I take public transit to work downtown every day, and I have noticed a disturbing trend in the streets of Calgary: People think that clothing they commute in does not count towards their general fashion. I hate to break it to you people that wear hoodies and sneakers over top of your gorgeous suit or well-tailored dress, but IT COUNTS.
It seems ironic that people who drive to work usually look pretty good, and people who take public transit (note: being seen by hundreds of people on their way to work) dress like a shlub.
I understand that you don’t want to wear your heels on the train or for walking, and your dress or blazer isn’t quite warm enough in the spring & fall months, but that’s no excuse to ruin a perfectly fine work outfit by adding a layer of homeless hiker on top. So here, my friends – ways to look chic while commuting, specifically for the spring & summer months. I’ll do another one for winter when it rolls around – that is a much more complex topic.
Your jacket is debatably the most important item for commuting – it’s what most people will notice when you are outside, in all the glory of public transit (that’s thinly laced sarcasm -- public transit sucks). Don’t throw a hoodie or hiking jacket on overtop of your blouse, blazer, or any other semblance of office clothing. What happens if you run into your boss or a client, and they think you’re a sheep in wolves clothing (or in this case… a bum in office clothing)? What happens if you have to go out for a business lunch?
It is crucial to have a nice jacket to go with your outfit. A neutral colour and medium warmth level will serve you best – you can always warm it up with a scarf or another sweater underneath. A neutral colour and/or pattern will go with almost all office clothing. A trench or pea coat is a great go-to jacket, or a nice leather jacket if you want to rock out a bit.
I can’t even tell you the amount of times I’ve seen a woman carrying a “fashionable” tiny purse, hanging off her arm beside one of those free lululemon bags or plastic Safeway bags carrying their lunch. Perhaps their heels are sticking out the top of their too-small purse as well. Kind of ruins the whole look. Ladies, I am going to introduce you to something called a Tote, and it will become your best friend. The magic of the Tote is it is big enough to hold everything you should need to commute to work – this includes your lunch, spare shoes, scarf, umbrella, etc. If it’s big enough, you can even put your uselessly miniscule bag in there and not have to carry 15 things at once. Ta-daa! Easy and efficient!
I understand there are people who commute long distances to work, but last time I checked, no one was running a marathon to work in a pencil skirt. Therefore, there is no plausible reason to be wearing sneakers with your work clothing. Believe it or not, there are many different types of comfortable shoes that do not include running shoes, Crocs, or Wal Mart flip flops. And don’t even get me started on Skechers Shape-Ups… not only completely useless, but possibly the ugliest “exercise” shoes ever created.
Commuting in high heels is ridiculous, so throw on a cute pair of flats, embellished sandals, or flat ankle boots. Throw your work shoes into your MAGIC NEW TOTE for commuting, and when you get to work, throw your flats into that fabulous MAGIC NEW TOTE that you now love so much. Or, leave a pair of neutral heels at work to avoid lugging heels back and forth every day.
And that’s pretty much it! That’s all it takes to be chic and comfortable while you commute and not look like you:
a) Are going to the gym and your job simultaneously
b) Are going hiking immediately after work
c) Borrowed your 16-year old sister/daughter’s hoodie because you couldn’t find your jacket
d) Are actually secretly a homeless person.