How to dress well when you have no time (or why I don’t accept your excuses)

by Sylvia

How to dress well when you have no time

I hope you all enjoyed a great weekend and were looking fabulous? I’m showing you 2 combinations of clothes you have seen before today.

This is a simple mum on the go outfit for me although I’m sure that some of you will say this is far too formal for a casual outfit. Since it’s black and white, it looks chic really quickly.

But it’s just a simple (cheap) cotton blouse and cotton skirt, which are old and both from Zara. The black and white ballerinas, make this look chicer, but in the end they are just flat shoes. The black green Heleen van der Meer bag adds extra colour. The black and white belt from Anne Fontaine is the final touch and to my eye it gives this outfit extra polish and allure. It’s also the most expensive part of this outfit.

Black and white with green accent

I think it’s a good example of a simple outfit that makes you look good. It literally did not take me more than 5 minutes to dress and it’s a good formula for an easy on-the-go outfit for many occasions. I would go to work in this outfit, receive clients, go shopping and pick up my son from school.

The outfit formula is really simple: Skirt and nice blouse. If you have it, you can add a fancy belt and / or bag. Ballerinas for shoes. For those of you in cooler weather, you can add all kinds of jackets. I would probably add a leather one, or even a nice jeans jacket. For more formal occasions a blazer. If you don’t like skirts, then change that for good trousers.

It really does not take much to look good if you have some good solid basics in your closet and a few nice accessories to glam it up a bit. Just think of how many outfits I could create with that skirt and that top!


So for those ladies that do, stop making excuses for yourself and get some good basics that will always give you something to wear. I could wear this combination multiple times and make slight variations in either the top or the bottom. In fact, I would much rather you wear the same kind of thing all the time (like some sort of uniform) but in a nice way and with good quality garments, rather than do something different every day but look sloppy.

Even though the items I’m wearing today are cheap, in my opinion they don’t look it. And if you have a good accessory like this belt, then it will instantly lift up the outfit and make it look more expensive. The money spent on a good versatile accessory is absolutely worth it, as you will wear it time and time again. Sometimes for years.

I have already worn this belt on so many occasions and the investment was absolutely worth it! (already after 2 months, but the quality of this belt is so good, I will wear it for years).


Although I really liked the top outfit, I felt a need for more colour later that day. I rarely step out these days without something of colour added. Although the green bag in the top photo was already very helpful, I wanted more, so I decided to pair the skirt with my red printed skirt.  In the end I like both outfits.


So ladies tell me, do you  make use of a formula or some kind of ‘uniform’ that ensures you always have something to wear and look fabulous?


1 Jean at Dross into Gold

You make hot weather dressing look effortless and totally chic. I love your trendier outfits, but for a grab ‘n go, you can’t beat this!! I’m already thinking about what my warm weather uniform will be, since it gets hot here early. Anytime you want to post outfits that have sleeves and don’t show a lot of skin, but still manage to look summery and sensuous, I’ll be the first to say hurray!!

2 Sylvia

Thanks Jean. Yes, this is a good covered but still light outfit. The blouse is cotton and very thin and the long sleeves are actually very good when you go indoors here, where it tends to be very cold due to aircon. I know many women over 40 like summery outfits that are a bit more covered up. Thanks for reminding me. I will pay more attention to that in future articles.

3 Ofelia

Very chic, very Channel! Love the green purse as well.
Have a great weekend

4 Sylvia

Thanks Ofelia. You too.

5 Rita

Well, I wouldn’t say it’s fabulous, but as I mentioned during the style challenge, my uniform for years has been jeans/trousers/skirt + tee (or an occassional blouse) + and cardigan (or cashmere pullover sweater in cold weather). The only thing that really changes are my shoes and handbags. While it works, it’s a bit boring, so after the challenge, I’m now inspired to add more patterns, try new accessories, and wear more skirts with boot and tights during cold weather, tryng to get closer to fabulous. 🙂

Love these outfits, Sylvia, especially those cute flats and your handbag!

6 Sylvia

At least you have a good ‘uniform’ for the days that you have no time Rita. At least you look good. It’s great to read that you are going to step out of your comfort zone a bit more and you can do that on the days when you have a bit more time (or prepare an outfit one day in advance).

7 Rita

Thanks, Sylvia! I think it will be easier, too, once the weather gets a bit warmer. We’ve been firmly around 0 degrees Celcius or lower for a few weeks now so bundling up has taken priority. I have been wearing a couple of patterned blouses under my sweaters, though. 🙂

8 Lorraine

I am with you on this Rita. As part of the style challenge I said I wanted to move away from my uniform – cords/jeans, little cardi, ankle boots – and spend more time thinking about what I am wearing. That doesn’t mean I didn’t look good but I have been wearing what ‘works’ since my 20s and am probably boring myself!

