How to Be Taken Seriously When You Look Young

looking young - body languageWhat should you do if you look young for your age, and you do all the basic things you’re supposed to in order to seem older (dress professionally, wear heels, etc.), but you still get mistaken for a college student? What more can you try to get your colleagues to take you seriously?

Reader E wonders…

I’m a college professor (outside your normal demographic, but I really enjoy the conversations here). I often am told that I look like an undergrad. I have two questions. First, how do I respond to this in a workplace setting? With a frosty “Nope, I’m actually in my mid-thirties”? With “I’m told that I’ll be grateful for it one day”? Why do people think this is an acceptable thing to say to someone? Second, how can I actually look older so that I avoid these comments and am taken more seriously? I’m short (5′), which is part of the issue, but I already wear 1-3″ heels/wedges (more would look out of place here and are not my style). I use basic makeup (tinted moisturizer/blush/mascara), wear professional and structured clothing, have nice-looking but understated jewelry (including my engagement/wedding rings), keep my wavy hair shoulder-length and mostly under control, and make an effort to speak in a lower voice. This all feels like Looking Older 101–I need the upper-level class!

Hmmmmn. Hmmmn. We’ve talked about a lot of this before — how to avoid acting young, how to lower your voice, and whether long hair makes you look younger — but it sounds like Reader E has already taken a lot of these tips. What else can be done? I’m curious to hear what the readers say, but I did come up with a few tips. I don’t think everyone needs to take these steps, but for people like Reader E, who have tried everything else and are still frustrated by people telling them they “look young,” these may be the tweaks you need to consider:

[Read more...]

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.

[Read more...]

How to Buy Jewelry For The Women In Your Life

How to Buy Jewelry for Your Secretary | CorporetteEver wonder what to get your mother, secretary, or sister in law for the holidays?  Jewelry always seems like a safe choice, but you have to do a bit of analysis — fortunately guest poster / Corporette commenter Kanye East is here to advise us on how to buy jewelry for the women in your life.  In real life,the author is an attorney at law, New York City ex-pat, sarcastic Corporette commenter, and amateur metalsmith. On the rare occasions she leaves the office, Ms. East slays dragons and makes jewelry with their treasures. She’s previously demystified pearls and types of metals for us.  Welcome back, Kanye East! – Kat

I don’t know whether “TIAKYOS” is a Corporette commenter acronym yet, but it could be. No, it’s not a new kind of Greek yogurt. “This is a know-your-office-situation.” We say it all the time when it comes to wardrobe, etiquette, socializing—next to JSFAMO (“Just say FOOEY! and move on), it might be the most popular advice among our commentariat. And it’s just as important for giving gifts: it’s a know-your-recipient situation. If you want to give gifts of jewelry that will be appreciated and worn, be observant. That’s my best advice, so if you want to go ahead and stop reading now, no hurt feelings.

Now I won’t pretend to be unbiased, but jewelry is always a go-to gift for the women in my life. (Know what my legal assistant gets on every holiday? I’ll give you one guess.) I love giving it, and I love getting it. But how do you pick the right piece for the right person? Allow me to make a few suggestions in the style of a bastardized Myers-Briggs Personality Test. We’ll be grading our recipient’s traits in four categories, and then assigning her a Giftee Profile (and giftee suggestions) based on those traits. Finally, I’ll leave you with suggestions from some of my favorite Etsy shops. [Read more...]

A Discriminating Woman’s Guide To Buying Jewelry, Part Two: Pearls

The Corporette Guide to Pearls || CorporetteHot on the heels of our post about the best splurges (in which I include my pearls), I thought now would be a great time for guest poster/Corporette commenter “Kanye East” to demystify buying pearls for us.  In real life,the author is an attorney at law, New York City ex-pat, sarcastic Corporette commenter, and amateur metalsmith. On the rare occasions she leaves the office, Ms. East slays dragons and makes jewelry with their treasures.

I only have a few hard-and-fast rules when it comes to purchasing jewelry. Rule One: know what you’re buying. (There’s also Rule One-And-A-Half—don’t get ripped off—but it’s really just a restatement of Rule One). Rule Two almost throws the other rules out the window: buy (and wear) what you like. That’s it. Two and a half rules. Still with me? Good. We’ve already covered metals, so now let’s talk pearl basics.

Pearls are organic, non-vegan gems produced by different varieties of mollusks, both salt water and freshwater. They’re created when an irritant (nucleus) is introduced and then covered by the mollusk in layers of nacre. When this occurs naturally, pearls fetch top dollar; when it’s achieved with the intervention of pearl harvesters, it results in “nucleated” or “cultured” pearls, which tend to be more affordable. [Read more...]

The Best Splurges

The Best Splurges || CorporetteWhat items are “worth the splurge” if you have a healthy amount of discretionary income? Reader S wonders…

Here’s my idea for a post – what are the central items that are “worth the splurge” for those of us with a healthy amount of (but not unlimited) discretionary income? I’m thinking there are certain purchases – the classic Burberry trench, a Chanel clutch – that would be well worth the amount spent, since you’ll potentially be using the item for a decade or more, but what are some non-obvious items that would fit into this category?

FUN question, reader S!  There are definitely things I bought in my 20s — when I was single and making six figures at a law firm — that I wouldn’t necessarily buy now, with a husband and kiddo in the mix (at least not without thinking about it looong and hard).  Since I’ve always known that my weight tends to fluctuate, most of my splurges have been in the accessory category. Here’s my $.02, but I can’t wait to hear what the readers say…

My top splurges:

[Read more...]

When Should You Wear Pearls?

1.indexedWhen is the right time to wear pearls?  We’ve talked about how to buy pearls, but Reader C sent in a super short email wondering when to wear them…

One of my favorite jewelry pieces is my strand of Mikimoto pearls that I got for my 30th birthday.  They were an investment piece, and they get so much wear that I’m glad I did invest in a quality piece.  That said, there are a ton of price ranges (and there’s nothing wrong with faux pearls) so there’s something for everyone.  For my $.02, when to wear pearls depends on the kind of pearls we’re talking about: [Read more...]