Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A day late, a dollar short

Went straight from work last night to a Passover dinner (I'm not Jewish but I appreciate the culture--Jesus was a Jew!) and then home just in time for Lost.  But yesterday's outfit was long anticipated (in my head at least) so I did want to share it.

Like I mentioned in my last post, this outfit was supposed to be a variation on one of my tried-and-true work uniforms...got these adorable booties handed down to me and wanted to pull them out.  Well, I ended up changing my mind at the last minute and tossing on a plaid flannel as well instead of the bejeweled shell I usually wear with this skirt.  Here's the look:
 
Shirt: Ross - 2009 - $7; Skirt: The Limited - 2008 - $20; Tights: ?? found them in my sock drawer; Booties: Jessica Simpson - 2009 - hand me down


Fun, right?  The top has some cool zipper detailing and black snap buttons.  I'm so glad I pulled this out instead of my other shirt, which would have made for a completely black and gray ensemble.  This outfit is also super-comfy...the skirt has a sort of tulip shape that is loosely structured and very forgiving for the figure.  Here are some detail shots:


These booties look high, but there's about a 1/3" - 1/2" platform on them.  Still, I nearly slipped off of these several times throughout the day and by the time I got home my feet were killing me.  They're suede with some elastic in the front (under the suede straps).

 
Ring: Claires - 2007 - cheap

Only a hunk of plastic this large could convince me to leave my trusty typewriter key ring at home for the day.

 
Watch: Anne Klein (from Macy's) - 2008 - $50

In honor of my watch post Monday, this is my leather-band watch of choice.  Small and simple without being to girly. Best feature: that gray button by 2 o'clock lights up the face so you can tell time in the dark.  Booyah.

Not sure if this outfit would fly in most offices, but my job gets to be pretty creative, so I can have some fun with my outfits.  What do you think--Would this outfit be allowed in your office? Is it too weird, too casual, or too dressy?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pretty please, with a cherry on top?

I don't know what I was thinking when I got dressed this morning, but if I could guess it was some not-fit-for-print moaning and groaning about how I woke up way too early (for me--5:45 a.m.).  To go outside while it was still dark. For a jog. On a Monday.  Ugh.  That's four out of four not normal things for me to have done within way too short a time period.  So forgive the craziness...in the end I think it worked out and I really ended up liking it.

From the outside, when I was outside, I looked totally safe and boring.

Trench: Rampage - 2007 - gc; Pants: Banana Republic Factory - 2009 - $12 (clearance); Shoes: Calvin Klein (from Off Broadway) - 2007 - $70

But open in up and it was a swirl of patterns and details.  My senses were on overload.  I am typically a plain solid-color kind of gal--florals of any kind are pretty racy for me.  But today was florals. And cardigan. And ribbon belt.  And bejeweled brooch. And an extra ring.

 
Ruffled shirt: Gottschalks - 2009 - $12 (clearance); Cardigan: H&M - 2009 - $30; Ribbon: Joann Fabrics;
Brooch: J. Crew - 2009 - $6.50 (sale); Ring: Etsy seller Grouse and Badger - 2010 - $5 (at Indie Sacramento)

So I left the pic nice and big for your enjoyment.  Because I had a ton of fun wearing this today, I hope it will pt a smile on your face too.  This cardigan, even though I've only had it a year, has shrunk a lot (I think...err...I hope).  Buttoning it would have made me look like a stuffed sausage.  But leaving it completely open would have been shapeless, especially paired with the wide-leg trousers.  I got this pretty black satin ribbon at Joann Fabrics a while back (for a craft project) and just wrapped it around myself, cut some nice diagonals on the ends, and double knotted it.  This brooch also comes with a bobby pin attachment, although I think it's a tad heavy to wear on my head.

This typewriter ring is my new piece of everyday jewelry.  I don't tend to wear much jewelry--on a daily basis I only wear my engagement and wedding rings and a pair of studs (either plain silver or cz).  I've worn this typewriter ring 5 of the 8 days I've had it so far.  Love love love love love.

I have to say, before I started this blog, I don't think I would have had the guts to pair all this together in one outfit.  I guess sharing about my wardrobe and reading other fashion blogs has really inspired me to try new things, and I'm starting to enjoy it.  I've always felt like dressing up for work was just that--daily dressup!  That's why I started the blog to begin with...to share my enthusiasm (as weird as it may be) for officewear and show people how fun it can be.  Little did I know it was going to be this fun!  Tomorrow's outfit is one I've been waiting all week (err...since last week) to wear.  It's a slight twist on one of my old standbys--something I came up with while on my six-month shopping ban last year.  A new day, a new outfit, a new attitude.