9 Rita

I know what you mean, Lorraine. I probably more evolved into my “uniform” since the late 90’s, and now it’s time to kick things up a bit. 🙂

10 Lorraine

Hi Rita – I should explain. Between my 20s and 2002 I held various corporate roles where I dressed in a business ‘uniform’ of suits etc but my off duty uniform was as I described above. I recently came across a picture of myself when I was a student aged 20 and I was wearing brown cords, a short, bright pink cardigan etc – something I could easily be found in now! As you say, time to kick things up!

11 Suzanne

Rita – I have been thinking about you all morning! NY Fashion Week is about to start (F/W13 clothes!) and BCBGMaxAzria Ready To Wear is inspired by the “Southern Gypsies” of Istanbul! I am so intrigued! Their runway is on Thursday the 7th at 10am. Be sure to take a look at it as soon as you get a chance. 🙂 I will let you know what I think too.

12 Rita

Thanks for thinking about me, Suzanne! I’ll try to google it on Fri/Sat. It definitely sounds interesting. I’ve been keeping an eye out in stores, though haven’t had much time to browse lately. I haven’t seen anything that has caught my interest yet, so maybe this can give me some inspiration. 🙂 Come April I’ll be on a hard-target search!!

13 Greetje

What do you mean by “Be sure to take a look at it”??? Where? Just google the name as Rita suggests?
Oh and congratulations on The Ravens. Purple rules.

14 Rita

Like the girl in “Confessions of a Shopaholic”…”Yes, I googled.” 🙂 I love that movie, and that adorable Hugh Dancy! 😀

I like Purple, too!

15 Suzanne

You two crack me up! LOL!
You can find the runway shows Online in many posts but, in my opinion, the best place to view them is on “Style.Com”. Just click on Fashion Shows and then on Fall13. Right now you will get a line-up of who is showing where and when but once the shows start you can view a slide show of every look for each design house. It is very fun. Plus, I am friendly with a Blog Editor who is already in New York and lets me know a few “insider” tips upfront. Like the BCBG thing. When I heard the word “Gypsie” I thought of Rita and came here to tell her. 🙂
Yes, we are very happy for the Ravens.

16 Sylvia

You’ve got some great connections Suzanne 😉
Congratulations on the Ravens also (although I must admit, you don’t see much of that here, but I could tell from my statistics that the whole of America was probably watching that!)

17 Sylvia

Oh I haven’t seen that one yet. Should get on to that….

18 Anne Touraine

I really love the way you paired your bracelet, your belt and your purse. You have a real talent to pair accessories (I remember when you posted photos of shoes matching your scarf). The ultimate refinement is to pair accessories and you always do it to perfection… You are inspirational 🙂 Thanks!
Anne Touraine (Playing with Scarves)

19 Sylvia

Thanks Anne. You are too kind…

20 traceyliz65

I think this is a great on the go look for the day you described that included work and time with your son. For stay at home mother’s a more casual skirt and top seem applicable at least in my part of the world. Remember I live in a beach resort area. Yours is quite chic and I really love it. but would choose a more casual look for my mom on the go days. My day would include taking a child to sport event or even just walks or to throw a ball around. I already dress better than mom’s in my area and this would be way out of place. No excuses easy to put together, just not a preference. The look you have going here is more what i would wear to go to a school event or even to my son’s theater performances.

21 Sylvia

Hi Tracey. Yes totally agree with you. I already mentioned that this outfit is perhaps a bit too chic for a mom on the go look although it’s just a simple skirt and blouse. You can certainly look fabulous with more casual clothes. All I meant to say was that you can look good. Even if you are running around after kids or have no time to dress. A more casual version of this outfit will be great too, but jogging pants with a baggy t-shirt would not be (in my opinion).

22 traceyliz65

Totally agree and don’t even own any!!! I do have a football sweatshirt with my favorite team but only wear it in the privacy of my home… wouldn’t even wear it to go to a bar to watch the game… We actually have people that go shopping in Pajama pants, which bugs me no end….

23 Marnell Keller

That happens way too much here in Florida, a cute pair of jeans cuffed and a button down take no more time then putting on pjs

24 Nanne

I have a few go-to outfits for various seasons that look pulled together and are practical for work. Now in the wintertime with snow and sub zero temperatures, it’s usually a knit tunic or long jumper, black ponte knit slim trousers (or trouser leggings if you will) and my black equestrian style leather boots, or jeans with ancle boots, a top, warm cardigan or a wool mix blazer and a patterned scarf.

25 Sylvia

Sounds stylish and warm Nanne! I’m heading for Norway in April. Need to find all my warmest winter clothes from the top of my cupboard….

26 Lorraine

I think you look great, as always Sylvia. Very chic, and ‘put together’. I am really looking forward to seeing how you dress in Norway, as being warm is a big concern for me in the UK at the moment!

