Friday, July 30, 2010

Executive Summary | Links for your weekend | 07.30.10

A random plastic fishie tacked on the wall at my husband's officemate's desk. We spent Saturday there working (him: dissertation research, me: article writing and blogging).

Every time I start typing the title to my weekly links post I get freaked out thinking last Friday was just yesterday. Which wouldn't be too far off with my week so far. I woke up Wednesday thinking it was Saturday, spent part of day thinking it was Thursday, and then most of Thursday thought it was still Wednesday (don't worry, I went home, slept, and showered in between).

The California State Fair ends this weekend and I'm sad we haven't gotten a chance to go this year.  With the hubs prepping for the job market this fall, and me taking on more responsibility at work (and starting the blog), we've spent most of our weekends this month working.  While we're doing that, I hope you enjoy these reads!
  • First, a quick shout-out and thank you to Cubicle Chic for the blog love this week.  These girls are kindred spirits that enjoy office wear as much as I do.  I seriously miss NYC, and now even more so now that I know these gals are gallivanting around town.
  • Academichic revisits the color wheel.  Get your own printable version here.
  • Forever 21's new maternity line: Suze of Miss Vinyl Ahoy and others (including myself) wonder what the big deal is.
  • We all know Tiffany of I Am Style-ish has awesome personal style, but check out her gorgeous home decor DIY!
  • Juniper James wonders about the motives and credibility of anonymous bloggers.
  • Next time I do an office makeover, I'm getting one of these typographically-inspired accessories.  Heck, maybe I'll get them all.
  • And of course, I wouldn't expect you to enter your weekend without a food-related post. Check out this list of the top cake-frosting combinations. The site says it's for cupcakes, but I don't really make a distinction between cupcake and cake flavors (really, it's just a matter of size, and in this case, size doesn't matter).

What were your favorite reads this week?

Visual interest

A few weeks back I expounded the beauty of stripes, saying I wasn't much of a floral, dot, or graphics kind of girl. Well, turns out if the print is abstract enough, they are just right up my alley.  I'm not talking impressionism here, just prints that you can't really describe because they don't really look like anything, except for possibly geometric shapes.

While florals communicate femininity and stripes more preppiness (neither of these bad things at all), graphic prints are more interesting...sometimes you just don't know what to make of it, except that the wearer is not just a solids type of gal. For the office, graphic prints can show up anywhere...on a skirt in the summer or a trench in the winter, or even on your desk (like my bulletin boards).

The great thing about graphic prints is that you can do them loud and proud or you can be more subtle about it. Most of my picks are on the subtle side, but if you want to really jump into the prints arena, look for something that has a variety of colors rather than just two or three.  

What do you look for in a graphic print?

B is for basic

J. Crew shirt (2) + BR Factory pants (16) + Enzo Angiolini peep-toes (25) + vintage belt + random ball-chain necklaces

B is for basic.  Basic as opposed to boring. Because the two are not the same.  I've struggled with my wardrobe at different points in time because either a) I didn't have enough basics (I didn't own a single plain black t-shirt or khaki pants until about 4 years ago...everything was colorful, graphic, or patterned) or b) I didn't have enough variety (everything was solid).  Slowly, but surely, I am trying to find a balance between the two.

Today is more of a reflection of my current state: I have a lot of basics.  Which is not a bad thing. I like basic. I like basic because you know it's going to work, and when you pick the right basic pieces fit-wise you know it's going to work well.  I like basic because it provides a good backdrop for accessories.  Most of all, I like basic because it reflects my personality. No, that doesn't mean I have no color to my life. But I can be honest to a fault.

I wasn't always that way. When I wore more prints and colors, I was a lot more hyper and always aflutter, but not always genuine. It hid my discomfort as an awkward teenager and college student.  As I've grown into my personality, I've developed a deep appreciation for basics...white t-shirts, unadorned jeans, the classic ponytail.  That isn't to say that I don't throw it all in and let go every once in a while (or pretty regularly).  The key is comfort, and I'm not talking physical. I feel like I could lead a meeting, interview a story subject, or jump around with glee in this outfit.

Enough rambling, though. Today my outfit definitely screamed me. It was basic, with a bit of surprise thrown in...I know most people gave up ball-chains around the time Blink 182 broke up, but I still wear them on a regular basis and have them in multiple sizes and metal-tones.  The only difference is that now instead of piecing together segments from keychains and backpack pulls to make a full necklace, I buy these clasped ones from the department store (or did years ago). Why do things have to get more pricey as we get older?

What type(s) of clothing reflects your personality best? 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mixed metallics

Target t-shirt (5) + Limited skirt (19) + Nina pumps(29)

I wore a t-shirt to work today. And mixed my metallics (a little).  But I hope you can get over those two facts when I tell you how comfortable it is.  I mean, helloooo, it's a plain cotton t-shirt and an non-constricting skirt.  Comfort city.

I also went on a limb (relatively) today by mixing my metallics.  The studs on the t-shirt are black and pewter, my necklace chain is silver, one of the rings on my necklace is silver, and all of the rings on my fingers are silver-toned.  A second ring on my necklace is gold-toned and so are my shoes.  I know, it's not really out on a limb, but it's more mixing than I'm used to.  I'm pretty satisfied with the result.

Six days left. But who's counting?