Stay snazzy, folks.

Make Believe Monday | Hard as nails

I know I've already covered some of this, but today's wish list item is a studded watch.  While out in Oakland visiting my best buds this weekend, we were flipping through the Lucky Guide to Mastering Any Style and we came across this beauty, worn by Monet Mazur:

This is not your 16-year-old goth's spiked watch.  At over $3,000, the Hermes Medor watch is NOT on my wish list (I can't imagine ever paying that much for one item even if I had the money), but one of these alternatives might me making their way into my watch drawer soon:








 


This last watch is from Guess from 2008...can't find it for sale anywhere but it's my fave of the bunch and you can bet that I'll be keeping an eye out on ebay for this baby!

Watches work especially well for business wear--it shows that punctuality is important to you.  Looking at your watch during a meeting is a lot less distracting then looking at your cell phone, and no one could misunderstand your message (while cell phone glancing could be an email, text, tweet, or general distractedness).  Why wear a boring watch, though?  Every working person should have at least two watches: one with a leather band and one with a metal band (my fave is a classic tank from Fossil).  But when watches look as fun as these, why stop at just two?

Do you wear a watch?  What type?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Knitting pretty

Another week down, another jean post.  The department I'm in at work probably wears jeans to the office more often than most business casual folks, but I think we do a pretty good job of keeping it neat and tidy.  Here's today's outfit:
 
Shirt: H&M - 2007 - $14; Vest: Old Navy - 2008 - $10 (sale); Jeans: Old Navy, 2010 - $12 (clearance); Belt: Gap - 2010 - $10 (sale);
Shoes: Nina (found at Ross) - 2009 - $16 (sale)

As you can probably tell by now, I have a few items in my wardrobe that make it in the rotation a lot.  A LOT.  These jeans and shoes are among those items.  The button up shirt is actually way small (newlywed weight gain, anyone?), but that's where the vest comes in handy to hide the bulging buttons (more on shirt fits in a future post).  I've also started unbuttoning the sleeves (although you can't tell in this pic).  On its own, the vest would also fits way too tight and reveals too much, both because of the cut and because the knit pattern in the front has lots of tiny little holes.

A quick detail shot of the vest's knitting:

On a more personal note, the curtains behind me in a lot of my outfit pics is actually my closet, the door to my right (your left) the bedroom door, and the space on the other side of me our office nook (where K works on his dissertation during the day and I sit and write these posts at night).  Our little apartment is converted from an office building (it's still retail downstairs), so there were no built-in closets.  The owners fitted the area by the door with some closet rods, and I got these curtains from Ikea to hide the mess.  In addition to housing (most) of my clothes--the dresser is still in the bedroom--this closet space also houses spare linens, sports equipment, camping equipment, and large hardware/home improvement equipment. How's that for multi-tasking?

Keeping it short and sweet today--it's the end of the week!  Going to visit some of my besties in the SF Bay Area (known them about 20 years already! How time flies!) and getting a camera tripod so that these pics won't be so blurry (K has been awesome taking most of the full-body ones, but neither of us are photographically inclined to begin with).  What do you have planned this weekend?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

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Apple tart sweetheart

Today's outfit was way out there (to me, at least). I've been reading lots and lots of fashion blogs and one cute idea totally caught my eye: layering skirts and dresses! No one does this better than Audi over at Fashion for Nerds (check out some of her layered looks here and here).

So when I put on this khaki safari-style dress this morning and was less than pleased with it, I looked over to the skirt side of my closet and grabbed another to toss on top. The end effect was less of a layered look, since the other skirt went on top, but it was completely different than the dress alone and a lot more fitting to my mood. The dress has a grommeted belt (which I love, see studs post from last week), which I simply tied over the skirt.
 
Dress: Polo Ralph Lauren Outlet - 2000? - $40; Skirt: Target - 2007 - $7; Shoes: Aerosoles - 2006 - $30

What surprised me most about this outfit was not that I had successfully layered something over a dress, but that everything in this outfit is at least three years old.  My mom bought me this dress in high school, and at the time it was one of the most expensive dresses I owned.  I've carried it with me through college, grad school, and two cross country moves, and yet can probably count the number of wears on my hands (and maybe a few toes).

