Spring Into Work With a New Wardrobe

After one of the coldest winters on record, we’re all ready to shed the black and reemerge to welcome warmer weather with colorful cardigans.  Spring is known to many in the fashion world as the perfect union of office chic and out-of-office casual. Meaning it’s the best time of year for you to mix and match your wardrobe for both work and play.

To prepare for this glorious revival of color and shape in our closets, we wanted to find work-appropriate wear that instills confidence without compromising style. Knowing that many hardworking women share our spring fever, we teamed up with Talbots to kick off an empowering season of success and style. Which is why from now until March 22nd you can make a monetary donation to Dress for Success at any of their nearly 500 locations across the United States and Canada.

At Talbots, they understand work wear should make you feel powerful and still maintain a stylish edge. Known for their quality and classic pieces, Talbots recently rolled out their new spring line dabbling in powder pinks, fuchsias and peaches with a few bold reds and greens that transition seamlessly between seasons.

To help us showcase some inspiring looks, we brought along Dress for Success client, Addie, who made interview attire look effortless and enchanting. Previously working in medical research, Addie has a degree in biology as well as experience in real estate. She took some time off her job hunt to meet us and the Talbots team at the Madison Avenue store in NYC. After fawning over some accessories we’ve missed all winter, hello Jackie O shades (see below), we settled on four different outfits that would ace any interview, meeting or even casual work day.  Warning: Outfits may inspire feelings of warmth and happiness, and require you make a change in your shade of blues.

Our always stylish client, Addie, meeting Talbots store manager, Tim, before the shoot.

Just browsing the four-story Madison Avenue store and falling in love with the sleeveless blouse-blazer combinations…

This Navy Avanos Suit coat and matching pants (Dress for Success nickname: the approachable power suit) are complemented by the Veria Striped Shirt, in sugar coral, adding a pop of color to brighten the look. The white block-collar allows Addie to stand out to employers while maintaining an overall professional profile.

Dress for Success Tip: Tuck the striped shirt in for a more polished look, perfect for a meeting or an interview.

This Wispy Floral Pencil Skirt and Pointelle Cardigan is the ultimate spring office wear. Two looks in one, the sea lily colored cardigan complements the floral skirt and gives off a vibrant but sophisticated look that’s suitable for any day at the office. For a more high-profile meeting or second-round interview, easily remove the cardigan and the Wrinkle-Resistant Poplin Shirt showcases a crisp, sleek appearance that elevates the look from casual office wear to polished power woman.  Our favorite accent? The Pippa Patent Leather Kitten-Heel Pumps give you a little extra height, but are comfortable enough for all-day wear. For a quick switch, pair these heels with pants for a night out or dinner after work.

Dress for Success Tip: Adding a necklace pulls out the floral pattern in this pencil skirt and gives you a chance to add even more charisma to the ensemble.

Once you’ve got the job, this Status Chain-Links Dress, a play on the versatile wrap dress, is wearable for almost any occasion, including your 9-5. The white and black pattern complements any skin tone and three-quarter sleeves (our favorite detail) are the perfect compromise for spring.

We paired it with the Navy Anos Suit jacket from Addie’s first look to show how you can mix and match outfits without compromising style or professionalism. The suit coat breaks up the patterned dress, giving it a little extra edge. Or, top it off with the Botanical Flowers Scarf  for a softer look. Hint: the peach and powder gray-blue tones are a guaranteed mood-booster for spring.

You’re guaranteed to make a statement with this Gladiola-Print Sateen Dress. The A-line, pleated cut flatters any body type and is appropriate for most offices.  For those that may be a little more conservative, simply throw on a shrug  (we recommend the Cameo Pink).

Dress for Success Tip: Pair with the Leather Bucket Bag in Buff, the shade is completely neutral and will work with any spring outfit. Better yet, it’s large enough to fit a portfolio, make-up bag, deodorant, Tide to go and all your other work and interview essentials.

And what can we say? After you’re new wardrobe from Talbots you feel like Jackie O. But seriously, the sunglasses are named Jackie O.


Ted Gibson’s Guide to Job-Landing Locks!

