Can I Wear This to Work?


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Can I Wear  This to Work? - Survey Results

The results are in! We conducted a short, unscientific survey to get a handle on the new definition of professional image. We are going to show some of those responses here on Can I Wear This to Work.

Summer is in full swing and business casual has taken on a whole new meaning. Polished Professional Image has always contended that cropped pants are a poor choice if you want to present a professional image at work. To us, they just don't pass the professional image test. They have a very casual affect even in a business casual environment. What's more, they are not very flattering on most figures. Cropped pants make the eyes stop at the bottom of the pants, making the wearer appear shorter and usually wider.

The magazines have been telling us for several seasons, now, that cropped pants will not call your professional image into question. According to our survey, however, only 43% of the respondent think cropped pants are appropriate for work in a business casual environment. The survey respondents included HR professionals as well as office workers and entrepreneurs.

Our suggestion is to avoid them. There are better choices which are less likely to call your professional image into question. When in doubt, go with a classic.

Here are some of your comments about cropped pants in a business environment:

"Cropped pants can be an issue. If they are tailored and are a part of a suit or a set then they are okay. But the fabric is important and what is worn with them can make them business casual. If the individual is unsure, then it is best to avoid wearing them."

"Cropped pants [are okay] if there is a company policy for relaxed summer dressing."

"Cropped pants in summer can be OK if worn with heels and a "smart" top."

"Cropped pants are a grey area. They are suitable with the appropriate shoes..."

"Cropped pants - when in proportion to your height, weight, and body type."

"Cropped pants... can be business casual if worn properly."




















Designers' Spring Ready to Wear Collections - Can I Wear  This to Work?

The fashion designers generally show several collections each year, including Spring ready-to-wear. Sometimes, however, it is difficult to discern the rtw collection from the couture collection. The question becomes 'Are the ready-to-wear collections translatable to work attire?'. From the folks at, check out the Spring designs from Diane Von Furstenberg.

You will need flash player to view. Click here to get it.

We will be looking at more designers, so check back often and voice your opinion on Can I Wear This to Work.














Prints and Bright Colors - Can I Wear  This to Work?

Flowers are in fashion this Spring and so are bright colors. Before you can wear those prints and bright colors to work, take your cue from the managerial team. If the women in management are wearing them, then you can feel comfortable wearing them, as well. But don't fret if your management team hasn't embraced the Spring trends. You can still wear them, but consider wearing the Spring trends as accessories - shoes, bags, jewelry, even blouses or tops. This hint of Spring will keep your professional image intact even in a colorless environment.

There are still some schools of thoughts that feel bright colors and prints have no place in the workplace. Do you think prints and bright colors can have a negative effect on your professional image or can they enhance your professional image. Take the poll on the right and weigh in.

color block dress                                         

















Dresses - Can I Wear  This to Work?

Dresses have made a come back. But, there is a debate as to whether or not dresses project a professional image. Of course, halter dresses, off-the-shoulder dresses and spaghetti straps are completely inappropriate, but what about other styles? Here are three dress that are mainstream, but are they appropriate for work? Take the poll on the right and weigh in.

color block dress                                         














From Work to Afterwork - Can I Wear  This to Work?

We are in the throes of the holiday season. This is one of my favorite times of year because of all of the festivities. Some of the parties will take place after work and require more formal attire than you wear to work. The challenge has always been transitioning from work clothes to party clothes without having to go home to change clothes or bringing a whole new wardrobe to work with you. But there are quick and easy ways to go from work to party.

cocktail dress This dress on the right is bea-u-ti-ful. But don't wear it to work. Not even with a jacket. Not even if the afterwork party is hosted by your company. It is far too fancy for work and put a question mark on your professional image. 

little black dress The dress on the left is a much better option. You can pair it with a jacket for work and swap the jacket with a wrap and accessories for the afterwork party. Another option could be classic black dress slacks with a blouse or sweater for work and swapping the top for a decorative or lacy camisole and fancier accessories for the party.
















Sweater Dresses with Tights - Can I Wear  This to Work?

Sweater dresses are hot for fall this year. They are being worn with sheer hose, tights and boots. Some are appropriate for the workplace; some, not so much.

sweater dress I recently saw a sweater dress ensemble similar to the one on the right, on a young lady who was on her way to work. It was this fitted and this short. I wondered what her co-worker and her boss would think of that outfit. On a date or afterwork, this outfit is fun and sexy. On the job, it could jeopardize her professional image.

sweater dress 3 This sweater dress on the left isn't much better. It looks more appropriate for a college football game than the office. What do you think her co-workers and boss think about it? "Is that her boyfriend's sweater?"

