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dress

Got this dress in a cute print for $19.99. Dont know what Im going to wear under it since I cant do spaghetti straps alone, but I just loved the knit. Cheaper and cuter than I found at Target last month!

I’ve been trying to stay cool lately with my Summer Business Casual , and our deathmama is keeping us in line with What Not to Wear to the Ballpark in 103 Degree heat. Yet summer’s not over! We’re in for another week of High 80’s, which around here is hot.  And yes, I know all about “close your house up during the day” but that barely keeps us below 85 at night. We’re in for more sultry nights with a King-Sized bed full of cats and toddlers (I’ve got the only room with an a/c and no, you’re not invited).

Ann Taylor Loft (ATL) has really good summer clearance stock right now. I’m meh on ATL — display clothes look cute, but they run short-waisted (I don’t).  It’s not THAT cheap considering it’s Ann’s “value” line.  Should t-shirts you buy in a LOFT really cost $34.99?

But the summer sale is a nice surprise.  Plenty of inventory, especially in sizes 10 and 12. Cute shorts, tees, filmy little tops, and a few different cotton dresses at Target-scale prices ($9.99- $19.99).  Great colors (salmon, plum and prints) and neutrals (white, navy, and whatever we’re calling khaki these days).

dress

Denim capris, $19.99. Do not wear striped underwear with these

I got two tops and a pair of white jeans. I’ve been debating white denim since Spring. Some of you look damn cute in it but I’m conflicted.  Thie might relate to a bad date I had in the 80’s while wearing a pair of white Guess jeans (ankle zip). Or maybe it’s the time I told my sister I could see her striped underwear through her shorts. She rightfully got pretty testy with me, but it was kind of a lose-lose situation, because are you supposed to say nothing?  Oh and this was three years ago.

But I liked the white jeans on me, they are very fresh and clean-looking, and a killer fit that looks sexy and cute and not at all like “Laura Bush wears Lands End to Camp David,” or whatever that model has going on.

Five weeks of summer left! Don’t give up on getting dressed and staying cool.

For Aki: Lots of fine-gauge knit cardigans at ATL!

For Aki: Lots of fine-gauge knit cardigans at ATL!

Edited by deathmama: I have to do whatever Robin does so I dashed over to Ann Taylor Loft this afternoon and purchased a black tank top on sale. I know it looks like every other black tank top I own but it is really nice and I feel good in it. There is a ruching detail at the chest which I love. The cardigan option Robin posted for me was too “sweatery” for me. I did try on a grey ruffly cardigan thing that I liked but for $69 I think I can get something I like more at Anthropologie so I put it back.

are people getting sick of this same old look yet? i just love black top and denim bottom. i'll branch out soon, i swear. $14.99

are people getting sick of this same old look yet? i just love black top and denim bottom. i'll branch out soon, i swear. $14.99

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by deathmama

What about no pants? My friend Amigo just posted on her facebook status that her workplace dress code specifies no T-shirts. She is some kind of computer geek, so wow. My husband is also a computer geek and T-shirts are allowed but no shorts. My friend C who works in retail says jeans and chinos are a no-no.

this guy was wheeling and dealing at starbucks. and i have to say, snore.

this guy was wheeling and dealing at starbucks. and i have to say, snore.

I worked at the U and there was absolutely no code of any sort. In fact there was a secretary upstairs that walked around the building barefoot during the summer. I pointed out once that it was against the dress code and he sent me a copy of a page from the University manual which did not specifically prohibit bare feet. I countered with how unsanitary it was and of course he found something online that touted the benefits of going barefoot (I just found out he has terminal cancer and has only a year to live. Should have just left him alone to enjoy whatever he wanted to do).

he doesn't have to worry about whether he's too sexy for work. he already is!

he doesn't have to worry about whether he's too sexy for work. he already is!

What’s appropriate and what isn’t? What is written and what is implied? Which rules can and should you ignore? Can you be too “sexy” at work? Everyone around the office wore shorts in the summer but I once shocked an older lady professor by wearing “cut-offs.” My sister’s work place ignored her wearing tank tops but then told a somewhat larger co-worker of hers that tank tops were not allowed (more skin/meat = inappropriate?). How random! Once again, demonstrating how unfair fashion is. I recently saw my friend B who was wearing a plain white T-shirt and jeans but she looked so fresh and summery (The T-shirt probably cost $68). But if anyone else older or larger was wearing a white T-shirt and jeans they may look like a frumpy slob. So is it not so much the clothes but the person? If you look fine, who cares?