Guest post by celebrity hair stylist, Ted Gibson

We all know that you need to “Dress for Success” for your interview to land the perfect job. Your appearance is super important, however, many women forget about one of the most important aspects of your look: HAIR!! One of my mantras is “Hair Changes Everything.” It really does! How your hair is styled for your interview can affect the interviewer’s perception of you. Here are my favorite hairstyles sure to make an excellent impression on any future boss!

Sleek Bun

Whether parted to the side, in the middle or with no part at all this classic style is perfect for your next job interview. It’s neat, clean and screams sophistication!

The Bob

First impressions are super important. You want your potential new boss to take you seriously and know that you are capable of taking on the job you are interviewing for. The bob is so versatile and there is a version for everyone! Whether cut just below the chin or a “lob” (long bob) grazing the shoulders, a bob says “I’m stylish, I care about my appearance and I mean business!”

Fresh Blowout

There’s nothing like a fresh blow-out! It’s such a clean and refreshing look – you absolutely cannot go wrong! I think it’s a great idea to get a fresh blowout before any job interview. Whether your hair is short or long, super curly or straight, a blowout can do wonders for your look! Here’s how to do a Gibson girl blowout at home!

  1.  First, you will need a good blow drying hair spray. You want to look  for sprays that say they will  add volume and shine and have a heat and UV protection. Spray this throughout your hair while wet.
  2. Next, the secret to the perfect blowout is to start with your fingers. Pull your fingers through your hair starting at the roots and shoot the heat at the roots while holding the hair taut. Get your hair about 75% drying using this method. Then, part your hair in your desired part.
  3. One of the biggest mistakes women make with their at-home blow dries is that their sections are too large, resulting in flat hair. When blow drying, you want to take 1 – 1 ½ inch sections.
  4. In the salon, most stylists blow dry hair using a  boar bristle and nylon round brush, however this requires practice and skill. If you are not comfortable using round brush, use a boar bristle and nylon paddle brush. The boar bristle in the brush gives hair great body and shine.  You never want to use a metal brush when blow drying your hair  – the metal heats up too fast and can burn and break your hair off. Take one section of hair, hold your dryer by the handle about 3 inches away from your head and blow dry while brushing with the paddle brush.
  5. Once your section is dry, curl the hair up in a Velcro roller. Do this to your entire head. Once you’re finished and the hair is cool, take out the rollers and lightly rake through your hair with your fingers. Turn your head upside down, shake it out a bit, and spray with a light, flexible holding spray. Flip your head up and you’ll find you’ve given yourself a salon quality blowout at home!

Ted Gibson is one of the most sought-after editorial, runway, and celebrity hair stylists in the business.  His work has appeared in publications such as VogueHarper’s BazaarElleMarie ClaireVanity FairPeople StyleWatchW, and Allure and backstage at runway shows such as Chanel, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana.  He is also a huge influence and presence at both Fall and Spring New York Fashion Week styling some of the top American fashion designer labels including Pamella Roland, Carmen Marc Valvo and Lela Rose.  Ted is perhaps most known for toiling over the tresses of top celebrities including Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Debra Messing, Angelina Jolie, Ashley Greene, Lupita Nyong’o, Gabrielle Union and many more.

How to Keep Your Sweaters Looking Their Best!

Don’t you love autumn?  One day it’s warm, one day it’s cool.  Fall is just the unpredictable season that, despites its ups and downs, you just can’t help but love.  One way many of us ladies combat the turbulent temperatures of the season is to simply keep a sweater stashed in our bag or steadfastly hanging from the backs of our office chairs for those times when we don’t plan for that dreaded drop in Mercury.  The best thing about sweaters is that they’re a great way to warm up without dressing down, so we want to make sure that your favorite knitted wares are cared for properly and live a long, purposeful life!  Follow these tips to keep your sweaters looking great season after season:

Wash: Make sure you follow the instructions on the tag. Most wool, cashmere or mohair sweaters will require you to hand wash them. Baby shampoo is a preferable substitute to detergent for these fabrics, which have very delicate fibers. If you are washing rayon, cotton or linen sweaters in a machine, turn inside out and make sure to separate them or only clean with like items. The clasps on bras, zippers and buttons can snag a sweater and create holes or pulls in the fabric.

