Going-Out Clothes and Young Professionals

Going Out Clothes for Young Professionals2018 Update: We still stand by this advice for going-out clothes and young professionals, but you may also want to check out the great reader discussion on general going-out clothes after age 25

Once you get to grad school, can you stick with your “going out” style from college, or is it time to make some changes? Reader C wonders how to dress for a night out on the town when she’s out with new friends from grad school…

I have a strange request/question. I’ve begun learning all about clothing for work, interviews, etc., and now know the difference between business casual and chic casual. My problem is that during my undergrad, “going out” almost certainly meant tight shirts, tight pants or leggings, and high heels, as well as blow-out hair and smokey eye makeup. Jackets were a never, and cleavage was a must.

I was recently invited to go out with from friends from my new school, and pretty much realized that I don’t know how to dress like a grown woman when I’m doing something super casual with friends, like going out for a few beers or even out dancing. I still want to look the part in some ways (these are, after all, my future colleagues — I don’t want to be remembered as “cleavage girl”), but still dress to have fun.

Please teach me to be a respectable adult, even while I’m supposed to be out having fun.

Great question, and I’m torn between a few thoughts. First: you’re in school; if you’re going out with friends it shouldn’t matter too much. On the flip side, I think it can make an impact on how people remember you, and the bigger the dichotomy between your work or student persona and your “weekend persona,” the more people will remember it.

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Beauty Wednesday: Desk to Dinner Makeup

desk to dinner makeup 2Which makeup do you find indispensable for the desk-to-dinner refresh/transformation? I just realized the other day that we’ve never really talked about this (although I’ve certainly touted the individual products that I love enough), so I thought we should discuss.

For my $.02, if I’m meeting my husband or friends after a long day of work, I tend to do more of a “refresh” than any crazy transformation. To me that means:

  • Skin: Touche Eclat under my eyes, over my browbone, and around my nose for a lighter “wakeup” than straight concealer
  • Cheeks: Nars Orgasm The Multiple on my cheeks to add back some color (and also some sparkle for the evening)
  • Eyes: a bit more eyeliner, usually, and if it’s officially a Dinner Out kind of night, I’ll add dark shadow to my crease and along my lash line (the “bigger” the night is the darker I tend to go!)
  • sometimes a bit more brow liner if I’ve had a head-in-my-hands kind of day
  • Lips: I’ll usually wipe off whatever lipstick is still left and do a fresh application of lip — if it’s a party or networking situation (where I expect to nibble instead of eat, if that makes sense) I will usually put on at least L’Oreal Paris Infallible LipColour, usually with their Never Fail Lipgloss layered on top. (I’m a fan of the one-shade-darker-than-my-natural-lips look, which for me is Nutmeg and Barely Nude.)

I tend to save a “full eye” with multiple colors and shadows and the occasional false eyelashes for when I’m starting with a fresh face, instead of makeup I applied many hours ago.

(Aww, my first image map! Click on the pictured products above to go to their product pages. Or: Touche Eclat / Nars Orgasm the Multiple / Infallible Lipcolour / Never Fail Lipgloss.)

Readers, what products do you swear by for your desk to dinner makeup needs?  Do you tend to do a “refresh” or a total transformation? (Or, do you skip it and just hope your morning makeup lasts all the way through dinner?)

How do you dress for desk to dinner?

Ballgowns and demolitionWhile doing the “Previously” posts for this month, I was thinking that the “desk to dinner” transitions one would be a good one to revisit since we have such a bigger community now to discuss. At the time I wrote the first post, Project Runway had just done a challenge where contestants had to make one outfit that could carry a woman from daytime work to a hot date — and I just remember  thinking, well this is just going to result in slutty workwear/frumpy datewear.  So I’m curious, readers:  when you have a hot date, or a party after work, how do you handle it? (Pictured: Ballgowns and demolition, originally uploaded to Flickr by Phil Gyford.)

