Thursday, May 13, 2010

What to Wear to Work this Summer

First three days on the job=heaven.  Loving the commute, the people, the culture and the work.  I'm feeling extremely blessed to have found this opportunity in today's market. Someone out there is looking out for this nerd.

There's only one thing that has me absolutely flummoxed about the role: what to wear.  Let me explain.  My current job is my third dot com in a row.  That means that most of the people I've worked with over the  years have had a very specific kind of uniform.  It's one based on function rather than fabulous.  We're talking denim, flats and backpack - rinse and repeat.  One "person" even wore the "shoes" below every day!!!!  Shudder.  Still gives me nightmares when I remember my Pradas in the same conference room with those unholy toes.

But the new office (a household name with over 14,000 employees) might just take the cake.  During the interview process, the HR person emphasized I should make sure to dress casually when I came in to meet with the team.  Que-que? I thought I'd heard it all but explicitly getting told NOT to wear a suit was a first.

I nearly pleaded with her, "But casual is NOT my forte." Instead, I did what I do best: I took direction but put my own spin on things.  I wore what made me feel good...and what would make other people feel good about me i.e give me the job.

I kept my interview outfit (most recently the St. John suit pictured at left) in the closet and instead pulled together the outfit at right.  Can't go wrong with classic, polished separates - Robert Rodriguez high-waisted skirt, Banana Republic top and coat accessorized with a Chanel bag and earrings. 

For the interview, I didn't wear the headband and traded the Kate Spade striped mules for sky blue Manolos at left. Less juvenile but more pop. 
When the interview ended, my future boss complimented me on my sartorial choice.  Told me that when he interviewed he'd been confused and ended up playing it safe in a suit despite the admonishment to keep things caz. I'm pretty sure he and I are going to be friends ;)

On Monday, for my first day of work, I wore my all time favorite DVF top, black Robert Rodriguez pants, Prada shoes.  Chic and feminine but understated and appropriate.

But as the day wore on, I didn't see one woman who wasn't wearing jeans. NOT ONE. My not particularly sassy outfit got lots o' double takes.  Eeeks.  It's hard enough being the new girl ;(

So on day 2, confuzzled and not wanting to offend, I reverted to a go-to weekend look: LBD and flat sandals. Casual, innocuous, and booooooooooring. Nothing worse than boring.

Day 3, Wednesday,  I woke up and snapped out of it.  Decided I don't want to blend in or dial myself down or pretend to be someone else...not for a job and not for anyone.  I want to dress like me - not like me trying to please other people.  Those people-pleaser days are long behind me  - along with acne and my 20s.

So I wore the very thirtysomething, very ME outfit that I had WANTED to wear on my first day.  A brand new pencil JCrew floral skirt, neutral Marc by Marc Jacobs tee, fuchsia Image wrap sweater, peep-toe Manolo Blahniks, trusty LV Speedy and TO DIE FOR new flower knuckle ring from Forever 21 that matched my skirt purrfectly. Just $4.

Today I felt invincible not invisible...because I felt like me, because I felt like my personal style  - which is a reflection of WHO I AM  - was intact.

Below are my top 25 personal favorite work outfits from over the years.  I plan to rock them verbatim or reinvent them for the matter what anyone else at the new office is wearing.  Stamp.

Two important things about the visuals below:
1) LOOK at how different the same pieces can read when reinvented with different accessories
2) Notice how hair color/style/length can make you look like a totally different person

Never forget, personal style is about paying attention to ALL the details of your look. Every part of how you look communicates something.

Remember, working girls, work outfits don't need to be boring or frumpy. Keep the lines clean.  The fit,  hemlines and necklines appropriate.  Use fun accessories to show off your personality and fresh prints or vibrant color to stand out.

This summer, promise me you'll have fun WERKING it at work, m'kay?

Coming up next: What to Wear on Vacation this Summer


Sadie + Stella said...

