Dress for Success

I'm feeling like we need some fluff this Friday -- something as close to retail therapy as we can get online without whipping out our credit cards. (Not that there is anything wrong with that.)

Two recent articles dug into the effects of attractiveness at work and that's what I'd like to debate (in a poofy way) today.

Dressed for Work? For Women, Suits Still Wield Power by the Washington Post's fashion reporter, Robin Givhan, covers a New York charity breakfast for Dress for Success featuring "a variety of women in their ideal professional attire...represent[ing] a range of industries: media, entertainment, insurance and banking." Givhan's main point here is that everyone had on a blazer, no one was wearing a dress, and that it's a shame that designers have not come up with dresses exuding femininity, confidence and power. In the print version of the article there were several fantastic "do" photos of Condoleezza Rice and Meredith Vieira wearing powerful, sexy, confident pantsuits. Not a dress to be found.

The second article tackles the centuries-old question of whether attractive people are more successful in Do Pretty People Earn More? The article explores the unfair but often legal practice of discrimination against people because of their looks (a study by the Journal of Labor reports that the very attractive earn nearly 15% more than unattractive folks) and cites a lovely anecdote about a woman whose boss wouldn't take her on a business trip unless she got her teeth fixed.

So let's hear stories about your fashion philosophy, your favorite clothes, the worst ensemble you've ever witnessed at work, what shoes tell you about a person, how clothes are used to signal working and at-home moms, and please answer the question: if you were the women with bad teeth, what would you do?

I'll go first. A formative moment for me was hearing a bigwig female exec tell a room full of Wharton students the truth that in the competitive business world if men remembered her for the fact that she was attractive, all the better. I never met a coatdress I didn't love. Wrap dresses can be sexy and powerful. I have an incredibly boring (but comfortable) set of navy, black and taupe low heels. My taste in shoes is so abominable that one of my employees threatened to quit if I ever wore a certain pair of Naturalizer white pumps again. (He was right. They were hideous. When I left the company I autographed the left pump for him as a memento.) I love dressing like a stay-at-home mom on days I don't go to the office because other stay-at-home mothers are much nicer to me then. And I would have fixed my teeth long before any boss gave me a hard time precisely so no one at work could ever penalize me for something as paradoxically important and irrelevant as my smile.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  January 26, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Free-for-All
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First!

Posted by: First Comment | January 26, 2007 7:16 AM

Dammit, I wanted to be first.

Posted by: Jack Bauer | January 26, 2007 7:18 AM

and the Chinese gave me some seriously ugly shoes.

Posted by: Jack Bauer | January 26, 2007 7:24 AM

Interesting post. I'm the first to admit I have absolutely terrible fashion sense, and it was mentioned to me at least once during a review when I was practicing. Not that I wore capris and a tube top to the office or anything; I was more often than not attired in black dress pants and a 3/4-length sleeved button down or sweater. Not much flair, and apparently a little dumpy.

I know that SAHMs with kids are generally easily identifiable because somewhere on their outfit, they'll have slime. I feel like my t-shirts are practically disposable, since after a while, the stains just stop coming out. Who knew I'd spend more on clothes when I'm not going to the office every day?

Finally, while I do think there may be larger-scale discrimination against those who are less attractive, I have a theory that we fat folks have it a little easier on a day-to-day basis. When I was practicing law, I can assure you that nobody was ever looking at my breasts or hemline when I was talking. Meanwhile, my thin, attractive co-workers were treated to a litany of suggestive comments, ranging from partners telling them they should wear skirts more often to making suggestive remarks about what they'd been doing the night before, and with whom. One woman told me a certain partner, who never treated me with anything less than professionalism and respect, commented on her outfit nearly every single day.

Posted by: NewSAHM | January 26, 2007 7:39 AM

I meant SAHMs with young kids.

Posted by: Oops... | January 26, 2007 7:40 AM

What exactly is "dressing like a stay at home mom" and what are you wearing when you don't? Are you wearing Armani to the playground. I just don't even get that statement. Another dig at the SAHMs, nice way to start the day.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 7:42 AM

I used to have a male boss who would criticize my clothes. Now, I admit that I am no fashion king but his red coat was plain ugly! I had a brown tie that some of my co-workers though was the ugliest tie in America. He wanted to take it from me, cut it up and mount it on a plaque!

Fredia did have a similar problem with a boss. She wanted all of her subordinated to dress "professionally" This meant wearing a dress every day. A bit hard to do on a part-time state government salary. Finally, they were allowed to wear medical uniforms, so Fredia is much happier!

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 7:50 AM

So not my topic. I am praying that the "What Not to Wear" folks will find me soon.

Honestly, I'm mostly oblivious to that sort of stuff. I do remember early on in my career being really annoyed at the good-looking women who seemed to have a leg up; but then I realized that at least in my arena, all that gets you is a foot in the door, and you still have to produce once you get there.

Oh, and I've never liked skirts (pantyhose -- blech). When they started making really nice pantsuits for women about 10-15 years ago, I was in heaven. But we're all casual now -- it's generally jeans or khakis and a button-down shirt every day, maybe a blazer if I'm feeling enthused. Yeah, boring as dirt, eh? But with saving for college and retirement and paying off the kitchen remodel, it's just hard to justify spending money on something that seems as frivolous as nice clothes -- especially when the toddler is guaranteed to slobber on it the first time out.

Posted by: Laura | January 26, 2007 7:53 AM

Not a fan of the anon poster, but I'm gonna agree, what does a stay at home mom dress like?

Posted by: moxiemom | January 26, 2007 7:53 AM

When I stayed home full-time with my kids, I wore jeans or shorts, t-shirts or a polo and maybe a sweater or sweatshirt. Nothing that needed dry cleaning EVER, and most of it was from Target -- reasonably fashionable and seriously cheap (though not well made) so that I wouldn't miss it if it was permanently stained. At one point, I realized that my kids were better dressed than I was in their BabyGap and Hanna Andersson, and I started buying some pieces that fit better, wore better, and just made me feel better. It's easy to get in a fashion slump if you stay home with your kids.

While I love the convenience of a casual work environment, I remember fondly the days when I actually felt better about the way I looked, partially due to the professional attire I was required to wear. These days, those motherhood pounds try to hide in black pants and Danskos, and I catch a glimpse of myself sometimes and think "Is that really what I look like?" but until What Not To Wear finds me, it's just the way life is!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | January 26, 2007 7:56 AM

When I was in law school (only 3 years ago), we had student judge in a school court competition tell the female competitors in the after critique that they should never wear a pantsuit! Needless to say, when I ran the competition the next year, I told them that I had better not hear anything remotely like that! But at the same time, we had two female competitors that purposely wore very short skirt suits in and "hope we get male judges because we look cute!" AGH!

Posted by: Betty | January 26, 2007 7:58 AM

You know, I was poised to write about all the points you brought up - about how it felt to get a "talking to" by my first (male) boss about what is appropriate dress for the office (I realized quickly he wasn't being mean, but was doing me a favor) and how I felt 10 years later wanting to give the same talk to some of our interns. But this part of your blog today really hit a nerve with me:

"please answer the question: if you were the women with bad teeth, what would you do?"

I tried really hard for ten + years in the workplace (until moving and becoming a SAHM) to convince myself that it didn't matter that my teeth weren't perfect (the orthodontist I went to as a kid was a useless waste of space) or that having less than perfect skin wasn't the end of the world. It really hurts to think, to know, to have you affirm, that maybe it was a big deal.

I was able, after various hard-core treatments over the course of a year with my very patient dermatologist, to get a grip on the skin situation - and I did, in fact, notice a slight difference in the way I was treated at work. I always thought (hoped) it was because I felt and exuded more confidence, but maybe it was just a reaction to being considered "more attractive."

I feel like I have less control over the less-than-perfect teeth, since that requires a greater financial committment I can't make right now, but I am seriously considering doing the orthodontics a second time, perhaps when my daughter gets to the age where she needs braces - maybe we can do it together.

Back to the clothes - I never really felt judged by what I did or didn't wear. I was always fortunate to work in "business casual" environments, where a nice top or sweater with dress pants or a skirt was always sufficient. Seriously, where I used to work, if I showed up in a full skirt or pant suit, everyone thought I had either a) been on an interview with some big shot (I was a reporter), or b) I'd been on a job interview.

My favorite dressing experiences were when I was pregnant, frankly, because I found the workplace to be so forgiving. I was able to dress even more casually (and comfortably!) than ever because I was massively pregnant in DC in the summer, and nobody seemed to care what I wore, they were just thrilled and impressed that I got to work each day.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 8:03 AM

I think I look best in ao dai. It is elegant, professional and slightly alluring. Now, I need to loose a few pounds so I can fit in it again.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 26, 2007 8:12 AM

Well, I will share that my self confidence improved when I went back to work part-time after staying home for almost five years. Whether it was needing to have clean, unwrinkled non-stretch pants on, perhaps !even! a skirt, or the simple fact of a professional life once again, I haven't decided.

Posted by: NC Mom | January 26, 2007 8:13 AM

Agreed on the "dressing like a SAHM" comment - a little tacky to be lumping all SAHM's into a bad dress category. I know plenty of SAHMs that dress like they are going to nighclubs half the time: Low-rider jeans, belly shirts, flat-ironed hair, perfect make-up - it is so silly. I know looking good is important to many people, myself included, but looking appropriate is just as important. Volunteering at school in knee-high boots, tight skirt, dressy leather jacket? And no - these women are not on their way to the office.

About harrassment - when I was about 25 I worked in a very conservative office. We implemented "Casual Friday" - some people started to wear old jeans, ripped t-shirts, etc. It was refined and there were some strict guidelines. I wore a pair of nice black capris with a black t-shirt -neither of which were too tight, pair of casual low heeled sandals - to work on a Friday. The manager of the office pulled me aside and told me that although he saw nothing wrong with my outfit, it made one of my male co-workers "uncomfortable and unable to concentrate" and I shouldn't wear the outfit again. I told him I thought that was BS - and he agreed - but just reminded me that they had already refined the casual Friday dress code once and if there were continued complaints we'd lose it. So I was being told - look frumpier so as not to excite any middle aged men - or the casual friday was off. I know which man complained - he was constantly oggling the younger women - so I made a complaint against him and his wondering eyes. Strangely it was not taken as seriously as the outfit complaint, which ticked me to no end. I left the co a couple months later (for another job), otherwise I would have pursued the matter.

So I agree to an extent that the frumpier you look, the more work you can get done as no one will "bother" you with looks and comments. Of course if the looks and comments are inappropriate it should be reported.

Posted by: cmac | January 26, 2007 8:14 AM

"but I am seriously considering doing the orthodontics a second time..."

If you can afford it, this is probably one of the best things that you can do for yourself. I had horribly spaced teeth. One tooth was basically in the roof of my mouth rather that my jaw! My late parents made sure that my teeth were straightened. I still thank them for this many years after they went on.

Fredia has perfect teeth, but of course 3 of 4 of our children got mine!

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 8:15 AM

For the teeth, I'd think really hard about how _I_ thought I looked. If I agreed they were awful and could afford the work, I'd consider that a convincing reason to get it done. If I disagreed that it was a problem (and I actually wanted to go on trips) I'd start looking for another job.

Topics like this make me so glad I'm an engineer. At my first job I struggled to define the dress code because just about everyone I saw was a male engineer in a blue collared shirt and khakis. The only women were in HR or business development, and they dressed entirely differently. I did the blue shirt and khakis thing for a while, but have eventually branched out to some skirts and more interesting blouses. My husband thinks I worry too much (he works at the same company, and goes to work in jeans and a polo shirt every day). I think that as a young woman in a male-dominated field, maintaining a slightly more formal style of dress can only help me be taken seriously. I hope I'm right.

Posted by: SPC | January 26, 2007 8:20 AM

Wow. This is another topic where Leslie seems to have intentionally written it in such a way as to exclude the men.

This issue is not unique to women/moms in the workplace, so why paint it that way?

The workplace equally discriminates against "ugly" or unkept men.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 8:20 AM

I had a boss once say that people should dress for the job you WANT to have. People can imagine you better in that role if they can see it. Of course she meant always wear conservative power suits. Works well for corporate-type jobs. Climb that corporate ladder.

But I am a designer. I imagine a graphic designer in conservative power suit and my impression would be that they must not be very creative. Plus, I would never want to "move up" into management. I wear slacks and sweaters to work. (Splitting the difference). Not everyone wants to exude "power" to feel successful.

When I was working at a low-level job where I did archeological-type stff, I guess that meant I should have been dressing more like Indiana Jones to move up...

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 8:23 AM

Naturalizer pumps! My advisor in school wore the same pair of taupe pumps that were *broken* on the sides. She thought that they might be older than her students, but she couldn't actually remember.

She was also very into the girls in her lab wearing pantyhose with skirts when presenting. I was once presenting at a conference and had on a nice navy suit and no tights, just my bare, very Irish legs I inherited from my mother. After I was through my labmate made a comment to my advisor that she let me get up there without pantyhose. My advisor gave my legs a long look and said that she had assumed I was wearing white ones.

Posted by: running | January 26, 2007 8:24 AM

I will answer the teeth thing like this: I have known many people with bad teeth. They didn't have the money to get them fixed and would have jumped at the chance for someone to actually pay to get them fixed for them. I have pretty good teeth thanks to some nice initiative to give kids fluoride treatments at my elementary school when I was little.

Second, I once had an internship boss who told me that I needed to dress more like the other girl in my group. Well, the other girl exercised three hours a day, ate next to nothing, tanned herself silly, and out side of work was the biggest snob ever. I think it was her total image that the boss liked, not her clothes, which is very sad. The same lady also told me to go get my nails done. I was like, yeah I have the money for that, but if she would have paid for it, I would have done it.

On the "what to wear to work issue" I am working right now from home in jeans and a sweat shirt. I am not much of a dress up girl when I am at work and prefer nice slacks and tops, the occasional skirt and in the summer khakis and Capri pants. I love shoes and would buy every pair of Ann Klein shoes ever made if I could afford it. Right now, I limit myself to two pairs a year unless I find them on sale.

It is sad that people are still noticed when they are prettier, but I also think that sometimes it is more about how neat you are too. I once worked with a very nice lady who wore tank tops, long skirts and converse high tops; needless to say a lot of people thought she was a slob.


Posted by: scarry | January 26, 2007 8:29 AM

"Volunteering at school in knee-high boots, tight skirt, dressy leather jacket?"

Sometimes I wonder what world you all live in. I've never seen anyone wear anything near this description to school functions. I've also seen SAHM's wear the ponytail, baggy jeans and sweatshirt everyday or nice-fitting jeans and a nice sweater everyday. Let's not use that 10 foot broad brush again!

I had a feeling the thin-skinned on this blog would call her on the SAHM comment. She probably just meant jeans and a sweater fit in better with the SAHMs than whatever she wears to work, which is probably suits most of the time. I don't think she was saying that all SAHMs wear frumpwear.

Posted by: freetime=metime | January 26, 2007 8:34 AM

SPC, I'm with you on trying to dress a little nicer. I work in an office where clothes run the gamut from jeans and tennis shoes to shirt and tie. When I'm working outside it's jeans, but in the office I do the dress shoes, slacks, and a blouse (khaki and I don't work well, I'm magnetically attracted to food spills). It's nicer than half the office, but it makes me feel like I'm at work.

Of course I also went to Catholic schools and was raised with a uniform and the expectation that one did dress up for work/school each day. Of course the uniform rocked as far as morning decisions went.

Posted by: running | January 26, 2007 8:39 AM

I change into scrubs when I get to work so am very very lucky - in the summer I can wear shorts.

As for the teeth - one thing to think about is that if they are seriously misaligned then you can have jaw and other dental related problems as you age. I know alot of people who have gotten braces in their 40s just for that reason.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 8:41 AM

As much as I hate that it's the case, what you wear makes a huge difference in a professional setting.

Proud Mama is a bit of a fashion plate, and used to get called "lovely" as part of the evals of her moot court exercises in law school. She hated it at the time, but she now recognizes that it helps the judges remember her and it's easier to build credibility over time when the judges remember you. And anybody who makes the mistake of assuming she's just a pretty face realizes she's a good lawyer once they hear her argue.

I've had the experience of a lower-middle class minority upbringing where I was not taken seriously as a young professional who wore what he could afford at the time. A certain % of co-workers and clients would simply dismiss me until I had proved myself in their eyes. As I've gotten older I've built a decent wardrobe and I note that the "judge a book by it's cover" crowd is much more likely to have a better first impression of me if I'm wearing what they perceive to be stylish and well-tailored (read: expensive) suits.

The difference in immediate credibility is so vast, so obvious, and so useful, that I advise all young professionals to build a smart, stylish wardrobe as soon as is practical.

Epilogue: Baby food is really hard to get out of suede. Snot does not look good on silk. Act accordingly.

Posted by: Proud Papa | January 26, 2007 8:44 AM

I also love coat dresses. I have a suite of them in various colors. My power pink dress and coat are great internal pick-me-ups as well as one great presentation outfit. Everyone remembers me and my presentation material. My hunter green is great for presentations to a more staid group: like bankers and such.

However, I do have one awful clothing story. I was an ee prof at the time and very pregnant. I was 7 1/2 months pregnant teaching a class. The students review the teacher at the end of each semester. They a)dinged my pregnancy clothes saying they were awful and said b)I shouldn't have been teaching when pregnant. I like to think these young men would be ashamed of what they wrote 17 years gone by.

Posted by: dotted | January 26, 2007 8:52 AM

Dotted,

As long as it was not sage green!

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 8:54 AM

Hey NewSAHM,

Good Housekeeping says that LLBean's Carefree Unshrinkable T-Shirt is amazingly stain resistent. Don't work for either company, but as a messy person, I do find that stains come out easier so I don;t have to trash things as often

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 8:57 AM

Worst outfit ensemble I have ever seen (and this was in a government building): Fat woman (not heavy, not 'thick' -- fat) wearing a very tight, leopard-skin top with silver, latex-y pants. She had a nice roll of stomach fat hanging out, and concluded her outfit with tiny, stiletto-like pink heels.

I believe I just stared in disbelief as she walked by. And, of course, I take it she thought she looked pretty darn good from the way she was strutting.

Posted by: ilc | January 26, 2007 8:57 AM

They a)dinged my pregnancy clothes saying they were awful and said b)I shouldn't have been teaching when pregnant.

That is harsh and not very kind. What does ee stand for?

Posted by: scarry | January 26, 2007 8:58 AM

My daughters claim that women walk around in public wearing sports bras, exposing their thongs, and pants so low that their butt cracks show.

Can this be confirmed, or are my daughters just poking fun at me and taking advantage of my visual disability by jerking my chain?

Posted by: Father of 4 | January 26, 2007 8:59 AM

proud papa: snot on silk? try breast milk leakage on anything not-natural fiber. Just not a good look to have...he he he

Posted by: dotted | January 26, 2007 8:59 AM

Why are all the "serious" women wearing black suits all the time? Everytime our government agency gets a visit from headquarters (they come in from DC) it looks like a funeral! Why does "professional" have to be so dreary? The tyranny of the dark suits is so depressing.

Posted by: Lucy | January 26, 2007 8:59 AM

I think Leslie might mean that the SAHMs are likely to be at the playground in appropriate clothing, whereas I am likely to head down there with my daughter right from work, still in my work clothes, nice shoes and overcoat so that we have more time to play before dark.

Posted by: nice shoes at the playground | January 26, 2007 9:01 AM

It is true! Many younger women do this!

Posted by: to Father of 4 | January 26, 2007 9:01 AM

Fred, I was quite careful to say hunter green and thought of you. You picked it up! well done!

scarry: ee stands for electrical engineering. I was devastated at the time by their comments, but now that I'm no longer postpartum, I find it more indicative of their lack of experience with life and with women. I was their first woman prof, and it turns out, their only woman prof.

Posted by: dotted | January 26, 2007 9:02 AM

As fas as the SAHM comment, lets try to look at it this way. There is business attire and casual attire. I think most would agree that SAHMs fall into casual attire. I'm sure not at play dates with pantyhose, pumps, and my reasonably-priced Kasper suits that I wear to work. However, even before I had my son I dressed casually when I wasn't at work, but since I didn't have children, no one would call it SAHM attire. In my mind, SAHM equals casual. I can't go to work in my SAHM clothes. I don't understand why SAHMs are offended by this workplace reality.

As for being attractive, it doesn't hurt to put you best face (hair, and nails) forward. In many fields, the employee of either sex is a package that must be sold to clients. Part of that package is how you look, not meaning are you "pretty" but is her hair "done" or well styled, did he shave and groom properly? Making the bset of the features you have is more important than the features alone.

Posted by: caligal | January 26, 2007 9:02 AM

electrical engineering

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 9:03 AM

Dotted,

My dad was a double e. Maybe this is where I got my fashion sense. That or my Marine Corp (sainted) Mother!

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 9:03 AM

Lucy, I wear predominantly black because
a) I have 3 critters with black fur and
b) so when I spill my coffee, it is not so obvious!

Posted by: re black suits | January 26, 2007 9:04 AM

I'm at home right now today so I'm wearing a tennis warmup suit, not my work suits...

but hey, it is still a 'suit!' navy blue even.

Posted by: dotted | January 26, 2007 9:06 AM

I am working from home today, I am wearing black sweats. At least, I think they are black, darn color blindness.

What color is sage green anyway? Maybe a link to it?

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 9:09 AM

I mentioned the other day that Husband has my ideal wardrobe: he figured out how many white shirts, black pants, blue shirts, tan pants, et al he needs. When an item wears out, he replaces it. He doesn't browse in stores and say, "Hey, I like this sweater" and buy it; he figured out a long time ago what works for him and doesn't devote any more thought to it.

I've tried to implement this, both for work and off-time. I only buy clothes in five colors (black, white, red, camel, pale blue). Everything coordinates. Instead of buying a bunch of pairs of Old Navy jeans, I save my money and buy one pair of really good, flattering jeans. I have way fewer clothes than I did five years ago, but they all coordinate, they all fit well, and they're all high quality. It makes a big difference at work.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 26, 2007 9:12 AM

Oh, if only clothes, particularly sexy clothes did not make a difference in the work world. Unfortunately for me in a prior job at a law firm as a paralegal not only was a co-worker promoted she basically pushed me out of my job - she wore very short skirts, high boots with no stockings, probably had implants and talked like a little girl. She was rewarded for this. I wore suits and the usual law office attire and had better collections that she did. When I told people who replaced me/was promoted over me - they were astounded - the two questions they had were: Are they real? (I don't know) and Does she really talk like that? (no, it is fake) I have since changed jobs and don't have this problem. I hate to read articles that say dressing sexy will not get you anywhere in the business world - oh, yes it will. Not that I am willing to dress that way.

