Friday, May 28, 2010

Executive Summary: Links for your weekend

Sorry folks, I did it again and disappeared for most of the week, but I'm back again with links!  Some of my faves this week:

Share your favorite reads of the week below!

Photo credit

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The wow factor

Taking a break from the fashion today to hit up the working side of things. Recently my younger cousin was looking for job advice and talked to me, our older cousin, and older cousin's husband.  Younger cousin was frustrated with her job situation, wondering how she could get past the entry-level drivel that usually caused her to rethink her interest in the job.  Older cousin nudged her husband and prompted, "Honey, give your Wow factor speech."  But by then (2 a.m. ish) we'd lost him, but here is what I imagine it might have included.

Whatever your job, whatever your level, and whatever your aspirations, the Wow Factor can make you stand out and help you get noticed and get ahead.  The Wow Factor can cut down on your time in entry-level tasks and, if you aren't in a job that matches your career goals, can get you good recommendations that can get you where you really want to go.

Now, the exact formula to bring Wow to your workplace may vary by person, but I think the following should belong on that list:
  • Hard work. This seems like a no brainer, but you reap what you sow.  You have to put in the work before you can see the results.  When you think you're done, think about just one additional thing you can do to make it better before you call it a night.
  • Positivity.  Being positive doesn't mean you need to be constantly smiling or fake.  It is looking on the bright side, taking things in stride, being open to new ideas and hoping for (and then working toward) the best result.  Nobody likes a Debbie Downer (you'll stand out, for sure, but for the wrong reasons). 
  • Humility. No matter where you land on the ladder, be willing to help out where needed.  Treat those that help you well, especially when they're doing you a favor. 
  • Initiative. Is your job getting a bit boring or lackluster?  Think about what you like to do or are interested in...and how that could help your employer.  If you're bored or have a lot of free time, volunteer for extra projects.  If you see a need, come up with a solution.
  • Creativity.  Do you come up with new ideas during meetings or sit back and nod?  Whether your ideas are always accepted or not, don't be afraid to speak up and offer your point of view.
  • Personality. A drone is just that, a drone. Your experiences, your hobbies, your values, your humor...those are what make you you, and what will make you stand out.  
I am no expert, but I've made do.  I've learned a lot of these lessons the hard way.  I've been the college intern browsing the Internet when bored...had a heart to heart with my boss and he gave me more challenging projects that I still remember fondly today (note: most employers track computer and Internet usage to some extent; what they do with the information varies).  In our small department at work, I run campaigns, contests, a magazine...and the Xerox multifunction printer; someone's got to do it and the in-house printing and binding abilities it brings saves our organization (and our department) tons of money.  It is hard to muster up the effort some days, but the Wow Factor gives you momentum to make even the worst days better than they might have been.

What is your Wow formula, and how did you find it?

photo credit: bluebike

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Up to the challenge

I'm always looking for some good motivation to mix it up a little, and Jessica of What I Wore has been dishing out some challenges.  She started with Breton stripe day a few weeks back, but since I don't have any like-striped clothing (and I'm not buying for a year), I sat it out.  But when this weekend's challenge was Sweet/Rough, I knew I had to give it a go.

Another recent motivator for me was the wonderful package I got in the mail on Saturday from my dear childhood friends Annie and Angie.  I met Annie in kindergarten (Angie is her sister, one year older than us) and we've been practically inseparable since...after high school we went to the same college and are now both in Northern California (having grown up in Southern California).  But I digress.  Here is what was inside the package:

Shirts!  Seems my two favorite sisters went through their wardrobes and picked out their favorite underused dress shirts and sent them along to help quell any temptation I might be feeling to cheat on my shopping diet (again again).  Little did they know these would come in handy pretty soon.

Check out my Sweet/Rough challenge outfit...of course I had to make it work for the office.

Blouse: Hand-me-down from Annie & Angie; Sweater: Gap - 2005 - ? (under $20);
Skirt: Banana Republic - 2010 - $69 (sale); Tights: Hue (Macy's) - 2010 - $10;
Shoes: Jessica Simpson - 2009 - hand-me-down.

So there you have it.  I searched long and hard in my closet and could not for the life of me find a piece that was obviously "romantic" other than my well-used ruffled blouse.  But when this baby showed up at my door I knew I could work it in.  It's got some pretty flowers on it, and ruffles on the cuffs. The pastel sweater was another sweet touch, and I threw on some nude fishnets for good measure (see detail below).

