Monday, April 18, 2011

Proper Professional: Destrahan's Daughter

The Proper Professional feature was birthed out my desire to spread the blogging love while also gaining some insight into professional and business attire in various situations. My goal is to feature bloggers from all different professions, whether stay-at-home moms, mega-corporation executive assistants, work-from-home employees, small office staff, business owners or more, to view different perspectives and opinions on what is appropriate, acceptable, and professional. Hopefully you'll be inspired and introduced to some great new blogs, too!

Today's feature is Sarah of Destrahan's Daughter

Tell us a little about yourself and your blog. 
I have really enjoyed expressing myself through my clothing ever since I figured out what I really liked in high school.  It was more grunge meets goth back then, probably because I spent way too many years in school uniforms before that.  Really great style was something I did when I had time or somewhere specific to be in college and then entering the work force.  But, after finding style and fashion blogs online, I decided I wanted to challenge myself to look good and then feel good on a more regular basis.  I usually take pictures of myself to document what works and what doesn't at least 4 to 6 times a week.  I have been able to meet some great like-minded people, document a 30 pound weight loss and feel more comfortable and professional in my job.  I also think that I am more willing to take risks now and the flops and rewards that come with them.

How did you come up with your blog name?
I used to be a tour guide at Destrehan Plantation and it's the city where I went to high school and where my parents still live. I thought the town name combined well with Daughter and here we are.
Do you work from home or outside the home, and what do you do?
I work as a educational media producer at a university in the South. I create videos that include company profiles, business documentaries, and lecture series. I also maintain and train professors how to use our web based learning system and help out to maintain the media in our classrooms. 
Do you have a dress code by which you need to abide (either corporate or self-imposed)? If so, what is it and how do your co-workers (if applicable) approach the dress code?
If the university has a dress code, I wouldn't begin to know what it is.  When I first started, I asked my co-workers what they usually wore, but I mostly work with men.  They were in jeans and polos, which just isn't my style.  I also think it's difficult to transition jeans and polos on women into looking as professional and put together as on men.  I sort of wore what I thought was business casual appropriate when I first started.  I generally wore jeans with blouses or sweaters and then dress pants and the occasional dress or skirt.  I came from a shorts and t-shirts environment before that so I had a hard time adjusting.  Finally, after being mistaken for a student several times by faculty and staff and seeing some women wearing suits, I decided to up my game.  Now, I only wear jeans on Mondays (when I might get dirty from equipment) and Fridays, which is pretty common amongst my co-workers.  The rest of the week, I try to wear things that are comfortable, that I can move equipment and walk long distances in, and that project a sense of authority.  I try to stick with knee length skirts, no shorts, dress slacks, and no t-shirts if possible.  I do wear sleeveless and some lower cut shirts but nothing you could ever see down.  It's hot in the South so too much fabric makes me gross. {Amen to that! I feel your pain!}

Do you choose your outfits in advance or in the morning, and how long does it take you to get ready in the mornings?
I don't usually choose my outfits in advance although I get ready faster when I do. Most mornings a shower, dressing, and running out the door take me about 30 to 45 minutes.
If you were commissioned to rewrite the dress code, what would you change (if anything)?
I might try to create a specific idea of what is appropriate when at university events. We have an annual crawfish boil, for example, where it's common for staff to wear really casual clothing. But, when we work for events or have lecture series, some people wear jeans and others wear suits. I would appreciate some guidelines but I don't want to be limited to no open toe shoes or sleeveless shirts (things like that). {Heh. Welcome to my world.}
Do you think companies should take into account the potential cost for certain dress codes to be achieved and if so, should they be concerned about the cost being equal for both men and women?
I think it's extremely important because if someone is expected to wear a suit they shouldn't be making minimum wage. I also think it's unfair to include clauses about women having to wear stockings or makeup because they add cost and no such requests would ever be made of men. {Ooooh, I should totally bring that up! Good point!}
What is your definition of professional attire and would this vary if the business is a small business compared to a larger corporation?
I define professional attire as no t-shirts, no shorts, no tank tops, etc.  I would say nothing you would wear to the beach or for an extremely casual gathering.  I think starting with khaki pants and a blouse is the most casual I would qualify as business attire. They can't be cargo pants either!  I don't really differentiate between small business and large corporations; more I demarcate between types of business.  A financial company with under 20 employees might still require suits where a large 200+ person company that does something with design or technology might be fine with people wearing slacks and tanks to work.  I think it is more about the situation and how much your appearance will affect the company's image.

