Nikki’s Inbox: “Is It Possible to Look Cute AND Professional?”

Hey Nikki, I would like to ask you how to make a whole new wardrobe with pastel and black clothing. I am an American who now lives in Germany, thanks to marrying a German. I don’t have many clothes and what I do have are all very old. I would like to build up a wardrobe that I can wear to both my German language course and in the event that I hopefully find a job soon. Though I adore cute styles that always make me seem much younger, I am 27 but I usually get mistaken for a teenager. I don’t mind this but if I get a job, I want to be cute AND professional!

I am about 5’3” with an American bra size of 32B. My hips are equal in size ratio to my shoulders with my waist being a little thinner. I have very thick thighs which makes fitting into my waist sizes pants difficult. I am extremely pale with yellow undertones and my hair is a dull auburn leaning more to brown than red. My eyes are blue but a faded dark gray blue. I hope all this information helps and thank you for the help!

Alyssa Smith, 27/Germany


A new culture and language, eh? So many new adventures waiting for you in Germany, Alyssa, so thanks for letting me be part of that!

I definitely agree with your thinking that one can wear something cute and still look professional. Why not? It’s just a matter of making sure you’re dressed for the occasion – in your case, language classes and job interviews — so you can make the best impression.

Pastels Are Big

You’re definitely on to something there, dear. Pastels have never been so hot, especially with the huge popularity of millennial pink, and Pantone’s 2016 color of the year Rose Quartz and Serenity which are shades of pink and blue, respectively. However, wearing pastels all the time can be unflattering if one isn’t careful. You also have to keep in mind which particular tones (adding gray to a color) or tints (adding white) are more suitable for your skin tone. Your complexion may require tones rather than tints to avoid making you look washed out. Stick to a light top-dark bottoms formula to ensure that your top half gets the attention while downplaying the lower.

Black’s Got Your Back

The nice thing about pastels is that they’re very easy to play with, even with black. Black and all its shades like gray, charcoal and ash can tone down pastels or play it up further. A belted lilac peplum blouse flatters your waist and makes an all-black ensemble less somber.

Black bottoms aren’t boring. Black flat-front trousers with a subtle boot-cut or flared silhouette can balance the width of your thighs. Opt for jean-style pockets or no pockets at all to avoid gaping at the hips.

Try contrasting pastels with dark colors. Pairing an ivory blouson top with a vivid cobalt blue skirt keeps the look vibrant. You can even do tone-on-tone combinations such as magenta with pale pink for added depth.

Play With Textures

Whether you choose to stick with pastels or try deeper shades like jewel tones, textures should always be in your style vocabulary to avoid looking monotonous, Alyssa. Fall and winter is the time for plaid and you’re definitely spoiled for choice there! Plus, you’ve got knits, suede, cashmere, corduroy, velvet and more.

Don’t be afraid to mix patterns and prints as well to suit your pastel-and-black penchant. A Kelly green pointelle sweater paired with a camel corduroy knee-length skirt and suede ankle boots ticks all the boxes. A velvet blouse with floral appliques is just the thing to offset the staid solidarity of a pinstriped skirt or trousers. You can extend the textural play to accessories, including jewelry (like tasseled earrings), shoes and handbags.

Pretty much with everything in life, moderation goes a long way. The temptation to look “cute” will always be there but you have the choice to elevate that into “chic” and keep your love for pastels. I wish you the best, darling!

P.S. If you’re sending a question, please don’t forget to include any helpful information about your body type or shape, your tastes or personality. You can include a selfie (link only please) or a photo of your clothes (which I will never publish without pre-approval). Thank you!

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