Why would I hold on to such an item if it's something I rarely ever wear?  It's out of style (drop waisted, straight, with 6" slits up both sides of the skirt), underused, and only slightly comfortable (hello leg slits).  I don't know the answer but I'm glad I still have it for days like today.  Now that I have another way to style it, I'm not giving it up anytime soon (sorry Stitch Swap gals, you won't be seeing this on the racks).

Here's a sneak peek at the skirt of the dress:


This outfit put me in such a good mood that after dinner my hubby K and I walked around the local farmer's market (down the street from us) and grabbed an organic apple tart for dessert.  Yummmm.

Is there anything in your closet that you just can't bear to part with, no matter how seldom you actually wear it?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Luck be a lady

I mentioned earlier my successful Saturday shopping trip. No clothes were purchased (yes I'm going on a bit of a technicality here, but I never claimed to give up more than clothes), but I did get some cool accessories. Two of them came into play here, in what I think could be called my most ladylike look in weeks.  Just a normal day at the office, but why wait for an occasion?


Shirt: J. Crew - 2009 - $20 (sale); Belt: Vintage - 2010 - $12; Skirt: Loft - 2009 - $13 (sale + coupon);
Bag: Vintage - 2010 - $12; Shoes: Enzo Angiolini - 2007 - $70

I've got to say, this is my favorite outfit that I've worn to work since I started this blog.  It's the first time I've ever worn that shirt, and the bag and belt are two of my finds from this weekend.  Both were found at Bows and Arrows, one of my favorite Midtown Sacramento shops.  I almost didn't wear the belt this morning (the skirt has a nice waistline with no belt loops), but at the last minute decided to keep it.  Some detail pics:
 



These beaded bracelets were also a result of my weekend jaunt...across the street from Bows and Arrows is an amazing bead shop called Bead Fetish.  I picked up these square hematite beads, gray matte seed beads, and some light coral matte seed beads, too, to string together some of my own stretchy bracelets.  Threw these together quickly last night and didn't get to the coral, but I know what I'll be doing in front of the TV tonight during Lost! [um...beading, in case you didn't catch that.]

I was originally going to wear some ruffly satin t-straps, but I think the brown peep-toes kept the look a little more grounded and office-appropriate.  Maybe next time!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It's not you, it's me


Yesterday was not a stylish day--we worked an event in the morning that had us all in t-shirts, jeans, and sneaks and most of us didn't bother to change out of them for the short hours of work left afterward.  So today I'm going to touch on a more professional topic: dealing with those that have "wronged" you at work.

What do I mean by wronged?  Well, it could be lots of things.  The coworker that didn't give you credit when it was due, the supervisor from the other department that gave you an assignment and got mad when your supervisor pushed back (there's a reason each employee usually only has one supervisor; I'm lucky to have a really really good one).  However small or large the incident is, how do you deal with it afterward?  What happens when you see the person in another situation, say in line at the coffee shop downstairs or at an event you're both working?

Bottom line is: there is a big difference between most peoples' work personas and their actual personalities.  Imagine how you are at work...there are probably lots of things you do at work that you would not do in your home (in terms of organizing your schedule and managing your peers or employees).  At the same time, there are a lot of things that may be part of your day-to-day non-work life that just would not fly in the office.  The same goes for every single one of your coworkers.

While some people do just happen to have difficult personalities, those that may wrong you just once or twice, no matter how large, really may just not have a clue.  Many of them could be really nice people, people you may want to befriend.  Everyone is guilty of a social or professional faux pas every now and again.

Some tips for dealing with a some-time troublemaker:
  • Take a deep breath and remind yourself--it was a single action, not a habitual offense.
  • They don't know you well enough to have meant it as a personal attack.
  • Think about the other parts of their personality that might be nicer and pull from those feelings to interact with the person.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, bring up the incident in a non-work setting.  If you must confront, set some time with the person to discuss the incident specifically, and say so.  Do not ambush them.
  • If you are one or more personnel removed from the other individual, keep communication clear and rational with the middle person.  They are your key to either advocating for you or telling you the truth about your actions.
  • Keep your emotions in check.  Always.
  • Don't let your feelings about a particular incident or project affect other unrelated projects you may be working on together.

Let's face it--it's hard to detach yourself from your own feelings.  But in the workplace, stress, ambition, and reputation drives many to take actions they wouldn't normally take.  Or maybe it's just that they forgot to be considerate.  Regardless, you can rise above the fray, and your impeccable handling of an awkward situation can reflect well on your professional acumen.


