Friday, October 29, 2010

Executive Summary | Links for your weekend | 10.29.10

One of my favorite blankets to cuddle up with on the couch in the fall and winter.

Happy Halloween folks!  To be honest, I don't have much to say this week...I'm pretty pooped.  So here are some fun links to read instead:
Have a happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Handle Halloween like a pro


Have you been hit over the head with Halloween yet?  Yeah, I think we all have.  I'm not a huge going-out kind of person, so Halloween is mostly about the sweets for me.  I think the last time I dressed up for a Halloween party was when my roommates and I hosted one our senior year in college (I made my own Dallas Cowboys cheerleader costume...yes, there are probably some pics floating around the Internet but don't go snooping).  But my office is pretty festive when it comes to holidays and socials.  We even have an employee social committee (shortened to ESC, wouldn't you know).

Corporette and Jane Has a Job have done their run downs on office Halloweens--those gals have some great tips!  But here are a few other ideas for quick, easy, office appropriate ways to show your spirit for the haunted holiday.

Sexy fill-in-the-blank is not going to fly in the office the way it seems to everywhere else. But there are plenty of options for dressing up.
  • Eras. In love with the 80s or the 50s? Take a decade and dress in a themed outfit. What better way to work some over-the-top fashion into the workplace?
  • Sports. The NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, and MLS are all actively in their seasons, and sports is typically a safe theme for the office.  Dress up as a crazed fan, your favorite player, or a referee.
  • Masks. Not the crazy-expensive, foul-smelling, over-your-head rubber kind that gives you the hairstyle and all in one fell swoop, but the (often paper) kind that you can place against your face and has elastic to go around your head.  They come in all kinds of themes, or you can make your own. These are great because you aren't stuck wearing it all day.
  • Hobbies.  Wear your gardening hat and gloves if you've got a green thumb, or maybe bring your toolbelt if you're handy.  This should be easy since it will involve things you already have at home.
  • Props. Add a witch's hat to an all-black outfit (or a stovepipe hat to a suit) and you've got an easy costume that magically transforms into a regular work outfit after your office social maven stops by to check on your Halloween spirit.
While I'm all for having a snazzy cubicle, I'm not much on seasonal decorating. But one department of our organization is.  Pumpkins, cats, bats, and spiders are all easy themes that won't rock the boat too much.

I love candy. Like, I really love candy. I keep a candy bowl at my desk year round, as do a few other folks around the office. But around Halloween the volume of candy laying around is just crazy.  And after Halloween? Well, you know who has kids since they like to bring the extra candy loot to the office.  If you're a candy bowl kind of person, post-Halloween is a great time to stock up on fun-size chocolate bars. Just don't get the stuff that looks like eyeballs or pumpkins--people will know in March how old your candy is.

Like I mentioned before, our office is pretty big on socials.  We had an Americana themed picnic at the end of June, a luau in September, and our November and December are full of Thanksgiving and "Winter Season/New Year" celebrations.  Last year for Halloween we did a creepy dessert buffet.  Talk about a sugar overload!  This year we're ordering cupcakes and cookies from the local grocery and having a costume contest. Wish me luck (I'm going as my former coworker J, who left us to move to NYC a few months ago and had a very distinct work uniform of plaid shirts, hoodies, jeans, and cowboy boots).

What are you doing for Halloween at your office?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The long and short of it all

Getting a drastically new haircut has got me thinking this week about hairstyles and the office. I've gotten a lot of positive feedback on my new hair from my coworkers, especially those in management levels above me.  Several of my coworkers have said that the haircut makes me look more mature, or more professional, or just older.

Now, I'm definitely not in the "long hair = young/shorter hair = older" camp but I can't help but get the feeling that a lot of people are, whether it's intentional or not.  Age is often a touchy subject in the workplace, and as disappointing as it is, can work either for you or against you.  

I'm interesting in seeing how this perceived maturity plays out in the long term (or if it does at all).  I've definitely gotten some slack at work for my age--some jokingly, some not (no one really know how young I was until I turned 26 last year and since then I've had to work just that much harder to prove myself), so I wonder if this will change things.  But that's a topic to revisit later on when there are some results.

I'm all for changing my hair frequently, but there are certain folks that have found their style and stick to it (hey, when it works, it works).  To each their own.  Here is a sampling of the hair styles I've worn to work just in the past eight months since I've had this blog (the ones I got pics of, at least).

