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Most of us don’t think about texture in our wardrobe when it is 80 degrees at 7:30a. But texture adds interest to a wardrobe and can be used all year round. Lace is a good place to start since it also gives the impression of a light airy feel. I know, I know, I’ve said lace isn’t a good idea at work. I stand by that statement when it comes to your basic clothes. Lace dresses, tops or skirts say “see through” which implies something other than a “get down to work” attitude. But lace as an accent is another story altogether.

savannah-guthrie_lace_accessoriesThis basic white sheath dress is something that will never go out of style. There is nothing flashy about it. The neckline is appropriate and the length is appropriate. But without accessories, it can look so boring. Women don’t want to be boring. A black lace belt takes this from something simple to something fabulous. The lace adds texture without heaviness and the dark color emphasizes her waist. The neutral shoes keep the attention where she wants it. This can also be done with a dark dress and a bright bold lace belt in, say, hot pink!

There are other ways to add texture, as show in these outfit selections.


  1. Stitched Waist Dress adds simple stitching to give it some texture without bulk. While this doesn’t call as much attention to the waist, it adds interest to the outfit.
  2. Mesh Pullover. I normally don’t recommend mesh or anything sheer. However, if the top underneath the mesh is one that can be worn without the mesh, it would be acceptable.
  3. Side Ruched Dress adds texture throughout the bodice, calling attention to curves without being too tight, too short or too low.

Alas, while patterned tights add texture, they rarely add professionalism. Fishnet stockings, although airy enough for summer, are too tantalizing for the office!

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!


mirrorINPUT FROM READER: “reading a romance novel and a sentence caught my eye and thought Wow, that makes sense When trying on clothes, do not look in the mirror until the outfit is fully on.  Take a breath, count to 3 and than turn and look. That way you get the pow! Can’t wait to try it.” K2

Thanks “K2” for your suggestion because it is really a good one. Often when we see only one piece of the outfit we make a decision that would be different if we tried on the entire outfit. To go along with that suggestion, here are some other tips:

  1. If you are looking for something to go with a specific piece of clothing, take the piece of clothing with you to the store. Then try the entire outfit on (using K2’s suggestion above).
    • Try to do this without a sales associate nearby. You need to see what your personal thoughts are. Do not let a sales associate talk you into something. If you don’t love it without their help, you probably won’t love it when you get home!
    • Move around in the outfit to see what would happen in real life: sit down, bend over, lift your arms, twist at the waist. If the item lands “funny” then you will probably be worrying about it all day long and that just isn’t worth it.
  2. If you spot something and don’t happen to have the specific item with you, see if the store has something similar. Almost every store has black pants, white blouses, black jackets, etc. Strive for something as close as possible to what you have at home. Remember that you don’t buy what you are using as a substitute!
  3. If neither option above possible, make sure you try on the complete outfit as soon as you get home. That way you won’t accidentally miss the “return by” date if the outfit doesn’t work. Keep your receipts and don’t take the tag off anything until you are 100% sure.

Any other tidbits of advice you’ve picked up that you can share with others?

When I attended advanced training for my certification, I was with a group of women who I had never met before. I didn’t have any preconceived notions of who they were, what their style was or how they wore their hair and/or makeup. When each of us were directed to try a brighter lip color—each one of us balked! I thought the color was too much for me. Red! RED! Every time I looked in the mirror, all I saw were these bright lips. I couldn’t see my eyes; couldn’t see my hair; I couldn’t see anything but my lips. As I turned to my classmates, they were also wearing red. I thought they looked fabulous. Funny, but each one of them was balking at the bright color themselves.

This probably happens to you when you try a new look—hairstyle, fashion, makeup, etc. The first thing you say is, “Oh, this isn’t me.” This is a natural reaction. But if you truly want to do something different, you have to be willing to stretch the envelope. You have to be willing to be uncomfortable—at least for a little while.

How do you stretch the envelope? Try a new look three times before you give up. Whether it is a new color or a new style, your brain will immediately tell you that “something isn’t right.” If your brain rebels, put the look away for at least 24 hours. Then try it on again. Do it three times over the period of a week. If you don’t like it after the third try, then go ahead and return it.

Even if you return it, applaud yourself for trying. And keep trying. Do it until your brain no longer objects to trying new things.

Lace can be a tricky subject. While I know it helps women to feel feminine, it can also send an impression of sexuality, which is not appropriate in the workplace. It may also signal that you are overdressed for the occasion. So, can you wear lace in the workplace?

