In a July 2010 global survey conducted on by Thomson Reuters/Ipsos on Workplace Attire, 2/3 (66%) of respondents said that senior managers or individuals that run an organization or department should always be more dressed up than their employees. If this is the case, do you know how your summer wardrobe is being perceived? Is it considered too casual? Will your current summer picks get you to that senior level you striving for?
If you are not sure about the answers to the above questions, here are some tips to help guide you in understanding what is considered too casual for the office.
1. Decipher Company Dress Code Policy
First and foremost, be sure that you are familiar with your company’s dress code policies. Many companies have clear policies outlined in the employee guidebook as to what is considered appropriate vs. inappropriate for the office. Some offices are more conservative than others so it’s important to understand the varying degrees of acceptance. Don’t “assume” you understand simply by checking out what your peers are wearing.
2. Find Your Fabulous Fabrics
Select natural fibers for summer wardrobe pieces that can allow for breathability and staying cool. Good fabric choices: Cotton, Seersucker light weight jerseys and tropical weight wools. Avoid (as much as possible) clothing that is made of synthetic fibers such as polyester, spandex, acrylic, rayon, nylon, etc. If you opt to wear linen be sure that it’s not on a day when you have an important meeting. Linen is a wonderful summer fabric but is known to wrinkle very easily.
3. Don’t Over Expose Yourself
55% of employers consider tank tops and exposed undergarments as the biggest work-wear mishap in an office (flip flops is the second).¹ Summer apparel is lighter in color and lighter in the weight of fabrics so clothing can sometimes be see through so it’s important to factor this in for the workplace. Invest in undergarments such as slips or camisoles to help provide more coverage. For light colored pants (white, beige, etc.) be sure you choose brands that have a lining. Avoid: Plunging Necklines, bare shoulders and back, and if you are in a conservative office environment, don’t go sleeveless. However, there are great summer dresses that are sleeveless so be sure to bring a cardigan to cover up during the day and take off for the evening.
4. Pay Attention to Your Communication Style
Workplaces tend to become more “casual” in the summertime but that doesn’t mean your communication skills should become less formal. Office environments are a place of business and how one communicates should always reflect polish and professionalism when dealing with colleagues, managers, clients, prospects, and vendors.
5. Put Your Best Foot Forward
Sandals are a wonderful option in the summer but should be kept to after work hours or weekends. Instead opt for closed toe pumps or if your office is less conservative, choose a nice peep toe that isn’t exposing much of your foot. Avoid: Flip flops – yes even during the commuting. You never know who you might run into before you get to your desk. Also avoid wedges, strappy sandals, espadrilles and for all those that know me, I need to include the “croc!”
6. Handle Your Hygiene
Yes it’s true, we sometimes need a little bit more help in this department especially in the summer months. If you tend to get “over heated” in the summer be sure to carry around a travel size stick of deodorant so you are not put in an uncomfortable position during a meeting. For women, I suggest investing and carrying face blotters so you aren’t caught off guard with an ultra shiny face in the office.
What other types of summer wardrobe missteps have you seen in your office? Would love to hear!
¹Business Casual Causes Confusion by Stephanie Armour, USA Today
With temperatures in the teens this week, it’s all about bundling up and staying warm. However, you don’t want to add to much bulk or girth especially for New Yorkers who have to squeeze into a crowded subway car! Sometimes I see people walking around that have the “I can’t put my arms down” look (The Christmas Story) and they definitely look uncomfortable.
I picked some cozy, comfortable and chic pieces that you can add to your winter wardrobe. Who says you can’t be stylish and warm at the same time!
Upper Left: Vince Camuto Fabi boot | Bottom Left: Verdure Rapids Scarf | Top Center: Ralph Lauren Cashmere Gloves | Center: A Coat of Note | Upper Right: Newsboy Hat with Zipper Flower | Bottom Right: Modcloth Striped Cardigan
Woman in Lace Bonnet - Photo credit: Getty Images
Have you noticed the invasion of lace found in stores lately? It’s quite the fashion trend these days and can be found on everything from dresses, tops, leggings, to shoes, handbags, headbands and more.
While lace (back in the 15th century) was considered a luxury fabric and a sign of prestige, once the lace machine was invented (19th century) and easily accessible to all, it lost its unique appeal. However, many countries today still invest in the hand making of lace and it is now once again revered as a luxury fabric and one can pay a handsome fee for a garment made of lace. One only has to look at a $10,000 price tag of a Vera Wang hand made lace wedding gown to understand the true value of this fabric.
Fortunately, due to technology advances in manufacturing, we can enjoy wearing lace but at affordable prices and in modern and chic styles.
Here are some of my favorite looks in skirts, tops, shoes and dresses. With the holidays just around the corner, lace is a great choice to celebrate tradition and look stylish at the same time!