Early 2010: shoulder length angled cut

Same cut curled with bangs pulled back

Low ponytail with hair wrapped around the elastic.

Grown out angled cut

Low bun, bangs pulled back (btw, I did not wear this dress to work, but I have worn this hairstyle to work)

Longer hair, bangs


Looking back, I definitely liked my early-2010 angled cut the best--in fact, I nearly went back to that this time, but thought I'd try something different.  Although I'm liking my hair now (it's only been four days), I just don't really see myself as a long-term short-hair girl.

Do you feel your age (or perceived age) has worked for or against you in your career? What do you think fuels these perceptions?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chop chop and layering neutrals

office fashion blogger turtleneck sweater vest banana republic pencil skirt aerosoles pumps herringbone tights layering
office fashion blogger turtleneck sweater vest bob hair
office fashion blogger turtleneck sweater vest bob hair
office fashion blogger banana republic pencil skirt aerosoles pumps herringbone tights layering
Indoor shots. There's really no way around them. But at least I found a spot in my apartment!

The Rundown:
Turtleneck sweater - 2010 - swap (similar)
White blouse - 2007 - $20? (similar)
BR high-waist pencil skirt - 2010 - $60ish (similar)
Hue tights - 2010 - $10 (similar)
Aerosoles pumps - 2005 - $30 (similar)
Belt - 2010 - swap (similar)
Anne Klein watch - 2009 - $55 (available)

What worked:
A week or two back Maria asked about neutrals and trying to liven them up.  My comment at that time was that I love neutrals, but what I really like to do is combine them.  Today was a perfect case-in-point: shades of tan, brown, white, and black.  Another way I like to wear neutrals is layering different textures.  Here we have a thick knit (sweater), suiting wool (skirt), herringbone (tights), and suede (shoes).  Each piece alone is rather expected and has the potential to be boring, but smashing them altogether creates interest (and keeps you warm!).

What didn't:
With the chunky knit and layers, this outfit did verge on the shapeless side. The belt helped rein in the volume and give a visual waist as well.  Other than that, I really loved this outfit.

Funny thing I noticed this morning after I got to work--this sweater mixes my last two Make Believe Mondays (sort of) with a turtleneck vest! It was another one of my recent swap scores. Super-soft, too.

Yes, I got my hair chopped this weekend. (duh.  I'm not a Magic Hair Doll. Anyone else remember those?)  I sort of like the idea of short hair in the winter and longer hair in the summer, because it's easy to put on a scarf in the winter and I like being able to make a ponytail in the summer. Last time I cut my hair I went right to the shoulder, so I decided to go above the shoulder this time.  All I did this morning was blowdry--no product, barely any combing--and let the turtleneck sort of shape the hair.  I'm going to try straight-ironing the ends tomorrow (more like my original inspiration).

On Saturday morning, when I decided to go short (it was a bit of a last-minute decision), K asked me not come home with "mom hair," and the third comment I got on my Facebook profile was from my cousin saying, "you look so much like your mom!" If that means I look a decade younger than I actually am and am super-tiny after having two kids, eating pastries everyday, and never exercising, then I reply, "thank you!"

Are you a short hair in the summer/long hair in the winter kind of gal or the other way around? Or do you stick to your signature style, no matter the season?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Make Believe Monday | Cozy core

Over the past nearly-eight months, I've bought three items of clothing: a suit, a jacket, and a shell (on my business trip to Vegas last month I realized I didn't have anything to wear under my suit! Packing fail).  This, of course, is due to my shopping diet, not my own self-control or any hesitation in shopping, although it could be argued that the diet has triggered these things to begin appearing.

In all honesty, I miss shopping. A lot. But then I look at what I have and the fact that I have not yet run out of clothing to wear (gasp!) and I remember why I'm on this diet. I fear that when March 1, 2011, hits, I will go crazy either at the mall or online (or both).  While I don't believe shopping is actually a bad thing (I'm just a sucker for a challenge), I wonder how I will react.

That said, I haven't exactly been a savings machine since I started the diet (it wasn't a financially-driven decision in the first place)...we had to replace our computer and printer, and got a new camera for my birthday. Plus I've purchased probably 5 pairs of shoes, 2-3 belts, a scarf, a bag, and handfuls of jewelry to make up for the lack of "clothing" (I know, it sounds like a technicality, but it is within the rules).  Swaps have been the main feeder of my want of clothing, and I feel super-fortunate that they come around several times a year in Sacramento.

