Friday, September 17, 2010

Executive Summary | Links for your weekend | 09.17.10

Part of the set-up for my boss's baby shower yesterday. I made the congratulations sign out of supplies I already had at home. Free decoration = win.

Apologies for being MIA yesterday, but this week has been crazy.  Magazine deadlines, other deadlines, other new responsibilities, baby shower planning, and upcoming travel have left my mind spinning every which way (or nowhere at all, I'm not exactly sure).

Unfortunately it only gets worse from here.  So I'm taking the rest of the month off from the blog to concentrate on work, staying sane, and keeping up with my other responsibilities.  I'll still be posting on Facebook (and I'm slightly addicted to Twitter), so come hang out with me there!  Or follow the blog on Google (see right column), so that posts come right to you when I get back.  I've got some fun ideas brewing, so I also plan on using this time to get some of those rolling without worrying about the daily grind.  This is not the end, I promise.

But enough about me. Let's get to this weekend's links!
  • I don't keep makeup with me during the day (other than chapstick and lipstick at my desk), but the always pretty Keira's midday touchup tutorial video makes me think it's not so difficult to bring a few key products around.  My only tip is blotting with a (clean, unused) toilet seat cover.
  • The Vancouver Sun features some tried-and-true office fashion combos.
  • The Los Angeles Times blog takes on rain boots...most of which are chic enough to make the trek into the office (and maybe even stay there on a casual Fri)
  • I recently had my first experience helping interview and hire new employees, from sifting through resumes to making the offer. Believe Lifehacker when they say this: Ditch the resume lies for more successful interviews
  • Smartphones are all the rage nowadays, especially for the office set.  Check out the best iPhone and Android apps for getting things done.

So that's it until October, friends (unless you head over to Facebook).

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Working with what you've got | Clothing edition


As I've mentioned quite a few times, I'm halfway through my one-year shopping diet.  Another fact I've mentioned a time or two is how tiny my closet is (physically--I've pretty much filled it up, though).  Needless to say, it's more important than ever for my wardrobe to withstand the changing seasons, style, and constant washing.  So how do you make your clothes last? 

A-line or pencil? Long pants or ankle skimmers? While basics are usually basics, popular shapes change, and so do our bodies.  Tailoring and altering are easy ways to take an item you're sick of and turn it into something nearly new.  You can try a different shape or silhouette, or take it even further -- turn a dress into a separate top and skirt or turn a jacket into a vest.  If you have a sewing machine and don't mind if the outcome isn't perfect, you can find some good tutorials online (like this one).  Otherwise find a tailor or ask mom's friend used to do all our tailoring growing up (which wasn't much), but there's also a lady at my work who can alter clothing for a fee (you are using their time, after all).

The churning of the washing machine and heat of the dryer can do a number on fabric, resulting in warping or shrinkage at the worst, wear and tear at minimum.  Washing your clothing in cold water can lengthen the life of fabrics (and save energy).  Air-drying your clothes (on a clothesline or drying rack) can also preserve your clothing, although it does take more space and time.

What about dry cleaning? Depending on the fabric, clothes labelled "dry clean" (as opposed to "dry clean only") can usually be hand washed and laid flat to dry.
There are also a number of products out there that can help you freshen your dry clean items between cleanings (I've tried this, which works fine).

If you have clothing that comes as a set (a suit, for example), washing both items at the same time each time, regardless of wear, will help keep the pieces the same color.  When ironing, make sure your iron isn't too hot for the fabric (yeah, you know that shininess? That's fabric fibers burning and getting weaker).

How many times has a jacket fallen out of the rotation due to a lost button or a dress to the giveaway pile because of a faulty zipper?  Mending clothes that have fallen into disrepair (a fallen hem or ripped seam, for example), is extremely easy and can usually be done with just a needle and thread.

Saturated colors can easily fade with time, and that pastel you loved two seasons ago just isn't cutting it for you.  Dyeing a garment can breathe new life into something you love or something you wish you loved.  I haven't tried this myself yet, but Sally at Already Pretty is a pro; check out her detailed how-to post for some tips and examples.