From left to right: TopShop Lace Dress, DVF Leather Lace, Spinning Lace Dress by Anthropologie
From left to right: Free People Aphrodite Jersey Top, Ann Taylor Laced Tier Shell, Tracey Reese Silk Lace Blouse
From left to right: Elle Tahari Laced Trimmed Sequin Skirt, Forever 21 Contrast Lace Skirt, Ann Taylor Metallic Lace Skirt
Lace Inspired Shoes
From left to right: Giuseppi Zannotti Lace Silk Peep Toe, Ann Taylor Ankle Lace Bootie, Oscar de la Renta Lace Ankle Boot
It is almost NEVER the case that I can walk into a clothing store, fall in love with my purchases and NOT have to make a pit stop at my tailor. However, when I visited the wonderfully talented petite designer, Henrietta Pertruz’s showroom, this is exactly what happened! I purchased three beautifully made wardrobe pieces and skipped a trip to the tailor!
Being 5 ft. tall in stocking feet has always presented challenges in the wardrobe department. Often, petite collections are a bit dated, proportions are never quite right, inventory is sparse and quality of fabrics is subpar. So I cannot clearly articulate the sheer joy of discovering Henrietta’s clothing line geared for the 5’4 and under woman. Her collection is made here in NYC, the fabrics are gorgeous, fit is perfect and pieces are timeless and modern!
Here are a few photos of my fall purchases (photos courtesy of Henrietta)
The Molly dress "unbelted"
The Molly blouse paired with the Day to Night Jen Trousers
The Molly Dress Out & About at New Jersey Fashion Week!
Molly and me
The Molly "belted"
Catherine Schuller and me before our fashion show - Photo courtsey of Madison Plus
Being a “special” size has always presented unique challenges for me in developing a wardrobe that helped achieve my personal and professional goals. I learned at a very young age, 3 important strategies in building a “workable” wardrobe: planning, tailoring and shopping my shape. So I was thrilled Lord & Taylor invited me to speak about these “strategies” in celebration of their newly (and gorgeous) renovation of their flagship store in Manhattan. I along with my colleague, Catherine Schuller (former plus size model & now Image Expert), presented “The Long & The Short of It; Special Sizes Figure&Fit Shape Shopping.” The premise of the presentation was based on the fact that petites and plus are now on the same floor and although these sizes are at different ends of the spectrum, our wardrobe challenges are very similar.
Whether you are a petite or plus, there are frequent challenges we face when shopping so our presentation and fashion show focused on the following issues and explained how to dress for each.
1. Long waisted, short legs or short waisted long legs – The goal is to find the overall proper proportions for your body type.
- Short waisted with longer legs – you want to create the illusion of your waist being lower. How do you do that? Think long over short; A tunic paired with skinny jeans or leggings. Long blazer over short skirt – these wardrobe techniques help create the long illusion of a longer waist which brings the leg and waist into proportion.
Petite model to the left wearing long blazer over tunic paired with leggings creates the illusion of a longer waist. Photo courtsey of Madison Plus
2. Camouflaging the mid section – The goal is to draw the line away from the middle section to the face (with open necklines or detail around the top of the dress) or to the legs with slits or hem detail. Moreover, all over pattern or print is a great way to force the eye to not look at one specific area.
Petite model wearing an all over muted print dress that will help distract the eye from resting on one place. Photo courtesy of Cynthia Vincent
3. Volume Dressing – The goal is to select clothing that complements your frame and height versus overwhelming your overall body shape. For petite women, it’s important to look for apparel details in smaller proportions that complement your body frame such as smaller lapel widths, epaulettes, belts, buttons, buttons & sleeve widths. Moreover, choose light to medium fabrics vs. heavier chunky fabrics so that you don’t add “bulk” to your petite stature.
Petite Model on the left wearing proper volume for her frame. Faux fur vest on Plus size model wouldn't work for her. Photo courtesy of Cynthia Vincent
4. Accessorizing – The goal for choosing accessories is to ensure you select items that are the right scale for your body. The body scale of most women 5 ’4 and under is small to medium so it’s important to select wardrobe and accessories that compliment your scale vs. overpower your scale. The key in selecting accessories is to practice moderation! Because your scale is more small to medium, accessories should small to medium as well and if you want to go bold, keep it to one accessory as bold and rest smaller.
This smaller Michael Kors handbag is a better accessory choice for a petite body frame. Photo courtesy of Lord & Taylor.
This large Buddha Bag is more appropriate for a larger body frame. Photo courtesy of Lord & Taylor
So, the next time you go shopping in the petite department, remember this tidbit: the goal is to create the illusion of longer legs and creating a vertical line from head to toe!
While many style sites and magazines are touting the fact that “kitten heels” are back, I can only say that they have never left. Kitten heels are a classic and although today’s styles have been updated, they have and will continue to be a crowd pleaser amongst most women.
The kitten heel is defined as a heel height between 1.5” to 2” with slight curve setting the heel in from the edge of the shoe which make this heel more manageable and comfortable for women.
How do you wear them? Quite easily. However, keep in mind that the shoe itself projects a very sophisticated and elegant image so I would not pair them with a micro mini or short dress.