Posted by: Patricia Kay | January 26, 2007 9:17 AM

Several years ago I worked for a company where most of the client contact was via phone or e-mail so we could pretty much wear what we wanted in the office. That meant jeans or leggings and sweatshirts a lot of the time. So that's mostly the type of clothing I even owned. Well, I ended up having to go to a trade show to exhibit rather unexpectedly, with two weeks or less notice, to fill in for one of my bosses. I obviously knew I needed to get some clothes but my boss took it upon herself to drill into my head that I needed to be very conservative conservative conservative, not too feminine, business-like. Well, fine. I spent most of a weekend looking for conservative business attire that I still liked, didn't cost too much, and looked nice on me. Well, I went to the trade show and saw people, exhibitors and attendees, wearing all sorts of stuff. Some conservative, a lot not. But just the way this woman stressed what I should wear made me wonder what she thought I was going to buy. Especially since I wasn't particularly impressed with her sense of style.

By the way, Father of 4, yes, there are women who "walk around in public wearing sports bras, exposing their thongs, and pants so low that their butt cracks show." I've even seen it where I work in a government office. I'm sorry, I don't think pants should be cut so low that I can tell what kind of underwear a person is wearing. Ewww.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | January 26, 2007 9:23 AM

When I think of SAHM gear I think of what I wear over the weekend - comfortable clothes (jeans, kakis, shorts, etc) the type of clothes you can get down on the floor and play in.

I work in a field where most people were in the peace corps - so tevas, ethnic wear (clothes from Africa, Asia, etc) mixed with DC wear is the standard. It was all to confusing to me, so last year I purchased two weeks of suits, and just cycle them. It makes getting ready in the morning easy because you are just putting on your uniform, rather than having to pick out an outfit. The other strategy is to make sure that your shirts do not need to be ironed or dry cleaned. This makes dry cleaning bills a bit cheaper because you can wear the suit a couple times, but not usually the shirt.

I have read in a few places that you should dress for success, or at least show that you care what you look like. Make up, earings, clothes, etc all count in some sense. I hate it but it is true. One thing that I have a weakness for is comfortable shoes, and I wear flip flops in the summer, and lands end all weather mocs in the winter (with my suits)... working on that one this winter.

Posted by: single mom | January 26, 2007 9:23 AM

I also subscribe to the "dress for the job you want" camp, so I wear dress pants and nice sweaters. For me, though, two things are more important than what you wear.

The correct fit is essential (any What Not to Wear watchers agree with me?). You could have a nice suit that is too big, and you will look like a slob.

Hair is an issue with me. I have almost waist-length hair, but it's layered and styled, not straggly and gross. I wear it in a bun or braid everyday because I think it's inappropriate to leave long hair down at work. Maybe people will disagree with me, but I think long hair is way too casual for work.

But I'm also the person who refuses to wear heels and make-up to work, so maybe people will think that that is unprofessional.

Father of 4, it's sadly true. I see that a lot. My husband and I have this joke where we point out visible thongs. I guess I was like that a few years ago in college, but now it makes me cringe.

I am also amazed by the women who always look the same, i.e., who have full make-up, flat-ironed hair, and designer jeans at noon on a weekday and at midnight on the weekend. At work, I wear pants and sweaters. After work and on the weekend days, I wear jeans and sweatshirts or tee shirts. On weekend nights, I wear the make-up and designer jeans and flat-iron my hair. You'd never catch me at the grocery store in heels and big earrings. Imagine the time spent in front of the mirror!

Posted by: Meesh | January 26, 2007 9:25 AM

A word of advice about pointy-toed spike heels. I wore high heels every day to work for a million years. I know they look fetching and do great things for the appearance of your legs. The end result is now I can't wear decent-looking shoes anymore. They ruined my feet. Now I'm relegated to wearing comfy low-heeled clunkers. Word of advice: if you want to save your feet, switch off to lower heeled pumps occasionally.

On the worst work outfit: a black female attorney showed up in tight black leather pants, spike-heeled boots, heavy metal belt, and big hair. Totally unprofessional for a large law firm. She was also known for low-cut blouses and bright red toenails. She didn't stay here very long. I know I'm going to catch flak for noting this, like "what does her appearance have to do with her performance" -- well, it was entirely out of place for a conservative office. Maybe if she was in show biz, a hooker, or advertising it would fly. Not here.

Posted by: Just Lurkin' Today | January 26, 2007 9:27 AM

I will throw another twist into this discussion. I am an African-American woman who is an attorney at a big firm. I AM ALWAYS CONSCIOUS OF WHAT I WEAR! Whether it is reality or perception, I recognize that when I walk into a room judgments are immediately made about my competency and intelligence simply based on my presentation (and yes, I will go further and say that I do not believe that my white collegues deal with the issue at the same level). Accordingly, being dressed at my best is a necessity not a luxury.

Additionally, I NEVER dress down on casual Friday. After having one too many Senior Partner confuse me with the secretaries or mail clerks in the office, I refuse to wear anything below "business casual." It avoids the embarassment for the "mistake" and my ire at the assumption that was made.

Posted by: African-American Attorney | January 26, 2007 9:28 AM

I will throw another twist into this discussion. I am an African-American woman who is an attorney at a big firm. I AM ALWAYS CONSCIOUS OF WHAT I WEAR! Whether it is reality or perception, I recognize that when I walk into a room judgments are immediately made about my competency and intelligence simply based on my presentation (and yes, I will go further and say that I do not believe that my white collegues deal with the issue at the same level). Accordingly, being dressed at my best is a necessity not a luxury.

Additionally, I NEVER dress down on casual Friday. After having one too many Senior Partner confuse me with the secretaries or mail clerks in the office, I refuse to wear anything below "business casual." It avoids the embarassment for the "mistake" and my ire at the assumption that was made.

Posted by: African-American Attorney | January 26, 2007 9:28 AM

Sage green is entirely impossible to describe to a color-blind individual. But it's pale, silvery-grey green. Next time you're at the store, look at the sage in the produce aisle. It's a match. (Unlike many colors which are named for a real-life item and don't correspond at all.)

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 9:32 AM

There is an attractive woman in my office who dresses in a very revealing way. She is also extremely competent and works very hard - often pulling long hours and juggling multiple projects.

Due to her attire, the majority of our colleagues dismiss her achievements, such as promotions and being assigned to increasingly high-level projects, due to her attire. There is a great deal of resentment towards her, by both men and women alike. Although one person, our most senior officer, continues to (rightfully) promote her, I wonder what would happen if he retired - others don't consider her a valued employee.

I guess my point is that dressing in a revealing way can also backfire. I see it every day diminishing the credibility of a competent employee.

Posted by: Tessa | January 26, 2007 9:35 AM

Lizzie,
I've often hoped to build a wardrobe like the one you're describing-- carefully edited, everything goes together, etc. How do you put it together? Please describe more! Thanks.

Posted by: wohm today, wahm tomorrow | January 26, 2007 9:35 AM

Not totally color blind, just cannot see some shades of brown and red.
Take a look at this website.

http://www.toledo-bend.com/colorblind/Ishihara.html

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 9:36 AM

Fred,
There are websites where we can non color blinders can see what you guys see. Mostly they're for web designers and visual artists who need to communicate with everyone. I forget the website rightn ow, but you could google it.

Also, there are palates on the web of colors that often use color names next to them. Perhaps search under "web safe colors."

I dated a color blind guy for a while, so I was always really interested in what color blind people saw. Christmas looks like a boring time, from those comparison websites. :)

Posted by: kate | January 26, 2007 9:37 AM

Fred, you know how there's always an Ishihara test in high school biology books? We were going over that lesson one day senior year, the teacher is explaining how it works, and everyone in the class is nodding and concurring and such. Josh, poor kid, had made it to the age of 18 without ever knowing he was color-blind. After a couple minutes of discussion about this test, he jumped up and exclaimed "Y'all are [messing] with me, right??"
A little sad, but funny. Even he thought it was funny... a week later.

Posted by: WDC | January 26, 2007 9:42 AM

I think people just need to learn to live with the fact that your appearance does have something to do with how people treat you. No one can resist biology - we are hard wired to make snap judgements based on what we see.

By taking the extra effort to properly groom yourself and wear appropriate clothing to work, you are in fact showing that you do care. Does anyone really enjoy dressing up in pantyhose and skirts? Not really. But the fact that you took the effort to look nice can be reflected into what kind of effort you will put into the job.

Employers or clients want to look at you and know that you are willing to do that extra step and take things to the next level... if you are wearing something with connotations of "slacker" written all over it, then who can blame them but to think that you may just throw in the towel if things get a little uncomfortable or too hard?

Of course once people get to know your work and what you do produce, what you wear and appearance may not be as important. But first impressions are everything until you get that foothold - and in my profession, I meet a new person every day so trying to win that first snap judgement on appearance is just a part of life.

I love how we all pretend that we don't do it too. Don't deny that if you were on a metro train with only 2 seats, one next to a person wearing a nice suit and well groomed and the other next to someone wearing stained or ripped old clothing and unkempt hair that you wouldn't instinctively sit next to the well dressed person thinking that they were somehow safer and more appealing as a seat mate.

Posted by: k8 | January 26, 2007 9:46 AM

Yea, I had no idea that I was slighly color blind until I was given the test in the army. I recall that there were about 25-30 cards. The tester would say what number do you see and I would say what number?

On of my friends was a naval officer. He could not see red/green. This is quite a disabilily in the navy!

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 9:46 AM

Musts for women:

Make up- at the least mascara and lip gloss. Come on, you can take 5 seconds to swipe it on and look a little more put together!

Shoes: I think women who insist on trotting around in heels everyday are ridiculous. It is not sexy or professional to be limping around all day- or WORSE- when they TAKE OFF THEIR SHOES in the office. It doesn't matter if it's under your desk- When coworkers/boss come to your office- we can see your yucky feet! It's really gross.

Just wear nice flats or kitten heels- take a few minutes to try shoes on at the store and invest in a few expensive comfy pairs!

If you wear sandals of any sort- GET A PEDICURE. You can do it yourself- get a pumice stone, callous scraper, and some clear polish- all it takes!!

Clothes: fit is everything! It's also better to have a few nice pieces than a bunch of crap from old navy or sears. You'll look like an intern in that stuff. Everyone can spot polyester from miles away.
Pantyhose: In most places of business, panyhose are no longer required!Just wear skirts that fall at the knee or to the calf (no floor length skirts please!! this is no little house on the prairie!)
In the winter, opaque tights are back in- wear nice black or brown ribbed with a tweed skirt- very cute.

Being pretty: It really makes a difference. I think the key is that pretty people get in the door a lot easier than their fat/ugly counterparts.
I think my looks have played a huge role in securing jobs/how people look at me. I'm always very put together and the message sent is that I take work seriously! If i rolled into the office each day with no make up and messy hair- what message does that send to my boss??
I've gotten every job in which I've had a face to face interview. I'm not so beautiful that I'm snotty about it and make women hate me, but pretty enough that men love me.

It's all about the message. My mom used to say that my messy room sent a message about how I was feeling inside. I was a teenager and obviously was miserable!! so my rooom was miserable. If you project a put together image, then others thoughts towards you will follow suit!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 9:47 AM

Yay to anon at 9:47!

And for everyone who says, "I'm busy enough in the morning, I can't take the time to put on make up." I say, wake up five minutes earlier.

Posted by: freetime=metime | January 26, 2007 9:53 AM

Too much of my wardrobe is dry clean/hand wash -- I have a weakness for cashmere and merino sweaters -- look great with jeans, layer nicely under jackets. I try to remember to wear my cotton items around BF 6 month old nephew. ;-)

I go for the best quailty suit I can afford and also take it to the tailor if need be. It's worth $20 to take the waist in, sleeve up - makes everything look better. I also strangely have a no navy blue policy -- I find there are too many "shades" of navy and matching is annoying. When I traveled a lot for work I was a fan of suit separates that offered a jacket, pants and skirt - made packing much easier.

Regarding high heels -- I have a weakness too but definitely rotate your pointier numbers with round or square toes. A running friend developed mortons neuroma, which is nerve damage in the 3rd or 4th toe due in part to her shoe choices!

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | January 26, 2007 9:56 AM

I love old navy. They have some nice clothes.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 9:56 AM

For men:

The worst thing is the SWEAT!!! It's disgusting. Bring deoderant with you- don't put your suit jacket on until you get to the office- Always have a change of shirt/undershirt in the office. there's nothing worse than big sweat rings under the arms

And NO HAIRPIECES!!! DC is notorious for awful haripieces worn by politicians who seem to think no one notices. No combovers- we know you're bald- just go crewcut and be proud!

PLease- if I see navy and black worn together I'll scream. They DON'T MATCH!!

I also can't stand the pink/purple trend. It's nice with a white shirt and pink tie, but let's not overload it guys!

No shiny suits!! The "sharkskin" look just doesn't work for the office- Hollywood stars at an awards show MAYBE- but not DC wonks.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 9:56 AM

"I've gotten every job in which I've had a face to face interview. I'm not so beautiful that I'm snotty about it and make women hate me, but pretty enough that men love me."

Ah, the naivete and unquenchable ego of the very, very young.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 9:57 AM

As a southern lady, Fredia says "I feel naked without my makeup." You would really have to hear her say naked to get the full effect. Something on the line of nekkid!

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 9:57 AM

This issue is on my mind a lot. I always feel like such a fraud when I wear a suit. I work now, and have always worked, in the non-profit sector, but each org has their own standards. The one I am at now is all about how you look and are not so subtle in pushing everyone to be uber professional. It's a lot of suits on kids in the late 20s and I think how can the afford it?

I actually admire one of my bosses who bucks the trend. She wears really creative, interesting outfits that says so much about who she is and what she's about. Of course, that's easier to do when you in charge.

Posted by: secondthoughts | January 26, 2007 9:57 AM

Sort of related topic: how have people handled a co-worker who has terrible body odor or bad breath?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 9:57 AM

Well, I guess this pertains in age discrimination. What does little miss perfect who just told us all to wear lip gloss suggest we do when we are over 45? And we can't pay for the dentist to fix our less than perfect teeth, much less for plastic surgery. No one ever talks about the cost of dental care in this country, by the way.

Posted by: anon | January 26, 2007 9:58 AM

Well, I guess this pertains in age discrimination. What does little miss perfect who just told us all to wear lip gloss suggest we do when we are over 45? And we can't pay for the dentist to fix our less than perfect teeth, much less for plastic surgery. No one ever talks about the cost of dental care in this country, by the way.

Posted by: anon | January 26, 2007 9:58 AM

actually, what anon wrote at 9:47 sounds like something I read in cosmo 20-30 years ago. Your definition of what to wear works in some places, but not all. for me, lipstick, yes. mascara, no. pretty? pretty? Wow...what a loaded word. Looking your best doesn't mean looking the best. And it doesn't mean looking pretty either. jeez...you almost sound like those students who knocked my rather nice preggy attire 17 years ago.

Posted by: dotted | January 26, 2007 9:58 AM

"I've often hoped to build a wardrobe like the one you're describing-- carefully edited, everything goes together, etc. How do you put it together? Please describe more! Thanks."

It took a while. I started by figuring out which colors I wanted to focus on; I decided on my five (again, black, white, red, camel, pale blue) because every one matches every other one. I love charcoal grey, but it doesn't match camel (even though it matches the other four), so it's out. You have to be really ruthless about editing your colors. I've been living without pink, teal, purple, whatever for several years now, and I don't miss them; on the contrary, it eliminates whole categories of clothes that I don't have to waste my time looking at.

Once I decided on my colors, I started slowly buying my clothes. I think my first purchases were two identical wool crepe suits in camel and black. Each came with a skirt and pants. I built on that foundation by buying one more high-quality suit once or twice a year. I will admit that I've got three black suits - the original wool crepe; a black boucle skirt suit; and a black cashmere skirt suit. The different textures justified it for me; I can wear the different jackets with wool crepe pants or over a black dress. (Yes, I wear a lot of black.)

I'm now on year 6 or 7 of my restricted wardrobe and it's working extremely well. I only buy one or two pieces a season (except in summer, when I have to restock my work-ready T-shirt supply). This fall I bought a black Armani A-line scoopneck dress on deep (deep, deep, deep) discount. Everything I buy is on sale. I can't afford to buy this stuff at full price. But everything is also of very high quality, everything is tailored along classic lines, and everything is natural fibers. (A prejudice of mine; I can't stand the feel of most synthetics.) I've only got two scarves, but they look good with everything I own and I'll be able to leave them to my grandchildren.

My black wool crepe suit is starting to get shiny on the elbows, so I'm looking around for a replacement. I know exactly what I want and exactly how much to spend, so I don't mind taking my time to find exactly the right thing.

Unless you have the money to buy a whole new wardrobe all at once, it takes some time to set your clothes up according to this philosophy. For me, it's been worth it. My sister is one of those people who can throw on yoga pants, a tank top, and flip-flops and looks like she's been meticulously groomed by a professional stylist for the past four hours. I'm the opposite - if I don't pay very close attention to how I'm dressed and groomed, my natural state is to look a bit sloppy. Ruthlessly editing the wardrobe has been a huge help.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 26, 2007 9:59 AM

What are the thoughts on the pony tail... I ususally start the day with my hair down but it ends up in a low pony tail by the end of the day. I am in my early 30's and feel that I may depend way too much on it

Posted by: single mom | January 26, 2007 10:00 AM

A pet peeve of mine is bad hygiene. There is a woman in my office that just plain stinks. Ill-fitting, dirty clothes, even if it is a blazer and slacks - are not appropriate. No stains, animal smell, or people smell is good. She takes her shoes off under the table during meetings and it smells like an animal has died. I always try to sit far away from her. Once she took her shoes off and it was so bad that I started to gag in the middle of the meeting. I felt bad, but I had to say something. Just a quick, quiet "Please put your shoes back on" that only she could hear. She once complained to me that she didn't understand why our boss gave her low marks in her review for the section about personal appearance and attitude. And she also once told me that she never takes showers, only baths. (Must be rare, whichever method she uses...)

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 10:00 AM

Freetime=metime:

"Volunteering at school in knee-high boots, tight skirt, dressy leather jacket?"

Sometimes I wonder what world you all live in. I've never seen anyone wear anything near this description to school functions."

Why would you wonder what world I live in as opposed to what world these "night club moms" live in? It is inappropriate the way these women dress to volunteer at school, but completely appropriate if they are going out for the evening. We have all kinds of moms, I was pointing out the absurd. Like the mom that went on a field trip to the Smithsonian with the 1st grade class is tight jeans, high heeled flip flops, and a tank top with her boobs hanging out. I don't know how she walked for 6 hours, or held in her stomach that long, but she looked ridiculous.

There are mothers that do nothing to accentuate the positive either. Sweats, baggy shirts, hair in ponytail, socks with sandals. I never broadly said all moms were in either the night club camp or the frump camp.

Posted by: cmac | January 26, 2007 10:01 AM

re: bad breath. I always carry mints with me. what I do when meeting someone with bad breath is to take a mint myself and offer them one also. It almost always works. No one is offended and life goes on.

Posted by: dotted | January 26, 2007 10:03 AM

Just wondering, how much does beauty lead to self-confidence?

In terms of beautiful people being promoted, how much of that is just that pretty people having a little more self-confidence in front of people?

I have never had to hire anyone, but I bet that their self confidence would play a major role, and I have to think that self-confidence is tied up with looks.

I know that my interview suit (the only suit I own that is not too cheap but only slightly tailored) makes me feel dumpy. Sometimes I feel like I'm not giving the besst impression because I feel ugly. Conversely, if I could go on interviews in my wedding dress, I bet I would get every based on how I feel I look (but of course no one would give a job to a crazy lady wearing a wedding dress to an interview!).

Posted by: Meesh | January 26, 2007 10:03 AM

meesh...the mental image of a woman interviewing in a wedding dress boggles my mind. I have to admit I would do a mental hiccup, but it wouldn't stop me from hiring you!

Posted by: dotted | January 26, 2007 10:05 AM

LESLIE

I don't think any study was done BY the Journal of Labor; rather, it appeared IN the Journal of Labor. Please attribute the work to the people who did it, rather than the publication.

Posted by: Green Mtns | January 26, 2007 10:06 AM

I'm a lawyer in a male dominated field. All of my co-workers in my practice group are male. I also look a bit young, so I like to dress very professionally to ensure that I'm taken seriously. Of course, in a law firm that means pant suit or skirt suit! I do have fun with my clothes and my shoes though. I LOVE shoes. It is possible to look stylish, professional, and competent without showing off too much leg or cleavage.

The men I work with never comment on my clothes, but I can't tell you how many times I've had a female client, opposing counsel, witness, random person in an airport, etc... tell me she loved my shoes/sweater/purse (it's usually the shoes). So dressing well does help people remember me and it makes me feel more professional.

Oh & here's one for you - when I took the bar exam in Virginia, rumor had it that they wouldn't allow women to wear pant suits to sit for the bar until recently. I have no idea whether or not that's true, but it's an interesting rumor....

http://lawyermama.blogspot.com

Posted by: Lawyer Mama | January 26, 2007 10:08 AM

Dotted,

But only if she were wearing pantyhose with her wedding dress! :)

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 10:08 AM

Fred, sage green was the color of the jacket Nancy Pelosi wore at the State of the Union the other night. It looked so lovely on her and was a breath of fresh air! I agree with the earlier poster about dark suits . . . that is all I see at the train station every day and it drives me bonkers. Why are people scared of color?

One comment for Just Lurkin' Today: why was it necessary to ID the unprofessionally dressed woman as black? What affect did that have on her ability to choose clothes? Would you have thought differently if the same outfit was on a white woman?

I third the "dress for the job you want" advice. I've always found that helpful, along with this one, given to me when I was a few years out of college and had *no clue* how to dress appropriately (and no cash to do so): "Dress as if your boss was unexpectedly home sick and you suddenly have to replace him or her in an interview or meeting." This actually did happen to me and I was caught less-than-prepared (in Doc Martens, no less) . . . never again. For the record, I'm of the "don't matter how much you paid for them, flip-flops are never OK to wear in the office, even on Friday" camp. But maybe I just associate them with one too many rustic (read: icky) campground shower stalls . . .

Posted by: NY lurker | January 26, 2007 10:08 AM

"I know exactly what I want and exactly how much to spend, so I don't mind taking my time to find exactly the right thing."

Lizzie, I'm glad this works for you and you have the time, but I do not. Your suggestions are ideal for someone young and/or childless. If one is not, shopping time and effort have to get more efficient. At a certain point, paying more to get something that fits me well and is in my hand right now, or working with a personal shopper, or only shopping at stores where we already know the garments fit makes sense. I don't have one Saturday a month and 2 weeknights to comparison shop all over town anymore (not that you do), and that's what it used to take for me to get price to line up with fit and design. ebay and specialty retailers on the web have become my godsends.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 10:08 AM

I'm in my late 20s and a mom, but I still make a very concerted effort to dress nicely for work. The dress for the job you want, not the job you have attitude is part of what has helped me go from legal secretary to paralegal to attorney at the same large law firm. My closet is full of Ann Taylor, Ann Taylor Loft, Banana Republic, and Nordstrom's Classiques Entier. Stylish, somewhat affordable (sales are key), always put together. I do wear heels, but I invest in comfortable heels - Calvin Klein's heels are great, as are Cole Haan and Ann Taylor. Hair is always neat, never in my face...makeup is always understated. I've continually (for years) received compliments from both men and women at work on my wardrobe...and I like it that way!

