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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.
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What to Wear in a Season Called Transition

Here it is October already and fall clothing is on the racks and you are, as in my case, still melting with summer heat.  In other parts of the country the weather is cooling a bit.  I bet in Alaska it’s getting cold now as well as parts of Maine and Minnesota.  But fashion has a season called transition that is the time before fall really hits and temperature start to decline for real.  In California, it is cool in the morning and night and hot during midday that probably describes this time of year the best.  As in most of the country it’s called an Indian summer.  Anyhow it is so difficult to dress for this part of the year so here are some tips that may help you handle the season of transition.

  • See what is being advertised in the fashion magazines for this period and choose one or two items that will work with your wardrobe and up date it.
  • Dress in layers.  If it is cool in the morning, try a sweater set where you can shed the sweater later in the day in your office.  But when a client or the boss comes in, put the sweater back on.  It is like your jacket.
  • You might consider wearing a suit and blouse with a v-neck sweater vest or open vest that coordinates with your ensemble.
  • Consider purchasing a light jacket like an all weather raincoat and just wear it without the liner.
  • If it’s really cold in the mornings, consider a leather jacket rather than a suit jacket that coordinates and looks business like.
  • Forget the sandals at this time.  Although in California it is still hot consider sling backs rather than mules.
  • Consider going into darker fall-like colors as opposed to summer ones.  Muted bronzes, olives, black, charcoal gray and navy are good choices.
  • In summary, to handle this up and down season, dress in layers but remember, your outfit must look complete when everything is on as well as off.

Be the Best YOU can Be!

“Be the best you can be”  It is my mantra so to speak in everything I do and guides me in how I approach my day, in interactions with others, and how I take care of myself.  I have found that although you can dress yourself up on the outside following these tips will make sure that you are on top of your game everyday inside and out and will feel better in the long run!

  1. You are just as important as the next person,
  2.  Learn from the past, prepare for the future, but LIVE IN THE PRESENT,
  3. No is another opportunity for yes,
  4. Respect yourself and others will respect you,
  5. Trust your instincts,
  6. No one cares about what you know until they know how much you CARE,
  7. Nurture Yourself First,
  8. Do you Really HAVE to be right?
  9. Learn to Manage Yourself,
  10. Take Responsibility for Making things Happen,
  11. Make Professionalism a Lifestyle,
  12. Be thankful for the things you have rather than upset about what you don’t have.

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.

Do I look Fat? Clothing Tips so you Don’t

Nothing makes you look bigger than you are as when your clothes don’t fit.  Either too tight or too lose clothing draws attention to your figure flaws without having to say a word. Here are some tips so you don’t.

  • No gaps up front: Shirts need to lie smoothly over the bust and chest area as well as allow for two fingers ease around the neck with a closed shirt.
  • Pants and skirts should fit smoothly over legs, derrier and around the waist.  Fit the widest part of your body and alter the waist so that it fits.  If its pulling at the hip or crotch go up a size.  As well, pants and skirt should close easily with enough ease that there is no “muffin top” or hangover.
  • Seams should rest on the shoulder.  Particularly for set in sleeves, you want the shoulder seam to rest at the edge of the shoulder bone so the underarm area has enough ease for freedom of movement.
  • Sleeves should come to approximately an inch below the wrist bone
  • Collars and cuffs should not pinch.  As mentioned earlier two finger ease in the collar and a finge ease in the cuff.
  • Proper length is essential.  Neither too long or too short.  For skirts, let them land about the knee as this is the most becoming length for a woman.  For pants, they should rest with a slight break on the top of the shoe and land about the heel and sole in the back.
  • Wear dark colors such as black and navy to appear 10 pounds smaller and bring attention to your best selling feature with a bright scarf or necktie near the face.
  • For women with large breasts, avoid square neck top, short sleeves and horizontal stripes that are evenly placed. Rather, focus on three quarter length sleeves, long sleeves that taper at the wrist, and long sleeved shirts.
  • Wear the classics such as A-line skirts, straight skirts, blazers, pin strip suits, tailor-notched collars shirts, and double pleated skirts. As a man, you will look pounds thinner with a navy pin striped suit that is closed. Avoid peter-pan or round collar shirts.
  • Avoid heavily texured fabrics such as tweeds and shiny fabrics, they only make you appear larger.
  • For women wear your tops and shirts outside the skirt or pant to camouflague the stomach.
  • For both men and women (and even if you aren’t size 14 or above) avoid front-pleated trousers if you have a tummy. Go for plain front pants instead.
  • Go for structure in your clothing selections. This incorporates straight lines that balance out the roundness and creates a proportioned appearance.
  • Make sure that jackets cover the derrier.
  • In accessories focus on straight, long shapes in earrings and necklaces. Avoid short necklaces, rather ones that emphasize length. Scarves should be long and worn as such. For men, if you have a 17 or above neck size, buy the extra long ties.