Now to get back on topic, what has made me really think more about shopping lately is the change in weather.  It has been cold and rainy all weekend, and while I am definitely more suited for summer (I pull out the boots and down coats at around 72 degrees), I do love a lot of things about fall--warm baked goods, candlelight and scents, pies and desserts, blankets, boots, holidays, family, and did I mention food?  Unfortunately we discovered this weekend that our heater in our apartment is broken (or just not turning on for some reason) and I really wish I had one of these chunky vests to wear.  I did score a light vest at the latest swap, but it may take a while for that to make its debut (will definitely be a staple next summer).

This basic piece is cozy enough for a weekend trip to the pumpkin patch, or keep it at your desk to wrap around yourself without wrinkling up your sleeves.
This ruffled number dresses up a basic button-down + skirt/slacks combo and adds an extra layer for warmth.
I love this tuxedo-inspired piece, and check out the sassy lace back.

Tweed is an old office standby -- try this over just about anything (maybe even a sheath dress?).

The military trend is everywhere this year--in vest form it can dress up a long-sleeve tee and trouser jeans for a Casual Friday look.

The oversize collar and elegant draping here make a chunky knit more sophisticated.

Could you imagine yourself in one of these vests? What kind of vest would you rock at the office?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Executive Summary | Links for your weekend | 10.22.10

Colorful pens make me happy and my to-do list and calendar pretty.

Was it just me, or did every single morning this week feel like it should have been Friday already? This week has been mentally draining, and I am so excited to relax a little this weekend, get my hair cut (yay!), and see my in-laws (yes, I have awesome in-laws).  It's actually the third weekend in a row that we've had family visiting, but at least they won't be staying with us (my brother stayed with us the past two weekends on his visit from Houston).  And it's supposed to rain!  

On to the links! Los links!

What are your favorite quick and healthy meals to make?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Trench coat weather and new swap finds

office fashion blogger jcrew shirt swapped black pencil skirt calvin klein pumps rampage trench coat
office fashion blogger jcrew shirt swapped black pencil skirt calvin klein pumps
office fashion blogger jcrew shirt swapped black pencil skirt calvin klein pumps
office fashion blogger jcrew shirt swapped black pencil skirt calvin klein pumps
office fashion blogger jcrew shirt swapped black pencil skirt calvin klein pumps
office fashion blogger jcrew shirt swapped black pencil skirt calvin klein pumps

The Rundown:
Rampage trench - 2007 - $90 with gift card (similar)
J. Crew shirt - 2009 - $20 on sale (similar)
Black textured pencil skirt - 2010 - swapped (similar)
Calvin Klein pumps - 2007 - $70 (similar)
Grouse and Badger typewriter key ring - 2010 - $5 (available)
Black bead necklace - 2010 - swapped (similar)
Target men's sunglasses - 2008 - $17 (similar)

What worked:
Somehow I completely forgot to mention the amazing swap I went to this weekend in Sacramento! Let me tell you, ladies, I scored, and I scored big. There were full-on J. Crew suits, nice work pumps, and other work appropriate garb everywhere!  Ok, I exaggerate (a little), but I seriously bulked up my winter skirt supply, and this textured number is one of my fave new finds. It has no tag and no size, but I brought it home anyway and it fit perfectly! I'll be sharing some more of my finds as I wear them.

I really liked the mix of classic colors for this outfit--black, beige, and the pop of coral. And it felt good to wear, which is always important. This outfit could work in even the most conservative of offices.

What didn't:
For someone who is usually a sucker for office workwear staples, I felt a little staid in this.  I think the saving grace was the bright coral of the shirt and my penchant for this new skirt, but other than that I wasn't so bowled over. I need some new fun pumps, and maybe some more colorful jewelry. 

On a similar note--my hair is getting pretty scraggly. The last time I did anything with it (aside from bangs) was getting it cut above shoulder length in late January. I am not the every-six-week-hair-appt kind of girl (or even every-six-months kind of gal).  But I do have an appointment this weekend, so wish me luck!

