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ABOUT THIS BLOG

I love fashion blogs as much as the next girl, but Monday through Friday, you’re probably not going to be rocking a backless silk chiffon romper with a fedora and studded platform stilettos (unless you work as a magician’s assistant or you’re Gwen Stefani… Gwen, you’re all good.  You can stop reading now).

In reality, working women are expected to look relatively normal during the workweek (“normal” as defined by wearing things that don’t make our bosses want to light themselves on fire).  And, since there don’t seem to be nearly enough opportunities in an office to wear a feather mini skirt, women all too often flounder when trying to come up with fabulous professional alternatives.

Take a quick look around your office.  If we’re being honest, it probably doesn’t take long to arrive at the harsh realization that in fact, professional women have a serious image problem.  We make up roughly 47% of the workforce and are dying for the chance to climb the corporate ladder, but often aren’t willing to look the part.

With no clear-cut female equivalent to men’s suit and tie (“the dude uniform”), women’s professional appearances all too often fall into one of two tragic, career-busting categories: sloppy or slutty.

Since women aren’t restricted to a suit-and-tie uniform, we should revel the opportunity to infuse some serious swank into our professional wardrobes.  But instead, women use this creative license to start stretching the boundaries of what’s appropriate and professional (yeah, I'm looking at you, Little Miss Bra Straps).

It’s true, we (myself included!) all too often abandon those pressed black pants and start rationalizing their replacement by black jeans or even (GASP!) leggings.  Instead of a sleek sheath dress or flattering blouse, we throw on our favorite over-sized cardigan that’s been our go-to since college.  Think long and hard about how that baggy, pilled sweater looks next to a guy in a suit.  Or, even if your office isn’t business formal, how do your leggings and mini skirts look next to a guy in a collared shirt and khakis?

Face it.  Even the creepy mail guy looks more put together than you do most days.

On days when we don’t look like total slopfests, we still feel bored of the tailored, knee-length pencil skirts and start convincing ourselves that the little black dress we’d like to wear to cocktails that night is passable at the office.  And over time, as that hemline gradually creeps up and that neckline gradually creeps down, our reputations as serious professionals gradually (and often irreversibly) disintegrate.

Fashion doesn’t have to be everyone’s “thing” but when it negatively affects your reputation and upward mobility at work, it’s time to step it up a bit.  As a professional woman, you’re already going to have to swim upstream to be successful.  Looking polished and professional will make a huge difference in your ability to be effective and taken seriously at the office.  Because honestly, if you can’t seem to brush your hair and figure out what reasonably fits you, why should you be trusted to comb through the nuances of much more difficult business decisions?

But don’t despair, I’ve got great news for you:  You don’t have to dress like a man or your Aunt Ethel to get ahead.

In this blog, I hope to illustrate that you can have a lot of fun with fashion within the confines of professional appropriateness.  If you take a look through the blog, you’ll see that those “confines” lie far beyond the grey pencil skirts and bland black suits you might typically associate with professional wear.

However, there's no hard and fast set of rules that apply across all professions (except, of course, for the Top 10 Cubicle Crimes!).  It's critical to be really thoughtful in evaluating your own office environment to determine what is appropriate for you.  I try to stay cognizant of the fact that it is impossible to offer a "one style fits all" guide when my readers range from school teachers in Florida to tech entrepreneurs in Tel Aviv to lawyers in New York to fashion merchandisers in Paris.  As I’ve gotten to know more of you, I've done my best to offer widely varying ensembles that would "work" in a number of different workplaces—from conservative, to casual, to creative. My goal is to reach more than just those women who find themselves in an office environment identical to my own by offering a depth and breadth of office style options and inspiration that span a multitude of professional settings.  So regardless of your particular work environment, I hope you can take away some tidbit of inspiration that helps you face off with your own sartorial challenges.

Thanks for following along!

XXOO,

Mary

P.S.  A special thanks to my mother—a professional woman who set a flawless and impeccably polished example for me to grow up watching.  This is my chance to pay it forward…

83 comments:

  1. Hear, hear. Forward, Classy Cubicle, making cubicles everywhere a bit (a lot?) classier.

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  2. amazing blog, SO desperately needed. can't wait to see what you post next!