Do you mix metallics in your wardrobe? What are your favorite ways to do so?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

With or without you

Let's be honest:entering the workforce in this economy has not been easy.  Once you get in, how do you make sure you keep your job?  When companies are in dire straits, they often start cutting with the newest hires. But what if they just couldn't stand to let you go?   How can you make yourself indispensable at work?
There are certain groups at work, let's call them "constituents" (we're campaigning for your job here, remember?) that factor into your overall impact on your workplace. Here's a brief rundown.

Your boss
First and foremost, you should aim to add value to your boss.  This includes keeping them updated on your projects and successes, making them look good, and being a good sport when it comes to challenges and new responsibilities.  Some tips:
  • Don't be afraid to toot your own horn.  This could include projects completed successfully, but also progress and milestones.  Landed a new contact? Let her know.  
  • Be the go-to gal (or guy).  Whether it's in your job description or not, if there is something you can do to make your boss's life easier (and it doesn't get in the way of your primary job duties), do it!  For example, in our small department, there are two directors and two employees.  So I'm on the employees social committee and my coworker is on the emergency response team.  We don't have to do it, but our directors don't have time to do it, and our department's participation shows we are team players, so we do it.
  • Put yourself out there. Once you get your bearings, don't be afraid to speak up for your team. Whether it is representing the department on a committee, or presenting at a conference, the fact that you are willing to take a public role shows that you are confident in your abilities, and your boss will be confident in you, too.
  • Soak up the knowledge.  There is always more to learn, whether it's through keeping up with skills at conferences, reading industry blogs, or
  • Bring something new to the table.  One way to make sure that your position and your skills keep growing is to keep on the lookout for what's next in your industry. And when you find it, volunteer to do it, whatever it may be.  Not only have you found a new opportunity for your company, but you've created a duty that is all yours.
  • Be trustworthy.  This seems to go without saying, but trustworthiness can be huge, and being a trustworthy confidant or worker can really bring your relationship with your boss to the  next level. It's easy to trust any marginally competent person to finish most tasks, but it takes a lot more for them to trust you with other things, such as sensitive projects, issues, and just general information.
Your department
The people you work with on a daily basis may not be able to save your job when the time comes, but as your colleagues, can be great connections in getting back in the office.  In addition, the place you hold among your teammates is definitely something your supervisor is paying attention to, and their opinion definitely matters.
  • Be a resource. If you're the team veteran, take some time to mentor those that may need a hand. If you're a rookie, take advantage of your outside perspective and bring new insights into what's there.  
  • Be constructive. We all have joint projects from time to time, but even when you're not assigned to something, your team should be able to bounce ideas off each other.  It's easy to offer praise for mediocre work, but if you offer constructive feedback to take someone else's work to the next level, then you aren't only doing good work yourself, but you're elevating those around you. And everyone likes that.
Your coworkers 
  • Be a liaison. Every company has some disconnect between departments. Depending on what you do, it can be too easy to sit at your desk and work with your coworkers for days before seeing another human being. Don't let your department's silo habits be a downfall; get out and chat at the water cooler a little. It will help your department (and you) seem more approachable and help your company see you in a more favorable light (rather than a completely neutral light).  If they don't know you, they can't love you.
  • Remember you're on the same team. Even if you're in different departments doing different things, as employees in the same organization, your end goals are the same. Your methodologies might be different, but keep the bigger picture in mind. It's in both of your best interests to find a workable solution for the company.
Your company/organization
  • Step up. Volunteering to be on a committee or project can not only put you in the good graces of your boss, but of the company as a whole. The more visible you are to them (skills and team-playing wise) the better.
  • Be the expert (relatively speaking).  Do you constantly get questions regarding software or grammar or something else that you think of as a natural strength? While it may seem annoying at times, your pigeon-hole as an expert (in whatever) can be used to your benefit. Volunteer to organize and lead a training session. It will add value to your entire organization (and show the HR department what you can do), while helping you farm out those skills to others.  I've done a couple of these trainings myself (on Microsoft Word and interactive forms, no less), and since I already had those skills, the payoff ends up being far more than the prep it takes to actually train other employees.
As you may have noticed, there are some common themes...volunteering your expertise and working well with others.  While these aren't always enough to save your job, they can at least get you great references.

Repeat after me: If they don't know you (or what you can do), they can't value you.

What do you do to stand out? What do you value in your coworkers?
[photo: incase]

So close I can see it

Gap blazer (11) + BR top (9) + Rockabilly jeans (17) + Calvin Klein pumps (26) + Forever 21 necklace + random chains
Ann Taylor Loft top (3) + BR Factory pants (14) + Nina pumps (29) + gifted pearls

One week left. So close I can see the end. I already know what I'm going to wear first when can access the rest of my closet again: my trouser jeans, flip flops, and blue and white striped oxford.  So excited.

Both of these outfits left me feeling mediocre, but nonetheless dressed for work. That is the end goal right? The looking pretty and feeling good part are definite pluses, but somehow both of these elements slipped out of my life this weekend and I'm still waiting for them to return. Hey, everyone needs a vacation from time to time.

