Tag Archives: clothes

The Executive Makeover (Part 1 of Many)

At a web startup, t-shirts and jeans is often the norm. It’s accepted you work around the clock so if you want to wear pajamas if no clients are coming into the office, then that might be ok on rare occasions. But as your company grows, so does the expectation of professionalism, starting with how you dress.

As others are hired at later stages in the company, this becomes further clear. T-shirts are replaced with button downs. Jeans have transformed into slacks. And, if you’re still wearing what you wore at the beginning of the company, you no longer fit in.

A 2001 study conducted by consumer research firm Yankelovich Partners, Inc., titled “Work Your Image: The Importance of Appearance on the Job” reported that 76% of respondents believe that a woman’s appearance affects whether she is taken seriously, asked to participate in meetings with upper management or is well regarded by colleagues and supervisors. Sixty four percent believe that her appearance will lead to consideration for raises or promotion. Continue reading

Q3 Spending Breakdown: $13,620.56

From July to September, my spending was a little ridiculous. It all started with the DUI, which cost me $3,000 in legal fees even before the big fine that will hit in Q4. The other large expense of the quarter was my Canon 5D plus a flash for it. Photography is an expensive hobby. I did manage to also spend $1082 on clothes and other shopping… how did that happen? Yikes. (see the graph below.)


Unfortunately the legal fees and DUI fees will continue to take a toll on Q4. I have $750 more left in the legal fees, and expect a $2,000 fine. The good news is that I have a chance to obtain $10,000 total in bonuses for this year, which should help me up my networth, and instead will go towards my stupidity. My income this year including bonuses will be a minimum of $95k.  That helps. I’m really trying hard to prove myself at work so I can move up the career (and salary ladder) but it’s pretty clear that I’m still learning as I go, and things take me longer than they should. I can only hope I can prove myself going forward.

 

 

 

I Need a Makeover. Stat.

Before you judge me and my piles of clothes on the floor and my “nothing to wear” conundrum, hear this — my wardrobe says more “college student who hasn’t slept” than “marketing director.” Every day, I wake up, look in my closet, and on my floor, and find there’s few items that reflect my position, and the rest of my life’s aesthetics aren’t supporting the cause (case in point, my busted car with Styrofoam instead of half a bumper.)

There have been times over the past few years when I went through this “makeover” shopping splurge, which usually lead to buying too much overpriced, dry clean only clothes at Banana Republic that don’t even look good on me and end up getting wrecked a few times after I wear them. The purchases I’ve made at Express, despite being more suited for “just out of college” than my professional status, at least last me. But that leaves me with a closet of “Editor” stretch pants in black and a few short sleeve, button down shirts in various cheap materials that still look young and unpolished. Hey, at least they’re machine washable.

But what’s a girl to do? When the interns dress better than you do, it’s a reality check. As more and more employees of the female species join our company, I’m quickly becoming the worst dressed. And I don’t want to be on that list. But I also don’t want to spend a fortune on outfits that will inevitably make it into the share pile quicker than you can say “how on earth did I gain five pounds?”

My closet, however, is just not cutting it. I’m tempted to do the Banana and/or Anne Klein splurge — find some clothes that manage to be trendy and hip enough for the startup culture, but formal enough to put me at the head of the figurative class. It’s a tough splurge to swallow, since I’m determine to LOOSE those five pounds, plus another 30, in the coming months.

Beyond clothes, i’m questioning my hair style (it’s now long, layered, but hard to manage) and just tinted with a “glaze” — somehow expensive highlights make people seem more put together and worth more. Marketing is 10% product and 90% sales. Sales is polish. And on that spectrum I’m always leaning towards scruff. Clean, but lacking in the shine that can take a girl places.

Tonight, I’m tempted to toss all my old clothes for good, and start from near scratch. But what will that cost me? Seems like such a waste of money, as I’m getting on with my Express clothes just fine, and the Banana clothes I do own are sitting in my dry clean only bag collecting dust.

How often do you buy new work clothes and where do you shop?

Returned $250 Worth of Clothes

A long time ago in a far off land I loved trips to the mall. While not everything looked great on my curves, for the most part outfits fit. And as a student I could get away with wearing funky looks, including low-cost versions of trends.