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  3. Great stuff...I can't wait to share with my fellow cubi friends many could learn a thing or two. Keep it coming

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  4. love this idea! i just wrote about this topic without knowing about you ladies, we are totally on the same page. would love to have you stop by and visit. and keep up the good work!
    http://hooleywithaz.com/my-work-uniform

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  5. I just discovered your blog, but I'm already about to have read every post. PLEASE keep it coming. I'm a banker and sometimes hit a brick wall deciding what to wear to work. I'm REALLY bored with my Banana Republic uniform. And I'm excited to see that your style seems pretty similar to mine, and that I actually already own a few of the pieces you've shown. Yay! Keep up the good work, and thank you!!

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  6. Your blog is so amazing, I'm in love!

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  7. Did you happen to catch CBS Sunday Morning this week? They had a wonderful segment featuring a Professor at Notre Dame, Linda Przybyzewski, who wrote a book called: Nation of Slobs: How America learned and forget how to dress. She goes on to say,

    "We used to live in a world where people cared about how they dressed. I am shocked how often I will be out somewhere, whether on a street or in a restaurant, and I see only a handful of people who seem dressed appropriately, and even fewer dressed beautifully,” she says.

    I hope she encounters your wonderful blog. I have no doubt she would delight in viewing your suggestions on tasteful, beautiful fashion for women in the workplace.

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  8. I just stumbled across your blog, and say Brava! While I'm probably 20-25 years older than you are, I understand where you're coming from. I'm constantly vexed by the modern day mindset of "I don't care" as well as the "Well, no one's going to see me, so what does it matter?" way of thinking.

    Get dressed up every day because you CAN, because you have pride and self-respect! Who wants to look in the mirror and see unkempt hair, no makeup, and ratty clothes? I'm a legal assistant in a large law firm in Atlanta, GA, and appalled by what I see on a daily basis. Like you, I don't have an unlimited budget for clothes, but I was brought up by a single mother of 4 with great style and an eye for quality. I've learned to mix high with low (I invest in great shoes, but may be wearing them with a dress found on sale) and firmly believe you should put your best SELF forward at all times.

    If you don't respect yourself, how can you expect anyone else to? Appearance is something we can control, and I've found when I look great and make the effort, it comes back to me in spades. Thrilled to have found your blog and immediately bookmarked it. Carry on!

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  9. Just this week I was just thinking that I needed to step up my office attire. I was pinning a professional outfit that I liked on Pinterest and it lead you blog! I'm really impressed by what I've seen so far.

    Adding you to my reading list!

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  10. I keep a Pinterest board for work appropriate style. I am a teacher, so I can sometimes wear jeans (Fridays) but I am always on the hunt for cute clothing that is professional. I am glad I found your blog.

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  11. YES! Dress for the job you want; not the job you have... I am a rockabilly girl at heart but I have to be corporate so I tone it down and keep myself pulled together. I truly think if you look good you feel good and people will notice...

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  12. Wonderful! I, too, am going back and reading every post. I'm an attorney in a casual (read: sloppy) city. Your blog is a huge inspiration. Thank you!

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  13. I love what you put together, & you look like a million bucks -- BUT... anything for those of us who share your philosophy but are challenged w/ a few more years & pounds?

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  14. Mary, I am so glad I found your blog. I love new ideas for work wear and your site is awesome. PS - you could pass for a model! LOL.
    -Morgan
    Style Oyster

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  15. Obsessed with you and your blog. I think you're my spirit animal.

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  16. You hit the nail on the head!!
    Sara

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  17. I have just discovered your blog! I have been looking for something like this for a year! Your imagination and your style are fenomenous. You look great every single ocassion! I am very glad I found your blog!!!!

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  18. Love, love your shout out to your mother! As a corporate mother I appreciate you acknowledging your role model. Our daughter heads off to college in a few days. As she was packing she thanked me for not letting her go through a black eyeliner or fluorescent, bra showing phase. It really does make a difference in how you are perceived in any work setting. Hope she stays classy. Thanks for helping the young wome everywhere stay the classy course toward success.

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    1. Thanks for being a role model to your daughter : )

      I owe it all to my mom who (thankfully) prevented me from going through similarly horrifying fashion phases!

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  19. I think you could develop what you wrote here into a provocative and humorous features piece or op-ed. I love the bit about the sloppy cardigan next to the suit.. that's a visual that more women need to get in their heads.

