I decided what I wanted was slacks in some natural-fiber/polyester blend (that is, I want 'em to look better than the pure polyester ones), and with them I'd wear a cream colored short-sleeved sweater and a nubby rust/brown short jacket that was in the closet. First problem cropped up before I even left for the store: the jacket is now too big, and it's rather noticeable. If I were desperate I'd wear it anyway, but I'd rather have something that fits the skinnier me.
So the hunt was for almost anything in that sort of style. Plus I want a pair of navy twill pants that can be worn on another day with an off-white tailored blouse (also needed) and an embroidered vest. My LL Bean slacks order won't quite get here before I leave.
After >2 hours and 4 stores in 3 locations, I have a jacket that will do but which is very dull, a pair of not-really-dark-enough-to-be-navy blue pants with an elastic waist (yuck), and a pair of olive polyester/rayon slacks that could be paired with a sweater-vest I have, if I can't come up with something better. This was a thrift store-Goody's-Penneys-Sears run, and I've exhausted them as possibilities: the Goody's seems to have almost killed their Petites section (and what's left in it should complete the murder quickly). Penneys had these low waisted pants with a "relaxed fit" that slid down to my hips--and my waist is not particularly trim. Both Penneys and Sears had mostly 100% polyester pants that looked it, and the few twill-type pants were all (shudder) "boot cut". I'd call them "small-scale bell bottoms", myself. Not for me, thanks. The little bitty Lands End section at Sears was ultra-casual stuff. No one had anything resembling an off-white tailored blouse that wasn't 100% polyester and/or very dressy.
If I get done at the office quickly tomorrow morning I'll try another thrift store (seeking a nice jacket, cheap), and then make a pass at Rich's and Macys. If I can stand that much shopping, that is. There are things in the closet that I could use, they just aren't quite the style I'd like to wear--but if my shopping-stamina gives out, they'll do.