Saturday, August 8, 2009

Office attire for the fashionably challenged

I just returned to the workforce, well to the traditional workforce. I've been a SAHM and a WAHM all along. But now, I am back to waking when the rooster crows, dressing following employer standards, between professional and casual, and punching a clock. This kind of sucks overall. I do have a great job, with great people, and an office with real walls and doors. I especially thank God for that, because I turn the volume up high on the iPhone everyday after lunch. Gotta stay alert for the man!

I have made a lot of first impressions recently and fashion, comfort, and confidence have been on my mind. I'd been taking notice of myself and my co-workers ensembles everyday for material for this very blog entry. It's been two weeks, and I have a lot to say!

First, I am in no way trying to poke fun at anyone. This is for entertainment purposes yes, but also to educate!

Okay, all about me. I learned an important lesson Wednesday of this week. I typically iron up most of my clothes and my son's on Saturday. This way during the week we have plenty of clothes to choose from for the next morning. Then if we happen to change our minds the next morning we still have plenty of options to change out. It works really well for us. So I picked a number of basic pieces. I knew I would be organizing my office and doing some training. I wanted to be comfortable and able to move around in all my clothing. One of the pieces I picked was a white cotton blouse. It's a poplin shirt for the most part with a little additional flare. It opened wide with big sleeves. It was adorable with my brown trousers and leopard print peep-toe flats. I looked really nice, but I was as comfortable as I would be in jeans and a T-shirt. I moved throughout my entire day without a snag. I ran into a guy I once dated in my office and a few friends of friend's. Never thought twice about my appearance because I had picked my outfit with confidence and accessorized it beautifully. Wait, I finally punched out, got home, and accidentally walked past a full length mirror. I was horrified! My cute tunic styled white shirt had wrinkled itself into looking like a crumpled up paper bag. I took it out of workplace rotation immediately. It taught me a great lesson. Look at my clothes before I leave, during my work day, and when I return home, this way I can really see what's best as a repeat outfit because clothing changes. How often I've worn a shirt for a few hours and it stretches out during wear. Many things can go from a nice comfortable fit to a slouchy mess. Cottons are notorious for this! Be careful. The moral of this story is be knowledgeable of what you wear, how you wear it, feel in it, and look. It's really that simple.

Okay next up, the office appropriate shoe. I like to push the envelope just like anyone else does. I will rock a cute thong sandal, a loud bold flat, or a runway ready pump given opportunity. But, we must be careful to be appropriate. I walked through my office and saw running ready sneakers, beat up old thong sandals, and shoes surely made from craft supplies. What? I know that sneakers are appropriate for some jobs in my office, but what's wrong with a cute pair of sneakers worn with a nice fitting jean and an adorable top? Do they have to be the sneakers you walk the dog in, garden in, and run in? Sandals, the summer brings out some really cute sandals and some really bad train wrecks! And, please never ever never walk into the office in a rubber thong sandal. Be real, appropriate is where, when, and how long. Don't jump in 5 inch heels for a long day of bank teller or retail work, and do not ever wear a shoe that you've had a life time to make a good impression. Remember to find professionalism in every aspect of your attire. Be comfortable and confident. Every day at the workplace is a day to shine.

The word of the day should just be appropriateness. Where do you work? I work in a professional medical building, in a business causal office. I know I don't work in a club, at the beach, in a dorm, or at the local burger joint. Now there's nothing wrong with having any of those jobs, but our dress is drastically different. Including, don't let anything cute too low, start too high, or show too much. Own, and use, an iron. Be careful in the care of your clothes. You lose respect with every wrinkle and fade. Be knowledgeable of fit, and how fit may change during the course of the day. And know what you may disregard others will focus on. So be careful of those raggedy hems, stained garments, missing buttons, and bad decisions. They will be noticed!

Still, be comfortable and confident. Every day at the workplace is an opportunity to shine. Don't let anything steal that chance away from you. Your fashion should enhance who you are! Professional dress is not the avoidance of personality. It's working harder to find that middle ground.

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