ootd, style
Comments 28

Formally Speaking


Suits. Blazers. Jackets.

Formal Wear. Formally Dressed.


For those who know me, I’d be the last person you’d associate with the stereotypical concept of formal dressing.  And I don’t blame you.  Think Sheela, think unconventional.  Unapologetic.  Flamboyant.  Formal attire (otherwise known in certain quarters as conservative wear) is the furthest thing to come to mind.  However, those who’ve known me since, say, the late 1990s, would beg to disagree.  The Sheela then worked at Ernst & Young.  As a Management Consultant who undertook feasibility studies for government departments and MNCs in, yes, 3-piece suits, pointy toe pumps, and spare pair of pantyhose in the bag.



Officially Speaking | Sheela WritesOfficially Speaking | Sheela WritesOfficially Speaking | Sheela Writes

Let’s press the forward button on our remotes, shall we, leaping towards the year 2000.  At a time when gimmicky titles reigned (head honcho, anyone?); refurbished shophouses were de rigueur; and, thanks to the dot com boom, when formal meant a collared tee and non ripped jeans.  Not a button-down.  Nor dress pants.


Imagine how liberating that period was.  Which probably accounts for why bottom lines of hosiery manufacturers took a dramatic downward dive during those times.  Ha.  For old school goal diggers such as myself, it meant getting acquainted with a completely new corporate work culture.  One wherein formality no longer appeared to exist.  Structure and rules were frowned upon, with spontaneity being the order of the day.

I remember my boss at the time coming to work in tee shirt and jeans.  Actually, almost everyone came in to work in tee shirt and jeans.  Every.  Single.  Day.  Everyone save for me, his secretary, and the CEO (and I think that was only because he knew he didn’t look good in jeans).

Out went all the suits.  And the Olivia Pope pumps.  And the Miss Marple bags.

Then the winds of change blew yet again, and corporate became trendy once more.  Well, as far as corporate in the 21st century went.  It was perfectly alright to pair a blazer with white tee and jeans.  Or to show up for work in a romantic blouse with leather pants (guilty as charged, and frequently too).  That was a little over 10 years ago.  Since then, so much has changed, and yet nothing has really changed afterall.

Officially Speaking | Sheela WritesOfficially Speaking | Sheela Writes

I mean, what I wore to work a decade ago is utterly acceptable today.  In fact, it’s the norm.  Cyclical is the word I’m simultaneously looking for, and loathe to use but it’s the truth.  How cool is that.  And how cool are the new norms?  I’m talking about shorts suits.  And billowy, bohemian layers.  Tattoos.  Oh, and brightly coloured hair.  Call it easy-going, call it tolerant, call it whatever you like, but there’s no refuting how liberal relaxed today’s work environment has become.

And how incredibly grateful I am we are for that boon.

Thus, as far as formal dressing goes these days, this shirt dress is where I’m headed.  It’s the sort of multi-way garment that every wardrobe needs to have and lord knows I could do with all the iron-free pieces I can lay my hands on.  Dress it up, dress it down.  Button.  Unbutton.  Duster Cardigan.  Light Jacket.  Tunic Top.

Officially Speaking | Sheela WritesOfficially Speaking | Sheela Writes


So, question – would you be keen to see the many ways this shirt dress can be worn?  Would you be interested in viewing its interchangeable properties?  And here’s a second question for you – how many chameleons do you have in your closet?

Love, Sheela

p/s photos by eve

I link up here.


    • Thank you so much, Carly. Believe it or not, those heels are definitely not meant for walking. Sigh. I think it’s because there’s not platform support under the balls of my feet🙂


  1. robjodiefilogomo says

    As usual, I’m in love with your shoes—egads your collection is about as perfect as Imelda Maros!!
    I think this whole blogging thing has opened my eyes to switching clothing items around and having them be, oh so versatile! (And I’m laughing because we’re just taking pictures for a post series on the shirt dress)!
    I would love to see pictures of the conservative Sheela (and how smart to carry extra hosiery with you at all times—I only thought about having clear nail polish at my desk for that occasional run in them!)