Posted by: PLS | January 26, 2007 10:09 AM

I concur with African American Attorney - people do make assumptions based on what you wear, and people who are not the usual stereotype in a job are under more pressure in that regard. I am a scientist, used to work in a large lab. I noticed that the female scientists dressed more "butch" than you might expect (little or no makeup, slacks/jeans) partly because if you wore a skirt people tended to think you were one of the secretaries or executive assistants. African American male scientists on the other hand dressed much more formally than the white male scientists (who tended to dress rather like grungy grad students) I suspect so as not to be mistaken for a janitor.

The longer I worked there the more I realized there was a sort of uniform for just about every job. Male scientists in basic research wore jeans and t-shirts mostly. But in applied research they dressed more like Dilbert - collared shirts and khakis. Female secretaries wore skirts and sneakers (which to me was weird because they didn't walk more than a lot of other workers, but that was kind of the uniform!). Women in the various other office jobs wore skirts and pumps. In the business-related functions, the women dressed in suits. In the finance division, the suits were spectacular designer ones. The "uniforms" for the men were noticeable too but the differences are harder for me to describe, still I could tell just by looking at how someone was dressed what level they were and what division they worked for. Which was fascinating to me.

Me? I've always dressed in functional clothes, when I was younger that included jeans but I've gradually worked up to a female Dilbert kind of attire, I want to feel able to climb on equipment and stand in a lab all day and don't care that much what people think... but still admit I am not young so feel strange in clothing that seems too much like I think I'm in my 20s. But I will dress better going to conferences and meeting customers, which is probably still casual by others' standards - nicer slacks and a blazer. I would buy a nice pants suit if I knew where to get one, I admire the sleek tailored ones that the Asian women scientists wear but dislike most that I see in my local stores. But I refuse to ever wear heels!

Posted by: Catherine | January 26, 2007 10:10 AM

I totally agree with African American Attorney. I'm white, so it's not from experiences, but I had a latina friend tell me that white women could dress down without it being a huge problem, but minorities had to always dress better than the occasion to be taken seriously. That comment struck a cord and it's a really interesting observation and probably a big pain in the neck for a lot of minority men and women.

Posted by: secondthoughts | January 26, 2007 10:10 AM

"Your suggestions are ideal for someone young and/or childless."

Actually, I do most of my shopping online. I know the designers that fit me and I can wait until one of them has something on sale. I hate to shop at brick-and-mortar stores and only go there when I have no other choice - maybe once or twice a year.

Don't think that I spend tons of time and effort patiently searching out clothes. Part of the reason it's taken several years for me to build up my wardrobe is that I don't go through several brick-and-mortar stores, meticulously culling through piles of stuff to see if they've got what I want.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 26, 2007 10:13 AM

Oh and worst outfit - this is very dated but thought the most ridiculous were the fat men in the old stretch leisure suits. Hideous! More recently I used to work with a male consultant who wore stretchy pants that had fit at one time but looked like they were cutting him in two. The waistband all but disappeared between the spare tires. And no he wasn't all that fat, just needed better fitting clothes! Which I think is true for everyone regardless of gender or size (I don't have a thing about heavier people, just people in really ill-fitting clothes).

Posted by: Catherine | January 26, 2007 10:19 AM

Well, back when my daughter was a baby - I used to have to wear business suits to work every day. And, my baby's nickname was "droolie". Hence, every suit I owned, the jacket had drool and spit up spots on the right shoulder. It always happened on the way in, and everyone just got used to it. I seriously don't care about this stuff, but I wonder if it might have made a difference. Hmmmmmm.......

Posted by: Teenagers Mom | January 26, 2007 10:19 AM

Just Lurkin' Today, we could have lived without the unnecessary information regarding the race of the unprofessionally dressed woman. I get the sense that you and everyone else in your office has tucked this one person's choices away in your "why Blacks don't really fit in this office" file for future reference. So sad. The good news is that your post reminded us all that employees from minority backgrounds are not necessarily being paranoid when they get the sense that their fashion choices are viewed in the context of their ethnicity.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 10:23 AM

I work in a very casual govt office, so I see jeans on people everyday. Most of the stuff I wear is from Ann Taylor. I am one of the youngest in the office (in my late twenties) and was complemented once by a 40ish woman that said she had never seen me in anything "inappropriate." (I am completely against showing any cleavage at all, whereas many young women here do on a weekly basis.)

It's interesting in the govt people can be so laid back. No one really cares what they wear here, except one supervisor, who always wears a suit. (Even today on Friday.) It's weird b/c no one wears suits, not even his boss or his boss's boss. I think it's inappropriate to wear a suit when no one else does. People see his as "ambitious" and that's when they're being nice.

The one thing that bothers me though is suntan pantyhose. If your legs are not naturally that dark, you look ridiculous in suntan pantyhose. PLEASE wear clear. One girl in law school a year below me always wore them (even in summer!) and she was known around school as "suntan pantyhose girl." Even the guys made fun of her. Honestly, it is so 80s, if you are wearing suntan pantyhose, you need to stop.

Posted by: Emmy | January 26, 2007 10:24 AM

Just wanted to second the advice to men re not wearing hairpieces or combovers. A bald man who is confident and otherwise attractive is much more appealing than one who is trying to obscure his baldness. It just doesn't work, and men who take that approach convey the idea that they are embarrassed about how they look--which is not a turn-on!

Posted by: THS | January 26, 2007 10:25 AM

slightly off topic -- why is it that when men go to buy a suit and dress shirts, they get to chose an inseam length an arm length, get it all tailored for a perfect fit, etc., but when women go shopping for the same, it is pretty much right off the rack and hope it fits. For women, the assumption is that our size increases in a locked ratio: if you are taller, you are equally wider.... tough on us tall gals that are thin. Can I get an amen, Meesh? On topic -- agree with the posters who have said it is as much about good grooming than what nature gave you.

Posted by: tar heel gal | January 26, 2007 10:27 AM

I work at a company with a "business" dress code, and most days I like that. I'm in the "dress for success" camp.

My rules?
Color - must be color in my wardrobe, and not all black.

Comfortable shoes that I can walk 2 miles in should a disaster strike the DC area

Pantyhose a MUST 300 days out of the year

Skirts and a nice top are much easier to find than a dress that fits a post-pregnancy body AND doesn't reveal too much.

There are generational things though in the workplace. Last week we had a meeting with a high level gov't official. My boss insisted on taking our 22 year old assistant along to the meeting - she complained the entire day about wearing pantyhose - geeze! Get over it, every day isn't a beach day.

Posted by: Mom in SS | January 26, 2007 10:28 AM

I actually think Robin Gihvan (sp?) gets it regarding Washington work. Despite her pinging of white stockings and wearing sneakers on the subway (which I ignore) I find that she has a grasp of what works here.

I have a number of female managers, and they run towards the Janet Reno look. Ok, maybe a little bit more current than that, but the jacket/suit. I want them to respect me, so I put a jacket on too. I wear skirts because I like them. I sit in an open area and wear them long so I'm not tugging them down when I'm explaining things to people.

Maybe in NYC in the fashion business you fancy-up, but in DC I dress to keep the focus on the great stuff I do, not what I look like.

If only I could do interest rate math in head - I'd be headed for the top then!

Posted by: RoseG | January 26, 2007 10:31 AM

"I will throw another twist into this discussion. I am an African-American woman who is an attorney at a big firm."

Why did she ID herself as black?

Posted by: toNYlurker | January 26, 2007 10:31 AM

"For women, the assumption is that our size increases in a locked ratio: if you are taller, you are equally wider"

Husband has this problem - he's got a 46" chest, but a 34" waist. The designers he prefers don't make 'athletic cut' suits or whatever the term is, so every suit he buys has to have the pants taken in, and usually the jacket as well. This is some fairly substantial restructuring and gets pretty spendy. Thankfully, he hasn't bought a new suit since we got married in 2001.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 26, 2007 10:33 AM

I telecommuted for six years so fashion wasn't a concern for the longest time, though I loved clothes then, as I always have. Now that I own my own boutique, I wear dresses almost every day, with either heels or boots. I can't stand women's versions of business clothes when they are male clothes reduxed for women. No, its dresses for me, or skirts with great tops, and I very rarely wear a blazer unless its cut with back darts or princess seams or has some version of a peplum to it. I have a woman's body, and I like it, and I like it show in what I wear. The purpose of that is not sexual, really, its simply not fighting nature nor trying to be a mini-me version of men. Its a woman's world.

Posted by: Dignity for Single Parents | January 26, 2007 10:33 AM

"My boss insisted on taking our 22 year old assistant along to the meeting - she complained the entire day about wearing pantyhose - geeze!"

Ha! Remember the college women's lacrosse team that wore flip-flops to the White House?

Posted by: Lizzie | January 26, 2007 10:35 AM

to toNYlurker, African-American Attorney identified herself by ethnicity because it was directly relevant to her comment.

Just Lurkin' Today, on the other hand, identified an employee who made poor fashion choices by her race when her race was irrelevant to the poor fashion choices.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 10:39 AM

"I believe I just stared in disbelief as she walked by. And, of course, I take it she thought she looked pretty darn good from the way she was strutting."

More power to her!

People don't dress like that and strut unless they've gotten positive feedback from some quarter. Apparently, she wasn't strutting for you, "ilc," but for someone who appreciated her.

Live and let live.

Posted by: pittypat | January 26, 2007 10:40 AM

AMEN!!!

Posted by: Meesh | January 26, 2007 10:41 AM

I totally agree with African American Attorney. I'm white, so it's not from experiences, but I had a latina friend tell me that white women could dress down without it being a huge problem, but minorities had to always dress better than the occasion to be taken seriously. That comment struck a cord and it's a really interesting observation and probably a big pain in the neck for a lot of minority men and women.