Dry: Most sweaters should be dried on a flat surface so they do not lose shape after washing.  You can use a towel to dab and soak up excess water before laying them flat and reshaping, but never wring dry. Gather the waist and wrists, button any buttons and straighten the sleeves–pressing and pulling gently to lengthen and restore the sweaters original shape.

Maintain: When your sweater gets “pills” from rubbing and overuse, you can use a razor blade or small electric shaver to remove the excess fibers. After each cleaning check the armpits, elbows and sleeves where rubbing occurs most often.

Fold & Store: After your sweater dries, fold. Do not hang on a hanger or the sweater will stretch out and lose its shape. When storing for the season, make sure your sweaters are washed and fully dried so it does not grow mold or mildew. To further protect, you can use cedar balls in your storage box or drawer as a safe and easy solution to moths, pests and odor.

These few extra steps will keep your sweaters a wardrobe staple and equipped to take on the seasons!


Tone Your Beauty Routine!

The days are becoming shorter, but somehow your sleep patterns are not getting any longer and by the time you finish at the office, make dinner, shower and pack lunch for the next day, it’s already later than you realized! If the winter is wearing your skin out, instead of simply piling on the make-up to cover up, try applying toner after washing your face for a refreshing addition to your beauty routine.

Once a part of most women’s make-up routines, toner has fallen by the wayside, but this Fall we are calling for a revival of the forgotten exfoliate. Toner can be applied to the face after cleansing and helps to remove excess oil and dead skin—not to mention that it also helps to shrink your pores and can even help prevent ingrown hairs. When you’re over-tired, your face may appear drawn and pale; toner improves the overall appearance of your skin’s tone, giving you an energized glow.

At work, this is especially important as your physical presentation actually influences whether or not people perceive you as qualified. If you walk out the door looking tired and disheveled, you may attract a few odd looks, but you may also be passed over for job opportunities.  Subconsciously, when you walk into a room, potential employers will immediately evaluate you on your “warmth” and “competence,” whether they will like you and/or respect you, simply based on your appearance.

If you look dazed and like your skin has seen better days, it could be misconstrued for incompetence and you could find yourself overlooked for that new position or the next promotion.  This is especially true if your job requires you to interact with the public. Here, your presence is reflective of the company as a whole and will play a large part in influencing clients’ or patrons’ opinions of your business and its credibility.

Simply adding a little toner to your morning beauty routine during the week is an easy way to give yourself a refreshed look and a quick boost of confidence. Finish with a little brightening moisturizer on top for a polished glow that will leave your skin and your body feeling hydrated and more awake.

The Two Fall Handbag Trends You Need Now

Guest post from Rie Yano and Jie Zheng, Co-founders of Material Wrld

We all know the confidence boost that can come from a perfectly pulled together outfit. You walk a little taller and feel like the best version of yourself. You’re ready to conquer anything. Head-to-toe styling creates a polished look, and always requires a little piece of arm candy to complete the look. We broke down two of our favorite fall handbag trends that will make you feel like a million bucks, whether you are heading out to dinner or to a big job interview.

 1.)   Don’t Be Flat. Texture Tease.

The first trend we are loving is all about texture. This season’s hottest bags feature everything from slick patent leathers, rich animal embossing, intricate weaves, and nubby fabrics that evoke opulence with every wear. A textured bag can make even the flattest outfit pop. Pick textured bags in deep or neutral colors and avoid venturing into the vivid color spectrum, which can risk your NEW handbag looking less than luxurious.


 2.) Be Bold. Rock White After Labor Day.

If texture isn’t your thing or you are ready to add additional pieces to your collection, our second trend seems to break all Fashion 101 rules. Yes, it’s time to be bold and ditch one of the oldest rules in the style book…wear white after Labor Day! These crisp clean bags add a polished look to any ensemble and work all the way through winter. For a groundbreaking fall look, pair one of these white bags with an outfit composed of whites and creams, and accent the look with one jewel-toned piece, such as an oxblood-tone belt or emerald blazer. You’ll instantly feel pulled together and ready for the fresh, fall season.