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  20. I must congratulate you! I are indeed not only very beautifull but classy too! I ve discovered your blog as a good surprise and I am looking forward to see your future outfits .a lawyer from Romania

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  21. I just found your blog and am bookmarking so many posts for outfit ideas. How did I not know about it till now?! Thanks for providing some outfit ideas that are polished, stylish and--unlike so many other "professional" blogs--actually appropriate for the office.

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  22. Thank you so much! Feeling incredibly inspired! Love from Australia! :)

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  23. Your blog is fantastic! I love the "crimes" article! I'm mostly good Monday through Thursday, but what about Friday? We have casual Friday at work--and I am always not sure what to wear and how to deal with Friday fashion at work! I would love to see a post or some pictures on casual Friday options that are appropriate and classy!

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    1. Thank you! I've got a "Casual Friday" series coming soon. Stay tuned!

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    2. Yes! I would love to see a "casual Friday" post. I'm an attorney and our office does casual Friday's but I always struggle to find the right balance between professionalism and casual. Always look forward to reading your blog at work!

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  24. Amen to that sister! I have been watching a lot of blogs over the past 6 months and 99% I would never wear to work. Where have you been all this time?! I love your blog! I work in an extremely casual office with mostly men that are half my age. I still look 15 years younger than I am so they think I am about their age but I ALWAYS dress professional as does HR. I like the way I dress. I feel professional and I do get respect. I am the only woman in my building but I ride the train and see women with cut out backs with full on bra showing and some women getting off to work at a major wireless carrier wearing clothes tight enough for my 7 year old. Thank you for being classy! I have been waiting for your blog! YAY!!!!!!!! I get tired of seeing other blogs stating what they are wearing is "business" and yet they don't even work in an office.

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  25. I just saw your blog and I have a similar blog but for men! Please check it out. I would love to discuss partnering. Fortheyoungprofessional.blogspot.com

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  26. Yay a male version of this blog thanks Young PROF!

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  27. You said 'defibrillate'....and I'm officially a follower. As a young med student who is heading out on clinics everyday starting next year, I need a serious boost to my professional wardrobe while I'm waiting. Thank you for existing!!

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  28. Your blog is wonderful! I'm a young pre-law student that works in an office and will be starting internships soon and was looking for helpful ideas on how to dress since I loath drab navy business suits. Your blog has shed some light on fun ways to dress at work and I've already emailed the few girl pre-law students in my program your blog. So thanks! I've noticed though that you haven't made a post in a while.... When are you going to post some new fall inspirations?

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    1. Thank you! I post often -- including about three hours before your comment. Click the "Home" page link at the top of this page and it will take you to all of my posts, starting with the most recent.

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  29. Just as another commentator, I was raised by a single (widowed) mother, on a slender budget. My mother was always well turned-out, no matter where she was going. Her clothing came from thrift shops, her sewing machine and deep-discounted sales. Today, I can still hear her say: "Lipstick, dear and perhaps a little rouge." Please do something on silk scarves. They are an easy, thrifty and elegant way to dress up an outfit. Best Regards, Susan

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  30. O M G

    You have no idea how much of a babe you are

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  31. Just stumbled across this blog on pinterest, and I'm so glad I found it! You are so so right about the lazy cardigan, and this is so helpful!

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  32. Hello! Just stumbled upon your blog and I'm glad I did. I currently have my first suit and tie type job and I'm really struggling to figure out how to look stylish and work appropriate at the same time. Guys have their uniform but us ladies have to figure it out for ourselves and you definitely seem to have cracked the code. So, I have two main issues that I'd love to hear your thoughts/suggestions about:
    1. My office is always freezing so whenever I wear skirts I am miserably cold all day. What is your opinion on pantyhose? Are they totally old lady or what? I see you wearing tights in your latest post but colored tights don't always seem like the right choice with certain skirts. Thoughts?
    2. I have foot issues which severely limit my ability to wear heels :( However, wearing ballet flats all the time makes me feel like I can't really pull off a lot of professional adult woman looks. If you could feature a few styles wearing flats of different kinds that would be awesome. Thanks!

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  33. THANK YOU FOR THIS BLOG! THANK YOU! I was in desperate need of some office wear inspiration. I am absolutely in love with this blog.