Who can wear them? Everyone! Yes, this heel can be worn by anyone. However, for the petite flower (and this includes me) I would suggest opting for the higher heel with a pointed toe since this will elongate the leg and make you appear taller. Lastly, be sure to avoid ankle or cross straps as well as a round toe because it will shorten the length of your leg. As for the fuller figure gal, it’s important to select an option that helps balance your overall figure. Avoid wearing a super tiny heel but instead opt for a thicker heel.
Good options for petites:
Good options for curvy women
Options for weekend looks
It’s hard to believe that fall is officially one month away, particularly since summer weather didn’t kick in until late July. However, I must admit that I wait for fall with gleeful anticipation as it is my favorite season. I love all the rich warm colors, soft fabrics, and the option to layer with interesting accessories.
I will repeat my mantra as I always do when I report on the season’s trends: Before you head to the stores to start purchasing your new items, clear and clean out your closet to better understand what you REALLY need this season. Once you know what you need, make a list and be sure to take it with you when you head to the stores so you can shop smart.
Theme for Fall Trends
- 80’s Influence – I know many of you are cringing right now because this time period isn’t exactly known for fabulous fashions but rest assured there are only a few “themes” being adopted for this season: bold patterns, neon brights and leggings.
- Showing Shoulder – emphasizing the shoulder takes on many forms this season and one surprising way is the resurgence of shoulder pads! Shoulder pads are a great way to provide balance to the female silhouette. However, be careful with scale as you don’t want the shoulder to overwhelm your frame. In addition to the “strong” shoulder look, one shoulder dresses and tops are very fashion forward.
- Leather Love – much ado about leather this fall. Everything from bomber jackets, blazers, pants, leggings and sheath dresses, leather has found its way into almost every category.
- Architecturally Inspired Attire – strong powerful dressing is a key theme this season and a great way to illustrate this trend is through specific lines and points in clothing. I personally love this trend.
- Shimmer and Shine – metallics and sequins shine this season. Although metallics have been a popular trend for a few seasons, this fall, copper and gun metal are the new twist. Sequin also makes a comeback and is introduced as a daytime option. However, be sure to not wear sequins head to toe. It should be considered chic office wear NOT night club wear. Best way to wear this trend is to pair with a more conservative and layered look.
- Off the Chain – chains are everywhere! From accessories, to shoes, to apparel, chains are draped on everything this season.
- Color, Prints and Patterns – my favorite color red is big this season and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Other prominent colors this fall are beautiful rich jewel tones. Animal prints and plaid are also prevalent this fall.
This above trend list is designed to help guide you on what’s popular this season. Don’t become overwhelmed with trying to adopt ALL of them but instead take a few that you feel represent your unique style and incorporate into your wardrobe.
While some trends are worth investing in, some are not. This season’s “vintage worn” denim look is one that can be easily replicated at home without spending a lot of money.
Stop by your local hardware store, Home Depot, or Lowes and pick up sand paper. All you need to do is rub the sandpaper on areas that you want to have that worn look and you are ready to go. If you want to take the worn look further and go for an authentic “tear” look, grab a cheese grater and vigorously rub where you want the tear to appear.
Here’s an example of the vintage denim look
Photo courtesy of Gap (jean $69.50)
1. Shop for fit, not size – for every U.S. size there is approximately 12 variations in that size and this does not take into account the variations in color dyes which can alter the size (some shrinkage can take place).
2. Practice the 80/20 rule – 20% of the clothes in your wardrobe are worn 80% of the time, so reverse this statistic and start wearing the other 80% that has been lying dormant in your closet. It will not only preserve your favorite pieces that you’ve been wearing repeatedly but also give you new options to wear.
3. Streamline your wardrobe – donate articles of clothing you know you will never wear again. This will help you see more clearly those items you forgot you had because you couldn’t see everything.
4. Separate your suits – mix up your suits and use each piece as a separate ensemble. Pair your suit bottom with a sweater and a different textured type of jacket (i.e., leather or corduroy blazer). Alternatively, pair suit jacket with your denim jeans for a modern casual look.
5. Use friends & family – borrow or swap clothing and accessories with family or friends. This helps to inject new pieces into your wardrobe without spending any money.
6. Be kind to your feet – take footwear to get polished and if necessary, resoled. It is less expensive to get your shoes/boots fixed than to go out and buy a new pair.
7. Invest in new accessories – purchase scarves, handbags or fashion jewelry in the newest trends or colors to help keep you current and modern looking. Purchasing a few new accessories is less expensive than investing in a whole new outfit.
8. Care for your fabrics - don’t feel the need to take everything to the dry cleaners all the time. Many dry cleaning solutions break down fabrics quickly. Be sure to immediately remove dry cleaner plastic wrap when the garment comes back from cleaners; leaving the plastic wrap on breaks down the garment’s fabric more rapidly.
9. Imitation is the best form of flattery – get ideas about how to pull together outfits, colors, and patterns by taking notice of store mannequins or visiting retail websites.
10. Befriend your tailor – find a great tailor in your area and be sure to take any clothing to him/her for alterations. Proper fit is everything and you will look polished and professional at all times.