Monday, May 23, 2011

Proper Professional: The New Professional

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! To catch up on previous interviews, click here

Today we're featuring Angeline from The New Professional!
Tell us a little about yourself and your blog.
I'm 27, married, and live in the Sacramento, Calif., area. I started my blog in March 2010 when I signed up for the Great American Apparel Diet (no clothes shopping for one year) to chronicle my journey of trying to stay creative and fun with my workwear while saving money and offering whatever advice I could to young professionals (office etiquette, career advice, etc.). Looking good at work is one thing and doing good work is another, but I think the two topics go hand in hand.

Now that my diet is over, I'm back to shopping, but have maintained my blog more as a personal style + office topics blog.

How did you come up with your blog name?
Although I knew from the get-go that my blog would have a fashion and outfit bent, I also knew that it wasn't going to be my only focus. So I picked a name that was open enough to accommodate my planned topics, and as a nice side effect, it also describes myself and my readers.
Do you work from home or outside the home, and what do you do?
I am a communications manager and magazine editor for a statewide nonprofit.
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?
According to our personnel policy manual, our dress code is business casual, although it really is based on what events or meetings may be going on (nice denim is allowed when we don't have anything big going on). Generally the expectation is neat, clean, work-appropriate (not revealing, etc.) clothing...the only things that are really frowned upon are shorts and flip flops. My coworkers and I definitely each gravitate toward our own styles, but we all still fit into the dress code.
Do you choose your outfits in advance or in the morning, and how long does it take you to get ready in the mornings?
If only! Sometimes (but only sometimes) I will think about tomorrow's outfit before I go to bed, but I have no formal planning process. This usually results in a lot of discarded clothes on the bed that I have to put away when I get home. From getting out of bed to getting out the door (including my morning shower) is about 45 minutes.
If you were commissioned to rewrite the dress code, what would you change (if anything)?
This may seem weird, but I would make our dress code a little more strict. There are just some things that shouldn't be worn in an office, like leggings as pants (even on Casual Friday), short skirts, low-cut tops, etc. Or maybe I just wish our office would enforce something (anything), because they don't.
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 don't think clothing costs should be the company's responsibility--it is ultimately the employee who has chosen the type of position they want to be in and the company they want to work for (although I know choice is rather limited these days). The employee should be aware of the type of workplace they are hoping to work in and the expectations involved.

Although women tend to have more clothes and often spend more money on clothes than men overall, I believe that it is easier to find good sales and a wide selection of womens clothes, while most mens clothes are more expensive to begin with, don't go on sale as much, and aren't as varied. No one is requiring women buy clothing at the volume that many do, and the cost per piece can be (and often is) significantly lower than that for men.
What is your definition of professional attire and would this vary if the business is a small business compared to a larger corporation?
To me, professional attire is appropriate for the type of work and work environment you're in, and varies greatly from workplace to workplace. If you're in food service, your professional attire is often dictated by your employer, and could include anything from a tank and shorts to full shirt and tie. If you're a trial attorney, your professional attire is likely a suit. If we're comparing large and small companies within the same business, I would expect the professional attire to be the same, but not across segments.
What are some pieces that every woman should have available in their professional arsenal?
A good pair of trousers, a versatile blazer, a fabulous work dress that can be dressed up or down, and comfortable closed-toe pumps. I would add a pencil skirt to that list, but I understand that many women don't feel comfortable in that shape and it may not be flattering to every body type, but if you are and if it is, a pencil skirt is a must, too.
What pieces are never professionally appropriate regardless of the situation?
Shorts. Strappy tops. Short skirts or dresses (more than 4-5 inches above the knee, though it depends on your proportions). Tight clothing. Sweats. Leggings or jeggings. Ripped or worn clothing. Flip flops. Cleavage in any piece of clothing.
Describe an outfit you'd wear in each of the following settings: 
1. A typical day at work. 
I'm usually a pants gal, but lately I've been drawn toward skirts, so for the summer, it's a pencil skirt, a short sleeve or cap sleeve top, and heels. 

2. A formal business meeting.  
A black suit, colorful top, colorful shoes, and an interesting necklace. 

3. An informal meeting with co-workers.  
Trouser jeans, colorful top, cardigan, peep-toe heels. 

4. A business dinner with co-workers and superiors. 
A knee-length dress, either with sleeves or sleeveless but not strappy, statement necklace, and heels.

Are there any questions you wish I'd asked or is there anything else you'd like to mention regarding this topic?
While I do encourage personal expression in the workplace, I do think that every employee should understand that work is work, and it's not always about personal expression. What you wear may affect your mood and attitude (which you are ultimately in control of), but it should not affect your quality of work. Keep in mind a dress code is not meant to try to restrict your individuality, but is put in place to create a professional and comfortable work environment for everyone. You may not think your dress is affecting others, but it does contribute to the overall environment.

If you're not already reading The New Professional, go check her out now!

If you'd like to be featured (or want to recommend someone else), please contact me at aworkingmomscloset at 

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend -  now go have a great Monday!!!


  1. Congrats for going a year with out shopping.

  2. She has a great fashion sense! It's also refreshing to see a young person who knows how to dress professionally. I'd like to know where she does a lot of her shopping.

  3. I love the last comment about what you wear affecting others. My boss skateboards to work, and often forgets to change out of his runners into his dress shoes as soon as he gets in. It's so much harder to treat him with the respect he deserves in his position when there is bright orange sticking out the bottom of his pants!

  4. Great style!!! How did you go a whole year without shopping!

  5. I totally agree that what a person is wearing does affect the overall environment. It doesn't define it, but it makes a difference walking into a board meeting full of people in suits compared to people in jeans and t shirts.

  6. Loving this post....Her answers are SPOT ON...totally agree with ALL of her "non appropriate" work mentions..infact I wish some of them were NEVER appropriate. lol.

  7. Love this! I love the old addage, "dress for the job you want, not the job you have."


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