Akron Life - September 2011

fashion sense

Susan Luc 0000-00-00 00:00:00

The Business of Style What you wear to work communicates a message. Make it a good one. From the financial industry to creative fields to everything in between, how to dress for work can be a challenge. And it isn’t just about following a dress code — or being comfortable. It’s about having a personal dress code. At the same time, what you wear communicates a message, without saying a word — and you want people talking about your performance on the job, not about what you’re wearing. Much of the workplace dress-code confusion started with “business casual.” Can you tell us what business casual means? It’s OK. Most people can’t. Dress codes can be confusing. Chances are, if you work at an advertising agency, a marketing firm, a software company or in education, you’re in a creative atmosphere, so dress codes tend to be more relaxed and casual. For bankers and lawyers, formal business attire is still the norm. And while some companies are doing away with dress codes entirely (which still doesn’t make yoga pants and tennis shoes appropriate!), others are reining in what employees can wear. Regardless, you want to make a good impression, and that impression starts with being dressed “appropriately.” What follows are some guidelines to help you decipher various business dress codes. Business Formal: This means wearing a suit, but women can wear slacks or a skirt. A tailored button-down shirt is most formal, but not a requirement. And this always means a tie for men. If your dress code is business formal, it’s best to err on the side of more formal. But you can be creative and modern, as well. One of our clients is in the financial field and has been wearing a dark suit and pantyhose for ages. We encouraged her to choose lighter colors and fabrics. Wearing a bright-colored cardigan over a tailored shift dress or a softly pleated shirt with a structured jacket keeps her look fresh, modern and more approachable — yet still professional. Business Casual: It started with “Casual Friday” — and has evolved to include a wide range of options. There are many definitions for business casual, but we prefer to define it as business dressed down, not casual dressed up. For example, break up those suit pieces and add a cardigan. But too often, business casual can turn into business sloppy (wearing pumps with casual khakis doesn’t cut it). On the other hand, we’ve heard from clients that they “get grief ” for not dressing down enough. We encourage them to stick with their own personal style and dress code, and let’s see who gets that promotion. Business Appropriate: This is the latest trend, which means dressing appropriately for the day ahead of you. So, if you’re seeing clients, a suit would be appropriate; if you’re going out into the field and crawling under equipment, jeans are appropriate. The trick is having key pieces for your industry, personal style and body type. Every piece should work together and be able to be worn multiple ways. A welledited, thought-out wardrobe can lend itself to everything from important meetings, business travel and those “I overslept” mornings. Bottom line: Appearance does matter. What you choose to wear to work every day is an indication of how you feel about your job — and yourself. Susan Luc and Betsy Tabatcher are coowners of Shop Your Closet. They do style consulting, wardrobe planning and personal shopping. You can contact them at 330-322-3611. Red faux croco handbag $46 (3 Daughters and a Mom Boutique) Style 911: Send Us Your Style Questions Don’t know what to wear or how to wear something? Send your questions to Susan and Betsy at susanbetsy@shop-your-closet.com. Kimberly Rice is the Economic Development Director for the City of Medina. She can be anywhere from board meetings to industrial parks, so she falls into Business Appropriate. Her personal style is classic, yet functional and feminine. Here, Kimberly’s classic style is updated with the animal print pencil skirt and wide belt. Her silhouette is right on trend for fall with the mid-’60s looks influenced by the popular “Mad Men” TV series. Don Draper would approve. Necklace: The crystal and beaded necklace ($35) makes a bold statement, striking the right balance and not competing with the skirt’s animal print. Carefully accessorizing keeps Kimberly looking professional and appropriate without being boring. (3 Daughters and a Mom Boutique, Stow) New Sweater: This black jewel neck sweater is a classic staple in Kimberly’s wardrobe, and the fringe detail at the cuffs adds that feminine, fun touch. (Talbots) From her closet Belt: What a find! The wide black belt with brown buckle ($12 on sale) ties the look together and is flattering to Kimberly’s slim waist and silhouette. (3 Daughters and a Mom Boutique, Stow) New Ring: This black enamel and crystal ring ($16.50) adds just a bit of bling. (3 Daughters and a Mom Boutique, Stow) New Black bracelet w/green stone $12 (3 Daughters and a Mom Boutique) Skirt: The velvet fabric and animal print take this classic pencil skirt from basic to fabulous, yet still appropriate for the office. She just needs to add a black blazer if she’s meeting with a state legislator. (Talbots) From her closet Pumps: A classic, comfortable shoe is a must for Kimberly. The almond-shaped toe and platform sole update this business classic. (Brooks Brothers) From her closet

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