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While it was almost 100 degrees outside, I received five fall catalogs in the last few days with pictures of cuddly sweaters, wool jackets, layered looks and leggings. Ugh! Who can think of fall when it is so hot!!

Makeup? I don’t know about you, but mine melts off before I even get out the door. And that is with the air conditioning on. This is where your bright lip colors come in handy. A stroke of powder on your lids, touch of mascara on your lashes and a tinted lip balm or plum lipstick. You are good to go!

Monday I wore a white pencil skirt (similar to this one from Old Navy) and a hot pink and white sleeveless top. I don’t go sleeveless often, but since I don’t work in an office and I am running in and out all day, a jacket isn’t practical. White, you say. Gasp! It’s after Labor Day. Everyone knows that you can’t wear white after Labor Day or before Memorial Day.

nordstrom_white_jeansWrong. Wear clothing that is appropriate for what you are doing and the weather. When there is three feet of snow on the ground, wearing white isn’t practical, unless you enjoy doing laundry. So grab those white shorts, white jeans and white skirts and get those final wears out of them this week. Before long the temperature will drop and you can cuddle up in wool.

Until then, enjoy leafing through the various catalogs. Chico’s catalog for September 2013 shows 23 items of clothing with animal print! Hmm, I wonder if animal print will be in vogue this season? Coldwater Creek (right next door at Coral Ridge) didn’t show any animal print. But they show a lot of skirts.

chadwicks_leather&jeansChadwicks is bringing JG Hook back into the fashion scene.  Their clothes tend to be traditional and work appropriate. But they aren’t afraid to take on red! They also have two-piece suiting, which is very helpful for top heavy or bottom heavy women. Only two animal prints in the entire catalog. But Chadwicks has a great leather blazer. I showcased this jacket at my Fall 2012 gathering. They carry it in five colors and besides regular Misses sizes, they also carry it in Petite, Tall and Women. It’s a $99.99 jacket, but there is a coupon for 20% off. Too bad you can’t get free shipping!

landsend_animal_shoesLand’s End comes in with four animal prints (three in shoes!). And, as usual, they carry great timeless sweaters sets, cable knit sweaters and the requisite down coats.

Overall, the one thing I am noticing about this fall’s catalog is color. This year they have gone beyond olive green and boring beige to bring vibrant pinks, purples, red, bright greens and blues. No falling asleep on the job!


A recent article appeared on called “The Seven Ways Your Boss Is Judging Your Appearance.” While this is no surprise, I wanted to expound on some of the areas:

  1. younkers_structured_jacketGrooming: The article refers to looking “polished” or “pulled together.” Of course it means that our clothes are clean and pressed. But a “pulled together” look is more than that. You need to put together an outfit that is pleasing to the eye. Jackets are a girl’s best friend when trying to look pulled together. Statement jewelry that is not distracting (too flashy, too noisy) gives one a polished look.
  2. Posture: Sitting tall adds to your height (see No. 5). If you’ve gotten into the habit of slouching realize that it is adding years to your look and tells others that you are not proud of yourself. Think about keeping your chin parallel to the floor. If you can push your shoulders down and back, your posture has room for improvement.
  3. Physical Attractiveness: This is where a lot of people just throw in the towel. But it doesn’t mean that only the most beautiful people will succeed. It means you do the best with what you have. Wearing cool bright colors will make most people look alive and energetic, keeping the attention on your face. People only see your flaws when you don’t tell them where to look. Take charge of your image!
  4. Slimness: Yes, some of us aren’t in the best of shape. But dressing appropriately for your shape will make you look slimmer. A black tent dress doesn’t solve all your problems. Wearing monochrome clothing does cause the eye to glide over your silhouette, but structure is still important. We need to know where your waist area is, where your legs start and stop, that you have shoulders that don’t slouch. A structured jacket will solve this problem for most people.
  5. younkers_pumpHeight: While we can’t change our height, we can add a few inches with the right shoes. Adding more than 5” heels, however, is overboard and causes you to look like you are more interested in being trendy than getting to the next meeting in one piece. I recommend no more than a 3” heel for the workplace. Again, that posture will help!
  6. Expensive Clothing: This area can be overwhelming to those with a limited budget. But it is the way the item is made and the material that is being used that is important, not the actual price tag. Recently I saw a pair of plaid pants at Von Maur where the plaid didn’t match up on the sides. This is distracting and a sign of poorly made clothing. Conversely, I saw a similar pair of plaid pants at Sears where the plaids were matched properly. Wearing items that are appropriate for your body shape will also help less expensive clothing look more expensive because they drape on your body properly.
  7. Youthful Appearance: Should all of us over the age of 40 just give up? Absolutely not! Wearing clothing that makes you look vibrant and energetic will help you look and feel more confident. When people see vibrant, energetic and confident people, they don’t even think about age. Again, cool bright colors will achieve this. A pop of lip color will also wake up your face.

