Monday, September 26, 2011

Proper Professional: Smart 'n Snazzy

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 what Lia of Smart 'n Snazzy: Stylish Without Going Broke thinks about the attire of professionals!

Tell us a little about yourself and your blog. 
I started 'Smart n Snazzy: Stylish Without Going Broke' as a creative outlet.  I have my degree in mathematics and work in a technical field, and I really wanted to force myself to be creative on a more regular basis.  I still haven't gotten to the "regular basis" part, but I'm getting there.  I love making things, so I did a lot of DIYs when I first started.  I've lately been doing mostly outfit posts and shopping hauls, in an attempt to branch out more.  I am still looking to find that perfect balance, I'll get there!  I try to focus on staying chic without spending a fortune.  I hope to inspire others, as well as gain inspiration along the way.

How did you come up with your blog name?
I wanted something that really represented me and what I wanted my blog to be. I chose "Smart" for it's literal meaning but also for its implied meaning, paired with "Snazzy". I think that "Stylish Without Going Broke" brings the two together. It's a little long, yes, but it fits me so well! I didn't want a name that was too simple, but I wanted it to be a little catchy yet very unique. I like to think that I'm bringing snazzy back :)

Do you work from home or outside the home, and what do you do?
I work full time as a Data Analyst for Staples, supporting the N. American Delivery Customer Service unit. I do a lot of report development in MicroStrategy (a business intelligence tool) as well as write some mean SQL code. I am able to work from home when needed, which is rather nice! I am the only female in my department, but it's something that I'm used to and really does not bother me much.

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?
Luckily, we have jeans days every Monday and Friday. The remainder of the week is business casual. All that said, the majority of the office is a call center, so the dress code is rather relaxed and not super professional. I try to dress nicely though; it's that 'dress for the job you want, not the job you have' idea. When I wear jeans, I still wear heels and a blouse or nice top. The other days, I wear a skirt or slacks. The guys wear slacks or jeans and a polo or button down.

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 wish I was organized enough to plan my outfits in advance; alas, I stand in my closet with a towel around me, picking something out at the last minute. To shower, get dressed and accessorized and do my hair/makeup it takes me about 45 minutes. I could probably slash that in half if I planned better :)

If you were commissioned to rewrite the dress code, what would you change (if anything)?
I think that women should be able to wear shorts so long as they are no shorter than an acceptable skirt length. I've noticed most workplaces do not allow knee-length shorts, but they will allow mid-thigh length skirts, which really makes little to no sense.

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 do not think that companies need to take this into account; since we are assuming it is a professional workplace, we can assume we are not talking minimum wage here.  It's more than possible to look fabulous without spending a ton of money, and I think that is what a lot of us bloggers are trying to show!  The cost doesn't need to be equal for men and women; men's clothes are plenty expensive and affordable as well.  What needs to be discussed though is pay equality for men and women.  If a woman is making say 10% less than her male counterparts, it makes it more difficult for that woman to dress the part and she has to work harder to look just as nice, on a smaller budget.

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 is what one should wear if their clients were visiting their office. I think we should always dress as though that were the case. It depends on the workplace, of course. One who is a lawyer at a law firm would be expected to wear a suit daily, as opposed to an IT specialist, who strolls in wearing jeans and sneakers. It ultimately depends on if your role is client-facing or not, regardless of the size of the company.

What are some pieces that every woman should have available in their professional arsenal?
We all know the basics: white blouse, black blazer, slacks, and pencil skirt, trench coat, black pumps... I also feel that women should have a few beautiful silk blouses, leopard pumps, and depending on the local climate, a wool trench coat.

What pieces are never professionally appropriate regardless of the situation?
Anything with spaghetti straps without another item of clothing layered over it, a skirt that a women is not comfortable bending over in, ripped jeans, flip flops, and especially crocs.

Describe an outfit you'd wear in each of the following settings: 
1. A typical day at work.
Any typical day at work you will find a 2/5 chance of me in jeans and a nice top, and a 3/5 chance of me in slacks in a top. I really let my personality shine through my accessories. 
2. A formal business meeting.
At a formal business meeting I would wear slacks with a silky blouse and more reserved accessories.
3. An informal meeting with co-workers. 
For an informal meeting with co-workers I wouldn't dress any differently than I would any typical day.
4. A business dinner with co-workers and superiors.
I had a formal business dinner last week with my co-workers and superiors, and I wore a bright silky blouse, high-waisted trousers, black pumps and cuff bracelets.

Are there any questions you wish I'd asked or is there anything else you'd like to mention regarding this topic?
I'd like to ask/answer a question regarding interview attire.  In today's workplace/workforce/economy/etc, I feel it is a good question to ask.  "What would you wear for a job interview?"

I recently was in this situation after losing my job of almost four years.  I went to Banana Republic, who was having a 40% off suiting sale!  I bought a black wool blazer and trousers as well as the matching high-waisted pencil skirt.  I went to Target and bought a plain white blouse and to DSW for a pair of black pumps.  With this arsenal, I was prepared for a first interview, and would wear a blue blouse with the skirt if I was required a second interview.  Now, these items are staples in my closet, I wear the skirt,trousers, blouse, and pumps for a typical day at work, and the blazer I normally wear with jeans on jeans days.

So friends, to repeat Lia's question, what would you wear for a job interview? Let us know in the comments!

Thanks to Lia for sharing her thoughts and opinions with us. Take a few moments and check out her blog!

If you've thought about sharing your thoughts on the subject, what are you waiting for? I need more bloggers to feature in future posts so email me NOW at {aworkingmomscloset at}.

Have a great day, lovelies!


  1. Hey Lia! I love this feature as always! An interview outfit should consist of exactly what Lia said :) Heather

  2. She is one of my favorite bloggers out there, and thank you for featuring her! I had no idea she was a data analyst at Staples! From her personality, you'd think she was in sales :D

  3. great interview. To interview I wear black pants and a nice dress shirt.

  4. Thank you soooo much for this opportunity, Melissa! It was so much fun!! And thank you so much for the sweet comments, ladies!! @Bessie - I could never do sales, can't deal with being nice to rude people LOL!


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