There is a happy medium if you want to wear this trend. Find a sweater dress that fits. It should not be too tight, or too loose; too short or too long. Given the inherent nature of the sweater dress, be sure to choose a silhouette that flatters your shape and if you are self-conscious of your figure flaws, invest in a good body shaper to smooth out the lumps, bumps or rolls.

If you need help in choosing the silhouettes that flatter your figure, contact Polished Professional Image.
Call Bonnie at 312 823-6214 or email















Fall Trends 2008 - Can I Wear  This to Work?

Belle Curves 2008Belle Curves 2008 Someone tell me where the heck summer went! It came and went in a flash. The good news is no more flip-flops and tank tops. The bad news is some of the fall trends are just as inappropriate for the office.

Some of the Belle Curve styles are a few standard deviations to the left! It goes without saying (I'm going to say it anyway, though) that the split on the outfit on the left is completely inappropriate for the office. Even if the split is closed up, the silhouette of the outfit can be a risky choice for work. It might be a little too sexy on the right figure and a little distracting on the wrong one. The peplum is designed to accentuate the hips and the pencil skirt, accentuates the hips even more.

I like the outfit on the right. Thanks to the belt which cinches the waist, it is curvy, yet appropriate for work. The A-Line skirt also helps give the illusion of a narrow waist. I love that pop of blue and the shape of the sleeve is modern and not too (too) trendy.














Summer Time!  Can I Wear This to Work?

Sandals 2008 Sandals rule for summer footwear, but they are inappropriate for work and can compromise your professional image (flip-flops can ruin your professional image). So instead of wearing the inappropriate, professional image smashing sandals, choose a peep-toe sling back instead. A peep-toe pump is even better for your professional image.











Summer Time!  Can I Wear This to Work?

Summer is here in full force. Time to don lighter weight skirts and dresses. But don't let the hot weather compromise your professional image. There are skirts and dresses that are appropriate for work and those that should only be worn afterwork and weekends.

Polished Professional Image Summer Dress 1I was on a popular store's website present. They categorize their clothes by Casual, Work, Evening, etc. I wanted to see what they were featuring for Work for the summer. Summer is always a challenge for women, especially when they work in a business casual environment, so I was checking on the summer wear to work trends.

To my astonishment, the dress on the left was shown in the work category! Can you believe it? While this dress is gorgeous, a sundress for work is completely inappropriate. Even if you wear a jacket with it - inappropriate. Here is a little test to determine if a dress is inappropriate for work: if the dress is only appropriate with a jacket or sweater, then it is inappropriate. If it cannot stand that test on it's own, do not wear it to work.Polished Professional Image Spring Dress 2008 2

This dress on the right, is a better choice for work. It has a nice summery print, the fabric is light and airy without being see-thru and the cap sleeves, while short, are acceptable for the workplace.  This dress stands the appropriateness test.





















Spring has Sprung!  Can I Wear This to Work?

Polished Professional Image Spring Dress 1Spring is finally here. Time to substitute the heavy slacks with the lighter weight skirts and dresses. But don't let the warmer weather compromise your professional image. There are skirts and dresses that are appropriate for work and those that should only be worn afterwork and weekends.

The dress on the left is gorgeous! The print is great, the length is flattering. What makes this dress inappropriate for work is the sleeveless styling and the deep plunge in the front. Wearing this dress without a jacket is just too sexy for work.

This dress on the right, also gorgeous, is perfect for work. ThePolished Professional Image Spring Dress 2008 2 gingham print looks great on this shirt-waist styled dress. The neckline is flattering and not too deeply plunged and the short sleeves supply enough arm coverage while still being cool enough for the spring and summer. This particular dress is a faux-wrap which flatters every figure type and the sash belt helps to define your waistline.
















We Have Blue Jean Fridays - Can I Wear This to Work?

Polished Professional Image Crop jeansFirst it was Casual Fridays during the summer months. Then it was Casual Fridays all year. Then Casual Dress all year round. Now, many companies have implemented Blue Jean Fridays. Can you have a professional image while wearing blue jeans?

It's possible. When management is in jeans, you can maintain your professional image, but it will depend on the jeans. Rather than choosing a crop jean, like the one on the left, choose a jean that is full length. A dark jean has a more classic look than the distressed jeans (the ones that appear worn in the thigh area). Also save the embellished jeans for the weekend.