My own method has always to just bring an entirely new outfit to wear out and about. Tonight, for example, I’m going to a fairly fancy party and so I have a dress, my highest, hippest heels, and my trusty black wrap because it’s starting to feel like fall in Manhattan. Meanwhile, at the office I’m wearing simple black pants, a purple long-sleeved top with ruffles on it, and gray Cole Haan pumps. Heck, I even have a different bra packed for the party tonight. The only thing I’m planning on wearing the entire day is my jewelry, which admittedly is a bit much for the work outfit (dangly diamond earrings and a right-hand diamond ring, in addition to my regular watch and wedding/engagement ring), but I really dislike throwing good jewelry into a handbag to wear it later.  (Pictured:  These are totally not my earrings, but aren’t they pretty?  And really, who needs college, grad school, and a nice downpayment for a house when you can have these lovely earrings instead? I always say, if you’re wondering whether you should buy a studio in Manhattan or a pair of earrings, go for the pair of earrings!)

Funny story, though — back when I was dating, I remember going on a first date at a lunch and thinking, well, it would be weird to change into jeans for a lunch date.  So I wore what I had worn to the office — black pumps, black sheath dress, and, I think, my pearls — and the guy thought I had gone all out for him (and actually seemed a bit intimidated by that fact).

Tool of the Trade: Touche Eclat

Yves Saint Laurent TOUCHE ÉCLATRadiant Touch 1 Luminous RadianceWe’re normally not fans of pricey beauty products — the drugstore is more of our vibe.  However, we were talked into buying this YSL highlighter as part of our wedding makeup, and we are absolutely addicted now, because it’s the perfect way to “look alive” after a long day of staring at the computer screen.  (We use it so often we even keep it in our purse, so we always have it with us.)  Before we head out for a night on the town, we’ll add a bit under the eyelids, alongside our nose beneath our brows, and up over the brow bones to perk up without getting that startled look that plain concealer can bring.  Brilliant.  It’s available at Sephora for $40. Yves Saint Laurent TOUCHE ÉCLATRadiant Touch 1 Luminous Radiance

Poll Results: Day to Night Transitions

desk to dinner styleAbout a week ago we asked you how you handled the much-talked-about day-to-night transition — do you change outfits entirely?  change elements of your outfit to make it less business and more fun? Pictured.

The poll is still open, but here’s how it’s looking thus far:

  • 33% of you maintain elements of the same outfit, but change to denim or a more dressy skirt if you’re going out on the town
  • 30% of you wear totally different clothes than what you wore to work
  • 21% of you scoff at the idea of being able to get out of the office to enjoy a night out on the town. (Our unsolicited advice: C’mon, guys, you can do it! Youth is fleeting — and you can sleep when you’re dead.)
  • 14% of you wear the exact outfit that you purchased thinking it would be a good day-to-night transition.

Since the majority of you wear elements of the same outfit, we couldn’t resist recommending this top and these shoes — wear the Velvet Leaf Dylan Blouse Cut Out Sleeves in Royal Blue (available at Revolve Clothing for $105) with a regular black suit with a pencil skirt and pumps, and before you leave the outfit, ditch the jacket and change into more trendy shoes such as these Nine West – Dasolina (Dark Purple Suede) (available from Zappos for $99).

going out top

Poll: How do you handle the day to night transition?

A few weeks ago on Project Runway the contestants had to design a look to take Brooke Shields’ character on Lipstick Jungle from “day to evening” in a single look. We wanted to scream at the television — we’ve never bought into the idea that women want to wear their office garb out for the evening.  Every time we see an outfit that’s supposed to take you from day to night, it doesn’t…  In our experience, if we’re going out on a work night we either need to change into a cocktail dress (to attend a charity event at a museum or something) or to casual-but-sexy wear for a date or a night out with a girlfriend and a hip restaurant.  (“Casual but sexy wear” has meant, for us in the past, either a casual dress or designer denim and a cute top).  And if it’s just a local neighborhood restaurant or someone’s house, who cares enough to change?  In any case, an outfit for work that’s too sexy for day makes us feel uncomfortable, and wearing our work clothes — no matter how “sexy” they are — while out and about just makes us feel drab and boring.  So we’ve always gone the two outfit route.

After Project Runway, though, we started wondering — are we alone in this?  Is everyone else actively looking for seamless day-to-night looks? Please take the poll and then comment away… particularly if you’ve found something that works great for day to night, do tell.


Pictured above: 13th street, originally uploaded by g. rox.