Sunday, December 27, 2009

Style Secrets: The Intern

“Clothes don’t make the man, but clothes have got many a man a good job.”
Herbert Harold Vreeland

Please, by all means, go ahead and whoop for joy! Toss your head back, fist pump the air, and allow girly giggles to escape from your crimson-colored lips. I have no right to stop you. After all, you’ve earned the privilege for such jubilation; you’re entitled to let yourself go wild with excitement. Months of hard work have passed, and you received your prize – the internship of a lifetime. Therefore, let the world know! Outburst over? Good, let’s get down to business!

An internship is synonymous with a coming out party thrown in the honor of a dazzling debutante; it is your chance to be introduced to society – or at least your fellow co-workers in the office where you will be working. More appropriately, it is the venue where you will be judged; and oftentimes judged harshly. But darlings, it is not your personality that will be critiqued; moreover, it is your style.

If we learned anything from The Devil Wears Prada’s Andrea Sachs, it is that society, while quick to deny it, has a tendency to judge a book by its cover; hence the reason why you want your internship style to scream sophistication. In that respect, you don’t want to stifle your own creativity in the wardrobe department; thus, learning what prevails and what doesn’t in the workplace is essential for earning the respect you deserve, both professionally and fashionably!

Black is the New Black You can drop yourself forty years in the future, or flashback sixty years to the past, it doesn’t matter what era you currently find yourself in, black will forever be the new black. Day or night, old or young, it is a classic shade that is both smart and sassy, and will take you from the boardroom to cocktail hour with complete ease, sophistication, and timeless elegance; hence the reason why much of your agency-inspired attire should consist of pieces in noir hues.

That is not to say that you should overhaul all the color in your closet; but ebony colored accoutrements are more acceptable in the working world. They contribute a preemptive neutral palette for bold accessories; while providing a slimming effect that highlights your best features. As an added bonus, no wrong can be done when the color black is in use, so you can spend all that time you would have been devoting to worrying your pretty little head over the power of a pink versus blue frock, and direct it towards completing newly acquired assignments ahead of time to impress your boss!

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Cream of the Crop By all means, do not bare your belly in a work environment unless your given title is belly-dancer; the crop top I am referring to is a smart, Jackie O-influenced jacket that hovers between a boucle and blazer in its aesthetic, making it a piece that you will be able to incorporate into your style even after-hours.

You want to ensure that you are investing in a topper that will stand the test of time; therefore I recommend buying black. A navy piece can easily work well in your wardrobe; but it possesses limitations in that it clashes with a black bottom, and will prove to be difficult to work into different ensembles. Something in a midnight shade with bell sleeves that flutter around the elbows; or a tinge of menswear styling a la Madewell’s Cropped Tux Jacket is ideal. On their own pieces like this harbor uniqueness; but with a little creativity, and a lot of accessories, you can truly give them a personality that reflects you and only you!

Skirt the Issue There are no rules, regulations, or restrictions regarding baring your legs in the workplace via saucy bottoms that are slightly smart-alecky in their presentation; yet subdued enough to be acceptable in any working environment. Therefore, when searching for a style staple for your new position, you can’t go wrong with a handful of skirts that are flippy, flouncy, or perfectly pin straight; in addition to a few flirty frocks which cast a refined glow upon your wardrobe that will garner you respect from your peers, whilst giving you the chance to show off your gorgeous gams!

“It is only at the first encounter that a face makes its full impression on us.”
Arthur Schopenhauer

Not to be forgotten is your quest for comfort. Darlings, do not feel the need to confine yourself in heavily-constructed tailored skirts that weigh you down and make you sweat bullets – even when you’re sitting in an air-conditioned environment! Bottoms crafted out of jersey fibers are just as posh as their more professional counterparts, yet ensure that you can move, groove, and get the job done in any situation you encounter. They are also quite a bit more affordable than wool pieces, making it possible to add multiple styles to your wardrobe with minimal expense.

American Apparel is a virtual one-stop shop for skirts of this kind. The Interlock Pencil Skirt creates an hourglass silhouette courtesy of a slimmer about the waist that sucks you in and keeps you looking stylish from the moment you step foot inside the office until the second you depart; while the raw edges of the Fine Jersey Drape Skirt add a playfulness to your look du jour that highlights your youthfulness without concealing your proficiency in your given field.