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.

Dressed to Tech

In just the past five years the world of work has changed as well as the clothing we wear for it! Of particular importance is how the tech industry changed the course of business wear as we know it. What was once considered “Business Casual” is simply business as usual. Inasmuch as we want to dress down, it’s still important to look good and communicate instantly our expertise and professionalism. Although suits are definitely not a requirement with tech firms, options might include a jacket and maybe jeans; but there is a right and a wrong way to approach these.
Here are some basic tips for communicating your expertise and position instantly to others:
• Focus on classic styles that have endured such as tailored notch collar shirts and blouses, blazers, A-line skirts, cardigans, trench coats, and shirtwaist dresses.
• Keep the look simple and clean accessorizing for impact with gold, silver, pearls or jewel tones to add sparkle and affluence to your best asset – your face.
• Incorporate fabrics that have body such as cotton/poly blends and heavier knits that are opaque.
• Create a slimmer appearance by wearing darker colors such as navy, burgundy, charcoal and black.
• If in the field, realize that you are communicating the brand image so dress professionally yet comfortably, if the environments vary widely. If jeans are permitted they should be a dark wash, fit at the natural waist, and be hemmed not dragging.
• Build your wardrobe around the neutrals such as black, taupe, navy, camel, gray and olive and add color in tops, scarves and belts.
• When meeting with a prospective client, consider a jacket with a fitted shirt and trousers. Also consider tunic tops with pants and a short jacket for interest. If you want to go sleeveless do so but wear a jacket or cardigan.
• When dining with clients consider simple pants or skirts with interesting tops and jackets. Consider a dark colored dress with a shawl around the shoulders. As well consider a fitted shirt worn out with black pants and a blazer or a mid calf skirt and an over blouse or tunic belted.
• Consider unstructured jackets such as jean jackets and cargo pants with limited detailing but avoid “hoodies,” hats and sweats. Pants and skirts need to land at the natural waist or a little below but avoid hip-hugger styles.
• To create a slim line and add height, incorporate vertical lines either decoratively in the fabric pattern or structurally as in vertical darts, princess seams, or a placket down the front. Also consider incorporating long chains or scarves around the neck, as well, as three quarter length sleeves. When wearing a jacket put the collar up.
• Avoid tight clothing rather introduce simple angular lines such as A-line skirts, tailor-notched collar shirts and blouses and tailored jackets to offset the roundness of the body and bring it into balance. Plain front pants and skirts are recommended over pleated varieties.

Bottom line – realize that your appearance counts at work no matter what you do!

Check for Quality and Save Money for Back-to-School!

As we approach Back-to-School buying season, spending money on clothing for your children should not be wasteful.  Your kids will want certain brands yet be vigilant, no matter the name on the label be sure to check for quality.  Most clothing is made in an overseas factory with very little over sight.  Fabrics are not checked for color transfer and seams are not finished.  Moreover, buttons have very little thread attaching them to the outfit and stripes do not match up at the seams.  Here are some other tips in making your dollar go further when buying your children’s back-to-school wardrobe.

  • Check for proper labeling:  In addition to the brand name, the law states that there should be a label attached to the garment that identifies the fiber content and the care of the garment.  This information will help you in picking clothing that have easy care properties.
  • Do the plaids and stripes match?  It takes more fabric to line up the stripes and plaids at the sides, back, front and shoulders.  This is your indication of a better made garment.
  • Interfacings should lie smoothly:  If the interfacing is too stiff or is pulling away from the placket of a shirt or waistband of a skirt – walk away.
  • Check for flaws and stains:  Some fabrics by their very nature have flaws and this is noted in the labeling.  However, if there are rust or any other stains – walk away – you can’t get it out and it shouldn’t be your job to try.
  • Is the top and bottom of the outfit the same color?  Fabrics absorb color differently even if its the same fabric on another bolt.  Some of the finest brands of suits have been guilty of the top and bottom being slightly different shades of the same color as a result of irregularity in color absorbtion.  When a suit or two piece outfit seem a bit different – you are probably right and need to walk away.
  • Will the seams ravel apart after the first washing?  Most seams are not finish today.   Clothing termed as fast fashion, often found at H&M and Forever 21 are that – fast and not meant to last.  Check the seams to see if they are finished at all, this will allow them to last a least a few washings.
  • Do the seams pucker:  Usually if the seams are puckering it was sewn with the tension too tight on the machine.  You cannot fix it so walk away.
  • Check buttons for secure attachment:  Since there is very little thread attaching the button to the garment make sure that additional ones are provided.
  • Do your pockets tell all? Does the fashion fabric go far enough into the pocket not to reveal the lining?  Better check and see.
  • Check the inside as well as the outside:  With the limited dollars available to purchase clothing for back to school, make every dollar count and check for quality before you buy.  You will be glad you did!