Monday Must-Have: The Skinny!

15 Mar

Photos by Marcio Madeira, Courtesy of Firstview.com/Style.com

If you work in a conservative field, accessories may be your only way to squeeze at least a wee bit of creativity and pizzazz into what might otherwise be a dull, boooooring wardrobe.  Belts, one of our favorite accessories, can serve so many purposes – they have a slimming effect, distract attention from problem spots, add just the right pop of color to a neutral outfit, and transform a Plain Jane outfit into a more memorable one. 

Belts were all over the 2010 Fashion Week runways; thank goodness the skinny belt is still around because that means we won’t have to donate all those belts we bought in past seasons.   Although the looks pictured above are for Fall 2010, (with the addition of slacks or a skirt, of course) similar looks can definitely be used in the workplace during this transition period between winter and spring.  Perhaps the cardigan and coat could stand to be a bit less chunky for springtime though. 

So go grab yourselves a skinny belt (or two or three) and if you already have some in your belt collection, wrap one around your cardigan or jacket for a more updated look!  (We see that the models have slightly looped belts that were a bit too long for them; glad to know that is actually fashionable because we’ve done that on more than one occasion, not knowing if we were committing some unwritten fashion crime or not (smile!)).

MIND YOUR MANOLOS: Shoe Care & Maintenance

12 Mar

Fab Feet Shoe Care Travel Kit, Target, $12.99

From time to time, we must stop to assess where we here at Corner Office Chic are falling short of “Corner Office Chic” standards (you have to practice what you preach, after all).  As crazy stressful as this work week has been, believe us, we’ve committed a number of chic-standard violations so the assessment results haven’t been at their optimum this week.  Today, in particular, we’ve concluded that we need to do a much better job in the shoe maintenance department. 

We have to admit that, while we have a fabulous shoe collection, we’ve never been as on point with maintaining our shoes as we should be.  (At least we’re not in denial about this issue.)   If you’ve spent the small fortune on shoes that we have, please do your shoes justice and keep them looking as close to new as you possibly can (yes, we’re talking to ourselves too).  There’s no point in buying gorgeous (not to mention expensive) shoes, if they’re just going to end up dust-ridden and turned over.  Even Manolos, Choos and Louboutins can look bad (yes, bad) if you don’t care for them properly.  Plus, as with everything in our wardrobe, proper care results in longer wear.

We saw the travel shoe kit at Target shown above and recalled the days when we did a better job at keeping our shoes in good shape.  Ideally, you should take care of your shoes at home but, if you’ve got the packed after-work schedule that we do, there may be no time for such luxuries as shining shoes at home!  In that case, you may want to keep a kit like the one above hidden away in your office for emergency shoe shines.  Believe it or not, we’ve been in situations where we’ve either accidentally stepped in mud puddles or found ourselves walking through a dusty construction area, leaving our shoes undesirably dirty.  In those situations, we could make a quick stop in the ladies’ room on the way to our office, wipe the goo off with water & a paper towel, and then head to our office to give them a quick shine.  Walking into a meeting with the appearance that you’ve been dancing in flour is not corner office chic.

As for repairs (you know when your heel tap inconveniently comes loose or you have some other issue that is not do-it-yourself), find yourself a great cobbler (a good cobbler is right up there with a good tailor – although we have to admit that we’re still searching for the perfect tailor).  We were fortunate enough to find a fabulous cobbler close to work; thus, we can drop off our the shoes first thing in the morning and they’re ready within a day or so for evening pick-up.

Well, there you have it!  Lesson for today:  MIND YOUR MANOLOS (or, whatever your brand of preference).  We know, we know…Something else to keep track of as if we don’t have enough to worry about as it is!  (If it makes you feel any better, guys have to shine their shoes too).  No one said looking corner office chic would be easy!

Monday’s Must-Have: The Timeless Trench

8 Mar

Jil Sander Trench Coat, Net-a-Porter.com, $1,895

We are soooooo thrilled that the trench coat is a timeless piece.  What we adore about this season’s trench is that it comes in vibrant colors.  After experiencing Snowpocalypse 2010 and alternating between charcoal grey, dark brown, and plain ole black coats for most of the winter, we can’t wait to put on some springtime color!  No better way to usher color into your career wardrobe than in your outerwear.  You can flirt with color a little more in your selection of outerwear than you can with other pieces because you take coats and other outerwear off before starting a meeting or hearing.  So show a bit of your creative side!  Pick a conservatively cut trench coat in a bold, express-yourself color!  Here are some of the head-turning colors we’ve seen in trenches for the season:

Burberry Ruffled Trench, Nordstrom, $795.00

Bottega Veneta, Net-a-Porter.com, $1,100

Below are some more budget-conscious picks:

Michael Kors Trench, Nordstrom, $138

Impermeable Platinum by Weatherproof, Nordstrom, $98

Old Navy Trench, $49.50

And for the wild ones among us, here’s a zebra print Lauren by Ralph Lauren for ya ($199 at both Lord & Taylor and Macy’s)!   (While we might not be bold enough to wear this one to work, we’re seriously considering it for non-work outfits.  Cute, cute!  Would definitely want to try it on first though since prints like this one aren’t always the most flattering to all body types.)