Would this outfit fly in your office? Too conservative or just right?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

On productivity and working smarter

We only get eight hours in a workday (unless you're on a 9/80 schedule and then it's 10, or unless you're a workaholic that can't stand to leave at 5).  All too often these days, we're asked to work harder with no additional compensation.  So, short of completely giving up our lives and bringing a sleeping bag to work, how can we get a handle on a crazy workload?

Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule that will help everyone. But here are some tips that I've found to work for me over the years--I hope you will share your tips in the comments!

Time Management
  • Try to spend a chunk of time on a project before moving on to the next. It could be a half hour or three hours, but multi-tasking, while it sounds great in theory and looks nice on a resume, isn't necessarily your friend in the fight to fit more in your day.
  • If you have a project with a long lead time, try to get started early and do a little each day. This will make things much more manageable near the end (because you know by then that new projects will crop up, eating into your cram time).
  • While it's tempting to respond to every email the second that it hits your inbox, most people won't mind if you get back to them later in the day.  Sure, screen your emails to catch any that do warrant an immediate response, but don't worry about typing up a response to each and every one. Take another look as you're transitioning between projects--not too distracting and people will still get a pretty timely response.
Daily Duties
  • Use noise-reducing headphones (with or without music) to help tune out ambient noise. Even the sporadic sound of a nearby printer can disrupt a train of thought. I have a pair of these and I love them, even when I don't have the music on.
  • If you're not in a direct customer service role, fight the urge to jump up at any request that is made of you. Often it can wait.  But be civil about it, please?
  • Break down your to-do list into bite-sized chunks. Make one on paper--it will feel good to cross things off. Need some more to-do list tips?
  • This probably sounds a little silly to some, but watch what you're eating. We all know what food coma feels like and how it just knocks you out after lunch if you're not careful. If I know I need to be on my game around 2 p.m. (prime food coma time for me), I'll try to eat lighter for lunch. Sure I might get hungry later, but it's a lot easier to grab an extra snack than try to stay awake when all my blood is rushing to my stomach.
Keeping Cool
  • We're all under stress, but we don't have to let it take over.  When you find yourself panicking, take a few deep breaths and maybe a brief walk around the hall or to grab a hot chocolate.  We can only do as much as we can do, and as long as you're doing your best, something good can come (even if it's just the relief of getting something off your desk).
  • Speaking of quick breaks--take some.  Maybe not every hour, but once or twice a day (not counting lunch and bathroom breaks).  Say hi to someone.  Walk outside and around the block.  Most workplaces (in California at least) allow one 15-minute break for each 4 hours worked, which pencils to a 15-min morning break, 1-hr lunch, and 15-min afternoon break. I use these breaks to move my car (yippee) but at least it gets me out in the fresh air and gets my blood pumping from walking.
Things to Remember
  • Your coworkers are probably in the same boat.  While it's fine to commiserate (heck, sometimes you just have to), avoid playing the victim or overdramatizing. Coworkers can be a great support system or a drag--don't be the drag.
  • Talk to someone (preferably your supervisor) if you are feeling completely overwhelmed. A burned-out employee is a less productive employee, so if there is something that your boss can take off your plate that will enable you to complete everything else (by giving it to someone else or putting it on hold entirely), it is in his or her best interest to do so. Just make sure you deliver on the other projects to justify your ask.
  • Trust in yourself and your abilities.  I know that sounds super self-help, but seriously. You were hired to do your job because you have the skills.  Stop fretting about your ability to do you work (yes, I'm talking to you).
What tips do you have for staying productive at work?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sleeveless in the summer

office fashion blogger wearing ann taylor loft tie neck shell wide belt target a-line skirt enzo angiolini peep-toe pumps

So remember that little ol' challenge I did with a bazillion other bloggers? This is the outfit I wore on day 31.  In August. Yes, it is old, but I really liked it and never posted it. Plus I got home at 8:30 last night, so outfit pictures were out of the question. And this outfit is reminds me pleasantly of summer.  Fall decided to hit suddenly this weekend, and as much as I'm looking forward to scarves and boots, I'm missing the sun.  See how nice and bright it used to be in my apartment at 5:40 p.m.? Now the lights are all on.

The Rundown:
Ann Taylor Loft top - 2005 - $20? (similar)
Vintage belt - 2010 - $12 (similar)
Target skirt - 2007 - $6 (similar)
Nine West shoes - 2009 - $25 (similar)

What worked:
I loved the proportions and balance of this outfit--the high neck of the blouse balances out the bare arms and the longer skirt, the open toes. This was truly one of those thrown together in panic outfits, but was easily one of my faves.