Whichever trend you choose, make sure to rock it with confidence and pride!

As co-founders of Material Wrld, the ultimate luxury fashion trade-in service and Dress for Success partner, Rie Yano and Jie Zheng help women refresh their closets by offering a convenient way to mail in designer apparel and handbags they no longer wear to earn upfront gift cards and shop new. With over 130 accepted apparel brands and 30 top handbag designers like Burberry, Celine, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors and Prada, they see their fair share of new trends come into the showroom.

How to Look Like a Million Bucks While Flying Mile High!

It can be difficult to maintain a polished look from even your home to the office during these summer months, but add in a few hours on a flight and you’re taking the chances of a fashion catastrophe to a whole new level! But this doesn’t mean you can’t look chic and sophisticated while flying sky high. We aren’t saying endure your neighbor’s drool in the next seat while constricting yourself to heels and a starchy suit, but appearance is still important, especially when traveling for business. Research shows that flight attendants are more likely to dole out extra attention to well-dressed and neatly groomed travelers. So we’ve broken down your business travel stressors into a few easy steps that will leave you confident, prepared and maybe even upgraded to first class!

Dress Like a First-Classer, Even When Flying Coach

So how do you look professional, kempt and still remain comfortable on a flight? The key again is to dress in layers. This is practical for temperature control, as well as presentation.

Choose breathable fabrics such as cotton, silk or linen. Other synthetic fibers act as incubators for sweat and can make you feel even dirtier on a long trip.

Bottoms: Try a pair of ankle dress pants or an ‘A’ line skirt that won’t be constricting.

Top: Pair with a blouse or loose fitting tank and add a blazer overtop. The blazer will give the outfit a touch of professionalism and style, but is easily removable to accommodate conditions while traveling.

Shoes: Choose a pair of slip on flats or low heels that won’t have you tripping over drink carts in the aisles. The flats can slip easily into a carry-on and be swapped for a pair of heels if you have to run off to a meeting. If it’s colder, try wearing a pair of low-heeled boots and save room in your luggage.

Accessories: Light-weight scarves work great for any season and won’t weigh heavy on your body like a necklace or dangling earrings. If you can’t part with the bling, store it in your carry-on and put it on after the trip.

Maintaining Healthy Hygiene While Mile High

Face: Exfoliate your skin the night before and then apply moisturizer the next morning to combat the dry air on planes. Dead skins cells can block the moisturizer from actually absorbing in the skin. While on the flight, ask for an extra cup of ice with your beverage and wrap a cube in a napkin.  Hold it under your eye for a minute to decrease the inflammation that adds to a jet-lagged appearance.

Mouth: Not only does it feel like the Sahara in there, it probably also has a sour taste from ‘option 2’ on the mid-air menu. Try snacking on a green apple or ask the flight attendant for a lemon wedge.  Both have a tartness that activates salvation and a natural cleansing.

Hair: Blow-dry your hair the night before or the morning of your flight to add as much volume as possible. While traveling, use a neck pillow to protect from flat hair while relaxing. Don’t forget to stash some dry shampoo and hair spray in your bag for a quick touch up on your way out.

Makeup: Try to avoid applying too much make-up before a long flight and focus on bright neutral tones to accent natural features. On your way out of the airport, stop in the restroom and apply some mascara to your top lash, but skip the bottom, to avoid adding to any dark circles.

Full-body: The idea is to trick your body into staying hydrated and full when you’re not expending much energy. The air is usually dry and poorly circulated on a plane, so drinking water or even coconut water, which has an added electrolyte boost, will keep your body looking and feeling good. Also, snack often and strategically. Portable snacks like nuts have omega-3 fatty acids that will do wonders for your complexion and keep you full longer.

Have some travel tips of your own?  Tweet them to us at @dressforsuccess!

Quick Fashion Fixes for Women on the Go!