Another consideration for Blue Jean Fridays, is to choose the right type of jean for your body type. ForPolished Professiona Image Jeans 08 a short-waist, consider lower fitting hip hugger jeans. These give the illusion of an elongated upper body. For a long torso body type, choose a pair of jeans with a defined waist. If you are plus-sized you need to work with balancing the hips. To do this, look for a flare at the bottom of the leg. This will balance out the hips. If you have a flat bottom, look for back pockets. A petite person should consider a straight leg pair of jeans that aren't too tight. This will give you a taller silhouette
















Bangles and Charms - Can I Wear This to Work?

In the Give Yourself a Boost workshops, we address choosing a jewelry collection for work. It is another accessory that can positively or negatively affect your professional image. There was a time when the watch that you wore spoke volumes on how you were viewed professionally. That is not as much of an issue today. However, the jewelry that you wear can still impact your image.

Polished Professional Image Charm BraceletLike make-up, your jewelry should not be distracting. The focus should be on your abilities not on the jingle jangle dangle of your jewelry. As much as I love charm bracelets, they should be kept at home during work hours. One of the most appealing things about the charm bracelet is that jingle jangle sound that it makes. Unfortunately, it can be very distracting in the work environment.

Bangles can have the same distraction. Every time that you move your arms the bangles, well, bang together creating that musical tone that we love so much, but distract the heck out of our co-workers. As an alternative to your charms and bangles, consider wearing a link-type bracelet without the charms or a single wide bangle bracelet. Your arm will be well adorned and your professional image will remain intact.













Can I Wear This Make-up to Work?

Did you know that make-up is an accessory? And like all accessories, you have to consider the image that thePolished Professional Image Dramatic Eye Make-up accessory represents for you. The two biggest mistakes that women make regarding make-up is wearing too little and wearing too much. When choosing your make-up for work be careful. The fashion magazines sometimes give the impression that the newest make-up looks can be worn for work and for play. But some of the looks can be too distracting for work. This look on the right is just a tad dramatic for work. The smoky eye is beautiful and too much for the work environment (unless you are in the fashion or cosmetic industry).

Polished Professional Image Subtle Make-upThis look on the left is more classic, more subtle. It doesn't dramatically change your look, it enhances your look and is not distracting. And if you are going out after work, you can build on this look to give it a more dramatic, party look.













It's the Holiday Season
Can Your Wear that Party Dress to Work?

The holiday season is filled with parties and celebration. Some companies still have holiday parties - after work and sometimes during regular work hours. So how do you dress for work when you have so much partying to do after work.

First, know that there is no way that you will be able to dress down this dress for work! You can't put a blazer over it, a sweater on top of it or a pair of pants under it. This dress is just too fancy for work (and yes, I picked this style because I have seen this style in an office setting - worn with a jacket). But a nice suit can be worn for work, then dressed up for the party with a fancy camisole, jewelry, scarves.

Another way to dress up a plain, everyday, yet classic outfit is by amping up your make-up. By giving your make-up a more glamorous look, you give the whole outfit a more glamorous look. And don't forget that you can change your hairstyle and give a classic outfit a glamorous look.

Don't let the holidays ruin your polished professional image.














Crop Pants Phenomenon

Well, it seems the crop pants trend is standing the test of time. I have historically resisted recommending them for work because I didn't feel they created a professional image, But they won't go away! So, I've searched far and wide to find an example that could give you a professional image.

This look on the right is too casual looking for a professional image. It looks more like weekend wear to me. And this is the look that is often worn at work. The flat shoe and natural colored leg make this a casual "running around shopping" look. The jacket has a wash and wear look that is not quite crisp enough to pull off a polished professional image. What can be done to get this look ready for the office suite?

Starting with the jacket, adding a crisper jacket just by itself will go a long way towards getting this outfit professional image ready. Adding a pair of boots, as shown on the left, gives the outfit a more polished look. If boots aren't your style, choose pantyhose that are close to the color of the pants with pumps to make this a career outfit. Also, the addition of accessories (not shown) such as a scarf or a brooch will add polish to this outfit.
















Fall Preview

When you are working on creating your polished professional image, don't underestimate the impact of accessories. They can make or break your professional image. For example, the wrong shoes can be too sexy or too dowdy.

This shoe on the right is truly high-fashion. But, can you wear this shoe to work? The ankle strap, cut-out, and really high heel puts this shoe in the "too sexy" category. You might get away with wearing this shoe with slacks, but what would be the point to that? The pants would conceal the highlight of the shoe.