I believe you can if you take care to follow a few simple rules:

  1. Lace camisoles are great for the office when they are used with blouses that show a bit too much cleavage. Remember that the camisole is supposed to cover the cleavage entirely. If the lace pattern is too large the cleavage may show through, thereby negating the purpose of the camisole.
  2. The item of clothing should be in a timeless style: pencil skirt or sheath dress. Avoid full skirt styles as they usually look too “little girly” when done in lace.
  3. Lace needs to be “anchored” down. This could mean that you wear a lace skirt with a solid blouse; lace sheath dress with a blazer or a cardigan; lace shell with a conservative suit; a strong necklace piece.
  4. Lace always needs to be worn with some sort of under piece. That undergarment should be:
    1. Securely attached to the main article of clothing so that the lace does not move separately than the under piece.
    2. Completely fill in behind the lace area. Avoid any “skin showing through” as this takes the lace to a sheer level, again leaning toward a sexy rather than successful look. An exception to this is the arm fabric which can remain lacy.
    3. The lace and the under piece should be the same color. This causes the effect to be more of a texture rather than giving the illusion of wearing a sheer material.

This Muse Crochet Neck Lace Overlay Dress (top right) is a good example of a work-appropriate lace dress. The bodice of the dress is completely lined but the sleeves are open lace, which causes the dress to feel more summery. In contrast, this Aidan Mattox Lace Sheath Dress with its white background and black lace is too over the top for a work environment.

This Burberry London Lace Pencil Skirt (middle) is a good example of a professional way to wear lace. I can easily picture this with a simple navy blazer to add a more conservative twist to the mix.

Here is a challenge . . . is this T Tahari ‘Paula’ skirt and exception to Rule 4 above? Actually this skirt is considered eyelet. What’s the difference? Well, lace is generally considered to be constructed with a more delicate fabric. So, I think this skirt is appropriate for the office. It still has a classic shape and should drape nicely over anyone with a bit of extra weight on their hips!

This Type Z Kristah Belted Lace Skirt is thrown in here for a bit of shock value. This skirt screams something, but nothing about that scream is professional!

What are your thoughts on wearing lace in the workplace?

While the pencil skirt is often a “go-to” style for professional women, not all pencil skirts are created equal.   When in a professional environment, the idea is to keep the sexy factor out of your image. You want people the look at you and think “successful” rather than “sexy.”

A pencil skirt that hugs every curve of your body tells people that you want them to look at your curves. While there is nothing inherently wrong with curves, there is a time and a place for them. The office is not the time nor the place.

In order to keep your image looking professional, your skirt should fall straight from the widest point of your hip rather than following the curve of your hip. The length of your skirt should be no shorter than 2″ above the knee, at the knee or right below the knee. You do not want the hemline of your skirt to end at the widening portion of your calf. Anything longer would be impossible to walk in!

May you always look great!

Pat Roland, Certified Total Image Consultant

Skimming through Talbot’s March 2012 flyer and I saw this pairing. As you know, I am always looking for items to suggest for clients to wear to work. This caught my eye as something that is appropriate for the office . . . or is it?

At first glance, the pencil skirt and the leopard print top look very professional. Note the length of the skirt is just above the knee, which is the shortest it should be. The blouse is soft and has buttons. Then I hit the first snag–I would recommend buttoning it up one more button. (A loose blouse that is unbuttoned this low will surely show cleavage on even the flattest chest when one bends over. Those with ample assets will surely show cleavage with this low of a blouse.) Ever mindful of details, I read the description of the blouse. It comes with a “detachable cami.” Warning! Anything that comes with a detachable cami is probably more sheer than is appropriate for the office. Make sure you test it because sheer says “sexy” rather than “successful.” Find this blouse in something that is not sheer and you’ve got a winner!

The suiting pieces are another great item for the office. Wear it as a suit or use them as separates. The jacket would go great with the a pencil skirt or pants; the skirt would mix well with a sweater, blazer or silk blouse. And don’t get stuck in black and white just because the suiting is black and white. This suit would look great with just about any color blouse–as long as the color is flattering to your skin tone. Do note that the top shown here might be a bit too low in a professional setting. Remember when the indentation starts to show, you know the top is too low.

May you always look great!

Pat Roland, Certified Total Image Consultant

Yes, it’s a new year and everyone is talking about change. Are you one of them? Do you have the courage to change? Which change are you most interested in? Check out the offer below!

  1. I am a twenty-something and I realize that my college clothing doesn’t really transfer well to the office. I don’t even know where to begin to try to present a professional image. I don’t want to wear a stuffy suit! Should I wear clothes like the people on TV? I’m confused!
  2. I have been working for quite a few years now and although I’ve been promoted in the past, I seem to be stalled. People who I trained are now taking management positions, and I am reporting to them! How do I “kick it up a notch” without going totally overboard? Can I still wear jeans and look professional?
  3. I’m tired of looking like a teenager. I can’t wear the clothes all those celebrities are wearing because I don’t want to project a sexy look. And I definitely don’t want to look like my grandmother. Where are the clothes for regular people?
  4. Last year I resolved to lose weight. The good news is, I did it! The bad news is now none of my clothes fit. I know I could have them tailored, but they no longer say who I am. I’m not trying to flaunt my new figure, but I do want to show that I have a shape! Where do I begin?
  5. I spend good money on my clothes and I try to look professional, but something just isn’t right. I can’t put my finger on it. Why do some people always look so pulled together and I always feel like I’m trying to compete?

If you’ve got the courage, I’ve got the deal! Click on the coupon to see the discounts.