27 Sylvia

It will not be all that great Lorraine. Remember, my winter wardrobe is 5 years old and I get cold very quickly now. I will just be packing on the layers and probably look like a mummy!

28 Lorraine

OK! It can be a challenge to be warm AND look chic! On a completely different subject, are you planning to look at 2013 trends in accessories for us? I love your belt, but find them very expensive so want to make the right purchase.

29 Greetje

You look perfect in both oufits. In your life and in Singapore (or Italy) these will be great outfits and not overdressed. Did not see you pairing your accessories with the outfit until Anne pointed it out. Of course you do; would not have expected you to do otherwise.
For me, with no children, a full time job and a passion for clothes, it is easy to dress. Love to pick out clothes and make nice combinations.

30 Sylvia

Of course Greetje this article was certainly not written for you.
Most people will dress more casually as well in Singapore but I tend to overdress a bit lately. I spend too much time in my shorts behind a computer. When I go outside and go somewhere, I want to make a bit of an effort and look and feel my best…

31 Greetje

Don’t think you can call this overdressed. Seen photos of Singapore streets and enough stylish ladies there.

32 Annette

My favourite is your first outfit. Not just a white blouse and a black skirt but you pimp it up with those lovely ballerinas and that stylish belt.
The green of your bag adds a final fresh touch!

Usually I don’t dress in a very casual style. My uniform in winter normally consits of a blazer and trousers or a skirt but if ever possible it will be a shift or wrap dress.

Lady of Style

33 Sylvia

Thanks Annette. Yes trousers and a blazer always looks good!

34 Red Tag Chic Los Angeles

The green color block purse served as a pretty splash of color to this chic B&W look!!!


35 Sylvia

Black and white is so good with that. You can just add any bright colour..

36 Suzanne

This is a cute outfit – simple but made special (or “finished”) by the use of accessories. This formula can be adapted by any woman. The outfit is just basics – a nice top with a practical bottom (for me right now it would have to be jeans or straight leg trousers that can be tucked into boots as the snow just keeps coming!) and then polished with the appropriate shoes, bag, and belt (or scarf, jewelry, watch). You have made me a belt addict Sylvia. 🙂 They add so much to a look and I love to accent my waist. I will belt anything – even a coat! LOL!
Your green bag is perfect in so many ways – the “In’ color for 2013 and a bright spot with the chic black and white of the clothes.
NY Fashion Week begins on Thursday! I am so excited! All of the clothes for F/W13 – when I have not even shopped for S/S13 yet! I love this crazy world of fashion!

37 Sylvia

Thanks Suzanne. Was it me that got you to wear belts? It is one of favorite accessories that is for sure.
Yes, I’m looking forward to it as well. Love to see all the new ideas!

38 Suzanne

I have always liked to define my waist but you made me take a fresh look at belts and add color and animal prints to my collection. I have a thin leopard and a wide zebra belt thanks to you. And an orange, a blue glitter, and a thin burgundy belt have been added. I have a metallic gold obi belt I adore and I just bought a wide, ivory, laser cut belt that is so awesome I want to try it with everything as soon as the weather gets above freezing. 🙂 You also gave me the idea to wear a leather belt around my tweed coat. And many of Anja’s color combinations have inspired me too.

39 Heather Fonseca

For me it’s jeans and a t-shirt, but as basic as that is if the jeans fit well and the t-shirt is black it looks great! I definitely have “uniform” outfits for when I need to look good fast! Great post!

40 aileen

I don’t know how I missed this item, but I’m catching up now.
What a brilliant idea, just wearing skirt and top but how lovely it looks. I agree the accessories are the icing on the cake and make a huge difference to an otherwise simple outfit. I’m definitely going for this look when I collect my grandson from nursery in the warmer weather. It will make a huge change for me rather than always appearing in trousers and a jacket.
You look chic in anything Sylvia.

41 Trina Grandinetti

Thanks for the reminder that we really should skip the excuses and dress well even when its for running around and casual. You make it look easy, simple and still stylish. Both examples are perfect. I have thoroughly enjoyed this weeks lessons.

42 Heidi/The Closet Coach

Totally on board with the idea of “go to” or outfit uniforms. Some mornings you just don’t want to think! Plus it always feels good to wear an outfit you know will look good on you. Comfort clothes? 🙂

I sometimes talk about outfit formulas, too. Figure out what you like about your go-to outfits and then use that as a template to create new ones.

43 Sylvia

Yes, that is a good idea Heidi!

44 Petra

I love the simplicity of the black and white outfit. Your shoes are really cute too! I have found myself wearing just black and white lately and I always feel more “put together” and feel I look much nicer in the combo. I know you’ve done it before, but I would love to see more on black and white combining. 🙂

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