Posted by: secondthoughts | January 26, 2007 10:10 AM

~~~~~~~~~~~~

You get used to it. Not happy that it's probably necessary, but you get used to it.

Because if you don't dress, "Just Lurkin'" won't remember simply that you're sloppy, but that you're black and sloppy.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 10:44 AM

Apparently, she wasn't strutting for you, "ilc," but for someone who appreciated her.

Yea, maybe herself and only herself. Most males would snicker as loudly as most women at this!

Posted by: the original anon | January 26, 2007 10:46 AM

Younger women seem to think pantyhose are unnecessary, but I see it just as bad as being bra-less. I am 50, so maybe it's age and/or generational. If your superiors are older, you may want to consider wearing pantyhose even if all your younger contemporaries see it as ridiculous.

FWIW, I would never go bare-legged because my Irish heritage has given me legs so white that my co-workers would need to wear sunglasses :).

Neat and clean is important, but some of the comments referring to individual stylishness seem to indicate that many posters here are really quite superficial.

Posted by: i'm not scarry | January 26, 2007 10:51 AM

Don't laugh, but try an image consultant! I went back to a formal office after 15 years of work at home and SAHM. My home uniform was stirrup pants and long sweaters, and office styles (and my waistline) had changed too.

A very reasonably priced pro helped me learn the colors that look best and worst on me and helped me develop the pieces of a wardrobe that is efficient for my life. Most things coordinate so easier to dress, got rid of the will-never-fit again stuff. Less clothes but I feel great even in my Saturday (better fitting more flattering) jeans. I also spend much less money and don't buy things that I wonder about later.

I'm an ee too - maternity clothes were tough!

Posted by: Kirsten | January 26, 2007 10:52 AM

I recently took an internship seminar (I am in law school) taught by an African American woman. One day we were talking about appropriate workplace dress and whether you should always toe the conservative line. She said that after she graduated from law school she always dressed as conservatively as possible, but one day she looked in the mirror and said, I am not going to be able to hide the fact that I am an African American women, so I might as well own it. Then she said that she started dressing in a way that reflected her individual style - still very professional, and largely conservative, but she would kick it up a notch with great jewelry, shoes, whatever. She is forever my style icon because she made me realize that looking professional doesn't mean sacrificing your personality.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 10:52 AM

One day this white girl in my office wore locks and big white boots that looked like wrestling boots and a short skirt.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 10:53 AM

Yawn.

Posted by: Jeans mom working or not | January 26, 2007 10:55 AM

LOL at all the shallowness in the world. However, there is no avoiding it. From the politician who told the unemployed guy to get a haircut so he could get a job, to the people who think EVERYONE wearing a trench coat is in the trench coat mafia or something sinister. People are just too quick to judge on appearance.
It is true that spending thousands of dollars on getting teeth straightened is out of the reach of most people- they would rather have a better car, or make a house or rent payment. My dental program does not cover squat so I can not get teeth straightened. When I was in the Air Force, the brilliant tech chipped a tooth doing a routine cleaning and it has been cold sensitive since- and then they tried to fix that by putting some sort of patch filling on the sensitive teeth and that was not effective and just made my teeth not look as good as they were... of course the Veterans Affairs clinic does not do dental- much less fix the screw-ups the military did do to my teeth when I was on active duty... so anything I want done I will have to pay for out of pocket at some point- the sooner the better, if only for health and not appearance reasons.

Posted by: Chris | January 26, 2007 10:56 AM

toNYlurker wrote:

"'I will throw another twist into this discussion. I am an African-American woman who is an attorney at a big firm.'

Why did she ID herself as black?"

You're kidding right? We're talking about how people dress for work, not how people of African descent ID themselves. That is another discussion. I notice you didn't mention the latina vs. hispanic of another blogger. Wonder why that is? Stay on point please.

Posted by: caligal | January 26, 2007 10:56 AM

"Shoes: I think women who insist on trotting around in heels everyday are ridiculous. It is not sexy or professional to be limping around all day- or WORSE- when they TAKE OFF THEIR SHOES in the office. It doesn't matter if it's under your desk- When coworkers/boss come to your office- we can see your yucky feet! It's really gross."

Anon at 9:47- I can't stand that either!! Gross!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 10:57 AM

okay, so I have really white legs too and sometimes in the summer I don't wear panty hose. I think it is a younger person thing because some of my friends don't wear them either.

However, I get made fun of because my legs are really white and said friends are somewhat tanned.

Posted by: scarry | January 26, 2007 10:57 AM

"Being pretty: It really makes a difference. I think the key is that pretty people get in the door a lot easier than their fat/ugly counterparts."

9:47 --

Not too shallow, are you?

How nice for you that you get every job on the basis of your pretty face. Don't you ever feel a twinge of doubt about your actual capabilities?

Just out of curiosity, I'd like to hear your description of fat/ugly people.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 10:58 AM

PLS is lucky to afford the wardrobe she brags about. Not everyone has that kind of budget.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 11:00 AM

I believe I just stared in disbelief as she walked by. And, of course, I take it she thought she looked pretty darn good from the way she was strutting.


I agree with pittypat - good for her. I'm so tired of women picking themselves apart over the most minute of flaws. Doesn't matter if I don't like what she's wearing, if I see a woman who feels good about herself then I say good for you. Its very hard to do in today's society. Deconstructing ourselves and other women has become a stupid and destructive pasttime.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 26, 2007 11:01 AM

"stirrup pants"

Stirrup pants??? Oh my gosh! The horror!! AAAHHHH

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 11:01 AM

I guess this discussion is making me very glad I work in a government office - nobody cares - and I've never heard of anyone here getting a "talking-to" about their clothes. I hate spending money on clothes and do all my (outerwear) shopping at the Goodwill and Salvation Army - wish I felt that way about shoes - they're damned expensive and I love them :)
I really disagree with the idea that women SHOULD wear makeup in the office. Makeup has nothing to do with looking "professional".

Posted by: TakomaMom | January 26, 2007 11:02 AM

I am sort of offended by the woman that said that pantyhose are necessary to hide the color of her white legs. I too have Irish heritage, and a have very white legs too, but that is the color that God made me, I don't think I should have to hide that. Also, I don't think that hose are necessary if you have nice legs and a conservative-length skirt. Older people may want to make their legs look more smooth and even-toned. I think hose should be a personal choice.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 11:04 AM

I just was wondering why NYC lurker was making such a big deal out of the fact that someone said someone was African American when, they themselves discuss it in the conversation. Didn't see the Latino comment and it doesn't pertain to my discussion with NYC lurker.

Posted by: tocaligirl | January 26, 2007 11:05 AM

There was an article in the Washington Post magazine a couple of years ago about how poor dental maintenance, common for anyone in poverty or otherwise struggling just to get by, was a barrier to moving up the employment ladder. This is not an issue of one or more individuals preferring a nicer car over straight teeth, as another poster stated. Many have no dental coverage and no extra income to devote to dental maintenance. If you're struggling to pay the electric bill to heat your doublewide to 60 degrees, that root canal might just be out of reach. As a result, as each tooth rots, they get it pulled at a clinic. By age 45 or so, these potential employees become essentially unhireable for any but the most low skilled and low paying jobs.

Access to dental care is something most of us don't appreciate and should.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 11:07 AM

I'm not really a clothes horse (my husband has more clothes than I do), but the power of well-fitting, high quality clothes cannot be underestimated in the business sphere. And if you wear them as if you wear nothing *but* clothes that look that good, you'd be amazed how seriously people can take you at their first impression.

I went from being a Geologist to being an Internet consultant. In both fields, dressing up was looked on as suspect as jeans were the expected norm. Whenever I dressed for client contact (suit or coordinates, ultra-groomed hair and makeup), people thought I was interviewing elsewhere. Or, I was told I took my job too seriously. Maybe - but the clients always appreciated it.

As for dressing up now that I have my own business...I have one great long dress (Laura Ashley, black with small flower clusters), one or two dark suits (and one deep red one for "business dress" parties), and some good quality separates that took me a long time to collect. And I accessorize with antique jewelry - more artisan than bling.

With the exception of my Laura Ashley dress, none of my outfits approach "girly", and I certainly don't expose a lot of skin. But none of them make me look like I'm trying to dress like a man either, and that's deliberate for two reasons:

1) what I wear from my day to day is pretty androgynous - when I get a chance to dress up in my good clothes I want to look like I'm a woman...and...

2) I'm usually one of the only women in the room (if not the only one). I never melt into the room. Since I don't fit in, I'm going to wear what I like that is appropriate to the professional situation.

Mostly I wear good riding boots as my dress shoes, or some 2" pumps with the clunkier Spanish heel. Not "au courant", but I have joint problems, and I *do* miss my 3" almost-stilettos ;)

Basically, I wear what I feel and look good in, and that gives me the confidence to be taken seriously. I've had many long-time male colleagues tell me that when they first met me, they immediately thought more about how attractive I was, rather than how competent I might be. The more they got to know me, they appreciated the fact that I was insanely good at my job...but they still thought I was attractive, too. A bit id-based perhaps, but at least my professional competence ranked above my appearance over time.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | January 26, 2007 11:07 AM

I think women look at other women and cast judgement more than men do.

Posted by: Father of 4 | January 26, 2007 11:08 AM

I work in a male-dominated non-profit organization (I'm female and in my early 20's), and while I'm not fat by any means I'm certainly not as tall and skinny nor have as perfect a figure as most of the other young women who work here. The pretty girls get more attention from the predominently male bosses, and while that doesn't mean they get more pay or better projects, it certainly does give them an unfair advantage when it comes to networking and developing relationships with the higher ups.

Posted by: 215 | January 26, 2007 11:08 AM

"Younger women seem to think pantyhose are unnecessary, but I see it just as bad as being bra-less. I am 50, so maybe it's age and/or generational. If your superiors are older, you may want to consider wearing pantyhose even if all your younger contemporaries see it as ridiculous."

It is too hot to wear pantyhose in the summer in DC! In the winter though pantyhose are a necessity.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 11:09 AM

Re: Tar heel gal:

slightly off topic -- why is it that when men go to buy a suit and dress shirts, they get to chose an inseam length an arm length, get it all tailored for a perfect fit, etc., but when women go shopping for the same, it is pretty much right off the rack and hope it fits. For women, the assumption is that our size increases in a locked ratio: if you are taller, you are equally wider.... tough on us tall gals that are thin. Can I get an amen, Meesh? On topic -- agree with the posters who have said it is as much about good grooming than what nature gave you.

Here's an "Amen" from the male side. As someone who buys a fair number of his wife's clothes (Paul Pelosi's my new role model, except we can't afford the Armani :-), this is a royal pain to deal with.

And "Amen" to the other posters about dressing appropriate for the job you want. That doesn't always mean suits and ties. I'm an engineer (computer network designer, specifically). If anyone showed up here with a suit on, he or she would be marked as a business development person/sales-droid and ignored. The Chief Scientists wear jeans or khakis; t-shirts or polos. That applies to males and females, both. If you want to be one of those, dress like that.

(True story: I used to be a Fed. On the first day back from my honeymoon, I was only supposed to be in the office for a couple of hours, doing paperwork reflecting my new status - insurance changes, beneficiaries, etc. I got summoned by the boss to give a briefing on a project to a visiting Marine Brigadier General. Problem - I'm wearing a Hawaiian shirt, jeans and sandals. It's late July, I'm just back from Hawaii, I wasn't supposed to see anybody. I told the boss "what you see is what you get." I didn't have time to go home and change; if she wanted me to give the briefing it was going to be dressed like that. I gave the briefing, eliciting a few stares when I walked in to the conference room - BUT I found out later that that BG had told his aide when I walked in "pay close attention to what this guy says. If they let him come to work dressed like that, it's because he's the one who knows what's really going on and how to solve the problems." So it really can matter how you dress.)

Posted by: Army Brat | January 26, 2007 11:09 AM

There is a very thin line for women and attire, especially in male-dominated workplaces. For example, on the Hill (old boys club environment if there ever was one), too many women miss the mark, and - yes, unfortunately - I think it does impact the way they are treated.

On one hand you have the women one generation older than me (in their late 30s and up) who dress like they (1) want men to forget they are there, or (2) want to be mistaken for a man. I think that these women - in their too-big pantsuits and no make-up, frumpy shoes, etc. - are from the school of thought that women will never be taken seriously in a man's world. Unfortunately, I think they are disregarded as people, and just used for their amazing brains. Perhaps this is the point, but I find it sad - how will anyone treat you as an equal if you don't believe it?

Then there are the silly girls in their early 20s who are interns or (mostly) staff the front offices of members. These girls look like they just stepped off plant Tara Reid - over-tanned, sky-high heels, teeny skirts, and lots of cleavage. Some of them are very attractive, but no one takes them seriously. Reall - does anyone think Trent Lott is a better Senator because he has a bevy of beautiful Southern girls answering his phones? I have never seen one of these girls promoted, and I wonder if they leave to Hill for PR. While they might be very intelligent, their looks keep them down.

Finally, there is starting to be a section of the Hill population (mostly young lawyers - in their 20s and 30s) who embrace the fact that they are women and expect to be taken seriously. I wonder if this is a sign of changing times - that women of my generation have an expectation of equality so it never occurred to us to dress up or down in order to be taken seriously? I find that these women dress very professionally, but also have style, grace and personality - whether that means great shoes, of-beat colors, or skirts when they feel like it, not because their boss may love it...

However, there are many fewer of these women who seem to have hit the mark than there are women in the other two categories.

Then there is Nancy Pelosi who continues to dress like a star - perfect suits, great hair and make-up (even if the ridiculous diamonds have to go and the plastic surgery is a little over the top). BUT, she is practically made of money, and I am not sure it is possible to dress like that if you don't have a personal shopper at Armani...

Posted by: scr | January 26, 2007 11:09 AM

Didn't mean to offend anyone. I said that I would never go bare-legged because of my skin tone. I also said that things may be generational. People around my age see bare legs as being unfinished or incompletely dressed. Some have said that you should always wear make-up, others say make-up is not necessary. I happen to think you should wear pantyhose, others don't. Don't take it so personally.

When deciding to "dress for success", or "for the job you want, not the one you have", keep in mind that the people you are trying to impress may not have the same idea as you regarding what is appropriate.

Posted by: i'm not scarry | January 26, 2007 11:10 AM

I think we're missing the point- isn't the real issue here: What does your looks/appearance/style say about who you are??

Someone mentioned that good looking/ better dressers FEEL better about themselves and will be more likely to get a job by exuding that confidence. Also liked the messy room analogy.

If one is overweight and/or a bad or sloppy dresser, what message are they sending to the world? I don't think it's a matter of being gorgeous, just a matter of self respect and respect for the environment that one is in.

I dress pretty well (I'm definitely a great bag and accessories girl, worn with basics), but i"m also a single mom and exhausted by the time I do breakfast/get us dressed/make lunch/get her to school/get me to work. I also walk everywhere, so heels are out for me. The days that I have time to get my hair blown out, etc my coworkers notice!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 11:12 AM

I always wear some kind of hose, and I'm a younger woman. I will not go bare-legged when in a professional situation. A lot of my female coworkers don't seem to have a problem with it, but I do.

Posted by: 215 | January 26, 2007 11:14 AM

"And for everyone who says, "I'm busy enough in the morning, I can't take the time to put on make up." I say, wake up five minutes earlier."

To freetime --

Some of us choose not to wear makeup because of its toxic effect on our skin. Not only does it contain a mind-boggling list of unpronounceable chemicals, but it also clogs the pores and keep skin from breathing.

I stopped wearing makeup (except for mascara) about 20 years ago, and I've avoided prolonged exposure to sunlight for most of my adult life. Today my skin is smooth and unwrinkled, without any of the blotchiness that comes from years of foundation, powder, and blush, and absent the wrinkles that result from prolonged sun exposure (and/or tanning beds). Meanwhile, other women my age are having to shovel ever increasing amounts of camoflage on their faces to cover up both sun and chemical damage.

I'm not a pretty woman, just average, and I'm now somewhat overweight, but I consistently get admiring comments on my "beautiful" skin. (Even though I'm over 50.)

Nothing on earth would induce me to go back to a regimen of daily facial torture just to please those who think it's "inappropriate" not to wear makeup at work. The results of this attitude are all around me, and I feel sorry for them.

Posted by: MakeupNot | January 26, 2007 11:16 AM

I'm not scarry I understood what you were saying. To not wear pantyhose is a choice and I mostly see it among younger women. I also see it among women on the lower end of the work ladder. I have never seen a director level or above, Irish or not, without panty hose. :)

Posted by: scarry | January 26, 2007 11:16 AM

What does your looks/appearance/style say about who you are??

Maybe it says that if you are fancy you aren't confident enough about the person you are inside so you've gotta dress up the outside - kind of like putting extra frosting over the hole in the birthday cake? Dunno - just playing devils advocate - frankly suprised I typed the word fancy!

Posted by: moxiemom | January 26, 2007 11:17 AM

So what is it about women and shoes? Why do you obsess about them and feet? Why do you seem to think that you need 10 pairs of black sandals?

Posted by: the original anon | January 26, 2007 11:19 AM

The next position I want is retirement. Can I go to work in shorts and t-shirts? hee hee

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 11:21 AM

As for the heavy woman in leopard skin etc., sometimes people just want attention - whether it is good or bad. Just like kids dying their hair purple or having facial piercings - anything to get attention.

My cousin is tattoed with a pink mohawk and nose, eyebrow and tongue hardware and wonders why people won't take her seriously when she applies for jobs.

If a large woman in leopard skin came strutting into our office looking for a job, despite her qualifications, her appearance would affect the interviewer's first impression.

Posted by: cmac | January 26, 2007 11:26 AM

I've been losing weight for the past couple of years - started out my post-grad school professional career at a size 18-20, now down to a size 12, and hopefully will eventually make it down to a size 8. Unfortunately, the weight loss is going really sloooowly (rate of 1 1/2 sizes per year), so I end up starting out every new season with a wardrobe made up of items from last year that are a size or two too large and that look kind of frumpy. As a result, I spend 100's of dollars per year trying to update my wardrobe, even though I buy a lot of staples at target and kohls (as well as sale racks/outlets from more pricey stores). My ultimate plan is to invest in higher quality clothes with good tailoring, but it just doesn't make sense right now since I only get to wear them for a season or two and I just can't afford to spend much more than what I already do just to cover the basics. I have found that skirts work for a wider range of weights than pants do, so my work wardrobe is much more skirt-centric than most of my coworkers.

As for the dark suits, I buy black because it's easy to accessorize but not that memorable. I've always wanted a red suit, but I only need to wear suits a couple of times a year, and so I only have one - if it was red, every time I wore it people would say "there's that red suit again!" but since my suits are in neutral colors, no one seems to pay much attention that I only have one that gets trotted out for every formal occasion.

Posted by: notyetamom | January 26, 2007 11:26 AM

makeupnot,

They make some really nice mineral based makups now, if you like make up but just don't want all the bad stuff on your face. I read an article about plastic in makeup and how it can be harmful to a developing fetus.

I have been teased my whole life about wearing sunscreen from the tanners in my family and my friends. It really does make a difference in the way your skin looks. I usually wear a tinted sun screen, mascara and a colored lip balm.

Posted by: scarry | January 26, 2007 11:28 AM

Anybody (female) out there ever have a female boss give them a hard time about their appearance? Situation: I was an underling at a nonprofit conservation organization (read as casual, crunchy but neat and tasteful) when my boss (Type A female) wrote on my year-end assessment that I needed to wear more makeup!! I went to the executive director of the organization, who quickly omitted this comment but still!!!! Anybody else ever been in this situation?

Posted by: Dissed by Woman Boss | January 26, 2007 11:31 AM

"I've always wanted a red suit, but I only need to wear suits a couple of times a year, and so I only have one - if it was red, every time I wore it people would say "there's that red suit again!"

I've got a red bouclé suit that I love more than life itself. Sometimes I wear the skirt with a black V-neck sweater; sometimes I wear the jacket over black slacks. Husband fusses at me and says that this makes the pieces wear unevenly, but oh well.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 26, 2007 11:31 AM

Two comments: White pumps are NEVER appropriate in the office. Tacky, tacky, tacky. How did you get so far?

And a nice smile is never irrelevant. I'm not saying absolutely straight teeth, but a nice smile with clean teeth -- absolutely important.

Posted by: CA Mom | January 26, 2007 11:32 AM

A note re tailoring for women: At Land's End, you can get pants based on the length of the inseam. In fact, if you want to pay for it, you can get pants custom made.

These are fairly casual pants, of course, but they have a variety of styles, some more formal than others. Almost all their styles (except jeans and athletic wear)would be fine for an office where casual clothes are the norm.

Posted by: THS | January 26, 2007 11:33 AM

Tattoos and piercings - I wonder if the kids/young adults who get them now realize what effect if may have on their earning capacity in the future. Has anyone seen a CEO/attorney with multiple piercings other than maybe ears? One with tattoes on their face/neck/hands/arms?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 11:34 AM

1920s women would wear corsets - wouldn't dream of wearing anything as gauche as a bra.

1940s Wouldn't dream of wearing pants.

1980s Thought the only way they could be taken seriously would be dress like a man in a suit with enormous shoulder pads, to actually try to LOOK like a man. Ugh!

We managed to get past all this... and now - people are still holding on to the pantyhose. Wait a few years, and maybe people will begin to get it...

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 11:36 AM

Why is it OK to denigrate the 'pasty-white Irish complexion' but not mention the fact someone with lousy clothing taste is black? There's a lot of reverse racism going on in this left-wing liberal rag. My sister worked in the State's Child Support program. My brother worked in Corrections. They could fill a book on the black culture and reverse racism. I work with many black support staff and have discovered they don't wear clothes, they wear costumes. Ever see the 'Chicago Prom Night' photos circulated on the internet a while back? The ones with the police cars and ambulance stationed in the high school parking lot?

The Post's fashion Nazi can't blather on enough about Saint Condoleeza Rice's wardrobe. Get over yourselves.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 11:37 AM

My biggest fashion faux pas was to wear a St John's *dress* not a suit for testimony before a Senate Committee. It was high collasred, long sleeved, and since I was travelling and had a masjor presentation the next day in another climate zone, I wanted to "save" my silk suit which was not the indestructable, unwrinkable St John's I should've brought. These things are incredbly expensive, so I know it is difficult for many women to even have this "dilemma", but henceforth it will be suits, suits suits.

One look said it's all suits for women in D.C., you blew it. The better tailored, the better you look--skirt suit or pants suit, it has to be a suit in D.C. , the nicest you can afford. (start with basics, a navy or black suit that can be accessorized, add new variations as you can--but brown is still out in D.C.

Finally, low heeled shoes are a must because of having to walk all over or down long halls--the ubiquitous Ferragamos have given way thank heave because more decent women's shoes have low heels. And thankfully in most large cities it is perfectly OK to take the heels of whatever size off when you leave work and swap them for trainers.

And yes, I'd love to have Paul Pelosi shopping for me with his budget.


Posted by: Lynne Henderson | January 26, 2007 11:39 AM

"I really disagree with the idea that women SHOULD wear makeup in the office. Makeup has nothing to do with looking "professional".

TakomaMom, I disagree with you at, um, for lack of a better term, a certain age. When you're relatively young, if your look is fresh-faced and natural and you're otherwise dressed to fit the environment in which you work, skipping makeup is just another personal choice. On the other hand, IMHO, and to pick an arbitrary age, post-40 (unfortunately, my category. sigh), women without a minimal amount of translucent powder and some sort of lip product don't just look unprofessional, we look near-death. Most of our lips become more and more pale and most of us have skin that progressively reveals our years of sun exposure, etc. My days of Blistex being the only product I need have long passed. Perhaps many others are better preserved than I.

Having said that, I'd have to guess that looking "professional" matters in no more than 10% of all jobs nationwide - unless today's the day the big boss or the most important client is visiting the office.

and for the black bashers, skip it if you don't like it. It's probably a north/south thing that reflects the reality of weather and the proximity to the dictates of NY fashion, as much as anything else. If you have to trudge through snow, sleet, and grunge on your way from the subway or the parking garage to the workplace, that fine pink dress may not survive in a clean state 'til you arrive at the office. In Chapel Hill, NC with those glorious tarheel blue skies for most of the year, dotted's pink outfit brightens up the day and makes sense. If I'd worn pink in the law office in DC in which I used to work, I might have risked involuntary commitment initiated by my supervisor.

For some of us, sticking to black, white and khaki is not only a way to simplify our wardrobe -- see Lizzie's comments above -- but it is a great, sophisticated group of tones that make us feel, when we're 23, like we look old enough to have the job we have, and, when we're 45, like we're still fashionable. Black has an additional bonus on days when my daughter does something to grime up either my jacket, pants or skirt on my way out the door -- I only have to replace the grimy item with a comparable black piece and my outfit still works. you're a WOH mom.

