Fashion Fridays: Royal Blue Will Broil You

In the late ’80s (for you spring chickens, that was the century that began with 19 instead of 20), I attended church summer youth camp.  The kids were divided into teams by colors.  We competed in an assortment of real and imaginary sports.  My team was Royal Blue.  Our slogan was Royal Blue Will Broil You.  And we sort of did.  Despite my complete lack of athletic prowess, I think we came pretty close to winning the summer games.

What does this have to do with Fashion Fridays, you ask?  Well, it’s my on-again-off-again love affair with the color.  Quite frankly, I’ve been off of royal blue for pretty much the entirety of 21st century because the color, all on its own, reminded me of the ’80s.  It somehow felt dated.

Yet now it’s everywhere!  Royal blue at every turn!  And I look good in the color to boot.  Interestingly, most people look good in royal blue.  (Maybe that’s why our team nearly won the competition – everyone was stunned by our collective lovely appearance in royal blue with every shade and color of team members!)

It’s likely why the color has been rereleased to the general public.  So here is a smattering of what’s on the racks in royal blue right now and a recommendation for you to try it out again – it’s not just for county fair prizes anymore ladies.

This adorable royal blue polka dotted dress graces the cover of Ann Taylor’s fall collection for this season:

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I’d been coveting this lovely royal blue crepe dress for work but held out until Talbot’s ran a sale this summer marking it down 60% off:

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Bloomingdale’s offers this complete luxury weekender coat by Max Mara in a gorgeous, smidge darker, shade of royal blue:

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Inspired by my co-worker’s ensemble this week of simple black trousers topped with a gorgeous royal blue blazer and blue chandelier earrings, I found this reasonably priced blue blazer from Nordstrom’s which has a couple of days left of their anniversary sale:blue3

And don’t even get me started on accessories – from earrings to shoes, royal blue is everywhere.  These few items would all pair beautifully with a work outfit and are all on sale for a few more days at Nordstrom’s:

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{From top to bottom, Alexis Bittar, Sara Bella, Kendra Scott, House of Harlow, and Ivanka Trump.}

So what’s the verdict?  Ready for Royal Blue to Broil You?  Or are you going to leave it in the ’80s?

The Fireplace Room

The fire crackled and leapt over the faux logs.  The room was still and silent.  One of my favorite spots on Earth.

A day at the spa on a Wednesday in July was a first for me, but a good friend at work and I decided we were long overdue for a break from the frenzy at the office.  I felt tension begin to melt from the outset as I sat in the steam room and took deep breaths in the hot foggy silence.  Then we stretched out on oversized lounges in the fireplace room before our treatments with a cup of tea and a fuzzy blanket (because even though it’s 100 degrees in Houston, the fireplace room hovers around 68 degrees year round).

Yet even after our rest and the treatments began, I felt a heaviness.  My spine felt squeezed from phantom pressure.  My mind still raced.  Then, in the middle of my most relaxing treatment, I felt this overwhelming urge to burst out crying.  You hear that massage releases physical toxins from your body, but I’ve never heard about emotional toxins.

Still, I couldn’t get past the feeling that something I’d held on to was ready to release.  We finished a light lunch peppered with hilarious conversation, and returned to the fireplace room for a few more quiet moments.  I was transfixed by the fire.  There, in the center of the dim room, crackled bright flames framed by large ivory bricks and a heavy wooden mantle.  The “logs” lying along the grate held the exact same shape and form as they had when we arrived that morning.  The fire rose like orange liquid on all sides.

Everything came together.  I had been holding onto a lot.  You see, in addition to a fair amount of frenzy in my own life, a number of my friends have gone through some dark places in the past week or two.  Miscarriage.  Marriage on the brink.  Death of a best friend.  Teenager moving out.  Loss of a parent.  I had prayed with and for each of them but apparently had held onto the pain.  As if that would help them.

I started seeing that log as a visual for all of these burdens.  Instead of allowing my prayers to rise like the fire, and then trusting God to bring peace and comfort and understanding and clarity, I sat like that log and tried take on some of the pain in an unhelpful empathy exercise.  They didn’t know.  It didn’t help them one bit.  It only meant that in my own human confusion about why certain things happen, I failed to trust God has a plan and a purpose.

As I took each of those losses and burdens and released them to the only One who can do anything to help, I felt utterly relaxed.  I unwound immediately.  Pressure relieved.  Mind stilled.  Burden shared.

I also saw the other side of that fire analogy.  What if, when the fires of life assail us, we do not burn up?  We feel the heat.  We smell the fire.  But we trust that He is there, even in the biggest blaze, and we are not consumed.  I don’t know why the things that happened to ones I loved happened.  I may never know.  But I believe in a God that calls us precious and promises to keep the flames from setting us ablaze.

Whether you are in the fire, or carrying others heartbreaks from a fire, today may be the time to hand those burn-dens over.

But now, this is what the Lord says: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine… When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, the flames will not set you ablaze… You are precious and honored in my sight, and I love you…”  Isaiah 43

Lay The Groundwork

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I heard such a wise piece of advice last week on leading well.  One that should have been common sense but one we all overlook.  A set of executives were sharing how to communicate with the C-suite and how to get to the C-suite when this piece of savvy advice came down:

If you’re asking for approval of a recommendation in a meeting, then make sure you know the answer is yes before you ever go in.  Lay the groundwork first.

