Sunday Style… What to Wear When You’re Done Work… For Good.

Next month will mark a two year anniversary for me… two years since I walked away from my working life. The transition to a life of more leisure, fewer commitments, and no structure takes some getting used to… trust me.
And the transition from a work-a-day, Monday to Friday, professional wardrobe to a more casual, all week-end all the time, approach to dressing was …well… a transition. I had to figure out how to dress the “new me”….the retired me… and still use at least some of my “old me” wardrobe.
It wasn’t as if I had not prepared for this. In the two years leading up to my retirement, I did not buy a single outfit that I would have considered exclusively professional wear. I looked at every potential purchase through the retirement lens, knowing I would probably still be wearing it when I was no longer working. Hence, I bought mostly sweaters or blouses and casual pants, cords or jeans. Nice enough to still be able to wear to work in the short term, but casual enough to be able to wear in my future, more casual, life. For meetings, workshop presentations, or parents’ nights, when I needed to look a bit more professional, well, I still had lots of good things in my closet to wear. Plenty of jackets, dress pants, and suits to see me out.
Sigh. Sometimes now, though, I do miss wearing a suit. Particularly this fall when sharp pant suits seemed to be everywhere. Like this look Dior. A great suit with boots or classic pumps; there was a time when I would have been all over that look. And it would have been all over me.
And skirt suits. There have been lots of skirt suits in the magazines recently. I love these looks from Carolina Herrera. Very early sixties. I remember in 2000, when tweed skirt suits were huge, I bought a Max Mara chocolate and cream tweed skirt and jacket. I loved that suit. I still have the jacket, and wear it in the fall with jeans or cords. But not in the winter. Most places I go these days, I’ll be keeping my coat on or draping it over my chair. Squeezing a tweed jacket on under a winter coat is way too uncomfortable. So I try really hard to get as much wear as I can from my fall and winter blazers…in the fall… when I can wear them as “outerwear.”
But, with my power suit days definitely behind me. It’s time to embrace a more casual, relaxed look for my new life. I might try to dress down my beloved leather pants, to make them look more like this outfit from It’s worth a try. I mean it’s thanks to this shot from Netaporter that I even thought of this post.

“Sunday Style”…there’s a mantra I need to adopt. So I drag out my Gap Turtleneck (fast becoming ubiquitous on this blog) and my long Elie Tahari jacket, roll up the pants, and throw on some sneakers. And a scarf. (Among other things, I’m trying to embrace scarves more.)

I don’t hate this look. It’s kind of fun. But it IS winter in Ottawa, so it’s way too cold for the light coat and when it snows in the next few days, those sneakers will be out too. 

The shots below are my attempts to figure out how I might reinvigorate my burgundy cords and matching shirt from Theory. Bought in 2007, and worn with pumps and a jacket, they were a staple of my work wardrobe. I’m liking them with my white, Gap sweater, though, and even with an orange Gap v-neck tee-shirt and scarf.
Or how about this look? Preston from the fashion blog Keep It Chic says that tie belts will be big for spring. Seriously, check out her post here. When Hubby saw me in this he said, “Is that your Coureurs de Bois look?” Ha! Good one! If you’ve never heard of these early French-Canadian explorers and fur traders check out the picture here.
Which brings me to my final challenge in the transition from work-a-day style to Sunday style… especially in a climate like eastern Canada: the necessity of incorporating outerwear into every outfit. And I mean every single one.
You see when I was working, I could plan an outfit, get dressed, grab my coat and purse as I rushed out the door, then, at work, shed the coat and stuff my bag under my desk. And I didn’t have to worry if the coat and bag co-ordinated with the rest of the outfit. Well, I didn’t have to worry as much.
And as you saw above, my orange tee shirt and scarf looked kind of cool with my burgundy cords and shirt. An example of me embracing colour, big time. And the orange tee and scarf look good with my brown Max Mara coat. BUT the coat does not look so great with the pants. Or with the black boots. Or the purse. The top half looks okay. But not the bottom half.
So I changed my coat. Now this coat looks better with the pants, and even surprisingly okay with the orange top and scarf. But that brown bag has got to go. I’ll change it up for my black bag and see how I like that.
Not all of my attempts to move from inspiration to reality will work. Not all of the items in my old work wardrobe will successfully make the transition to my Sunday Style wardrobe. It’s a work in progress… pun intended.
But in the meantime… here’s what I’m wearing today. My Sunday style, Friday run-around outfit. Black silky turtleneck from Vince, tan Tory Burch cords, black boots and bag. That’s for indoors. Really simple.