What didn't:
I'm not quite sure of the wide belt gives me a waist or makes me look straighter. I wonder if I should have worn it higher? It certainly doesn't look bad where it it, but I wonder if moving the belt would improve the look (there is always room for improvement).

I'm still on a bit of a skirt kick, but thinking I'm going to need tights with them soon (it was only 70 degrees today--yes I am a wuss).  Still haven't figured out a good solution for outfit photos in the winter yet, which explains the posting of old outfits.  Any ideas?

What do you miss most about summer (fashion-related or otherwise)?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Make Believe Monday: My neck of the woods

We're FINALLY getting some fall weather up here in Northern California (it went from 90-something degrees on Wednesday to low 70s and rainy on Sunday).  I haven't quite pulled out all my winter clothes just yet, but I've definitely got bundling up and layering on my mind.  So the latest addition to my wish list is a tissue-thin turtleneck.

Turtlenecks have come a long way since they were super-popular when I was a child. While the chunky knits are still widely available, the tissue-thin modern versions are super sleek and perfect for layering under a blazer or dress.  With only five months left until I can shop again, I've got my eye on one (or more) of these.

Since these are so basic, I just picked a few that are available in various colors at some different price points.

For the office, I would pair this with just about anything...a pencil skirt, a dress, some tweed slacks, an embellished blazer...this really is a versatile basic.  Some styling ideas:

Workwear | Turtleneck + Dress

Workwear | Turtleneck + Dress by thenewprofessional featuring a chain necklace

Have you tried the tissue-thin turtleneck? How do you style it for work?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Executive Summary | Links for your weekend | 10.15.10

Birthday present from K. Isn't it pretty?

This week has been full of fun stuff for me.  After working late nearly every night for the past month, things have finally calmed back down to normal, although I'm still getting the hang of being a manager at work (expect to hear more about that from now on).  AND, my DIY post from this week got picked up on News 10 blogs and IFB's Links a la Mode.  So excited to catch up on sleep this weekend and play with the new camera a bit.

Let's get to some weekly reads!
  • Does your office celebrate Halloween with costumes? Ours does (no joke).  I'm pretty sure what I'm going to dress up as, but if you haven't decided on your costume yet, check out Jessica's tried-and-true ideas (most of them can be made appropriate for work). 
  • You know I'm into DIYs, and although Keira's DIY deodorant is a far cry from sewing, it sounds really easy and effective! Seriously considering giving this a try.
  • Miss Social's super-easy DIY flower haircomb could also be easily converted into a hair clip or attached to a headband. I love the summery feel of the striped fabric, too!
  • Can't get enough of good ol' spiral bound notebooks? Check out Alexander Wang's notebook clutch, featured on the Office Stylist blog.
  • I'm hoping to show you my home office soon (teaser!), but just a hint--it's nothing as cool as this hidden home office on Apartment Therapy. (This post is from September, but I should preface it by saying I keep up on all my blog reading except my design blogs, so I didn't actually read this until this week.)
  • In the same category as old-but-new-to-me-this-week posts is this awesome video of a guy's 89-square-foot house.  Yes, house.  He does live alone, but most guys I know are just as bad as gals at accumulating stuff.  
  • While I am grateful to have a full-time job, I often wonder what it would be like to freelance (an option I did for about a month after I moved to Sacramento, before I landed my current job).  USA Today explores a new trend in companies hiring more freelancers to save money, especially when the workload is light. Good idea or no? (I happen to really like my benefits.)
  • It's been a while since I posted a typography-related link. Or a map-related link.  The previously mentioned backlog in blog reading is the reason.  But this week I hit the motherlode: typographic maps!  The process is long and painstaking, so only Chicago and Boston are currently available. I'd snap up an NYC or LA one in a snap if it were available.
  • And of course, food. One of my favorite desserts is creme brulee (I even bought myself some ramekins and a torch, only to leave it sitting for the past six years with no gas in it).  This sweet vanilla quiche seems to capture a similar flavor and seems much easier to make.  Just add caramel?
What good reads have you seen in the blogosphere this week?