Photo:

Monday, March 22, 2010

Make Believe Monday | Long cardigan

I don't know what the first day of spring looked like for you, but here it was gorgeous!  I got to pull out a springy sundress and cowboy boots (perfect for skirts).  It's supposed to stay pretty nice this week...let's hope it lasts until summer gets here.

Saturday was productive--checked out a local handmade crafts fair (etsy vendors everywhere!) and did some vintage/thrifty shopping.  Picked up a cool typewriter key ring, leather feather earrings, gray button earrings, '60s satchel, and a gray stretch and leather belt.

This last item makes me super-excited and inspires my Make Believe Monday.  Well this item and the orange-red belt (worn here and here).  Now that I have some fun belts that cinch nicely around my natural waist (rather than my hips, where my pants normally sit), a long cardigan would really come in handy.  Something along these lines:
 

I'd pair it with a ruffly blouse, pencil skirt and mary janes or with a sheath dress for the office, or with skinny jeans for the weekend.

How would you style a long cardigan for the office?  Belted or unbelted?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ode to winter

As the first day of spring approaches, it's looking more and more like winter could possibly be over for good. Today's outfit was one of my favorites that I tossed together this winter, and it was hardly bearable since it was so warm outside. But wear it I did, and will soon put it away for the spring, summer, and fall (or parts of it, at least).
 
Scarf: Gift - 2008; Sweater: Gap - 2005 - $19; Tank: Target - 2010 - $6.50;
Skirt: O'Neill (purchased at Marshalls) - 2007 - $12; Boots: Nine West Outlet - 2009 - $50

This outfit is cozy, comfy, and cute. I didn't have any meetings today, but this could easily have been more meeting appropriate if I'd taken off the scarf and put on a pearl necklace.

Do you have a winter outfit you'll miss now that spring is upon us?

***

Sale alert!  There's a Nine West studded peep-toe that looks almost exactly like the Enzo Angiolinis in my post on studs is on sale on the Nine West website!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Studmuffin

My conference in Albuquerque wraps up today and I'm going a bit more casual since it's a half day--no good work outfit to post (not one I'd recommend you actually wear to the office, that is). But this great post by Ez over at Creature Comforts on studded accessories got me thinking about how embellishments like studs are a great way to show your personality in the office when done right.

I'll admit it...I dressed the part of a little punker (at least a goodie-goodie one) throughout most of my college years.  Ball chains around my neck and wrists?  Check.  Studded belt and wrist cuffs?  Check.  Black nail polish?  Duh.  T-shirt from a band concert?  Sometimes.  While my style has evolved drastically since then (um, hello yesterday's suit obsession), I still have a love for the studly and spiky.

Luckily for me, the fashion gurus out there have pretty much translated badass studs into more grown-up versions.  Some studly finds (yes, I can use that adjective for everything):


I want to hear from you!

So you've been hearing me rant and share about my workplace style, but I'd love to get your takes on things as well.  Some ideas:
  • 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?  Send me your ideas and I'll post them.

Email your suggestions or general blog feed back to thenewprofessionalblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

Peace out!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Where to Wear | It's all about the presentation

So I've been thinking about this post for a while and every time I do, I think of Iron Chef (or Iron Chef America, since that's what's on more often nowadays).  It's not at all food-related, but it's the principle that when two dishes are about the same quality, the presentation is what puts the winner on top.  I'm making my first conference presentation today at a national conference for a professional group that I'm a member of.  I've been preparing content for months now, honing my slides, and practicing my lines.  But I've also been planning what I'm going to wear.

As a young professional, I've often been mistaken for a student intern or recent college grad*.  The last time this happened to me was just a few months ago on my 26th birthday, by a new colleague on her first day of work.  Honest mistake--I was wearing a fun kelly green A-line dress, black tights, and jeweled flats since it was my special day.  The same day, other coworkers that had known me for a while took guesses on the other end of the spectrum.  29?  30?  I couldn't possibly be younger than 29.  WHAT? (That last one is a direct quote from my CEO.) *Not that it's a bad thing to be mistaken for a student or recent grad. It's just that those days feel so far behind me.

