One reason you’re not reading about new year’s resolutions from me this month is because I went through a spate of goal-setting in November and December that had me updating my LinkedIn profile (almost done), cleaning and organizing my basement studio (done!), and attending networking events once a week so that when my shirt issues are finally solved, I can reach out to the women I meet who need them (ongoing). That last goal is the reason for my underdressed uniform fail.
The week after that experience, I ventured to hear a panel of female creatives talk about their work in digital media. Having learned my lesson to look like you’ve just come from work, I came up with the following combination, hoping that my polka dot blazer and tights would somehow say “creative”.
Instead, my outfit said “overdressed outsider.” Here’s what everyone else wore at the Razorfish offices that night.
Fortunately, I’d already met my greatest challenge that evening: getting out of the house. I doubted anyone at the event would be part of my target market, and it was so comfortable at home, that I could easily have sat under a blanket in front of our television all night. I persuaded myself to walk out our front door by looking at the evening as a research project. I would find answers to questions like, What do creatives wear? What do they do at their jobs? What do they care about?
With this plan, I no longer had to worry about blending in! When other attendees asked if I was also in advertising, I just said, “No, I’m in the garment industry, and I’m here to find out how women in your industry dress and think.” It led to some pretty interesting conversations even though the night confirmed my suspicion that my shirts aren’t a priority for busty women in digital marketing.
My next event was on waaaaay more familiar territory because it was sponsored by women lawyers. Up to this point, I’d made do with the uniform I told you about yesterday, but now I went into high shopping gear looking for a black pencil skirt. I decided on the Sloan pencil skirt from Banana Republic and found it on sale for $35. The heavy stretch cotton makes it versatile for dressing up or down, but the color keeps it serious. I wear it all the time, including yesterday with my Lord & Taylor tee shirt and my new rain/snow bungee boots that I adore–now this is an outfit I could have worn to Razorfish!
When I walked into the lawyer event, I knew I’d nailed the look: pearls, white shirt, black and brown woven blazer from my law firm days, black skirt, black tights, and black shoes. It’s a good thing I felt comfortable in my clothes because I didn’t necessarily feel comfortable in my skin. The event was a clothing drive and holiday party hosted by the Association of Black Women Attorneys, and I worried that I’d be seen as forcing my way into a support network where I had no business. This time “research project” didn’t give me any courage. Now as I waffled over whether to leave our house, I remembered advice I’d read recently about how to introduce yourself: instead of focusing on what you DO, focus on WHO you HELP. That was all I needed to overcome my shyness because I’m passionate about how my shirts help busty women. The event was a success for everyone, and I met some amazing women. I even helped another busty woman that night!
This post is turning out to be more about how I’m learning to approach events where I’m unlikely to blend in than it is about filling the gaps in my uniform that I promised you yesterday. So far I’ve only told you about my new black pencil skirt. It filled the biggest hole, but I also needed a few pairs of dress pants to give my khakis a break, and I didn’t have even one pair of jeans that fit. I also wanted a nicer pair of black shoes to wear with skirts and dresses.
You never know what you’re going to find at thrift stores, but I hit the gold mine for these basics in Florida last month. Here are the shoes ($4 each) and belt (99 cents!) I scored at my favorite Goodwill. (Shoes are always a major challenge for me, so finding these was a big deal.) I also got two pairs of jeans that fit perfectly for $4 each that I’m sure you’ll be seeing in later posts.Next up was the thrift store beside my sister’s art studio–the one where she found my purple dress in November. There I found tan and charcoal dress pants for $2 each. You’ll definitely be seeing these in future posts. I’d like to brag and say that I created my own luck by being so aware of my uniform and what I needed to complete it, but I’ve searched for these things before to no avail.
Before flying to Florida, I also found a pair of Donald Pliner kitten heels on eBay for $60.
I’ve been wanting a pair of leopard print shoes for more than two years. I’d like to say that it’s better to invest in the hard-to-find accent pieces since inexpensive basics are easier to find, but I know that’s not always the case either. Sometimes it’s the perfect basic that’s expensive and the trendy accent piece that’s cheap.
I guess it’s the not knowing that keeps things interesting. I love seeing how the other Hourglassy writers approach their wardrobes (Leah and I couldn’t be more opposite!), and I’d love to hear what you do. Also, be sure to check out Astrid’s latest post–The Busty Gal and the Accidental Capsule Wardrobe. I have a feeling we can all relate!
I think you looked great in both outfits. At my age (busty, youngish 60), I still try to dress appropriately for the occasion. But more than anything, I dress in a way that I find comfortable and flattering to me. I’m often a little more “dressed” than most people — at the office, at parties, church, etc. But dressing that way makes me feel good. And I do like a little bling with whatever I wear. Be comfortable in who you are, that’s my advice.
Sandy B, I am super late responding, but THANK YOU for encouraging me about both outfits. And your point about feeling comfortable in and flattered by your clothing, even if you’re more “dressed”, got me thinking. In fact, it’s probably better to be MORE dressed than less dressed!