Although most challenge participants are only giving up shopping for 30 days, I'm still on my clothes shopping diet for seven more months.  To be honest, I really don't miss the shopping.  I have this thing where I don't like to spend money because sometimes it's just inconvenient.  Driving all the way to the mall to buy a $5 trinket from F21?  Too lazy.  Paying for shipping from my home computer? Not worth it.  Half the time I don't shop because I'm just too darn lazy to.  There are very few things that I've thought to myself "if only I wasn't on this diet, I would have to have that" (you know of one of them).  Why is it that we shop then? To get the latest look?  Meh.  To replace a basic/classic that's worn out? Yeah, but I loath the hunt for the perfect replacement. For retail therapy? I can identify with that one.

How do you feel about shopping?  Why do you do it (or not)?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Make Believe Monday | White pants

Even though I'm wearing a lot of skirts lately for summer, I am a pants girl at heart.  There's just something about not worrying about modesty when sitting that makes things so much easier (not having to cross their ankles just so? One point to the boys).  While I've tried pants of nearly every shape and style, one style I have yet to try (at least in post-elementary school memory) is white pants.  And this summer they're everywhere, including the blogosphere.  Check out Kendi Everyday, Jill, Keira from A Pretty Penny, Emily from The Daily Fashionista, PinQue, and Closet Cravings.  After seeing how versatile white pants can be, I really want some of my own.

Cropped, trouser, or skinny, white pants just add a touch of polish to any outfit. Some tips on white pants:
  • Make sure the fabric is substantial enough for minimal show through.  One way to check: look at the pockets.  If there is a big difference between the whiteness of the pants at the pocket and the rest of the pants, they are too thin.
  • Find the right fit.  Structured fabrics such as denim and linen will skim over your curves nicely, while overly spandex-laden ones will cling unattractively. slims, but white, not so much.
  • Wear the right undergarments (even if your pants are thick).
  • Fit is key...make sure the length of the pants don't drag on the floor. While it may be fine for your jeans, white pants won't take abuse so well.
  • If you're looking for white work pants, make sure they are lined. It will diminish show-through and help the fabric fall nicely.
Here are some of my white pant picks.  First up, a classic boot-cut jean.  I would wear these for casual Friday with a crisp print button-up and some colorful shoes.

Trouser cuts would look great with a navy blazer and some pointy-toed pumps.

 These crisp crops would fly with flip flops on weekends and flats for a casual office look.

Do you have white pants? How do you style them for work? for play?


J. Crew shirt (1) + J & Company jeans (15) + Merona flats (28) + H&M bag + Target sunnies + random earrings
OId Navy tank (10)+ Target shorts (21)+ Gap sandals (30)
JC Penney top (6) + Rockabilly jeans (17) + Gap sandals (30)

The end of this 30 for 30 is so close I can almost taste it.  Twenty-one already! These outfits were worn Friday, Saturday, and Sunday respectively.  I did nothing but work and work at home in these outfits, with small breaks for food, church, and Target.  Oh, and I bought some books at Borders on Friday (buy one, get one free!).

My fave of these weekend looks was Friday...I love button-ups, but I had absolutely no will to iron this one this week, but this casual look does not require any ironing.  Or at least that's what I'm telling myself. Saturday and Sunday I really didn't put much thought into, but I really had no reason to look anything but halfway decent. At least I showered...that's gotta count for something.  I have some crazy deadlines this week at work so don't get your hopes up (I work better when I'm comfortable so that will be the name of the game).

Do you prefer laying low on weekends or would you rather be out and about?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Executive Summary | Links for your weekend | 07.23.10

My usual blogging set-up.  Netbook + throw pillow (DIY) + thumb drive on a futon.

What a whirlwind week it's been. I hit my stride full pace on Wednesday afternoon and am spending the rest of the week laying low and writing away (for work, not for play, but still having fun).  I am excited that I have nothing more than Saturday morning yoga and Sunday morning church planned for this weekend!

On an exciting (link-related) note, check out the interview I did yesterday with New 10 (remember my post on their site last week?).  Still feeling a bit giddy.

Here are my favorite reads for this week.
  • Some of my favorite DIYs come from Maria.  This week she shows us how to make adorable ribbon easy, so chic.
  • I'm loving Indiana's convertible dress...those things just look too good to be true! I'm sure if I ever had one I'd get completely tangled up in it.
  • Lifehacker shares their Top 10 Tips for Surviving Office Life. Is it really all that bad? Ok, well, there are some good times, too, right?
  • As a J-school grad and magazine editor, the move from traditional to online journalism is constantly up for debate.  Check out Mashable's latest survey results on how the Internet is affecting journalism. As with any survey, please read and think critically.
  • If you read these links weekly or follow my Twitter, you'll see that I love food nearly as much as I love professionalism. I love how Serious Eats brings these together by teaching us how to use office supplies as dinner party decor.
  • Speaking of food, one of my favorite candies (and there are many) are the classic See's scotchmallow.  Cupcakes Takes the Cake has found them in cupcake form.  I'm pretty sure this is what we'll be eating in heaven.
  • If you're anything like me, your apartment is filled with Ikea furnitue...Lack side tables and Expedit shelves, not to speak of the ever so useful Kassett boxes.  Apartment Therapy readers share tips on how to successfully paint your Ikea furniture.
  • If you have ever been in an argument, then you have settled it using rock, paper, scissors.  Cool Infographics shows us how to win every time.

What have your favorite reads been this week?

Work of art

As you may remember, I redecorated my cubicle a few months ago, which I brought over to my new (current) cubicle.  One of my favorite additions was my tiny art print collection, including pieces purchased off etsy, an old postcard I bought in college, and a photograph taken by a college roommate (an art major).  Art is a great way to spice up any space, and an office is no exception.