These days, I’m having trouble finding the right look for work. Over the past few weeks I’ve done a lot of shopping, and despite spending a lot, not much buying.

Old me would have kept items I bought hoping to be inspired to wear them one day, even though in the back of my mind I knew I never would. But from now on I’m not letting any money go to waste, especially on expensive clothes that I just don’t love.

So I returned the $130 pair of patent leather shoes to Ann Taylor that were too big and had a high heel that I’d never wear. The other day I found a pair of low-heel shoes by Nine West that were $78 and have worn them every day since. The Ann Taylor shoes are back at the store and the money is back in my bank account.

I also returned a blue cotton Theory dress to Bloomingdales that cost me $140. I don’t love the dress. My boyfriend says it makes me look bigger than I am, which was enough to inspire the return. So that’s back to the store as well.

Even with returning those items, I’ve purchased a few things I am keeping:

2 pairs of machine washable work pants from Nordstrom petites, $78 each.
4 button down short-sleeve shirts from Express, about $20 each.
1 Calvin Klein black jacket, $99.
1 pair of black shoes from Nine West, $78.
1 black turtleneck by Theory, $80
1 gray sweater jacket by Theory, $140
1 pair of Ann Taylor black pants, $100
1 blue dress t-shirt for work at Ann Taylor, $40
1 skirt on sale at Express, $20

So I’ve spent a lot on work clothes, but I feel better now that I’ve returned the two items that I’ll never wear. Right now I’m looking for a few items that I need, and then my work wardrobe will be complete..

– 1 brown or blue jacket (for brown pant days)
– pair of brown shoes (or shoes that match brown pants)
– 3 button down long sleeve shirts that are machine washable and actually fit me

I’ve been looking at all the stores but have had no luck with these items. Oh well, nothing wrong with waiting until next month to make more purchases. I haven’t even gotten my first paycheck yet!

Her Makeover Attempt: Clothes for Work

This weekend, I have frantically been scouring department store after department store (and smaller shops) to find the perfect outfits for my first week at work. While back in my high school days I’d have trouble narrowing down my piles of “loves” on shopping trips, these days I can’t find things I even remotely like. Partially, as my body ages I’ve developed curves in places clothing designers are terrified of admitting existence, so few things I try on even fit. Then, there’s the question of – what does a 26 year old wear when trying to dress older and more professional but not too old or too professional to a job that interfaces with many different types of people… in an informal left coast city?

The other thing is, I really don’t want to spend my entire paycheck on a new wardrobe before it’s even deposited in my banking account. I will if I have to, but that seems really silly. I do have expensive tastes, but in the past my purchases were more often sale rack than full retail, even in nicer stores. But in this role I really feel like I need to look expensive. Does this mean my clothes need to be?

Some days, I wish I was a guy. Men have it so easy. Wear a pair of slacks, a button-down shirt, slick your hair, wear nice shoes, and you’re done. Being a women… there are way too many variables for the professional world. What hair style do I wear? Up or down? Should I wear a skirt, pants, or a dress? Long sleeves or short sleeves? Or a jacket over a tank? Can I take the jacket off at work if I get hot? What shoes do I wear? Closed toe? Peep toe? Should I wear heels or can I get away with flats? Yikes.

Yesterday, I spent the morning shopping at Bloomingdales because they are having a 20% off sale and I also had a $25 off coupon expiring in April. Figured it was worth a look. The whole shopping experience there infuriated me. First off, finding my size… or anything close to my size… in items I liked was fairly impossible, with the exception of when items were “small, medium, large” — I’m somewhere between a 10 and a 14 depending how the designer cuts the clothes. Petite only in my inseam but everything else is, well, average to large. 31″ waist last time I measured. Probably bigger than that now. I have big hips, a protruding behind, and thighs that don’t look like they belong on legs with a 27.5″ inseam. Thanks mom.