I myself prefer skirts, as I find that they are more versatile in one’s wardrobe, and are quite easy to dress up or down; but as a working girl it is essential that you keep at least a couple of dresses on hand that you can toss on when the need arises, or simply to break-up the monotony of skirts and pants that can lead us head-on into a rut in terms of attire. Look for effortless pieces that are classy, cosmopolitan, and capable of making a statement at your place of employment or the corner coffee shop. mark’s Ace of Lace Party Dress is an exemplary example. The cinched-in waist and A-line styling of the skirt provide the perfect accoutrement for those quick runs to Starbucks, while the lace yoke about the shoulders and throat add pure elegance that is unfussy yet unstoppable!

“Respect is love in plain clothes.”
Frankie Byrne

Pump It! There is no question that height makes one feel more powerful. When you’re towering over your peers you feel as if you are the leader of the pack, the big cheese, the head honcho; hence the reason why slipping on a pair of stilettos can boost one’s confidence by miles! With a little bit of lift, it is simple to feel like a true sophisticate; even more, however, is that, when faced with a new situation full of unfamiliar faces, such as an internship, you want to exude fearlessness – a pair of killer shoes is capable of creating such assurance.

There is a virtual bevy of heels ripe for the picking – pointed-toe pumps are polished; oxford booties are classically smart; peep-toes are tongue-in-cheek; wedges are blasé yet serendipitous; and cage heels juxtapose rebelliousness with refinement. The key is finding the style, or styles, that work perfectly for both you and your wardrobe. Don’t forget, when it comes to selecting the footwear that will pave your path to the world of professionalism it is up to you to keep one very important thing in mind…be aware of the height of your heels! No one wants to face the embarrassment of falling in front of their co-workers; therefore, choose footwear that you are comfortable walking in to save yourself from potential oops moments!

Ditch the Denim Don your denim with wild abandon on weekends, after you’re released from the daily grind of your internship, or while lounging around the house; but ditch it when you’re on duty. Denim may be your most tried and true comrade, but it is known for being a staple of casual style, and instantly sends the wrong message to the people you are trying to impress now that you’ve snagged such a sweet gig! Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely no problem with wearing pants to an internship – in fact, the aesthetic found in trousers is one of the most fabulous of ways to flatter any figure; the main issue is perusing the appropriate styles so that you attract new friends with your look, as opposed to annoying or antagonizing them.

You want to be fun and flirty in your choice of chaps whilst upholding an urbane vibe that translates from head to toe. I recommend forgoing the skintight look, and embracing a cut that cascades chicly over your curves. Pleated trousers with a slight menswear ambiance like Generra’s Pleated Front Slouch Pants, or tapered pants with a hint of shimmer like Forever 21’s Elastic Trim Satin Pant are quintessential. They’re basic yet blissful in their styling, and will most definitely get two thumbs up in terms of wondrous workplace attire!

“While clothes may not make the woman, they certainly have a strong effect on her self-confidence – which, I believe, does make the woman.”
Mary Kay Ashe

For the girl who is, how shall we put this…slightly more daring in her daily style, and is willing to be on the receiving end of curious stares for at least the first few hours of the morning, replace pants completely with a pair of tailored shorts. Once thought of as a piece created solely for the playground, shorts have taken on a more grown-up appearance via pleats, satin and silk crafting like that seen on Diane von Furstenberg’s Ramier Shorts, cuffs like the ones found on Chris Benz’s Camino Shorts, and a multitude of other forms which make them more welcome in the working world. Just be sure to layer them over a pretty pair of tights so that your look isn’t viewed as being too risqué!

Tee Time Please do not forget that workwear does not have to be stuffy. When you’re playing it professional on the bottom, it is ideal to be vivacious on top to balance things out. In any style situation, balance is a must as it keeps your look in check, stopping it from going overboard in any one direction, whilst allowing you to try your hand at various genres of fashion that pique your interest, without forcing you to conform to any one particular style.

Whimsical graphic tees like Heritage 1981’s Union Jack Watercolor Tee, and blouses that feature vibrant embellishments such as Milly’s Gemma Blouse are faultless fashions to embrace. When styled underneath a blazer or tucked into a high-waisted pencil skirt the look is completely unconventional, which instantly showcases your eye for style, while toning down the harshness of pieces so often associated with the corporate world.

Ambrosial Accents Kitty cats, if you weren’t already aware, this is where the true fun begins! When you’re adhering to a dress code, even one that is fairly lax, accessories become the voice of your personality. They provide a peek into the lifestyle that you may be keeping secret from your co-workers. Perhaps the cocktail ring gracing your pointer finger is indicative of a wild and crazy party girl who paints the town red on the weekends; or maybe the wrap bracelet that seems never to leave your waif-like wrist is symbolic of a charity that you hold in high regard. While your peers may never know the true story, your accessories provide a chance to make their minds wander; whilst giving you the opportunity to remain true to yourself and your style!