My next project this summer, once I stop slacking off, taking long naps, and eating lots of fresh summer fruit (is there anything better?), is to do something with our office space at home.  You've seen bits and pieces of my apartment in my outfit pics, and I really want to show you my office  nook, but that will have to wait until another time.  Like many spaces in our tiny apartment, it is multifunction: office space, craft storage and space, musical instrument space, and donate pile space.

The best part of our office nook is the five windows that surround the alcove (it's nearly circular shaped, making it so pretty but just that much harder to use).  Thus we only have one wall to do anything with.  After five years, I've managed to get all of our college and my graduate school diplomas framed, but I'm not so sure what I want to do with them next.

I've been scoping out some fun office art, and here are some of my picks.  My favorite source is etsy.  You can get great stuff for good prices straight from the artists, and the options are just so much wider since any artist can place their work on there.  For poor folks like us, it's our only chance to really own an original (you never know who might be an art superstar someday!).

Some tips on choosing art:
  • Think about what you love. There's likely to be some art incorporating whatever it is.
  • When you're traveling, keep an eye out in galleries for new artists, especially local ones.  It's really nice to have some connection to your art.  For example, for my first birthday after getting married, my husband got me three Mike Goddard prints.  We fell in love with his fun paintings on our honeymoon in Tahoe, and coincidentally enough, have run into his work in galleries in various vacation spots.  
  • Prints and posters are a great affordable option to getting art.  The added bonus is that they're not too precious, so you can experiment with display more.  Ikea and Aaron Brothers have a great selection of smaller prints to browse through if you don't want to take the online route.
  • Make your own.  Our living room is surrounded in photos of the beautiful Lake Tahoe area that Kevin and I took on our honeymoon.  We even had one cut in half, blew each half up to the largest size Shutterfly would print, and framed them into a two-panel display above our couch.  Again...memories are good.  And we are decent photographers at best. If you aren't a photog, chances are you have a friend that is...ask them if they would allow you to blow up one of their pieces as art (with due credit and possibly some compensation of course). 
  • Consider the feel of the space.  Do you want the art to be calming or inspirational?  This is basically how I chose my cubicle art: inspiration first, followed by humor and personality. 
  • If you're filling a space with more than one piece, consider how they go together.  The easiest way to mesh a few disparate pieces is by making sure there is a similar vein of color that is common to all pieces. Other commonalities that can create cohesiveness: scale, framing, and media.
Our dream is to eventually own one of John-Mark Gleadow's bookshelf giclees.  We first saw his work on our recent vacation to Key West and I really really really wanted to buy one. But being on vacation, and keenly aware of how much the vacation cost in the first place, I just couldn't justify the purchase at that time. But you can bet that I have a target for my spending-money-savings to hit.  That would be an investment piece that we would put in our office of a future home.

What do you have hanging on your office walls? Do you hang your diplomas?


What happens when a blogger loses her home Internet connection for almost 30 hours? Apparently, a backlog of outfit photos.  

As a blogger of all things office-related, it's tempting to write when inspiration strikes...usually at the office.  As an office employee that just happens to blog, that is just not possible.  So I do my picture taking either at lunch or after work (most often afterward) and write and post on nights and weekends.  I reply to comments at night.  And I read and comment on other blogs at night.  Everyone has to figure out their own system, and that is mine. So although I sat in front of a computer with Internet connection for most of the day, there was no way I was going to post before I got home (and took today's photos). 

I mentioned when I wore this maxi dress Sunday that I had big plans to wear it to work, and I did just that today.  Blazer + belt + heels = instant office-readiness.  The only annoying thing was that my heels kept catching on the edge of the dress while I was walking.  Oh well. Small price to pay for spending the day in that comfy dress.

Can I just mention that husband K has been doing an amazing job with these outfit photos?  I've had a heck of a time figuring out a good solution for taking outfit shots. I started with the timer route in my cubicle, but when I moved to a new cubicle the lighting was completely off. So I had our intern C take them for me once (he wasn't my intern, and it was during lunch).  A few weeks later he was gone, having found another awesome internship.  Shortly after that my coworker J started doing some of my shots during lunch or on coffee runs.  Just last week he announces he's leaving, too, to try his luck out in NYC.  So after having my first two photographers leave within a matter of months, K has been taking my shots for the past two weeks or so...I figure he can't leave me, right?  Oh dear, I hope this doesn't backfire.

So back to the Internet...I ended up spending last night cleaning house, reading magazines, and baking banana nut bread.  It was nicely refreshing to not be staring at the small netbook screen all evening like I would have.  I could have still browsed on my Droid, but K was using it to try to diagnose our Internet problem and ended up spending over an hour on the phone with them, after which the problem still wasn't fixed until about 6 p.m. tonight.

What do you do to unplug?  Do you set aside time for it or is it hard for you to stay away?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mum's the word

I had a really awkward interaction with a coworker the other day.  That should not come as a surprise.  But here's the story (there's a lesson in it, too).

I had long suspected a coworker might be preggers (among the clues: belly bump, talk of morning-sickness-like symptoms, appetite jokes), but kept it to myself.  Until a few weeks ago, two separate coworkers mentioned it in conversation as if it were public knowledge.  With these confirmations, I went to her office to congratulate her.