And for outdoors… I’ll add a tan and burgundy scarf that I bought at Holt Renfrew a few years ago to go with my Max Mara coat and which totally matches my new down coat from Zara. (Don’t you love it when that happens?) Oh, and my down coat, of course.

Still simple, and comfortable, and all the outdoor bits go with the indoor bits. So I’m comfortable, not so layered up that I feel smothered and best of all… I feel pulled together.


I love it when an outfit works. If I’m uncomfortable in it, or the bag and boots don’t go with the pants, or the whole outfit just looks… blah… I get cranky. I know; I know. How shallow can you get? But as I said in a post a few months ago, I can’t help it; I’ve always been this way.
Retirement has forced me to re-envision myself in many ways, not the least of which is how I dress.  And how I dress has always been an important part of my life. Seriously… I still vividly remember the dress I wore to my first day of school, in grade one. Red, plaid, with a ruffle… so cute.
But no more school days for me, or work days, or work day wardrobe, for that matter. I’m embracing Sunday style… every day of the week.

By the way… Happy New Year.

And do tell..what fashion challenges are you facing this winter?




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24 thoughts on “Sunday Style… What to Wear When You’re Done Work… For Good.”

  1. I think you are doing a great job with the transition…you always look chic and put together. You communicate strength and confidence. Keep it up…I agree with you about how important it is to still dress well after leaving the career world. Happy New Year!

  2. As one who has always been self-employed and working from home as opposed to working in an office or some other professional environment, it would never occur to me to think that I have to limit my style to casual/'Sunday'/'weekend' style outfits. I am not that keen on the casual jeans and a top style outfit many appear to think is the required uniform for weekends, work-at-homers and retirees. To me, it is just too boring for words. So that is not what I wear. If I want to wear a suit I wear a suit. I wear dresses most of the time, and outfits I wear that for me are casual, others no doubt consider 'dressed up'. Not sure why you think you can no longer wear that gorgeous suit. I would. And it's not as though you don't have the figure for it, is it? So why not? Because everyone else dresses boringly casually? Admittedly I am not dealing with extreme cold and deep snow, and I am sure I would be more concerned with surviving the cold if I were, and my style would have to change to deal with the weather. However, resorting to wearing standard casual outfits that everyone else wears would feel like having given up to me, so I'd be looking for unusual pieces that would also keep the cold out. For example, I would probably make myself a Junya Watanabe or Comme des Garcons inspired puffer coat rather than resorting to a standard puffer coat. I would wear the black leather trousers with my black fur flatform snow boots (bought in Montreal!) — can't have cold feet! (OTOH, I only rarely wear trainers (sneakers) at the best of times, and then only very intentionally, to balance a particular look, like you were talking about, and often I can find a preferable way to balance a look, for example, using combat boots or other obviously non-ladylike footwear. Just suggesting you question your idea that now you are retired you are limited to a particular sort of outfit. You are clearly creative and interesting and I love the way you think (as evidenced by your writing) so I think you will enjoy solving the problem of having a slight hankering for dress styles that you think inappropriate for your current lifestyle. At any rate, I'm glad I've never felt thus limited myself!

    Love your blog. Please keep posting!


    1. I hear you. You're right about the fact that retirees (or anyone who doesn't work in a professional situation) should not feel constrained about what they wear. Definitely the outerwear thing is a problem in Canada. I think part of my problem with suits and very obviously "professional" outfits now, for me, is that since I would not wear them very much they would not be cost effective. I'd rather save my money for something fabulous that I would wear a lot.
      Thanks for reading… and for commenting.