I edged it up with a classic black pencil skirt and suede platform booties...these things give me serious height!  Here is a closeup of the shoe and the tights.

My coworker/our graphic design intern Chris took these photos during lunch today after I got supremely frustrated trying to take indoor pictures alone...I have a basic point-and-shoot, and a lot of my photos end up blurry or blown out, so I just sucked it up and asked for help today.  He did a great job, and then at the end of the day broke the news that he gave his two weeks notice for a new internship at a graphic design agency in town.  He totally deserves the amazing new opportunity, but I can't help but wonder if taking these pics was the final straw (I kid, I think).

Update: Check out the other lovely ladies who participated in the roundup on What I Wore.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Make Believe Monday | Black bag

This may seem like a no-brainer but has been one of the hardest to fulfill items on my wishlist for some time now: a day-to-day use black purse.  Yup.  You heard it.  Little Miss New Professional does not have a black handbag for daily use.  I have black clutches, I have black laptop totes, but nothing for the normal workday.  Generally, I like color better for handbags (the two I go back and forth between are a honey-caramel mini duffel and a red shoulder bag), but I would love to have the option of carrying a black bag when I feel like it. 

I have a few requirements for my purse:
  • Zipper.  Call it paranoia but I can't stand letting others have easy access to the contents of my purse (ironically the purse I carried throughout NYC as a grad student did not have a zipper on it).
  • Medium to medium-large in size. My must haves: wallet (large), camera (point-and-shoot, umbrella (until summer finally hits), sunglasses, keys, phone, chapstick, plenty of pens, bobby pins, and hair ties.
  • Over-the-shoulder.  I like to keep my hands free.
  • Outside zipped pockets.  For my chapstick and cell phone.  Again, somewhat paranoid. 
  • Leather or leather-like, non-patent.  Just a personal preference.
  • Work appropriate.  Most likely a satchel or tote.  Hobos that are too slouchy or totes that are too large can look casual and unprofessional.
  • No monogram, label, or tag denoting maker.  Details like zippers and studs are fine.

There are a few reasons I haven't yet taken the plunge to just buy a black purse.  I haven't found one that I like in my price range, and I am wary of shopping online (especially if it's a synthetic bag...they run the gamut like crazy). 

Some bags I'm mulling over (most of which are out of my desired price range, but someday I may just have to cave). 

This back has a great shape and nice stitch detailing.  At 13" x 10" x 5", it can also fit a folder or notebook for a meeting, too.  The metal tag looks removable (a plus).

A similar style, and very much like the bag I already carry.  Old habits die hard, but they don't let me down, either.

This bag also comes in black, but the photo wasn't loading well.  I love the shape of this bag, and the footed detail.  It's faux-patent, though, and I'm not a big fan of shiny.  Otherwise this would be great.

This one is my fave, but wayyy out of budget.  This "mini-bag" is a full 8" x 12.5" x 6.5"...I'm a little scared of what the regular size one looks like!  I love this bag because you know I love studs.  But the structured shape and muted color make this bag the perfect piece of flair for a toned-down professional outfit.  Plus it transitions well to night and weekends.

I mentioned too-slouchy hobos as too casual for the office, but this gem is a great example of a hobo with office-appropriate structure.  It would be a great bag for business travel...stash some reading, a sweater, and some snacks for the plane. 

So now that I found some suitable options, it's time to find them in store to cop a feel (and start saving for my fave, the studded bag). 

What color/shape bag do you carry to work?  Do you buy bags online?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Executive Summary: Links for your weekend

Fifty-five hours of work in four days.  That is the reason for this week's lack of posts, but with today's deadline met, I'm looking forward to a relaxing weekend of catching up on sleep, checking off chores and errands, and blogging. 
  • I'm headed to LA next week for work and weekend...packing is always a chore but this gal has it down to an art. (NY Times)
  • Every office could use a few pranks and dares to keep you on your toes. I'm adding  the Underground Manual of Office Dares to my reading list,  stat. (The Office Stylist)
  • Hard work is often underestimated in the workplace, but don't count it out.  U Penn researchers recently found that hard work affects performance more than natural ability or talent.  Good news for me--see this week's work schedule above. (Lifehacker)
  • I find these commercials on TV supremely annoying, but the web-exclusive Swagger Wagon music video is a must see (and must replay again, and again, and again).
  • In other fun news, check out part 1 of Academichic's Dress Your Best Week roundup.  Look closely at the second set of photos...see a familiar face? 
Found any great reads this week?  Share the links in the comments!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Out of practice