It’s A Wrap: Scarves!

5 Mar

Ombre Scarf, Banana Republic, $59.50

 One accessory that we want to incorporate into our wardrobes more is the scarf.  A scarf can jazz up a drab outfit, add new flair to an old one and even make a revealing top more modest.  Here are just a couple of the scarves we’ve been eyeing for our Spring wardrobe:

Waterflower Scarf, Anthropologie, $58

We also like this polka-dot scarf at The Limited ($29.50).  If you’re like us and have been a bit shy about wearing different types of scarves because you don’t quite know how to tie them, we found this You Tube video on various ways (both office-appropriate and casual) to wear scarves very helpful:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCVEvCiVigU.  Also, Chico’s has a brief tutorial at http://www.chicos.com/store/browse/shelf.jsp?cat=Accessories+Wraps++Scarves&subCatId=cat40031&catId=cat40006.   Just thought we’d share…

Not Your Grandma’s Tweed!

4 Mar

Jil Sander collection at Milan Fashion Week 2010

We have always adored the timeless little Chanel-inspired tweed jacket, so we were happy to see tweed on the runway from Jil Sander’s collection at Milan Fashion Week  for Autumn/Winter 2010/2011 (pictured above) (we have to admit that, while we can’t see ourselves wearing the Jil Sander pieces, we were just thrilled to discover that tweed is en vogue again this year). 

We were even more excited to see to-die-for, office-appropriate cropped tweed jackets in stores.  We love the little tweed jacket because it gives such a sophisticated look and can be worn so many ways.  Of course, it can be worn the classic way – to the office or a power lunch with a pencil skirt.  But it can also be worn with jeans or, as we were surprised to see in some pics, with a tee and short shorts!   Of course, we would never advise wearing shorts to the office, but some of you may be able to get away with a tweed jacket and jeans on Casual Friday, during business travel time to and from the hotel/airport, or while working on the weekend.

Check out all the ways designers are showing off their tweeds this season (granted, these looks would not work for the office, but they’ll give you ideas of how to transform your office look into a more casual evening or weekend look).  We admit we’re a little challenged when it comes to incorporating our work wardrobe into our more casual wardrobe, so we thought this may inspire you as it does us (we wouldn’t go to the extremes of wearing a sweatshirt hoodie, clogs or skinny cropped pants with our jackets as seen below, but these pics help get our creative juices flowing).

Kate Spade's 'Addie', Kate Spade.com, $495

Kate Spade 'Tutti Frutti Addie', KateSpade.com, $495

(Courtesy of Style Hive, originated from Lisannebee)

Shown Above, Kate Spade 'Addie'

Chanel, Spring 2010 Collection

(Courtesy of Imaxtree)

Tory Burch 'Roscoe' Tweed Jacket, Bloomingdale's, $595

The Simple Makeup Rule: Wear It!

2 Mar

 

Yves Saint Laurent 'Rouge Volupte' Lipstick, Sephora, $34

One rule for the chic, professional woman is (repeat after me) always wear makeup in the office.  I know, I know…Some of you may hate makeup and, if you have the glowing, flawless, blemish-free skin of a newborn babe, then perhaps you can get away with wearing no makeup (and if you are so blessed, please, please, please share your invaluable beauty secrets with us, the less fortunate beings that we are).  Most of us, however, were realistically (whether we want to face it or not) just not blessed with the ageless appearance of a goddess, so we must do a little extra to get that polished look that’s office-ready.   Also, keep in mind:  even if you are enjoying refreshment from a seemingly-eternal fountain of youth, younger-looking women often look intern-young when they go bare-faced to the office; makeup can add sophistication to your look.

Many women suffer from serious fatigue because we juggle so much – we’re not only professionals, but we take on countless other roles including volunteer, mom, wife/partner, community activist, faithful friend, and the list goes on.  Nevertheless, to remain successful in our careers, we have to summon up enough energy to drag our rear ends out of our beds and to our desks each morning (with the help of strong, caffeinated beverages, of course). 

While many of you definitely have legitimate reasons for being utterly exhausted (we know we do), appearances still matter in the workplace.  You do not want to bump into your boss first thing in the morning, looking like you just got hit by a freakin’ Mack truck; rather, you want to look excited to be arriving at the office (even if you’re not) and ready to take on the next high-profile  assignment (even if you’re not).  Thank goodness, makeup can help you in the looking-excited-and-ready-to-work department even on days when your mind has checked out and your body is longing to be lounging in Maui.