I love black. And translucent powder. And pantyhose. And great accessories. If I didn't, I'd probably still wear them for professional reasons, but since I do, life is good.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 26, 2007 11:40 AM

"Tattoos and piercings - I wonder if the kids/young adults who get them now realize what effect if may have on their earning capacity in the future. Has anyone seen a CEO/attorney with multiple piercings other than maybe ears? One with tattoes on their face/neck/hands/arms?"

I don't see any problem with having a tatto, as long as it can be covered with clothing.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 11:40 AM

so all you non pantyhose wearers...
What do you wear between your shoes and feet when wearing a skirt/dress and nice close toed shoes with a moderate heel? Those incredibly always-coming-up-the-back of the shoes footsies? not a good look.
I have a tough time finding pantyhose to fit but I'll wear them with no complaining. it's hotter here in the summer time and it really isn't an issue even then.

Posted by: dotted | January 26, 2007 11:43 AM

So the Post is a "left-wing liberal rag" but it constantly discusses in good terms "Saint Condoleeza Rice," who is a republican? Am I the only one who is confused?

Posted by: Meesh | January 26, 2007 11:43 AM

I was going to comment on the "reverse racism" post, but I just don't have the strength. Suffice it to say, so dumb.

But I will talk about shoes. Never liked them too much before, but now that I have to dress up everyday, shoes are where I can have a little fun. That's where I can have fun color.

Posted by: Oh my | January 26, 2007 11:43 AM

To freetime and MakeupNot:

Gotta agree with MakeupNot here, but only because I have problems with makeup.

I like the way I look in simple makeup, but I can't wear it every day. I break out like a teenager if I don't wear high quality makeup that's been swapped out every 6 months, applied with good brushes that have been regularly cleaned and rinsed, and applied last thing on the way out the door and removed when I get home. And it's been that way since my early 20's.

I went to a dermatologist - he said that some people just don't do well with makeup, and I'm one of those people. I could continue to wear makeup daily (and continue to break out), or I could keep my skin healthy. I chose the latter.

So I went to a makeup artist, found some non-comedogenic products, developed a skin care regimen to keep my skin clear.

It would be nice to wear makeup more often and to not get pimples after a special event weekend where I wear makeup more several days in a row. But on the upside, when I do wear makeup, my skin looks good...not like I'm trying to hide damaged skin.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | January 26, 2007 11:44 AM

"What do you wear between your shoes and feet when wearing a skirt/dress and nice close toed shoes with a moderate heel?"

I usually don't wear close-toed shoes in the summer. If I'm briefing, I wear nylons and pumps. Otherwise, I wear a black wool crepe skirt and nice-looking sandals with a heel.

And yes, I get pedicures.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 26, 2007 11:48 AM

I have never seen so many full of themselves people on one blog in my life.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 11:50 AM

"so all you non pantyhose wearers...
What do you wear between your shoes and feet when wearing a skirt/dress and nice close toed shoes with a moderate heel?"

In winter, if I actually am willing to wear a skirt, I'll wear leggings with socks and boots. That's with long skirts of course, my personal preference. Other times, knee-highs do the trick. In summer, usually just bare but one must definitely shave.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | January 26, 2007 11:50 AM

To Dotted: I have never had any issues with footsies. Generally, I wear slighbacks and mules with no pantyhose - because if its warm enough to wear a skirt, its warm enough for mules. Otherwise, I wear tights, or pants. Heels that have heels on them are way to rubby. I have a friend that puts a folded paper towel in her shoes in lieu of any of the aforementioned.

And to the woman who had never seen a CEO not wear hose? The CEO of my company doesn't wear hose when it is warm outside.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 11:50 AM

Well, being a neanderthal (see yesterday), I am delighted to say that I hire as much upon appearance as experience. Someone who has taken the time to look their best will more likely take the care and time to do their best, in my opinion.

Of course, back before I started this policy, I had been burned by quite a few high powered resumes (Ivy-league degrees, blue-chip companies) who turned out to be less than able workers on a day-to-day basis (and not that attractive, either).

But, as I heartily agree, I am of an extinct variety of hominid, once thought to inhabit the caves of north-central Europe.

By the way, if the person, profiled in the earlier comment as wearing attractive but revealing clothing and working like a demon, is in the job market, she (I assume) will find a welcome home in my company where appearance and performance are equally valued and respected.

Personally, I wear beautiful suits to work and look with disdain at dress down environments.

Posted by: dave | January 26, 2007 11:52 AM

"For women, the assumption is that our size increases in a locked ratio: if you are taller, you are equally wider.... tough on us tall gals that are thin."

It's equally tough on those of us who are shorter and heavy! Note to fashion designers: not all size 24 women are 6 feet tall - any time I buy pants I have to hack off 4 inches from the legs. Hrm. Maybe we could take the waist from yours and the legs from mine....the perfect pant!

"If one is overweight and/or a bad or sloppy dresser, what message are they sending to the world?"

How is being fat in the same category as being a bad dresser? I'm very overweight. I buy clothes that look good on me - one suit, several dresses, a lost of pants and sweaters. I may be heavy, but I take care of my personal appearance. If you choose to think I'm sloppy because I'm overweight, I won't be surprised, but it's your loss.

Posted by: AG | January 26, 2007 11:54 AM

About the body-mods:

Agreed with the anon poster at 11:40. So long as you can take them out/cover them up for work, what's the problem? (Had a high-level exec boss who I think was like 38 and had a tongue stud he took out every day before work, and the tats on his arms were covered every day by his shirt sleeves. I've a friend who works in a *very* conservative office who covers her tattoo with either clothes or concealer and takes out her nose ring for work, and you'd never know she had them unless you hung out with her outside the workplace).

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 11:54 AM

OK, I'll take this one. Somebody else get the next one.

January 26, 2007 11:37 AM Reverse Racism poster...

The people with the pale legs are either talking about themselves or they introduced the notion that their skin tone may detract from the positives of the rest of their appearance.

To my way of reading, none of the black folks has yet commented that they feel their skin tone detracts from the positives of the rest of their appearance, only that some others (you, perhaps?) may treat them that way.

Editorially, racism is racism. Yes, a minority (who is in a position of power) can be a racist. There is no such thing as reverse racism.

Posted by: Random Guy | January 26, 2007 11:56 AM

First we must surely give a collective sigh of relief that the 80s are past...shoulder pads that dwarfed our heads, nods to femininity in the form of tulle-ish growths at our necks. Aaagh!

I'm with NC lawyer. I'm always Back In Black 'cause it's really easy to coordinate and doesn't show the coffee spills.

It is interesting to watch SHOES. For a while, we had those big big heels...which I thought showed that the fashion industry might finally be "getting it" about style *and* comfort. Then came those extremely pointy things which have the advantage of doubling as self-defense items. And "mules." Sorry, but much as I myself like the slip-on, slip-off thing, NOBODY is elegant making a "plap-plap" sound as she walks.

As for pantihose...still wear 'em. And we all know that "they" are quite capable of producing non-running versions, don't we?

Posted by: Dagny | January 26, 2007 11:56 AM

"There's a lot of reverse racism going on in this left-wing liberal rag."

Yes. You know how those liberals cling to panty-hose, makeup and absolute prohibitions on white pumps in the office.

Reverse racism? Do you even know what the term means?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 11:57 AM

I once spilled a whole bowl of pho on my black pants. It was nasty and clammy while it dried, but once it was dry, you couldn't even tell. Downside: no pho! Man, was I annoyed.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 26, 2007 11:59 AM

I'm in the military. The whole uniform thing is a lifesaver. Once they've all been purchased, upkeep is dirt cheap and they don't wear out quickly. Plus, they look so frumpy on women, you never get ogled. There is never any question as to whether or not you're dressed professionally. I'm not looking forward to the civilian workforce.

Posted by: JAG | January 26, 2007 12:01 PM

Ladies and gentleman: image is always important, whether you are a SAHM, WAHM or a regular working professional. Whether you like it or not, people are always sizing you up: on the Metro, on your lunch break, at work, at the grocery store, etc. So take pride in how you present yourself to others. Don't take the slacker attitude--as if you are saying I could care less. That is not the right attitude to have. If you can afford it, get your hair professionally washed and trimmed regularly. Once a month, add a nice pair of shoes or pants or a shirt to your wardrobe. Ladies, wear a little makeup and make sure your hair looks neat. And last but not least, add a little color to your wardrobe. Get bold: add some teals, purples, rusty oranges, etc. You'll be amazed how better you feel about yourself. You never know: maybe you might face an opportunity you otherwise wouldn't have if you didn't care how you looked.

Posted by: Ms Imagery | January 26, 2007 12:01 PM

And must add that out West where I live, esp. in IT, it's all "business casual." Horrible! Can't bear khaki pants and golf shirts. But I have a marvelous collection of IT company giveaways (size M men's golf shirts) that do well as nighties.

And does anyone want to comment on the disappearance of "ugly panty lines" as the thong has become more widely acceptable? Hee hee!

Posted by: Dagny | January 26, 2007 12:01 PM

"For women, the assumption is that our size increases in a locked ratio: if you are taller, you are equally wider.... tough on us tall gals that are thin."

Yes! Yes! This drives me nuts!!

I am of average height with very long legs and a REALLY short torso. All tailored shirts, dresses, and jackets DO NOT fit me. If it fits around my waist and hips, then she shoulders are levitating about 3 inches above the actual location of my shoulders.

There is a measurement called a "waist-back" that is the length from your top vertebrae to your natural waist. The measurement puts me in the petite category. But if I actually wore petite shirts, etc - the sleeves would be 3 inches to short, and I would never be able to fit the width of my shoulders.

I actually had to order a bridesmaid dress 3 sizes larger in order to have it tailered to actually fit me. if the bosom is int he right place, my hips are trying to squeeze in where the waist of the dress is. ARGHH!

This is the reason I don't like to wear suits and more "professional" buttoned-doen shirts. I always wear knits.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 12:03 PM

Has anyone here ever been to Europe? My experience is that most people there take pride in what they do and how they look -- no matter what the job. Blue collar (lots of uniforms there); white collar -- most people look well groomed.

I just don't get the sloppiness of a lot of blue and white collar workers here. Does it take a lot of effort to take a shower and comb your hair, even it one works in low-end retail?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 12:04 PM

Interesting what is a "must." Pantyhose, makeup, skirt, shoes...Mascara, lipstick, whatever. On the matter of mascara, I can wear most makeup, but not mascara. It makes my eyes tear and I end up with a panda face. I would never leave the house without lipstick, though. This might not be true for everyone. Some wowen look perfectly fine without any lip tint while others look unfinished without bright red lipstick. Makeup is such an individual choice that I don't think it plays into professional dress or not.

Posted by: Suzie | January 26, 2007 12:06 PM

Whether you like it or not, people are always sizing you up: on the Metro, on your lunch break, at work, at the grocery store, etc. So take pride in how you present yourself to others.

Yes, people it doesn't matter who you are or how you feel about yourself, all that matters is what OTHER people think of you - Oh my GOD, we are still in high school!

Posted by: moxiemom | January 26, 2007 12:07 PM

Let's stop with the race comments here. Just because African American Attorney had a pertinent message regarding her ethnicity and the way she should dress and is perceived in the office does NOT invite these little snarky remarks regarding racism. Let's stop while we're ahead. I'm black and while this might not matter to most of you, these snarky remarks quite frankly offend me. I just came on this board to get some advice and to get a few chuckles on dress code in the work place.

Posted by: Let's stop | January 26, 2007 12:08 PM

It pains me to say it, but I do agree with Dave to an extent. People who pay attention to the details in their personal appearance (e.g. getting regular haircuts, well-tailored clothing) tend to be detail-oriented in their work. This has nothing to do with being "pretty" but has everything to do with wanting to present a polished product, whether it is a memo or yourself.
However, as long as it is still within the realm of professional, I think that a bold or slightly funky accessory, like shoes, shows that you are willing to think outside of the box (sorry to have to use that tired expression) and that is a positive thing. It's bad to totally blend in.
As for the comment about no CEOs having tattoos or piercings: CEOs are people at the top of their profession, and thus are necessarily older. 30 to 40 years ago, no one got nose rings and tattoos were a lot less common, so it's no wonder CEOs today don't have those things. 30 to 40 years in the future, we may have lots of CEOs with nose rings. Who knows?

Posted by: Charlottesville | January 26, 2007 12:08 PM

Fine then. If you want to be a slob then I won't sit next to you on the Metro. Honey, this has nothing to do with what people think of you. It has everything to do with how you feel about yourself. If you read my comment further then you would have GOTTEN IT. Lighten up.

Posted by: to Moxiemom | January 26, 2007 12:11 PM

to 12:04 European workers have a shorter work week, probably higher minimum wages, probably not forced to work two jobs just to pay the rent.
Normally there aren't that many jerks on the washington post boards. what happened?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 12:12 PM

to Moxiemom: Moxiemom was making a JOKE. Every once and awhile I realize that certain elements of human behavior go back to HS or earlier. It's like when my salestrader clients acted like 6 year olds, albeit 6 year old with big bank accounts.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | January 26, 2007 12:15 PM

I'm black and while this might not matter to most of you, these snarky remarks quite frankly offend me.

what snarky remarks?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 12:15 PM

To people like Moxiemom who don't care about your appearance: how do you feel about seeing professionals wearing flip flops to work?? Do you think that the female LaCrosse team was wrong when they wore them to the White House a while back? I'm interested in the responses...

Posted by: Ms Imagery | January 26, 2007 12:15 PM

It is true that Europeans do seem less inclined to be sloppy (and there is a very clear distinction between "sloppy" and informal). And to add to another poster's valid point about more time and less financial stress, many of them do not have the overflowing closets we have. They tend to have far fewer clothing items, but well-chosen. They are even known to wear the same things two days in a row (horrors!).

Posted by: Dagny | January 26, 2007 12:17 PM

Where can someone find a fashion consultant?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 12:18 PM

Never said I didn't care about my appearance, I just don't care what YOU think about my appearance.

Re: tomoxiemom - I did get it - you think it is your place to tell people how the world is and how you think they should operate in it.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 26, 2007 12:19 PM

Snarky? See Random Guy 11:56am. I could just see where that was going.

Posted by: Let's Stop | January 26, 2007 12:20 PM

Hear ye, hear ye. Moxiemom has admitted that she is a slob. Thank you very much for your time.

Posted by: Ms Imagery | January 26, 2007 12:22 PM

I didn't think radom guy was snarky.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 12:23 PM

To people like Ms Imagery who make nasty comments about what other people look like:

I don't give a flip what other people wear! I was disgusted that people could get so excited about something so dumb as what footwear these ladies wore.

The people that all worked up about the flip flops should put all that energy to a better use. There are a lot of injustices in the world. Please tell me that you don't rank flip-flops among them!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 12:23 PM

Hear ye, hear ye. Moxiemom has admitted that she is a slob. Thank you very much for your time.

That was rude and who defines a slob, you?

Posted by: scarry | January 26, 2007 12:25 PM

" . . . I hire as much upon appearance as experience. Someone who has taken the time to look their best will more likely take the care and time to do their best, in my opinion. . . By the way, if the person, profiled in the earlier comment as wearing attractive but revealing clothing and working like a demon, is in the job market, she (I assume) will find a welcome home in my company where appearance and performance are equally valued and respected."

Dave, I heartily agree that someone who takes the time to look their best for an interview is more likely to (1) value the job, and (2) to apply that same attention to detail to their work product. An attention to detail, though, does not seem to be the quality you either value or respect when you invite a poster who describes herself as wearing revealing clothing to work to apply for a job with your company. Wearing revealing clothing in the workplace does not indicate attention to detail and high standards. It indicates that the wearer either just rode up on the turnip truck (ala Sister Carrie for the English Majors), or lacks familiarity with basic standards of dress-code professionalism, or is really, really insecure, or is, in fact, a hoochy. Neither women nor men trust the office hoochy with their clients, and the office hoochy's sparkling accounting skills generally are overlooked in her desparate need to have everyone appreciate her fine DDs.

If you prefer to hire people who lack the judgment to display their hotness after office hours, however blessed they may be with beauty, rather than people who, along with their professional expertise, present the features with which they were born as attractively and professionally as possible, you're not hiring the best person for the job, you're hiring the most personally appealing eye-candy.

You don't owe us honesty, but at least be honest with yourself.


Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 12:26 PM

I just don't understand how people can validate the unprofessional image of flip flops in the workplace. Have we gotten that casual?
Moxiemom, I'm sorry.

Posted by: Ms Imagery | January 26, 2007 12:27 PM

I really liked that phase when JCrew and other magazines were selling flip flops with their suits and where a sort of style. I am gulting of often forgetting to take my flop flops (nice teva ones) off when I get to work... I do have a suit on, though I guess it shoes that I do not pay attention to details.

ALso, I do not think that anyone I know wears pantyhose in the summer... that would be miserable. WHen I wear suit I usually have on high boots, and the skirt comes to my knes not showing skin.

What do people do for summer wear?

Posted by: single mom | January 26, 2007 12:28 PM

Flip-flops in the White House don't constitute an important issue, for sure! However, they are indicative of a general decline in civility, formality, and respect...which are the only things that will prevent, and help to resolve, injustices. How one dresses need not be a bowing-down to what others think - but it is unavoidably a message to others. Anyone who was ever a "punk rocker" has enjoyed that aspect of outfitting oneself!

Posted by: Dagny | January 26, 2007 12:29 PM

This discussion doesn't really apply to me, but I have to address the white legs/no nylons thing....

Those of you who were critical of the woman who said she needed to wear pantyhose because of the color of her legs obviously don't know what it's like to have really, really, really fair skin. I am a redhead and my legs literally glow in the sunlight. They don't make pantyhose the color of my skin - you know why? Because "society" expects women's legs to be darker than that when wearing business or other non-casual attire. It's one thing to be able to go bare legged and be the same color you would if you wore pantyhose; it's quite another to be much paler than said pantyhose. I also have thick (not fat ;o) ) calves and freckles all over my legs. It's simply not attractive with a dress or suit - it has nothing to do with skin color/racism.

Posted by: momof4 | January 26, 2007 12:30 PM

Ms. Imagery - Where exactly did I admit I was a slob? Work on your reading comprehension skills. One of the more valuable lessons I've learned as I get older is NOT to judge people by their appearance - some of the people that I might have dismissed in my younger days have proven to be the most interesting, kind and intelligent people I've ever met. Just because "the world" does things a certain way does not make it o.k. Try evolving - I believe there was a time that women couldn't be executives or doctors and that's "just how it was". The status quo is not a synonym for Right.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 26, 2007 12:31 PM

Hmmm, I actually don't care about the women's lax team wearing flip flops to the white house (and I'm one of these obnoxious please-dress-nicely-to-the-office people, because I agree with Dave that in my experience, people who take the time to look presentable & nice are often detail oriented in their work, too). But I think the flip-flop thing is a complete personal preference, and I understand it bothers a lot of people, which is why I don't wear them except on Saturdays or to the beach. I'm ok with flip flops, but people who wear super ugly polyester suits and/or tights with athletic socks and sneakers drive me nuts. Just a personal preference thing I guess.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 12:31 PM

I'm in my late thirties and work in a heavily male-dominated field, and for years I dressed sort of like a man (shirts and khakis, or butchy suits). This wasn't because I was trying to be invisible or because I liked the look, but because I am not intuitive about clothes and men were my role models. I had no female peers to look at and my instincts aren't good.

I got a look at a few female peers at a job I had a couple of years ago, and that helped quite a bit. Now that I'm back with no female peers, I at least have a basic idea of what I can wear. I still shy away from anything too girly because it does not suit my image or my role (or my taste, frankly). I might look into the image consultant idea. I like that--good for people like me.

I'm on the side of minimal makeup, but even more important is taking really good care of my skin and hair. I've got great skin and therefore don't need to wear much makeup--the end result being that I look much the same at the end of a 14-hour day as I did at the beginning.

Posted by: Historian | January 26, 2007 12:33 PM

Just to clarify my position on this board: my basic premise is that we should all care for our appearance for ourselves, not anyone else. And therefore, if you care for your appearance you may have more opportunities in life. I have gotten out of hand with my comments, and for that I apologize. Goodbye.

Posted by: Ms Imagery | January 26, 2007 12:33 PM

My pink coat dress ensemble has been worn (successfully) in a variety of locales, note just here in NC. For example, DC, Boston, St. Louis, San Francisco and Melbourne Australia.

I might try that paper towel in shoe trick. That is a new one.

Interesting, another use of DD by anon at 12:26. I don't think he is refering to his darling daughter.

Posted by: dotted | January 26, 2007 12:34 PM

Back to Europe: Think Milan. Bella figura. Think Moscow: no one even thinks about going outside without looking as good as possible -- and these people have NOTHING compared to us rich Americans. (yes folks, we complain on this blog and elsewhere, but comparatively, we are quite rich.)

In my view, taking the time to look good has more to do with personal pride than with anything else. It's not about looking good for someone else; it's about feeling good for oneself.

When I look out at the National Mall and all the slobs there, I can't help conclude that we're losing our personal and national pride.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 12:35 PM

To JAG:

I laughed when I read your post about uniforms looking frumpy.

Recently I watched "A Few Good Men" on TV, and for the first time I sat back and wondered who did Demi Moore's costumes? Her uniforms were remarkably flattering ;)

And to Anon at 12:03:

I hear you. I had a wedding dress custom fit for me at a high-end boutique, pretty much because that was the only way I was going to have one that fit.

When my mom and I finally found a dress that would work, the boutique actually had me wait for the designer to come through on his trunk show to take my measurements.

That process took 25 minutes and serious discussion with his assistant as to how they would restructure the dress to fit my unusually proportioned frame (a high and so short it's almost not there waist due to long legs). I went through not one but two muslin fittings to get it right.

I think I'm not a clothes horse because no clothes out there fit me off the rack. I frequently have to buy oversized clothes and spend time with a tailor as well. It's such a pain.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | January 26, 2007 12:36 PM

great, I just chased ms.imagery from the board, I am sorry. I just didn't like that she called moxiemom a slob.

Posted by: scarry | January 26, 2007 12:37 PM

One thing about looking decent in public (not just work): I was painting and ran out of tape so I had to make a Home Depot run. Flannel shirt covered with paint, sweat paints covered with paint, hair in ponytail, no make up - you can imagine how lovely I looked. I wasn't in the store 5 mins when I ran into an boyfriend who had basically broken my heart about 3 years earlier. I bet he was thinking how he got away just in time.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 12:39 PM

KLB, your posts are always delightful. I'm sure you were lovely. He probably wasn't the type to appreciate your inner beauty anyway. And in the Home Depot environment, your "studied casual, carefully mussed" appearance was quite appropriate.

Posted by: Dagny | January 26, 2007 12:43 PM

Dagny, thank you.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 12:45 PM

scarry-
don't worry about it. Sure, ms.imagery apologizes as she says good bye, but apoligies are better if one sticks around. It is similar to I'm sorry-click-hangup. not sticking around makes it seem like a guilt trip...thought it was probably not meant that way.

moxie is the moxiest!

Posted by: dotted | January 26, 2007 12:46 PM

Yes, Father of 4, a lot of workplace women, mostly 20's, wear the 'trendy' clothes not realizing that they are not pretty or appropriate for the office. Such as low-riders that just add an extra roll, bigger butt and when she bends down 'it' shows. I remember for years parents and teachers telling us to tuck in our shirts! Now everyone is untucked (in more ways than one). A lot has changed when I left 4 years ago and the office is more business-casual, but that really means casual, and it's not a pretty sight.

Posted by: Former SAHM | January 26, 2007 12:47 PM

"I believe I just stared in disbelief as she walked by. And, of course, I take it she thought she looked pretty darn good from the way she was strutting."

Okay, I obviously didn't state this right because some people got on my case about it.

What I'm saying is what she was wearing was wholly inappropriate for an office setting. I'm all for people expressing themselves via their clothes (or jewelry, ow whatever), but there IS a line.

Posted by: ilc | January 26, 2007 12:47 PM

Oh yes--and I love my black or neutral suits. They're not too memorable (unlike my ivory one, which looks great but stands out) and they don't show dirt. Every time I wear the ivory one, I have to get the pants cleaned because it picks up dirt on the cuffs.

I work for a European company and spend a lot of time there. While some of the fashion choices people may look a bit odd to Americans (you've never seen so many shades of fake red hair as you will in central Europe) people do look like they've take a bit of trouble, even if they're just wearing a sweater and jeans. They look neat.

Posted by: Historian | January 26, 2007 12:49 PM

I'm still around. I'm just more careful with what I say.

Posted by: Ms. Imagery | January 26, 2007 12:50 PM

scarry, sometimes you do the work of the Lord unintentionally :>)

dotted, and I am positive that you looked smashing in your pink outfit everywhere you went. I would have merely added to the sea of safe blackness with great accessories, lol.

KLB, speaking of emotions we'd all like to think we've left behind in high school, Murphy's Law of running into old boyfriends never ends, does it? I've got a similar story, but you told yours far better than I could tell mine.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 26, 2007 12:50 PM

