Monday, June 13, 2011

Proper Professional: Hope and the Dress Code

The Proper Professional feature was birthed out of 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 talking with Hope of Hope and the Dress Code!

Tell us a little about yourself and your blog.
I'm a happily married late 20-something with two cat-babies (annoying, right?). {Editor's note: Totally not annoying. I love cats!}  I love to read like it's my job and take mediocre photographs. My husband and I are moving into our first single family home in July so home improvement will soon be a hobby of mine. My blog basically documents what I wear (mostly to work) with an ongoing dialogue about my everyday life.
How did you come up with your blog name?
My major challenge in past years has been dressing within my school's dress code without becoming boring or wearing the same thing everyday. I knew that's what I wanted a focus of my blog to be. The name just sort of stuck in my head, though I think it came subconsciously from the movie "Lars and the Real Girl" (never saw it, not even sure what it's about. It's just a catchy title).
Do you work from home or outside the home, and what do you do?
I work in a public high school as a school counselor (PC way to say "guidance counselor").
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?
Yes I most definitely do. It’s more than business casual but less than business formal. The counselors at my school are typically more dressed up than the majority of the teachers because we’re located near the administrators and also attend many, many meetings. I think some of us try to make it fun though. “Dress code” does not mean lack of color, accessories, or pretty shoes! {Editor's note: In my case, "Dress code" does mean lack of accessories! But I make up for it in color and pretty shoes. :)}
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 used to pick out outfits in the evening, but as time went on I just started putting together outfits in the morning. I get ready very slowly: I eat a leisurely breakfast, watch some TV, take pictures, etc. I give myself about an hour and a half before I have to leave in the morning.
If you were commissioned to rewrite the dress code, what would you change (if anything)?
I would really like to wear “formal” denim items, like a dark denim pencil skirt. Other than that, I’m pretty content within the dress code. I think it demonstrates professionalism to the students and the community.
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?
Yes to an extent. For example, our administrators (men and women) wear suits everyday but they do not REQUIRE this for all staff. I think this is mainly because of the feasibility; we need mobility in the classroom and need to watch cost. We make half to one sixth what they make!     
What is your definition of professional attire and would this vary if the business is a small business compared to a larger corporation?
When I think of professional attire, I think of classic, well-tailored pieces. I think of pieces that command a sense of respect. What’s important to me is incorporating a sense of fun and personality. I think this can be relative to the formality of the job though. For example, I can wear some pretty fun pieces if I tone them down with a pencil skirt, but a lawyer might have to keep the “fun” part small and understated. I guess the same could be said for small vs. large companies, but it’s easier for me to conceptualize with different professions.
What are some pieces that every woman should have available in their professional arsenal?
Pencil skirts, a pair of well-tailored dress pants, some killer heels (I recommend black patent), a dress you can wear a couple of ways, cardigans, and a go-to outfit that boosts your confidence!
What pieces are never professionally appropriate regardless of the situation?
Things that are “provocative” really negatively stand out too me: way too short, too tight, too low cut. Hmmm, what else? Sneakers and flip flops. Leggings and sweatpants. Anything torn.
Describe an outfit you'd wear in each of the following settings: 
1. A typical day at work.
My typical day at work can vary greatly, but usually I wear a skirt and cardigan combo.
2. A formal business meeting. 
In theory, I thought would wear some sort of suit or at least a suit jacket at a formal business meeting, even at my school district. But as I was looking through my pictures from the last year, I realized I never wore a suit or a jacket. So I think the closest thing I'd wear would be this collared wrap top and brocade pencil skirt.
3. An informal meeting with co-workers.
I attend informal meetings with coworkers almost everyday. If I know I'm meeting with superiors, I usually try to pick something a little more conservative. If it's with coworkers, I just watch my hemlines and fit.
4. A business dinner with co-workers and superiors. 
I would wear a dress, maybe black if that kind of formality is necessary but I wouldn't mind throwing on a colorful dress either!
Thanks Hope for taking the time to give us your thoughts and your photos! Can't wait to host Fabulous In February with you again next year. :)  

If you haven't visited Hope's blog yet, you really should. She is a WEALTH of inspiration and all out gorgeousness!