So don’t be disheartened by these studies. When you are in control of your image, you are in control of your career. Don’t get left behind by being a wall flower.

Do you feel your boss is judging you by your appearance? In what ways?

There are so many interesting things to find on the internet and I recently have been playing around with With so many products, you can create so many looks. Here’s one I pulled together that is trendy, yet still work-appropriate. I think the bag is the star of this outfit.

What’s right about this:

  • The blazer is a great color! It’s fitted and the lapels are structured, but the second set of lapels tells everyone that this is not traditional.
  • The pencil skirt is always a go-to and will remain timeless. The black-on-black texture helps offset the extra material in the jacket.
  • Booties with a skirt might seem a bit of a stretch for some traditional offices. But the black tights minimize the trendiness. Notice that the heel high is reasonable. The company calls it a “kitten heel,” which I would have said is much lower, but it’s less than 2″, so it works in the workplace.
  • Love the animal print bag. Yes, the bag has texture, as does the skirt, but the textures are different so they can play well together.
  • The necklace is a statement piece, but it isn’t too loud. Great for the office because it is simple and not fussy.

Give a try. See what outfits you can come up with!

Sometimes men have it so easy. All they need to do for a power suit is to wear a dark suit, white shirt and a patterned red or maroon tie and, POW, they look powerful. (Brooks Brothers)

That is why I found it so very sad when I did a search for “women power suit” and one of the first pictures that popped up was this:

If you stood these two people side by side, there would be no question as to who is the more powerful. When I look at this woman, I want to fall asleep. There is absolutely no color in her entire outfit. This translates to me that she is an unimaginative person. Yes, she might get the job done, but that is all you will get. Now, compare it to another image I found (Lord & Taylor).

What a difference (and I don’t even like brown)! But this professional went with some color in her blouse, even used a pattern and then topped it all off with a feminine ruffle. She doesn’t look like some frilly girl. She looks like she is alive, awake, energized and ready to work.

Let’s bump it up a notch and look at Indra K. Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo:

This woman exudes power without being threatening. The dark suit says authority. The structure of the suit (set-in sleeves, straight lines) tells us she means business and the red scarf and bright lip color tells us she is engaged, energized and ready to take on whatever business hurtle she might face next without leaving dead bodies in her wake.

Indra, you are my go-to person for what image I want to project. Who do you want to emulate?

Traditionally, companies relax their dress codes during the warm summer months, starting on Memorial Day. But don’t let summer be your downfall. You can still present a great image while fitting in with your colleagues during the summer casual season.

  1. Stripes are really “in” this year and just because it’s a trend doesn’t mean you can’t wear it. The navy and white stripe blazer against the pop of red keeps you looking  fresh. While I don’t encourage jeans in the workplace, these dark wash jeans will keep your image on the professional side.
  2. While sweaters don’t have as much structure as jackets, they can still say “professional” with power jewelry. This necklace continues the color scheme, but don’t let that keep you from trying a pop of contrasting color–green, turquoise, yellow. Just make sure the necklace is strong enough to make a statement. A patterned scarf can often do the same thing!
  3. If you can wear jeans to work, a skirt is the best way to go. The crisp white top with the collar and the shaping shows you are a woman and you aren’t a slouch.
  4. Speaking of skirts, just because it is warm outside doesn’t mean that your skirt length rises with the temperature. This is the shortest your skirt should be in a work environment. Remember, when you sit down, the skirt rides up. Always test this before you make your purchase.
  5. This look says casual without using jeans. The safari jacket is soft but the drawstring waist still gives you structure, along with the lapels. The light pants are offset by the multiple pockets on the top, keeping this person in balance.
  6. Horizontal stripes are always more casual than vertical stripes. Lots of color going on here, which also makes it more casual. It is important that this look is belted. Otherwise, we would not be able to see the shape. A woman should not flaunt her shape, but she doesn’t try to hide that fact that she is a woman, either. With an open neckline make sure you don’t have any cleavage showing.
  7. Take your standard black jacket and turn it white; take your standard black pants and turn them beige–instantly a more casual look. None of the pieces match, but by using soft colors they coordinate.
  8. A polo dress, with its horizontal stripes always says casual. Note that the horizontal lines are closer together. The closer together they are, the less wide you will appear.

Which one of these summer looks would you wear? What’s your “go-to” summer look?

Holiday parties are here and with all the running around and protecting yourself against Black Friday shoppers (can you believe some of the stories!), most people don’t think about what to wear until the last minute. Instead of purchasing items you will never wear again try “kicking it up a notch” using your regular wardrobe as a base to make it festive, affordable and wearable.

