The Next Step: Jewelry

Jewelry for Work | CorporetteIn our ongoing discussion on The Next Step — i.e., how to upgrade various areas of your life — a reader suggested we discuss how to upgrade your jewelry collection, and how to buy jewelry for work in general. Excellent idea, and I’m curious to hear what people say. (I swear, I intended this to primarily be an open thread — but it turns out I have a lot of favorite designers I just HAD to look up and link to.) Note that I’ve talked about my own jewelry for work, and we’ve had excellent guest posts on how to buy jewelry for other women, as well as a 411 on different jewelry terminology (different metals, pearls). In other posts in this series we’ve talked about upgrading your bag collection, upgrading your shoe collection, how to upgrade your work wardrobe, better personal services for busy women, and how to buy grown up furniture.

For my own $.02, here is how my own jewelry buying has looked through the years:

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Are Midi Rings Appropriate for the Office?

Midi rings Midi rings at the office: yea or nay? In terms of the bigger picture, how do you know whether to try out a fashion trend at the office? What makes certain jewelry or accessories too trendy or unprofessional for work? Reader J wonders:

I normally don’t wear any rings other than my wedding bands but I recently bought some midi rings on a whim and I am wondering if they are appropriate to wear to the office. I am a solo attorney, so I can wear what I want but I don’t want to look unprofessional. I’m thinking like 3 max on my right hand and I would not wear them to court, just on days that I am at the office. What do you think?

We’ve talked about how to start a professional jewelry collection, when to splurge on jewelry, wearing religious jewelry to the office, when to wear pearls and how to buy pearls, but not this.  I just yesterday saw a Facebook post where people wondered whether midi rings were “connected somehow or separate,” so there’s obviously some confusion there — let’s discuss. (For the record, they can be both! But most of the ones we’re discussing below are separate.)

For my $.02:

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Coffee Break: Small Pavé Huggie Hoop Earrings

Nadri Small Pave Huggie HoopsI always love my huggie earrings, and these look like a great, affordable option thanks to the small pavé crystals (instead of diamonds).  As always, I find huggies super comfortable for long phone conversations, unlike post earrings, and they lend a finished look without being distracting when you speak, like a lot of dangling earrings can be.  These are $40 at Bloomingdale’s. Nadri Small Pavé Huggie Hoop Earrings

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:

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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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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…]