i think I may be pregnant (I'll take a test this weekend to check)-- my last pregnancy I was super cheap and only bought stuff from Target. I am a govt attorney. No one said anything negative and all were supportive even though it was the same few outfits over and over, but I would like to wear stuff that I am really proud of this time. Any suggestions?

Posted by: Cal Girl | January 26, 2007 12:50 PM

"How is being fat in the same category as being a bad dresser? I'm very overweight. I buy clothes that look good on me - one suit, several dresses, a lost of pants and sweaters. I may be heavy, but I take care of my personal appearance. If you choose to think I'm sloppy because I'm overweight, I won't be surprised, but it's your loss."


How is it NOT?? Do you really feel confident and good about yourself, yet still overeat to the point that you're a size 24 and petite? I don't buy that one minute and, no, I don't think I'm being rude. I'm just honestly curious- why do you eat so much?? A size 10 or 12 is a slow metabolism- a size 24 is unhealthy and obese. I just don't understand why people put their lives in danger for FOOD- you're risky with your own health- what dos that say to people? That you DON'T Care- and if you don't care about yourself, then why would i think you care about your job?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 12:50 PM

I'm still around. I'm just more careful with what I say.

If it makes you feel any better, I've also had to tame myself down because people took things I said the wrong way.

Posted by: scarry | January 26, 2007 12:52 PM

I'm facing a fashion dilemma:

In medical school up to this point, I've worn knee-length feminine skirts with sweaters or button-down shirts on days when I have to look "professional." I have several pairs of cute kitten heels or ballet flats that I wear with the skirts.

However, in six weeks I start working 12 to 30-hour shifts on the wards of a major hospital. Needless to say, I need ridiculously comfortable shoes. Most other students wear Danskos or the like, but I don't want to give up my skirts and I can't see clunky shoes working with anything but pants.

Does anyone have suggestions for affordable shoes that I can wear with skirts for 12 hours on my feet?

Posted by: medgirl | January 26, 2007 12:53 PM

anon at 12:50--unneccessarily harsh there. Caring for yourself doesn't correlate to caring for your job.

ms.imagery: I'm glad you're here! We all write things we wish we hadn't...part of the blog.

Posted by: dotted | January 26, 2007 12:55 PM

Thanks scarry. Well, I was actually WAY out of line, so there was no other way that anyone else could have taken that :( On another note, I find it fascinating how people in their travels have observed the ways people dress overseas. Do you think it is just the USA that has become more casual with our way of dressing?

Posted by: Ms. Imagery | January 26, 2007 12:56 PM

Anonymous at 12:50, a size 10 may be a slow metabolism for someone who's 5' (or a stocky build; a 5' ex of mine was like this), but if you're a woman 6' tall it's perfectly normal ranging to thin. It all depends on your frame.

My sister in law is fat, but impeccably put together. If anyone's sloppy it's my beloved wife who is much thinner.

Blanket statements like that are just silly.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 12:56 PM

"Does anyone have suggestions for affordable shoes that I can wear with skirts for 12 hours on my feet?"

Clarks. They make a line called Indigo. I've got a pair of really cute red Indigo shoes with 4-inch heels that are probably the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn in my life.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 26, 2007 12:57 PM

"Dress for the job you want, not the job you have."

This makes me feel guilty because I don't do this at all. I have lots of cute shoes at home, but I wear tennis shoes to the office everyday because they're the only shoes I feel safe driving in.

I also wear the same pair of jeans almost every day to work. Jeans are usually non-descript, so hopefully nobody notices. The reason is that I have recently lost so much weight that these are the only pants that fit me. However, I don't want to buy any others right now because I hope to get pregnant soon, and who knows if I'll ever have this exact same body again. So it's not worth it to me.

But to balance out the tennis shoes and jeans, I always wear a nice blazer or sweater. Hopefully it works!

Posted by: Emily | January 26, 2007 12:57 PM

Oy vey, ANON. I'm guessing you're the same charming ANON who graces us with his/her/its omniscient and unreservedly MEAN presence so frequently. Does this style of communication work well for you in other venues?

Posted by: Dagny | January 26, 2007 1:00 PM

To medgirl - try Easy Spirit. They use the same comfort/support technology in their dressier shoes that they do in their sneakers.

Posted by: 215 | January 26, 2007 1:00 PM

Flat or very low heeled boots might be a good choice for you if they look okay with your skirt collection. I can wear them forever.

Posted by: to medgirl | January 26, 2007 1:01 PM

NC lawyer, please do tell your embarassing story - we all deserve to laugh on a Friday afternoon. I have more than my share.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 1:02 PM

Aerosoles makes cute and comfy shoes, too.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 26, 2007 1:02 PM

medgirl, also recommend Aerosoles - some great choices in dressy shoes.

Posted by: Dagny | January 26, 2007 1:02 PM

"I just don't understand why people put their lives in danger for FOOD- you're risky with your own health- what dos that say to people? That you DON'T Care- and if you don't care about yourself, then why would i think you care about your job?"

judgmental much, anon at 12:50? Heavens, no, it wouldn't be rude to tell a stranger about whose health and lifestyle issues you know absolutely nothing, that she doesn't care about herself and takes risks with her health.

You're apparantly unaware of a whole slew of medical issues relating to obesity that might result in the original poster being the size she is and that have little, if anything, to do with overindulgence.

You're apparantly unaware that a common side effect of treatment for many medical conditions, including cancer, is weight gain. Overweight people do not owe you an explanation for why they are overweight any more than I owe you an explanation for why I wear contact lenses, or for why a friend of mine wears an artifical limb.

As an aside, you graciously let the size 10s and 12s off the hook because you deem their fatness might be the result of a legitimately slow metabolism. I'm so glad that I fall within your narrow category of excused slobbishness, rather than in the category of sizes 14 and up, those about whom you are oh so comfortable classifying as likely poor employees, regardless of the care or neatness with which they approach their appearance. Talk about shallow.

I hope, for your sake, that you retain your physique for a lifetime since I fear that any weight gain in excess of 8 pounds might render you suicidal.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 1:04 PM

To anonymous at 11:00 am: please note that I specifically said "sales are key".

And yes, I am lucky. However, I'm in the same boat as everyone else I work with - if I didn't work wear I do, I wouldn't wear a lot of what I do.

Posted by: PLS | January 26, 2007 1:05 PM

MedGirl, check out earth shoes. They are not affordable ($100 a pair--maybe ask for them for a birthday) but they are the most comfortable shoes on, well, earth. They have negative heel technology (the opposite of high heels). I don't work for them but have like 5 pairs. They make mary janes that are adorable (well, mine are size 10, so they're more substantial, but I bet they look cute in a normal size). You can find them on eBay for much cheaper, too (which explains why I have 5 pairs). Good luck!

Posted by: Meesh | January 26, 2007 1:06 PM

Too many "wears" - if I didn't work WHERE I do, LOL.

Posted by: PLS | January 26, 2007 1:07 PM

I am in my early 20s and am working on assembling a kick-butt work wardrobe. I stalk the sales at Anne Taylor, Bananna Republic and the like. I have been even stopped a woman in the train station to ask her where she bought her clothes. I too love shoes, but am careful to alternate my heels and flats. I think ballet flats coming back into style was the best thing. I love them and in the summer I can toss on a pair of ballet flats with a skirt (all my skirts hit right above the knee or just below) and look professional. I NEVER wear flip flops to work, but I will admit I put them in my bag and wear them on the walk home from the metro stop. Just not in the office.
Are there any wardrobe staples that are a "must have" that I should look at investing in for my working future? Any advice would be wonderful!
I work in a very casual environment, but I tend to dress up more so people take me seriously.
And P.S. for the fellow pale-legged ladies, self tanner is a God send! I too have pale legs and can attest to the power of the self tanner.

Posted by: Melissa | January 26, 2007 1:08 PM

Medgirl:
I like aerosoles.

Posted by: Emmy | January 26, 2007 1:08 PM

"Are there any wardrobe staples that are a "must have" that I should look at investing in for my working future?"

Black cashmere V-neck sweater. I think I wear mine twice a week. Black skirt, either pencil or A-line. Good black slacks.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 26, 2007 1:13 PM

obesity is actually just as much my business as smokers. the VAST majority of people do not have health problems that cause them to be fat- what do you attribute to the rise in obesity in the past 2 decades? It's poor eating habits and it's putting out healthcare system in jeopardy! How is that not every single person's problem? I don't care what happens when someone else's choices don't affect society, but I do care when the entire country is affected by it!
I frown upon obesity the same way I forwn upon those with cirrohsis of the liver from imbibing alcohol and those who smoke. It's not healthy.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 1:14 PM

First off - Anon at 1:04, thank you.

Now then, for first anon. You have NO IDEA how hard it is to lose weight when you're very overweight. Yes, just eat less and exercise - try exercising when you're out of breath and your joints ache. Trying to lose more than 100 pounds through "normal" means is very difficult, and often hard to maintain. Hence why surgery is so important for people that heavy.

I do care about myself, and clearly it didn't matter to my current boss how overweight I was when he hired me. I could, and can, do my job, and that's what matters. I wear clothes that fit and look nice on me, I wear understated makeup, and take care of my hair. How on earth is that looking like I don't care about myself? If I didn't, I'd wear sweatpants to the office all the time.

Posted by: AG | January 26, 2007 1:17 PM

So what is it about women and shoes? Why do you obsess about them and feet? Why do you seem to think that you need 10 pairs of black sandals?

Posted by: the original anon | January 26, 2007 1:17 PM

Med girl-- actually I have a pair of dansko heels that are fabulous-- I always get complements. Check out zappos.com.

Emily-- sounds like you and I are in the same boat! can't buy great stuff if will be pregnant and lord knows what will happen to your body afterward. I did lose my pregnancy weight very quickly -- I think from nursing so i was back in pre-prego clothes very soon post-partum. But every body is different-- and if nursing hadn't worked out for me (way more difficult for me than I expected it to be-- latching was difficult) I probably wouldn't have lost the weight. Conversely, after I stopped nursing earlier this year I gained A LOT! I guess I had become so used to eating whatever I wanted while nursing that the weight snuck up on me after I stopped. But I've heard of others having the opposite experience. What to do?

Posted by: Cal Girl | January 26, 2007 1:17 PM

Speaking of the lacrosse team who wore flip-flops to the White House, remember when the Bush twins wore jeans to Buckingham Palace? They were supposed to have tea with the Queen, but were turned away due to their outfits.

Love it!

Posted by: EB | January 26, 2007 1:17 PM

"It's poor eating habits and it's putting out healthcare system in jeopardy!"

Cite? As someone in health insurance, I haven't seen evidence of this.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 1:19 PM

KLB SS MD,

You should see how I am dressed when I go to Home Depot! (big hint, no sage green involved!)

So does anyone want the Fredia motorcycle cop story or the Mercedes story?

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 1:19 PM

Melissa: Invest in a few good merino wool/cashmere sweaters -- they look great with jeans or dress pants and can be layered under a jacket. Make friends with a good shoe place too -- the thin rubber soles they can put on leather soled shoes delay the instant gratification of wearing new shoes, but extend the life of the shoe.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | January 26, 2007 1:20 PM

Fred - whichever would embarass her more if she knew you told it!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 1:21 PM

the white legs thing again - I wear pantyhose because I don't like my white legs. It has nothing to do with feeling like I have to hide them. It's a personal preference. It is not to denigrate anyone. Everyone here wears something because they think it makes them look good, e.g., high heels as opposed to flat shoes. I think my legs look better with a little color and I would rather wear hose than be hassled with tanning beds (not healthy anyway), or real sun-tanning or spray on fake tans.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 1:22 PM

KLB, Since you asked . . .

I listened to my best girlfriend. She's one of those naturally beautiful with no make-up redheads. I have always required some artificial assistance and effort. On a July Sunday afternoon - one of those gorgeous weekends where all of our friends, and a majority of everyone else 20 - 30 years old, was at the beach or otherwise out of town because it was far too beautiful to do anything else -- she and I decided to take a break mid-home-improvement project to stroll down the street to Old Town to have a beer or 4. Largely because we didn't think we'd see anyone we knew, and we were 27 at the time, I let her convince me that it didn't matter that I hadn't showered and had donned no make-up. We encountered not only old boyfriend -- over whom I was still pining -- but also his new, cute, bathed (of course), fully, simply made-up babe in tow. The clincher, as a severely height- disadvantaged person, was that I was wearing tennis shoes and new babe had on heels, so when the obligatory introductions occurred, I felt approximately 12 years old. And we had to leave our favorite bar after one drink and relocate to a different watering hole. Of course, we didn't literally have to, but, well, you understand.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 26, 2007 1:22 PM

I have to second (third?) aerosoles for comfy shoes.
Fortunately I can be somewhat casual at work. I tend to buy at Ann Taylor and Talbots, nice clothes that aren't too terribly expensive.

Posted by: Missicat | January 26, 2007 1:23 PM

Oh, she HATES both equally.

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 1:24 PM

must have: spring for a really good, exceptionally beautiful scarf. something like ferragamo -- seriously worth breaking the piggy bank for. it will look as great with a neutral linen dress in the summer as it does with a black turtleneck, or the oft-recommended black cashmere v-neck, in the winter. it can jazz up a basic black suit as well.

Posted by: tar heel gal | January 26, 2007 1:25 PM

"They are not affordable ($100 a pair--maybe ask for them for a birthday)"

It wouldn't occur to me to ask someone else to buy something for me that I consider to be unaffordable.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 1:26 PM

to EB: Wow I didn't know about the Bush Twins' visit to Buck Palace in jeans. Good for them that they were turned away--there are times and places for jeans, and that certainly WASN'T IT! Where was Laura when you needed her LOL.

I guess I'm a little old school: like I wear sheer (read: SHEER) pantyhose underneath my skirts year-round; I wear comfy shoes like Aerosoles on my way to work; and I apply light makeup and have my hair in a neat style for work every day. I can actually say that dressing this way does make me take my job a little more seriously, especially when I have meetings.

Posted by: Ms Imagery | January 26, 2007 1:27 PM

Thanks for all the shoe suggestions! Now I have a great list of stores to check out this weekend.

Posted by: medgirl | January 26, 2007 1:29 PM

NC lawyer - why are they always tall? And you did HAVE to leave the bar IMHO. Where are the exes on the days that all the stars align and we not only have a good hair day but a good clothes day too?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 1:35 PM

Fred - then motorcycle cop as you have alluded to it in the past.

Posted by: KLB SS | January 26, 2007 1:36 PM

"I wear tennis shoes to the office everyday because they're the only shoes I feel safe driving in."

Emily - Eh? What do you mean by safe? Road rage make you take off running after somebody?

(Snark. Joke. Please do not take offense)

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 1:37 PM

at least some of you have hair to comb or have a bad hair day with!

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 1:38 PM

"I frown upon obesity the same way I forwn upon those with cirrohsis of the liver from imbibing alcohol and those who smoke. It's not healthy."
Posted by: | January 26, 2007 01:14 PM

This frowning poster might be the same fun guy who last week commented that who didn't want anyone in his residence smoking or drinking around his dogs.

btw, frowner, those 10% of smokers who get smoking-related illnesses tend to die relatively quickly from either emphysema, lung cancer, or heart disease. They don't actually live long enough to develop the more costly diseases associated with old age, e.g., osteoarthritis, alzheimers, prostate cancer. If any one problem is burdening the healthcare system, it is the cost of caring for persons who suffer from alzheimers. Alzheimers generally progresses relatively slowly and may require 24 hour care during the last several years of a sufferer's life. There's a significant amount of research now that nicotine use may prevent Alzheimer's, e.g., that smokers tend not to be in the pool of Alzheimer's sufferers. Hence, your attempt to blame smokers for our over-burdened healthcare system is not supported by science or statistics. I'm not justifying smoking; however, please don't rationalize your frowning and criticism of strangers with unsubstantiated health or public policy statements. There are enough substantiated problems with smoking that you can stick with those and still frown.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 1:38 PM

" exceptionally beautiful scarf. something like ferragamo"

Does Ferragamo make scarves? I thought they were mostly leather goods and some clothes.

I agree that a good scarf is worth the investment. I love my two silk twill scarves and wear them all the time. The Hermes website has one or two good pdf documents about different ways to tie them.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 26, 2007 1:39 PM

Fred, stories please. We so need them on a Friday to sustain any hope of the happy posts outnumbering the not-so-happy.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 26, 2007 1:43 PM

It is ok to dress pretty casually here but I always wear slacks and a shirt/sweater/blouse except on Fridays when I wear jeans. Never, ever tennis shoes even though it is totally approprirate. Never anything tight or revealing I am a woman and am pretty young and look even younger. I hope that dressing this way make me look a little older and get taken a little more seriously. I do wear color though. I can't go with the khakis and blue shirt everyday. I'd die of boredom. Also, the people with the jobs I want wear jeans or khakis everyday. I am not going to be dressing like them. Funny thing though, a fair amount of the older women engineers dress up more with skirts and suits. They came in at a time when there were a lot fewer women engineers. I am sure they have horror stories. I get compliments occasionally from both sexes and just take them in stride. I am thankful that most engineers are oblivious to this stuff unless your undies are hanging out. I am going to think about the edited wardrobe. Must make mornings quicker.

Posted by: engineer | January 26, 2007 1:45 PM

The ladies are giving out clothing recipes, and I think I have recipe-envy.

College Guy's Graduation Gift for his entry-level professional job:

1 Charcoal suit
1 Blue pinstripe suit
4 white dress shirts
1 blue dress shirt
5 ties, blue/red/burgundy only
1 pr brown slacks
1 pr blue slacks
2 pr khakis
1 pr black shoes
1 pr brown shoes

This will get him through the his first 12 months, and he can start buying his own stuff.

Posted by: Proud Papa | January 26, 2007 1:47 PM

To tar heel gal --

Don't know if this helps, but Land's End hems slacks to your spec for free (women's as well as men's).

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 1:47 PM

Not that I have a dog in this fight, but for the poster who wrote: "btw, frowner, those 10% of smokers who get smoking-related illnesses tend to die relatively quickly from either emphysema, lung cancer, or heart disease. They don't actually live long enough to develop the more costly diseases associated with old age, e.g., osteoarthritis, alzheimers, prostate cancer," more than one-third of Medicaid and Medicare costs go towards the last one year of a person's life, so it doesn't matter if they have a "costly" long-term disease like Alzheimers', or emphysema. The expense comes in so much care and life intervening/saving equipment tests when people are already on their last leg. Just throwing this out there.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 1:48 PM

Wow! Nice to know I am occasionally supported by others. Anyway, as usual, I have not been clear enough to be fully understood and I apologize.

I would not so much hire the office hootchie based on exposed skin as NOT bar her from continued success with the firm when her work habits are so good. Once someone is hired in my firm, their appearance is much less of a concern to me than their performance.

Earlier, I referred to the hiring process and my preferance for appearance over resume. I am assuming that with this other person, I would know beforehand that she is a hell of a worker and discount her flamboyance, should she be so silly as to appear like that in the interview.

Anecdote: A woman in her thirties worked for me for a while and always dressed in an "over-exposed" manner. I am too polite to say anything and didn't really care as she was a great worker. One of her co-workers took her to task one day and she said, "I want to get married and you attract more bees with honey.". Well, she continued to dress this way and continued to do good work and got raises and promotions but finally left the firm for another company with more single men. C'est la vie.

As to CEO's getting tatoos, I promised my daughter we would get one together. (She is 17.) That put an end to that particular ambition on her part.

Posted by: Dave | January 26, 2007 1:48 PM

Oops! Yeah, I guess that sounded bad. But what I can't afford, my parents are happy to buy for me for holidays and birthdays, so that's what I meant.

Posted by: Meesh | January 26, 2007 1:49 PM

Motorcycle cop story,

When we lived in Lake Charles, La, I worked about 2 miles from home. One day, Fredia called me and said she had been in an auto accident. This may seem funny but by her tone, I knew that the accident happened near home and that she was OK. I raced home and as I turned the corner--the house was still 2 blocks away--I could see about every cop car in Lake Charles (LC). I saw her car but not the other one. As I was about a block away, I saw a motorcycle laying in the street! I am thinking that the rider is dead or seriously injured. As I arrived at the driveway, I saw the motorcycle had blue light on it! My heart really sank; I am thinking traffic tickets for as long as we lived in LC. I then saw a MC cop hopping around, at least he was alive and sort of walking. What happened was the MC cop was coming down the street and Fredia backed out of the driveway into him. The MC cop told me that it was either lay the bike down under the car or crash into the oak tree across the street. He decided that laying down the bike was easier than playing kissy face with a 100 yr old oak.

To this day, Fredia insist that the cop was hot shoting down the street. He was not the one who got the ticket!

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 1:49 PM

NC lawyer that always happens to me when I am home. I always run into someone I either used to like or the snotty prom queen. I am usually dressed in jeans and a t shirt with my hair twisted in some sort of away in a pony tail. Or I am filthy after helping my mom or dad do some chore.

The best ever came from said prom queen: "-----scarry is that you, your face has finally cleared up."

Posted by: scarry | January 26, 2007 1:50 PM

True story of a young woman who "dressed for success". In the mid 70s I worked for an insurance company in CT. These were the days of mini-skirts. A group of us were eating lunch outdoors on a three tiered terrace (we were at the bottom). As this young girl in her mini-skirt walked down each level the people behind her were laughing. We thought they were mean as she wasn't the most attractive person. As she passed us we figured out what they were laughing at - she had tucked her mini-skirt into her pantyhose in the back.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 1:51 PM

I never judge people on their appearance. However, if I hear a nice, pleasant, genuine voice that treats others with respect, I automatically assume that I'm talking with a beautiful person.

One of the things I like about this blog is that like me, everybody else gets to imagine how the others look like.

Like Scarry, at first I thought you were a red-head until you revealed yourself differently. Now Mom of 4 says she has red hair, and that's something I won't be able to forget.

I imagine Emily as a brunette, medium build, but top-heavy.

I think Laura has rounded, adorable features like a huggable teddy bear.

I picture NC Lawyer with a petite build, perky, energetic and about 5 foot 2.

Hey, I'm just guessing, but should stop before I get clobbered.

And one last thing. I'm sure there is a picture of Leslie somewhere. Please, somebody, indulge my curiosity and describe to me what she looks like?

Posted by: Father of 4 | January 26, 2007 1:51 PM

A Ferragamo scarf, now that's a different story...

Posted by: Meesh | January 26, 2007 1:51 PM

re ferragamo scarves: oh, yes, Lizzie, they certainly do and they are soooo beautiful..... even better than hermes (imho)

Posted by: tar heel girl | January 26, 2007 1:52 PM

If you're tall, the new girlfriend is always short and cute and makes you feel like this huge clumsy person.

Posted by: there's no upside | January 26, 2007 1:52 PM

"I very rarely wear a blazer unless its cut with back darts or princess seams or has some version of a peplum to it. I have a woman's body, and I like it, and I like it show in what I wear."

Why would any woman over 16 want to wear a peplum?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 1:53 PM

"re ferragamo scarves: oh, yes, Lizzie, they certainly do and they are soooo beautiful..... even better than hermes (imho)"

Great. Another thing to covet.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 26, 2007 1:55 PM

Proud Papa, The College Guy's Graduation Gift is a lot cheaper if you encourage your son to major in engineering or IT, and avoid working in Boston, NY or DC (although I suspect the following list still works in burbs like Herndon). Maybe it's just the Triangle, but the following list is plenty for the first 24 months for entry-level positions in those fields. (dotted, do you disagree?)

5 pr chino pants, any neutral color
6 polos or button-down shirts, your preference, any color, including prints
1 decent quality navy jacket for the interview, and for the one day a year someone visits from headquarters
2 pr slip-on, leather, brown shoes
1 pr Timberland boots

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 26, 2007 1:57 PM

to find a wardrobe consultant - google "wardrobe consultant silver spring" etc. Are we allowed to post names? I loved Valerie Rippetoe in Silver Spring, great advice and affordable, working mom doing the "balance" thing.

Posted by: Kirsten | January 26, 2007 1:58 PM

Like father of 4, I don't judge people by what they look like. However, there is one exception to that rule. When I go to get my hair cut, I want a stylist who has nice hair. I don't care if she weighs 100 or 300 pounds, cute/not cute it doesn't matter, but she has to have nice hair.

Posted by: scarry | January 26, 2007 1:59 PM

"Anybody (female) out there ever have a female boss give them a hard time about their appearance?"

I know a girl (heavyset at about a size 20/22) who was told by her female boss "you're lucky I hired you for this position--most people don't like hiring heavy girls".

Posted by: xoxo | January 26, 2007 1:59 PM

"If one is overweight and/or a bad or sloppy dresser, what message are they sending to the world?"

To anon at 11:12 --

So you're saying that overweight people and bad/sloppy dressers send the same message?

Why would this be the case?

Posted by: pittypat | January 26, 2007 2:01 PM

FOr our snarky anon poster - I'm a sufferer of polycyctic ovarian syndrome. I went from an average kid to a women's 16 petite in less than a year (fourth to fifth grade). I have been in the same proportion, but taller, since and am now a 28. I eat healthier than 95% of the population on average, exercise, take the stairs, and have managed to lose and gain the same 20 pounds about 10 times in the last 10 years.

Don't judge everyone by your 'fat people are slobs' mentality. Some heavy people got that way by no fault of their own, and can't lose the weight no matter what they do. And as for the healthcare issue, I have normal blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and resting heart rate. I'm as healthy as I can be. I can bet you wouldn't match up favorably.

Posted by: Rebecca in AR | January 26, 2007 2:01 PM

Scarry, "When I go to get my hair cut, I want a stylist who has nice hair. " The person you really want is the one who did your stylist's hair.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 2:02 PM