This inspiration came from PeopleStyleWatch December 2009 (see how some trends never go out of style). For a party with your friends, grab your favorite dark wash jeans and add a velvet blazer. Yes, black is classic, but a neutral grey is a bit of a surprise and just as versatile. Add a pop of color with your blouse and you are good to go. Ready to go a step further? Add a touch of bling with these ballet flats or a shiny broach (from your grandma’s jewelry box or consignment store for added savings).

Take slightly a different approach by flip-flopping the outfit: velvet jeans, your favorite crisp white blouse, a bright colorful necklace and some great boots. This dark patterned bag will go with either outfit!

May you always look great!

Pat Roland, Certified Total Image Consultant

I’ve been subscribing to People Style Watch for years and have found few items that are for women who are more focused on being considered a professional than looking like a model or celebrity. But on Page 72 of the July 2011 issue, they actually address summer wardrobe tips for work. And their suggestions are appropriate! While I disagree with some of the choices they show on the page, the basic advice is solid. My summer wardrobe tips:

  1. Keep It Simple. The more “stuff” you put on, the less professional you look. Strive for a simple skirt and a simple top or go with a shirtdress, which is all the rage. Dangle earrings, bangle bracelets, and multiple layers of necklaces keep the focus on your jewelry rather than on you. If you are trying to convince your co-workers to take you seriously, you need to keep the focus on you!
  2. Be Prepared. With summer’s scorching temperatures outside and sometimes freezing temperatures inside, you need to keep a blazer or sweater on hand. A neutral cotton blazer (black, white, navy, beige) is the best as it has the most structure and is more versatile. When you feel like you are melting in the heat, a structured blazer makes you look more polished. Skip the linen. While it might be cooler, it will look rumpled in 15 minutes.
  3. Choose Sensible Shoes. No flip flops–not even if they have diamond studs on them! Stilettos may look beautiful on your foot, but sends a message to others that you can’t pay attention to your work because you have to pay attention to walking on 5” heels. A closed toe shoe is best; a peep-toe is good, also. Look for lighter colors (match your skin tone) to keep them from looking heavy. If you must wear (and your company allows) strappy sandals, make sure your feet are clean, toes polished and heels scrubbed.
  4. Keep It Covered. Summer invites all sorts of short skirts, plunging necklines and sheer material. Make sure that your skirt is no shorter than 2” above your knees; keep your cleavage (all of it) hidden; and wear a camisole if you are wearing a sheer blouse. Bare legs might be cooler, but if your legs aren’t attractive, find a sheer pair of hosiery. While maxi skirts are all the rage, steer clear. Sitting at your desk in a maxi skirt is the quickest way to ruin it when it gets caught under the wheels of your chair.
  5. When In Doubt, Don’t. If you have to ask if what you’re wearing is okay, you already know that it isn’t. Just because your co-worker shows up dressed inappropriately doesn’t mean you need to jump on the bandwagon. Think of this as your time to show your level-headed thinking and communicate to management that your career is more important than wearing what’s on the cover of the latest style magazine.

May you always look great!

Pat Roland, CTIC

This little set from “Le Target” is a great summer work outfit. First, it’s a dress. Dresses are great because you don’t have to think about mixing and matching. It’s a grab and go kind of thing. Second, it’s black. Black is slimming, but more important, black is a neutral and can be coordinated with just about any kind of sweater or blazer. While I couldn’t find many options in the blazer and sweater category for, these two show the versatility of the black dress. If you are in a more professional field, the blazer is probably your best best. If you can be a bit more relaxed, opt for the colorful floral sweater.

May you always look great!

Pat Roland, CTIC

I love the hunt for a great deal, so I stop at consignment shops now and then. I often walk out empty handed because if a particular item doesn’t work with at least three other items in my closet, I walk on by.

Yesterday I stopped at Crazy Daisy in Cedar Rapids. As I entered the doors, I noticed “pink ticket” items were 25% off. As usual, I perused the entire store and stockpiled items I find interesting. (Once you know your colors and the styles that look best on your body, this can be done quite quickly.) I headed to the dressing room with about 10 items. As I tried them, I sorted them into two groups: possible and no-way. When all was said and done, I had three possibilities. Now is the time to check the price. Never, never, never look at the price first because we tend to like things because they are such a great deal. This is not a reason to purchase.

Red, black, white, hot pink, and electric blue–all colors from my palette. The red shoes have kitten heels (a rarity these days) with leather uppers AND leather soles. The black and white polka-dot blazer is from Talbot’s with princess seaming and actually fits across the chest. The Victor multi-colored blouse was 100% silk. Low and behold, a miracle! All three of the items had pink tickets! That doesn’t happen often so I snagged those babies up and headed for the checkout. My bill for all three items was less than $50! Who doesn’t love that!

May you always look great!

Pat Roland, CTIC

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