THE PAJAMAFICATION OF AMERICA….OR…..NO SHOES, NO SHIRT, NO RESPECT by Elaine Stowers
Now, comfort has its place in your wardrobe….I’m a big believer in that. But downright sloppiness and disregard for your appearance is something else altogether. Two quotes immediately come to mind: George Carlin’s “Nothing says I have given up more than a sweat suit at dinner”, and Coco Chanel’s “We never know when destiny may call…be dressed and ready.” And if you think looks don’t count, consider this: How many of us had already discounted Susan Boyle based on her appearance alone….before she opened her mouth and her angelic voice poured out? Her God given talent saved the day. But how much earlier and easier could her career have taken off had she simply “looked the part”?
So it’s late August-early September, it’s sweltering, and the bloom is definitely off the rose. How can one dress with comfort, look put together and…should I dare say this….dress with pride? Yes…I will say it. PRIDE, PRIDE, PRIDE!! More on that later.
One should look professional. It doesn’t matter what rung of the ladder you currently inhabit. Look professional and your chances for upward mobility will increase. There have been numerous studies done on this topic-one often cited is how much better students perform when neatly dressed (yes, often in uniform, although I am not advocating that).
DO WEAR DRESSES– Dresses have made a HUGE comeback. And if you are at all concerned about a “put together” look, nothing is simpler. It’s ONE piece, for heaven‘s sake! I like sheaths for their simplicity, comfort, and ability to disguise most figure flaws. Belt it with a jacket, and you’ve changed the look again. And if your arms are great-sleeveless is fine. (If it’s good enough for the president’s wife….)
DO GO BARE LEGGED– I haven’t worn flesh toned hose since confirmation. (and I’m Presbyterian) I guess they are sold though, because I still see them from time to time. Try a self tanner, or if your legs need coverage as well as color, try leg make up. Sally Hansen makes an excellent product for this very thing and delivers believable cover and color. (Note: like regular make up-it will come off. Try applying, drying and buffing with a wash cloth) If you feel that your legs are still….ummm….not Red Carpet Ready…go with tailored slacks. One of the most stylish and successful women I know wears nothing else, but not just any long pant will work. I am talking Kate Hepburn classic here. You know the look. This brings me to my next “Do”.
DO WEAR SLACKS– We may have come a long way baby, but it doesn’t mean ANYTHING goes! Great trouser type slacks, white collared blouses, beautifully detailed woven sweaters and sling backs have to be one of the all time classiest looks. It also happens to be very comfortable if you choose breathable fabrics with a wonderful drape. Try a flat front with stitched down or no pleats for your slimmest look. I also like the Hollywood Waist. This is essentially no waist, but is somewhat high and creates the illusion of an hourglass shape.
DO WEAR A SKIRT– Depending on your particular office environment, these can go from a simple A- line with flats to a tailored pencil skirt, structured jacket and pumps. Both looks are very fashionable now and, according to your shape and job description, both can work. To breath life and contour into some skirts, I often have them “pegged “. A good alteration person will understand the term and should do a nice job. Basically, this means tapering the skirt from about mid way down to the hem. If you are wider on the bottom, stick with a more forgiving silhouette…And again, go for stitched down pleats and a slightly flared hem.
DON’T WEAR JEANS IN THE OFFICE– I know it’s done and I’m sure there are some situations where they are appropriate. But unless they are dark denim, trouser like, and not too low, you’re going to come across like Britney Spears. If that’s the industry you work in…Fine. Think twice if not.
DON’T WEAR SUNDRESSES– This is just a rule of thumb because I have seen some that are not too loud and come with a jacket. These can look fine. If in doubt–save it for the company bar-b-q.
DON’T OVERDO THE MAKE UP, JEWELRY, and PERFUME– It looks cheap and some perfume is simply offensive. (Think how it must smell when combined with the “flavor du jour others have chosen for the day….)
Less is unquestionably more with all three of these items.
