Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Andrea Takes Chicago: one work outfit at a time!

[Note from Ellen S.: from time to time my awesome li'l sis will be contributing to the blog.  Show her some love and leave some comments, will you?]

I believe that some people go shopping so they can go to work…and some people work so that we can go shopping.

Additionally, I have always loved the idea that I can justify buying something because I can wear it to work. As though spending a ridiculous amount of money on shoes or a sweater is justified because I will wear it during the day, Monday through Friday. It makes SO much sense in the dressing room while trying on the fabulous dress you just have to have. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this philosophy.

So what do you consider acceptable to buy just because you got a new job?

Funny you should ask that- since I just got a new job! WOOT!

I have had the good fortune to always work at fairly casual places- never necessary to wear a suit or pantyhose (thank god!). This leaves me in a bizarre situation however, as I wear fairly preppy clothes even on the weekends. Somehow I end up being dressier than necessary at a business casual workplace in an effort to wear something different than on Sunday! My current (temporary) job requires business casual, which to me means slacks or a skirt, nice shoes, a sweater or blouse, etc. But there are people in the office who wear some surprisingly casual (read: ugly) outfits that often make me feel overdressed.  Baggy knit pants are really just not ok ever, but PLEASE don’t make me look at them at work. I know its time to leave this job because I have stopped bringing shoes to change into when I arrive at work in my (super cute!) snow boots, and I simply wear them all day instead because even dressed like that I’m still in the top 5 most fashionable at the office. Ellen would die if she saw it in real life. Don’t let her see you like that. It will end badly.

The new job I have (yay!) also requires business casual. The women at this office (its 5 of us, all women who LOVE SHOES!) totally notice cute clothes. Not everyone dresses what I consider “business casual” all the time, but everyone makes an effort to look nice. I think that’s why I fit in so well- our shared love of fashion but also our shared, relatively (as compared to the amount of work done) small salaries. And when I went to the Mall of America (TAX FREE PEOPLE! Top 5 happiest places on earth!) last week and went shopping “for work clothes”, I decided- I’m not an intern anymore, darnit, I’m gonna look FAB-U-LOUS.

I already have a lot of basics- which are SO key when starting a job, or just in life. Some black and grey trousers, a few collared, button down shirts in nice colors (I have one that’s bright pink, that I only recommend if your office isn’t formal at all!), basic v-neck sweaters, basic heels and flats. But lets be honest, it gets VERY boring. I try to add little details with jewelry and shoes, and fun nail colors (another thing I only recommend at casual offices), but with my body type (read: plus size but proportional, and very cleavage-riffic) it can be a serious challenge to look my age and still be professional.

Therefore, at the Mall of America, I purchased:
~A great black and white dress that has ruffles on the top, and with a big wide belt is SO flattering and comfy. Can be dressed up with metallic heels and great jewelry or dressed down with flats, a cardigan, and some very small earrings. Marked down to $89- SUCH a steal.

~I also got a dress that’s a little dressier, because I do go to work functions where people are in business formal. Its also two colors- a nice grey/blue satin on top with a bit of ruffle, and black bottom (this look works for me, what can I say!?). This can also be dressed up or down, and I plan on dressing it down with a cardigan as much as possible. Though at only $100, I still feel like it was a good deal.

~I found a blue and grey sweater to go with some of the basic (read: boring!) skirts and trousers that I have- it fits nicely and will transition well into spring. Less of a steal at $65, but it has cute little pockets and the board members will like how retro it is. (Yes, yes I do pander to the wealthy people who donate to us, its my job.)

~My favorite purchase that day, however, was the bronze Indigo heels I bought at Clarks for $100. I am not a big wearer of heels to work in general, but they are incredibly comfortable, Clarks/Indigos are well made, and metallic goes with everything! Plus, my collection of black heels was getting a little out of control.

Though I always have my eye out for fun work clothes, I think one of my goals this year will be to have a little more fun with my work outfits. I get stuck in a rut of sweater/pants/flats, and I think I need a little more sparkle.

Moral of the work clothes story: just because you’re at work, doesn’t mean you should look like you are counting the minutes until Happy Hour. Even though we totally are.

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