Archive | Beyond Five O’Clock RSS for this section

Surviving the Holidays with Style

Its that time of year when parties abound – office parties and parties with friends.  And don’t forget December 31st and New Year’s Day.  Here are some tips for surviving and enjoying those holiday parties in style.

Office parties:

  • Remember it’s the office party and your image is just as important.  This party is NOT the time to let your hair down.
  • Clothes.  If the party is an afternoon open house, casual is appropriate but avoid the tattered jeans and sweats.  If the party is in the evening, dresses and pantsuits are great for women and suits, sport jackets and blazers are great for men.
  • Food. If a food is served that you are allergic to or don’t like don’t say anything to the host.  Just don’t eat it.  The host is NOT obligated to address the tastes of their guests.
  • Behavior.  Don’t get drunk – it’s not appropriate at the office party or a get together with your friends.  Remember not to speak with your mouth full of food.  Avoid using toothpicks in public.
  • At Midnight.  When the clock strikes 12 toast to the New Year and then make your exit soon after.  Be sure to thank the host on your way out.
  • Don’t be the last to leave.  If it’s an open house leave when the time frame is over.
  • If it’s a dinner party be sure to be on time.
  • If the party is at someone’s home.  Bring a gift for the host(s) such as chocolate, flowers, or a bottle of wine.  If you don’t see ashtrays, don’t light up especially in the bathroom.
  • Conversation.  If an office party talk about topics other than “shop talk.”  Consider traveling, books or movies.  Avoid off-colored jokes, politics and religion.  Try reading the headlines of the newspaper or listening to the news on TV or the radio or topics to talk about if you’re normally a wallflower.  Keep foul language out the conversation – for either gender it is not cool.
  • At a sit down dinner talk to both partners seated next to you.  Rather than pointing out the fly in your salad focus on positive topics.
  • Remember to introduce your significant other to the people you meet.  Be sure to include them in the conversation.

A Super bowl Party at the Boss’s House?

So you’ve been invited to the Boss’s house to watch the Super bowl.  Are you going? – make sure to RSVP! Given that this is an opportunity to be noticed in a good and not so good way, consider what you’re wearing and mind your ps and qs.

  • Ladies consider jeans or a denim skirt with layered tops or a shift. Try a turtleneck with your denim bottoms. Consider boots or sandals but no flip flops and try to stay away from strapless sundresses and terry velour fabrics.
  • If in a business where jackets are optional try twill pants or skirt with a polo top and sweater over the shoulders or good jeans with a tunic blouse belted. Consider boots or tie shoes that are in good condition that coordinate. Accessorize with earrings and perhaps a dramatic piece at the neck for impact.
  • If in a business where suits are require, for the Super Bowl consider trousers or mid calf skirts, cardigans and turtleneck tops. Or choose an interesting blouse or tailored shirt worn over pants with an interesting belt.
  • For men put your best foot forward and consider dark colored twills like Dockers that are cleaned and pressed topped with a dress shirt tucked in, belted with nice shoes. Even if it’s a barbecue avoid the hoodie, hats, flip flops, and body piercings as you would when you go to work. Consider a good pair of jeans and a sport shirt that is pressed.
  • If you are in a business where jackets are optional, consider dress slacks in a wool or cotton blend with a dress shirt tucked in and belted with a blazer. Or try a long sleeve dress shirt with a cardigan or sweater over the shoulders and trousers or your good jeans and perhaps a turtleneck with or without a blazer.
  • For both men and women, party hearty but don’t over do it.  Being drunk, loud and obnoxious will work against you.
  • Don’t be the last to leave as you notice your host yawning.  After the game is over its probably time to consider going home.
  • Be sure to send a thank you email, call, or note to your boss for the time.  As a gracious guest you will always be invited back!

