Guest Post: How to Wear Color to Work

Dressing with Color at the Office | CorporetteColor at the office:  We’ve talked about it in specific contexts — pants, suitsnails, tightsshoes, and even how to start buying colorful prints — and in today’s guest post, my old friend Theresa Lesh gives you some helpful guidelines on how to wear color to work. Theresa is one of the best dressed ladies I’ve known since high school — she actually has a background in fashion design and currently works at a creative products company in product development. A huge thanks for the tips, Theresa! – Kat.

I love color and am very picky about it — always have been. I LOVED my mega box of crayons and the range of hues it offered up: red-violet, magenta, violet-red, violet… and I used each one differently. I scoffed at red, blue, and green as basics and instead used brick red, midnight blue, and forest (or pine) green for cars, sky, or trees. Today I am still quite particular about specific tones or hues I prefer; however, I am much more open-minded, and even look at “odd” colors as challenges. With what other color could I pair that bizarre chartreuse to make it sing? What would be a great pop against a (drab) grey?

I admit going through a period of time where I wore all black — didn’t we all? But when I did, I always liked to choose one thing to accent/pop or stand out in a small way. Favorites were items such as a black Nicole Miller scarf peppered with all sorts of Barbie icons (shoes, lipstick, her iconic signature) which I still have (and wear) today, or floral patterned tights (typically worn under a long black skirt). I saw these things as private jokes with myself, as you could only see the Barbie icons when you were close to me, or the flowers on my tights when I sat down and crossed my legs. (Pictured: Nicole Miller scarf, available on eBay for $149.)

Over the years, I grew away from the all-black ensembles — I do still wear black, and sometimes head to toe, but not all day, every day — and I started to play with color in a bigger and bolder way. After college, I fell in love with lime green, which I think became my gateway to COLOR, as it opened my eyes to all sorts of fun, vibrant shades, and each year I get more and more adventurous and more and more colorful in my wardrobe. During the gray winters of Ohio, I feel as if bright color can be a fantastic pick-me-up, both for me wearing it and those that may pass me in the hall.

Granted, I work for a creative company, where one may see a mix of suits and ties to jeans and Chuck Taylors in a single meeting (though not TERRIBLY often), so while I am not IN the creative division, per se, there is probably more flexibility in my office than a “big law” firm. How far is too far with color? That is up to you, but it’s not to say you cannot make forays into color in a more conservative working environment.

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Are Scarves Professional Enough?

Are Scarves Professional Enough? | CorporetteAre scarves professional enough for conferences? Are there some ways of wearing a scarf that are more professional than other ways?  How, in general, do you dress for a male-dominated conference?  Reader A, writing from Europe (and a very male-dominated profession), wonders:

Maybe this is a cultural issue, but I’d never, ever, wear a scarf to a conference. Ever. At the office, sure, if there’s no meetings. At a conference, however, there is no more surefire way to be treated like a hostess/secretary/admin than wearing a scarf. The women who actually have those jobs are all colour-coordinated, but that doesn’t help. All people see is scarf or no scarf.  I think it’s a real shame, as I like scarves and the femininity they bring to an outfit. Instead, I’ve settled for statement jackets, or a skirt or shoes that “pop”.

Is this because I’m in a (very) male dominated business, or is it a Europe/US thing?

We’ve talked about how to wear scarves, as well as how to pack and what to wear to conferences before, of course, but this is a new one — and a very interesting one, given that scarves would never strike me as something a) unprofessional in general, b) hostess/secretary/admin.  When I worked at a very male-dominated law firm, one of the female partners I worked closely with — who certainly commanded respect from everyone — was known for her collection of Hermes scarves that she would wear long and loose beneath her blazers, a bit like the “drape scarf with bomber jacket” look above from Wendy’s Lookbook. (If you haven’t seen it, her scarf-tying tutorial is pretty awesome; the screenshot above is from the “companion” video. Another great resource generally: Une Femme d’un Certain Âge.) [Read more...]

Walk on the Wild Side with Prints

Fabric, originally uploaded to Flickr by ChristopherTitzer.How do you start wearing prints? Reader T wonders…

I’m wondering if you can do a post on incorporating prints into one’s wardrobe. I looked at my closet the other day and realized that about 90% of the clothes I wear are solid colors. I seem to always gravitate toward very saturated bold colors, but never to prints. I guess I sometimes feel that wearing prints looks loud” or will make me stand out too much at work. I know how to use prints with accessories (shoes, scarves) but I’d like to specifically see a post on buying clothes with prints.

We’ve talked about how to mix prints, but we haven’t really talked about how to start buying prints.  I think T has a fear that is shared by a lot of women — looking too loud, too out of place.  So here are my suggestions for how to dip your toe into the waters of dressing with prints… (Pictured: Fabric, originally uploaded to Flickr by ChristopherTitzer.)

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Coffee Break – Pixel Scarf

Marc by Marc Jacobs - Pixel Glass Jersey Scarf (Neutral Grey Multi) - Accessories Zappos has some great Marc by Marc Joseph scarves on sale today, including this fun grey/black/white number. I like that it’s abstract but kind of striped, and I think it would be a great accessory for a lot of outfits. It was $58, now marked to $46.40 at Zappos. Marc by Marc Jacobs – Pixel Glass Jersey Scarf (Neutral Grey Multi) – Accessories

Readers, how often do you wear scarves in the summer? (Or at all?)

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Coffee Break – Waves Cashmere and Silk-Blend Scarf

We Are Owls Waves cashmere and silk-blend scarfHmmn: I have never heard of the brand “We Are Owls” before today, but suddenly I am loving all of the scarves they have on the market right now. Case in point: this beautiful blue, teal, yellow, and white cashmere and silk blend scarf. I’d wear it with a blazer, long and loose, or looped loosely once around my neck in place of a statement necklace. It’s $180 at Net-a-Porter. We Are Owls Waves cashmere and silk-blend scarf

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Coffee Break

TheOutnet.com. Jonathan Saunders Cashmere and silk-blend printed scarfI must say — I am unfamiliar with Jonathan Saunders in general, but I am loving what I’m seeing of him at The Outnet — the colors! the patterns! the rich fabrics! Loving this multi-colored cashmere and silk scarf in particular — and I love that it has a non-printed side, as well. Gorgeous! Was $490, now $245 at TheOutnet.com. Jonathan Saunders Cashmere and silk-blend printed scarf

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