Even though it's only been a few days, I feel like I've completely forgotten how to dress for the office. I took Thursday and Friday off for a long weekend with my girl cousins in Chicago, and most of Monday was taken up by an off-site recording session. I did actually dress up for that, but ended up spilling coffee on myself and changing at home (into jeans) before I headed into the office. Even then, I'm not sure how well the outfit worked--I tried my hand at mixing florals and stripes. A sneak peek at the jumbled mess that was Monday's outfit (the morning after).

Brown blazer: Swapped - 2010 - free; Cardigan: H&M - 2009 - $30;
Floral top: Gottschalks - 2009 - $12; Pants: Old Navy - 2006 - $20

So Tuesday was my first full day back in the office, and I reverted to an old standby: slacks, layered top, and pointy-toed heels.

Top: Banana Republic - 2009 - $20; Layered tank: Costco - 2009 - $12 for 2; Pants: Old Navy - 2008 - $20;
Shoes: Blake Scott (Off Broadway) - 2010 - $40

Pardon the wrinkled pants. Most pants I buy are too long for me but work with heels so no hemming is necessary.  When I bought these a few years ago, the pants were super-long even with heels, so I hemmed them up myself, keeping the extra length folded under, since pants typically start to feel shorter over time due to washing and weight  (keep pulling those waistbands higher...anyone else?).  Unfortunately, I rarely try out the pants before I realize that it's time to let the hem out again, so here are the ugly ironed edges.  I didn't bother with them today since at least the ironed edge is straight, and to be honest I was hoping people would just mistake them for cuffed pants.

This top has been featured on the blog once before, but this time I got a nice shot of the braided detail.  It is one of my favorite things about this shirt, in addition to the breezy fit and office-ready sleeves.

Confession time: On top of this outfit I tossed on a medium-weight jacket.  A new one.  While in Chicago, I got caught in the Windy City without a jacket in low 50s weather.  It's not that I didn't prepare, it's that The Weather Channel said it would be 67 degrees so I wore a hoodie and left my down puffer at my cousin's house an hour away.  So I ducked into H&M quickly and picked up a newbie to keep me warm for the day.  I'm still washing the guilt off me (a few more showers to go), but I was conscious to pick a jacket that would last me in a style that I like, but don't already own.  That way it is actually serving a purpose rather than just adding to the clutter of my closet.  I know, I know...I can justify it all I want in my head but I do admit I cheated (again) on my shopping diet.  Two cheats in two-in-a-half months, but if you compare it to my actual nutrition diet, I'm doing much better at the shopping one!

But back to the bad habits.  Today I'm in jeans again, and I've got jeans in my car for tomorrow's off-site shoot (it's going to be a long night so I over-prepared).  Then it's on to Friday (jeans, no question).  Next week: two days in the office, three days on the road.  I'll still post outfits as often as I can, but just a warning--my schedule and energy level right now is stifling my usual wannabe-snazzy office wear urgings, and we're likely to be in June before that switches back over.

Do you find the transition from travel and vacation back to the office tough?  Do you dress differently for office and off-site workdays and how?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Blame it on the vacation

Just got back from a four-day weekend in Chicago last night, hence no Make Believe Monday post this morning (and no links from last week). Should be back up to speed soon, but until then, enjoy this pic of the Windy City from Lake Michigan!

Friday, May 14, 2010

The right to bare arms

Summer may be playing hide-and-go-seek with Sacramento (back to 60s and rain earlier this week), but it will be nice and toasty here soon, meaning it's time to bust out the sleeveless tops. While traditionally conservative workplaces may frown on bare arms in the office, this look is great for layering under a blazer or cardigan and the right choice can even carry you outdoors in hot weather without losing your professional edge.

Key things to look out for:
  • Make sure the straps are wide enough and positioned in the right place to cover your bra straps at all times.  Be sure to check the view from the back, too.
  • With so much skin on your arms showing, you can go higher with the neckline without looking dowdy.  Too low of a neckline can make even the prettiest blouse not fit for work (although that goes for shirts with sleeves, too). 