Being the Dream Guest

Polite guests reward the time and effort of throwing a party, and they are remembered for this. Indeed, an essential part of projecting a successful image is conducting yourself properly when invited to a restaurant, a reception, or the company picnic. As your client’s or boss’s guest, you are being evaluated in these environments.
Here are some tips on how to be the dream guest:
• When invited to lunch or dinner, remember that it is not your responsibility to pick up the check. It is common for a woman to invite a professional colleague to lunch. If it truly is an invitation, let her pick up the check.
• When a client, associate, or your boss invites you to dinner, give your response within 24 hours. If something comes up and you have to cancel, place the call yourself. Don’t let the secretary or leave a voice mail.
• Confirm an appointment, whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Call the day ahead if it’s for a breakfast meeting.
• Arrive on time. Ten minutes late is considered rude. If you know you’re going to be late, call to change the time if possible, or call the restaurant to have your host notified.
• If you happen to beat your host to the restaurant, wait in the lobby of entry hall until he or she arrives. If you notice that the restaurant if filling up quickly, you can ask the restaurant host to seat you and to have the rest of the party directed there as they arrive.
• If your host is at least 15 minutes overdue, call his or her office. Wait for your host for about 40 minutes; if she still hasn’t shown up, either tip the waiter five to ten dollars or have something to eat.
• When there are more than two people in the party, don’t sit down immediately when you’ve been led to your table; wait for the host to direct you.
• With a large party at a restaurant, observe what other people are ordering. If they haven’t ordered an appetizer or side salad, don’t be the only one. And don’t order the most expensive item on the menu simply because it’s the most expensive.
• When there are just two of you at a restaurant, it’s polite to wait until both have been served before eating. If there is a long delay, then the one who has not been served should urge the other to start eating.
• At a dinner where spouses or partners are present, remember to talk about other subjects than business.
• If someone tells a good joke or you’re having a great time, it’s okay to laugh; just keep the noise level down so it doesn’t interfere with others.
• Don’t “table hop.”
• If you must make or receive a phone call, excuse yourself and go to a phone away from the table. Keep your conversation short.
Don’t get drunk! If you have had too much to drink allow someone who is sober to drive you home. Refrain from being loud, obnoxious, or embarrassing -It’s time for you to “call it a night” or regret you every came.
• After the event, party or get together, write a thank you note. This is extremely important whether the party was a social or business one. This will truly ensure that you are considered the dream guest and invited back in the future.

10 Tips for Looking Absolutely Fabulous!

  1. Smile!
  2. Stand up straight
  3. Drinks lots of water
  4. Eat your veggies
  5. Sleep 8 hours
  6. Wear sunscreen
  7. Enjoy a mani-pedi
  8. Exercise daily
  9. Embrace the present
  10. Have an attitude of gratitude!

Networking +

Tis the season for networking and for many, its a frightful thought walking up to someone and starting a conversation.  Usually its easier to walk up to someone you know to get introduced.

But once you’re introduced then what?Remember an individual can size you up in 3 to 4 seconds. However, in the next 10 minutes after a first meeting you have the opportunity to make or break those formed expectations, beginning with your greeting.
Here are some tips to make your first impression a lasting one:
• When you are introduced, if you are seated, stand up. This communicates that you are indeed happy to meet the person.
• Once you have stood up, step forward and smile. Even if it’s been your worst day, try to look pleasant and extend your hand and say hello.
• When you are in public and someone sees you and says hello, a smile and a nod is all that’s needed when passing by.
• When being introduced to someone who does not have full use of his or her right arm, extend your right hand anyway and they will extend their left.
• When seeing an old friend, extend your hand rather than giving a hug in business.
• If you tend to be nervous when meeting people, resulting in clammy hands, don’t fret. Carry a handkerchief with you and wipe them off before meeting someone.
• Practice making a good handshake – it communicates everything about you. A lifeless handshake equates to a lifeless, insecure person. Forget crippling handshakes, the “politician’s pump” or “the glove.” Give a handshake that is positive and firm and held for about 3 to 4 seconds. Give direct eye contact and smile as well.
• To initiate conversation you might ask a few questions to learn more about the person but avoid the “twenty questions.”
• Another way to get past the hellos and how-do-you-do’s is to ask questions related to attitudes, likes and dislikes like food, the music or the place that the event is being held, or about interest in the arts and literature. Avoid complaining about the event, though.
• Another way to stimulate rapport is to give a sincere complement. A simple thank you is all that is necessary as a response. Don’t tell how much it cost and where you got it.
• Asking for help is another way of establishing rapport. People are more than happy to help someone who asks for advice. For example, “Where should someone go for a great meal and entertainment?”
• Another way to approach someone is to start a conversation about your hobbies. If one of your hobbies is traveling, you might ask whether the other person has traveled and talk about his experiences. Don’t monopolize on your hobbies, ask them about their hobbies. This brings out the best in people and establishes a sound, lasting rapport.
• Humor is another approach. For example, “Gosh, if this party gets any more popular, we’ll have to start lining up like sardines.” Avoid off-color jokes and other touchy subject. It’s safer to joke about the weather than about religion, race, politics or the battle of the sexes. If you’re not a great joke teller you might want to avoid this approach.