Even when I found a few things I liked that seemed to fit I had to stop and ask myself — does this make me look too young? Can I be taken seriously in this? There is one skirt there by Marc Jacobs that I’ve been eying for months and I was surprised they still have it. It’s a $200 a-line black skirt in a thick fabric that just feels really nice on. Size medium was a little too tight, but I almost bought it because I have a habit of buying black skirts knowing I’ll wear them. Then I looked at the skirt again. It was flattering, covering my belly bulge with the exception of where it was slightly cutting into my stomach (must exercise), but it just didn’t make me look older. In fact, the whole outfit made me look younger. I tried the skirt on with the sleeveless shirt and sweater they were showing it with on the rack. The shirt, which looked like something I’d wear when I was 5, was a sleeveless with hearts on it and these gaudy gold buttons. The sweater was grey and preppy but oversized, and only available in a large or extra small. I grabbed the large and headed into the dressing room to try out the look. And, yes, I looked like I was 5.

Who wears this stuff, I constantly asked myself browsing all the expensive options by designer labels… half of the collections at the store look like they’re designed for people in high school or maybe college, and the other half (ralph lauren, eileen fischer, etc) look to be designed for women in their 40s. What do professional 20/30 year old women wear?

I’ve always found myself drawn to certain brands which seem to come close to what I’m looking for. Theory, one of my favorite brands in terms of style, had a few options. But at $200-$300 an item, I stop to wonder, can’t I find this style some place cheaper? Do I need to spend $250 on a pair of pants to earn the respect of my colleagues and move up the corporate business chain? And even if I do, is Theory the right brand to get me there? Surely, it’s a better option than anything offered by Marc Jacobs (really – WHO WEARS THIS STUFF?) but with each outfit costing $700-$1000, it’s tough to splurge without it being perfect. And nothing was perfect.

I found a nice grey half-sleeve sweater that I instantly knew would become a classic in my closet, so I felt that was worth the $200 price tag. There was a blue sleeveless cotton dress with ruffles on the neck which I could see looking nice under the grey sweater if I had a brown leather belt to tie it all together. So I bought that, the sweater, and a t-shirt length black turtleneck, all by Theory. Total cost after discount: $355. And really, I don’t have much of an outfit there. I still need shoes and a belt and handbag to make the dress/sweater look complete. The $75 black turtleneck feels like heaven and will be worn, but I’m not sure what bottoms to put it with.
So today I’m still looking for what to wear tomorrow. I really want to look like a million bucks without spending anything near that much money. But how? Sure, I could buy a suit at Macys for $99, but a suit really isn’t right for this environment. It’s too formal, especially for my role. Funny how it costs much more to do business casual than true-blue business. At least for women. I could definitely find a nice suit outfit for under $200 on sale. But to really look slick, slightly trendy but also professional, that’s where the money starts to become an issue.
The other thing I realized is… I don’t have much of a life outside of work. I mean, maybe all the clothes they sell at Bloomingdales are for women who dress up to go out at night and on the weekends. But I don’t go anywhere. On occasion my boyfriend and I go to dinner but I don’t really need to buy new outfits for that. I have plenty of dresses and things that work for my non-professional life. I have no reason to spend $1000 on an outfit that I wouldn’t be wearing to work. So I never would. I like to spend my money on nice clothes for the office because I’d end up wearing them most of my life. And it’s the only opportunity I have to dress up and look nice in my life. Even with my potential $100k salary, I live a $40k life. And I’m ok with that. I just like to dress up sometimes and where else am I going to do it other than the office?

Are New Restricted Shopping Sites Worth the Splurge?

Sales aren’t for cheapskates anymore. With the economy still in a state of despair, sales are the new black. Sites like Bluefly and Overstock have long offered last season’s designer goods at steep discounts, but those just don’t feel exclusive and urgent enough to get buyers to to splurge right here, right now.

Enter “restricted” shopping sites. These sites claim to limit entry to friends of people already on the site (which means they are restricted for about a day and then everyone gets in.) But their real sell is that they offer designer goods at steep discounts for a very limited time. It’s the buy now or forever hold your cash philosophy. And it apparently works. People love to think they’re getting a good deal. Sites like Gilt, Ideeli, Rue La La, OneKingsLane and others are making bank convincing shoppers if they don’t get in on a sale they’re going to be miserable forever.
I’ve long believed that a sale is only as valuable as whether or not you actually need what you buy. In my previous life, I was guilty of shopping the sale rack and feeling pride leaving a store when I got a “steal.” And that “steal” often ended up in the back of my closet, never to be worn.
Designer goods tend to either be beautiful or just plan odd. Trends don’t last. There is a reason an item is on sale. If you’re going to shop a sale, whether that be at the mall or on a restricted shopping site, know what you are looking for “before going in.” This way you won’t end up with credit card debt from buying a whole bunch of “great deals.” These sites are probably best shopping for gifts since you can spend less for more expensive goods. But in shopping for yourself, don’t get caught by the lure of the sale.
For more about these sites, check out the latest post by the Cranky Consumer on The Wall Street Journal.