Some of my favorites:
Clockwise from top left: NY Collection (Macy's), Forever 21, Banana Republic, Alfani (Macy's), Lauren Ralph Lauren (Macy's), Alfani (Macy's)

My office isn't super-conservative, and I've shown a sleeveless look here and a borderline cap-sleeve here.  I could see any one of these tops working under a blazer or alone, with skirts or pants.  Some of theses (the two on the left) are almost closer to being cap-sleeved, which is another great summer staple.

Can you wear sleeveless tops to the office or do you top them with a coverup in the office?  What are your favorite sleeveless looks?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Jumping off the page

Confession time...I am addicting to reading magazines.  I've been addicted since I moved out of my parents house to go to college.  Fun fashion-y magazines were frowned up on at our house--I was raised on National Geographic, U.S. News, and Readers Digest.  Once, in high school, I signed up online for a free trial subscription to Seventeen.  I noticed a few months later that they never came and I asked my mom about it.  Her answer: she saw them in the mail and threw them straight in the trash because she didn't like how it looked.  Saved by the Bell wasn't "appropriate" either.

Call it pent-up magazine reading, but in college I subscribed to anywhere from 5-11 magazines at a time, and read each of them cover to cover.  Since then I've honed my selection down to a select few, and still find myself months behind on my reading.  I am not one of those people that flips through a magazine quickly...I pore over each and every page, even some of the ads.  Nowadays my glossies of choice are Vogue, Vanity Fair, Real Simple, and Sports Illustrated.

I'm currently recovering from a weird habit of keeping my magazines for years.  I kept all the magazines I bought or received for all four years of college before I threw any of them out.  I never ripped a page out of any of them unless they had ads on both sides.  Needless to say, it made my yearly moves in and out of dorms and apartments just that much more difficult, lugging around hundreds of magazines.

These days, I read, rip, and recycle, keeping only those pages and article that really strike me.  Since I've started this blog, I've begun seeing outfits that I want to try. Here is my first magazine inspired outfit.
I cannot for the life of me remember which magazine this came out of, but it was an editorial feature.  If you recognize this, please let me know so I can credit the mag.

Necklace: gift; Sweater: H&M - 2007 - $14; Skirt: The Limited - 2009 - $20; Shoes: Target - 2010 - $18

Ok, so it was a pretty loose translation, and to be honest I could have done better by wearing my high-waisted suit skirt.  But I tried it on and it was dreadfully uncomfortable, so on came this comfy tulip-skirt.  I imagine that the model was wearing heels, but I liked the look of the nude flats, and they were super-comfy!  I'd never really considered tucking in a sweater before, but I like the way this turned out.

What magazines do you draw your inspiration from?  How literally do you translate the looks you're inspired by?

[Yes, that is my writing on the magazine photo. Now that I realize how bad my memory is, I've started taking notes right onto the pages I rip out.  Too bad I did this long after the fact, or I would have noted the magazine]

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dress Your Best Week: Long, lean limbs

So today was part two of my participation in Dress Your Best Week.  Check out yesterday's post and the introduction to Dress Your  Best Week on Academichic for what this week is all about.  Yesterday I celebrated my neck/collarbone/jawline area.  Today...well, you'll see.

 Top: Calvin Klein - 2009 - $30; Skirt: The Limited - 2009 - $20; Shoes: Target - 2010 - $25

I don't know what's up with this pose, but I loved my outfit today.  This outfit highlights my calves and arms...two parts of my body that have rarely, if ever, let me down in terms of feeling good about myself.

An up-close look at the gams.

Just got these new shoes last week from Target and still breaking them in.  My shoe supply runs dangerously low in the strappy sandal-heel category, so when I tried on these babies and they fit, I bought them.  This is already the second time I've worn these in less than a week, and I have a feeling it they'll be pretty well-used by the time summer's over.  While these shoes might not make the cut in very conservative offices, it's less taboo than those that show more foot...I call these types of shoes "ventilated peep-toes."

Back to the fashion aspect...this combo is one I've been meaning to try for a while...a billowy blouse tucked into a tulip skirt.  Black and white is always a safe combo, and is a blank canvas for all sorts of fun stuff...studs, straps, pleating.