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  34. You nailed it. My sentiments exactly - it's like someone's reading my mind! Working in New York, thank God I'm not the only one feeling this way. I too have to admit that I do not look put together everyday and have been sneaking in "fun" clothes at work. I am BORED TO DEATH with my work wardrobe of black, grey, navy, white. I stopped trying and even stopped buying to add more. Please, please post more office look inspirations. Thank you!
    p.s. Could you do a post on what to add to an existing wardrobe of blouses, pencil skirts and slacks to make it more fun and less drab? Also, advise on how to add colors without looking tacky? Thanks so much!

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  35. I LOVE THIS BLOG!!!! Thank you for saying what so many of us think. There are some in my office that look like the just rolled in from the club and some who don't know what a comb is. I am a new reader and instant SUPER FAN of TCC.

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  36. Fantastically written, love your style and perspective! I follow quite a few bloggers but find it difficult to relate/translate their - what I like to call - "high end gypsy" wardrobe into my life. Love it, keep up the great work!

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  37. I just stumbled across your blog on Pinterest as I was looking for proper work attire (I am a junior engineering major), and I must say this has been so helpful.

    I always prefer the more polished look over something that is much less put together, but was unsure how to proceed for future internships and job positions. You definitely have blown those fears out of the water as I feel so much more equipped to handle how to dress in the work place. Thank you and I look forward to more posts. :)

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  38. So wonderful, just found your blog which is perfect timing because I am just starting my first full-time professional job. Love that your providing modest options for fashion-forward, classy women. Well done!

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  39. Why does the mail room guy have to be labeled a creep? Re-evaluate your thinking there, because it is misguided and ignorant. Other than that, your blog is nice, I think women in professional attire can be at their aesthetic best, more so than evening attire. Thanks .

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  40. I come from an eastern country and when I came to the US, I was surprised to see sense of fashion. Most girls want to wear tights to show off figure. I am happy to discover your blog as I feel a little discreetness, elegance in dressing not only displays a sense of character but the effort put into it reflects that one can put in effort in other aspects of life as well...such as relationships, so thank you for this blog.

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  41. You are a lot prettier than you think! Your outfits are great ideas. In corporate America, I often here how women show up to work in flip flops during the summer (!!), wear denim inappropriately, and don't wear dresses at all. I can appreciate that you wear dresses and skirts and show HOW to wear them.

    Also question-- have you ever dressed in terms of your season palette? I find that colors are more flattering if I stick to my palettes and it helps me make better clothing choices when I go shopping.

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  42. This is fantastic! While I'm still a grad student, I fully believe in dressing professionally on days I teach. It shows respect for my students, and they in turn treat me as a professor, not a peer. I cringe inside when my fellow teaching grads wear miniskirts and flip-flops with their bras hanging out, or torn jeans and a tank top. Then they wonder why their students don't take them seriously. Dress for the job you want!

    I'm going to forward this blog to my mom, who always dressed nicely even when she stayed home with us kids. Now she's a psychologist, wears suits every day, and is shocked by how sloppily her young co-workers dress.

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  43. Was just forwarded your blog and I must say, YOU ARE FANTASTIC! I have great outfits for the weekend and then end up wearing neutral slacks and a button down to work (not half as exciting.) Thank you for helping us fashionably challenged individuals brighten up our work wardrobe.

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  44. i LOVE receiving your emails! They are very helpful! I so totally agree, as i "survey" my office, it is amazing to me that the images before me are tolerated. My company is a part of the NYSE and i'm dumbfounded on a daily basis! Forward dressing my darling! :)

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  45. hi there and I am your newest follower over from Girliemom.com. Gosh, well I just love your way of thinking and you are SO right. Don't we all know somebody that commits one of those dreadful fashion crimes? Every day at work, I always wonder what made a woman decide to wear those hooker heels or cleavage bearing shirt. I just don't get it! So, kudos to you for helping those that are clueless while giving the rest of us some great fashion ideas! you go girl :)

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  46. this fashionable business manifesto completely drew me in - bookmarked you!

