Thursday, June 25, 2009

What to Wear: New HR Job

Maggie put in a rush order. She has a new job that's more formal than our last request:
My name is Maggie, and I'm 24 years old. I just graduated college (, two weeks ago) with a double-degree in English and Communication. I've been offered a job with a national company as a human resources consultant. I'm floored! It's going to be an excellent opportunity to gain experience and grow within an organization. Not to mention a nice increase in salary. There's just one problem: I have no clue how to dress.

The dress code in the employee handbook is pretty non-specific: "neat and professional", with "suits, pant suits, dresses, skirts, or vest with dress slacks that match." I asked more specific questions when they extended to offer to me, and the only thing my future boss addressed specifically is that she would like for me to wear a blazer more often than not, in order to look more put-together in the event that I need to meet with current or perspective clients.

Other than that, I'm just stuck. I love clothing, fashion, and shopping. Maybe I'm getting hung up on the in-bewtweeness of it all? In general, I don't have much trouble with things like this but my work experience has been in either a really formal business environment (a bank with a very strict dress code...yeah, that didn't work out so well) or a non-profit, where I am currently employed. Just to give you a frame of reference: today I wore Reef flip-flops and a sundress. That's all well and good for my current station in life, but I would really love for people to take me seriously in this new (and foreign) environment. Dress for the job you want, right?

I am 5'4, with a 29 inch waist (generally I wear a size 8 in pants and a medium in shirts) and wear a 38 C bra. I don't really have any obvious hips to speak of, nor a defined waist (in fact, if some your brilliant ideas could solve this, I would be forever in your debt and will promptly send some awesome cream cheese brownies your way). I also have broad shoulders which are probably worse in my mind than they are in reality, but I'm fairly self-conscious about them.

I have chin-length hair that is dark brown, and sometimes has neon magenta in it when I'm feeling sassy.
My skin is a medium olive color and one of my eyes is chocolate brown, the other bright blue (weird, I know...but a good conversation starter for sure). I am not afraid to take risks, stand out, or wear color.

I personally feel that I look better in jewel tones but I trust your judgment more than mine (although I have it on good authority that certain shades of yellow make me look like I have some strange tropical fever).
I'm down with skirts, dresses, trousers, suits, black garbage name it. I am not opposed to spending money on investment pieces, and I already have one very nice black suit, several pencil skirts, a few button-down blouses, and a lovely pair of black pointy-toe pumps that I just purchased. I would love to add another suit to my collection as well as the aforementioned blazers, but also some things that set me apart from my co-workers in a good way. I don't mind being different as long as people still respect me and I can respect myself.
"Creative conservative" is a good place to start. Play it a little safe but use color and accessories to give a hint of your inner wild child.

Blazer - I live in blazers, like most people in this foggy city. This is a basic two button navy suit suiting jacket from J.Crew. In fall, be sure to stock up on a wider variety of tweed, velvet, etc blazers in fun colors.
Blouse - A bright and fun blouse from Club Monaco. Ditching the blazer for lunch or cocktails after work will give you a younger look. The blouse has elbow-length sleeves (great for minimizing your shoulders), a blousy fit (young and feminine) and a belted waist (helps give you some curves).
Skirt - Another light pencil skirt, this time in khaki.
Pumps - Green and ivory pumps, so cute.
Necklace - Green glass beads from Forever21.
Bag - A light colored satchel

Bonus, Dress! - This cut of dress, with draping, a defined waist & straight cut sleeves, should be a great match with your shape. Pair it with a cardigan on colder days and toss in a pair of soft red pumps.


LPC said...

I think these are great. In my experience HR staff are allowed to look a little more like girls than the rest of us. The blazer over dress is a perfect, flexible way to approach the issue.

Anonymous said...

Let me just say...e-mail me your address! Cream cheese brownies coming your way, sister!

Thank you so so much.
As I said before, perfect in every way.