  3. Suzy from Pennsylvania

    Love this post as I am also coming up on two years of retirement and dealing with these issues. I particularly enjoyed seeing your inspirations and how you translated them in your wardrobe.

    1. Thanks, Suzy. It's fun to experiment and see how I can make my old professional outfits a bit more casual and comfortable. Thanks for reading.

  4. Our workplace has become mostly casual over the years, which I think will make the eventual transition easier. I'm all about The Jacket these days (and our climate doesn't often require major outerwear, so that helps). I like the turtleneck and pinstripe pants look, a nice way to work those trousers. I think you really nailed it with that last outfit!

    1. I love jackets as well. When it's not winter, I almost always have a jacket on with any outfit. I might try that white sweater again with the pinstriped pants…and add something to make it a bit more interesting. Maybe wearing them with my black turtleneck would be a bit more edgy? We'll see.

  5. I'm retired too & I see where you are coming from . All my skirts have gone to charity shops & I'm a trousers / jeans person now . I have a nice selection of practical coats & jackets for the regular dog walking . No suits or dresses , they just aren't my style any longer & I prefer not to look ' dressed up' . I still put a lot of thought into how I dress – just don't want to look as if I have ! Good jackets & bags pull things together for me . I treat myself at the local Margaret Howell discount shop .You really know what suits you – like that wine color
    Wendy in york

    1. Thanks, Wendy. I'm just not comfortable wearing suits etc to go shopping or to lunch with friends. I'm like you….I do put a lot of thought into what I wear….but don't want to look as if I do….that's it exactly. Thanks for reading.

  6. Loved this! I must admit I've never seen the tippy toe stand. Interesting. I think you look great! Breaking apart suits is the best way to go. I made the mistake of throwing out a few, and now wish I had kept the jackets of some,the skirts of others. Storage is always an issue, but if it's a great piece, it's worth keeping.

    1. I first noticed the tippy-toe stance on a certain American fashion blog, then on several European blogs…it's contagious, I think. I am always able to jettison pants or skirts….but I have trouble getting rid of jackets. As a result I have many, which is another reason why I never buy them anymore. And I have trouble being able to get enough wear out of them. Thanks for reading, Jennifer.

    1. Thanks Chelsea. I meant what I said that this transition really is a work in progress…so showing the not so good outfits should be part of it. Thanks for reading…and for commenting.

  7. This post really resonates with me Susan. I am an at-home mom of three young children so my wardrobe is also quite casual, but I also need to look stylish. I am regularly around other young moms and I fee like some of them have sadly given up on fashion. That's too bad because you absolutely can look fashionable while still being casual and comfortable. The crumby weather does add another layer of difficulty to creating a stylish outfit. As does nursing a baby 🙂 I am also longing to buy a suit but question how much I would wear it… Funerals and meetings with our lawyer are the only situations I can think of.

    1. I agree, Melanie. Casual doesn't have to be boring or blah. And taking care of what you wear can be such a mood booster, sometimes. Thanks for reading.

  8. You look great in every single outfit! Good job! It must have been quite a lot of work to create this post. Really nice article! I used to wear suits a lot. I do now less but still love it.

  9. I love the outfits you put together. You've learned how to dress yourself to suit your lifestyle. Your style is classic but with a contemporary feel. I like the colourful sweater outfit with the scarf around your waist. You look great in warm colours. Happy 2015 to you!

    1. Thanks Lorna. I like warm colours…but tend to find that cool colours with blue undertones look best next to my face. Thanks for dropping by and Happy New Year to you too.

  10. I too missed wearing suits once in a while.. after quitting job to be at home, I got rid a few that I have. I love the pairing you have with the sneakers.. looks so cool and maybe I'll try the same soon 🙂 Thanks for inspiring!

  11. Wonderful post, Susan – I am a very recent retiree just now and facing similar wardrobe issues. I think you've got some fabulous outfits here, polished and pretty. Thanks for sharing with Visible Monday!

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