Now, ladies, don’t get us wrong.  We are by no means telling you to cake layer upon layer of brightly-hued makeup onto your faces; showing up at work looking like a clown is right up there with looking like you got hit by a Mack truck.  In our opinion, the best office look is a natural look (however, Forbes Woman says bold makeup can be office-appropriate if you know how to work it; we just don’t trust ourselves with the bold look for the office). 

If you’re not sure how to achieve the best natural look for you, get thee to your nearest department store where you can seek counsel from a consultant at your preferred makeup counter.  Also, once you’ve got the right makeup in your bag, please try to find time in your hectic day to touch up; smudged eyeliner, smeared lipstick and greasy skin do not convey energy and enthusiasm, my friends.

We are interested in knowing our readers’ and friends’ top five office makeup essentials.  Our top five office makeup must-haves are (1) a good concealer to hide those dark circles from getting five hours or less of sleep; (2) a foundation to give our skin a smooth, flawless finish; (3) a colorless blot powder to control shine throughout the day; (4) a lipstick that is not necessarily nude but that complements our skin tone without looking goth, vampish, or punk-rockish; and (5) mascara to give our eyelashes a lift and eyes a pop.

While taking inventory of our bulging makeup bags, we realized that we have contributed way too much of our income to MAC Cosmetics and need to broaden our horizons a little (while we’ve never actually tried the YSL lipstick pictured above, we feel compelled to because its packaging is oh-so-pretty).  Below, in order of preference, are the five pieces of makeup we’d choose (knowing what we know today) if we were stranded on an island with no other makeup (thank goodness we’re not because we’re major PJs (product junkies)):

MAC Select Sheer SPF15 Foundation, MacCosmetics.com, $26

MAC Studio Finish SPF 35 Concealer, MacCosmetics.com, $16.50

MAC Lipstick, MacCosmetics.com, $14

Our favorite shade of MAC lipstick is ‘Fetish’ (a brown with a hint of shimmer) (not the color shown – we’re not bold enough to wear this red to the office). 

MAC Zoom Lash, MacCosmetics.com, $13

 While we must admit that we also adore DiorShow Iconic Mascara, at $27 a pop, we’ve scaled down our taste to the $13 MAC Zoom Lash since, in our view, they give about the same effect (we tried one product on one set of lashes and one on the other and could hardly tell the difference, but we may need glasses). 

MAC Blot Pressed Powder, MacCosmetics.com, $22

 We would love to hear about your office makeup essentials; perhaps you can provide a more diverse selection of product brands and convince us to venture away from MAC! 

And, last but not least, thanks to our dear friend Terri for inspiring us to write this post about office makeup!

Monday’s Must-Have: The White Blouse

1 Mar

Robert Rodriguez Blouse, Zappos.com, $125

Every professional woman (no, make that every woman) needs a few white blouses in her arsenal.  One of these blouses must be simple and versatile (yes, your traditional button-down in a nice, quality material will do) – it can be worn with a power suit or (depending on the material) can be dressed down with a pair of jeans, funky jewelry and heels.  While not necessarily the most exciting piece in your wardrobe (in fact, shopping for the most classic white blouse can be pretty boooring), it is an office essential and will likely become one of the most-worn pieces you own. 

When you’re having one of those I-don’t-have-a-clue-what-to-wear moments, a classic white blouse might be just what you need.  A chic look is wearing a simple white blouse under a v-neck sweater with a thin belt.  You can also add a wide belt and pencil skirt (just not too tight, working ladies) with high heels and there you have it…ooh, la, la.  Also, you may want to pair your blouse of choice with black slacks and a red pump for pop.   Soooo maaaany options…and we love options!

In addition to your simple, classic white blouse, you may also want to get a more statement-making one.  There are plenty of ultra-feminine white blouses out there right now.  For your viewing pleasure, here are a few girly-girl ones that caught our attention (and we just love, love, love the Rodriguez blouse above, but could probably never manage to get that tie like the one in the picture ever):

First, the wraps which are so flattering for most any shape.

Lauren by Ralph Lauren's Faux Wrap Blouse w/ ruffles and sash, Bloomingdale's, $79.50

Diane von Furstenburg Batiste 'Rasmula' Wrap, Bloomingdale's, $210

 Then, a ruched option with a simple ruffle.

Natorius Novelty Shirt, Bloomingdales, was $275, now $137.50

 And, last but not least, a bow-adorned beauty…Although we couldn’t find a large picture of the blouse below which is so uniquely adorned in bows, we had to post it anyway because it is such a gem.  Dying to go to Neiman Marcus to see it in person!

This one is adorned with the most interesting bows (click image to check out a larger pic at Neiman Marcus). Go Silk Bow Blouse, Neiman Marcus, $150

For the more budget-conscious, check out this Ann Taylor Loft ruched and ruffled option for $39.50 or this Empirio Armani bowtie blouse on sale for $39.00 (but hurry and get it because, in our experience, supplies in the right size(s) of cute white blouses do not last). 

If you don’t have a fundamental crisp, white blouse (or two), stock up, stock up before Spring arrives!