On a more random note, I also really love my fingernails, so today I polished them simply with Sally Hansen Hard as Nails and let them shine through in all their glory.  I have really long nailbeds, so I keep my nails short (I cut them weekly or else they get claw-y).  I usually stick with clear nail polish, or a pale translucent pink.  When I get stressed I pick at my cuticles, so I keep a cuticle oil pen at my desk to keep them hydrated.

Don't forget to check out the other Dress Your Best Week participants this week.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dress Your Best Week: Above the waist

If you haven't popped on over to Academichic lately (and I don't know why you wouldn't have), this week is Dress Your Best Week.  Pick your favorite features/parts, and play them up.  I started today with my below-the-chin but above-the-waist favorites.

Sweater: Macy's - 2007 - gift card; Tank: Costco - 2009 - 2 for $12; Jeans: Old Navy - 2010 - $12; Shoes: Nina (from Ross) - 2009 - $16; Earrings: Target or Walmart (can't remember) - 2009 - cheap

I had to get up early today to drop my car off at the dealership before work (my a/c has been broken since Thanksgiving and we're heading into constant 80-90 degree weather soon), but I still had time to waffle on my outfit before work.  I've really got to get on that outfit planning thing. Maybe next week...

But I digress.  Today's best feature was my neck/collarbone/jaw line area.

Okay, so it's a slightly blurry picture, but I have a long neck and a very defined collarbone/jawline area (slightly obscured in the photo by my on-again-off-again double chin).  The wide cowl-neck collar of this sweater was the perfect choice to play up my neck, as was the up-do.  Covering up all around with pants and long-sleeves also drew the eye to this area.

The concept of Dress Your Best Week is one that I fully support--women tend to dress to hide parts they don't like, but why not play up the parts you do like?  When you're walking around with that much confidence you can pull almost anything off.  There is so much negativity around womens' bodies in society and in the media (I confess I fall into bad habits often as well), but having so many bloggers unite this week to really be positive is awesome, and I'm honored to be participating.

Check out the other Dress Your Best Week participants here and see how they're playing up what they love about their bodies.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Make Believe Monday | Print Satin Pumps

Following in a similar vein to last week, this week's wish list addition is a pair of print satin pumps.  These babies can jazz up a muted work outfit without compromising professionalism.  I prefer florals or abstract graphics, although I've seen classic animal prints fare well, too (not the neon kind).

These classic black and white beauties would look great with a skirt or peeking out from some slacks.

I love the shape of these toes, the slight ruching, and the slingback on this affordable pair.

These are a great color and have a demure flower at the toes.

An example of office-ready animal print.

Which pair would you wear to the office?


Today kicks off Dress Your Best Week, a fun idea started by the stylin' gals at Academichic.  Check out the list of all participants today and see how they dress for their favorite body parts this week.  Stay tuned here for my DYBW outfit, too!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

We've arrived!

At our new virtual home, that is. Take a look around and get reacquainted with The New Professional. All your favorite posts are here (and new ones again starting Monday).

Our new digs:
  • Follow The New Professional via Bloglovin', Twitter, Flickr, RSS, or Google Friend Connect from the right column.
  • Sort by category in the footer.
  • Check out related stories at the bottom of each post.
  • Share a post using nearly any social media platform by mousing over "Share This" at the bottom of each post.

I'd love to hear from you!
  • What is your favorite outfit to wear to work? Send me some pics and a brief description of what you like about it.
  • Have a styling dilemma? Send me a question!
  • Can’t find an item? Let me know and I’ll take a stab at it.
  • Got a great inspiration for a work outfit? I’ll be your guinea pig (within reason, of course).
Shoot me an email at thenewprofessionalblog [at] gmail [dot] com or visit the Conference Room for more information.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Executive Summary | Links for your weekend

Lots of fun stuff this week, both at work and in the blogosphere!  It's fair season, and I just love fairs.  County fairs, food-themed fairs, state fairs--I'm not picky.  A few weeks ago my friend Cari and I hit up the Asparagus Festival; this weekend it's the Dixon May Fair (and Pat Benatar and CCR!).

While I scarf down my funnel cake, here are some weekend reads for you:

Share your favorite reads from this week below!  Hope you have a rockin' weekend!

All buttoned up and nowhere to go

Very few pieces can look as crisp and put together as a button down shirt.  When you find one that fits your body perfectly, you'll know--it will button easily, leave no gaps, and skim your torso.  It might be tempting, when you find the perfect shirt, to live in that one piece forever, but that would be boring.  Luckily there are endless variations on the classic standby, for every occasion.

