Thursday, July 31, 2008

Red at the Office

Outfit details: Dress, Three Dots; tights, DKNY; Vince Camuto
Why it works: Red is my color, obviously. And red at the office can work, if you keep in mind a couple of things:
a) Red is a powerful color, so it will dominate whatever you have on; don't wear anything else that will compete with it, like animal print or another bright color;
b) red with neutrals is always a good office look- here, the grey tights and black shoes compliment the dress, but don't distract from it; and
c) fit is everything- this dress fits wells, gives me a (faux) waist, and hits at the knee.
What it needs: I think it's perfect the way it is. Jewelry would been to distracting or just get lost.
Dress it up: change shoes and add a cocktail ring.
Dress it down: switch out the tights and heels for flats and a bare leg.
This dress is a great transitional piece; I am wearing to an event I am attending tonight, and it will be just as great there as at the office!
P.S. All photos of me are courtesy of Sean, amateur photographer extraordinaire.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Happy Wednesday!

Outfit details: Top, Nordstrom. Skirt, Banana. Tights, DKNY. Shoes, Nine West.

Why it works: The printed top is fun and feminine, but it gets a little more serious paired with the straight black skirt and tights. The deep pink/purple shoes are a cool contrast with the tights. And the colors of the top are complimented by the shade of the shoes because they are the same tone.

What it needs: A long, delicate necklace or a couple of bangles, perhaps?

Dress it up: A pointy-toed black pump would push this right into the Serious Work Look category.

Dress it down: Grey tights and flats would make this a little more funky. Or switch the skirt and tights for skinny jeans.

If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you can actually see the cute new shoes!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Reasons Why Certain Men Shouldn't Wear Facial Hair at the Office (not intended to apply to the 1 in 50 men who actually can pull it off):

10. The Unabomber didn't get promoted either, did he?

9. 70s porn star 'staches do not come across as particularly office-appropriate.

8. Sometimes it's plain just creepy.

7. Baby-faced + beard = pre-teen trying to get into an R-rated movie.

6. Do you really want to look like you can't groom yourself?

5. Razors and shaving cream: fun!

4. that DIRT on your lip?!

3. Stubble is not pretty in the office, even for one day.

2. Bald can be beautiful; bald with a long beard, not so much.

1. Accessories for men include shoes, belts, cuff links and the occasional ring. Facial hair is not on the list.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


My sister has a love of handbags that borders on ridiculous; she is truly the bag lady in the family, while I am most clearly the (self-proclaimed, of course) shoe queen. So li'l sis, this one is for you.

Sooo...handbags at the office...

I have made it clear that backpacks are unacceptable, right? You are just too cute for that Jansport.

Office-appropriate day bags are everywhere, so choosing only one may be difficult. My first consideration when choosing one is whether it is truly going to work with most of my professional outfits. If you tend to wear a lot of color, then a neutral bag, like the above delightful shopper might be best for you. If you tend on the more neutral side of clothing, I recommend something colorful and fun, like the cool red tote below.

Another consideration is whether it will hold all of my crap every day. We're talking a book and magazine and iPod for the commute, wallet, keys, iPhone (I know it seems redundant but I don't use it for music, whatever), chapstick, etc. In order to avoid being one of those people on the train with 4 bags (seriously people, there is no reason why you need a purse, work bag, gym bag, and lunch bag- CONSOLIDATE for god's sake), get one that fits what you will realistically bring to and from work with you every day.

Durability is key, since you will be hauling your bag with you every day. I prefer leather in the fall and winter and canvas in the spring or summer, just to change things up (plus Tory Burch makes amazing canvas totes, just look at the fabulous printed one above), but leather is a great way to go year round. Note that choosing a non-leather option does not give you license to get anything plastic, a bag with a juvenile print (your skull print does not make you look bad ass, it makes you look 14), or ANYTHING in camo. Honestly, just because Dior decides to do camo does not make it pretty or classy- it is simply both ugly AND expensive.

One thing I typically do when deciding on a new work bag is to wear my current one while shopping and then placing all of my day to day crap in the potential new bag (I will usually notify a salesperson so they understand why it looks like I'm moving into a bag I haven't even purchased). If it all fits well, there are enough pockets, it feels weighted properly, etc., then it is a contender. If not, I move on.

You should also consider whether you want the bag to fit over your shoulder when you are wearing bulky sweaters or jackets. If you do, be sure the drop in the handle (distance between the top of the handle and the top of the bag) is large enough to accommodate.