Say Yes to the Dress — Why I’m Going to Try to Say No…

My reality TV obsession as of late is TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress.” Now that I’m 26, I’m like (almost) every other girl in the world who (isn’t married yet) is thinking about being a bride and all that goes with it. Hey, I’ve been with my bf 3.5 years, so it’s not like marriage is so far off I shouldn’t be thinking about such things. (Right… right?)

Watching the show has me fiscally horrified, especially the episodes featuring women who have no budget and can buy a dress that costs $6k or more. As a kid, I would have been certain that my wedding dress would be on par with the dresses shown on SYTTD, and that I’d have money flowing from every possible bank account to fund my dream wedding. Nowadays, I’m a lot smarter than that. And thinking about the cost of my one-day wedding makes me almost violently ill.

When I was 12, my family threw a huge Bat Mitzvah party for me. It was ridiculous. I don’t know how much it cost but I think it was around $13k. For a Bat Mitzvah. It was the fault of my parents as much as it was mine. My party was probably on the higher end of what my peers spent in my temple, but certainly not the highest. I wanted to have the reception at one venue that my parents deemed too expensive. Where’d all the money go? The venue and food, the DJ / band (yes I had a DJ AND Band at my Bat Mitzvah), the professional photographer, professional videographer, the outfit (though my dress wasn’t really that expensive compared to anything else), the party favors (I needed three colors on the custom t-shirts so that cost extra), the party planner, and who knows what else. With such a big family on both sides, a lot of people were invited, and many came. I didn’t know half the people at my party, but it was a party, and I enjoyed it (as much as an atheist girl can when she is celebrating the end of years of religious study.) 

Looking forward to my wedding day (even though I’m not even engaged yet), I know that I want to be frugal when it comes to the big day. But I’m also the type of girl that believes in going all out or not going at all. And I’m tempted not to go. At least when I was a kid at my Bat Mitzvah I was so ignorant. While that was awful for my parent’s finances, at least I could ENJOY the celebration, for what that’s worth. Knowing how much my wedding costs will make it tough for me to enjoy any of it. I’d elope except my mom would shoot me, so it looks like I’ll be forced to have a wedding.

According to I Will Teach You to Be Rich and the Wall Street Journal, the average wedding cost is $28,000. That’s the AVERAGE, people. I’m not surprised knowing how much parties cost, but I can’t imagine how so many people spend this much, especially when the majority of them are in debt.

When I watch Say Yes to the Dress, I’m amazed by how the lower-end buyers are looking for dresses that cost around $3,000. First of all, if I ever spend $3,000 on a dress it will NOT be white because God knows a white dress won’t be able to be worn twice (and a bridal gown can’t be worn twice anyway, unless you manage to have the Project Runway contestants makeover your dress into a modern frock.)

How can anyone spend $3,000 or more on a dress to be worn one day? I dream of finding a used designer gown that’s still in perfect condition so at least I’ll get a decent price on a nice gown, but really, I know designer gowns still cost more than what I’d like to spend on a dress. The most I’ve ever spent on a garment is $460, which was my $600 leather jacket on sale. And I wear that basically every day.

I’ve been eying the designer Maggie Sottero who has some lovely dresses that I could see wearing on my wedding day. I’m short and pear-apple shaped, so finding a dress that is flattering will be beyond difficult (I can’t pull off strapless unless I go on a serious diet)… I wish I could pull off a dress like this but with my waist that would just not look good. From what I can tell, this designer’s gowns run more like $1k – $2k, which is still more than I’d like to spend. Honestly, do I even need a wedding gown? Can’t I just get a nice prom dress and call it a day?

How much did you spend (or expect to spend) on your wedding dress (or wife’s wedding dress)? Was it in your budget, or did you spend more (or less) than you wanted to? Did you get your dress on sale, or full price? Were you happy with your purchase?