Monday, July 30, 2012

work-life balance: 30/5/30 challenge part 1.

I've embarked on a new personal challenge to exercise for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. I've also promised to share what I've done each week with all my readers. For the week of July 23, here's what I did:

Monday: Tennis
Tuesday: Long walk with the dog
Wednesday: Aerobics/Kickboxing Exercise Video
Thursday: Long walk with the dog
Friday: Break
Saturday: Long walk around the East Mall of Washington, DC
Sunday: Break

My first week went pretty well. I learned two important things: (1) I can do this! and (2) I need to listen to my body and know my limits. Thursday, i decided to do an advanced version of an exercise video, and found myself almost collapsing after the first 15 minutes. So I'm going to take it slow this week to avoid burning out.

Readers: How do you plan on staying active this week?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

what i wore.

I'd like to start posting what I actually wear to work (with a few minor changes if I can't find the actual item online). So consider this my first in a series (maybe weekly?) of posts featuring my outfit for the day. Enjoy!

what i wore

While this is a silk shirt from piperlime, I'm actually wearing a similar one (sans pockets) from Zara. It's such a great top because it's not too sheer, but light enough for the hot summer D.C. sun. 

I just got this skirt from ebay!! It was my first ebay clothing purchase. Look out for a future post about my ebay escapades in the next few days. It's a j.crew skirt that was new, with tags, and more than half off the original price. 

And while I'm wearing different, but very similar versions of these items, here's what else I've featured in this post: Purse / Shoes / Necklace (out of stock at BR) / Earrings / Bracelet

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

neiman marcus - target collaboration.

The fashion community has been buzzing about the most recent collaboration between Neiman Marcus, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and Target, set to be released on December 1st. Prices range from $7.99 to $499.99, and will be sold both at Target and Neiman Marcus as part of their holiday collection. How Target thinks it will sell $500 dollar items is beyond me, but most items are said to be under $60.

What's really awesome is that Target and Neiman Marcus are donating $1 million to the Council of Fashion Designers of America for its 50th Anniversary. This is great news because the CFDA provides great opportunities for fashion designers just starting out in the business. Here are the designers that will be participating in the collaboration:

Alice + Olivia
Band of Outsiders
Brian Atwood
eddie Borgo
Judith Leiber
Lela Rose
Philip Crangi
Prabal Gurung
Proenza Schouler
Rag & Bone
Robert Rodriguez
Thom Browne
Tracy Reese
Carolina Herrera
Derek Lam
Diane von Furstenberg
Jason Wu
Marc Jacobs
Oscar de la Renta
Tory Burch

Given that my two favorite designers (Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta) are both participating in this great venture, I've created two outfit posts inspired by their most recent collections. Enjoy!

target neiman collabo

Oscar de la Renta: Necklace, Top, Skirt, Shoes
Carolina Herrera: Necklace, Dress, Brooch, Shoes

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

the golf outing.

When you're in an environment outside of work where your boss and coworkers are present, it's really important to still look professional and wear work-appropriate clothing. This thought brings me to the Business Golf Outing. Whether you're with clients or people you work with, it's smart to look smart. Here's some fashion inspiration for your next time on the golf course.


Monday, July 23, 2012

work-life balance: 30/5/30 exercise challenge.

young girl dancing happy in a field

For a long time I've struggled with my workout schedule. I'm sure many of you are like me where I come up with this great, extremely detailed plan of how, when, and where I'm going to workout for the next million years. Then, the follow through just isn't as great.

My main issues: time and motivation. Who has the time or the energy to exercise after a long, hard day at work?

Well, I've come up with a plan for myself. For the next 30 days, I will challenge myself to spend 5 days a week doing 30 minutes of exercise.  These workouts aren't restricted by how many calories I should be burning or how strenuous they should be. Instead, I'm just promising myself to be active in some way, shape, or form for 30 minutes, 5 days a week. And I hope to do one (optional) fun, active, outdoor exercise during the weekend like tennis, running, swimming, etc.

At the end of the week, I'll post a report on what I've accomplished and my progress thus far.

I hope you all will enjoy following my progress and even become inspired to set out just 30 minutes a day for some fun, active exercise. If so, please share your experience with me in the comment box below.

Friday, July 20, 2012

ode to the wrap dress. ode to the wrap dress...

When I'm feeling frumpy
When I'm feeling blue
Forever a classic
I always knew
Don't have to think
Just pull on some shoes
Oh, wrap dress how I love you!!

