Monday, August 15, 2011

Proper Professional: Mix and Match Fashion

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 meeting Tara from Mix and Match Fashion. Tara has such a fantastic eye for incorporating bright colors into professional ensembles. She is one of my absolute favorite reads and I know you'll find a ton of inspiration in her, too!

Tell us a little about yourself and your blog.
I'm Tara, a 30-year-old who looks like she's 20 from good old New Jersey. (no fist pumping here...ha) I live with my amazing husband and two miniature Australian shepherds, who love to be photographed and make appearances on my blog. I started Mix and Match Fashion last September after about a year of reading fashion blogs, in hopes that I had something positive to contribute to the blogging community. I wanted to show people that most teachers are not frumpy, which is a common stereotype. I also wanted working women to see that your work wardrobe doesn't have to be boring.
How did you come up with your blog name?
Realistically, most women cannot afford to buy new clothes all of the time. However, many blogs out there make it seem that way, and show people never wearing the same items twice! I like to take the pieces I have in my closet and mix and match them to make new outfits, while mixing in some select new pieces (when LOFT and Ann Taylor have big My main thing is incorporating color and pattern into my outfits....which is where "mixing in splashes of color" comes in. It's not the most creative name in the world, but I think it represents what I do on my blog.
Do you work from home or outside the home, and what do you do?
I teach Middle School Special Education and Social Studies. This will be my ninth year teaching, and I absolutely love it! It is a lot of hard work, but totally worth it. I am also an Independent Stylist for Stella and Dot jewelry, so this is where I get my fashion fix.
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?
I'm pretty sure that our dress codes reads something like "Teachers will dress in a professional manner at all times."  This leaves a lot open to interpretation, and people definitely interpret it in their own ways.  The one thing our principal is adamant about is not wearing jeans and rubber flip flops.  (Although we are allowed to wear jeans on Fridays)  This means on a daily basis I see everything from skirts to fleece sweat suits....and the month of December gets very interesting with the approaching Christmas season.  Most people do dress appropriately, but every office has their one or two people who push the limits, right?
Do you choose your outfits in advance or in the morning, and how long does it take you to get ready in the mornings?
Honestly, this depends on my mood.  Every once in a great while if I have time, I will spend an hour or so on a Sunday trying on outfits and planning them out for the week.  Other times, I might have an outfit in my head the night before and hope it looks good the next day.  On some days, it is a free-for-all in my closet that morning.  I am going to try and be better this year about planning out my outfits ahead of time, because I like to get to work pretty early and not be stressed out when I get there.  I shower at night, so generally it takes me about an hour or so to get ready in the morning.  
If you were commissioned to rewrite the dress code, what would you change (if anything)?
I would probably make it a lot more specific, especially pointing out things that are not appropriate. 
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 that your work wardrobe gets ridiculously expensive only if you allow it to. There are many stores out there at different price points for different budgets. I think the most important thing you can do is set a realistic budget and stick to it. You also need to make the most of items that are already in your closet. I don't think it is a company's responsibility to worry about the costs of your wardrobe.
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 the most important thing is looking neat, clean, confident and put together. What is professional attire varies so much between different lines of work. I don't think it has to do with the size of a business, more with the type of business. 
What are some pieces that every woman should have available in their professional arsenal?
1) A few pairs of well-fitting trousers in neutral colors, such as black, brown, and gray
2) A few skirts in neutral colors, as well as at least one skirt in a fun color, such as red, pink, or blue
3)  Black and brown heels  Also, one pair of heels in a fun color (I vote red, pink, or yellow)  A fun pair of shoes can make an outfit look so much more amazing.
4) A well-fitting blazer
5) Several cardigans in a variety of colors
6) Several tops with interesting, work appropriate patterns and details
7) A well-fitting dress
8) Some jewelry pieces that you love

Having the above items will allow you to make the most of your wardrobe, and mix and match to create numerous looks without a massive amount of clothing.

What pieces are never professionally appropriate regardless of the situation?
Wrinkled clothing, clothes that don't fit, mini skirts, anything low cut, flip flops, sweatpants
Describe an outfit you'd wear in each of the following settings: 
1. A typical day at work. 
My typical work uniform is a pencil skirt, fun top, cardigan, and heels.
2. A formal business meeting.  
If I have a meeting with parents or the principal, I am more likely to wear a dress.
3. An informal meeting with co-workers.  
I would probably still be wearing some sort of skirt or possibly trousers, though I don't wear pants to work super often.
4. A business dinner with co-workers and superiors.
Depending on where we were going, I might wear a skirt or a nice fitting pair of boot cut dark wash jeans. 
Isn't Tara fantastic? Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these, Tara! You're awesome. :) 
And today, my friends, I am taking the day off from work because MY BABY IS STARTING PRE-SCHOOL!!! Man, I feel old.

Have a happy Monday, everyone!


  1. Tara has great fashion sense! She is definitely not a frumpy teacher at all!

    And isn't is exciting - your baby starts pre-school!!! Have fun!


  2. Thanks for featuring me Melissa! I appreciate it :)

  3. I always enjoy reading Tara's post! She incorporates a lot of colours and definitely busted the stereotype that teachers dressed in a frumpy way.

  4. Love Tara and great interview, I enjoyed learning more about her philosophy to dressing. Awww...I hope your daughter has a great time!

  5. I have read her before. I recognized one of her outfits as one that I ABSOLUTELY loved. Heading on over there now to say hello!!

  6. Great concept to feature professional women in various outfits!

    My So-Called Corporate Life

  7. She has some great look! I need to remember to add her!!

  8. Tara's definitely a mixonista!


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