It’s akin to the advice all first year litigators get when they’re walking into a deposition or a trial: don’t ask a question if you don’t know the answer.

As you develop your presentation and recommendation, have one on one conversations with the people who will be in the boardroom.  Understand what the concerns are and show that you can tailor a solution to resolve outstanding issues.  Identify the landmines before you step on them{===>Click to TweetThere’s nothing worse than being in an executive meeting and having your recommendation rejected or making your sponsor executive look foolish.  That doesn’t reflect your insight or leadership capabilities.

So the next time you’re armed with a project solution or seeking an endorsement, lay the groundwork.  Prepare before the meeting to understand the personalities and the issues that may be real or perceived with your recommendation.  Let each individual air their concerns in a safe forum where you can address the questions raised or modify the solution to reflect your responsiveness.  Then go in on the day of the meeting without angst over how the proposal will be received but instead knowing the outcome in advance.

 

Day Off

Yesterday was my husband’s birthday.

We managed to find an extra day off so that we could stay on at the farm Monday instead of rushing home on the actual day of his celebration.

The celebration was quite formal (wink, wink).  I managed to avoid a shred of make up.  He had dirt and paint streaks on his old work shirt.  The kids presented him with a card involving a singing lizard.  Sunglasses were gifted and a pink and orange cake from Kroger ended the mealtime festivities.

I sat down late to write something profound or witty or at the very least interesting and found myself completely out of words.  In addition to three four year olds trapped inside because of the brutal heat, we had two cousins (one older, one younger) added to the mix.  I got nothing.  So happy Monday friends – hopefully I’ll have recovered tomorrow.

Fashion Friday: Career Hair

My favorite work colleague and I were walking back from lunch when she told me about an article she’d read.  Something about how your executive potential is limited if you wear your hair long.  She wondered, with her lovely long hair blowing in the wind, you think that is true?  Hmmm, I’m not sure, I responded.

I thought about all the executive women I knew.  I couldn’t think of any with long hair.  But then again, none of them were in their late 30s or early 40s.  I’ve experimented with my hair over time – going from very long when I married, to a fairly short inverted bob, to my fairly nondescript shoulder length style now.

So I decided to do some research.  Yes, it seems completely superficial, AND IT IS, but what goes in print?  Think about it.  During Hillary Clinton’s race, the media talked about her hairstyles and wardrobe.  It’s completely a double standard, but does long hair put you at a disadvantage if you’re trying to climb the career ladder?

Where do you start?  Well, I started with the Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women in the World.  I already knew I’d exclude any television/music types on the list because the corporate career rules don’t apply to them.  I also thought it would be interesting to see if there were universal rules versus the rules that apply to American corporate woman.

The first woman on their list was German Chancellor Angela Merkel who has short hair so there went my European theory.  The third woman on the list had long hair, and not to diminish the incredible work that she does (truly, she’s amazing), but it was Melinda Gates who came into her money through her husband’s career so I didn’t feel like I could count her as one who climbed to the top of the corporate ladder with long hair.  Weighing in at number 11 was South Korean President Park who also sports very short hair.

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At number 18, Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo had about the longest hairstyle out of the top 25 (tied on length with the President of Argentina, Cristina Kirchner).

Here’s the women that made it to the Top Five:

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From top to bottom: Germany Chancellor Merkel, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, Philanthropist Melinda Gates, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde

Then I thought, well it’s age.  Most women tend to shorten their hair as they age.  What about young CEOs? So I looked at Forbes list of the Most Promising CEOs Under 35.  They listed 23 CEOs in different industries.  ZERO of them were women.  That’s right, absolutely not one promising young female CEO out there apparently.

So I settled in on The 25 Most Powerful Women CEOs list by CEO.com.  Aside from Maria das Gracas Silva, the CEO of Petrobras in Brazil, the only women CEOs with hair past their shoulders were in retail markets (Burberry, TJ Maxx).

I have no answer to this novel question about whether or not, even unconsciously by your evaluators, a hairstyle can impede your climb to the top, but I loved my friend’s perspective.  She said: We’re young.  Why don’t we change things?  We’ve got more than 20 years to stretch our career muscles and we should change things.  We should make sure that executive potential is never diminished over something as ridiculous as a hairstyle. 

I wholeheartedly agree (and spoken like one with oodles of executive promise).  First impressions absolutely count and, as you progress further in your career, you should make sure that your look exudes career potential.  That means looking polished, having a career wardrobe, and carrying yourself with confidence.  But I believe those exact principles apply to men.  Dressing for the job you want applies to any gender in a corporate environment.  Hopefully, as my friend and I move through our careers, short hair won’t be a prerequisite.

What say you?  What’s your take on a hairstyle impacting career potential?  We’re curious!

Merkel Photo Credit: AP Photo/Facundo Arrizabalaga
Yellen Photo Credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
Gates Photo Credit: Frederic Courbet
Rousseff Photo Credit: Wiktor Dabkowski/ZUMAPRESS.com/Newscom
Lagarde Photo Credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
Mayer Photo Credit: Britta Pedersen/dpa/picture-alliance/Newscom