Building up to this day I knew I definitely did not want people up looking at me thinking "What's that intern doing up there?"  But what is appropriate garb for a presenter at a national conference? I made it my goal to finally buy myself a black suit.  It had been on my wish list for years, but I knew which one I wanted (Banana Republic lightweight wool) and it was pricey.  So I was saving the purchase for a really special occasion.  And this is it. I took the plunge on Superbowl Sunday (before we watched the game, not in lieu of), headed down to BR on a weekend when all their regular priced merchandise was 25% off.  You didn't think I'd pay full price, did you?  Tsk tsk.

I had the suit, now what?  A black jacket and black pants, black hair...that's a lot of black.  And I am not a head-to-toe black kind of dresser.  So the week after, I went and bought myself a pair of red pumps (also a wish list veteran).

But what to wear underneath?  That had always been my crux.  A buttoned blouse would look too corporate (I'm in a pretty creative field).  A slinky cami too suggestive.  I came to Albuquerque with plenty of options in tow.  Don't want to bore you so here is the quick version.
 
Suit: Banana Republic - 2010 - $300; Gray jeweled shirt - JC Penney - 2009 - $7;
Green neck-tie shirt - Ann Taylor Loft - 2005 - $12

 
Yellow ruffle shirt - Ann Taylor Loft - 2007 - $20; Floral ruffled blouse - Gottschalks - 2009 - $12

And here is the winner:

 
White studded shirt: Calvin Klein outlet - 2009 - $30


A detailed shot of the shoes.  They're a smooth leather in a not-too-bright red.  Perfect with jeans or slacks.  Inside are some Dr. Scholl's For Her High Heel Insoles.  They make my feet happy (no, they're not paying me to say that).  Try some if you wear heels all day, especially if they're 3" or higher.
 
Blake Scott (from Off Broadway Shoes) - 2010 - $40

What's your favorite way to style a classic black suit?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Make Believe Monday | Spring has sprung!

I realized this weekend that giving up shopping is a lot harder when you decide to start a fashion blog. I cannot stop thinking about all the items at the mall (or online) that would love to come to work with me someday. Make Believe Monday will be my time to get those thoughts onto the screen and out of my head.

Spring has been on my mind lately, and beginning to peek it's sunny yellow head out of hiding (in between the rain, that is). I've had a serious hankering for a colorful floral sheath dress since last summer, which went something like wedding guest, wedding guest, bridal shower host, wedding rehearsal, wedding guest, bridesmaid.  Yup...it was that kind of year.  Versatility was a must -- that wedding rehearsal and subsequent wedding guest entry was about 2 hours apart (different weddings).  Even though this year is wedding-free (a rarity for folks my age, I hear), I'd still love little flowery number, perhaps something like this:
 
Suzy Chin Maggie Boutique


A sheath is one of my favorite dress shapes because of its sophisticated, sleek look.  It multitasks well for cocktail hour, bridal showers, weddings, and yes, even work.  The dress above, with the addition of a cardigan or blazer (or maybe even a ruffled blouse underneath), is ready for work.  See how the hemline hits the knee?

If multi-colored florals aren't your style (or your office's style), you can still stand out with solid bright (like this mustard yellow one) or a toned down print with just one color accented by black and white (seen here).

While I have sheath dresses (all in black or gray) and floral dresses, I'm adding a floral sheath to my wishlist for when my year of not shopping expires.   Whether you have a reliable standby or just now decide you want one, consider getting one in knee-length so it can do double duty at work (a cap sleeved one would be an even bigger bonus -- no cardie necessary!).

How would you style a floral sheath?

In case you're wondering, this is what I ended up with last year:

 
Ann Taylor Factory Store - 2009 - $14   [photo credits: anon* and t]

 
Kohl's - 2009 - $30 (gift card)

*This photo is of me, from the back, taken at my friend's wedding last September (the one that was 2 hours after my other friend's wedding rehearsal).  I've never been to an event where another woman was wearing the exact same dress as I was, and I always thought I'd never care.  But when the woman is the mother of one of the bridesmaids, and when her husband posts this pic on his Facebook with the caption "[wife's name], is that you?" followed by a pic of her from the back in the same dress and the caption "oh, there you are," I couldn't help but get a little chagrined.  But on the bright side, it really made me appreciate that (if I can stay around the same size) this dress could last forever because the style is so classic.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Blue jean machine

Since I just talked briefly about jeans in a business casual environment yesterday, I thought I'd give an example today (read: I was itching to be really comfortable even though it was still Thursday).  I realized I haven't been showing you my entire outfit..since it's still pretty cold out here I usually have a coat or jacket on in the morning that I take off whenever I'm indoors.  Today it was my trench.