My picks (concentrating on three-quarter length and long sleeve shirts today):

My perfect fit?  The J. Crew three-quarter sleeve stretch shirt.  You can see them here, here, and here (which doesn't span my entire collection).

What's your perfect fit?  What types of details do you find most appealing to spice up a button-down?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Working backwards

A peek into my morning:

Outfit 1: blouse A, pants A

Outfit 2: blouse A, skirt A

Outfit 3: blouse A, skirt B

Outfit 4: blouse B, skirt C

Outfit 5: blouse A, pants B

Outfit 6: blouse C, skirt D

Outfit 7: blouse A, skirt E

Outfit 8: blouse A + knit vest, jeans

Outfit 9: blouse A + knit vest, pants B

Conclusion: When in doubt, construct an outfit around jeans, then swap out jeans for work pants at the end.

Earrings: Vintage - 2010 - $10; Shirt: J.Crew - 2009 - $20; Knit vest: Old Navy - 2008 - $10;
Pants: Banana Republic Factory - 2009 - $12; Shoes: Nina (from Ross) - 2009 - $16; Watch: Anne Klein (from Macy's) - 2008 - $50

It is with shame that I confess that it took me so long to put together this outfit.  I'm excited about my new system, though.  I could just start planning my outfits, but my night mood and morning mood usually differ drastically, so I don't know if that would work.  I guess it's a good place to start, though.  I'll let you know how that goes.

Here's a detail shot of the earrings...I can't remember if I've shown them on here before, but these are about the only dangling earrings I wear.  They're gray leather, cut like feathers (they're cute in all weather and they make me feel better!).

How long does it take you to pick out your daily wear?  Do you have any tricks for getting dressed quickly on difficult mornings? I need some advice!

Cubicle makeover: Part 2

It's been a few weeks since I shared with you the first part of my cubicle makeover.  Part 2 takes place in the nook above my computer.  Here is the before picture to jog your memory:

In this photo, the shelf above my computer is completely empty.  Before that, it was full of photos, cards, etc. (basically everything you see on the larger shelf to the right of the photo).  It was getting way too cluttered and distracting, so I moved all the personal stuff to a different shelf.  But emptiness is also distracting (not to mention boring).  I decided to put that area to use.

Here is the after:

  • "A curious mind knows no limits" (etsy seller kirstypaterson).  I knew I wanted something inspirational but not cheesy, and something typographically set, rather than a painting or drawing.  This fit the bill to a T.
  • Reasons to love type letterpress (etsy seller afavorite).  I love good letterpress, but they are generally pretty steep in price.  These are small and sweet, and tongue in cheek.  The full set has nine, but I only got two: "Bad breaks can be edited" and "It's understood you don't communicate with dingbats."
  • Piano photograph.  This photograph was taken by my college roommate Hannah, an art major, of her younger cousin.  She gave it to me because I used to be a piano performance major in college (well, for the first year or so, anyway).  This photo represents a lot of my past--good friends and fun hobbies.
  • Architectural chairs postcard.  I had this thing in college where I collected postcards and would put them on the wall like little mini-posters.  I've held on to those postcards and started using them to actually write on and send, but kept this one because it is just so graphically appealing.  Since I do some basic design (mainly layouts for documents that are mainly text), it keeps my mind a little open to all the different possibilities for a single item.
  • Personal shelf.  This (plus a few more picture frames) used to be on the shelf above my computer, but now sits behind me.  I've edited the collection down to two photographs, my Dodger Jack-in-the-Box antenna ball, and my NYU sticker.  All of the cards and odds and ends were given to me by coworkers, for Christmas or just for fun.  And my various conference badges hang on the left (I'm sentimental like that).

Finding art for my cubicle was a lot more difficult than I imagined. I wanted something office-appropriate: inspirational but not necessarily faith-based.  Sure, there were a ton of options along the" Reach for the moon; if you fail you'll still be among the stars" and "Keep calm and carry on" veins, but they just didn't strike my fancy (or fit my personality, for that matter).  The one I settled on really fits, especially since I'm known for asking lots of questions (another journalism-school habit that's stuck around).  Etsy was a great resource, since everything there is unique and carries the personality of its maker, but it took me quite a while to sift through it all.  And then framing.  Geez, framing is expensive.  I've taken a liking to a local art shop that does custom framing, and even though I don't ever get custom frames, just getting plain frames and mats really adds up.  But they really do make a big difference.

