The Importance of Details

There are tons of outfit combinations that can be created with a limited wardrobe, but the effectiveness of each combination depends on the details. Adding layering pieces can help unify your look and bring it up a notch. To make the point more relatable, here are some visual examples of what accessories can do.

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Prior to adding accessories, this outfit was function but rather bland. Although simple looks like this are technically work appropriate, adding layers can elevate your outfit to new professional heights. By simply tucking the shirt in and adding a belt and a necklace, this outfit underwent a massive change. You do not need to put a lot of effort into your outfit to make it look professional and put together.

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By tucking the blouse in and adding a simple cardigan, this outfit transformed into a workwear staple. Even fewer changes were made than in the previous example, illustrating the ease of elevating your outfit a few degrees.

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There are other ways to change the vibe of your outfit with limited effort or wardrobe options. In this example I changed out my layering piece to create three distinct looks. In the first image, the blazer looks professional but the white piping gives it a fun twist. In image two my cardigan adds color and softens the look. The solid black blazer in the third image conveys sophistication and professionalism. Switching out the layering piece is also an excellent way to go from desk to dinner! (for more on that topic, view my post here)

Dressing for Your Body Type

Before shopping or creating outfits, it is important to understand your body type and what styles flatter your shape. Rather than putting on baggy clothes to cover yourself up, pick styles that show off your best features and disguise the ones that you dislike. Part of your body insecurities might be enhanced due to the fact that your clothes do not fit you properly. Rather than blaming your natural curves, remember that everyone’s body is different and while there may be styles that you don’t pull off well, there are plenty of others that you do. To find the ones that do, first identify your body shape.

First, lets review our five most common body types:

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Your upper body is smaller than your lower body.

Women with pear-shaped bodies should find clothes that emphasize their small torso and minimize their hips. Try to balance your upper and lower halves.

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Avoid patterns or light colors on your lower half, which tend to make features look larger. Also steer clear of clothing that is baggy, which hides your shape.

Styles to look for:

  • Wide leg or bootcut pants in dark colors
  • A-line skirts
  • Tailored shirts and jackets
  • Tops that draw attention to your upper body and create volume (with ruffles, patterns, colors, etc.)
  • Add layers and statement jewelry

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Your upper body is larger than your lower body.

Women with apple-shaped bodies should look for clothes to draw attention to their legs and camouflage their wider upper bodies. Pick styles that elongate the upper body.

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Avoid tops that are made from flimsy fabrics or that have busy patterns. Rather than giving you your desired structure, these will hide your body and make it look rounder. Also avoid tucking your shirt in.

Styles to look for:

  • Skinny, straight-leg, or bootcut pants
  • V-neck tops
  • Empire tops and dresses
  • Shift dresses
  • Clothing with structure

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You have an athletic build with shoulders, waist, and hips that are all about the same size.

Women with rectangle-shaped bodies should find styles that show off their arms and legs while creating the illusion of curves.

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Avoid wearing too many fitted garments at once, and pass up cropped tops and jackets. Styles like these will make your frame look more boxy and masculine.

Styles to look for:

  • Bootcut jeans or wide-leg pants
  • High-waisted pants
  • Flared skirts to create the illusion of hips
  • V-neck or sweetheart necklines
  • Tops with ruffles
  • Layers
  • Fitted jackets
  • Fabrics that drape

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Your shoulders and chest are wider than your hips.

Women with wedge-shaped bodies should wear clothes that show off their legs and minimize their broader upper bodies by creating a balance between their upper and lower bodies.

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Avoid tops with boatnecks or very thin straps, and those with a lot of ruffles. These styles draw more attention to your wider upper-body and broad shoulders.

Styles to look for:

  •  High-waisted pants and skirts
  • Colors on bottom
  • Wide-leg pants to balance your wider top half
  • Cowl-neck and v-neck tops
  • Drop-waisted dresses
  • Choose flowy fabrics

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Your waist is small, and your shoulders and hips are similar in proportion.

Women with an hourglass shape should look for styles that show off their curves and draw attention to their smallest areas.

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Avoid baggy clothing and too many layers. These styles will hide your curvy shape and make you look larger.

Styles to look for:

  • high-waisted skirts and pants
  • skinny or straight leg jeans
  • V-neck tops
  • Fitted dresses and tops
  • Wrap dresses or belted dresses that accentuate your small waist

Keep in mind that these tips are only to help you find clothes that flatter your figure and help you feel more confident in your own skin. Disguising your larger areas does not mean that they are unattractive! We all have parts of our bodies that we are dissatisfied with, so rather than focusing on them, focus your attention (and the attention of others) on your favorite parts. Check out the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty and Marie Claire‘s website for more on body confidence!