Here are a few of my favorite wrap dresses at Nordstrom. I hope you like them as much as that way awesome poem I just wrote.

wrap dresses

Clockwise from top left: 1, 2, 3, 4,

Thursday, July 19, 2012

made in america.

There's been a recent uproar about the U.S. Olympic Team's Chinese-made uniforms. If you haven't already heard the story, here's a great article on the fashion community's take on the issue

Congress has reacted to this by presenting legislation that would force the government to buy apparel that's 100% made in America. Here's another article on Senator Sherrod Brown's (D-OH) collaboration with designers Nanette Lepore and Lawson Nickol, as well as his Wear American Act of 2012. Representatives Dan Lipinski (D-IL) and Walter Jones (R-NC) have introduced similar legislation in the House.

So what should we make of all this? Well, there's an internal conflict within the fashion industry. While it's important to create more jobs and become self-sufficient within the industry, it's also really expensive to manufacture clothing in this country. A rise in costs for designers will surely mean a rise in costs to the every-day consumer. While these Congressional bills only affect the federal government, we, the tax payers, are the ones paying for it. 

I truly believe that our Olympic Team should have been representing the country with bright, crisp uniforms made in this country, simply because of who and what they represent. I'm not sure that I would want this to be a blanket policy across the whole of the United States, but I'd love to hear your thoughts.

And here's a super cute, work-appropriate outfit that's "Made in America" :

made in america

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

high pay. low stress.

Maybe you love impossible last minute deadlines, a boss that's jumping down your throat, and a work environment where every task is do-or-die, succeed or say "bye bye." Some people live for that stuff. For the rest of us, that's not necessarily the ideal work environment. Of course, a challenging work environment is great for your work ethic and can really boost your creativity, but if the "challenge" goes a bit too far, your physical and psychological health can be negatively affected.

On my way to work this morning, I heard a really interesting story on the radio. It was a list of the 5 highest paid -- low stress jobs in America. I found the list on monster, and here it is:

1. Optometrist
Median Annual Salary: $99,200

2. Materials Scientist
Median Annual Salary: $90,600

3. Economist
Median Annual Salary: $85,600

4. Aeronautical Engineer
Median Annual Salary: $82,800

5. User Experience Designer
Median Annual Salary: $79,100

Of course, it all depends on where you work. I work with a ton of economists that, I'm sure, are pretty stressed out on any given day given the type of work we do here. But the list does sound pretty accurate. Have you ever seen a stressed-out optometrist???

Readers: What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

splurge v. save.

Proactiv Solution 3 Step System Kit, 2 Month SupplySt. Ives Apricot Scrub Blemish & Blackhead Control - 10 oz..Opens in a new window

Proactiv is a great product. Some people love it, live by it, and even say it's saved their lives. I've tried Proactiv, and liked it very much. I have regular combination skin, and found that, at first, it tended to dry out my skin. So I started using it once every two days before bed instead of twice a day every day, like they suggest. I supplemented it with a lighter face wash in the mornings. It worked very well -- until I started noticing that whenever I stopped using it, I got these terrible breakouts. I later learned that Proactiv users all over the world have found this to be true. So, I decided to switch to a new product. 

I've been using St. Ives Apricot Scrub for a few weeks now, and it is wonderful. I've stopped using it for 2 days at a time just to see the effect, and I don't get the same breakouts I've gotten using Proactiv. It's a pretty rough scrub that makes you feel like it's working, but it's thick consistency moisturizes the skin very well. The smell isn't overpowering. And, although it says to use 3 times a week, I think it works great as a daily face wash. The biggest selling point is that at $20 a month for Proactiv versus the $3 at Target for St. Ives, I'll take St. Ives any day. 

The verdict is in: SAVE!   

Monday, July 16, 2012

Thursday, July 12, 2012

heel agony.

The worst part of wearing new (or maybe even cheap) shoes is how uncomfortable they can be -- the incessant rubbing against your heel, the tight squeeze against your toes. I get it. But please PLEASE don't make that an excuse for walking around town with shriveled up, peeling band-aids on the backs of your feet. It looks terrible and has to be unhygienic. I don't want to see your open sores or the bloody side of your band-aid poking out of your shoes. It's disgusting!

Well, now that my rant is done. Here are a few tips for stylishly protecting your feet from the harshness of a new pair of shoes.

