I liked so much, I bought it for myself–the danger of doing these posts, I guess! The black stones, again, pick up the black in the shirt’s print. With the
shoes, I switched to a heel, which I think goes better with the skirt, but if you can’t wear high heels, maybe some kind of bootie would work. The sueded version is a little more subdued, especially on Dark Autumn, although this exact one is currently sold out. Wild Diva is sold by several Amazon sellers, so you may find it somewhere else if you look for it. They do have a burgundy sueded version right now, which would also be a good option, although I generally don’t like to match my bottoms to my shoes. The earrings have spikes, but they are even more sparkly than the ones in the first outfit.

What I like about these two outfits is, apart from the jeans, since in my personal definition of the Three Levels, Level One is the only one that gets jeans, these pieces all work for both levels; it’s just all in how you style it. The accessories are basically interchangeable, as are the shoes; I could wear the heels with the jeans instead to add a little more to my first outfit, or I could exchange the blouse for a cropped t-shirt to bring the second outfit down a level. If you have a limited budget like I do, making sure your pieces are versatile is key. I’m planning on releasing my Three Levels of Dress workbook early next year, but until then, I hope to do more posts like this to give you an idea of how to work with them.

What something you’ve been lately that could work for multiples levels and situations?

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