I also realized today that this blog is about looking good for work on a budget, so I've decided to add some price points to my details.  Today's outfit deets:
  • Trench - Rampage (from Macy's) - purchased with gift card in 2007 - $?
  • Sweater - Gap Outlet - 2008 - $20
  • Tank (under sweater) - Target - 2009 - $7 (sale)
  • Jeans - Old Navy - 2010 - $12 (clearance)
  • Belt - Gap - 2010 - $10 (sale)
  • Shoes - Nina (from Ross) - 2009 - $16

These trouser jeans work for work because of their dark wash and loose cut.  They're fitted through the hip, and from there they basically go straight down to the ground.  Wide-leg pants can look boxy, and that's where the pointy-toed pumps come in.  Any sort of interest down by the toe that's not too boxy will do...peep-toes, jeweled flats.

The belt was a last-minute add on--otherwise the sweater and jeans would be something I'd wear on a weekend.  Not quite sure yet if it works with the outfit, but at least the color matched.  Plus, the neck of the sweater goes up pretty high, which can make it look a little puritanical, and the belt breaks up the vast sea of brown.

Some detail pics for your viewing pleasure:

Love the sweater's ribbing (see how the sleeves match the body ribbing?).  I also love layering sweaters over tanks (Target's Mossimo makes some great affordable ones that I stocked up on before TGAAD).

Here's a closeup of the shoes (same ones from Monday).  Honestly, these shoes deserve their own post...they're comfortable, versatile, and super-snazzy.  I even wore them to dinner tonight (I usually change into flip flops as soon as I get home).

So there you go, jeans in an office.  Not too bad, eh?  Still working on getting used to being photographed everyday, even though it's just myself (well, maybe it's weirder just by myself).  Like the office though?  It's my actual work cubicle.  If you're lucky you'll get some other views next time.  Speaking of next time---I'll be back Monday blogging from Albuquerque, New Mexico!  Going with some coworkers for a national conference...wish us luck!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

We're not in Kansas anymore

After two days of wearing pants to work, I decided that I'd try to mix it up on Wednesday with a skirt or dress.  I picked a green faux-wrap dress with a chain link print on it and pulled on some knit tights since it was going to be chilly today.  Somehow I got the great idea to pick a pair of green cable knit tights...sort of for the monochromatic look (it's supposed to be elongating?  I could always use the visual illusion of height).

Here's a peek at how it turned out


Ok, not really--the Wicked Witch was actually wearing black.  But print dress + print tights + green on green = a little witchy.  I didn't take any pics (sorry), but I will most likely wear the same outfit again some time and will take pics then.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Decipher the dress code | Business Casual

Before I start a new job, I always ask for a copy of the employee policies, generally to scope out what is expected of me and how much vacation I'll get, but also to get a sense of the dress code.  I almost always wear a suit on my first day of work (unless I get the vibe it'd be weird if I did), but what about after that?  Does the office observe Casual Friday?

My office these days notes "business casual" as its suggested attire for Mondays through Thursday, but with an admonition that employees should wear "appropriate attire for the business that they are engaged in for the day and the departments/program in which they work."  A few big no-nos are also noted: "At no time, shall an employee wear ripped or torn clothing or rubber flip flops."  Simple enough, right?

But my work is generally sitting at a desk on my computer, with random last-minute off-site photo shoots or meetings with other departments thrown in.  It's hard to say what the appropriate attire would be for doing that kind of business all day, so I just defer to the business casual, which in itself can present sort of a conundrum.

Business. Casual.  Business dress is generally more stuffy; casual dress more laid back.  When you mix the two together, some wonderful things can happen.  I happen to be a fan of business casual dress--it gives me a chance to dress up each day and do my thing as a worker bee.  It delineates my work day from my personal time, where you'd never find me wearing slacks or blazers.

One of the great things about business casual is that it is basically a game of mix and match.  Tops + bottoms + shoes. Yup.  Just like any other outfit.  With small considerations for color and fit/proportion, you'll at least be in compliance with the dress code.  Hey, we all have to start somewhere.

A few notes on business casual:
  • Depending on the workplace, denim can be worked into the business casual wardrobe.  Even when expressly allowed, business casual jeans should be of a darker wash, trouser cut, and without decoration -- save those jeans with the rhinestones on the back for the weekend.
  • Sleeveless should be done carefully.  The straps of the top should be thick enough to fully hide any underpinnings.
  • Some business casual workplaces prohibit open-toed shoes, but if yours allows it, go with something tasteful.  A heeled thong sandal = not a good idea.  Peep-toed pumps = perfection.