What are some pieces that every woman should have available in their professional arsenal?
I think every woman needs a great pair of black pants, a professional knee length skirt, a white button up, a great blazer, a little black or grey dress, and a comfortable pair of dress shoes that goes with all of them. These pieces are easy to remix with each other and other items that are more personal to the wearer. I think the shoes are the key here because comfort with different types of looks is so paramount. I personally would recommend a kitten heel in a neutral color.
What pieces are never professionally appropriate regardless of the situation?
I don't think that clothing that is stained, ripped, or beach worthy are office appropriate. I have worked places where shorts and flip flops were fine but I still needed to be well kempt. Bathing suits and sarongs just don't ever belong in the office unless you are shooting a beach catalog as a model. I also object to club wear. If you would wear your entire outfit to a club without modification, you probably are doing something wrong for the office.
Describe an outfit you'd wear in each of the following settings: 1. A typical day at work. 2. A formal business meeting. 3. An informal meeting with co-workers. 4. A business dinner with co-workers and superiors.
1. A knee length skirt with a sleeveless blouse and a button up sweater with casual sandals.
2. A blazer, a patterned blouse and skirt or a dress with heels. 
3. Same as 1 or jeans with a nice blouse and sweater or blazer.
4. A dress with a sweater or blazer and heels. 
I am pretty stock when it comes to the items I rely on heavily within my wardrobe. I like to mix unique tops and/or sweaters with standard pencil skirts and blazers. I think that makes me feel professional but like myself.
Are there any questions you wish I'd asked or is there anything else you'd like to mention regarding this topic?
I think the biggest thing to take into consideration when getting dressed for work is comfort and function. You need to be able to perform the tasks of your job but you also need to feel professional and confident but like yourself.
Big thanks to Sarah for participating in this week's feature! If you haven't been to her blog yet, go check out Destrahan's Daughter!


  1. I total agree with you on what everyone woman should one. I would just add 1 good vest in there too.

  2. Educational media producer? That sounds like the world's most fabulous job! I can't wait to check out more of her blog to see how someone in an creative position would dress for an academic industry!
    The pantyhose comment got me thinking. Yes, it is a weird and odd and probably antiquated requirement. However skirts do pose an interesting challenge for gender-equal workplace requirements. Could requiring pantyhose perhaps be a way to "cover the leg" since men are often required to have theirs covered at all times?

  3. I love this feature - what a great idea! Also, I'm nosy so I like to know about people's dress codes. Hehehe. I loved Sarah's answers, even though button up shirts and I don't really get along, I still own them and wear them with mixed results.

  4. I'm so curious about what other people wear their jobs! I'm not seen by the general public so I dress a little crazier within the dress code than I would if I interacted with them face to face. Of course, when we are going to be seen by the public we have to wear a uniform.


  5. Great feature! I love Sarah's blog. She's definitely got great style. It was really cool to learn about her work functions affect what she chooses to wear, and how she figured out her own dress code.

  6. This is awesome! I know its only the second week, but I love this feature. I hate that I missed this week's at first but I was painting. And working. AT WORK!!! The nerve. teeheehee I wish I could start a little fashion blog. I just don't think I could or would remember to post often enough to make it worth it. Not to mention I don't know who would take my photos. The only photos I ever take are in the bathroom or in the small one's bedroom. :) But I love taking photos of me and what I wear!!


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