*Read the newspaper and other daily news sources so you have some things to talk about other than work and career.

The LBD is Alive and Well

The Little Black Dress (LBD) is the staple of any wardrobe because it can go from day to evening and can be paired up with anything.  What’s great about it is its versatility and ability to coordinate with just about anything in your closet to dress it up or down for any occasion from work to cocktails.   Audrey Hepburn made it famous wearing a simple silhouette with a strand of pearls and it was a hit that has endured the ages.  When choosing among the millions of choices when it comes to an LBD consider your figure for the style that high lights your assets and minimizes your liabilities.  For example, if you have large hips, look for styles that put the emphasis from the waist up with detailing such as epaulets and buttons.  If you have a thick waist consider a drop waist or one with princess seams to camouflage or create a waist.  If you are large busted, choose a style that has long or 3/4 length sleeves.  Avoid any detail or attention in the bust such as lace or square neckline as these draw attention to it.  LBD 4LBD 6LBD 5LBD 2

A Good Lookin’ Oscar!


I had the opportunity to watch the Oscars like a million or two other people and really enjoyed it.  Ellen set the tone as a night of joy for whoever won the Oscar.  For once the “stars” seemed like real people that experience all the things regular folks do such as being hungry and tripping over one’s gown.  Even more so the class and style that prevailed that evening just makes me want to revisit Oscar night all over.   The fashions worn by the stars were truly beautiful and spoke of timeless beauty, simple and elegant recalling the days of class with Audrey Hepburn.  Peplums were seen as well as simple silhouettes with focus on jeweled fabrics.  Julia Roberts gown was a feminine take on a classic silhouette with lace overlays ,  Some of my favorites included Cate Blanchette, Amy Adams, Angeli Jolie, Lupita Nyong’oAngelina and Brad Jennifer Lawrence and Sandra Bullock.

Sandra Bullocklupita Nyong'oJulia 2Cate BlanchetteJ-law and matAmy Adams












Travel Light but Right: 7 Tips for Breezing through Security


  •   Wear Slip on Shoes
  •      Wear your blazer (it will give you tons of room in your suitcase).
  •       If bringing a carry-on bag the TSA provides tips for packing this so the security agent can see everything quickly if they need to open it.  Go to
  •        Know the TSA regulations for liquids and have them available.  Basically its 3-1-1, liquids in containers no larger than 3.4 ounces, 1 clear quart size zip lock bag to put them in, and one suitcase.  Have the zip lock bag in your outer compartment of your luggage so you can get it out quickly as you approach security.
  •     Make sure all your electronics are out and your pockets are empty and your jewelry and belts are off.  You will also have to take off any jackets and scarves.
  •  Have your laptop in a TSA approved carrier, opened and ready to go through the screener.  Go to for specifics; however, the carrier should have a laptop only section that opens and lies flat without inside or outside pockets and no zippers or buckles inside or underneath this side.  Moreover, only keep the laptop in this section.
  • Have your boarding pass and ID in your hand.

Travel Light and Right: Part 2 Travel Basics for Men

·       For men where suits are required, consider bringing a gray suit or just a navy blazer and coordinating slacks and shirts.  Double up on your ties and shirts so you have variety each day.  Make sure to include coordinating belts and shoes as well as other accessories.  For the weekend consider button down pin point oxford dress shirts with trousers and a cardigan or pullover with your blazer.  Limit shoes to two pairs such as wing tips, ties or slip-ons. 