Here's how it went:

Me: [knock knock]
Her: [looks up]
Me: [whispering]
Her: [confused look]
On your pregnancy!
Her: [still confused look]
Me: [questioning myself and in a slight panic]
Aren't you pregnant?  I just found out.
Her: [still a little confused but now gets it]
I thought you knew!  [totally gets it now] I'm so sorry!  Yeah, oh my gosh.
[small talk: how you feeling, how far along, boy or girl]
Yeah, I told [so-and-so and so-and-so] when I was about 12 weeks long and [one other person].  I figured everyone would know through them.
Um...yeah...I try to keep my ears out of other peoples' business.

This interaction had me thinking...she had expected a few coworkers would spread the word about her personal news around the office.  What does that say about a workplace and the people there?  This issue isn't unique to my office; your office has it, too: Office Gossip.

Whether it's in the hall, the restroom, or the breakroom, a lot of small talk is made each day at an office, usually with a variety of people.  Topics can range from the weather to kids to movies...but what about when conversation starts heading toward another (not present) coworker or rumors floating around about company happenings?  There's a fine line between small talk and gossip.

Let's be clear...talking about something that is publicly going on or publicly known is not gossip.  Talk about coworkers is not necessarily gossip.  Speculation or sharing of an HR incident?  Gossip. (most Human Resources issues are, or should be, confidential.)  Sharing juicy tidbits of a coworker's personal life?  Gossip.  Telling folks they should check out Angeline's cool office style blog?  Not gossip.

Gossip is dangerous in so many ways.  Not only can it hurt others, but it can hurt your professional credibility, since it involves your coworkers and the work environment.  Being associated with people who are not trustworthy will do you no favors.  

So what do you do in an office where rumors float?
  • Identify the gossipers in your office. It's probably not nice to scream and run when you see them, since they're probably perfectly nice people, but just be aware of who they are.
  • Don't engage in gossip. Gossipers love to talk. They are great conversationalists. But even they know that office gossip is not a good business to be in.  Often they won't outright start gossiping, but they'll plant a few hints to get you to ask questions.  Be especially aware of sarcastic if-you-only-knew type attitudes...they definitely have something they want to indulge and are just waiting for you to ask them.
  • Be the end point.  Chances are, if you are even the least bit sociable or friendly, office gossip will drop in your lap at some point.  Let it stop there.  If you need to let it out, write it in your journal, tell your spouse or other trustworthy friends that won't ever meet your coworkers, or write it on a blog that no one reads. (OK, don't blog about it.  Anyone can find anything on the Internet.)

Have you ever experienced fallout from office gossip? How do you stay out of the drama at work?  


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Halfway there! Roundup days 1-15

Fifteen days! I'm halfway there!

I've worn every item at least once already, so be prepared for lots of repeats. Here's a synopsis of the challenge so far.
Most popular items:
Black sandals - 4 wears
Black gladiators - 3 wears
Shorts - 3 wears
Cardigan - 3 wears

Favorite outfit so far:
Day 3 - 3/4 sleeve button-up, pencil skirt, red-orange belt, gold pumps

Biggest regrets so far:
Not enough flat sandals/flip flops
Not enough outerwear (it's c-cold in the office)

Triple digit

6 + 19 + 27 + Gap belt + Ann Klein watch

According to the local 6 p.m. news, this was the fourth of the past five days that reached 100 degrees or more.  Truth be told, it didn't feel that bad in this outfit.  I didn't even toss on a coverup walking out this morning.

This outfit began as one of those desperate measures.  Last year, I challenged myself to not spend any money on clothes for six months (Jan. 1 - June 30, 2009).  I allowed myself gift cards and Christmas money. Both of these items were purchased using those parameters, the top with a gift card and the skirt with Christmas money. I don't remember what exactly made me try the two together--I usually try to avoid too much black/dark in one outfit--but I did it, loved it, and have continued doing it.

This is the perfect throw on and go outfit, which was perfect this morning when I woke up 30 minutes late.  The loose fit is super-forgiving, and for winter it's easy to add tights, booties, and a cardigan.  It's always good to have outfits like that on hand (and to include them in your limited wardrobe when you sign up for a 30-for-30 challenge).  While I usually wear this without the belt, I really like it with the belt, since I love color.

Speaking of waking up late, I realized this morning that I could wake up 20-30 minutes later than I do and still make it to work on time, if I just rush a little.  Ten minute shower, 5-10 minutes to get dressed, 5 minutes for hair, 5 minutes for makeup.  That's 30 minutes and then out the door.  This new knowledge could be dangerous.

How long does it take for you to get ready in the morning?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Make Believe Monday | Cap-sleeved dress

It's no secret that I love sheath and shift dresses.  Many of these dresses, however, are sleeveless, and since cardigans are a pain in the bottom for me to find, dresses with some kind of sleeve really come in handy.  Since it's summer, a nice cap-sleeved dress would really be a great addition to my wardrobe (just imagine, okay, since I can't shop).

Cap-sleeves are just a tad less revealing that a sleeveless dress. The sleeve only covers the top, while the underarm portion is the same as a sleeveless, hence the name "cap-sleeve."  These are a great way to aerate (you know what I mean) while still maintaining enough modesty for the office.  My only beef about cap-sleeves: different retailers categorize them at "sleeveless" and "short sleeve," meaning you have browse all of their dresses to find all the cap-sleeve options (some are labeled "cap-sleeve" but not all).