“Problems are only opportunities in work clothes.”
Henry J. Kaiser

Given the fact that you are in the working world, you must be mindful of how far you go in terms of accessories. You want to remain minimal yet magnificent; scanty yet sensational; austere yet ambrosial; and to do so takes planning. Steer clear of clunky or noisy pieces such as oversized cuffs or charm bracelets. Such items, while absolutely stunning to look at, oftentimes interfere with your work, and could, potentially, aggravate those surrounding you. That girl a few desks over who constantly cracks her gum? Do not allow your accessories to lower you to her level! After all, you do not want to become the office nuisance; you simply want to embellish your body with beauteous decorations.

A cocktail ring like mark’s Glisten Up Ring or For Keeps Ring is ideal. The styling of both falls more towards the glamorous spectrum, as opposed to being gaudy; yet still manages to add a dash of vintage glitz to your form – exactly what you’re going for! Pair it with a necklace that harbors a slight edge to its aesthetic like the Peak of Chic Necklace, in addition to a low-key bracelet in the fashion of Alex and Ani’s Tree of Life Expandable Bangle Set for a look that is trendy yet tranquil. Have fun with your accessories. Don’t feel the need to match all gold or all silver in terms of jewelry; sometimes the most spectacular looks are the ones that highlight a little disorganization and anarchy!

Nude Attitude Unfussy. That is your goal when it comes to hair and makeup in the workplace. You want your natural beauty to shine through; therefore leave the drama (all forms of it!) at home. Embrace neutral shades that accentuate your best features, yet come across as subtle enough that people have a hard time telling whether or not you are truly wearing makeup at all, or if you were simply born with that gorgeous glow!

Eyes are one of the most important features of a face, and the very first thing I look at when I meet someone new; hence the reason why one should highlight them to the best of their ability. A thickening mascara like Scanda-Lash Hook Up Mascara in either Blacklash or Brownout is the perfect place to start. It defines lashes by separating, lengthening, and adding volume, yet is natural enough to look commonplace. The next step is eyeliner. Black eyeliners often come across as very “girls’ night out”; whereas a liner in a lighter shade, such as mark’s Get in Line Hook Up Liquid Waterproof Eyeliner in Cocoa Coquette is more understated, yet still effective in making your peepers pop! To finish off the look, steer clear of smoky eyes, or dark shadows, and go for a sophisticated light shimmer, like the one created with mark’s Winkstick Hook Up Eye Shadow Stick in Demure or Innocent. Couple with a nude lip created via a sheer gloss like Belle of the Ball Lip Balm for a complexion that is romantically dewy and completely charming.

“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”
Mark Twain

While it takes a bit of time to create a makeup look that comes across as natural; the same is not true for a laidback hairstyle. There are three hairstyles that juxtapose between professional and mischievous in their shape:

Ponytail - Resist the lure of the peppy, cheerleader-inspired high ponytail! Keep it polished with a low ponytail that rests at the nape of your neck. The effect is sleek whilst maintained in the sense that it keeps hair out of your face while you’re hard at work!
Down - Free flowing locks will forever be in fashion! Try to steer clear of too many products that weigh your tresses down; simply allow it to spill long and lank over your shoulders for pure sublimity.
Side Braid - The side braid is slightly bohemian in its aesthetic, for it ultimately leaves tiny tendrils and wisps of hair framing your face; two things that come across as angelic yet completely appropriate for the working girl!

Rotating through these three styles for any given work week is a quintessential way for retaining refinement in your daily dress; while keeping things well-proportioned in terms of style.

For Your Listening Pleasure Darlings, you may know how to dress for your internship; but now that you’re a part of the working world, you need a soundtrack made with the working girl in mind. Now you’ve got one!

9 to 5 - Dolly Parton
Work is a Four-Letter Word - The Smiths
Working Class Hero - John Lennon
Bright Future in Sales - Fountains of Wayne
Maggie’s Farm - Bob Dylan
Morning Train - Sheena Easton
Manic Monday - The Bangles
I Can’t Wait to Get Off Work - Tom Waits
A Hard Day’s Night - The Beatles
Jacqueline - Franz Ferdinand

“Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fashionably yours!

Thanks to The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Shopbop, American Apparel, Forever 21, Meet Mark, and Cinemalogue for the pictures.

Don't forget to enter the Twenties Girl Giveaway for your chance to win a copy of Sophie Kinsella's Twenties Girl.

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