Friday, June 20, 2014

Take a LBD to Summer Bright

You know that little black dress (LBD) you love?  The one that is perfect to wear all year round because you can layer it with cardigans, blazers, tights and boots in the winter or with sandals and sweaters in the summer.  If we don't have one of those dresses, we are always on the look out for one.  The reason the LBD dress is such a classic is because it is so versatile.  All that being said, once summer rolls around I am sick of dark colors and want to wear bright, cheerful colors and patterns.

Here's how to take your favorite LBD to summer bright for a great business casual look.  Accessories will do the trick every time!


I'm a little obsessed with yellow right now and I always love turquoise so those were the colors I chose to brighten up the LBD.  All of the jewelry and accessories are from Stella and Dot, I'm a little obsessed with it right now too!  The tote is perfect for all your office gear - laptop, files, lunch and even your gym.  The clutch slips right into the tote or you can pull it out and carry it alone for lunch or meeting up with friends for happy hour after a busy day in the office.

How do you accessorize your LBD for the summer season?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Don't be an Eeyore! Tips for staying POSITIVE at work



Recently, my dear friend had a series of "bad" days at work.  She is one of the most upbeat people I know and she said to me, "my positivity is in the basement!".  She was referring to her Gallup's StrenghtsFinder theme, she and I both have "Positivity" as our top theme.  The negativity and bad attitudes of others were definitely testing her.  It made me start thinking about what happens to a positive person when the negative starts to take over. 

What does Positivity mean:  "You are generous with praise, quick to smile and always on the lookout for the positive in the situation...People want to be around you...your enthusiasm is contagious...You seem to find a way to lighten their spirit...You celebrate every achievement...You find ways to make everything more exciting and more vital...You believe that one must never lose one's sense of humor."  (Taken from Gallup's Talent Theme descriptions)  

So, if positivity is contagious then what is negativity?  I think negativity is more than contagious, I think it is toxic.  It is toxic to you, your organization and everyone around you.  It seeps into all those people and places and wreaks havoc.  We've all worked with an Eeyore.  (Eeyore is the miserable character from Winnie the Pooh who is gloomy, pessimistic, depressed and doesn't have anything nice to say about anyone.)  That pitiful Negative Nancy who thinks the world is out to get her, who thinks everyone is stupid and doesn't have anything positive to say about anything or anyone.  Eeyore's suck the life out of you and drain you of all your energy and patience.  If you spend too much time with an Eeyore you might begin to buy into her sad story and start huffing and puffing at other people as well.  TOXIC!

The Gallup Organization has done some amazing research on employee engagement (see more here) and identifies three types of employees:  Engaged, Not Engaged and Actively Disengaged.  If Eeyore worked within an organization instead of wandering around the Hundred Acre Woods he might well be defined as "Actively Disengaged".  Always negative, shooting down great ideas, looking for faults and stirring up trouble. No-one wants to be around an Eeyore and you certainly don't want to be one!


So, how do you stay Positive at work?
  1. Work to your strengths.  Spend the majority of your day working in your areas of natural talents and strengths.  Shoot for 75% of your time engaging your strengths.  You will increase your confidence and be a happier person.  Not sure what your talents and strengths are?  Take the StrengthsFinder assessment to learn more about it.  
  2. Stay away from Eeyore's.  This is office politics 101 - stay away from the actively disengaged people at work.  They are negative about EVERYTHING and are only engaged with being miserable and blaming others for their misery.  At the very least they will drain you of any enthusiasm you have and get on your last nerve, and at the worst they will pull you into their drama until people assume you are just like them.  Don't hang around people who only have a bad attitude to share.
  3. Love your job.  If you don't, figure out how to fall in love with it.  Talk with your supervisor about your strengths and the ways you would like to engage those strengths in your current position or with your organization.  Reflect on why you took the job to begin with.  Are you passionate about the job or what you do?  You have to try to be a solution to your problems.  If you can't find the passion you need to love your job - then find another job!  You don't want to be looking for a job when you are miserable and acting like an Eeyore, potential new employers can spot that a mile away.  Find out what ignites your passions and follow that path.  Everyone will be much happier (you, your boss, your friends and family) when you love your job.  We spend too much time at our jobs to not love what we do everyday.
  4. Smile!  Practice gratitude and kindness.  It will come back to you.  Smiles are contagious and make you a more friendly and likable person.  
  5. Make a friend.  Research conducted by The Gallup Organization says that having a friend at work is one of the 12 elements of employee engagement.  Successful organizations all have one thing in common, that one thing is TRUST.  Successful organizations have a culture of trust.  Friends trust each other, look out for each other, share values with each other and support each other.  Everyone works better in an environment of trust because it creates confidence, security and productivity.
  6. Learn and grow.  Take charge of your professional and personal development - continue to learn and grow.  Take on new projects that excite and engage you.  This is a great way to shake things up and see what else inspires you and see your talents play out in other ways.  It's easier to stay positive about new and exciting projects.  Take risks and don't be afraid to take on new challenges.  These will lead you down paths you aren't even aware of right now.
What suggestions do you have for staying positive at work?


Friday, February 28, 2014

What's your shoe style? Guide to shoe styles.

I found this on Pinterest today.  It's from a blog called Mrs. Lilien.  Check out her original blog post here.