One quick note on size: all accessories should be in proportion to your stature. If you are petite, a gigantic tote will overwhelm you. If you are taller, broader, etc., a tiny purse just looks ridiculous. A mid-sized day bag will work for most people, with slight size adjustments to be considered if you are on one end of the spectrum or the other.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Hair, everywhere

In honor of my haircut this weekend (pics above, woo hoo!), I am discussing what is completely unacceptable hair or hair accessories for the office...

Scrunchies: No freaking way. Do not even TELL me that you own them, much less that you wear them anywhere except MAYBE to the gym.

Plastic barrettes: Just because your daughter/li'l sis/crazy aunt wears them, doesn't mean you can.

Colors that do not occur in nature: I'm not talking about some extra raspberry highlights, I'm talking about full on blue. Not only is it unprofessional, it screams identity crisis.

Dirty hair: This one is open to interpretation. Dirty is a relative term and I do not advocate washing your hair every day if your stylist told you not to. But when it starts to smell from more than a foot away, get a damn clue.

Helmet head: If you use half a can of Aqua net everyday, I have a message for you: the 80s are over and they aren't coming back. I'm all about keeping your hair in place, but if it's crispy, it's all wrong.

P.S. My hair, above, is by the talented Noel at Artbeat Salon in Berkeley.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Accessories Love

Ahh, accessories. They always fit. They make us look sparkly. And, above all, they are the best way to express individuality and creativity in what you wear, especially at work.

Many of the women in my life have influenced my love (and by love, I mean obsession) with accessories, so I'd like to take a moment to thank my stylish mom, my fabulous aunts, and my cute-as-pie li'l sis. Thanks for my love of handbages, shoes, and sparkly things.

Ok, enough.

I am listing here the ten accessories all women should have for work...

1. A cocktail ring. Seriously, nothing says fun and funky like a great ring. The style and color and stone(s) are up to you. For god's sake, do not wear anything plastic.

2. A long, delicate gold or silver necklace. By long, I mean close to, but not beyond, your belly button. And by delicate I mean with small beads or charms. Again, I must forbid plastic.

Good for layering over each other, they can also be doubled up to look like two shorter necklaces.

3. Pearls. Yes, even I own them, though they aren't my "thing." You can go delicate or chunky,
and you don't have to stick to white. But if you need a classy and classic look, they are it.

4. Bangles. Wood, silver, fake gold, whatever. Just run to your nearest store and get a set you like. They can make even the most boring ensemble seem fun.

5. Red shoes. Yeah, I've read all the lists of basics you are supposed to own, blah, blah blah. I don't deny the necessity of black shoes, but I doubt that there are many working women without at least several pairs of neutral shoes already.

So, get a pair of red ones. Or yellow, or green, or purple. Just get a pair in a fairly conservative style (closed toes, relatively unadorned, and not 5 inches high), and you will have something fabulous to wear with all of your neutrals. Woo hoo.

6. Pretty flats. I heart my heels, but flats are a great way to break up the monotony and give your tootsies a rest. Also, you can get away with slight higher skirts the lower your shoes are.

7. A sturdy day bag. If you are not a full time student, a backpack is no longer acceptable. If you are still carrying one, get over it immediately. Yes, even if it's leather. A day bag, my darlings, is a larger tote or other style that will hold all of your essentials every day. Note that this is not the bag you take with you on a date or to the bar.

More details on work-appropriate bags later, of course.

8. Leather jacket. If you don't eat or wear animals, more for me. If you do eat and wear animals (tasty! pretty!) get a great leather jacket. This is one area where I am adamant that you buy the best quality you can afford. And the cut of the jacket is everything; if it doesn't fit you well, it doesn't matter how expensive it was. Boxy is BORING, people.

9. Great sunglasses. Protect your eyes and look cool. Obviously.

10. Sleek trainers for your commute. If you must wear a different pair of shoes than your actual work shoes to and from your bus/train/plane, you must eschew a bulky gym shoe at all costs. If I see one more woman in a black skirt, pantyhose, white socks and grubby Nikes, I will be sick. Flip flops are rarely any better, and they are inappropriate in the city.

Where to buy and how to wear all of the above coming soon... Suggestions?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Just a VISION in neutrals...

There are some people who can work neutrals like a tranny on a catwalk. Others use them as a lousy excuse for an outfit (do I have to mention the black suit and beige top again?!). I love neutrals, on their own or paired with other colors.