1. Moleskin!!!!  This is my number one suggestion. It has saved my feet and my pocketbook quite a few times. In fact, I bought 4 pairs of Target flats when they were BOGO free, and I would not have been able to wear them were it not for my moleskin. Moleskin are adhesive pads that people usually stick to the skin to prevent blisters on their feet. It's fabric on one side and sticky on another. I actually cut off a piece of moleskin to fit the back side of my shoes and stick it on the actual shoe. If I need more padding, I just layer another piece on top of the first. It's great for protecting your feet, and fitting into a pair of shoes that may be a tad too big. You can buy a roll or a few sheets for just around $2 or $3 at the drugstore.

2. Dr. Scholl's Heel Liners: I've used these heel liners in the past, and they work very well. They are very comfortable, and are made of a synthetic, kind of plastic, material which sticks to the back of the foot so there's no rubbing. It's a little pricier ($7 or $8 at drugstores and $4 or $5 at discount stores like Walmart), but it lasts quite a long time. I would advise against getting the drugstore brand of heel liners. I bought a pair and found that they get kind of nasty after a while, and they tend to be an ugly gray which just isn't cute.

3. Wear Comfy Flats: Give your feet a break and wear some cute comfy flats once in a while. Here are a few really cute ones.


4. Moisturize Daily: Dry skin on the feet is actually more prone to causing friction between the foot and the shoe, which, in turn, causes blisters and other ailments. To prevent this, use a pumice stone and moisturize your feet daily. I won't name any names, but I know someone who swears by rubbing Vicks Vaporub on her feet (and face...I know) before bed. I think it's just the petroleum jelly (active ingredient in Vaseline) that works. If you're not that adventurous, or don't want to smell like a cold, a thick foot cream before bed works really well.

5. Anti Friction Stick: Dr. Scholl's has a good anti friction stick. Just rub it on areas that tend to sweat or rub against your shoes. I've also heard that rubbing clear deodorant on your feet works as well.

6. Wear Shoes that Fit: For the longest time, I thought I was a size 7. Someone, years back, said I was, and the fact that my feet constantly slipped out of my shoes was, for some reason, not an indicator of the fact that I probably should go a half size down. When I go to the shoe store, I ask for 3 different sizes in every shoe I'm thinking of purchasing because every shoe fits differently. And, even then, some shoes just don't work for me. What do I do? Walk...away...slowly.

Readers: What are your tips?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

i hate polka dots.

blue and coral


Why do I hate polk dots? They remind of minnie mouse and little girls -- not of a professional woman ready to take over the world! Then, I saw this girl dressed in a polka dot bow blouse and a bright blue sweater on the metro yesterday. And I didn't keel over. Maybe polka dots aren't so bad. But please wear them in limited quanties...for my sake.

Monday, July 9, 2012

survival kit.


I got taco sauce on my beige skirt yesterday. I almost would have died, and then I remembered I had my trusty tide pen at work. Stain gone. Having a great survival kit at work can be such a lifesaver. Here's what I have stashed at my desk:

1. Fresh Breath Kit: toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, and mints/gum

2. Bandaids

3. Hand Sanitizer

4. Aspirin (it's actually Advil Migraine for me)

5. Lotion

6. Tissues (in the winter)

7. Tide-to-go

9. Static Guard and Lint Remover (this combo works great for removing my dog's crazy thick white coat off my black pencil skirt)

10. Nail File

11. Sewing Kit (mostly used for the hem tape that comes with it which has saved my life a few times)

12. Tampons/Panty Liners

13. Deodorant

14. Lipgloss

And for those of you that have enough space:

15. One or two neutral-colored blazers

16. One or two neutral-colored heels

Readers: What do you keep at your desk?

indiana jones and peplums.

While watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade last night, I fell in love with Dr. Elsa Schneider's classically chic style. There's something about the late '30s and '40s that exudes professionalism and highlights great tailoring for both men and women.

By 1930, about one out of every six married women had a job, a number which continued to increase with World War II. Pintucked waists and skirt suits were all the rage. In fact, the modern peplum became popular in the 1940s (and you thought this was a new trend, shame on you). Here's a great example of some cute peplums:

And here is an outfit inspired by Dr. Elsa Schneider, and the working women of the 30s and 40s that paved the way for us today. Wear this with a light, cropped cardigan or blazer for a work-appropriate look.



Friday, July 6, 2012

happy weekend.

happy weekend.


Hellooooo Weekend!!! I am so excited for this weekend because it's my first weekend in 3 weeks where I can do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Don't you just love it when that happens? ::sigh::

I hope you like this outfit post. The light blue and the salmony-mauve (?) color are so unexpected yet very complementary. 

p.s. If you know the name of this color (or can come up with your own creative name), please let me know in the comments section. I've been struggling with that all day!