Ok, so this one isn't so much about making what you have last, but more about making what you have do more for you.  As long as an item is still in good wearable condition, you can use the items you're not so into to swap for something you do like!  Google "clothing swap + [your city or nearby city]" to see if a swap is coming soon near you, or host your own (some tips here).  If you're in the Sacramento area, check out this Saturday's Stitch Swap, co-hosted by my dear friend Ashlee (see how I made out like a bandit last time?). 

What do you do to make your clothing last? What have you found to be effective or ineffective?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My workwear: Brownie points

The Rundown:
Mossimo tee (from Target) - 2009 - gift from mom (similar)
Old Navy pants - 2008 - $20 (similar)
Banana Republic necklace - 2010 - $12 on clearance (similarish)
Enzo Angiolini shoes (from Nordstrom) - 2007 - $70 (similar)

What worked:
I love how the necklace made the tee more than just a tee--most of my coworkers thought it was part of the top until I started playing with it. I'd been pining after a statement necklace for a while, so when I saw this on clearance (marked down from $59.99) I knew I had to have it. It has the perfect laid back feel to add something special to a basic outfit but also has chains and a subtle sparkle that I love. Confession: I wore the same tee + necklace combo, but with jeans and sandals, all day Sunday. 

What didn't:
I loved this outfit when I was wearing it yesterday, but looking back, it looks a little bland. Next time I think I'll try some pin-striped pants and a ponytail to really show off the necklace (you can sort of see the multi-color chains in the close-up picture, but those are quite pretty, too). 

Do you like outfits that are basic in color or shape? Where do you turn first to spice up a basic outfit?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Make Believe Monday | Double finger rings

I'm not much of a jewelry gal but when I do wear jewelry, it's often in a ring. I love my giant black cocktail ring and fun flowered ring, but what I'm really hankering for is a bada$$ double finger ring to really make a statement.

While double finger rings can be a bit much, a basic one in a classic metal can be appropriate, especially if your workplace is a little more casual or creative.  Some things to avoid: crazy shapes or sayings, wild colors, and too much bling (a small stone or two is okay but not too many or too large of stones).  Also, since most office work these days is done on computers, try the ring on before you buy to make sure it doesn't get in your way (or just take it off when typing).

You can't go wrong with this simple stunner.

This studded number is just gorgeous, and the basic bar shape keeps it classy.  Great for meetings to let folks know they shouldn't be messing with you.

I love the feminine and organic shape of leaves, especially in jewelry.  They're not too flashy, especially when done in a basic silver tone.

I'm liking the Modcloth studded ring (surprise, surprise), and my birthday's coming up...hmmmmmm could be a perfect situation.

What's your take on the double-finger ring: okay for the office or no?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Executive Summary | Links for your weekend | 09.10.10

White House gates

Happy Friday! While I love three-day weekends and the four-day workweeks that follow, I am exhausted after squeezing all that work into just a few days.  So let's jump right in to some links!
Well, I'm off to finally finish settling back in at home after coming back from vacation (we came back Monday and still haven't been to the grocery store!).  And prepping for fun stuff at work next week: work announcements, magazine press deadline, baby shower for my boss.  I'm getting tired just thinking about it.

What do you have planned for this weekend?

Links à la Mode

Hey dears, the New Professional made the Independent Fashion Bloggers Links à la Mode again this week! Check out what else has been going on the fashion blogosphere.

links a la mode

Working the new season with fabulous new discoveries.

Edited by: Florrie Clarke of Intrinsically Florrie
I've been overwhelmed by the quality of the submissions and I hope you'll enjoy reading these as much as I have. This week the issue of workwear is tackled whether as a fashion blogger you're heading to Fashion Week or you're not sure how to translate your everyday style to the office. The latter is a dilemma I'm often confronted with when dressing for work. Through the links I have also gleefully discovered some wonderful designers to dreamily sigh over the work of; these garments would most definitely fit into my wardrobe perfectly, be it in the smart section or the purely frivolous one.