Outfit details: Top, Bloomies. Skirt, Banana. Shoes, Vince Camutto. Bangles, Ambience. Necklace, H&M.

Why it works: A subdued color palette almost always works for the office. The puffy-sleeved feminine top balances out a more tailored straight skirt. The wide waistband hides a tummy (note to my trainer: I'm working on it, I swear). The peep toed shoes are just a teeny bit sexy, which is usually fine at work, especially in a neutral.

What it needs: Thank god for accessories. This outfit would be pretty boring without something shiny or colorful. I went for shiny.

Dress it up: Throw on a structured (read: NOT BOXY) jacket in a coordinating neutral, and you have summer interview or business meeting material.

Dress it down: Bolder accessories or flats could take this to the weekend.

I will wear some color in my next one, I promise.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


It's time to discuss undergarments. I know that everyone feels a little...itchy about this topic, because it's kind of personal, but get over it. There are several things we must all keep in mind when getting dressed in the morning:

a. VPL (visible panty line) is never acceptable.
If you do not own a thong and can't possibly stand the idea of one, get boy shorts. I have found that Jockey makes some very comfortable thongs. Boy shorts ride up my arse (TMI, I know), so I avoid them. I also know a few people who opt out of underwear entirely, and that is perfectly acceptable as long as no one can tell.

b. Bras are not for show.
If your bra doesn't fit, BELIEVE ME, people can tell. If you haven't been fitted, just go to any store that sells bras (VS, Nordies, Macy's) and do it already. Bras are working garments, in the most literal sense of the word. Their job is to hold your girls in place comfortably. By "comfortably," I mean comfortably for you AND people with eyes. And by "in place'" I mean not up to your chin or at your belly button. Uniboob, side boob, and quadruple boobs (you KNOW who you are) are all gross, period. The wrong bra can ruin the best outfit.

Yeah, yeah, lacy and pink is soooo cute, but it's flat out lumpy under your thin knit top. Do yourself and everyone else a favor and buy one simple nude and one simple black bra. Save the lace for after hours.

c. Slimmers and shapers are your friends.
Seriously, even Jennifer Garner wears them. Unless you have 5% body fat, everyone can benefit from at least one shaper under some of their clothes.

This is not about what you weigh- this is about your clothes fitting well and being able to pull off styles you wouldn't otherwise get away with at the office. My best example is a wrap dress that I own- the dress by itself is pretty clingy, but with a little shaper, it becomes appropriate, though a little on the vixen side of professional.

4. Keep tights and hose tasteful, please.
White or cream tights are very hard to pull off without looking like you are 6 years old or an 80s throwback (I heart the 80s, but not everything has to come back around, people). So just avoid them unless you are VERY adept at colored tights and how to work them into an outfit.

Speaking of colored tights, I love them- in navy, olive green, grey, and eggplant. I cannot get on board with magenta, red, baby blue, or whatever else the fashion industry is trying to sell you. Just because someone is selling something, does not mean you have to buy it. Yes, even if it's on sale. What you wear on your time outside work is the subject of a different blog, but colored tights in anything but a neutral or pseudo-neutral are just not appropriate for work.

Some ideas:
If you are a tights/hose newbie, stick to neutral colors with close toed shoes or boots.
For an intermediate fashionista, try a pseudo-neutral (olive, eggplant) with an peep-toed, substantial, neutral shoe.
For those of you who are wise in the ways of tights & hose, play with neutral tights and an open-toed, fun colored shoe.
Hose, however, should always be as close to your skin color as possible and NEVER worn with anything but a close-toed shoe. Seriously, if I see one more woman wearing hose and open toes, I will be sick.

What are your best sources for undergarments?

P.S. How many fashion nos can you spot in the above picture? I see at least six...

Top Ten Tuesday

I think every Tuesday should involve a Top Ten list, not only because it's alliterative, but also because it's fun. So, today's is...

TOP TEN REASONS WHY WE DO NOT WEAR CROCS (under any circumstances):

10. We do not pull 14 hour shifts in a hospital.

9. Shoes you can hose off are just unnatural.

8. Sherbet cardis? Yes. Sherbet foam shoes? Hell no.

7. Comfortable does not have to be nauseating.

6. Just because you call something a ballet flat doesn't mean it actually is one.

5. We heart a blog devoted to hatred of them:

4. They can ruin even the HOTTEST of men or women and their outfits. (Crocs with Seven jeans? Really?!)

3. Any shoes that have charms you can attach to their HOLES are completely wrong. Are we in 3th grade, people?

2. FYI: Shoes you can buy for kids do not belong in adult sizes. And vice versa.

1. Self-respecting professional women do not wear foam shoes. Period.

P.S. is having their 3 for $99 sale on shoes.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday's child is full of grace

...or something. Happy Monday.