Have a great and restful weekend, everyone! 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

summer yellow.

Yellow is my favorite color. When I see it, it makes me so happy. Here's a little yellow inspiration that I hope will make you feel cheery and sunny all day.
summer yellow.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

curly hair at work.

Hello Everyone!

As most of you probably don't know, I have very curly hair. I've struggled with my curls for many years, until I finally learned to love and adore them for who they are. However, it took me a while to come up with work-appropriate curly hairstyles for those days when I don't have time to completely style my curls.

So, I'd like to share with you all my favorite work-appropriate curly hairstyle tutorial videos to help my curly girls out:

Monday, July 2, 2012

job search woes.

The American Bar Association Journal reported last week in this article that 45% of 2011 law school graduates have not found full-time, long-term legal jobs. Compare that to the current 8.1% rate of unemployment in the United States. And, while this percentage of law school grads includes those that may be doing contract work or working at the mall to stay afloat, the numbers are still drastic considering the immense amount of law school debt taken on by these grads. What was once considered your average mortgage, is now your typical debt out of law school.

Well, I went through the same when I graduated. I won't pretend I'm the authority on finding a job, but I can tell you what I did, and what I think worked.

1. Work for free (if you can).

When I graduated, I had the good fortune of receiving an immense amount of support, not just from my parents, but from extended family as well. But, as you all well know how expenses can add up, even that wasn't enough. I worked my unpaid internship from 9am-5pm and then went off to Banana Republic where I freelanced as a stylist (aka sales associate) from 6pm-11pm. If you have the economic and psychological ability to do it, go for it.

The reason I believe in the "work for free" system is that I truly believe people will help you the most when they feel they owe  you something. And if you're giving them your time and best effort with no remuneration, they will most likely take some time to help you connect with others in the field or maybe even send your resume to their colleagues who are looking for a new employee.

Honestly, I was once of the mindset that I was a licensed attorney, and was above working for free. Then, I realized a year had passed since I had graduated and, instead of gaining valuable experience during that year, I was complaining about how there was no good paid work out there. Once I opened my eyes to what I could be doing, I moved to DC and landed a spot on the Hill, then another at a think tank, and then my first paid job as an attorney at an Embassy.

2. Create a list of possible networks...and network your butt off.

My advice isn't to go to a million networking events and push your resume off on a bunch of people you don't know. I created a list of every possible "group" I belonged to. In that list I included my undergraduate and graduate schools, my ethnic group, my sorority, professional groups, etc. I then went through and contacted everyone I could find that was in my area and also belonged to one of these groups. For every 20 or so e-mails I sent, I got about 3 responses. So don't feel discouraged if you don't hear back from everyone. Once you set up appointments to meet with these people, see #3.

3. Set up informational interviews.

Informational interviews are a great way to let people know you're looking for a job. Set up meetings with professionals in your field (I always asked them to lunch, coffee, or a quick word in their office so they know you're conscious of how busy they are). Have some questions ready for them. Ask them what their typical day-to-day work is like, what the most important subjects in their field are at the moment, and what advice they may have for you as you currently look for work. Don't ask them information about their field of work that's readily available online. You'll seem unprepared. Don't ask them for a job or push your resume on them. Although, you should have a copy of your resume ready in case they ask you for it. Send them a thank you note or e-mail that same day.

4. Check, double check, and triple check your application materials.

All these elements should be impeccable -- no typos or grammatical errors. It should  be on professional-grade resume paper with a standard font and font size.

5. Be ready to knock them out of the park with your interview skills.

People's job needs are extremely unpredictable. You may wait months before your hear a peep, and all of a sudden you get an email from a prospective employer that they need you to interview that same day (as is what happened to me -- but that's a story for another day). Always have prepared answers to expected interview questions. For example, I always got the "tell me a little about yourself" question. It took me a while to realize they didn't want to know about my dog back home, but about my experience and how I could contribute to their organization. Now I can rattle that answer off like it's my name, date of birth, and social security number. After you've got those down, make sure to research the company and your interviewer, if possible, and show them you've done your research by asking them specific questions regarding this information at the end of the interview.

These are not all the tactics, nor the best tactics, to use when looking for a job. But this is what I used, and it worked for me. I wish you all the luck in the world. Just keep swimming, and remember that every moment in your life leads to the next.