Sack The Black Slacks

Finding cute, professional clothes is not simple for women.

Men have it easy on this front. I heard a story about this one man who wore the exact same suit every day to work for his entire career, and no one said anything to him about it.

This would never happen with a woman. It’s not a button-up-and-tie-and-dress-pants deal. It’s hard to figure out what’s long enough, what goes together, what’s appropriate for the setting, etc. – nevertheless trying to find it in a comfortable option that’s cheap enough for a young professional.

This whole subject stressed me out. Every time I went to dress for a professional occasion, I found myself reaching for the same three outfits, trying to remember which one I wore last that people would certainly remember versus one that I wore two times ago that people would only vaguely remember. It was rough.

For this reason, I started searching out cute and professional outfits from friends that were both adorable and appropriate – yet didn’t look too difficult to put together.

Although I’m not sure the costs on these specific super chic outfits, please refer to my last post about Goodwill and understand that you could totally make any of these outfits with some successful thrifting.

So what do these outfits have in common?

SIZE.

One easy way to be professional is to make sure your clothes fit you properly. It’s incredibly important. If you think it is cute and you want it to fit really badly and it doesn’t, then DO NOT buy it. Clothing that is too tight or dramatically too loose is generally unflattering and gives off a vibe that you didn’t really care enough to find the right size. This is something I struggle with specifically because Goodwill doesn’t have multiple size options for the really cute stuff. There will be other perfect shirts, I promise.

COLOR.

Being cute and professional doesn’t mean you can only wear shades of white and black and beige. In fact, the bold options of color can make you look more confident and less like you’re trying to blend in with the back wall. Don’t get me wrong – some strategic black and white does wonders for your figure – but don’t rely on it completely.

STYLE.

We each have our own “style” and level of comfort with different types of clothes. When it comes to style, you want to pick out clothing that will make you feel the most comfortable. When you feel the most comfortable (about yourself, not being the material of your pants!), you’ll be more likely to put your best self forward. This leads, again, to confidence. I have had times that I’ve put on an outfit that doesn’t really fit with the look I’m going for. The whole day, I felt self-conscious about my clothes and kept tugging on them – not cues of a successful professional.

Some rules are unspoken but still slightly expected – like not wearing mini skirts to the office. Try and keep your pencil skirt length to something you could wear to church.

PANTYHOSE/LEGGINGS.

This section may cause some ripples.

In my personal opinion, pantyhose isn’t always necessary when dressing professionally. In the past, it was almost mandatory that a woman wore pantyhose with her outfit. It’s a highly debated subject among female professionals (I did the research!) and about half believe it’s an outdated practice.

According to the articles I read, if a workplace has a “business casual” dress code, pantyhose is not necessary. However, if you are in a “business formal” environment, pantyhose are generally expected. Or, you could become the Owner/President/CEO of the company and make your own dress code. That’s my plan.

Unfortunately, in terms of dressing professionally, leggings are not pants. Now – I totally vouch for leggings as pants with casual dress, so no need to get defensive. However, for argument’s sake, leggings aren’t exactly clothing that scream: “I put a lot of thought into what I’m wearing today.”

HAIR.

This doesn’t technically fall into the outfit category, but I heard a tip once that I think could be important to share – because college doesn’t really cover the minute details of dressing professionally. Tip: it is never professional to show up to work with wet hair. This is a stinky rule, especially for those of us who like to sleep longer. Maybe shower an hour earlier than you’d usually get up and then fall back asleep on your wet hair. Or blow-dry it. Or shake your head in front of a fan for a few minutes.

I hope that some of these tips/outfits have inspired you to branch out further than black slacks. Thank you to all my friends/models who let me photograph their adorable style!

Advertisements

Abbi’s Pro Guide to Goodwill Shopping

I love Goodwill.

A lot of people ask me how I find the dedication to Goodwill as hard as I do, and usually they’re surprised that most of my wardrobe comes from a thrift store.

I buy shirts, pants, jeans, dresses, shoes, books and dishes at Goodwill. Whenever I talk to others about Goodwill, I’m always asked what my secret is to finding the clothes that I do. So, I would like to impart my Goodwill strategy with you.