Fredia comes out with some--how can I say--incongruous statements every now and again. To be polite, she can be a bit of a space cadet sometimes. These are called Frediaism and are much celebrated among my daughter and my brothers.

We were in downtown Tampa for older daughter's graduation. Downtown Tampa has a very large homeless population. As we were driving, Fredia noticed some of the homeless and commented, (this is an exact quote), " Where do the homeless people live?"

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 2:02 PM

"Now then, for first anon. You have NO IDEA how hard it is to lose weight when you're very overweight. Yes, just eat less and exercise - try exercising when you're out of breath and your joints ache."

I'm sorry, but that just made me laugh out loud. How about not becoming 100 lbs overweight in the first place? You don't have to go out and run a triathalon, just do whatever activity you can and build up gradually. And how exactly does being overweight stop you from eating less and more healthy? Know that sounds harsh, but sometimes you have to call them like you see them.

Posted by: baby | January 26, 2007 2:02 PM

What the hell is a pepblum? I am starting to feel like the backwoods girl who showed up to the ball in nyc ... which, I guess, isn't far from the truth ...

Posted by: TakomaMom | January 26, 2007 2:04 PM

Ah, yes, I remember when I was young and stick-thin and wondered how anyone could POSSIBLY let themselves go. Then I turned 40 and karma is a b*****. I am about 25 lbs overweight and trust me, I am trying everything. Sometimes it just really isn't that easy!

Posted by: Missicat | January 26, 2007 2:05 PM

I wrote someone a letter once asking them for their address. I thought I was pretty smart until I sat there with the envelope in my hand. DUH!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 2:06 PM

Takoma mom,

I don't know what a pepblum is either. But then, I am a guy so maybe I don't have to!

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 2:07 PM

In my (admittedly limited) experience, how well people dress can be an indication of their social skills. I once worked with a woman who was not at all sloppy in her work habits, but her appearance didn't reflect that. They did reflect her social skills-- she seemed to have no idea how people would react to her tactless remarks, and she also seemed to be unaware that she was the only one wearing jeans and t-shirts to work or that the clothes she was wearing no longer fit-- I don't mean this as a crack on her weight, she wasn't really that heavy, but no one looks good in clothes that don't fit. It was sad, because she was a nice, competent person once you got to know her.

As a rule, the more socially adept a coworker was, the more likely he or she was to dress professionally.

To defend Leslie's SAHM comment, I think there is a SAHM uniform (machine washable knit on top, khaki or denim on bottom), and I can often tell when a mom has come from work. I don't think I treat WOHMs badly, though I guess I may not make the effort to get to know them, since I may not see them again (we do most of our kid activities during the day, so WOHMs don't usually bring their kids themselves, although they will often come a couple times to see it for themselves).

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | January 26, 2007 2:08 PM

You're absolutely right, "there's no upside." I've met many a cute, tiny, thin new girlfriend and felt like Shrek. They always seen to be exactly what you're not.

Posted by: Meesh | January 26, 2007 2:08 PM

scarry -- why is does your stylist need to be a she? The best stylist I've ever had was a man. Kevin. Loved him! Then I moved away.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 2:08 PM

I wrote someone a letter once asking them for their address. I thought I was pretty smart until I sat there with the envelope in my hand. DUH!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 02:06 PM

We have a WINNER! ;-)

Posted by: Missicat | January 26, 2007 2:10 PM

a Peplum is on the kind of jacket that is usually very fitted down to a seam at the waist, then the fabric kind of flares out over the hips. Very 40's (era, not age).

Posted by: Kirsten | January 26, 2007 2:13 PM

"How about not becoming 100 lbs overweight in the first place?"

Well, that would be lovely, but until someone builds a time machine, I can't go back and change that.

And who said I wasn't trying? I am, I just said that until you are that overweight, or have a loved one that is, you don't realize how hard it is. There's no easy way to lose weight, and I personally believe the heavier you are, the harder it gets.

Posted by: AG | January 26, 2007 2:13 PM

Where's my prize?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 2:14 PM

Where's my prize?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 02:14 PM

You can have the next two days off work!

Posted by: Missicat | January 26, 2007 2:16 PM

A one gallon can of paint. Color is sage green.

Posted by: to KLB SS MD from Fred | January 26, 2007 2:17 PM

"We have a WINNER! ;-)"

Not even. Once I was looking at how someone had spelled my last name in an e-mail directory. "They spelled my name wrong!" I said.

"Huh?" said a co-worker. "That's how I've always spelled your name and you've never said anything."

"Well, you've been spelling it WRONG all this time."

"Are you sure?"

"Dude, I think I know how to spell my own NAME."

"Okay, where is it wrong?"

I rolled my eyes and started spelling my name out loud. As I did, I noticed that yes, the e-mail directory had it right ("Uh, never mind") and so did my co-worker, who has not stopped laughing at me since then, even though he moved to the opposite coast last year.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 26, 2007 2:18 PM

You all are just too kind!
Has anyone ever walked out of the bathroom with TP stuck to their shoe?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 2:18 PM

Fred, I'm still laughing, except I stop every now and then to re-read Scarry's post about the acquaintance from home and think, she DIDN'T just say that. then I start laughing again.

Father of 4: Thanks for the compliment. Leslie's pretty. She has shoulder-length blonde hair, parted on one side, and she's wearing red lipstick. She's 40 something. I'm guessing she's tallish and fit because the photo makes it look as though her neck is long (in that gracious, well-bred way some necks can be long), but that could be the perspective of the height-disadvantaged poster trying to glean too much information from a very small photo. I will also admit, as someone who is forced by the nature of my business to have her photo on the web, that I tend to assume all work-related web photos are unflattering and that Leslie's probably even more attractive than her WaPo photo.

Rebecca, great response to our ignorant snarky poster. there's always hope that you might teach her to question her omniscience.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 26, 2007 2:19 PM

I bestow my dufus crown to Lizzie.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 2:20 PM

Losing weight is not easy.

AG -- keep on trying; don't lose hope. For inspiration, see www.cnn.com for its new series I-report -- 15 year old fellow lost over 250 lbs in 14 months. Amazing.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 2:20 PM

I am absolutely stunned by the early posters who claim not to know how SAHMs dress. We dress in jeans and sweat pants and casual clothes you would never wear to an office or factory job. Same for SAHDs. It is a cinch to id folks who work outside the home by their clothes. And I love "passing" because it just makes mom-to-mom relationships easier.

Posted by: Leslie | January 26, 2007 2:21 PM

KLB, I don't remember ever having TP stuck on my shoe, but just recently at work, I spilled yogurt down the front of my shirt at work and somehow didn't notice (yes, clearly I was on another planet that day) until an HOUR later when I couldn't figure out why my cubicle still smelled like caramel ... and then I promptly chewed out the guy who sits across from me (jokingly of course) for letting me look like such an idiot!

Posted by: TakomaMom | January 26, 2007 2:27 PM

"Has anyone ever walked out of the bathroom with TP stuck to their shoe?"

One time I dropped the tube of Preparation-H and it landed in the next stall over with the top off.

Posted by: It doesn't get more embarrassing than this | January 26, 2007 2:27 PM

medgirl: the Skecher's Step Up mary janes in black or brown are good choices if you have to stand around a lot. Since I'm in a field where I have to visit a lot of my clients around the city, I don't buy any shoes for work that I can't do a reasonable amount of walking around in.

Posted by: Tiffany | January 26, 2007 2:27 PM

NC Lawyer,

Do you mean Scarry's prom queen story? If not I missed something (but it wan't sage green)

Plenty of Frediaism, some days I am suprised that she just doesn't float away into the blue sky!

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 2:28 PM

Then of course there is the old "food stuck in your teeth" look. So attractive!

Posted by: Missicat | January 26, 2007 2:28 PM

Love the true confession about most embarassing moments Friday afternoon.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 2:29 PM

Correction to 2:20 post: 35 year old man, not 15

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 2:29 PM

Does a woman ever tell a man that his fly is unzipped?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 2:30 PM

There was also the time that I told a colleague that Iran is landlocked. Iran. Also known as Persia. Close by that body of water called the Persian Gulf.

My friend's cousin really liked the perfume Calyx, by Prescriptives. She went to the Prescriptives counter and said, "Do you have that perfume Cervix?"

"You mean Calyx?"

"No, I'm pretty sure it's called Cervix."

Posted by: Lizzie | January 26, 2007 2:32 PM

Man's fly unzipped? Sure I tell him, batting my eyes and with a slight smirk, especially if he's hot :)

Posted by: Ms Imagery | January 26, 2007 2:33 PM

Anyone ever worn a sweater inside out and not noticed for most of the day?

Posted by: Missicat | January 26, 2007 2:35 PM

To Fred -- Do you think your beloved Fredia might be channeling the late, sublime Gracie Allen?

Posted by: catlady | January 26, 2007 2:36 PM

Yes, Fred, the prom queen story.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 26, 2007 2:37 PM

Very sad (sniff, sniff) true confession on my part. I used to sit across from this fiery red head at work. She and I would verbally joust all day long. To someone who did not know us, you would think that WWIII was in its 5th year. One day, we carried one of our discussion out to the elevator lobby. I pointed at her and said, you! you! She said "You what?" with such force that I literally could not talk for 15 minutes. I would open my mouth but words would not come out! I was speechless in the first time in some 45 years. She loves telling this story on me.

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 2:37 PM

Father of 4: I picture them all as looking like Bella Abzug or Betty Friedan. Maybe a few Roseann's sprinkled in. All militant feminists. Leslie has a blonde June Cleaver hairstyle but smirky smile that says "I'm so much better than you are."

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 2:38 PM

I usually buy my shoes at Koals when they go on sale. One time I bought two pairs of the same style tennis shoe, one tan leather and the other white leather.

You guessed it, it was only a matter of time... but what bugs me the most is nobody bothered to tell me that I was wearing one tan and one white until noon. I would rather people laugh in front of me instead of behind me.

Posted by: Father of 4 | January 26, 2007 2:40 PM

My first job out of college was at a small time publishing house where we didn't have to interact with anyone except through a computer. Our dress code was stricktly casual. Sweatshirt and jeans every day. What a change from college!! Once I moved on to the law firm it was business casual and I have to say I feel a lot more confident just walking around the halls then I ever did previously. Even though investing in a new wardrobe was expensive (and a serious lesson in appropriate work clothing) I think I've finally got it figured out.

Posted by: Falls Church | January 26, 2007 2:40 PM

I had a friend who was fighting with her husband. All of worked in the same hospital. She came over and spent the night with me rather than stay and argue with him.
The next morning I got on a crowded elevator - some patients and some people we all knew. He was standing in the back. As soon as the elevator started to open on the next floor he turned to me and said "I just want to thank you for last night" and calmly walked out.
I never knew if he was being funny or being nice.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 2:41 PM

I believe Gracie Allen meant to be funny.

Fredia has no idea. I frequently accuse her of having no sense of humor. She always replies that she just it all up just getting married to me!

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 2:41 PM

Favorite clothing story. Went out to dinner with my nana a few years ago (before her dementia got quite bad), and she said she felt very uncomfortable on the way over in the car. We were walking around a bit before dinner and waited to be seated for a table, and our waiter, who was so kind, eventually helped my nana take her coat offf......in which he discovered her wooden hanger. Not one to miss a good joke, my nana said, "Great, there you go, hon, I even brought my own hooks!" I felt like the worst grandaughter in the world for not noticing she had a wooden coathanger sticking out of th eback of her coat!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 2:45 PM

Of course, you're right, Fred -- Gracie Allen the actress meant to be funny. But Gracie Allen the character didn't.

Posted by: catlady | January 26, 2007 2:45 PM

The difference that I see between how the working moms look versus the SAHs is that the SAHs are almost always thinner and in much better shape. They have the time to go to the gym or to run at a time when it's not dark outside. On clothes, when I first became a lawyer, it was considered unprofessional to wear pants to work. This is before pants suits came into vogue. So I had skirted suits and skirt/blazer combinations. Now my closet is full of pant suits and they are considered totally professional. I've seen women wear them to court. I say thank heaven for pant suits - they are so much more comfortable and flattering to most figures, you don't have to wear pantyhose but can get away with knee-hi's or nothing if it's summer time. I've never heard anyone say that a pant suit does not look professional. What makes the difference is the shoes. Check out Nancy Pelosi's shoes - they help kick her pant suits onto a higher fashion plane and add to their dressiness.
I rely almost totally on Talbots. Their clothes strike a nice balance between classic and fashion, they are very affordable when they are on sale, which is at least 2-3 times a year, they are easy to buy on-line or from the catalogue because their sizes are standard - i.e., if one Talbot size # fits you, everything in that size will fit and continue to year after year as long as you stay that size. Which for me is a whole 'nother blog.

Posted by: lawyermom | January 26, 2007 2:46 PM

Another Fredia witticism.

My oldest living brother (OB) still lives a bit in the past about Viet Nam. He wears some military style clothing to this day and often wears a boonie hat. Fredia cannot stand a man wearing a hat indoors. OB came over to a younger brother's house in Alabama for Thanksgiving one year. Of course OB had his boonie hat on. Fredia quipped, "You can take your hat off. The VC aren't going to invade today!"

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 2:46 PM

To 01:14 PM - picking on the obese and smokers - slippery slope - you know what let's deny care to everyone who doesn't lead an exemplary life - If you don't eat your 5 veggies a day you are out, if you sky dive - out, don't wear your seat belt - out, don't exercise 4 times a week at least 30 mins.

Sometimes the people with the nicest package have the ugliest insides. Gotta look inside - you never know.

Dotted and scary - thanks for the support and FYI - I totally look like a slob today, went to the gym, got dd, went back to the YMCA for ballet, wore giant warm sweatpants, just took a shower - and I'm enjoying my day - what are you gonna do can't be gorgeous all the time.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 2:46 PM

For women anywhay, dress is geographical. I moved from Boston to Atlanta and it took me four years to "blend." Southern women know how to dress. Moved back to Boston and recieved constant comments about my "elegant" wardrobe.

Posted by: Suzie | January 26, 2007 2:48 PM

Leslie a blonde? Never could have guessed it. Now if someone could tell me the eye color, that would make my image of her complete.

Posted by: Father of 4 | January 26, 2007 2:50 PM

anon at 2:38, are you pATRICK or merely a soul-mate?

In the interest of making lemonade out of lemons, and for the amusement of the rest of the posters who have a sense of humor, here is a link to the militant feminist quiz:

http://www.spacefem.com/quizzes/militantfeminist/

by the way, anon, although you're way off on the description in my case, who cares since posters are ultimately anonymous? Insulting Leslie's personal appearance on her blog, on the other hand, exhibits a seventh-grade level of childishness and meanness.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 26, 2007 2:51 PM

"Where can someone find a fashion consultant?"

Most department stores offer free personal shopping services (and no, I don't mean just Neiman's or Saks Fifth). You make an appointment, talk to the consultant about what you want/need, give them parameters around price, color, etc. and they do all the work! It's terrific!

Also, I highly recommend watching a few episodes of "What Not to Wear" on TLC - while the criticism of those on the show is sometimes harsh, the style tricks and tips they offer are applicable to just about anyone - any job, any economic status, any parental status. Here are a few that have really helped me:
1) Dress for how your body looks NOW - not how it looked pre-baby or in college or "when I lose 10 pounds."
2) Find a good tailor, factor in the cost of tailoring when you shop, and don't resign yourself to wearing clothes that don't fit. Almost anything can be tailored - even jeans. (I'm a curvy 5'1" with a long torso and short legs...I don't buy *anything* that can't be altered). Clothes that fit properly will always look more expensive - even if they came from Old Navy or Target!
3) Tugging at your clothes is a sign that they don't fit properly and makes you look uncomfortable and therefore less confident and attractive.
4) Dress for your age! Even if it fits, and even if you have a great body, a 40-year-old woman looks inappropriate in clothing from the Junior department and a 40-year-old man looks sloppy in a "freebie" t-shirt, unironed shorts, and Tevas.
5) Take the time and spend the $$ to care for your clothes properly. They will last longer, maintain their fit, and look better.

Oh, and I'm a blue-eyed blond with insanely fair skin and a tendency to bruise. Self-tanner is a miracle product for reducing the pasty "glow" of my skin and evening out my skin tone...used sparingly you will not look like Paris Hilton or Tara Reid.

And Shout Wipes are another miracle product...they get out almost any stain and are safe for most fabrics...even silk. Yeah, I'm messy, too.

Posted by: FairfaxGal | January 26, 2007 2:51 PM

Church story: I was in the choir. I picked up my godmother every Sunday. She was late this particular day. We had floor length choir robes and were doing a processional. She was walking front of me. One step - blue shoe - next step green shoe. I was hysterical by the time we got to the front of the church. She kept nudging me to stop until I pointed at her feet - then she started.
She had been trying both on to see which looked better with her dress. When I arrived she just stuck her feet in a shoe and ran out the door.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 2:55 PM

I also watch What Not to Wear and have received very good tips. I keep hinting to my friends to send in my name...I will take the abuse for a paid shopping trip in NY! Plus the hair and makeup - they do a great job also.

Posted by: Missicat | January 26, 2007 2:57 PM

"I moved from Boston to Atlanta and it took me four years to "blend." Southern women know how to dress."

The best I've ever heard this regional difference regarding dress, hair, makeup, nails, et al expressed is that in the South, the sin is to look as though you're not trying. In the North, the sin is to look as though you are.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 26, 2007 2:58 PM

It does have to be a "slippery slope" to have a problem with obesity and smoking. Like car insurance, we don't charge people more if they have bad eyesight, but we charge them if they get in an accident while driving without their glasses when they should have been, endangering others on the road. Car insurance provides the best example of how pooled risk can both hold folks accountable for behavior that negatively affects others (i.e. - bad driving, poor care of one's own health which leads to diabetes, etc.) without penalizing those who are inherently/genetically "worse off."

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 2:59 PM

KLB SS MD: you're on a roll today. Wait while I get another box of tissues.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 2:59 PM

I mean't it DOESN'T have to be a slippery slope.......sorry people. Friday has clearly set in.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 3:01 PM

Welcome to my life. I have a million of them.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 3:03 PM

One economical way to make basic less-expensive garments (especially jackets) look more elegant: replace the chintzy buttons they often have with classy ones -- usually only costs a few dollars extra, but does a world of good.

Posted by: cat lady | January 26, 2007 3:05 PM

I took the feminist militant quiz. Hey, I am a militant feminist! Wait, I saw the word lawyer where it said man or men.

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 3:05 PM

O.k. anon - I hereby nominate you to be the offical designator of deciding what people are supposed to do and who will go in each pool. Don't forget the genetically skinny who eat bacon and never exercise. Anyway, you are the decider!

Posted by: moxiemom | January 26, 2007 3:09 PM

To Suzie: A big "aw, thanks" from me and the rest of the GRITS : )

Posted by: tar heel gal | January 26, 2007 3:09 PM

I think that anyone who is smaller than a size 10 has an eating disorder and is putting a strain on the health insurance system.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 3:10 PM

Also, Decider anon - can we make it a rule that it is o.k to be mean to those of us whose personal failings are apparent only on the outside?

Posted by: moxiemom | January 26, 2007 3:11 PM

Hey Father of 4,
Don't listen to the other poster, Leslie is quite pretty. Don't know when you lost your sight, but to me she is reminiscient of Meredith Baxter Birney, the mom on Family Ties. It looks like she might have blue eyes, but it's hard to tell from the picture. Hope that helps!

Posted by: Emmy | January 26, 2007 3:13 PM

Eh, I think I'm still going to skip the skin-tone (for Californians) pantyhose. In the winter I wear opaque tights and in the summer, gasp, my white legs if I wear a skirt (which is a yes when the A/C in my building goes out). My legs won't naturally be getting any whiter (after my mom's melanoma scare last year) and I've begun to feel that self-tanner is selling out. I will subject you all to my translucent legs (in and out of work) until you're not so shocked by them! And I would advise some sunglasses. (a woman in wal-mart once said to me, with a drawl, "honey, do you know what a tanning bed is?" I wanted to punch her)

On a completely side note for the pregnant poster (Cal Girl?). Have you read or seen anything about Laura from the last season of Project Runway? She has some good stuff to say about dressing while you're pregnant and working (she's an architect). Of course she makes her own clothes, but pregnant with number 7 on the show she always looked great. Very simple and elegant. I know alot of places did interviews with her.

Posted by: running | January 26, 2007 3:15 PM

I am a little surprised that there aren't a lot of complaints about the high cost of dressing well for success. The complaints about the cost of daycare were rampant, and I think the care of the children is more important than dressing the best.

--from someone who doesn't complain about the cost of daycare and shops at Sears and JCPenney because Ann Taylor, Talbot's and Nordstrom are out of my range.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 3:15 PM

scarry -- why is does your stylist need to be a she? The best stylist I've ever had was a man. Kevin. Loved him! Then I moved away.

Doesn't, I actually perfer men. I just wrote she so I did't have to do he/she, but I still want someone with nice hair.

Posted by: scarry | January 26, 2007 3:16 PM

Does a woman ever tell a man that his fly is unzipped? No but let me tell the story of one of my college profs.

He was an economics professor and very animated in his lectures. I sat in the front row with a cute blonde and we would cut up all class. So the prof comes in one day and starts his lecture. He was one of these profs who had his timing down to the minute. He would face us to lecture and then turn to the blackboard to write something. Then repeat this action several times during the class. He saw that we were all laughing from the beginning of class but could not figure out why the blonde and I among others were laughing so hard. He figured it out about half way thru the class. Then with one very smooth move he turned to the blackboard, wrote something on it and zipped his fly! He never let on that anything was wrong!

Well, I only got a B in that class. Maybe his last laugh?

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 3:16 PM

Eh, I think I'm still going to skip the skin-tone (for Californians) pantyhose. In the winter I wear opaque tights and in the summer, gasp, my white legs if I wear a skirt (which is a yes when the A/C in my building goes out). My legs won't naturally be getting any whiter (after my mom's melanoma scare last year) and I've begun to feel that self-tanner is selling out. I will subject you all to my translucent legs (in and out of work) until you're not so shocked by them! And I would advise some sunglasses. (a woman in wal-mart once said to me, with a drawl, "honey, do you know what a tanning bed is?" I wanted to punch her)

On a completely side note for the pregnant poster (Cal Girl?). Have you read or seen anything about Laura from the last season of Project Runway? She has some good stuff to say about dressing while you're pregnant and working (she's an architect). Of course she makes her own clothes, but pregnant with number 7 on the show she always looked great. Very simple and elegant. I know alot of places did interviews with her.

Posted by: running | January 26, 2007 3:16 PM

Anon at 2:20 - thank you. :) I'm actually waiting to have surgery....I've tried so long that I feel it's the best option right now.

And I'll second the "dress for now" statement from What Not To Wear. I looked a lot better when I quit trying to dress myself as the weight I wanted to be. People can look nice at any size.

Posted by: AG | January 26, 2007 3:17 PM

Clothing, makeup & shoe thoughts--Long

On makeup my thoughts are fairly simple, I need to at least put on a little something to blend my face into a sane semblence of evenness--which frequently is the marykay tinted moisturizer which has a sunscreen in it, add a dash of eyeshadow, mascara & blush I keep lipstick + gloss in my purse and i'm good all day. If I don't do it people at the office ask me if I'm sick. eyeliner and foundation/powder really give a nice overall look if i have time, but for me to do that it takes a full five mins, whereas moisturizer single eyeshadow and mascara plus blush is under a minute while swallowing morning pills and doing mouthwash.

Macys is my best friend. I've lost a lot of weight in the last year--40lbs, got like another 50 to go--its all about how you wear those lbs! Their clearance racks are amazing. I can usually pick up nice label pants (midgrade) for $7-20 and shirts for around that. I went to what used to be hechts but is now Macys in Tysons 1 two nights ago and for $40 walked out with 5 pairs of pants which all fit properly as I had gone down a size and my new job needs a higher quality of clothing.

I keep a few really nice jackets in my office (I only wear autumn colors to minimize how hard it is to match things, rusts, greens, etc you know the drill, I own nothing navy for fear of putting it on with something black as I'm dumb in the morning) that if I get cold or walk out always look stunning with whatever I have on as they're in my color scheme, plus because they live at the office, they stay neat. I also keep touch up makeup there.

I got my haircut last year from waistlength to professional--I knew I was going to be job hunting. I keep my teeth white. Part of my job is that for all i know my manager may want me to see a customer, hasn't happened, but maybe s/he'll want to promote me someday and I need to not only ACT professional but LOOK like something my company would be proud of.

My neighborhood Ross was selling designer suits for $25-50 two weeks ago, guess who bought a few. I also picked up a Harve Bernard jacket for $10. why am I name dropping--to show that if you rack shop, you can get a good wardrobe but you can't get it on demand you have to build it up.

Shoes, I have huge feet, so shoes are hard to get, but I love easy spirts for all day walking around in with pants and black socks. I've also found that some dance shoes are great if you get them in hard soles and aren't that expensive.

I think the important thing is that everyone else plays the finished looking game, and so if you look unfinished (and I've got a computer/engineering background too) then you stand out. I've been the only girl any number of times, so you do it with flair and poise, and you do it looking finished and good.

The biggest lesson I think white women need to take is from the gorgeous heavier black women you see (sterotype police alert here), the ones who have accepted their body type and shine in it instead of think of themself as disgusting every day. They wear beautiful clothing, they absolutely exude confidence in every step, and they look fantastic instead of trying to hide and apologize, they are who they are and usually have a personality beyond that of a fat person, but a interesting person you want to talk to. These women are dressed appropriately, hold all different possitions from low ranking to high ranking officials and they make sure that their appearance doesn't hold them back, nor does their body type.