    • Hahaha. Once upon a time, I had 567 pairs of shoes, carefully curated and safely stored in a shoe room. That was pre-Eve. Post-Eve, shoe room was converted into playroom, and shoe collection whittled down to a mere 50, 60 pairs. Sigh. These days, I have a stable of approximately 60, 70 pairs which I keep (and cherish). In addition to those, I have a rotating collection meaning I buy purely for blog shoots and when photographed, I list them in my Poshmark closet🙂

      OMG conservative Sheela. I burned all the photos. At least I believe I got all of them GRIN


  2. What a great flashback of history…I remember the dot com as I was still in college yet making ridiculous money (even for today’s standards) for just being a brand rep and I really can’t picture you in pointy heels and suites for E&Y one of the most rigid places to work. Kudos for sticking true to yourself Sheela and I am loving this shirt dress done your way!!

    xo Sheree
    IG: @poshclassymom


    • OMG yes, rigid is the perfect word to describe E&Y. I learned a lot but I also felt stifled the entire time I was there so you can imagine I didn’t stick around for too long🙂 xoxo


    • Thank you so very much, Elise!! I love your creative skills, converting that wet/dry pouch into a clutch is so clever🙂


  3. love, love, love … from head to toe. you look fabulous and that dress is so versatile. I like a little bit of formality in my work wear but many pieces in my wardrobe are good for either work or play, depending on the overall outfit and accessories. Thank you for sharing your post on my Powers the Flower link-up.



    • For the most part, Rena, my wardrobe is like yours. Compartmentalised. But over the last few years, having the luxury of being able to work at home has relaxed my purchasing choices, to some degree. And this piece here is a prime example of a hardworking multi-tasker🙂 xoxo


  4. sequinist says

    Just gorgeous (swooning over the shoes, as ever) and YES I would like to see a series on styling this shirtdress six ways ’til Sunday! xxx


  5. Once again another thought provoking or remember back in the days worthy post. I do remember business wear as pant suits and collared blouses and pointy toes. Looking good Sheela, what a lovely dress
    Thank you for linking up to “Bloggers Who Have Inspired Me”
    Rachel xo


  6. Shirt-dresses are always a win with me, but I have to say, a pinstripe one is like taking shirt-dresses to a whole other level – loves it! And those shoesss *swoons*

    Liyana | Affordorable


  7. andreaswellnessnotes says

    Great dress! Such a versatile piece! And, yes, I would totally like to see what other ways you are wearing it!

    You have the best shoes & the best bags! So fun, so you!

    I’ve always worked in fairly casual places, so what I’m wearing to work really hasn’t changed all that much over the years…

    Have a great weekend!

    Andrea’s Wellness Notes


  8. I can’t see you wearing conservative clothes at all. Though I bet you looked amazing in them as you do in your fabulous style now! I love the shirtdress! Especially the fact that it’s non iron (that’s my least favourite chore.) Those shoes are gorgeous! You look amazing!


  9. While I don’t like a formal look everyday, I won’t lie, I do LOVE men in suits…there’s something just so sexy about it…maybe it’s me wanting a revival of mad men in the workforce lol…as for women, while it’s fun to wear formal things sometimes, I am happy that I can sometimes wear funky stuff too. BTW I am not sure if you got my email back in response to your in case it went into junk, just want to make sure. Would love If you can link up to http://the-wardrobe-stylist.com/2016/04/17/diy-brazilian-hair-extensions/


    • OH MY GOD. I do too. When my man’s off for a meeting, and all formal and suited up, I drool, I cannot lie. When I lived and worked in Singapore, men were almost always in sharp suits, and sharp casual meant more than tee shirts/jeans. Coming to live in Houston has been quite an eyeopener for me, from that perspective. I am so SO blessed that my man is still very much European in his mindset when it comes to what he wears, and that we are like twins on this topic xoxo


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