A better look for work in a similar style, would be a Mary Jane style shoe. This shoe on the left has similar styling to the high fashion shoe shown above, but it's a little more conservative. Be sure to choose the heel height that you are comfortable in if you have to walk around often.













Fall Preview

The fall fashions are showing up in the stores and they are outstanding. From pleats and ruffles of the Detail Operation trend to feathers (yes, feathers!) of the Winged Migration trend.

Suits, ethnic prints, knits and a lot of gray lies in between. Some of these trends are designed for work, some can be adapted for work. But some...

This season we'll take a look at the fashion trends as well as the accessories trends, including shoes, purses and jewelry.












Space Odyssey Trend

The Space Odyssey trend feature geometric angle, crisp lines and, oh yeah, metallics; lots and lots of metallic. But, unless you're Beyonce, I don't recommend that you wear this first outfit to work.

The Space Odyssey trend feature a number of very avante garde outfits that are unsuitable for work. But there are also a number of ensembles that are perfect for the boardroom! The clean, crisp lines of this dress is very classically styled and the length of the dress is appropriate for the office.

While I personally like the basic, unadorned styling of this dress, it can be given a little more style by adding a few accessories such as scarf or a pin or a necklace.  And a blazer will give this dress an extra dose of polish.














Trapeze Artist Trend

Imagine a swing coat or an A-Line dress and you have the inspiration for the Trapeze Artist Trend. This trend is so adaptable that you can take most of the styles and adapt it for work. Uh, except for the one pictured. This outfit made me laugh out loud.

But, seriously. Even this style of dress can be adapted to most figure types. It is the perfect silhouette for the pear-shape figure. The A-line flares just right over the wider hips of the pear shape. To balance the look, make sure you have a broader shoulder line. For inverted triangle figures, the A-line gives the illusion of a wider hip line. The A-line looks good on the hourglass figure because most things do. And on the rectangle figure, the A-line gives the illusion of the curves that the rectangle is missing.

As with the other trends for this season, the skirts and dresses can be really short. Make sure you wear an appropriate length; appropriate for the office, your body type and your age.













So Eighties Trend

The So Eighties trend has a little something for everyone. A few classic looks for the Tailored Classics; sporty looks for the Sporty Casuals; prints and lace for the Feminine Romantic and more than a few flashy pieces for the High Fashion Dramatics.

Because there are so many sheer pieces in this look, you have to be careful of what you choose from this trend for your work outfits. And since we are approaching summer, of course, sandals are being pushed. But remember, for work, pumps or loafers are a more professional choice.

One more thing about this trend. The skirts and dresses can be really short. Make sure you wear an appropriate length; appropriate for the office, your body type and your age.















Pinup Girls Trend

The Pinup Girls trend is my favorite trend for Spring. The Tailored Classic style personalities are going to love it as well. The Pinup Girls trend features classic styles including tailored 40's styled suits like the one of the left.

This particular style can be worn by most body types. It is, of course, flattering to the hourglass figure as the more tailored styles highlight the small waist. The strong shoulder line of this trend provides balance for the triangle or pear shaped figures. And it gives the illusion of curves for those inverted triangles with their narrow hips. Even the rectangle shapes can wear this style as long as they choose a style that is not too narrow in the waist and fits properly.













New Romantics

The New Romantics Spring trend is flowery and lacy and right up the alley of the Feminine Romantic style personality. How can this style be adapted for the office? Okay the dress at the left cannot be adapted (are those real flowers?), but you can find flower print dresses that are sophisticated enough even for the corner office.

The Feminine Romantic personality runs the risk of looking too little- girlish in her flowers and bows and lacy outfits.  But  a polished professional image can be created by choosing a more toned down version of the clothes that matches the Feminine romantic style personality.flowered dress

The dress shown on the right is a good example of a print dress that is not too little-girly for the office. Make sure you are not showing too much cleavage, though. And add more polish to the outfit by accessorizing with jewelry that complements the outfit.















Get Sporty

The first trend that we will review is the Get Sporty trend with its hoodies, leggings and tee-shirt dresses. The Sporty Natural style personalities will love this trend, but how can it be adapted for work? The picture to the left is a great example of the Get Sporty trend. It has a sporty jersey-type top and a casual skirt layered over leggings

So, how do you adapt it for work? This is an easy one. Remove the leggings and wear the top with the skirt. Another option is to wear the top with a pair of slacks and lose the skirt.












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