May you always look great!

Pat Roland, Certified Total Image Consultant

Welcome to 2012!

We are now into the next biggest shopping season of the year–Post Holiday Sales! As with any big sale, you need to be prepared in order to make sure you are spending your money wisely. Before picking up that great deal, consider the following:

  1. COLOR: Is it your best colors? If you don’t know what your best colors are, this would be a good time for a color analysis. If you choose an item based on the low price, you may find that the color is either horrid on you or “just fine.” And “just fine” isn’t an investment shopping smart decision.
  2. SHAPE: A great price does not mean that the shape is good for your particular body shape. Do you know your body shape? Do you know how to find items that create balance and draw attention to your assets? Loving the color and the style of an item doesn’t ensure that it will love you back.
  3. DO YOU NEED IT: Before you go shopping, take an inventory of what is currently in your closet. I know you love black, but do you really need another black dress–even if it is only $20. I spoke with a woman recently who admitted to owning 28 black dresses! If you already own a few black dresses (cocktail dress, work dress and casual dress) think about another color when you are hitting the sales. Speaking of color, refer to #1 above.
  4. RULE OF THREE: I’ve said this many times and it is VITAL before heading out to the sales. Make sure anything you purchase goes with at least three other items currently in your closet. When  closet shopping (#3 above), make note of items that aren’t meeting this rule. Think about what you could add to your current collection that would bring items into compliance. Make a list and check it twice before purchasing. Otherwise, that current item will continue to hide in your closet. Worse, a new purchase might be destined to the same fate!

May you always look great!

Pat Roland, Certified Total Image Consultant

Recently attended an event where Andy Paige, nationally known fashion consultant, spoke and provided many great tips. One that caught my attention was about accessories. Many woman say that they don’t wear them because they don’t have time to put them on. But Andy pointed out (and I totally agree) that it isn’t that we don’t have time to put them on, it is that we don’t have time to FIND them and put them on.

Since accessories are where you get to express your personality, keeping them organized and accessible is a sure way to “grab and go.” Some of the organizing tools I use for jewelry include:

  • Thread spool hung on the wall (using Command Strips to keep the wall undamaged). I hang my necklaces over the rung and I can see everything I want quickly. (Available at WalMart or your closet fabric store.) For jewelry sets, I put them in little sheer white pouches and then hang the pouch on the rung. (Available at Michaels.)
  • I keep my earrings in a little drawer on my dresser. The organizing tool I use is actually the tray from the frozen quiche I found at Sam’s Club. I love recycling items and finding new uses for them. There are 20 little circles and each circle hold one sets of earrings.

Keep your accessories modern, organized and accessible. May you always look great!

Pat Roland, CTIC

The weather gets colder and the coats get heavier, but finding a coat is not difficult when you know what to look for. For your work wardrobe, coats that hit at the knee or just above work best because they look great with pants, skirts or dresses. An added bonus is that the longer the coat, the more warmth it provides. Other tips on finding a great winter coat:

  1. Choose natural fibers. Wool coats are classic and come in a variety of colors and styles and stay very warm and comfortable even if they get damp in the snow. Natural fibers also allow your coat to “breath,” which is necessary to keep you warm.
  2. Down-filled coats are the warmest, especially when faced with wind-chill temperatures in the -20 degree range. Look for smaller quilting, A-line shaping or even quilting done in a diagonal or diamond pattern to keep the coat from overwhelming you.
  3. Faux fur on the inside feels luxurious. But test it out before removing the tags to ensure it will keep you plenty warm.
  4. Keep the neck warm with a button or zip at the neck. If your coat doesn’t have either feature, make sure your scarf is wool or cashmere. Warm neck, warm body!
  5. Make sure you purchase a coat large enough to fit over your bulky sweaters or blazers.
Some great finds:
  1. Military Inspired by Worthington combines classic tweed (other colors available) with the trendy military look. The neck buttons up high for extra warmth. Securing the belt will keep the chest area warmer and the A-line style and seam pockets are slimming on many figures.
  2. Coldwater Creek Whipstitched Coat with faux suede and shearling will keep you toasty warm, especially when wearing the hood. Princess seams and hidden pickets slenderize the silhouette. (I think I had this coat in 1974!)
  3. bebe Double Breasted Coat with Detachable Faux Fur Collar offers ultra feminine with pleated detail at sleeve and slightly puffed shoulders. The detachable collar creates extra versatility!
  4. bebe also offers this Quilted Sateen Coat with down filling. Notice the diagonal stitching, belt and A-line shape, which are necessary when wearing such a big coat. Stylish and warm have never looked so good!
  5. Nautica’s Long Sleeve Hooded Toggle Front coat with its sporty design will keep your spirits high when the temperatures drop. If black is too harsh for your skin tone, try navy for a softer yet neutral color.
  6. Tallissimee’s Wool Coat offers warmth and the feminine detailing at the empire level keeps the eyes away from a larger midsection.

May you always look great!

Pat Roland, CTIC

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