What types of art do you put up in your office?  Where are your go-to sources for buying art?


On a side note, Monday's outfit was listed on Girls on the Grid's Must Reads of the Day yesterday!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater

As you might recall, I cheated on my shopping diet a few weeks back.  It was a moment of weakness, and I am firmly back on the wagon.  Only 10 more months to go.

My indiscretion, however, was not in vain.  The suit came in a few Fridays ago, and I wore it to a big meeting I led last Thursday.  The only issue I have with it is how easily wrinkled the fabric gets (even though it is fully lined).  This is after my morning commute.
Suit: Ann Taylor Loft - 2010 - $150; Shirt: The Limited - 2009 - $12; Necklace: completely forgot where I got this;
Tights: my sock drawer (I don't keep track of tights); Shoes: Nine West Outlet - 2007 - $20

I love the blazer, but the skirt is pretty wrinkly from sitting in the car.  Maybe next time I'll bring it on a hanger and change at work?  I don't know.

Some detail shots:

I cannot for the life of me figure out the actual color of the grosgrain ribbon.  I looked at it in all sorts of light at home and came to the conclusion that it was black (hence the black tights and flats).  And then when I took the photos, it was blaringly navy blue.  How dare the afternoon sun in my home office fool me like that!

These are one of my favorite pairs of shoes ever.  They're super-soft suede and bend with my foot so naturally.  I get a spring in my step just wearing these.  The leopard print inside is from a padded insert (I've worn down any padding that came with the shoe).  I bought these in 2007 and the heels are finally starting to wear through. :(  I guess I'm back on the market for black flats.

So while I do love the suit, I really have to figure out how to keep the wrinkles out of it better.  The material is cotton voile, which is pretty thin.

What are you best wrinkle-reducing tips?  Are you a starcher?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Color as therapy

Ever have one of those days where nothing seems to fit right or look right?  That was today.  I must have tried on at least 6-7 full outfits before I decided to just toss on a dress and go.  I was counting on the bright green and the simple A-line shape to lend me a pick me up, and after I finally figured out what was wrong with my look (my hair was down this morning, but I quickly pony-ed it up when I got to work), I was good to go for a nice, productive start to the week.
Dress: Banana Republic Factory Store - 2009 - $30?; Shoes: Nina (from Ross) - 2009 - $16

The color of this dress is really muted in this photo, but it is really a more vibrant, kelly green.  You would not be able to lose me in a crowd in this dress.  It's a little short for the office, but the bigwigs are on a business trip and I had no meetings with other departments, so I went for it.  It was perfect for an outdoor lunch, too.  The shape is extremely forgiving, as it skims the body--not too clingy but not frumpy, either.

There you have it...after discarding numerous tops, skirts, shells, and jackets, simplicity wins.

What is your simple, throw-on-and-go outfit?

Make Believe Monday | The printed pencil skirt

I've been digging this look for a while, but since I'm on a shopping diet, haven't jumped on the wagon yet.  But after seeing Jenni from Pixie in Pumps in her awesome red rose skirt last week, the printed pencil skirt is back at the top of my list of great pieces for the office.

As you may have noticed, I'm a pretty big fan of pencil skirts for the office. I have a beige/khaki one and a black one (actually, two black ones if you count the one that I bought to go with my suit, but haven't cut the tags off yet).  Amazingly, although I have a lot of prints throughout my closet, I have but a single print skirt, and it's a summery A-line.

The graphic pencil skirt is a fun way to infuse personality into a professional outfit.  The classic pencil shape neutralizes girly prints (such as florals), giving you a feminine edge without the saccharine sweetness of an A-line or flared skirt.

With its muted colors and simple, zen-inspiring print, I could definitely see something like this in a corporate office:

In addition to florals, this one has interesting mesh tiered detail.

Graphic prints are great, too, like this one from Target:

Since I've still got 10 months left on this shopping diet, I'm hoping to figure out some sort of a hack to get the print pencil skirt effect from a graphic dress (of which I have plenty, although I'm not sure if they're the right shape).  Or maybe I'll hit a jackpot at the next swap.

Do you like graphic prints for the office?  On top, on bottom, or both?