DON’T WEAR SCRUFFY SHOES-One of my biggest pet peeves. If you want to ruin an otherwise great outfit fast….wear the worn down shoes with the shoddy heels and scuffed toes. NO-NO-NO!!! Resole them, re -tap them….or replace them. Although you don’t need to invest in Manola’s….buy good quality. There are areas where you can save a nickel. But in general, shoes are not one of those areas.
Why is it that to some, the word “casual” means….whatever I can lay my hands on? I’ve often wondered if America’s wardrobe meltdown occurred simultaneously with the introduction of the” No shoes, no shirt, no service” signs. Prior to that, I can honestly NEVER remember wondering if bare feet were…optional? (Too bad too, because I hated shoes as a kid).
DO WEAR YOUR GREAT LOOKING JEANS – By this, I mean the ones that fit, are clean and not tattered. And ditch the soccer mom high- waisted ones. The jeans and the wearer both look dated.
DO PULL OUT THE CUTE SUNDRESSES-. And when you pull out the dress, pull out the full length mirror too. Unless you’re under 40, skip the cutesy bows and excessive trim. Go for something flattering, and simple, but still fun and cool. Let your shape dictate whether halter, spaghetti straps or sleeveless work for you.
DO WEAR GREAT SANDALS– There is such an array available today. Strappy, flat, kitten heel….They are great with jeans, skirts, dresses…whatever. But do yourself and the rest of us a favor…Put on your bifocals and check out your pedicure first.
DO WEAR CITY SHORTS-.There was a time when these were called Bermuda Shorts and are a little tricky for shorter women to wear. Try them with some heel (not too much) if this is you. Flats are fine if you’re taller.
DO WEAR FUN JEWELRY-Here’s your chance to express yourself. Try the ethnic bangles and layers of thin necklaces and bracelets. Semi precious stones are also “VERY IN” right now too. And here’s a place to save a little money. Without mentioning names, the store with the BIG RED BULLSEYE has a great selection of fun costume jewelry.
Don’t Wear Crocs– If you’re not in the garden, these belong in the mudroom until you plan to return to the garden. They are downright tacky.
Don’t Wear GLADIATOR SANDALS– Not a hard and fast rule. They are in every fashion book, so they must be cool. Right? Except for the fact that they cut you at the very worst possible place on your legs, give you the appearance of “cankles” and look as though you’ve been thrown to the lions….I’m sure they can look quite lovely.
Don’t Wear TATTERED,FRAYED, and TOO LOW CUT JEANS– Read an article two days ago giving precise instructions on how to distress new jeans and still achieve the 3,000$ haute couture look!!! The steps included everything from bleaching, to shot gun holes, to hand picking the fibers apart. (My idea of an exciting day). Now, making new jeans look old is nothing new. We did it in high school with a big bottle of Clorox. They looked bad then and they still look bad today. In my opinion, Giselle has a hard time pulling off this look.(Tom Brady too). What chance do mere mortals have?
Do’t Wear TRASHY TEE SHIRTS– If you wouldn’t wear it in front of your mother….just don’t.
Don’t Wear SHORT SHORTS-If you wouldn’t wear them in front of your father….ditto.
And lastly-a little about the word “PRIDE”.
When I was a freshman in college, my grandmother was dying of cancer. There was little in the way of pain management then, so in the weeks preceding her death she must have felt miserable. She called me one day…in what turned out to be her last week of life. She needed me to drive her to “The Beauty Parlor” to have her hair tinted and done. When I arrived, she was wearing a nice church dress, stockings and heels. She had also attempted to apply a little rouge and lipstick, although it wasn’t on quite straight.
With all the horrors in today’s headlines, I can’t quite explain why I find her “PRIDE” still important and significant. I only know that I do.
About the Author: Elaine Stowers is a West Cobb resident, who has been a fashion consultant for Doncaster Wardrobe Consultant for the past 6 years. She maybe reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404- 401-0277.