Fashionable Girl's Guide: Work with the boys - don't dress like them
I spend all day reading through documents, listening to other people complain about their problems and trying to find the best way to solve them.
No, I am not a therapist. I'm a lawyer. My evenings, weekends and occasional lunch breaks, however, are spent shopping.
It is my hobby, my therapy, my passion. When I shop, it's not to see how much money I can blow in a single afternoon (I can do some serious damage).
I just love exploring options. For me, shopping is about creating something - finding that perfect dress that when you put it on, you know you are about to kick some serious butt.
Or finding an unexpected necklace that can breathe new life into a tired outfit. And don't even get me started on shoes.
I was having a conversation with a colleague of mine the other day, and he was describing a young woman he had just interviewed and how he could not believe how she was dressed for a job interview.
Of course, my first thought was "Remove the stick, bud. It's 2014."
But as I listened to him describe her ensemble, I began to think he might be right. From his description, it kind of sounded as if she may have just rolled out of bed after a night at the bar and grabbed whatever was on her floor.
This got me thinking. How are women supposed to dress in the workplace these days?
There is no real dress code anymore, and unless you wear a uniform, it's kind of an anything goes situation. Here is what I suggest: Always strive to be classy.
It's that simple. If you are wearing a skirt, then cover the top.
If you want to show a little cleavage, then do so with pants on the bottom. You can be feminine, sexy and professional without putting it all on display.
I blame TV for our wardrobe struggles. Does anyone remember Ally McBeal's skirts?
I know that was sooo many years ago, but it hasn't changed.
I was watching "Mistresses" at the gym the other day (don't judge me: I was bored, and all my shows are on break) and a female lawyer was shown wearing what I can only describe as underwear. Now, I know this was for dramatic television purposes, but come on.
I generally try to go one of two ways - classic, well-tailored suits with fabulous shoes or some combination of skirt, dress and jacket with plenty of color and unique detail.
Either one of these will garner the respect you deserve without making you look like a dude.
To prove my point, I went in search of pieces that could be worn with things already in my closet but would be unique enough to make me to stand out (always a must). Here are just a few of the things I found:
I love both of these jackets. The fuchsia one I found at JC Penney for $50, but you got 30 percent off. This jacket is a great transition piece. I would pair it with a black pencil skirt and white shirt for work and then swap your skirt for skinny jeans for dinner. If you aren't sure about that much color, go with the second. It's simple and classic, but the polka dots give it a great twist. T.J. Maxx, $15. Hello! Wear it once and get your money's worth.
This skirt is also from JC Penny, $36. Add a simple black T-shirt from Target and your best black stilettos, and you have one flirty, high-fashion ensemble.
Finally, these two dresses, which offer two entirely different options. The white one is Kate Spade, originally $160 but on sale for $39.99. I cannot say enough about the front zipper, which, I promise, no one will expect. If you aren't comfortable with showing that much skin, throw on a blazer. Game over. The multicolored, $29.99 one is a great option for a more casual work look. It's eye-catching without being over the top, and because it isn't too fitted, it's also comfy. I found both of these at T.J. Maxx. Note: You don't have to head all the way to Houston or Austin to find fantastic and fashionable outfits.
So, ladies, my point is this: We spent the last 40-ish years proving that women can do any job men can do. I'm pretty sure everyone gets that. Now, it's time to prove we can do the same job and look fabulous at the same time. Working with the boys doesn't mean having to dress like them.
Allison Marek is an attorney by day, shopping and sale fanatic by night. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or fashoinablegirlsguide.com.