A friend of mine recently changed careers, transitioning from corporate litigation to teaching at an elementary school. She asked me for advice on what to wear as a teacher, but what I realized when we were talking was that I didn't really know what to say. Teacher, lawyer, hospital administrator: these are all jobs that generally require a certain amount of conservatism when it comes to clothes. Which means very little room for experimentation or creativity, even with jewelry. And for someone like my friend, who doesn't want to look cookie-cutter and buy the exact same bright-and-bold "statement necklace" and collegiate blazer that every one of her coworkers already owns, it can be difficult to find pieces that are cool and chic (but also any-office appropriate and reasonably priced).
Lucky for her—and all of us, really—Ann Taylor's Spring 2014 collection ticks off all of those boxes pretty effortlessly. Head designer Lisa Axelson, who has spent the last five years quietly transforming the look of the workwear-heavy brand, decided on a color palette of mostly nudes and grays. "There's been so much color and print over the past few seasons, I wanted a refresh," she told me last week during a presentation at the Ann Taylor offices. A nude shirt dress with slate-gray piping, a pair of navy kick-flare trousers, and multiple cream-colored separates achieve that look without being boring. These are great pieces for my school-teacher friend, but for me too. And that's the point, right? Cool clothes for everybody.
Click through to peep the Ann Taylor Spring 2014 look book.