By Keri Foy

When searching for clothes, Alyssa doesn’t only buy items from department stores. She purchased this dress and blazer from Stitch Fix, an online shopping club.   Photos by Sunni Wigginton

When it comes to variety, Alyssa Murphy prefers just two tones: red and black. Here’s how she pulls off her sense of style with a limited color palette.

Most weekday mornings you’ll find Alyssa Murphy dropping off her 9-year-old twins, Hannah and Zach, at the bus stop before school with her hair styled off her face, lipstick on, and outfit totally pulled together. How?

She has a plan of attack when it comes to getting ready every morning, and she always follows the “cardinal” rule: no blue.

“I’m always representing the university,” says Alyssa, senior associate director for Undergraduate Admissions, Recruitment, Scholarship and Visit Programs at the University of Louisville. “When I’m interacting with students, it’s a life step for them, so I want to be dressed professionally.”

She found this dress at Ann Taylor Loft and says the color works well with her skin tone. 

Alyssa oversees UofL’s freshman recruitment team and the strategy for enrolling its freshman class. She masterminds the merit-based scholarship application and selection process and manages the team that coordinates UofL’s visit programs on and off campus.

Alyssa loves her job and UofL, where the dress code is primarily business professional. Her dedication to the university goes deep — deep enough to completely eliminate a color from her wardrobe. Beyond blue, Alyssa’s style is well thought-out, budget-conscious, and sophisticated.

 Alyssa prefers simple accessories like this bracelet she purchased from Dress Barn. 

Alyssa’s morning routine actually starts the night before. She checks her calendar and selects an outfit, jacket and jewelry included, dictated by the next day’s agenda. By preparing the night before, she says she doesn’t feel as rushed in the mornings. If she is giving a presentation or has meetings with people outside her department, she steps it up a notch. “I almost always have on red and black or a variation of those colors,” Alyssa says. “The fact that I represent UofL is incorporated into every outfit.”

Choosing the right type of accessories is important for Alyssa. She looks for eye-catching jewelry that isn’t gaudy and buys pieces she can wear with more than one outfit.

She starts her beauty routine with her hair, which takes about 20-25 minutes to style. She uses lots of curling moisturizing crèmes and sprays, and she likes dry shampoo for the days between hair washing. Her favorite brand is Ion, found at Sally’s Beauty Supply. “I want to look as good as I can without spending a fortune,” Alyssa says.

Alyssa has exclusively used Clinique makeup since she was a teenager. She admits she’s had clear skin, but when she’s tried to make a switch in the past, the result has been disastrous. She also likes Clinique’s middle-of-the-road price point. “When you order online, you usually get a bonus gift,” says Alyssa, who goes for neutral tones except for lipstick. “I like a good coppery lipstick,” she says.

Looking polished and pull together everyday is easy for Alyssa since she picks out her outfit the night before. 

While clothing retailers can’t claim Alyssa’s loyalty like Clinique makeup, the online shopping club Stitch Fix seems to be top-of-mind. Stitch Fix works by having personal stylists select clothing and accessories for clients based on the client’s profile. The selected clothing is mailed to the client, who can decide to buy what she wants and send back what she doesn’t. Alyssa has had several “fixes” over the last year and loves the variety it has injected into her wardrobe. “A lot of the items I’ve kept have been clothes I wouldn’t have picked out for myself, but they look really good on,” she says.

Her other fashion haunts include Old Navy, Dress Barn, Macy’s (if there’s a good sale), and TJ Maxx. When Alyssa shops, she keeps in mind the cut of shirts as well as the length. Petite with a full bust, she is careful not to show too much and is leery of button-front shirts. “They are never buttoned all the way, and I always have a tank top underneath,” she says.

Alyssa’s budget affords her the opportunity to spend a little more money on staples such as black pants, and she tries to build her wardrobe — at a lower cost — around those items. She recently found local shops Work the Metal and Apricot Lane, which have her attention when it comes to accessory shopping.

She purchased these Franco Sarto shoes at an end of the summer sale. The heel is a little higher than what she is accustomed to wearing everyday, but she says she likes the versatility of the shoe because they can be worn with pants or jeans. 

Whether she’s in a dress or in slacks and a blouse, Alyssa is dressed to impress. She takes her role seriously and truly cares about the details — all of which boil down to characterizing UofL as a place where anyone would want to attend college.

Before she buys a piece of clothing, Alyssa pays close attention to its detail and makes sure the piece is flattering to her figure.