·        If jackets are optional you will want to include a pair of trousers in a neutral such as gray, khaki or olive to wear with button-down oxford shirts, polo shirts, or long sleeve plaid shirts, pullover sweaters, v-necks, or turtleneck sweaters that coordinate with your blazer.  Confine shoes to loafers and perhaps deck shoes. 

·        If jeans are permitted bring your best pair in a dark wash.  Consider a black or navy blazer for evening, dressier occasions.  For these you can wear a white dress shirt, jeans and your blazer.  Introduce pullovers, cardigans and short sleeve pullovers tops that coordinate with your jeans. 

Travel Right but Light: Part 1 Women’s Basics


The new year has begun and with it a travel itinerary that takes you near and far.  Whether it is to visit an existing client, a prospective one, or traveling for a job interview, you will want to be dressed to impress and

comfortable so you are able to concentrate on the business at hand.

When traveling, whatever your occupation or position, bring items that can coordinate with other pieces of your wardrobe.  Build your travel wardrobe around neutrals such as black, taupe, camel, navy and go from there.  Include lots of accessories, such as scarves, jewelry, belts and hosiery to change up the look with the same pieces.  Here are some ideas for a great travel wardrobe:

  • ·         If suits are required bring a suit or suit separates.  Add blouses and shirts for variety and accessorize for impact.  Consider a black dress with bold jewelry for evening and stripy sandals.  Or consider a dress with a coordinating jacket that works both during business hours and after.  Wear the jacket over the dress with some jewelry during the day, take off the jacket and add some bold jewelry and perhaps a shawl for evening.  Consider trousers and a coordinating cardigan with a top for weekend events.  Choose a couple of pair of shoes such as pump or ties that go with your travel wardrobe with medium heels.
  • ·         If jackets are optional, consider knits for day and evening wear.  Chico’s has their “Travelers” line that was popularized by Michael Phelp’s mother during the Beijing Olympics.  Made of Lycra and Acetate, they travel well, are easy to care for and comfortable to wear.  Consider pants and skirts and coordinating tops and jackets that can go anywhere as well as day into evening like black, silver, deep navy or dark chocolate.  Team up black Traveler’s pants with a black turtleneck and jewelry and perhaps if its cooler, a tailor mandarin collar jean jacket with jeweled buttons for evening events on the road. For day try the black pants with the black denim jacket and a tailored shirt, belted for day.  Everything goes with black.
  • ·         Consider classic suit separates that go from day to evening such a gabardine twill trousers or skirts and a single blazer in black or navy.  Bring an assortment of blouses, shirts and sweaters such as turtlenecks that coordinate.  Accessorize dramatically for evening events and employ scarves and some jewelry for day. 
  • ·         If you have a tendency to get cold in air conditioned hotels, bring a blazer or good rib knit or double knit cardigan that coordinates with the rest of your travel wardrobe.
  • ·         If jeans are permitted choose ones in a dark wash that are in excellent condition as well as another pair of pants or skirt in a neutral such as khaki or black.
  • ·         Introduce knits such as sweater sets, cotton V- or round neck pullovers or turtlenecks and mock turtle styles.  Look to natural fibers blended with synthetics or 100% synthetic fabrics for ease of care. 
  • ·         Consider bringing one jacket, perhaps a black blazer or a cardigan that coordinates with the rest of your wardrobe.  A blazer or box jacket, if necessary, can take you to evening if jackets are optional and jeans are permitted.  Wear it with a silk blouse or jeweled tone shirt and bold jewelry.
  • ·         Regarding shoes, don’t buy any new ones to wear on your trip, your feet will hate you.  Buy the shoes about a week or two in advance and break them in at home, then they will be ready for your trip.  Consider bringing a pair of shoes perhaps slip-ons, loafer or tie styles in a medium to low heel such as an inch and a half.    
  • ·         When it comes to cosmetics, have them in a makeup bag.  You may have lots of makeup but you can only take what you really need and the colors you wear most often.  All of my makeup is in such a bag and makes it really easy to travel anywhere and cuts down on decision making each morning.