  • A La Modest Reintroducing the morality within green ethical fashion
  • Bachman's Sparrow What better way to greet the new season than a beautiful, one-of-a-kind statement necklace?
  • Beyond Fabric Enhancing your image: posture and body image.
  • Boheme Noir Ten ways to style the classic Chanel jacket young & fabulous.
  • Fabulous Finds Girl Ann Wiberg creates future vintage by recycling materials with Trash-Couture.
  • Fashezine Inspired by the sensuality of Joan, the determination of Peggy, and Betty Draper's elegance, a girl goes mad for Mad Men.
  • Fashion Limbo Brand Love or I Want What She's Wearing - How brands fail to get me and what/who truly inspire me
  • Grit and Glamour Staying true to you when dressing for dress code.
  • Hello beauty! Review and makeup lesson video with the NARS Fall 2010 Collection with NARS National Makeup Stylist Janice Daoud
  • Intrinsically Florrie Exploring the historic city of Bath in style.
  • Manda Bear Fall Outwear Finds, Beauty Goodies and other Treasures.
  • Mis Papelicos A first Ebay buy and what to look for when shopping online.
  • Oranges and Apples A vintage wedding dress on a budget, plus some ideas for styling it.
  • Poetic and Chic In which I spot the most beautiful pair of Louboutins and get inspired.
  • Pull your socks up! What do you do with an inherited, precious and much-coveted family heirloom?
  • Retro Chick Retro Style for Autumn: Lena Hoschek Autumn Winter 2010
  • Seven Deadly Cyns Death by Cosmetics- the dangers of harmful ingredients in our beauty products and what you should look out for.
  • The Coveted What to Wear to NYFW
  • The New Professional How high is too high for heels in the office?
  • Wit & Whimsy Designer on the Rise: Whitney Pozgay
SPONSOR: New @ Shopbop: Cosabella - Dannijo - Houlihan Cargos - T-Bags - BE & D

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dobby dots

The Rundown:
Target shirt - 2009 - $14 (similar)
Ann Taylor Loft skirt - 2009 - $13 (similar)
Blake Scott shoes (from Off Broadway) - 2010 - $40 (similar)
Claire's ring - 2006? - cheap (similar)
Kohl's necklace - 2009 - cheap? less than $10 probably (similar)

What worked:
While I don't normally plan outfits, this one has been in the back of my mind for a while (meaning about three days).  I really love this dobby-dotted camp shirt, but usually only wear it for casual Fridays or weekends. But then I got bored with all my button-up shirts (temporarily...I'm sure I'll get over it soon), and this one just stood out to me from the closet. I love the subtle texture, and you can see there are adorable pockets and fun sleeve details. The perfect interesting shirt to set off a basic skirt. And with black and khaki, red shoes just pop!

What didn't:
I wish I had worn a black cami underneath instead of looks way too see-through!  Black would have been more demure.

Sometimes the outfits in my head work out, sometimes they don't. Today I really loved my outfit, but K had tennis with the guys (until they got rained on) so I had to resort to flash after I got home from work. I don't know how those gals who go outside everyday for gorgeous shots do it!  A little freaked out for how winter will go...I go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. Maybe it's time to recruit a second shooter at work?  hmmmm...

Do you ever obsess over an outfit in your mind to find that it actually does work? What combo did you discover?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Your audience awaits

Voice, style, presentation, mannerisms.  These are some of many aspects that make us, us, right?  But what if we're tossed into situations where our own voice or style may not be appropriate?  In non-work situations, I'd say to heck with it.  It's usually not a big deal. But work is not so's our livelihood, for crying out loud, and I, for one, cannot afford to lose professional points for the sake of stubbornness.

This is not about conforming or bowing down to "the man" or "the woman" (as it so often is). It's about putting your best foot forward and learning to thrive in various situations.  Here is a sampling of situations and some ways to work through them.

Situation: You're required to be at a presentation (or other public event) for work. Your audience is execs (read: people in suits).
Internal Conflict: You absolutely hate suits and may not even own one.
Adjustment: Try a colorful or patterned blazer with a classic pencil skirt or trouser pant in a complementary solid for a suit separates look. Add interesting shoes and subtle accessories to create your own look (although large fabric flowers or cocktail rings may be over the top).  If you end up getting a suit and don't want it to be a yawn, try a colorful, ruffled, or otherwise textured top and definitely go with a colorful shoe.