their dress code is "tacky" and they are succeeding

their dress code is "tacky" and they are succeeding

Though… I have to admit I am in agreement with Robin on what she wears to work. I think that if you work with the public and the outcome and direction of someone else’s life depends on the impression you give then you really have to be careful. I was unknowingly wearing too low necklined shirts at a previous job but the only person I might have offended/entertained were my coworkers who weren’t buying or selling anything from or to me.

an example of how you can be both conservative and fun (or weird/creepy)

an example of how you can be both conservative and fun (or weird/creepy)

I’d like to add though, that if you work in an image heavy industry, then please follow through. I hate going to a hip looking person for a haircut and coming out with something boring and dowdy.

your author in rolled up AG jeans, pink leopard print tank. and burrito. tip of the day: when you roll up your pants you can store napkins and garbage in them.

your author in rolled up AG jeans, pink leopard print tank. and burrito. tip of the day: when you roll up your pants you can store napkins and garbage in them.

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Sweet Pea Nylon top, short-sleeved, linen pants, ballet flats

Sweet Pea Nylon top, short-sleeved, linen pants, ballet flats

I work in an office with central air conditioning; if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be sane enough to write this post.  It is a record-breaking 104 degrees here today.  I just read that only 14% of the homes in the Seattle area have central air. My home does not.  It is 90 degrees down in the living room where the thermostat is.  Hotter upstairs where the computer is.

I don’t like to say “Thank Goodness I don’t have to wear a suit to work every day,” because really? If I was in a place in my career that required suits, I’d bring the suits.  Day after day, I would make the suit look great. I would wear the best damn suits and shoes in the place and I’d be grateful for the opportunity to looking Suit-tastically Awesome.

But Business Casual is feeling pretty good in the heat. I broke a sweat before leaving the house, again while dropping my daughter off at daycare, and even more in the parking lot of my building.  I don’t know that anyone else has this exact wardrobe problem this week.  But I’m kind of proud of myself for not melting, crying and/or caving and waering my Alfani Petunia flip-flops to a deposition, so I decided to tell the world about what I’ve worn so far.

Cotton ruffle-front tank from The Gap, Tahari suit skirt, pink croc-embossed slingbacks

Cotton ruffle-front tank from The Gap, Tahari suit skirt, pink croc-embossed slingbacks

Classiques Entier ruched top, cotton plaid skirt from Target Juniors, pink slingbacks

Classiques Entier ruched top, cotton plaid skirt from Target Juniors, pink slingbacks

 

Panic purchase: Sleeveless rayon dress from Fred Meyer. No I do not like it. No it doesn't feel cool. I panicked because it was 40% off and I felt like I could solve my problems by shopping.

Panic purchase: Sleeveless rayon dress from Fred Meyer. No I do not like it. No it doesn't feel cool. I panicked because it was 40% off and I felt like I could solve my problems by shopping.

 Yes, I had a bit of a Bargain Binge at Target and Fred Meyere. It felt like they just HAD to have that perfect $20 cotton sundress.  I got a blouse, skirt and dress (without trying it on). The skirt works — above — but is a long story that I don’t want to tell just yet.  The other stuff, I have to return, and how no fun is that?

. . . to be continued with my Thursday and Friday outfits.  I think tomorrow I’ll revisit the linen pants with a sleeveless silk top. Friday it is supposed to be a tad cooler. I might wear a short-sleeved dress.

Hot.

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(With mixed success)

 
1. Brown silk cardigan, orange floral blouse, black camisole, charcoal trousers

1. Brown silk cardigan, orange floral blouse, black camisole, charcoal trousers

Here are some pictures of me in work clothes. I am a lawyer. I am not much of a photographer. It took me ten shots to get a suitably cool facial expression tonight (left). I don’t know if I have a style, much less whether these pictures express it. The other pictures were taken when I bought new clothes and was modelling them for my family last fall, and I cropped my unsuitably uncool dorky face out, and now we have a post for Wednesday.

1. Summer business casual. I like this print blouse, it has a tie-thingy and great ruching around the bust. The cardigan also has a tie-thingy, and double tie-thingies didn’t quite work. The cardigan is also SUPERLONG which is not cool for work, but I just love it, so huh. Good example of wearing a camisole under an otherwise too-deep v-neck. Good illustration of how I like to mix dark neutrals and how I like orange.

2. Macy's Petite Suit

2. Business suit with sapphire blue blouse. This is a high-energy suit, not as conservative as I’d wear for the courtroom. I’m more comfortable with a structured color and subdued colors in front of a judge. This is good for a meeting or deposition with other lawyers. I got the suit at a Macy’s sale. It’s a petite, which I need for the inseam, but the jacket is too short. I don’t really care about having the hem of my blouse show — especially when it’s a beautiful color — but I wish it fit better. I love the blue silk with the gold chain. Go Bobcats!