I'll be dissecting other common dress codes here in future posts.  For the time being I'll leave you with some inspiring business casual looks.



Check out the Gap outfit here and the Banana Republic outfit here.

The New Professional wants to know: What is your office dress code and your formula?

Like mother, like daughter

Everything I learned about shopping, I learned from my mother.  When we were young, she would take us on walks around the mall.  Even as recent as a few years ago, when I lived at home for a brief eight months, my mom and I would often walk the mall after dinner on weeknights.

It is fitting, then, that I would love my mother's closet.  During my visit this past weekend, it got a lot colder in Southern California than I expected.  I mean, really, I live in Northern California now...winter is a lot colder up here.  So silly me did not bring a jacket, and boy did I regret it.  I rummaged through my mom's closet before I went out with the girls for dinner and found this gem--a wool houndstooth blazer from the '70s.  I threw it on and out I went.  The next morning I left to head back up north and took the jacket with me.  My mom said to bring it back next time I see her, but I have a feeling she might have to pry it from my hands.

My mom comes to visit next month, so in the meantime, I will be making regular use of this blazer.  I wore it to work on Tuesday for a mismatched suit type look.  Threw a tie-neck shirt underneath to give it some feminine flair and tried to curl my hair (result: ponytail).

Details: Blazer - vintage (mom's); Top - Target; Pants - Banana Republic Factory Store; Shoes - Enzo Angiolini.

Here are some detailed shots of the outfit.  The pattern on the blazer is blue, black, gray, and brown.  The shoes I stalked for over a year before I found them on sale at Nordstrom.  Already planning on rewearing this outfit at my conference next week in New Mexico.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Skinny belt and screen cred


If you've happened to stumble upon this blog, you might be asking, "Why is she writing this blog?  What kind of cred does she have?"

The "Why" can be answered by reading the About page.


My cred is open to discussion.  I'm writing this blog to share what I've learned from being in the workplace and loving fashion.  I've had my hits and misses throughout the years, and hope to spare you some of the misses.  While I could hide behind pretty pictures gathered from around the Internet, I'd rather just show you how I dress at work and let you decide for yourself whether you trust my advice. 

 
I call this look: I love my new skinny belt!

 
I wore this outfit on sunny Monday in March (this Monday, to be exact).  I just purchased a skinny belt this weekend (TGAAD-approved; see related post here) and was excited to wear it to work ASAP.  I'd also just gotten my fave heels back from getting re-heeled and was dying to wear them again--they are so comfortable.


Here is a rundown of the goods: Top - J.Crew; Pants - Gap Outlet; Shoes - Nina (found at Ross); Belt - Gap; Necklace - Forever 21; Awkward pose - original design by me.


Loved this outfit today not just because it looked nice and professional, but it was comfortable.  The heels are only about 1.5"-2" tall and are extremely comfortable to walk in all day -- a must for me since I go out to move my car every two hours.


One of the main reasons this outfit works is because of the proportions.  The wide-leg pants are balanced out by a fitted top.  The thick waistband of the pants, which can often make a midsection look larger, is bisected by a colorful belt.


There are also many colors at work here -- gray, brown, gold, red-orange, but compared to the brightness of the belt, the rest of the outfit serves as a neutral.


On the pencilmeter, this outfit gets four out of four for being comfortable, professional, and totally rewearable.

Monday, March 8, 2010

My year of not shopping

Part of my motivation to start The New Professional was that I recently signed up for the Great American Apparel Diet, a pledge taken by women all over the U.S. (and some internationally) to not purchase clothing for the next year. The founders started their pledge September 1, 2009, but you can join at any time and diet along with them through August 31, 2010. Since I started March 1, I'm aiming to carry my pledge through to February 28, 2011.

There is just one rule to TGAAD: no purchasing clothes. That means no new shirts, pants, jackets, skirts, dresses, workout clothes, work clothes, casual clothes. Shoes, accessories, and underwear are where you can make up for it, but it looks like many participants are giving that up,too.


The best part of TGAAD is that you aren't in it alone. Not only are there dozens of women out there sharing your pledge, each participant can post on the website blog.


Check out my first and second posts as a TGAAD-er.