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  47. Thank you for all of your great articles and inspiration, Mary! My boss, coworker and I were talking about how much we love your site, and especially the Top Ten Cubical Crimes.. spot on! Thank you for putting that remarkable misused and valuable information out there! I look forward to many more of your amazing outfits!! Xoxo, Claire

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  48. Just found TCC and I'm ecstatic! I work in IT, one of only three other women in the department, and most days feel stuck when it comes to what to wear. The women wear khakis or jeans, never dresses, however the rest of the university really dresses up. Men in impeccable suits and ties, women dressed in heels (this university is different and definitely steps it up a notch compared to other colleges I've worked at)...I'm often in meetings with these suited up ones so feel the need to get my game on. It doesn't help that I look 21 when in reality I'm 34 - one day I'll appreciate that.

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  49. You have an amazing blog!!!! Very happy i stumbled upon it!!!

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  50. Hi Mary,
    I too just discovered your blog! I absolutely love your style. I try to pay close attention to what I wear to work (I am a junior high teacher) and I quite frankly want to set a good example for my junior high students. Especially the girls! I want them to see me as a professional. Unfortunately students are used to seeing teachers in khakis and ragged sweaters or worse yet, showing way to much skin. Even though I am much older than you, I appreciate you frankness about what to wear and not wear to work!

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  51. Love your blog! You have some fabulous insights to offer! I think every woman, who wants to appear professional and be taken seriously at the work palce, should go through your blog. Your pearls of wisdom will help every lady look chic at work. Good job! :)

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  52. Love your blog! You have some fabulous insights to offer! I think every woman who wants to look chic yet professional at the workplace should go through your blog. Good job you! :)

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  53. Yay! I am so glad that a blog like this exists. I work in a relatively casual office and I have often been at a loss for professional inspiration. When I look around at my coworkers they run the gamut from very casual (think sundresses and flip flops) to down right worn out (stretched-out formless tees and leggings). I would like to position myself as a young professional and how you dress goes a long way. So thank you for the flawless looks that serve as an example to me all women in the working world!

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  54. I'm thrilled that I found your blog. I started medical school this year and I've been voicing these exact same sentiments to my husband. So many of the women in my class go to clinical rotations in the hospital wearing all sorts of inappropriate clothes. Dressing well isn't superficial, its about respect and looking the part of a successful professional. I'm SO impressed with the way you articulated this issue. Thank you!

    Ali
    http://scrubsandsilhouettes.blogspot.com/

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  55. Really enjoying reading up on your posts and advice, I believe I may send some younger coworkers this way to ge your refined and diplomatic take on dressing professionally as a woman. One thing that stumps me though...other than shoes, I don't see much repetition or links back to pieces from earlier posts that show us how you get by without shopping every day. Surely you repeat/mix and match? Or do shops just send you lots of samples?

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  56. I am in a pageant and I needed inspiration for the work section of the pageant. I came across your blog and I feel so inspired. Please keep posting these amazing outfits. Also if you could make a post about jumpsuits at work that'll be really cool.

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  57. So excited that I found your blog. Thank you for being one of the few bloggers posting for us working girls! I am very tempted to share your blog with the "inappropriate" and "sloppy" in my office. Hmmm. Looking forward to what you have in store for 2014! Congrats!

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  58. THANK YOU! I cannot express how much I agree with you! I work in HR and one piece of advice I offer new associates is if you are even questioning whether its work appropriate, it probably isn't! A blog around work wear is so needed, so many unnecessary awkward and unimpressive moments out there for women in the workforce, guys have a very straightforward dress code and while all of our options can be fun, they also hold a lot of potential pitfalls. Thank you, I'm so pumped I came across your blog!!

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  59. I LOVE your blog. I love looking at fashion blogs but you're totally right, when the heck am I going to wear that stuff? I'm a Physician Assistant and am always trying to find what looks best under a white coat. I am definitely guilty of defaulting to scrubs when I don't feel like finding something to wear. I always regret that choice by mid day. I can't wait to see what else you have in store!
    www.whitecoattreatment.com

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  60. have you ever shared how tall you are? i'm 5'11 and all leg. so, it's a hard balance to find things that are long enough - would love to hear if you have any ideas for the perfect skirt length / shop recs for tall girls!

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    1. I'm 5'10" and often buy things in Tall/Long sizes from places that sell them like J. Crew, Banana Republic, and Ann Taylor, or have things tailored to lengthen hemlines if necessary. Luckily, brands like Theory and others in that mid to high price range generally have longer hemlines which work for me. If you're struggling with lengths, find a good tailor to help you! You can often find inexpensive ones, and it's always worth it to get the fit right.