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If you would like to learn more about dressing for your body type, SheKnows has tons of resources ranging from picking out the right jeans to the right handbag for your shape.

Tips for Shopping Online

Don’t you hate it when you order clothing online and it isn’t what you expected when it eventually arrives? Some things are easy to buy without trying them on, like cardigans or t-shirts; but when it comes to dresses, blazers, and pants—order with caution! If you are planning on purchasing more structured garments from an online store, take your measurements and compare them to the store’s sizing chart. Also take note of the fabric, especially whether or not it contains spandex. This will let you know how much “wiggle room” you have. Your pants still might not fit perfectly when they arrive, but you have a much better chance of getting close. If you are unsure of what all of these measurements mean and where to take them, view the video below.

A few final tips:

  • When taking your measurements, be sure that your measuring tape is level.
  • Do not wear bulky clothing when taking your measurements.
  • If you are having trouble, have someone help you!

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(size chart taken from Zara)

Now you will have a much better idea of your size when you proceed to checkout.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Article Review

We all know money can be tight, especially when you are new to the workforce. How are you supposed to buy a whole new wardrobe before you earn your first paycheck? I’ve posted about starting with the work-wear basics before, but what if your budget is nearly nonexistent? Fear not, there is a way to build a work wardrobe without breaking the bank.

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This issue occurred to me the other day when a peer asked how to buy interview clothes on a very limited budget. Not that I have infinite funds, but working at Banana Republic gets you a pretty decent discount. So I decided to look into more affordable options, and came across a great article by Morieka Johnson about secondhand clothing.

Johnson discusses the benefits of purchasing pre-owned clothing and makes some excellent points, including the low cost and small carbon footprint. Whether you need an entire wardrobe or a few final accessories, thrift stores are great places to shop on a budget. The most important thing to consider before you start shopping is the location. Johnson recommends checking out Salvation Army stores in upscale neighborhoods. As a frequent browser at these stores myself, I can confirm that they often contain high quality clothing from high-end retailers, such as Banana Republic and Ann Taylor. Do not limit yourself to the Salvation Army alone! Also search for work-wear at the Goodwill or more selective resale shops, like consignment stores.

Avoid trendy, vintage stores like Flashbacks when looking for business attire (unless you need an outfit for an office Halloween party). Johnson acknowledges that many resale shops pay donors for their clothing, which attracts teens with their worn out Hollister jeans looking for easy cash. She suggests shopping for accessories at these stores, since they are less likely to sell higher quality office-wear. I suggest that you look for scarves, cardigans, jewelry, and purses rather than foundational pieces like pants or dresses.

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As Johnson briefly mentions, asking others for hand-me-downs is another option if you have a relative or friend who wears roughly the same size as you. If asking to keep their old clothes is out of the question, see if you can borrow some items until you can replace them with your own pieces. Work out a deal with the other person, and let them borrow your clothes too. This is a great way for both of you to expand your wardrobe and save money!

Some of you might be wondering whether second-hand clothing is acceptable in the professional world. Is it clean? Will it smell? Well, you certainly have to look around for quality. Spend a few extra dollars to get the item tailored and wash the clothes a few times with extra detergent, and I promise no one will know the difference. Plus, as Johnson mentioned, used clothing stores in upper-class neighborhoods often contain expensive garments donated by successful business people that you might not be able to afford new. Be selective, and do a thorough inspection of each garment before purchasing to ensure that it is in good condition. I completely agree with Johnson’s points about used clothing, and recommend it to anyone on a budget. A few others also agree with Johnson and I. To read more about used clothing and thrift store myths, read the articles here, here, and here.

Product Review: Banana Republic Sloan Sheath Dress

I had been eyeing the Sloan Sheath Dress for a while, and decided to splurge and buy it yesterday. I am not disappointed. At $140, it is not a dress you just buy on a whim. I avoided trying it on for months, but as soon as I did, I was sold. Never have I tried on a dress that is so figure flattering. In a thick fabric with 5% spandex, the dress hugs your body and moves with you without losing its structure. The length hits me just above the knee, making it ideal for work or interviews. It is a versatile dress than can be worn from desk to dinner, which helps justify the price.

The dress comes in regular, petite, and tall sizes. Regular sizes are available in 0-16, and come in black or red-orange. Petite sizes can be purchased in 00-14, and come in black or hot-pink. Tall sizes are only available in sizes 2-16 in black. Some reviews say the dress runs small, but myself and the majority of others believe that it is true to size. To be safe, go in store and try it on before purchasing.

