Monday, August 8, 2011

Proper Professional: Pretty Inside & Out

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.

I am so very excited to introduce you to today's feature! I've been "online" friends with Charisse for several years. She's seen me at my heaviest and followed my other blog where I chronicled my weight loss journey. She saw me through my divorce and has been a very strong support for me. I finally talked her into starting her own style blog, Pretty Inside & Out, a while ago and now I have the honor of featuring her as a Proper Professional!

Tell us a little about yourself and your blog.
I started my "style" blog after some *gentle* urging from my dear friend here at A Working Mom's Closet. {Editor's note: I AM gentle. *Ahem*} I have recently (in the last two years) lost a lot of weight as is evidenced by the motivational picture on my left hand sidebar. I am a married (yes, legally) lesbian mom who works, cooks, socializes, and tries to be the best for all the people in her life at once. Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I fail. No matter what, I love the life I lead.

How did you come up with your blog name?
Even though I have lost a lot of weight, when I take a picture of me or see a picture of me, what I thought I saw in the mirror is not what is reflected in the pictures. It really bothers me sometimes. So, I thought that while taking pictures I could come to love the me outside as much as I love the me inside.
This is the OLD Charisse!
Do you work from home or outside the home, and what do you do?
I work outside the home. I have been a stay-at-home mom twice in my life and I truly do not think I am cut out for it. I work as an Administrative Coordinator in the non-profit world.

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 do not have a set dress code, as is evidenced by the swing from super casual to all dolled up looks that I post on my blog. I do, however, always need to look nice and presentable to the people that stop in. Those can be people looking for help, therapists in town, Board Members, or the steady stream of people coming in looking to volunteer. My co-workers are not always n the building, as their programs require them to interact with the outside community much more than I do. We all try come to work looking presentable, but I come to work to be the face of the agency.

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 choose my outfits whenever I can. Sometimes I will think up an outfit the night before as I am lying in bed waiting for sleep to take over. Sometimes I know that I want to wear a certain color. Some days I know nothing about what I want to wear until I have tried on everything in my closet and strewn it about the room. I have coined the phrase clothes-tastrophe to describe those kind of days.

I would say that it takes me, on a normal day, about an hour and a half to get ready. This is from shower to complete makeup and hair and walking out the door. I am one of those women that does not go ANYWHERE without her makeup on. On the rare occasion that I do leave the house without makeup, I have an essentials makeup bag in my purse that has a set of all my favorite things to make a quick look.

If you were commissioned to rewrite the dress code, what would you change (if anything)?
I would say that we need to have a dress code that was not quite so relaxed. Then I realize that my Director works with kids in schools and talks about tough subjects all day. One program director deals with grieving families. The other program director deals with crises. I guess that they need to be able to be comfortable and make the people they are working with comfortable at the same time. Not to mention that I live in a super relaxed, open, liberal, crunchy granola type town where MOST people are laid back and dressed like my coworkers.

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 necessarily think that it is the company's job to take into account the dress code. I DO think that the dress code should correspond to the amount of professionalism that you are trying to present to the world. Not only that, but our dress should correspond to the actual job you are doing. While women seem to HAVE a lot more clothes and WEAR a lot more clothes than men do, it is not absolutely necessary for us to have to have that many clothes.

What is your definition of professional attire and would this vary if the business is a small business compared to a larger corporation?
Professional attire should always represent the image of respectability and knowledge. You should look like you know what you are doing and you should look like you SHOULD be doing what you are doing. I don't think that idea changes whether it's a small or large business.

What are some pieces that every woman should have available in their professional arsenal?
MY list would include the following:
Crisp white button up shirt
At the bare minimum a pair of black, brown, and off-white pair of heels
At least one nice pair each of black and brown dress slacks
An assortment of tanks or camis to layer with
A pencil skirt AND a flared skirt.

{Editor's note: I have these same shoes!!!}

What pieces are never professionally appropriate regardless of the situation?
Flip flops (even though you will see them occasionally on my super casual days on my blog) Exposed midriff 
Torn or frayed clothing 
Wrinkled clothes

Describe an outfit you'd wear in each of the following settings: 
1. A typical day at work.
A skirt or slacks with a nice shirt
2. A formal business meeting. 
These would be out board meetings and I have always worn a nice skirt with hose and heels and a nice blouse
3. An informal meeting with co-workers. 
This would be an event out in the community where we are probably doing some fundraising. I would and have worn dress pants or even jeans with a nice shirt, not a t-shirt, but not necessarily a blouse.
4. A business dinner with co-workers and superiors.
This would be similar to our board meetings. I would likely wear a skirt and heels with a nice blouse. 

Thanks Charisse!!! If you haven't checked out her blog yet, go do it now! 

And as always, please let me know if you'd like to be featured as a Proper Professional. I'd like to capture the opinions of women (and men!) from all professions, all ages, all walks of life. It doesn't matter if you work in what you consider a professional environment, these questions are about your opinion. Email me at {aworkingmomscloset at} so I can schedule your feature!

Have a great Monday, everyone! 


  1. Another great Proper Professional! Normally there are pictures, but even without the photos I like to read about other people's dress codes!


  2. I love her blog.

  3. Great lady. I love her outlook towards body image. Also an admirable workplace. It must feel good to work somewhere that makes a difference in people's lives.

  4. Melissa, that's awesome that you are the one who, uh, encouraged ;) Charisse to start a blog. I love reading about not only the day-to-day dress but the job descriptions. There are a lot of interesting bloggers out there!


  5. She seems so smart and composed - I loved her interview, thank you for this :)

  6. I like this feature and would love to participate in it when I go back to work in a few weeks!

  7. I love these interviews you feature weekly and it is truly a pleasure to learn more about Charisse. She looks great and you can tell she is committed to her goals!

  8. I love these interviews! It's always great seeing what other people wear. I work in a clothing store, so I have to be very stylish, but I also work in an office/warehouse that's super casual. Quite the combination!

    Lindsey Soup

  9. love this feature! how great does Charisse sound. she is beautiful and i love her style. will definitely check out her blog! thanks, Mel, for sharing.

  10. Thanks, everyone! Your comments are so sweet!!! Sorry that there were no pictures at first, but the MIL had us running around town and the house all weekend trying to remondel, re-paint, and re-organize everything!! I look forward to seeing you all on my blog in the near future.


Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and chat with me!

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