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  61. Mary...your blog is amazing! My husband has great style and looks at Dappered occasionally for ideas and where to shop. I kept trying to find a girls equivalent to no avail....until I found you! First of all you're beautiful and everything you post projects class and confidence. I love that you help us out in showing your viewers exactly where to buy each piece. And, your page on "Cubicle Crimes" is hilarious I work in a very male dominated industry (architecture) and us women need all the help we can get to show those men who's boss :). It starts with a first impression and I believe the way you dress in the workplace can largely communicate whether or not you have your stuff together. My husband and I are about to move to Boston and I am a little worried about how (or whether or not) my wardrobe (thanks to your help) will translate into a very cold working environment over the winter months. Do you have any suggestions as to how to make that switch....how to still dress classy for work in cooler weather (the images I have in my mind of Sorrel Boots and poofy down jackets aren't quite cutting it for me).

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  62. I have just found your blog - beautiful, amazing and just what I needed as a lawyer in Australia surrounded by black and grey (with the odd bit of navy!). I only wish I wasn't in the opposite season to you.

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  63. Nice post, I bookmark your blog because I found very good information on your blog, Thanks for sharing more information Glamour Amour | Affordable Fashion Clothes | Online Clothing Store | Trendy Clothes For Womem

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  64. This blog is very informative and I have learned many things from this. It really helped me a lot…I really appreciate your post and you explain each point very well. I will love to read your next post too. Regards from Thomas Pink Fashion guide.

    Mens casual shirts by Thomas Pink

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  65. I'm about to start working in the banking industry this summer, and after getting bored of replaying my black/gray suit options over and over, I went online for some inspiration. Your blog is exactly what I was looking for! Sometimes the most creative solutions come from having to think inside the box.

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  66. Amazing! Your style is perfect!
    I really like a classic, elegant look and find it really sad that so many so called style icons (like bloggers and celebrities) are actually all wearing the same. And personally I'm so not in to the 'edgy' looks nowadays, it just looks sloppy:-( So keep up the good -styling-work! xoxo Nadine
    www.myclassicwardrobe.com

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  67. I just graduated from Physician Assistant School, and will be starting my career working in a Neurology office. I'm so glad that I stumbled across your blog as I move into this next phase of my life, and although I'm not looking to climb the corporate ladder as a healthcare worker, being dressed professionally and fashionably are certainly important as a female healthcare provider looking to make a good impression on my patients and the office. Looking forward to combing through your posts!

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  68. This is brilliant. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Mark Zuckerberg can get away with a hoodie and jeans, but the rest of us, like Sheryl Sandberg, need to look the part.

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  69. Amazing blog - your body shape is similiar to mine - inspiration in spades!! thank you for your hard work to help women in the work place.

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  70. Interesting and useful information that you have provided here on your post.Thanks for this blog.

    svatební salon & wedding dress Prague

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  71. I am 44 years old, and just starting back into the workforce after being a stay at home mom for years. Your style is impeccable, and I am so grateful to find a blog sharing a a little professional style guidance. Happy to be a new subscriber.

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  72. You are amaziiiiing! I'm late to this party but I'm glad I found you :-). I'm always dressed with taste everywhere (I call it dressing with intention :-), and people at work literally come to my cubicle everyday to see what I'm wearing... **sigh** even when I have jeans and a sweater on! Your blog just reminded me I don't have to tone it down! Ever!

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  73. I recently discovered your blog and I absolutely love it! As a young lawyer, I am always searching for inspiration for workwear. Your "About this Blog" is completely spot-on. Women should have fun with professional fashion- I know I do! Keep up the amazing work, I really enjoy reading your posts!

    Brittany
    www.lawyerlookbook.com

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  74. I really enjoy your blog. I love that you are encouraging the younger workforce to step up their appearance.

    As a career Exec Assistant (who supports C-Level execs), I feel that I should dress on the dressier end of business casual. Your blog helps me see how to pull together a more modern look from what is already in my closet.

    Remember - dress for the job you want!

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  75. What an inspiring blog!! Love everything you post. I am a court reporter, and many of the attorneys I work with are anything but professionally dressed...

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  76. Best about me page I have read on a blog! I follow you on instagram but didn't think you would be so sassy! Get it girl! ;)

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