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

Fashion Fridays: Appreciating the Ankle Pant

I’m a late adopter.  I got a cell phone years after my peers.  I still listen to CDs.  I only just came over to the wonderful world of BB/CC crème.

And such was my journey to the ankle pant.  Quite frankly, at 5’10, I’ve spent most of my life trying to find pants long enough to cover my ankles.  Why on earth would I buy pants intentionally too short?

As I was shopping one day, I pulled a pair of pants that looked promising.  I tried them on and they fit perfectly.  Except for one thing.  They were ankle pants and hit just above my ankle.  Hmmmmm.  I slipped on my blazer and heels and thought, this looks cute.  Since they were on sale, I threw caution to the wind and purchased my first pair.  I now own two pair.

There are a few tips and limitations for the ankle pant.  You can wear them just as you would any pant to work but you have to be more thoughtful about footwear.  Additionally, if you have thick ankles, it is probably best to still avoid them as they draw undue attention to a region you’re probably trying to camouflage.  I personally prefer them with a high thin heel, or for a more casual look a flat, but if you wear short boxier heels then I would also avoid the ankle pant.

Note, this is not an endorsement of the capri.  The capri has left the building in terms of fashion, so watch where the pant hits you.  The length needs to look intentional and not like a long capri or, if you’re tall, not like you just couldn’t find pants that fit.  So while more fraught with complications than your average trouser, it’s worth exploring.

My favorite look this month was a black ankle pant, this gorgeous taupe “Tumbleweed” silk shell that is marked WAY down at Talbot’s today, a cut-away black blazer from a department store, and sky high taupe heels I picked up at Bloomingdale’s a couple of years back on a trip to Manhattan.  Here were my girlfriends and I at a rare dinner out this week where I’m sporting the look (and yes I look like a possum at midnight in all of my photos – and no red eye remover doesn’t work on any website I’ve tried…)

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The pants and blouse linked in the description above and pictured below are exactly those from my own personal “steal this look,” however the jacket and total splurge heels pictured below are what’s available on the market now at Macy’s and DSW, respectively, since my pieces are pretty old.

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Fashion Fridays: My Love Affair With The Blouse

Ahhh.  A blouse.  Such an intrinsically feminine item of a working woman’s wardrobe.  A place where you can embrace color and pattern and shimmer.  Sigh.  I heart blouses. 

Alas, the truly lovely blouse is becoming ever elusive.  So if ever I find one, I snatch it up. 

A blouse is far more versatile than you think!  You can wear it to work under a suit or blazer.  You can wear it with a pair of jeans and sandals on the weekend for a date.  You can throw your blazer off and don a necklace for the effortless work to evening look.  Seriously, you don’t have enough blouses. 

So here are my picks for the week (Talbot’s is running a fierce sale, for not much longer, so get in on some of these 60% off deals because a truly chic blouse tends to cost more than your average boring shell):blouse1

This neutral colored geometric blouse is my current favorite.  You can wear it with anything and the fabric is silky and elegant. 

I think you always hit the department stores just for selection sake along – try Dillard’s, Nordstrom’s, Macy’s, and Bloomingdale’s and pick the fabric or color or style of blouse you want.  blouse5

This snake print chiffon blouse (yep, that’s right) from Dillard’s is even a little out of my comfort zone but it would look fierce under a steel gray suit and add the little interest you need.  Simultaneously, you throw on ankle boots and jeans and you can head off to a concert.  blouse6

And for a complete splurge, I love this patterned royal blue Kate Spade blouse from Nordstrom’s (which has also just kicked off their semi-annual sale)!

Ann Taylor is doing better at bringing work pieces back and their blouse category is no schlump.  Everything from the delicate ivory with black peter pan collar to the ocean blue silk number are beautiful additions to every work wardrobe.

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While normally I eschew the shell, I have featured a couple here and this color-blocked eyelet number is too lovely to omit from the list.blouse4

And I love a silk blouse.  They are timeless.  This simple silk blouse from Ann Taylor comes in five hues (a testament on its own to its timelessness) but I’m partial to this sea salt blue shade. 