Links à la Mode: Sactown Represent

I was doubly please this week when seeing the Links à la Mode.  First off, my DIY made it on the list!  Second of all, the Sacramento ladies really represented this week.  Fellow Sac blogger Citizen Rosebud shared about backhanded compliments (hilarious), and former Sacramento resident (and now Angeleno) Elaine from Clothed Much shares her (very wise and informative) tips for bloggers. 

links a la mode

Coats on!

Edited by: Florrie Clarke of Intrinsically Florrie
Change is literally in the air, bringing with it the cold and rain that requires a wardrobe transition. I must confess to being ill prepared myself and as a consequence have been drenched in the freezing cold. Time to get out your boots and coat because fall is well and truly here. I may stick stubbornly to my floral dresses all year round, but the difference is in the layers. So I'm on the look out for fabulous tights and there are a couple of lovely posts to help me choose or even DIY my own style.

Links à la Mode: October 14th

  • Beautifully Invisible: The Art of Fashion Photography, as told by guest contributor Casee Marie
  • Best of bklyn: A guide to looking great on rainy days.
  • Broke & Beautiful: Kelli Murray proves that fashion and style are both forms of art.
  • Clothed Much: Blogging tips I've learned after a year and a half of blogging
  • Dramatis Personae: If I Were Another Person- What would you wear if you were someone else?
  • Forever Amber: My discovery of style blogging has also led to a discovery of places around my town that I didn't even know existed
  • Grit and Glamour: Friend Friday: Sticks, Stones, Comments, Criticism, and Kindness
  • Independent Fashion Bloggers: Bloggers Talk Monetizing Sites
  • Intrinsically Florrie: A backstage look at the London Season debutantes of 2010 at the Queen Charlotte's Ball, featuring Pronovias wedding dresses and Mikimoto jewelry.
  • Leia's Delights: Tutorial on how to enhance curly/wavy hair
  • Love Brown Sugar: Why spend your hard-earned dollars on trends that will fade away next season? A Guide To Thrifting Trends
  • Make the World a Prettier Place: A selection of beautiful vintage-inspired dresses
  • Malvestida: I came across the idea of making a photoshoot about two of the things I love the most: music and fashion.
  • Oranges and Apples: Beauty Essentials: Nivea Creme
  • Other Dutch Animals: Mad men and English women: reject the high maintenance of the past and do vintage your way
  • Skinny Purse: How To Wear Tights - Fall's Essential Foundation Garment
  • Shrimp Salad Circus: Get that extra mile out of your tights with seven fun and fashionable DIY projects!
  • Style Eyes: Sustainable Clothing - Progress by the UK high street and online retailers since the launch of the sustainable clothing action plan
  • The Citizen Rosebud: The story a a couple of backhanded compliments
  • The Coveted: Is it Fall Yet? What to wear in transitional weather.
  • The New Professional: DIY: Turn an A-line into a pencil skirt.
Shopbop Dresses; Jersey, Maxi, Mini, Black, Cocktail, One Shoulder, Work, & Sweater dresses

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Not too shabby

the new professional fashion blogger office appropriate target dress steve madden shoes workwear
the new professional fashion blogger office appropriate target dress urban outfitters double finger ring
the new professional fashion blogger office appropriate target dress steve madden shoes workwear
the new professional fashion blogger office appropriate target dress gap belt steve madden shoes workwear

The Rundown:
Target dress - 2009 - $17 (similar)
Gap belt - 2010 - $10 (similar)
Steve Madden mary-janes - 2003 - $20 (from mom; similar)
Urban Outfitters ring - 2010 - birthday gift (here)
Ball chain necklace (similar)

What worked:
Having read about Shabby Apple on many a blog over the past several months, I've completely fallen in love with their dresses.  Since I'm on a shopping diet, I can't really pull the trigger on any of them (plus they are pricier than I normally spend on clothing).  I bought this dress over a year ago, on sale at Target, and to be honest, it was one of those purchases that I bought mainly because it was on sale. It didn't really fit well, and it was too long. So I hemmed it myself (poorly, I might add), and wore it a few times.  Earlier this summer, I put it on and found that it actually didn't fit too badly (I gained a little weight, but who doesn't from time to time?), but that now it was too short for my preferences! So down went the hem (you can see a fold where it was in the first photo).  Doesn't it look like it could have been a Shabby Apple dress (except about 90% cheaper)?  I have been considering taking in the sides of the skirt to make it straight rather than flared, but for now I think I'll leave it as is.

