Just like last week, this week, instead of “Just One Thing” we’ll be covering the rest of our reader questions about work and your wardrobe. For a refresher, check out part one and then read on for more answers to your questions!
5. What about my hair? And nails? What is appropriate? Can I rock natural hair? The hottest nail trends?
Just as I mentioned last week, pay attention to those around you for clues as to what is appropriate for hair and nails at the office. Let’s start with your hair. Overall, you want your hair to be neat and well-kempt whether your hair is straight, curly, processed, natural, whatever! Natural hair is definitely more accepted in the workplace, so do not be afraid to wear your hair naturally if you are so inclined. Just make sure that it is appropriate – a ginormous ‘fro (though beautiful) may not be appropriate for an investment or law firm. Something like twists, curls or braids might be more appropriate. I can’t stress enough how important environment is in determining the most appropriate hairstyle for the workplace.
As far as your nails are concerned, I think you have a little more leeway in what you do. While I’m not encouraging you to rock a neon yellow, tiger print nail in the country’s most conservative of firms – I am saying that you can step outside of the french manicured box. Generally, it is OK to try a bright color in the summer or have an accent nail. If you’re going to do something a bit more creative with your nails (especially in corporate America) there are a few simple guidelines you can follow.
- Keep nails short and squared with soft edges. This looks less severe than the newly popular long, oval shaped nail. It will also hold up with a dark or light polish.
- Avoid too trendy colors. I love all of the blues, greens, pinks and oranges that are hot right now for nails. If you’re going to rock one of these shades, opt for a more pastel hue (I’m a fan of “Turquoise and Caicos” by Essie), a softer shade (love “Ballet Slippers” by Essie) or a complimentary tone (think “Cute as a Button” by Essie which is a coral based orange and less severe than a straight up orange).
- Embellish within reason. I love a good sparkle. But ten sparkly nails would be a bit much for the office. Instead, I either opt for a “bling finger” (a sparkly polish painted on one finger on each hand) or my tips with a touch of sparkle (think a French mani with Set in Stones by Essie and not your basic white tips).
6. How can I take my work look from day to night?
This is something I struggle with all the time. How do you take a look that is work-appropriate and make it appropriate for after work. The truth is, it’s very simple. One of the easiest and fastest ways to do this is by simply switching your jewelry, shoes and bag and switching out your make-up as Torrey instructed a few weeks ago. To switch your jewelry from day to night try switching out a pearl necklace for a statement necklace, diamond or pearl studs for a sparkly hoop and more delicate rings for stackable or cocktail rings. For your shoe game, toss those black pumps after five and throw on something more fun like a colored peep toe, a suede bootie, or a sequined pump. As far as bags go, ditch your work tote and pull out a sleek envelope clutch or vintage style purse with a chain strap (I’m thinking Chanel or Chanel-inspired as it may be). Finally, change up your make-up following Torrey’s easy step and you’ve transformed your look from day to night in no time at all!
7. Can you be too dressy for work?
A little back story (via Twitter): “Coworker has on pretty lace blk dress. Problem, looks like [it’s] for a funeral or cocktail party.”
The short answer is yes, you can be too dressy for work. Not just because you’re wearing a cocktail dress to the office (which, I’ve absolutely done and been able to tone down) but because you’re over dressing for your industry. I would not expect a production manager for a television show to be in a three-piece suit and wing tips. It’s overdressing for the situation and not very practical! So while lace is all the rage right now (I’ve got a pretty lace embellished top in my closet I’m dying to wear) a full on dress made of it may not be appropriate at the office if your office is corporate. However, it may be entirely appropriate if your office is at Vogue. When dressing for work, you have to know your environment and then dress accordingly.
8. What is the best advice you can give me about my work gear?
The first thing is what I’ve said all along, pay close attention to what everyone around you is wearing and follow suit. It is OK to slightly over-dress (within reason), but use what everyone else is wearing as your baseline.
The second piece of advice I would say is dress for the job you want, not the job you have – and not just in the office. Style is 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. So, even when I’m not in the office, I dress for what I want to do (which is turn my blog/event planning/styling into an empire – I’m talking world domination here). This doesn’t mean I wear suits all day every day. But, it does mean that when I’m in the office, I dress appropriately and stylishly. And on the weekends, I don’t default to sweats or basketball shorts. I still dress appropriately and stylishly because I realize that part of getting where I want to be is looking the part.
I hope you found this information to be helpful and worthwhile. What other questions do you have about dressing for work? Or anything really! Remember you can always send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us your questions (@urchicisshowing)!