TIP ONE.

First of all, find a Goodwill near you. This is key. If you’re going to brave it on the first Saturday of the month (1/2 off everything in the store!), make sure you dress in comfy, breathable clothes. You will be sweating by the end. Your pores will be filled with Goodwill. Your lungs will ache. I experienced this yesterday, and came away with a swelled throat. Plan accordingly.

TIP TWO.

Before you enter the Goodwill, mentally prepare yourself. You need a strategy. This may sound strange, but I visit the store in exactly the same order every time. Pants, sleeveless, short sleeved, long sleeved women, dresses, long sleeved men, shoes, home goods, books. Every time.

Although this can be adjusted if you specifically need something (which I generally don’t), make sure you hit up the sections in order of importance to you. If you don’t, someone will get the thing you wanted by the time you get there. If you’re all about the reward system (i.e., if you look through the pants first and then reward yourself with the dresses), you will need to reassign your priorities.

I’ve used the reward system. Depending on how busy the store is, someone will probably pick out the one Ann Taylor Loft tags-on lace shorts that should’ve belonged to you. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing another person walk by your aisle holding the perfect item on a hanger. And, it’s probably half off for that color sales tag, too.

TIP THREE.

No one is your friend. That woman you’re eyeing over the aisle is definitely going to find the one thing you can’t leave the store without so you need to be one step ahead of her. It’s every woman for herself. If you smell weakness, prey upon it. If she picks up a shirt you love and then thinks about it and puts it back… You grab that shirt. You can look at it later. Display dominance. Old ladies have a fiery side when it comes to deals. This is not a joke.

TIP FOUR.

If you only partially like it in the store, you sure as heck aren’t going to like it in real life. When you go to new clothing stores, the clothes always look better on you (like maybe +5) than they do in real life. At Goodwill, you’re looking at maybe a +1. Keep that in mind. All of the cute clothes are relatively cute – only cute after you’ve gone through eight racks of itchy sweaters that were last worn in the eighties. Don’t let the Goodwill blinders suck you in – stay strong in your style.

TIP FIVE.

When you approach the rack, you have to commit. Use those toned triceps to pull back the clothes enough that you can see the whole shirt without obstruction. No room? I physically pick up a handful of shirts and move them to another bar so I have room to look. I have pulled muscles this way. It’s part of the turf.

Generally, you can see the fabric of the material that you want to buy. However, there are hidden shirts that need love, too. I flip through every shirt in my size bracket to avoid this.

TIP SIX.

Speaking of size brackets, here’s a pro tip: start with the size you think you are, and then go through the mixed color shirts below and above that size. If they mislabeled the sizes, they’ll probably be in those multicolor sections. If you’ve got more time, I’d also suggest going through the additional colors of the sizes above and below. Yesterday, I found an adorable shirt in the XS section that was actually a large. Don’t give up hope; people make mistakes.

TIP SEVEN.

The Goodwill smell will always be there, and you’ll always feel like having an allergy attack after visiting for over thirty minutes. This is something you need to make peace with.

TIP EIGHT.

Give yourself plenty of time. No one really goes with me to Goodwill, based purely on the fact that I take about two hours and try on a significant portion of the store. I’m slightly jealous of whoever gets my fitting room after me, because I’ve taken the time to comb through all the good stuff.

TIP NINE.

All jokes aside, Goodwill shopping just takes a little bit of dedication. If you’re willing to get your hands dirty – and they may literally get dirty – you can find some great stuff. You can’t lightly brush through the shirts, you need to grasp them firmly. Without this quality, you will fail at Goodwill shopping. My sister hates Goodwill because she doesn’t want to touch clothes that others have warn. This is a surefire way to not find anything worth buying.

TIP TEN.

The shortest line is not always the fastest line. Case in point – yesterday I waited in the “shortest” line for one full hour while people in the longer line cycled through twice as quickly. It was painful to watch. If you’re really concerned about it, watch how fast the sales associate wraps the home goods in paper. This is directly connected to the line’s length.

I hope my tips help you along your Goodwill journey. Happy thrifting!