I wore this outfit about two weeks ago--the day I debuted my double-finger ring at work. I was a bit nervous about how people would respond to it (it does make a pretty big statement), so I toned it down with some sweetness.  My mom bought me these mary janes when I was a sophomore or junior in college (can't remember), and I liked them mostly because the lining is pink. And I don't even like pink. But I love these shoes.  The red belt breaks up the expanse of black.

What didn't:
It was a bit of a pain to keep the belt inside the built-in waist detail of the dress, but other than that, I liked the outfit a lot.  What I don't like is how red my skin looks against a green wall.  Time to change photo locations.

Do you ever find that you want to change a piece of clothing right after you buy it, only to realize later that you prefer the original state of the garment?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Playing the office hostess

In my current stage of life, there is rarely a time where a friend isn't planning a wedding or having a baby.  Same goes for my workplace, where there are a slew of women aged early-20s to mid-30s.  In the past two years, there have been five babies and one wedding; there are currently three pregnant women and one who is engaged.  Every workplace addresses these types of life changes differently, and ours is actually in transition from exclusive, invitation-only events to more inclusive office-wide events.  So last month I got the special privilege of planning the first office-wide shower in about three years.  Now that I've survived the experience, I've got some tips.

  • It is usually incumbent upon the individual's closest work friends to plan something. Often someone from their department is also involved.
  • Not every office is into office-wide showers.  And that's okay.  Let the expectant mother (or father) decide their own guest list, and invite their partner if it's co-ed.  If there is an office policy (formal or informal), try to respect it.  Our office prefers office-wide showers.
  • If you are having an office-wide shower, try a conference room. If it isn't open to all, go off site.  No need to let them see you all having fun if they weren't invited.
  • Timing can be tricky.  From my experience, office-wide showers work best mid-day (since people might have engagements before and after work, while more selective off-site events should be held after work (or on a weekend if you so desire).
  • If you're inviting everyone, try an all-staff email.  Just one.  Don't club people over the head with this kind of stuff. 
  • If you want a clear RSVP count, feel free to use Evite or other online invitation system. 
  • Include all the basic information: date, time, location.
  • While I typically adhere to the whole no-registries-on-invitation thing, I'm a bit more lax when it comes to email.  I include the information in small text at the very end.  That way it's not staring them in the face but if they really want the info, they can find it.
  • If you are doing a group gift, tell folks who to contact and a deadline for opting in.
  • If you're having an office-wide shower, this can be tricky.  You don't want to make people feel obliged to buy a gift for someone they hardly know.  I recommend indicating on the email invitation that gifts are not required.  
  • A group gift is a great way to a) get a larger gift, b) allow folks to contribute less, for example if they're not close with the honoree, and c) avoid any awkward gift-giving situations (for example, plastic toys for a very environmentally conscious couple).  This can be a difficult undertaking...some ways to make it go more smoothly.
    • Select a gift beforehand.  Guesstimate the number of people that may be interested and multiply by about $10 for quick reference.  I go with $10 because there are some people who will give $5, and some who will give $15 or $20.  Go with a number that you feel appropriate for your coworkers.  
    • Let people know what the group gift will be.  Include the caveat that if funds are shy, you will choose an alternate, and if funds go beyond, you will either purchase additional registry gifts or a gift card (so nothing goes to waste).
    • Give folks an approximate amount to contribute, but let them be the final judge on how much they can afford.  When I did this, I usually said, "around $10 per person, or however much you're comfortable with."  Knowing that $10 is about average, noone gave less than $5, and several people gave more.
    • Make sure everyone who contributed signs the card. If people are absent, put their name on it.  They helped give the gift, they should receive any thanks as well.
    • Make sure to collect the money before you purchase the gift.  At least to the point where if no one else contributed afterward, you'd be comfortable footing the remainder of the bill.  
  • Don't force the people of honor to open their gifts in public.  Check with the honorees beforehand to see if they have a preference and help guard it for them. 
Food & Decor
  • A mid-day shower is the easiest for food, especially if people have already eaten lunch.  Try a veggie platter, crackers and cheese, and of course some dessert! If you're planning it with a few people, split up the responsibility.
  • If you're in the conference room, keep the decor minimal.  A few balloons, maybe a streamer or two, and a cute banner will suffice.  Pool together with some of your other coworkers and see what you have at home that may work.
  • If you're crafty, try making some finishing touches with whatever you may have at home.  For my boss's baby shower last month I used some cardstock leftover from my friend's bridal shower and brass chads leftover from my own wedding to make a "Congratulations" banner
Have you ever had to plan a shower at the office or been on the receiving end of one? What tips do you have?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Inspired by...Vogue (and Style Underdog!)