Here are some of my picks. I love the volume in the skirt on this Evan Piccone dress.  I would also look belted (thick or thin).

I love the A-line skirt on this one, and it has a a really neat placket (click through for the close-ups).

The print and the knot at the waist make this work number super-forgiving, even after a big lunch.

I love the fun bow detail...I think the smile comes with the dress.

Are you a cap-sleeve kind of girl or is it more black and white (err, sleeveless and short-sleeve) for you?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

End of week 2

Photo heavy day...that's what I get for being lazy on Friday and taking a 3.5 hour nap before bed instead of blogging.  But hey, half a glass of wine will do that to you. (It doesn't?  Well, it sure does that to me.) 

A few notes on my casual wear this weekend:
  • It was over 100 degrees each of these days (or very very very close to).  I spent a lot of time indoors.
  • It's been a while since I wore this ruffled top...back when I started this blog I couldn't get enough of it.  I still love it but it's not the "it" garment of the moment anymore.  One of my two floral items in my 30 (and in my closet).
  • Saturday was actually spent mostly in workout clothes. And yes, I did work out in them. I changed into this at about 4 p.m. to head over to a dinner at 6 p.m.  This is another one of my trying-to-look-put-together-even-on-weekends looks.  It basically means I take a top typically reserved for work and pair it with shorts and sandals.
  • Sunday I was in my pajamas by 2 p.m.  I woke up not being able to move after Saturday's yoga. (Note: even if you can do 100 bicycle crunches after months of not exercising, it is not a good idea to do so.)  
  • I would like to try to wear this maxi dress to work one of these days.  I've done it before in the summer, but I've got some new ideas this time...just you wait and see!
  • This dress is olive green. The wall is brown. In all other cases you would be able to tell the difference, just not in this photo.
  • I am totally regretting only picking one pair of open-toed flat sandals.  I did so intentionally to try to wean myself off of a dependence on flip flops (mine are pretty, though), but I really have just made myself angry.

I've also been catching up on blog reading today and noticed that several girls have dropped out of the 30 for 30.  Sorry to see you go!  I'm feeling hopeful, seeing that I'm almost halfway through, but I have definitely started having my typical I-hate-everything-in-my-closet-and-have-nothing-to-wear mornings.  To all the girls still in it -- hang in there!  We can do it!

30 for 30 gals, have you made any choices you regret in picking your 30 items? Non-challenge gals, same question just for general shopping/clothing choices.

In other fun blog news, The New Professional is now part of News 10's community blogger network.  News 10 is our local ABC affiliate, and they hosted the Social Media Day event I attended a few weeks back. They do a great job working with local bloggers, sharing content and expertise.  I really had no expectations for this blog when I started it a few months ago, but am ecstatic that people are actually reading and liking it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Executive Summary | Links for your weekend | 07.16.10

Summer squash, part of Thursday night's dinner.

Yesterday I shared some of my favorite blogs.  Here are posts from some of my other reads (remember, there are hundreds).

What were your favorite reads this week?  Share them in the comments.

Read between the lines

I am not a florals girl, a polka dot girl, a graphic print girl, or a cutesy print girl.  I appreciate these patterns, but am not usually drawn to them.  What I am, is a stripes girl. Wide stripe, narrow stripe, rainbow stripe, zebra stripe...there are very few stripes that I am not a fan of.

That said, stripes are an easy pattern to incorporate into your office wear.  What's more patriotic than a blue and white striped oxford?  Not much.  I love mine to death (and can't imagine for the life of me why I didn't include it in my 30).

I like stripes because they are simple without being boring.  Florals say girly.  Polka dots say cute.  While these are all great things (and I certainly am pretty girly and sometimes cute), they may not be the message you want to send in the workplace.  Stripes are a neutral.

Here are some of my picks for stripes in the office:

Okay, so maybe I'm a bit biased toward having a white in your stripe (it's one of my favorite colors and makes everything look so crisp).  That Gap dress would need a cute blazer over the top, but the length is about right and the fabric is great for summer.  I could see that Forever 21 sweater tucked into a pencil skirt or left out over some narrow cropped trousers.

Are you a florals, dot, print, or stripes gal?  Does your workwear reflect that?

I love being a girl!

I struggled with adding dresses to my 30 items.  On one hand, they are a complete outfit in themselves.  On the other, it's more difficult (for me, at least) to restyle them in different ways.  Take this dress for instance.  I've shown it on the blog once before, and all I did was change necklaces and shoes.

In college, my friends and I were really into those "would you rather..." questions.  My friend Abby even had a whole book of them.  A common WYR question that I've actually put some thought into is "Would you rather be a guy or a girl?"  And although I'm not your typical girly girl, I am proud to be a girl all the way.  All summer I've been telling my male coworkers "Gosh, it's nice and cool in this 97 degree heat when I'm wearing a skirt and sleeveless shell."  So as superficial as it may sound, one of the reasons I love being a girl is the fact that I get to wear skirts.

One thing about this dress--it's a bit shorter than I would typically wear to work (or recommend that others would).  So I wear it sparingly.  I would definitely not wear this to a meeting.  But on a sit-at-your-desk day, it's okay.  The covered up top balances it out, and closed-toe shoes add a little more of a polished look.