 

 

  

 

Brown sheath dress, beaded necklace, brown heels, jean jacket

3. Brown sheath dress, beaded necklace, brown heels, jean jacket

3. This is my happy dress: it’s a perfect fit, and this is the first time I had something hemmed to the exact length I wanted just to make it cuter. The shoes are Circa Joan & David and have a little menswear-inspired pattern on them. I think the dark wash and stitching on that jean jacket works, although in the picture it’s a little more Mom Jeans than I realized. I need to just not go Eddie Bauer if I’m trying to avoid Mom Jeans, maybe? Also, that necklace was supercheap and it superbroke.  Like the wire untwisted, I thought I was pushing my thumb into the clasp but  it was the edge of a wire. It punctured into the skin of my thumb and got stuck hanging out.

 

Pale pink H&M blouse, dark trousers, kitten heels

4. Pale pink H&M blouse, dark trousers, kitten heels

 4. This blouse has a tuxedo-ruffle detail that looks great with a suit jacket. Untucked and without a jacket, it takes on the romantic-flowy and/or sloppy look, which is fine for a regular workday. I used to hate heels with pants EVER, but I’m a total convert. I really can’t say no to slimming AND sassy, and I’ve been able to find comfortable ones (my max is about a 2.5″ heel, anything else shortens my stride too much). 

 

 

5. I wore this coat and boots all winter. The tights made the outfit. The knit dress, maybe a mistake. It looked fine from my angle when I wore it, but knit dresses are obviously pretty hard to pull off without looking lumpy. The turquoise medallion necklace was a hand-me-down from my mother-in-law:

Gray knit dress with floral-print tights, black low-heel boots, black Anne Klein raincoat.
Gray knit dress with floral-print tights, black low-heel boots, black Anne Klein raincoat.

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As soon as I mention “Fashion Rules,” people start arguing with me.  I guess rules beg for resistance.  I never was trying to impose a ban on clothes I don’t approve of (except MAYBE visors . . . more on that later).  I’ve noticed that everyone has their own self-imposed fashion rules, anyway.  Our UNwritten rules about what we’ll wear often don’t make sense and usually hold us back.  And most of us are walking around unhappy with the way we dress.

My story: In 2008 I went back to work after 18 months home with my kids.  It was time to give away my maternity clothes (hard to do — I love those stretchy waists, and for reasons that are sort of difficult, I can’t have more kids). I started unpacking my old work clothes and realized: 1. They were stretched out, worn out and didn’t fit and 2. I never really liked them in the first place. They represented a time when I didn’t like my job and fought the requirement to dress professionally. Sometimes I wore the same thing two days in a row because no one noticed me anyway.  These were bummer clothes.  

In those days — the “what can I get away with” days — I had unwritten rules that limited what I would or “could” wear — this was in my Business Casual (lawyer) wardrobe:

ROBIN’S OLD (BUMMER WARDROBE) RULES

  • No heels.
  • No pantyhose.
  • Actually just wear boots with thick athletic socks, or sandals in summer.
  • But not heels.
  • Nothing that tucks in.
  • Nothing that needs to be ironed.
  • Actually, let’s stick to knits.
  • Nothing that doesn’t match my one pair of black boots.

As part of my obligatory Mom-goes-back-to-work daydreaming, I was browsing catalogs.  There are a lot of cute clothes out there, and it started to dawn on me that maybe I could wear them.  Could I actually Dress Well at a new job?  Could I wear a suit without looking like an elderly high school principal (I’m 36?) Could the clothes I’ve resisted all my life –heels and skirts, nice handbags and blouses – actually work in my favor?

Did I have a prayer of ever pulling it all together?

This was a bigger revelation than it sounds.  It actually kind of changed my life and the way I think about myself.  I became a devoted disciple of What Not to Wear, and I adopted their idea of “rules.” Here was my first list:

 ROBIN’S NEW SHOPPING RULES (August 2008)

  • No juniors department
  • No. Polyester.
  • No clothes from Costco, Target or Fred Meyer. At least until next summer.
  • Try EVERYTHING ON before buying. No catalog/online sprees.
  • Buy pants and skirts that look good in the butt and get them hemmed (they are always too long)
  • Dark neutrals other than black
  • No elastic waists — buy clothes that fit and then don’t gain weight
  • No schlumpy sweaters (I got rid of this Used-to-be-beautiful striped cardigan when I realized it looked just like an awful one someone was “too attached to” on What not to Wear).
  • Keep copies of InStyle and Vogue in the bathroom so I get used to people looking stylish

Since then I’ve added some rules and ignored many.  More on that to come . . .

Dressed and ready for new job!

Dressed and ready for new job!

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