What I wished I'd worn.
What I actually wore. The framed bag would definitely have been a better choice.

The Rundown:
Corduroy blazer - 2010 - swapped (similar)
J. Crew blouse - 2009 - $20 (similar)
Old Navy trouser jeans - 2010 - $12 (similar)
Gap belt - 2010 - $10 (similar)
Target shoes - 2010 - $7 on clearance (here)
Nancy Rosetta circle ring - 2010 - gift (here)
Forever 21 chain bracelet - 2010 - $5 (similar)
Vintage framed bag - 2010 - $12 (similar)
H&M leather mini-duffel - 2007 - $45 (similar)

Although I no longer subscribe to 11 monthly magazines, I do still love the feel of the glossy pages between my fingers. Heck, I even made it my career (well, some of the time).  Fashion mags, like fashion blogs, continually inspire me, and I ripped this photo out of Vogue several months ago.  It's been a while since I intentionally based my outfit on a magazine clip, and I have plenty sitting around just waiting for some use.

 Vogue, May 2010, Americans in Paris

Isn't it a great look?  I sure think so. So did Style Underdog. She featured her take on the look last week, which reminded me of my little treasure hidden in my file folder of magazine cutouts. Since the office is pretty empty this week (it feels like half the organization is off at this annual conference we sponsor), I figured I could work in some jeans on a Monday.  For those with stricter dress codes, save this for Casual Friday.

What worked:
I love that this outfit is super-basic without using any trace of black, which is so common in the office.  The colors (tan, blue, red, stripes) and textures (denim, corduroy, leather, suede) combine without looking over-the-top.  The layers really helped keep me warm (or at least not freezing) in my icebox of an office. And can you say comfy?

What didn't:
Nothing in particular.  I wonder what it would look like if I belted outside the blazer next time...the fit is a bit baggy so I think the cinching would set off the trouser legs more.  Oooo, ideas!

Have you ever copied a look from a magazine verbatim (or close)?  Which magazines or blogs do you get the most inspiration from?

p.s. Like the pics? K (plus my b-day presents from his parents and grandfather) got me a new camera for my birthday, which of course, he gets to use to take my outfit pics. Maybe it's just me, but the photos look better already, even though we're still shooting on auto.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Make Believe Monday | Wedge heels

Ah, the wedge heel.  A comfortable alternative to its sleek cousin, the stiletto, the wedge gets a bad rap for its perceived casualness. But recent buzz has reinvigorated the popular heel in the workplace, and there are more beautiful wedges out there than ever before.  That's my latest addition to the wish list: a pair of comfy and classy wedge pumps.

Still though, not all wedges are created for the office.  Some things to look for when picking a pair of wedges for workwear:
  • Since the heel is a little more casual, pick a shoe with a dressier upper.  A classic pump shape or peep-toes will help your heels go further in the office.  Keep your wedge sandals for the weekend.
  • When it comes to material, choose a wedge that is wood (preferably stained or painted) or covered in same material as the upper. Raffia or woven straw styles are too casual for this use.
  • One of the great things about wedges is that you can get away with a lot more in height.  So go as high as your heart pleases and your heels can handle.
I found a few nice options online, so here's a quick rundown.

I love the classic shape of these pumps and the feminine blush color.

These peep-toe Mary Janes are a nice twist on a traditional conservative shoe, but the demure shape make it more than safe enough for the office.

These peep-toes have a great buckle detail and a spring-like color--perfect for a dreary winter day.

I love the straps and colors of this number, but it is still covered enough to be worn into the office with a nice pencil skirt and cardi.  Plus, it transitions well to the weekend.

I love the classic shape here, and the rich color + soft suede make this seem super-comfy.

How do you style these without going too casual in the office? Here are some ideas.

Workwear | Wedge Heels + Dress

Workwear | Wedge Heels + Dress by thenewprofessional featuring a shift dress

Are wedges part of your workwear shoe rotation? How do you style them?