Mary has been timid with color, afraid to experiment for fear of making a mistake. Her fallback has been the "black goes with everything" route, which doesn't say "creative." The black slacks are serviceable but predictable, and the cropped, swing style of the jacket in black, white and beige plaid doesn't make the most of her curvy proportions.
The smoky blue color of the pants (part of suit, jacket not shown, Marshall's, $49.99), marries nicely with the blues in the smocked sleeveless blouse (Marshall's $9.99) and embroidered cardigan (Marshall's, $29.99), creating a silhouette that is professional, creative and classic. The dark burgundy pumps (Marshall's $10) add a punch of a complementary color, with an oval-shaped toe that peeks out nicely from the pants. (Mix different shades of the same color -- blues with blues, reds with reds, etc. -- to spice things up in your wardrobe, too.)
The square-neck patterned knit dress in sea foam green and beige ($28, The Stock Exchange) complements Mary's curvy waist and hips, and the sunshine-yellow cropped, short-sleeve cardigan makes the outfit office-friendly. The green patent sandals ($24, The Stock Exchange) can be dressed up or down. (Mary's own jewelry)
Hats off to The Stock Exchange, which gave Mary about $125 worth of clothes (dresses, sandals, the sunny cardigan and more).
Mary's reaction: "I hear your voice in my head every day now as I get dressed for work meetings," she says. "I've even worn some things in my closet that I haven't worn in a while, but I'm trying a new way to wear them, mixing things up."
Stock Exchange 6118 Farrington Road Chapel Hill Marshall's New Hope Commons Durham