(for the record I am an overweight white person who doesn't claim to be nearly as successful at putting that image together stereotype police come get me) that was long.

Posted by: ljb | January 26, 2007 3:19 PM

Does a woman ever tell a man that his fly is unzipped?

Once, I saw a older lady with her fly unzipped. It was way to obvious to ignore. I was more embarrsed about telling her than she seemed to be about it.

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 3:20 PM

Apparently I'm not the militant faminist I thought I was--I've only burned two men alive.

Posted by: Meesh | January 26, 2007 3:21 PM

Yes, I meant "too obvious" rather than "to". The old arthritis is acting up today!

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 3:22 PM

Meesh,

I trust that they were named "anon".

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 3:24 PM

Fred, My feeling's are hurt. sniff. sniff.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 26, 2007 3:24 PM

and kerosene is soooooooo expensive now days!

Posted by: anon | January 26, 2007 3:26 PM

The biggest lesson I think white women need to take is from the gorgeous heavier black women you see (sterotype police alert here), the ones who have accepted their body type and shine in it instead of think of themself as disgusting every day.

Please don't sterotype. If it is not okay for one race it is not okay for the other.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 3:27 PM

"Feminist"

Apparently I'm not the editor I thought I was either. Sheesh, it's been a long day.

Posted by: Meesh | January 26, 2007 3:27 PM

"I am absolutely stunned by the early posters who claim not to know how SAHMs dress. We dress in jeans and sweat pants and casual clothes you would never wear to an office or factory job. Same for SAHDs. It is a cinch to id folks who work outside the home by their clothes. And I love "passing" because it just makes mom-to-mom relationships easier. "

Actually....I've worn exactly the same type of clothing for the last seven years that I wore for the 12 years before that.

I can't tell the moms at my kids' schools who work vs. those who stay at home by their clothing, because there are plenty of "in-betweens" (not sloppy sweats, but not suits and heels) in both camps. Just the other day I was asked by a parent "Where does Ann work?" to which I answered "Ann doesn't work outside the home" - the parent was surprised because Ann is so put together. "Ann" is a little more put together than most SAHMs, but she's certainly not abnormal.

Posted by: momof4 | January 26, 2007 3:29 PM

and kerosene is soooooooo expensive now days!

Posted by: anon | January 26, 2007 3:31 PM

NC Lawyer,

I am home today and did wash (and FOLD) all the towels. But, gee, I forgot about the hankies.

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 3:33 PM

Well, I am a SAHM and I dress every day in the same thing I used to wear to work: jeans and a nice top, and tennis shoes. (I am a chemist, and you just don't wear dress clothes to work in a lab.) I don't have "slime" on my clothes, nor do I look unkempt or slobby. You CAN tell I'm a SAHM, not from my appearance so much as that I'm at the playground or grocery store during weekdays when working moms are at the office.

I get up every morning, brush my hair, wash my face, and brush my teeth. Then I get dressed and put on shoes. If I have to lose 10 mins of sleep so I can get up before the baby, so be it. My son has a better home and a better mama when I look and feel good.

I hate when SAHMs are characterized as wearing greasy unwashed hair pulled into a ponytail, stained sweat pants, and a Tweety Bird tshirt. Yes, some SAHMs with poor self-image do dress that way - but so do some working parents as well. It's all about how you feel about yourself.

But then again, isn't the point of this blog that SAHMs are the ones who feel crappy about themselves, because they don't have a job to make them feel fulfilled?

Posted by: Karen | January 26, 2007 3:33 PM

I'll speak for myself in regards to the how SAHMs dress ( maybe my skin is too thin, I'm sure someone will tell me if that is so) I think it is unfair to characterize SAHMs as being sloppy because I think there are sloppy people in both camps (SAHM, SAHD, WOHM, WOHD). Leslie could have said, I dress casually when I'm not working (like most people do), I didn't get why she needed to say she dresses like a SAHM, and I'm not at all sure what she meant by "because the SAHMs are nicer to me then" feels like a dig, but if there is an interpretation I'm missing, please clue me in.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 26, 2007 3:34 PM

Is it OK for a 42 year old man to wear his flannel polar bear pajama bottoms to the mall?

Posted by: Father of 4 | January 26, 2007 3:38 PM

Is it OK for a 42 year old man to wear his flannel polar bear pajama bottoms to the mall?


as long as your thong is not showing!

Posted by: the original anon | January 26, 2007 3:39 PM

Re. pony tails for SAHMs: I have longish hair, which gets in the way of my everyday activities unless it's pulled back. But I try to stay away from the greasy ponytail look. I like to switch up between a French braid, a regular braid, and different types of ponytail/chignon/topknot. I like to use cute accessories like headbands, hairsticks, pretty scarves, etc. Takes no effort to use a lovely fabric headband vs. the basic ponytail elastic, but makes a world of difference in how I feel about my appearance. And if someone knocks on the door, I'm not embarrassed to answer.

Again, it's all in how you present yourself.

Posted by: Karen | January 26, 2007 3:46 PM

Well, it was either anon or "Hey lady, stop dousing me with gasoline!!"

Posted by: Meesh | January 26, 2007 3:46 PM

"But then again, isn't the point of this blog that SAHMs are the ones who feel crappy about themselves, because they don't have a job to make them feel fulfilled?"

I've noticed no shortage of SAHMs who feel good about themselves around these parts. That's the beauty of a big tent. Share a story about an old boyfriend or old cheerleader sighting, Karen. It might restore your good humor.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 3:47 PM

What do women wear when it's hot out and you need to look professional (client visits, presentations)? Cold weather is easy, but I never know how to handle spring and summer and just melt.

Posted by: fashion-challenged | January 26, 2007 3:48 PM

But Meesh, the MF Quiz specifically says Kerosene. That is where you made your mistake!

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 3:49 PM

Original Anon: *lol*

My daughters would rather me wear my PJs to the mall rather than my workout shorts. They say my "package" sticks out too much.

Posted by: Father of 4 | January 26, 2007 3:50 PM

Wow- this has turned out to be quite a topic today

"The difference that I see between how the working moms look versus the SAHs is that the SAHs are almost always thinner and in much better shape.They have the time to go to the gym or to run at a time when it's not dark "

I'm guessing you have never been a stay at home mom??? We're skinny because we're busy CONSTANTLY. I didn't have time to go to the gym- ever! I wasn't one of those rich moms who got to have a gym membership AND a nanny to watch said child while I went. Most SAHMs I know scrimp and save to be able to stay home. We don't have all this time to fill, believe me.

What we did to get in shape was pushing our kid(s) in the stroller. Running around the playground, playing soccer, being in the backyard.

And that's still what I do. Instead of driving, I walk. Instead of going to the mall, we keep playing outside. It's a lifestyle decision for me- NOT because I was a SAHM.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | January 26, 2007 3:50 PM

Original Anon: *lol*

My daughters would rather me wear my PJs to the mall rather than my workout shorts. They say my "package" sticks out too much.

Ha, before anyone jumps on father of 4, one remember he can't see how his clothes look and two this could happen to anyone.

Sometimes my husband's "package" sticks out when he wears certain types of Dockers, which we have stopped buying.

Posted by: scarry | January 26, 2007 3:52 PM

I am:

1. A SAHM
2. Not skinny
3. Not busy constantly
4. Don't go to the gym

Posted by: momof4 | January 26, 2007 3:53 PM

SAHMbacktowork there was a study that said that working moms were skinny and healthier than SAHM.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 3:55 PM

I'm pretty sure no one will be happy about this, but I read an article in Good Housekeeping or Family Circle that mothers who work are statistically thinner than SAHMs.

Posted by: running | January 26, 2007 3:57 PM

Good luck!!! :)

Posted by: To AG from Anon 2:20 | January 26, 2007 3:58 PM

Oops - I wasn't done. LOL

Anyway - SAHMbacktowork - I think you're generalizing all SAHMs just as Leslie did with the uniform comment and lawyermom did with the gym comment. At the very least, don't lump me into the "SAHM who is soooo busy going to the playground and wiping bottoms that she doesn't have time to eat" category, because as I've said many times before, SAHPs DO have a lot more time in a day for personal pursuits (like working out) than full time WAHPs.

Posted by: momof4 | January 26, 2007 3:58 PM

SAHMbacktowork there was a study that said that working moms were skinny and healthier than SAHM.

Posted by: | January 26, 2007 03:55 PM

Please, God, tell me she didn't go there.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 4:06 PM

I'm pretty sure no one will be happy about this, but I read an article in Good Housekeeping or Family Circle that mothers who work are statistically thinner than SAHMs.

Posted by: running | January 26, 2007 03:57 PM

Posted by: wasn't the only one | January 26, 2007 4:07 PM

Let's try to schedule an ultimate fighting cage match between a WOHM (in pumps of course) and a SAHM (in sweats of course) only rule is that SAHM can't use stroller as a battering ram.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 26, 2007 4:08 PM

Er, why is it ok that SAHM can claim thin and healthy and people didn't call that?

Posted by: running | January 26, 2007 4:11 PM

I agree running, now let's run far away.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 4:13 PM

yes running, I loved Laura from Project Runway! what an inspiration! thanks for the reminder.

Any ideas about maternity wear that can be worn post-partum? Japanese Weekend?

Posted by: Cal Girl | January 26, 2007 4:16 PM

Father of 4: I knew a family with small children who attended our church regularly for the second service. One Sunday morning the mother had to be at church earlier than usual for a choir performance at the early service. It was up to the father to dress the kids for church that day. When the dad and kids arrived, mother, who was sitting in the choir, saw her pre-schooler walking into church with just her slip on. No dress. The father just thought it was a lacy summer dress and put that on her for church.

FWIW, I sleep in sweats and a T-shirt, so I feel very self conscious about wearing sweats out in public. It's like going out in my pajamas.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 4:19 PM

cal girl target and old navy have nice maternity clothes.

Posted by: scarry | January 26, 2007 4:20 PM

I'm pretty sure no one will be happy about this, but I read an article in Good Housekeeping or Family Circle that mothers who work are statistically thinner than SAHMs.

Oh, I agree- I now work and I eat far less/am on the go a lot more than when I stayed at home. But I was also busy as a SAHM and didn't have the time/money for the gym. We live a healthy lifestyle in general. I wasn't making a blanket statement- just giving input from my life.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | January 26, 2007 4:21 PM

SAHMbacktowork mom of 4 favorite phrase is "don't speak for me."

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 4:22 PM

My first thought on this was to chalk this column up to a "slow news day", but this comment bothered me: "dressing like a stay-at-home mom". How disrespectful is that!?

This seems to be indicative of the underlying condescending attitude Leslie has towards mothers who choose to stay home. Is it not possible for someone to stay home with their children and be happy, feel successful, and (gasp) have balance in their life? What about a couple that has no children by choice? Can they not be happy and lead a balanced life? Shocking to think of it!

Reading this column, you'd get the idea that to be successful and have a balanced life you need children and a full-time job, and then spend time demanding entitlement for others to bend for your choices.

Posted by: Belle | January 26, 2007 4:29 PM

Once I told a man that his fly was down and he asked my why I was looking there. Uh - maybe the tail of his shirt sticking out was a clue (at least I think that is what it was).

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 4:30 PM

As i said before Scarry, I went with all Target last pregnancy. I just don't know if it was considered professional enough. I was early 30s GS 13 then, now I'm mid 30s GS 14 and I wonder if there isn't an expectation to be a bit more . . . mature this time around. I recall teh target maternity dresses hit above the knee, but I'm feeling that that just isn't appropriate anymore. "dressed for success" can be so difficult when you are facing the constantly changing landscape of fecund femininity. Maybe i just wasn't looking at the maternity gear for "mature" women when I was shopping last. thanks for the suggestion and I'll be sure to give it another look!

Posted by: Cal Girl | January 26, 2007 4:30 PM

Scarry and Fof4,

My daughters,when teenagers, were very critical of what I wore. Ole dad was just an embarrasement! Now that they are both young adults, they are not so critical. Of course, maybe it is because they are both over 600 miles away?

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 4:31 PM

Off-topic, but an anonymous hit a nerve.

To the person implying that Smokers do not die quickly and do not overburden the health system, do your research. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. According to the Am. Lung Assoc., 80-90% of COPD deaths in the U.S. are caused by smoking. My dad died from this and it was not quick; he suffered terribly. He started smoking in the Navy at the end of WWII and quit at age 55. He lived until 71. His last ten years were seriously impaired and he was on oxygen for the last three.

From the Centers for Disease Control :

In the United States, tobacco use is a key factor in the development and progression of COPD, but asthma, exposure to air pollutants in the home and workplace, genetic factors, and respiratory infections also play a role.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of diseases characterized by airflow obstruction that can be associated with breathing-related symptoms (e.g., chronic cough, exertional dyspnea, expectoration, and wheeze) (1). COPD can be present with or without substantial physical impairment or symptoms, and it is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States (2). However, COPD is often a silent and unrecognized disease, chiefly in its early phases (3). During 1993, the estimated direct medical costs of COPD were $14.7 billion (4). Also during 1993, the estimated indirect cost related to morbidity (e.g., loss of work time and productivity) and premature mortality was an additional $9.2 billion, for a total of $23.9 billion.
http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5106a1.htm

http://www.lungusa.org/site/pp.asp?c=dvLUK9O0E&b=35020

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | January 26, 2007 4:31 PM

I think the disrespect goes both ways sometimes and that something has probably happened to make leslie say that.

Maybe she just meant that they aren't dressed up like they are going to work. I think she replied.

Posted by: scarry | January 26, 2007 4:32 PM

good weekend everybody!

Posted by: moxiemom | January 26, 2007 4:34 PM

Fred, imagine the wonderful stories they will have to tell on a blog about their fashion challenged dad. My dad would wear orange with red if we had let him. We loved him anyhow.
PS - he had emphysema from smoking and was ill for the last 20 years of his life and on oxygen for the last 4. All smokers don't die fast or easy.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 4:34 PM

yeah cal girl I can see your point. What about Modern Maternity? They have some nice clothes in there. By the way, congratulations!

Posted by: scarry | January 26, 2007 4:34 PM

Hey everyone, it is only 5 days to the big 31. Still have not found that perfect present!

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 4:37 PM

My dad always dressed like an absent minded professor. We just had to get used to it..

Have a great weekend everyone!

Posted by: Missicat | January 26, 2007 4:37 PM

Did someone suggest last week to recreate your first date or proposal? If not, how about you recreate your first date or proposal with a new ring?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 4:38 PM

The above comment was for Fred.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 4:38 PM

yep, that was me. I would love that if my husband did that for me. Even without a ring.

Posted by: scarry | January 26, 2007 4:40 PM

Cal Girl:
I'm also pregnant with my second and have noticed that there seem to be more Target maternity career options now than during my first pregnancy. I would - and will - wear some of the Target maternity clothes to work - especially basic pants, button downs, and they even have a basic black dress that looks nice. And I'm a lawyer, so I feel the need to look somewhat "professional." The downside to Target clothes is that they don't last very long, but you only need maternity clothes for a few months, so it works out. Also check out sales at gap.com, babystyle.com, and maternitymall.com. babystyle.com is having a HUGE sale right now - I just bought a $90 maternity sweater for $15!

Posted by: Anon & pregnant | January 26, 2007 4:40 PM

Did someone suggest last week to recreate your first date or proposal? If not, how about you recreate your first date or proposal with a new ring?

Yes, someone did. Maybe not the best thing to do. I will tell the story someday... something of along the line of starting with a big fight?!

The ring story I will tell next week.

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 4:41 PM

Well Scarry, guess we missed the boat on that one. He is asking alot that Fred. How about going for a roller coaster ride and telling her that your life together has been one great ride. Then giving awesome gift, well thought out and professionally wrapped.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 4:43 PM

Just to make you Yankees green with envy. I have to go outside now to wash the car. Sun is out and it is about 60 degrees.

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 4:43 PM

check that, it is 72 degrees

Posted by: Fred | January 26, 2007 4:44 PM

I don't think there are too many other yankees here. We in DC are going to be in the 50s tomorrow, maybe.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 26, 2007 4:44 PM

Thanks Scarry and anony &
preg. If the test is positive this weekend I look forward to doing some shopping! If it's negative, I guess I'll continue on with my "not so great fitting" clothes. Otherwise, if I buy the maternity gear in anticipation of being pregnant at some point soon, I'll jinx it! :-}

Posted by: Cal Girl | January 26, 2007 5:07 PM

Belle - agree!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 5:09 PM

I started working for the State Department back in 1992, straight out of school. I reported to duty my first day in what I thought was a consumately professional outfit: conservatively tailored maroon wool blazer, black wool dress pants (neatly pressed), and a black cashmere mock turtleneck sweater.

At the end of the day my brand new boss (a woman) sat me down for an empassioned intervention on the two aspects of my appearance she felt were about to torpedo my promising career:

(1) "you'll never be promoted unless you start wearing more makeup;"

and,

(2) "only secretaries wear pants."

After fifteen years in the Balkans and sub-Saharan Africa I've more or less abandoned make-up (at no detriment to my career). And, I must confess, her second comment brings a smile to my face every time I see Condoleeza Rice striding out of Air Force One in one of her snappy pantsuits!!

Fun, frothy, Friday topic -- thanks, Leslie!

Posted by: Diplocat | January 26, 2007 5:37 PM

They should have adult garanimals for people like my dad, a professional scientist. Not only did he have the archetypal lab tech fashion sense; he also was fatally color-blind.

I have so very many Junior High memories/traumatic episodes that begin with the lines: "Dad! You can't drive me to school dressed like that!!" followed by "What's the matter? It's all green...."

Posted by: Physics Works! | January 26, 2007 5:46 PM


"
"But then again, isn't the point of this blog that SAHMs are the ones who feel crappy about themselves, because they don't have a job to make them feel fulfilled?"

I've noticed no shortage of SAHMs who feel good about themselves around these parts. That's the beauty of a big tent. Share a story about an old boyfriend or old cheerleader sighting, Karen. It might restore your good humor.

Posted by: | January 26, 2007 03:47 PM
"

Wow, thanks! I love anonymous comments. Don't we all? Anyway, my point was that Leslie seems to think that only by working outside the home can a parent be happy and fulfilled, while I disagree. I look great, I feel great, but even more important is the fact that my son looks and feels great. Everyone wins, in part because I don't believe in letting myself become a stereotyped SAHM. No big tent needed.

Sorry, though - no interesting cheerleader or ex sightings. Too bad, too, as my humor is pretty good most days.

Belle - I hope that Leslie just meant that one dresses in a different "uniform" for different types of work. It's hard to ignore her condescending attitude though, when this whole blogs reeks of "no one can be a REAL person without a 9-5 job". Maybe her attitude, not her outfit, is why SAHMs don't fawn all over her on non-office days. Know what I mean?

Posted by: Karen | January 26, 2007 6:00 PM

Belle and Karen,

I assume you missed Leslie's follow-up posting:

I am absolutely stunned by the early posters who claim not to know how SAHMs dress. We dress in jeans and sweat pants and casual clothes you would never wear to an office or factory job. Same for SAHDs. It is a cinch to id folks who work outside the home by their clothes. And I love "passing" because it just makes mom-to-mom relationships easier.

Posted by: Leslie | January 26, 2007 02:21 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 6:42 PM

So working women are judged by their wardrobe, grooming, and fashion sense? Shocker. Who wants to hire someone who can't even pull themselves together, let alone a major project?

The real shocker is stay-at-home moms judging other stay-at-home moms on their business attire. No that is petty and low-brow. Do you have to throw on some sweats to play with the other moms at the park?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 8:19 PM

Fred, I don't know if you ever go back and read but I had an idea for you for anniversary. If Fredia travels around town as a consultant how about a navigational system?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 27, 2007 8:38 AM

KLB SS MD,

A very good idea if Fredia was not Mrs. Ned Lud in a previous life!(see Luddite in the dictionary) She can barely operate her cell phone. She has no idea how to access her voice mail. She is still a bit amazed that her clients whip out their cell phones and show pixs of their babies!

I asked her about a nav system and she replied that she would just call the police when lost. (There is a great story about this!)

Posted by: Fred | January 27, 2007 9:45 AM

According to my friend they are easy to use. I think it would be distracting to have my car talk to me but there are certainly times I wish I had it - esp driving around DC. Well, the clock is ticking for you to find something. Have you snooped to see what she is getting for you?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 27, 2007 9:57 AM

Fredia rarely makes home visits. She usually meets clients at the health dept or at the public library or Subway. Once in a great while she does have to venture into questionable neighborhoods but she calls the sheriff to go with her.

It is really pathetic but a person working at Taco Bell makes more per hour than she does.

Posted by: Fred | January 27, 2007 10:30 AM

Fred,
So she does it for the love of it. I understand that. Does she like spa treatments? Do you? Some places do couples massages, then you can get facials (yes, men do them too)and manicures and pedicures. It can be a lovely treat followed by nice lunch/dinner/movie/dancing.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 27, 2007 11:19 AM

It surprises me how everyone so easily accepts what is deemed necessary and accepted for women to look professional. I will say that I unfortunately agree, but unlike most people on here I think that it's seriously messed up. Everything mentioned is either very time consuming, expensive or physically restrictive, especially when compared with the requirements put on men.

High heels--very physically restrictive and actually harmful (in the long term) to the wearer. Worse, the rare high heel that is more comfortable than most is proclaimed "dumpy".

Hair and makeup--very time consuming (again, in comparison with men). Every morning I shower, set my hair and blow dry it. Takes at least 45 minutes. The days I don't do it--it's definitely an "unprofessional" look. Same with makeup. In addition, maintaining hair coloring ("necessary" for most blonds and graying women) is extremely expensive (about $200 every 6-8 weeks). Un-highlighted blond hair (most shades anyway) just doesn't cut it. I could dye to brown, but I'd have to maintain that too.

Women's professional clothing is generally more expensive to buy (and more is needed as a greater degree of versatility in wardrobe is both required and expected) and more expensive to tailor (which is almost always necessary, as stated several times in these comments) and more expensive to dry clean (and more of the clothes are dry clean only when compared to men).

There is also a greater degree of flexibility with acceptable fitness levels in men (which doesn't necessarily translate to a greater expense or time usage, but certainly can--and it is more physically restrictive of women in general).

Take into account that women make 70something cents on the dollar compared to men (and that women generally pay for everything related to reproductive health--from birth control to tampons) and do more housework and childcare duties than do men (more time consumption), it just boggles my mind that we can so easily buy into all this crap!

Posted by: Cate | January 28, 2007 1:40 AM

The TODAY show is doing a piece right now called, "are pantyhose dead??"

I guess not all the ladies feel they are necessary for success. They say american women wear them an average of 1.8 times per week.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 28, 2007 8:55 AM

just boggles my mind that we can so easily buy into all this crap!

Well, ain't a b**** to be a woman!

Posted by: anon | January 28, 2007 9:20 AM

Cate, I agree with you on that one. I don't wear high heels or make-up and I don't dye my hair. My hair goes in a bun or braid everyday--no styling required. I like clothes, so I have no problem dressing nicely. It's a matter of how much you're willing to buy into the idea. You can get by without all that crap (and I have an office job with a business casual dress cose--no jeans).

Posted by: Meesh | January 29, 2007 8:24 AM

I will never forget my first day at the office in a pants suit. It was 1990 and I worked for a bank. After years of pantyhose and skirts, I strode down the hall in my pants and comfortable shoes. I passed one of the men in the hall and felt empowered by my clothes rather than hobbled by them. I walked tall, I smiled and oozed confidence. It took me years to go back to the occasional skirt and high heel shoes.

Posted by: trudy lou | January 29, 2007 11:40 AM

Can I make the obvious point about the NYC fashion breakfast with all its attendants in pantsuits: IT'S COLD OUT!

Personally, my two favorite suits have skirts instead of pants, and thus do not get worn nearly as often as I'd like in the winter. I take the bus to work, and I'm *NOT* going to be standing on the corner freezing my ankles off in a skirt in January. And knee boots are not an option for this "not-thin" girl.

Re: pantyhose? SO handy for shoes with a scratchy rim around the ankle part. They've saved me a few blisters, so I suck it up and wear them. Plus, I can pretend that I'm "tan" and not "chalk-like".

Posted by: Maritza | January 29, 2007 2:12 PM

Oh, Cate, I so agree with you!

"High heels--very physically restrictive and actually harmful (in the long term) to the wearer. Worse, the rare high heel that is more comfortable than most is proclaimed 'dumpy'."

My first real professional job, in 1992, I had to wear a skirt and hose and that meant heels because flats just didn't work with skirts. No pant suits, and the president of our company was a woman! I was soo glad when I moved to DC and pants were acceptable as office wear. I am now 42 and can't stand to wear heels -- they are indeed restrictive and injurious. And I can't seem to find the low heels that I used to love back when I was forced to wear them to my office.

Exactly as another poster said, I may look dumpy or whatever, but I don't feel restricted, my feet don't ache by 10 a.m., and I do my work just as well in pants as I ever did in a skirt.

Posted by: Teresa | January 29, 2007 4:47 PM

You know what, I am fat AND I don't wear make-up AND I don't wear heels, but I have been well-employed at various jobs since I graduated from college 10 years ago. You know what worked for me? I did well in school, I know my field well and sound like I do, I am personable, and I dress like I am in business in the DC area (i.e. fairly conservative). I have never had any problem being hired or keeping my job. Yes, looks matter, but brains matter more. Don't sell yourself short and allow an employer to take advantage of you, if your employer doesn't see your virtues, find one who will. If your skills aren't good enough to do that, sharpen them and then go find a better employer, they are out there!

Posted by: M.W. | January 29, 2007 5:36 PM

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