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.

Business vs. Business Casual

You’re new to the workplace. As far as you’re concerned, changing out of your pajamas is dressing up. So now that you are working in a professional environment, what do these dress code terms really mean? Understanding the distinction between business and business casual is critical to dressing within the boundaries of your company’s policy. Not all employers have the same definition of business and business casual, so be sure to pay attention to what your coworkers are wearing and ask questions.

Here are simplified and general definitions of these terms:

Business: Keep it conservative and traditional. A pant suit or a dress/skirt with pantyhose are appropriate. Avoid bright colors or bold patterns, and wear basic solids instead. Limited jewelry and simple hairstyles are preferred.

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Business Casual: A nice pair of pants or a skirt/dress without pantyhose are acceptable options. Rather than a blazer, go for a cardigan over your outfit. Jewelry can be more expressive and you can add color and pattern in moderation. 

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Since we are on the topic of dress code, it is important to understand what “casual Friday” means at your workplace. If you have a strict business dress code, “causal Friday” might not even exist. When in doubt, dress more business than casual. Again, pay attention to your colleagues attire and ask questions!

Pantyhose: To Wear or Not to Wear?

If you are like many women that I have encountered at work, you avoid dresses and skirts for interviews because you are unsure of whether or not you need to wear pantyhose. Many of us young women have never needed to wear stockings, so where do we even begin? There are positives and negatives to nylons, which leave us with a lot to consider. Sure, they keep your legs warm and look professional, but aren’t they a little outdated? Autumn Whitefield-Madrano describes her enduring love for pantyhose despite the changing opinions of others throughout the years. She feels that they speak to the lifestyle of a professional woman. Additionally, many pantyhose have a control top, which smooth lines and make you look slimmer. On the other hand, some feel that they are obsolete, uncomfortable, and too hot to wear in the summer months.

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So, are they necessary? There are numerous opinions out there. The overall consensus seems to be this: it depends. Wearing stockings is not a matter of right or wrong, but rather a matter of occasion. Emma Newcombe gives some great pointers to pantyhose in her article about wearing nylons to work or interviews, including when to wear them and when you can go bare. The most important thing to keep in mind is your employer’s dress code policy. It is always better to lean on the conservative side if you are unsure (both in interviews and at work).

If you decide to wear nylons with your dress or skirt, be wary of the color. Nude colored pantyhose should match your skin tone, so avoid the “suntan” nylons unless you are actually that tan. Black stockings are another option, and can be worn with darker colored clothing. Either the sheer or opaque options are acceptable, depending on your outfit and personal preference. Nylons for work are different from the tights that you might wear on your day off, so avoid patterns or colors in favor of a more traditional look.

Hopefully this will help you make a decision about whether or not pantyhose are necessary for your lives in the work world!

Building a Basic Work Wardrobe

With student loan payments, rent, gas, car insurance, and groceries to worry about, it is difficult to even think about shopping for non-essentials. Though as I’ve discussed, it is important to dress appropriately to establish your professionalism and be taken seriously in the work place. Many of us are just beginning our professional careers. We are not making very much money yet, but we are supposed to look like we are. How do we create an entire work wardrobe on a budget?

The key is to buy a handful of items that you can mix and match to create a variety of outfits to last you throughout the week. Follow my tips to build a basic work wardrobe to last you until your next promotion!

Before we discuss the fundamental garments, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, consider the job you have. What is the dress code? What sorts of things do your coworkers wear? Is your dress code business or business casual? Keep these things in mind when you go shopping.

Secondly, you want to stay within a broad color palette. For example, stick to either warm or cool colors so that your accessories and layering pieces can match with most of your outfits. This will help you create a multitude of looks using the same few articles of clothing.

With these considerations in mind, we can begin discussing the actual articles of clothing that your basic work wardrobe will be composed of.

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–  Choose a variety of blouses in various fits and styles. Keep them within the same broad color scheme though.

– The pair of pants that you choose should be the same color as the skirt and blazer. Go for either black or grey if you chose a cool color palette, and perhaps black or beige for a warm color scheme.

– As I mentioned, the pencil skirt should be the same color as the pants and blazer. Make sure the length is within two inches of the knee!

– You want to choose a dress that has structured, clean lines in a basic color that falls within your color palette.

– A few cardigans in different colors add a little something extra to your outfit. Avoid anything oversized or in a chunky fabric for a clean, professional look.

– The blazer should be the same color and fabric as the pants and skirt. You can use this blazer to dress up any combination of outfits for presentation days, interviews, or important meetings. Get measured for a blazer to ensure you purchase the correct size.

– At least two pairs of shoes are necessary to the beginnings of a work wardrobe. Choose simple styles in a color that will match with all of your other garments.

– Accessorizes complete your look, so pick a few necklaces, a belt, and a watch to bring your outfit together.

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Now that we have the basics of your wardrobe picked out, lets start building a few outfits. For this example, I chose clothes in cool colors that can be mixed to make a lot of different outfits. If you decide to wear a shirt + pants/skirt (as opposed to a dress), here are your options:

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For a dress, you can pair it with the following:

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Here are a few complete outfits to give you a better idea of how you can mix and match all of these pieces to create new outfits.

Now that you know what to look for, go out and get shopping! Good luck!