If you'd like to be featured (or want to recommend someone else), please contact me at aworkingmomscloset at! Or just send me an email to say hi. That makes me happy too. :)


  1. I love how Hope threw in those red shoes in the last picture! I'm so glad you're doing this series, Melissa. I work in a very casual office and it's caused me to really start dressing down. Seeing these lovely ladies dressing up is inspiring!

  2. Thanks for another great post on Proper Professional. It's fun to see how different ladies dress for their work environment.

    My work is super casual, but I dress up just about everyday. It makes me feel good and look professional if I do need to see a client or customer.

  3. I love a great trench coat dress and she is wearing it in the first picture! Too cute!


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  5. These are all very nice looks and great for the office and beyond the standard blouse and pants! I am definitely following :)

  6. Love this interview...
    as someone who works for themselves, I don't have to adhere to a particular dress code...BUT as a stylist it is important for me to be educated, so that I can outfit my clients appropriately for their work attire restrictions etc-
    Love her classic style but the mix of fun and exciting prints and colored shoes!
    Will def head over to her blog!! Thanks for sharing.

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  8. Oh my gosh I LOVE THIS...I am always talking about how I am always pushing the line on dress code! Working in a professional setting and being creative is a fine balance...loved reading this! I am sure I break many rules daily..I am a broker and I am always in front of old men in suits :O) haha


  9. Great advice! I love hearing about where people work and how they make style work for them!

  10. thanks for the feature on Hope, she is one of my favorites. It was great to learn more about her.

  11. This is such a fun feature, Melissa. I love reading about other's dress codes and seeing them work their style within them.


  12. Now I want to try one of my black shirt dresses with a brown belt. Cute!

  13. Really enjoyed your thoughts on dressing for work.

  14. Yea for Hope! I love how she puts her own spin on her outfits, and she can rock a cardi and a pencil skirt like nobody's business!

  15. Now I want a shirt dress. I tried one on this weekend. It was GORGEOUS!! And this amazing bright melon color - but alas - the GIRLZ are too big to fit in comfortably. I had to say NAY to it.

  16. Love her looks!

    Cat babies are the BEST! So cuddly all the time. :)

  17. Love these segments from you girl! They are so practical and fun too!

  18. Hope is one stylish guidance counselor...her blog is one of my faves!

  19. I love ready "Hope and the Dress Code". I keep up with her blog as well as I keep up with yours! SO inspiring and fun - a visual dessert! :) I work in a corporate environment that is not your regular corporation (Think of a computer corp named after a fruit). I dress in what I would consider business casual and I am STILL over-dressed. People wear jeans and t-shirts with tennies - even execs (just like our CEO). So, I am overdressed and my goal is to always be the best dressed person in the room - they are the ones that give off the perception of authority. I feel good dressed up - that is 50% of looking great! IMO. Cheers!xoxo

  20. Great to discover your blog! Love this series... always interesting to hear other gals rationale behind their looks! I just started posting my outfits daily so definitely been taking another look at my wardrobe and my 'style.' Thanks again for sharing!

  21. i'm mildly obsessed with hearing about other peoples' dress codes at work. great post!

  22. Great interview

  23. I love dropping in on Hope's blog. She reminds me a lot of you, Melissa. I love that brocade outfit. It's fantastic. Dressy, but still fun and showing Hope's personality.

  24. I love Hope's blog. She always iss orginal and inspiring.

  25. I love Hope's Blog. She is orginal and inspiring.

  26. I am such a fan of Hope's style....she does such a great job keeping it classy, but fresh :)

  27. Great interview! Love the looks you put together!

  28. I love these outfits. Especially the yellow cardigan and floral skirt

  29. I'm SO glad you all seem to be enjoying the Proper Professional feature so much! It really has been a ton of fun for me too, and so inspiring.

    Hope is fabulous, I knew you all would love her! :)

  30. Yea! Thanks for the feature Melissa and everyone for the nice comments! I loved giving my two-cents on professional style.

  31. I love Hope's blog! She has great style. Great feature!


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