Situation: Your boss asks you to ghostwrite an op-ed piece that will run under an exec's name.
Internal Conflict: Your metaphors lean towards Manolos, but your exec is more prone to man-sandals (or "mandals").
Adjustment: Read what the exec has written in the past (even if those pieces were also ghostwritten, at least you'll have an idea of what their public persona is like).  Identify any similarities between their voice and yours, and take it from there.  Another (silly but sometimes effective) tip: literally pretend you're the individual and start talking about the subject. It's much easier to take on someone's voice when speaking than when writing, and help you catch the right style.

Situation: You've spent hours laying out a flier -- resizing images, tweaking text and headlines -- only to hear that you haven't quite caught "the essence" of the topic.
Internal Conflict: The design is solid, and you know it.
Adjustment: While you may have followed all the basic principles, settling on a design is like choosing a perfume -- it smells different on everyone, notes change throughout the day (so sit on it), and you may end up needing more than one.  While, yes, preferences are always going to be different, sometimes it helps to start anew with a fresh eye (keep a copy saved of your original design in case it does come back to that) and see if other ideas have merit before you discredit them entirely.

One thing to remember: adjusting your voice or style for a particular audience doesn't make you any less you.  But the ability to adapt quickly to changing situations or audiences can make you stand out in a sea of otherwise-similarly-qualified individuals.

Of course, there are times at work when you can really make your voice heard and revel in your individualism. 
  • Proposing new ideas
  • Taking the lead on a project or initiative
  • Vocalizing an opinion that will help a project (constructive criticism counts)
  • Daily fashion (within office dress code parameters, of course)
  • Professional correspondence (just because email is delivered via computer or other device doesn't mean you have to sound like a robot)
  • Designing a presentation that is completely by you (not by you as a representative of another entity)

So let your personality shine bright and let your voice be heard, but remember that versatility and adaptability are valuable professional traits that shouldn't be ignored.

Have you ever run into a situation where you were pressured to adjust to something you didn't feel was "you"?  What did you do and what was the result?

Green swing jacket x3

The Rundown:
Old Navy jacket - 2010 - $30 (similar)
Banana Republic top - 2007 - $30 (similar banded hem top)
BR Outlet pants - 2009 - $12 (similar)
Nina shoes (from Ross) - 2009 - $16 (available)

What worked:
So you saw two iterations of this green swing jacket last week.  This is my third try (well, third photographed try, at least).  With wider-leg trousers instead of the streamlined bottoms I had before. And you know what? I don't think it turned out that badly.  Having the slim fitted top underneath helped balance it out.  I think.

What didn't:
I think the shirt underneath could have been slimmer (this one had a wide-banded bottom but then blouses out over it...perfect for hiding mini muffin tops). But this outfit was definitely comfy.

How do you balance out proportions in your outfits? Do you prefer volume on top or bottom (or do you mix it up)?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Happy Tuesday!

Happy Tuesday, folks!  K and I were in Washington DC for the long weekend (I took Friday off to make it even longer), and spent the entire weekend outdoors, walking the historic streets of our country's capital.  Needless to say, I don't have a post for you this morning, but will just leave you with this phone camera photo of the reflection pool and Washington Monument (from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial).

If you're history geeks like we are and you haven't been to DC, you should definitely go.  It was K's first time there, and as a PhD candidate in American politics, it was a perfect blend of sightseeing and him telling our local friends the history of various buildings and political traditions.

Have you been to DC or do you live there? What is your favorite part?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Executive Summary | Links for your weekend | 09.03.10

 Husband's and my water cups from Rubio's on Saturday.  Sunglasses for me (if there's sun anywhere I've got my sunnies on) and Siesta for him (the guy can sleep anytime, anywhere, except on planes).
Is it really September already?  How did this happen?  Well, I hope you have some fun plans for Labor Day weekend...I know I do!  How long has it been since the last long weekend?  Two months? WOW.

If you missed this week's blog highlights, make sure to check out my new Facebook page and my interview on Miss Vinyl Ahoy.

After you've done that, check out some of this week's reads:

Have a great weekend!

Wild at heart

Whether you fancy yourself exotic or think they look luxe, animal prints are back (again).  But they are neither subtle nor subdued, and they often send a clear message about the wearer (watch out for this wild one).  How can this trend translate for the office?

It's not as difficult as you may think.  Tone on tone prints, lovely croc-embossed leather, and animal-print-inspired shapes can make the transition into the workplace easily.  Here are my picks.

