Is Ombre Hair Professional?

ombre-hair-for-workIs ombre hair appropriate for the office? When does any hair color become “unprofessional”? Reader P wrote in with a great question, and perhaps might lead us to an interesting discussion of when hair dyes and colors cross the line:

I was wondering if you could do a post on whether ombre hair is professional. I graduated from law school last May and am currently interviewing for positions. I have this “fellowship” through my school for now (used for rankings), but am looking for a full time real job. I have long black hair and am thinking about getting the ombre look with either medium to dark brown on the ends or perhaps auburn. What do you think of this look? Is it acceptable in the professional setting or does it seem to casual? Here are some images of what I’m thinking of: here and here.

Every time I think we’ve covered hair as completely as it can be covered, another question comes up.  We’ve talked about platinum blond hair at the office, as well as gray hair at the office, but not other hair dyes and colors.  So let’s discuss. [Read more...]

Can A Water Bottle Be Unprofessional?

Can something as simple as a water bottle be unprofessional? Are there business etiquette rules for drinking water in the office?  Reader M wonders.

Are there any tips for choosing professional-looking water bottles? This is perhaps a mundane question, but with an extremely youthful face, long hair, and a newly-minted JD, I’m trying very hard to avoid any hint of ‘intern.’ I occasionally worry that my current metal bottle — complete with the name of my law school — really serves as a visual reminder that I just got out of school (it often ends up on my desk). On the other hand, I’m proud of my alma mater. Is the answer to trade it in for something completely nondescript? Are certain types more common among professionals? Are designs/logos that reflect some aspect of one’s personality completely out? Thanks for any thoughts you may be able to share!

Hmmn. First, congratulations to M for trying to get her daily water. Fancy water bottles have a lot in their favor — you avoid some suspect chemicals from plastic water bottles (such as BPAs), and they’re easier to clean and reuse. And I’ll admit, in my law firm days I used a simple stainless steel water bottle to carry water to and fro my office (similar to this one from REI). (I always drank out of a plastic cup — easier to throw away, less to clean — so the water bottle was really just my pitcher.  One pitcher filled about three plastic cups of water, so it did help me cut down on trips to the office kitchen for water.)

Now: was I unprofessional to use a water bottle?  Is M being unprofessional by using a water bottle with her law school logo?  I honestly can’t imagine how, just by carrying a water bottle, it’s unprofessional.  [Read more...]

How To Buy Quality Pieces Without Looking Old

Armani jacketCan younger women buy quality suiting pieces like Armani and St. John’s, without looking old?  Reader J has an excellent question:

I recently bought this Armani Collezioni jacket on an impulse. The price was too good to pass. But after I got home and tried it on a few more times, I start to wonder if this jacket would make me look too old if I pair it with a black skirt or a pair of black pants. I’m in my mid 30s and I thought this jacket could add 10 years if I appear all in black. What do you think? What should I wear with it to show the fine detail of the Armani design without adding 10 years to my age? I’d really appreciate your advice.

What a great question.  I think some pieces — particularly higher-necked, conservative pieces — can tend towards looking a bit “older”.  Here are a few tips off the top of my head for how to look your age, but I’m really curious to see what the readers say: [Read more...]

Can Older Women Have Long Hair and Still Be Professional?

Glasses and long hair, originally uploaded to Flickr by Carutapera | PixelAlibi.Long hair on older women: the perennial question.  Despite our extensive oeuvre of hair-related questions here, I don’t think we’ve done this one* (and it was hotly protested among commenters in response to The Careerist’s recent diatribe against Hillary Clinton’s long hair, as well as among her own readers.  (Although looking back, we have done the “should I cut my hair for my first job” variation on the question.)

Let me begin by saying I’m biased: at 35, I have probably the longest hair I’ve had in a long time.  This is for a few reasons, I suppose:  first, the last time I did a major cut (donating 9″ to charity after my wedding), it kind of grew into a triangle shape, and now both my husband and my hairdresser protest heartily whenever I try to cut it anywhere near the top of my shoulders.  Second, it’s growing like a weed right now (which will probably change when we finish weaning). Furthermore, I look back on pictures from my early 20s to mid 20s, when my hair was at its all time shortest, and feel a sense of disconnect with that person.  So I think I’m kind of solidly in the camp of “I’m going to wear my hair long until I can’t.” (Pictured above: Glasses and long hair, originally uploaded to Flickr by Carutapera | PixelAlibi.)   [Read more...]

Beauty Wednesday: Skincare and Aging

wrinkles - part I, originally uploaded to Flickr by kroszk@.So here’s a fun question:  how has your skincare routine changed through the years?  For the older readers, when did you notice that you needed to add a little “somethin somethin” to your routine?  Do you think particular brands matter, or is it just important to do something?  (For example: does a particular brand of eye cream work better than the others, or does your eye area just need extra moisture and any eye cream will work as long as you’re consistent?)  (Pictured:  wrinkles – part I, originally uploaded to Flickr by kroszk@.)

For my $.02:  For the most part, my skincare routine is roughly the same as it was when I first settled onto it at as a pre-teen.  Most mornings, I wash my face with Basis, and (once I’m out of the shower), I follow up with a light moisturizer with SPF in it (usually Neutrogena’s basic one sans retinols, but I’m still finishing a container of Kimberly Sayer that I bought during my pregnancy because it had proper zinc oxide instead of chemical SPF).  Things I’ve added over the years:

[Read more...]

Eyeliner & Competence: An Open Thread

So a few weeks ago there was this survey: more makeup makes you look more competent. Or so they say. This seems like exactly the kind of thing we should explore here… hence today’s open thread.

So here are some of the pictures they showed to test subjects. And I thought I’d share my thoughts (I typed these specifically for the first row, but really they sort of apply across the board).
– Picture 1: Aww, is she a college student on summer break? (Which is really interesting, because while we’ve talked about young women feeling unprofessional if they’re not wearing makeup, it isn’t a bias I generally think I have.)
– Picture 2: Meh. No opinion. She doesn’t look very friendly.
– Picture 3: Ok, if I were this chick, this is probably the amount of makeup that I’d be comfortable wearing on a daily basis, at least at the beginning of the day. That said, does it affect how I feel to look at her as a potential colleague? I suppose it does, but it comes back to me — she and I both feel comfortable putting the same amount of work into our makeup and outfits, so we must have similar/same outlooks on life. Great!
– Picture 4: This is the “glamorous” look. Maybe I’ve been hanging out with fashion bloggers too long, but she doesn’t look particularly glamorous to me. She looks kind of like the villainous boss in a movie. Is it because of the makeup? Because of the darker brows and lighter hair? The expression? This is also interesting, because according to the study, “women in glamorous makeup were found to be less trustworthy.”

The thing that I kept thinking while looking at the pictures, though is this:  expressions are huge.  [Read more...]