Some days you can do everything right—you got up and actually got out of bed to the first alarm, beat the traffic, and prepped for your morning meeting.  Oh, and did we mention you’re wearing the perfect outfit? But somehow you did not foresee the giant crater in the sidewalk or the gum stuck to the train seat that has now found a new home on your silk skirt. In the absence of a fairy god mother and some pixie dust, we have the working women’s Houdini moves– to get you out of any Fashion Faux Pas (FFP) without ever having to leave the office.

FFP: When you scrape your shoe on the sidewalk.

Fast Fix:  For black patent leather, apply some petroleum jelly with a cotton ball and rub in a circular motion to remove the scrape and then wipe clean with a damp cloth—follow up with a little Vaseline to restore the shoes original shine.  For leather, lightly brush toothpaste onto the scuff with a toothbrush to remove the mark. If you completely scraped off the leather, use an appropriate color marker (black or brown are the easiest to disguise) to fill in the scratch.  For suede, repeatedly brush an eraser in the one direction over the scuff to get rid of any dirt trapped in the fabric. This trick will also remove marks on vinyl!

FFP: When you break a heel.

Fast Fix: Crazy glue it.  Or for black heels, try wrapping the broken area in electrical tape—this is not a permanent hold, but it will look seamless and more importantly, get you through the work day.

FFP: When you find a deodorant stain on your shirt.

Fast Fix: Rub a cotton sock back and forth over the stained area. Don’t have a sock handy? Vigorously rub the fabric against itself.  You can use a dab of white vinegar to speed up the process.

FFP: When you’re a victim of the static cling.

Fast Fix: Use a dryer sheet to rub the inside of your skirt or dress where there is cling. If you don’t have a dryer sheet, rub a small amount of lotion together in your hands and then quickly run your hands between your clothes and your skin.

FFP: When your zipper is stuck.

Fast Fix: Rub the tip of a graphite pencil over the stubborn area to loosen the stick. If that does not work, try applying lip balm as a lubricant to both sides of the zipper.

FFP: When you bring your furry friend to the office—on your sweater.

Fast Fix: Grab a packing label or duct tape from the supply room and wrap it around your hand like a glove —dab and repeat until all of the pet hair has been removed!

FFP: When you have a run in your panty hose.

Fast Fix: Use some clear nail polish or even hair spray at the top of the run to stop it from spreading.

FFP: When you sit in gum.

Fast Fix: Fold a piece of duct tape around your hand and stick it to the gum, then carefully lift it off. If that isn’t doing the job, squirt the gum with hairspray to harden it. Wait five minutes and then scrape off with the tip of a coin.

FFP: When you have “hanger bumps” on your shoulders.

Fast Fix: Wet two fingers and rub out the entire area—the wet fibers will eventually flatten and mold to the shape of your shoulder. You can also use an ice cube for really stubborn bulges.

FFP: When you tear your blouse on a file cabinet corner.

The Fast Fix: Pull the threads and ripped fabric through to the inside of the shirt.  Then apply tape to close the gap from the inside, making sure to cover all the edges and loose threads to prevent any unraveling and subsequently unwanted stares.

FFP: When you lose the back to your favorite pair of earrings in the “under desk abyss.”

The Fast Fix: Break off a small piece of an eraser and use it as a replacement back until you can buy a new one.

FFP: When you spill…

The Fast Fix: Soak the stained area in club soda or tonic water then blot repeatedly. For ink stains repeat the same process, but with dry erase board cleaner or hairspray.


Shake-up Your Make-up for Spring

We’ve all heard the phrase “less is more” when it comes to polishing a work appropriate look. And with warm weather finally arriving, the last thing you want to do is cover up, but that doesn’t mean your “9-5” beauty regime should only be confined to the nude and taupe family. Spring is the perfect time to shake up your routine and introduce some new colors to your palette.  And hey, Mother Nature is playing with some new hues, so it’s only polite to follow suit, right?

Easy on the eyes

Give your lids a subtle lift with a sweep of peach champagne or sheer gold shadow over top of a neutral earth tone. This will keep your look casual and office appropriate, but give you that extra boost of confidence during the morning meeting. For a liner, skip black and try a smoky grey, charcoal or khaki. Use the sponge tip to smudge the ends—this will give the eyes soft definition and a subtle wing without the bold, cat-eye effect.