Found this ring in my jewelry drawer. It's from Claire's, or the Icing, or one of those little mall shops full of shiny things. I bought it probably 6-7 years ago.  Isn't it fun?

Do you stick to a hard-and-fast knee-length rule for skirts or do you push the limits a little?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I Heart Blogs

Yes I do.  I heart blogs.  How about you?

I've got a confession.  I"m obsessed with reading blogs.  Fashion blogs.  Design blogs.  Social media blogs.  Nonprofit marketing blogs.  Food blogs.  Photo blogs.  Friends' blogs.  Sports blogs.  Local blogs.

My Google Reader is subscribed to 271 blogs.  Plus I have about 4-5 send via RSS to my work email each morning.  They couldn't all fit on my blogroll.  So when Stylish Kids in Riot invited the IFB community to participate in a massive blog love effort, I jumped at the chance.  I'm here to share 10 of my daily blog reads, some more well known than others, in alphabetical order so I'm not playing favorites.  Check 'em out.

Fashion blogs
  • A Pretty Penny.  This gal has serious style.  I just love her looks.  There are a lot of fashion bloggers who dress pretty but I just can't see myself dressed in their clothes.  I wish I could dress like Keira every day.
  • All About AJ. I discovered this blog through Kendi's 30 for 30 challenge; she is a fellow participant.  And she is absolutely darling.  She even made her own shirt.
  • Cubicle Chic. Talk about a shared passion...these girls are also in the business of showing that office fashion doesn't have to be boring.  Meredith and Lindsay (and the Gentleman) dish out good style advice and drive me insanely jealous with their NYC lifestyle.  I miss that city so badly I could cry.
  • Seven Dollar Pants.  Want fashion that's bold and fabulous?  These gals from the land up north have it.  From 80s fashion to office-appropriate looks, these gals are fun and they're not afraid to show it.
  • Third Floor Closet. Another new find through the 30 for 30 challenge.  I love Jeanna's's classic and chic through and through (and her apartment looks amazing, too).

Non-fashion blogs
  • Bows & Sparrows. If you like things that are pleasing to the eye, Erin's blog is the place to go.  This Sacramento gal finds the neatest things you never knew you needed (but really really really want once you know about them).  Plus she's funny and cute.
  • Cool Infographics. I am such a sucker for a good infographic (information and data portrayed graphically).  While I'm not primarily a visual learner, I really appreciate a good infographic.  And as a professional who deals with publications and the dissemination of information, the visual stimulation is inspiring and makes me think twice before I try to graphically represent something.
  • Sociological Images. This blog really has quite the intellectual sociological bent, here, and I'm talking the real deal.  While a lot of the discussion goes over my head (I've never taken a sociology class before and to be honest am not entirely sure what the study is all about), the posts really cause me to think about how society portrays different groups and how those portrayals shape our behavior. Just a warning: not always safe for work.
  • Where My Heart Resides. Okay, I may be biased here.  Ashlee is a good friend of mine and I just absolutely adore her.  She blogs about life, love, friendship, and believing in yourself.  I come away from each post with hope in my heart and a smile on my face. One of my favorite features of late has been the alphabet project.
  • Zen Habits.  In this hectic world, sometimes you just need a little reminder to stop, slow down, and meditate a little (not necessarily in a hippie way, but you can if you want). Zen Habits is where I go for good brain food when my point of view gets too twisted around from trying to be everywhere and do everything at once.

How many blogs do you read? Which are your favorites?

The elephant in the room

4 + 11 + 17 + 26 + vintage scarf
So I'll confess.  You know that neato braided belt from Monday?  I bought it this weekend.  The same day (and store) that I bought this elephant scarf.  Yes, Kendi, I promised you I wouldn't shop.  But I haven't shopping for clothes in months, and am determined to finish out the next seven-and-a-half months of my clothing shopping ban, so let's just let the accessories slide, okay?  Fine, I won't buy shoes or bags this month either (but after the 30 they're back on the table).

This scarf screamed to me from the hook it was tied to.  It was the colors at first.  Then I looked at the tag and it said "elephant scarf. $7" and I knew I had to untie it to see what was so elephant-y about it.  What a lovely surprise!  Since I don't usually wear scarves completely unfurled, it's like a little secret that I can smile to myself about during the day.  I like how letting it hang under a blazer gives a menswear tie feel.  Once the blazer and scarf come off it's like a whole different outfit.

Everyone, meet my new photographer: my husband K.  Both of the previous photographers I've tried out (both coworkers) are now or soon to be gone (this blog is like a curse, but more on that in a much later post), and while I love my husband dearly, I wanted to spare him the neuroses I have about my blog photos.  He's helped me before in the past, but it never really turned out (the photos or our partnership in creating them). Today was our first outdoor shoot, in the alleyway behind our apartment (prettiest little alley I know of).  Turns out, the lighting was the problem before; all my indoor photos would turn out blurry.  But now we have a new problem--my husband is 11 inches taller than me and so I'm looking up and top-heavy in most of my pics.  Let's just say we're still working out some kinks, but for a first go, I like how today's photos turned out.

If you're a blogger, who takes your outfit photos?  If you're not a blogger -- do you like my elephant?  Be honest.