Outfit details: Pants, Anthropologie. Brown tee, Banana. Cream cardi, Banana. Shoes, Stuart Weitzman (they are ruby red patent leather, but you can't see them)

Why it works: The pants are tailored and pinstriped, keeping them fairly conservative for the office. The cardigan dresses up the tee and pulls some attention to my (non-existent) waist.

What it needs: this outfit actually needs accessories, big time. I was too rushed this AM to be creative, but I think a long, delicate necklace or some chunk bangles would work. My ears aren't pierced, but earrings would go a long way.

Dress it up: For a more conservative setting, you could do a button-down dress shirt or cover the tee with a structured jacket.

Dress it down: take off the cardigan, add a leather bomber jacket and some necklaces.

What do you think? I'm a fan of constructive criticism and flagrant flattery.

P.S. Nordstrom's current Anniversary Sale is AMAZING. Get your arses over there.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A few of my favorite things...

What I call Irrational Work Wear, which consists of either the most boring navy suit and cream shell you've ever seen or a mini skirt with 4 inch stripper heels (seriously, you KNOW who you are), is just unacceptable for women of such fabulousness.

In an effort to promote rational work wear, I am listing below a very small smattering (ooh, alliteration!) of websites from which I often buy work clothes. Feel free to post and add to the list...

This store is essential for the modern woman looking for basics. If you don't like their stuff, try, or even (steer clear of the gold bikinis).

Trust me, it's worth checking Nordies out, because A) it's easier to shop there than Macy's because it's actually edited, B) their customer service rocks, and C) their shoe selection alone is enough to make a girl swoon.

This store and its sister are great places to add a little romance/beach baby/skater chic into your life. Beware of going overboard at these stores: too much of a good thing can make you look really young, and nothing is more depressing than real women trying to look 19. You can usually get away with something super feminine or even fairly casual if you pair it with something well-tailored and streamlined. I love a floral top with crisp black pants and don't-mess-with-me heels. &

Yes, these are already common household words, but they work at work. Shoes are, hands down, easiest way to work some personality into your outfits at work. Leopard print might be questionable in a dress, but no one can argue with a little leopard on the tootsies.

More on accessories later, I promise.

This is the short and sweet list for those of you who don't have the time or (shockingly) the interest to look elsewhere- who else should we add?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Welcome to Wear at Work!

I have heard no fewer than 10 fabulous, intelligent women tell me that they have no idea what to wear to work in the last several weeks. This is tragic. Those of us who work in an office for 40+ hours per week often struggle daily to put together work outfits that are not only office appropriate, but not hideously ugly. If I see one more woman wearing a frumpy, boxy, bland outfit (hello, black pants suit with shoulder pads and a beige knit shell with blocky shoes!), I will scream.

I work in the legal industry, and most of our clients are attorneys. Since you have eyes, it's evident to you that the legal industry, tends to be on the conservative side of fashion (read: nose rings are out, close toed pumps are in). Since I refuse to wear a suit because I feel like I'm playing dress up in mommy's old work clothes, I have had to find ways to make dressing for work easy but also interesting.

There are several ways women choose to dress in such an environment:

1. Clean and preppy: this style is big on collared dress shirts in sherbet colors, pencil skirts, and pointy-toed heels. This style works well for many women (one woman in my office totally rocks it), though it can sometimes lack creativity.

2. The "I just don't give a damn" uniform: You know who you are. Listen, I have many goals in life- to have a flat stomach, to meet Catherine Zeta-Jones, to feed the children of the world- but it is my fervent hope that I can help rid the world of this nauseating excuse for an outfit.

3. Quirky and fun: almost every office has at least one woman who wears cute, funky clothes that appear, at first glance, to completely turn the dress code on its head, and pulls it off. You would not catch me dead in 4 colors at once because I would look insane, but two women in my office can do this and look both pulled together and modern.

4. Creative and edgy: I want to live here. We'll see how well I'm doing.

5. Bombshell: Wouldn't mind living here, either, but there is a very fine line between subtly sexy at the office and just trashy. I have to vote no on fishnets at the office.

This week, I will post some of my own outfits and some of my favorite stores for work clothes.

What do you like to wear professionally and what are you coveting for your fall work wardrobe?