Clockwise from left: Charter Club, Apt. 9 from Kohl's, Target, Macy's, i.e., Merona

Have you rocked the animal print trend this season? How do you bring it into the office?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Wear and wear again: swing jacket

It's been a while since I've done one of these, and I've been dying to do it again.  Problem is I feel a lot of the basics I wear over and over again are sort of boring, and it's hard to pick pieces to feature. But I'll try, I promise. Today's wear and wear again is the swing jacket, sometimes called trapeze, although mine is almost more like a blazer.

I bought this kelly green jacket at Old Navy back in January or February for about $30 (on sale).  I usually don't spend that much on Old Navy, since their pieces tend to fall apart on me, but something about this jacket just stood out. I don't know if it was the color, or the shape, but I don't wear it enough for as much as I like it.

Swingy/trapezy shapes can be hard to work'll notice below that I usually balance it out with a more fitted shape on bottom.  With wide-leg trousers, the proportion would be totally off.


08_19_10 web

I'd really like to try this out next with a sheath dress or my khaki pencil skirt. Or maybe with another colorful piece, since I usually tone down the rest of the outfit colors with this jacket.  Or maybe just with different shoes.

How would you style this jacket?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How high is too high?

 My work heels

Heels can do wonders for your calves, snap your spine straight (helllooo balance), and create a sexy strut.  But is there such as thing as a heel too high for the office.  In short: yes. But it's not always that easy.

I think we can all agree that an over-the-top shoe like this one is not office appropriate. But what about something with a smaller platform that's closed-toe?  Or if the heel is chunky or a wedge, does that affect how high your heels can be?

While most office dress codes don't specify a min/max height, tradition states that a lower heel (<3") usually translates as more professional than one that's higher.  But in most business casual offices, there is quite a bit more leeway.

So how do you figure out if your heels are appropriate?  Start with these questions:
  • What is on my agenda today? Will I have to walk? There is nothing pretty or professional about limping around in heels when you know you have a lot of walking to do during the day. Practicality first (sometimes).
  • Who will I be seeing or meeting with? Do they have any preconceived notions of propriety? This goes for clothes, as well.  If you know an old-fashioned good ol' boy bigwig is coming in, you  may want to play it safe for the day. 
  • Would I wear these shoes to a club? If so, you may want to think twice (unless they're more office appropriate shoes you just happen to wear to a club, like me, who wears knee-length dresses, long coats, and closed-toed pumps).
  • How high is the platform? Steer clear of anything higher than about 3/4", and try to keep the rest of the shoe a little conservative. 
  • How skinny is the heel? Especially for heels higher than about 4", spiky stilettos can look inappropriate or dangerous. If you're going to do a taller heel, try a stacked or chunky heel (plus it helps with balance).  A wedge can also look polished, especially with heels 3" or lower.
  • What does the rest of the heel look like? If you're wearing something especially high, it helps if the rest of the heel is a little less attention-getting.  Details like ruffles, buckles, straps, neon, and shiny patent only call more attention to your feet.  A classic almond-toe pump in a matte leather and 4.5" heel is less likely to raise eyebrows than a platform pink strappy shoes at 3".
  • What else am I wearing? If you're wearing trousers, the rules can be a little looser, since the bulk of your shoe will be covered by the pant leg.  If you're wearing a skirt, consider the fact that people can get a 360 degree view of your shoe.
Don't get me wrong, I love a fun heel and have several. But for the sake of professional decorum and not distracting others, let's keep the crazy at home, okay?

How high do you think is too high of a heel for the office? Do you have any personal rules for work footwear?

Six months!

I can't believe it's been six months since The New Professional first launched, and six months since I started the Great American Apparel Diet.  My, how the time flies. After sitting in my head for about a year before I actually got this blog to the screen, I'm so glad I finally took the plunge and did this. And I couldn't have done it without you, my readers.  Cupcakes for all!

To mark this milestone, you can now hang out with The New Professional on Facebook!  Get blog posts straight into your feed or discuss your office questions with me and other readers.  Oh, and share it with your friends. :)

Don't forget you can also follow me on Twitter, IFB, Polyvore, Bloglovin, and Flickr, or shoot me an email if you have a comment or a fashion or office question!

Thanks, loves!