Just a random sidenote, here is a pic my brother took and tweeted this morning of his pink gingham tie.  I've been trying to convince him to write some posts on guy fashion, but he's too cool living on his own in Houston, working, and spending his free time as a talented musician and photographer to help his big sis out a little.  So I'm just going to share what I can.  Isn't he snazzy?  It must run in the family. :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Where to wear | Interviews for creative-types

A few weeks back, my friend T posed this question in a comment:
I would love to know what I should wear for graphic design/artist interviews. Entire suits are overkill for us. What do you suggest?

T brings up a good question -- not all business clothes are right for all businesses.  Not all interviews are alike.  We recently hired a new graphic design intern here at work, and let's face it...presentation matters in this situation, especially in such a visual job.

There is a slight caveat here.  While, yes, we don't want people judging us solely based on appearance, it can affect an interview, both positively and negatively.  And that's just the same outfit.  The first thing to ask yourself is: what is my design/creative philosophy?  Are you a minimalist that lets the content and elements speak for themselves?  Do you push the limits of what's acceptable and hope it pays off?  Are you an unabashed girlie girl designer? Are you great at dealing with in-house clients for corporate design work?

A few general rules still apply to job interviews, especially those for in-house design jobs, in which a corporate HR person will probably be involved in the process (their opinion does count in those cases).
  • Keep it covered.  Skirts and dresses should be no shorter than 2 inches above the knee.  Sleeveless looks should still be demure, and keep that neckline in check.
  • If you are currently in a creative job, try something you would wear to the most formal day on your job.  Chances are it's still not a suit.
  • Separates (blazer + pants or skirt that don't match) are your friends. 
  • Depending on your style, use accessories to show your creative bent.

Since creatives are such a diverse bunch, here are some looks I found for each of the different design styles mentioned above.

The Minimalist
Minimal does not equal boring.  The key to a minimalist creative look is fit and cut.  Have fun with proportions.  I love this top with a narrow trouser, white asymmetrical blazer and some architecturally inspired heels. Minimalists can also go with mens-inspired pieces, such as a trousers and a vest (no jacket). 
I had a hard time finding looks at retail sites for this one, but think Jil Sander for inspiration...beautiful cuts and drapes with minimal frill.

The Experimentalist
Mix prints and graphics for an out-of-the-box look.  The blazer adds polish.  I would aim for a slightly longer skirt.

The Girlie Girl
Have some fun with colors and accessories here.  I love the brightness of this look, but might go with a shorter jacket so it doesn't look like you should be taking the coat off when you go indoors.

The Corporate Designer
This is the most similar to the traditional office interview look.  Try mixing a blazer with fun details with trousers or a pencil skirt.  Throw in some playful shoes and accessories.  I like this blazer, too.

Do you have a creative, a traditional, or other kind of job? What did you wear for your interview?

Crossing over

After nine days, I've hit the wall.  I could not think of a good outfit this morning, and none of the 30 outfits on my list could satisfy me. I knew I had to wear the pants, since they're the only bottom I haven't yet worn, and since today was the coldest day of the week (it's supposed to get to triple digits later and I don't want to be stuck in black pants then!).

So what did I do?  I grabbed my old ratty go-to floral tank.  You know, the one you toss on over any random pajama tank on a weekend or laundry day and then call it an outfit?  Well, it apparently works for work, too (with a coverup, that is).  This thing is so faded from all the wear, even though it's only a year and a half old. It was a Christmas present from my sister-in-law...she always finds the best stuff in perfectly my size (even though sizes vary from brand to brand, she always picks the one that fits perfectly).  Plus the balloony fit hid the muffin-top (why oh why did I pick a pair of pants that barely fits?).

All in all, it was just an all around bummy day.  I was way lazy with my hair--tossed it in a low ponytail, wrapped and pinned some hair around the elastic, and hairsprayed my bangs until they stuck to the side of my head.  I called it "slick" but it was really pretty lame.

This is how I felt.  My buddy J said, "Do something goofy," and he got this.

Do you mix your casual wear into your work outfits?  How do you style it?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Meet and greet

So I'm a week late, but this is my office-ready version of patriotic red, white, and blue (in case you ever have to work on a fourth of July, I guess, or just for everyday wear).  These are a lot of my favorites put together.  I considered wearing brown shoes to go with the belt and bag, but these red heels were just screaming out.  The right heel tip fell off halfway through the day, however, so these are headed to the cobbler tomorrow.  My six other pairs of 30 for 30 shoes should tide me over until they're fixed (I knew there was a reason I included both pairs of pointy-toed pumps).

I was all good and proud of this outfit until I got to work and realized that everyone else was in suits for tonight's meet and greet with our board members at a really posh hotel.  I think I was the only one not with at least a blazer on, and definitely the only one not in black.  Why do people default to black for business dress, anyway?  I didn't include any suits in my 30 (only figured out I was going to this thing last Thursday), and so the thought didn't even cross my mind.  Funny how the rest of my closet just disappears in my mind when it's off limits.  Also funny -- I still have not worn a single one of my planned outfits.  This might just veer into 30 for 60 category before I exhaust all possibilities (j/k, really).

My favorite part of the outfit today, aside from the red, white, and blue, is the braided belt.  I'll have to admit this is a relatively new purchase from my favorite local vintage shop.  Last week I belted over my cardigan, and today the belt went under.  Works both ways, yeah?

Do you default to black for formal work events or do you try to go against the grain?