You're dahhhling!!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I love all of these looks! Those blue Manolos are TDF. Seriously! Congrats on the new job :)

adeleno5 said...

Ugh,my best friend's co-workers wear those hideous "shoes" to the office as well - yet she is not permitted to wear sandals. Huh? I fully support the notion that you should not dress down to fit in - be your Diabolina self and perhaps you will inspire some sartorial creativity in your new co-workers.

fshnonmymind said...

I love every single outfit that you displayed in this post. And I'm glad that you decided to dress for you and not care about other people, you can be the fabulous one in the office. :)
I've had issues with my legs for what seems like forever (skinny, chicken-esque legs) and yesterday I decided to wear a skirt (sans boots) to work and show them off in all their glory. As I've recently turned 30, I want to change my frame of thinking to embrace what I have and not give much thought to other's opinions because I, nor them, can do much to change it.
I'm going to try and wear a skirt or dress once a week and am eyeing a pencil skirt at J. Crew now. I'm going full force, lol.
It makes me so happy that you found a new job that you are loving!

JCH said...

Love this post. So useful for us working gals...more importantly, you teach us not to compromise who we are for the "institution".

Glad the new job is going so well!


Natalie (NJ in L.A.) said...

You are so wonderfully sweet I just wanna kiss your cheeks! I am soooooo happy for you and your new job, and cannot wait to hear about its adventures. You deserve these good things and I'm sure more greatness is coming your way!

WendyB said...

I'm traumatized by those toe "shoes."

Anonymous said...

love love love!

it's so nice to see your style shine at work! the stockpile of outfits was so gratifying.

i'm making a vow to never again buy ugly clothes just to pad my work selection. it's hard as an engineer working with all men :/

- shazzam

InnyVinny said...

D, you are so cute. YAY for new jobs and for being the sassy, well-dressed one in the bunch. =D

Sheila said...

love all those outfits, glad you are being yourself!

Rosie said...

Is so nice to have your guidance back in your blog! Was falling into a rut myself after just having a baby lacking sleep but not no more.I'm still me baby and all! Gave me so many ideas for tomorrow!

Kylee said...

Thank you so much for this post. I am in a "work clothes" rut myself, and after reading your post, I discovered that I could recreate my wardrobe with things that I already have in my closet. I can't wait to use your pictures for outfit inspiration. Thanks so much!

Laurigami said...

I am totally guilty of buying fugly clothes for work because my casual style is SO far away from what is work appropriate... and I just can't figure it out. One day, you will help me clean out my closet and advise!! Good stuff here Diane, keep it coming lovie! xo

dapotato said...

LOVE this post and the outfits. inspired me to actually *TRY* next time i have a job. for now, i'm stil shlumping it grad student style.

Artemisia said...


I am in my early 40's and I have always dressed au courant, very stylish and in a feminine way. I do follow trends but do not consider my self to be too trendy as that can fall almost under the fashion victim label which I shudder to identify with as frankly, not always quite a flattering look.

I visit lots of fashion blogs and I must tell you that yours is by far not only the best, but it is unpretentious, intelligent
and your sense of style is incredible ( I must admit , I do find that we dress alike).

Your look is always au courant, stylish and feminine but never vulgar, over-the-top or overtly sexy. You also keep it fresh, add a splash of coulour, know when to stop with the accessories and like myself, you do not feel obliged to wear ONLY label.

I have always wanted to comment on your blag and I finally decided to do so after this entry ( on how to dress for work) .

I NEVER dress down ( even on casual Friday, Quelle horreur!!)
and always wear heels, pretty, frilly things and oddly, I rarely wear pants ( that is just me...I prefer skirts and dresses even in the middle of our snowy winters).

I believe like you that one should have pride in ones attire but be approachable and considerate.

Thank you very, very much for this blog.

Vraiment, merci mille fois.

Sincerely, Laura Lord Belle in Ottawa, Canada


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