Monday, July 11, 2011

Proper Professional: Keep Warm

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 hearing from Danielle, who blogs at Keep Warm.  Danielle is one of those people who is so very encouraging and seems like the kind of friend I'd love to go grab a beer with after work. While I love blogging for introducing me to amazing people like her, it makes me sad to know that we live worlds apart!

Tell us a little about yourself and your blog.
I'm Danielle and I hang out over at Keep Warm. I like things like dancing in the kitchen and cuddles. I think that there is a way to grow into adulthood without falling into the 'should' trap. Different people have different desires and dreams and they should be celebrated rather than be squished into the status quo. Your dreams are yours alone. Go make them happen.

How did you come up with your blog name?
Keep warm is how I often sign my emails and letters. I live in the middle of the Canadian prairies where it is brutally cold in the winter. And boiling in the summer. I think it's a lovely sentiment because it's also about keeping your spirit warm, in whichever way that suits you best.

Do you work from home or outside the home, and what do you do? 
Good question! I've worked at an agency for Newcomers to Canada for nearly 3 years. It's really interesting because I get to talk to people from all over the world on a daily basis. I love travelling and this way I'm able to learn things even if I'm not going anywhere right now. 

At the moment I'm what's called an Information Advisor. Basically I help Newcomers register their children for school and organize their English class entry tests, as well as help them find any bit of information or solve any problem. Every day has different questions. 

In the past I've also been coordinating partnerships between our centre and smaller towns in the surrounding area, and I was an employment counsellor for over a year too in this agency.

Before that I worked at a staffing agency but was so unhappy that I quit after 6 months to go to Spain and England!

Do you have a dress code by which you need to abide? If so, what is it and how do your co-workers (if applicable) approach the dress code?
We don't really have a dress code. We don't want to dress too professionally/formally because I think that it's intimidating for those people who have just come from a refugee camp. We want to be as approachable, welcoming and tolerant as possible and reflect that in the way we dress. We are able to wear pretty much anything and everything as long as we're decent.

I remember when I first started wearing my crazy coloured tights I was expecting a manager to say something but everyone was positive. When I put a pink streak in my hair one of the more strict managers looked at me sideways but my manager said that it was awesome. Clients really like it too. Especially the children. I definitely dress up more than 98% of my coworkers.

My philosophy on dress codes is that I'm going to push it as much as I can until someone says something to me. At the staffing agency it was a strict business dress code. I covered up my wrist tattoo until I became disenchanted and then displayed it as a tiny, barely noticeable mini-rebellion.

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 generally try to think of the basics the night before. I don't lay them out or try them on which definitely leads to some scrambling in the morning. I'm certainly not a morning person and have been known to put things on inside out and backwards. It takes the pressure off that I can rock up to work in nearly anything but I like to look like I put in slightly more effort. I'm up and out the door within an hour. I want every second of sweet sleep that I can get! 

If you were commissioned to rewrite the dress code, what would you change (if anything)?
I think that I would only want people to wear things that will make them happy and feel the most like themselves. When you are comfortable and know that you look good, I feel the time that you spend with the clients will be that much more meaningful. You can spend your energy on them rather than wondering if you look ok.

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?
When I had to wear a professional dress or a suit everyday I think it would have been nice to be compensated for that. Suits can be expensive. It seems that women have to have more variety in their wardrobe. Men can pop on the same suit with a different top and I'm sure I wouldn't notice (and what is the deal that even scruffy men can put on a suit and they are extra attractive?).

What is your definition of professional attire and would this vary if the business is a small business compared to a larger corporation?
I think professional attire depends entirely on what kind of business it is.
Image is everything in a company and they have to represent what they do through the people that do it. I also think that if you have mature adults who are competent at their jobs, they are also probably capable of putting together an outfit that is modest, professional, and still represents a bit of personality. Even if there is no dress code I'm not going to show up for work wearing a bikini and fuzzy mules. Probably.

I think the key thing to remember is that when you are at work you are you but you are also an ambassador for the company that you work for. If what you're wearing represents the values of the business you're in, then you are professional.

What are some pieces that every woman should have available in their professional arsenal?
Black dress that makes her want to twirl with delight! Pencil skirt that makes her feel powerful! Killer shoes that makes them strut with confidence in herself and her abilities in the work place!

What pieces are never professionally appropriate regardless of the situation?
Tube tops, lucite platform shoes and mid-rift baring shirts (unless you are an exotic dancer and then you're probably ok). Last week I would have said a sparkly mini-dress but I pulled that one off at work recently...

Describe an outfit you'd wear in each of the following settings: 
1. A typical day at work.
I would wear a simple dress. In the winter I like to style it up with fun tights and shoes.
2. A formal business meeting. 
I would wear a pencil skirt and a blazer. But I would try to keep it me like in this photo where I've switched out the buttons and embroidered the skirt.

3. An informal meeting with co-workers. 
I might wear a skirt and top or jeans. Something that shows that we're all equals and our work is equally valued.

4. A business dinner with co-workers and superiors.
I've never been on one of these. I expect I'd go with a slightly fancier dress.

Are there any questions you wish I'd asked or is there anything else you'd like to mention regarding this topic?
Hmm I think you covered it Miss Melissa. Thanks so very much for having me!
Isn't Danielle adorable? She's incredibly sweet and so very positive, too. If you're not following her yet, get on that! :)

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

Have a happy Monday, friends!


  1. hi!

    i really like your blog, it's too cute! i also liked reading this interview and getting to know more about this person! it's always ispirational to learn more from other people!

    jos xx

  2. Another great Proper Professional. I love that Danielle can be free with her dress code at work. And the pink streak of hair is awesome! I wish I could pull that off (it's my inner rocker chic wanting to come out) :)

  3. Thanks so much Miss Melissa! What an honour it is to be able to be part of your blog and this feature. I'm so curious that I love learning about what people do!!

  4. I love her fun style in clothes.

  5. She is so cute! I love her style and that red dress is amazing!

    Ask the Duplex

  6. Thank you for sharing and I love those royal blue tights! What a fun accent!!

  7. I have been really enjoying reading your interviews, such amazing and inspirational people. I love dancing in the kitchen too!

  8. Really cute idea and great way to get to know and meet new people. Her style is so fun!

    Come visit at :)

  9. I like mixing up my work outfits with fun tights and shoes too, but I am lucky enough to have a lenient dress code at my office.

  10. Thank you for featuring her - I love her writing and her beautiful colorful outfits!

  11. What a cool lady. I like that she likes the push the envelope with her outfits.

  12. She seems like so much fun and what a good person too! I love the way she wears funky pops of color here and there with black!

  13. This was a great read - I love her conversational writing tone. She seems like a great lady; good thing you featured her!


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