Saturday, October 11, 2008

Style SOS: Corporate Dressing 1 & 2

1. Hi...I just would like to ask for tips on how can I dress for work? I'm a bit heavy in the upper part of the body. Hehe. I work an 8-5 job in the Central Business District of the Philippines...Hope you could help me style myself. Thanks.

2. Hi CD.

Can you help me out?

I just graduated from college so I am a little at a loss as to what clothes to invest in now.

I'm going corporate. Can you suggest wardrobe must-haves (especially shoes and tops that'll work with the unpredictable weather in the Philippines)? No sleeveless allowed unfortunately. :)



Thanks for your questions too! I've been out of the corporate scene for over a year now so I've asked Grace Velasco, banker, blogger, and Radar girl who writes the column Divasoria (same title as her blog!) for permission to re-print her piece on power dressing which was published last September 21 in The Philippine Star's On The Radar section! It's a stellar piece that tackles the often asked question, "What does a girl wear to work?" Read on!

Every day, working women everywhere wake up and wonder "what should I wear today?" It's not that easy to incorporate fashion and work-appropriate outfits.

The biggest challenge for any driven, ambitious and stylish corporate woman is to learn how to express her femininity while projecting an air of power and leadership.

Honestly, it's so easy for men. Men's work wear is basically fool proof. You rarely hear about a man being sidelined because he dressed inappropriately. In fact, a recent Wall Street Journal article likened the male wardrobe to armor: it disguises body parts while sending subtle signals.

A "gusot mayaman" barong could mean "hard-working and no-nonsense." A blue chambray button-down could mean "efficient and calculating." And a custom-tailored shirts could mean "blue chip board member."

Women, on the other hand, don't have the luxury of determining their own fashion codes, which leads to a bigger chance of making mistakes.

So what's a girl to do?

The best advice a mentor gave me was to dress as if you were the boss. Makes sense, right? It's a lot like the philosophy
behind The Secret — being the boss is the goal.

Start by looking at all the women on the upper echelons of the corporate ladder. They wear finely tailored suits, modest necklines with deliberate yet elegant scarves and bold necklaces. This may look ordinary or generic to the untrained eye but there are subtle hints of flair such as the curve of a collar, the twist of the jewelry, the texture of the blouse. The emphasis is focused on style, not fashion.

With that in mind, here are five wardrobe cornerstones every working woman must have:

The white button-down shirt. Sounds clich├ęd but very important. Choose something in cotton. No stretchy or shiny fabrics, no stiff collars or ruffles. Just a plain, white button-down shirt with a perfect fit that's neither too tight nor too big.

Black trousers. Make it two pairs, one slim and one wide-leg. The slim pants should be close to the body but not tight and no camel-toe, please. The wide-leg ones should be long enough to cover half of your heel when you wear high-heeled shoes.

Black pumps. Personally, I prefer really tall shoes because it's either you go flat or wear three-inch-plus heels. Two-inches are pointless, in my opinion. Also pick shoes with a rounded or square toe since they're more comfortable.

The black pencil skirt. Pencil skirts are versatile and can be worn from day to night. Choose one that is, again, close to the body but not too tight. The length should graze the knee as suggested by French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld. I read somewhere that she only wears knee-length skirts as it flatters women of all sizes, and I believe her.

The tailored blazer. Another versatile piece you can wear to work or play. Get something that is of quality material, a perfect fit and preferably with two or three buttons. It'll make any woman look long and lean.

Sounds basic right? The difference lies in how the pieces fit your body and how you make it your own.

I like scarves, necklaces, pins and brooches to add femininity. I take cues from style pegs like Coco Chanel, Katharine Hepburn and Diane Keaton in Annie Hall. All these women love to mix and match masculine and tailored clothes with feminine touches.

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