Sun a little, bronze a little, blush a little

During the spring and summer months, nature does most of the work for us. Though many enjoy their new transformation in skin tone, it’s important to protect your skin against UVA/UVB rays. Nowadays, a lot of foundations have built in sunscreen and bronzers can also help provide that sun-kissed glow without the damage. To keep it professional, choose a bronzer that’s only a shade or so darker than your skin’s natural tone. You can add a seasonal touch with a berry-colored blush. Try using a large round brush and start at the base of the cheekbones and sweep upward. This time of year, you can get away with a sugar plum or a soft, shimmery pink to add some dimension and youthful color to your cheeks.

Let your lips do the talking

The lips are always a point of contention, especially when it comes to the workplace: do you go bold, nude or sheer? The answer can be all the above! Spring is a great excuse to go bright with a coral or rich tangerine color. And to balance it for office wear, pair it with a neutral eye. Try a light grey liner with a peachy brown shadow. Or switch it up with a sheer rose water gloss on the lips and a cool clover green and tan on the lids. As a rule of thumb, play up one feature and have the rest of your palate compliment the bolder hue.

When considering new looks and colors at work, tailor your choices to your environment. Is your company conservative? If you’re working at a bank, you may want to skip the Marilyn Monroe red lips, but if you’re in an artistic-driven industry, you may be able to show off your edge a little more. New to the office? Take cues from your co-workers. It takes a while to adjust to a different environment, but finding a way to express your own sense of style within those office walls can be the most liberating of all.

For some tips on how to apply your make-up, check out this past post from cosmetics queen Bobbi Brown herself!


Unclutter Your Closet and Your Mind!

By Lisa Adams, Founder of LA Closet

We all know how much better we feel when the home is clean or the desk is organized. Psychologically, it makes us feel that things are under control. Well, that feeling naturally extends to the closet. A messy closet influences what our clothes look like, how long it takes to get dressed, what we actually wear and how stressed we are getting out the door in the morning. That’s a big deal! So why not take on a spring cleaning project and get into the closet and out from under the clutter.

As a closet designer I have five top tips that I recommend – and that I live by – to keep your closet and clothing organized, and mornings running smoothly.

  • Edit, edit, edit. Even if you don’t own a lot, it is likely that you only wear half of what you have. Start by taking everything out of the closet and organizing it into piles. Then really consider each piece. Does it actually fit you? Does it flatter your figure? Is it in great shape or is there a stain or tear?  Does it meet your professional needs or at least your off-hours needs? If it doesn’t work/fit/look good – let it go. If it will work for someone else, pay it forward to Dress for Success. If it is not in good shape, just toss it.  Same goes for shoes and bags and belts. If they are in good shape, give them a good polish and get them ready for a fresh start, too.
  • Clean away the cobwebs. While the closet is empty, get in there and dust it out, wipe it down and start from scratch with a clean palate. Maybe even a fresh coat of paint if you have time.
  • Organize. As you begin putting things back into the closet, organize your clothing by work life and play life. Then within each area, keep shirts together, pants together, dresses, etc. Then line up your bags on a shelf or in a drawer and keep those shoes within easy reach. Make it easy to find what you need. Studies have found that we only wear what is visible to the eye. If it’s buried, it’s gone.
  • Plan ahead. Each evening give yourself a head start to an organized day. Figure out what you are going to wear the next morning and hang it up together. Iron if necessary – the last thing you need to do in a busy morning is get out the ironing board!
  • Maintain. When you get home in the evening, I know it is so tempting to toss your clothes on the bed/chair/floor. But it takes less than a minute to put things back where they belong. Putting them back away keeps your room clean, the clothes in better  shape and means you don’t have an overwhelming pile come Friday – when really all you should do it relax. You’ve earned it!

Lisa Adams is the founder of LA Closet, where her mission is to create wardrobe and storage spaces that are balanced functionally and aesthetically. As a designer, she sees the potential in this under-utilized, and often out of control space to add value to your home and to calm the chaos of everyday life.   Find out more about Lisa on LA Closet Design.