What about you?  Are you a blouse lover?  Where do you shop for the ever elusive unique blouse? 

Fashion Fridays: Fun Fourth Fashion

Happy Birthday America!

If you’re like me, then you’re probably on vacation.

So I pieced together a short Fourth of July fashion post.  A couple of quick tips to up your game today at the backyard barbecue or your neighborhood parade.  Step your look up one notch past that old t-shirt and shorts and still stay cool and casual:

1.  A patriotic cardigan:  Throw a bright blue (in a nontraditional shade) or cherry red topper over your casual look and automatically you’ve created a more sophisticated outfit.  I just got a precious Kate Spade ocean blue number last week at 60% off!  Woohoo - holiday deals!  I loved it because of the unique shade but unfortunately it is sold out.  However, Nordstrom’s has the cardigan on sale in this cherry red. How fun and modern does it look with these wonderful geometric navy and white pants – perfect for your parade route:

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2.  A fun necklace: If you’re not afraid of going bold, just select an inexpensive costume piece in bright red or blue to give your 4th of July ensemble that patriotic pop.

Start some place like Charming Charlie’s or your neighborhood equivalent.  All of their pieces are $20 or less.  These are my top picks for casual, reasonable, quirky, and bold:

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These “bubbly beads” in both midnight blue and cherry red are a bright pop (and on sale for $9.99)!

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These chokers labeled “regal beads” and “tonal beads” pair well with round or V necklines.

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These two “icicle strand” and “dock party” long necklaces are a nice toe in the water for those of you looking for a more subtle splash of color.

3.  A sundress:  Oh, I love Athleta sundresses.  They are so functional and lightweight for Texas heat.  Athleta specializes in work out wear, so they know how to make these things work.  My Athleta sundress is red with a built in bra, but this one would be adorable for the Fourth in blue and white stripes (pair it with a red wedge sandal and clutch and you are in full blown 4th costume).

dress

 Wishing you a fun, and fashionable, Fourth of July!

Fashion Fridays: Mixing It Up

I love summer.

I think you can do some pretty daring stuff with fashion in summer.

You can mix so many interesting colors and pieces and textures in bold and bright ways in the summer.

My tip is to pick a focal point and build around it.

Here’s a great example I found from Pinterest:

Snails Pace

How do you build this?  You start with this adorable navy shell that features SNAILS!  Seriously – is that completely fun?  Then pair it with a bright color for summer – here she selected a skinny yellow cropped pant.  Then top it with a nubby cardigan to add texture, but note the contrasting pattern (stripes) are in subdued neutrals so it doesn’t compete with the pop of color.  (Not to mention the tone on tone necklace – perfect!).  Outfit courtesy of Classy Girls Wear Pearls where she features the stores where she found each piece.

This is a perfect look for casual Friday that feels casual, without the jeans, and still reads sophisticated casual.

The key is to find your focal piece.

It could be any item, but it’s so easy to start with the blouse because it physically is central when you wear it.  Here are a few options I found hunting around for cool colors or patterns (or both) last night:

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Melon shell with octopus print courtesy of Anthropologie

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Capri blue blouse with sailboats courtesy of Target

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Burgundy sunglass print button down courtesy of J. Crew

Just remember, if you go bold on the color in your top, then select neutral colors with added texture in your other pieces.  But if you chose a more subdued color in your blouse, you can go bold in your pants or skirts.  There are so many fun summer colors on bottom now (check out the selection at Talbot’s or Nordstrom just to get a flavor for all the choices out there), that it might be just as tempting to try that route.  And don’t match the color of your shoes or handbag to your top or bottom pieces.  If you selected the capri blue blouse and paired it with an ivory pencil skirt and cardigan, then you could wear a gray heel and carry a lime clutch.  To coordinate a sophisticated look, you can pick an array of colors as long as you stay away from hues that actively clash.

So take some risks this summer.  Try something outside of your comfort zone.  See if it doesn’t land you a half dozen compliments at your first attempt!