The only negative to this dress is that it is dry clean only. While this is slightly inconvenient, the dress is not something I will be wearing everyday, so the extra care should not be a problem. Overall, I think the Sloan Sheath Dress is a great addition to any young woman’s wardrobe.

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Interview Overview

Studies show that within the first ten seconds of meeting you, your potential employer has already decided whether or not they want you for the job.

Not convinced? See the article here. This means that it is incredibly important to show up prepared and dressed appropriately! Before the two of you have a chance to sit down and talk about how great you are, your interviewer is going to notice what you are wearing. The first thing that will stand out to them is the color.

Tip 1: Choose a neutral color

I know that you feel great in that bright red dress, but it is always best to stay on the more conservative side when dressing for an interview. Go for black, grey or beige. All of these colors convey sophistication.

Tip 2: Pick your base

What do I mean when I say “base?” I mean either a dress, skirt, or pants. This is the foundation that we are going to build your outfit up from. Pick garments with structure and clean lines. When choosing your base, consider the job you are applying for and what you feel the most comfortable in.

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Dresses: There are a few things that you want to pay attention to when picking out a dress. The length should be within two inches of the knee- no mini or maxi looks. Additionally, the straps or sleeves should cover at least two inches of the shoulder. As I have mentioned, it is best to lean on the conservative side, so avoid low necklines.

Skirts: If you decide to wear a skirt, go for a basic pencil skirt in a dark color.It is a work-wear classic that won’t go out of style. Pencil skirts also have the clean lines that we are looking for. Just be sure to keep the length within two inches of the knee!

Pants: There is a huge variety in the types of pants available, though not all dress pants are interview appropriate. Sure, you might really love the skinny-fitting, ankle-grazing styles that are in right now, but if you are applying to a more conventional field, it might be best to stick to something more traditional.

Tip 3: Pick a blouse 

Choose either a crisp button up or a fitted blouse. This is where you can let a bit of your personality shine through. Add some color and maybe a pattern—just don’t go overboard! Again, you want to consider the job you are interviewing for; what level of self-expression is appropriate for that position? Avoid anything too sheer, tight, or oversized. There is a happy medium somewhere, I promise.

Tip 4: Add a layering piece

Adding either a blazer or a cardigan will help bring your outfit together and bring it up a notch. If you go for a cardigan, choose a fitted style in a thin fabric that will lay flat. If you’d rather wear a blazer, get measured to find a style that fits you perfectly.

Tip 5: Choose appropriate shoes

Shoes should be closed toe with a heel that does not exceed two inches. Go for back, grey, or nude instead of a bright color.

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Tip 6: Add accessories

You are not a Christmas tree: do not decorate yourself as if you are! Keep your accessories simple! Add a watch, a necklace, and a belt. Adding accessories shows that you pay attention to detail, which is a quality that any employer is looking for.

Tip 7: Get your clothes tailored

Another way to show that you are detail oriented is by getting your clothing tailored. It costs a few extra bucks, but it will give your interviewer a much different impression if you walk in wearing something that fits you properly as opposed to something you are swimming in.

Final Tips:

Please do not forget to use a lint roller and iron your clothes. I know you love your cat, but your interviewer doesn’t need to know that (yet). Keep your makeup and hair simple, and don’t show up with chipped nail polish. You want your good qualities to be the center of attention, not your minor flaws.

From Desk to Dinner

It’s Friday night and you have a date after work. There is no way that you have enough time to go home and change, and you’d rather not wrinkle your top by stuffing it in a bag. Solution: wear something versatile! Pairing work-wear with more casual elements is a great way to extend your wardrobe and get more use out of each item.

Blazers, dresses, tailored pants, a nice blouse: none of these items are work specific. Pairing work-wear with casual-wear is a great way to achieve the balance you are looking for when going out after work, whether for dinner, the movies, or drinks with friends. You don’t want to look like you are trying too hard, but you want to avoid looking like a slob. Instead of going to the movies in that oversized sweatshirt yet again, dress up your jeans with something more formal and sleek.

Wearing a blazer, black slacks, and a blouse to work today? Trade out the slacks for dark skinny jeans, add a bit of jewelry and lipstick, and you’re set!

Wearing a dress? Add some fun, colorful accessories and a cute heel.

Lauren Conrad gives advice to her readers in her article about dressing for work and night. She suggests starting with a basic canvas and changing out accessories and layering pieces at the end of your shift. Accessories are small and easy to bring along, plus you don’t have to worry about them wrinkling.

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I made very simple changes in the above example. For work, wear a blazer and heels with a pearl necklace.  To make the look more casual for after work, switch the blazer out for a cardigan, change into flats, and add a scarf. All of these accessories are easy to transport, plus you do not need to worry about finding a place to change.