My favorite is probably sling back peep toe.  They are versatile and the most comfortable for me, plus I think they look classy and stylish.  These would not be appropriate for a business professional or interview outfit (those should always be closed toe) but would definitely work for a business casual day in the office.  Here are some of my favorite styles:





 What's your shoe style?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Pantone Color of the Year: How to add splashes of Radiant Orchid into your career wardrobe

Pantone Color of the Year:  RADIANT ORCHID.  Wow, I was a little disappointed.  Especially after last year's color of Emerald Green.  I love Emerald Green and, unfortunately, Radiant Orchid made me have flashbacks of the 1980s and Miami Vice episodes.  So, I actually ignored it for a while.  But recently I decided I would tackle that color and see what I could come up with for adding into a business casual wardrobe.

It's not quite purple and not quite pink - it's an unusual color.  But, after working with it for a while, I found that it is actually pretty easy to add it into your career wardrobe with a just a splash here or there.  I think it works well with black, navy, grey and mint green.
I hope this gave you some ideas on how to incorporate RADIANT ORCHID into your wardrobe and run with a new trend.  Here are some other ideas I spotted on Pinterest recently.


You could just go with a subtle splash of color in shoes or an accessory.
 
You could event add it to a neutral room in your house for a quick update.

Enjoy RADIANT ORCHID this year!


Friday, December 20, 2013

'Tis the season the SPARKLE and SHINE

I love looking at clothes this time of year.  Everything sparkles, shines and looks so elegant.  You can spot sparkles on skirts, tops, jackets, belts and scarfs.  I like to look festive during the holiday season also but I also need to be aware of what is appropriate for business casual.  I love a sequins skirt as much as the next girl, but I realize that is not appropriate to wear to the office (no matter how quirky you are).  Today I've come up with some ways to add that festive sparkle and shine to your business attire without going overboard.

Here's what I came up with:



  1. The first black dress just has some simple studding on it but it adds a little sparkle to this black dress. 
  2. The next is a brocade blazer with some black slacks which adds some elegance and shimmer to the workday.  
  3. The shimmery gold blouse would look great with slacks or a pencil shirt.  The green sparkle sweater definitely shines but it's not over the top and the simple jeweled neckline on the black blouse looks very classy.  
  4. The silver tank is a great piece to wear to work and transition into a night out on the town for drinks or dinner.  Pair it with a jacket or cardigan at work with some slacks then for the evening take off the jacket, change into some jeans and some strappy heels or suede booties and add some sparkly jewelry and a great clutch and you're ready for a night out.
  5. Don't forget that accessories like a necklace, scarf or belt can add the right amount of sparkle and shine to an otherwise ordinary outfit.
Dressing for the holiday season can be fun whether you are heading to the office, a holiday party, or casual family celebration.  'Tis the season to sparkle and shine!!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Fashion Tights for Business Casual

Winter is coming on strong here in Blacksburg.  We are already getting ice and snow and it's just the beginning of December.  I am so glad that tights are trending right now because young women need some inspiration to dress appropriately for the weather and interviews in the cold weather.  I was walking into my office a few weeks ago and it was about 36 degrees outside.  I saw a young woman running into my building, I assume for an on-campus interview, wearing a short skirt, no tights or hose, barefooted, and carrying her heels as she entered out of breath into the Smith Career Center.  She was not making a very strong first impression.  First of all, she was obviously late for her interview and secondly she was not dressed appropriately for the weather.  What if I had been the recruiter she was coming to interview with, or worse what if the recruiter was watching her bare feet and legs running across the parking lot from a window in our building.  Wearing hose or tights is part of the interview attire and creates a polished and put together look.  Would you wear shorts to the office when it's only 36 degrees out??  Then why do young woman wear skirts to the office with no hose in the winter?  I just don't get it.  If I was a recruiter is would make me question the candidates ability to make critical decisions, like dressing for the weather.....

Anyway, lucky for us tights are trending now and there are lots of fun ways to wear tights in the office and make them business casual appropriate and also show off your style.

This is the look I saw on Pinterest which inspired me.  I love polka dots and these tights are so cute.

I wanted to see how to take this casual look with the designer tights and make them business casual and office appropriate.


Here are some fun tights to choose from.  I can't decide if I would like the animal print or not, I think I would have to try them on.  
Cozy up and look stylish while you wear some fun tights to work.  I love to pair them with tall boots or booties and I love that I can still wear skirts in the winter with these great tights keeping my legs warm.

What do you think about fun tights in the office?


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

JT Concert Experience!

I got to go to a Justin Timberlake concert in Raleigh, NC about two weeks ago.  It was AMAZING!!  He was awesome, the show was great and I got to have my first (and probably only) VIP experience.  I really liked JT before this show, but now I am a huge fan.  He is very talented and a an amazing entertainer.

I went to the concert with these six great ladies.

We arrived at the concert and climbed to the top of the arena to find we honestly had the worse seats in the house.  Here was our pitiful view:

I said to my friend Amy, "If I was an entertainer I would get the people in the worse seats and move them into the VIP section".  Less than 15 minutes later the usher taps us on the shoulder and says "Do you want to move to the VIP section?"  And we were like, "Hell yea!"  And the rest is history.  One of the best concerts EVER!



Do you have an incredible concert experience?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Getting my life organized! 7 Tips to help you get organized at work

Lately I've been struggling with my planning and organizational skills.  I'm a naturally organized person, but I'm not a particularly planful person.  I like to to live a pretty flexible, go with the flow kind of life but even the most "wing it" kind of girl finds that she has to be on a schedule and plan for things in order to be successful and reach her goals.  So, I have always loved a good planner.  I never would have made it through college without my good ole "At-a-glance"  monthly planner.  Planners have come a long way sense my college days and I have been eyeing the Life Planner for the past year.  I've posted about it several times. 

I finally went for it and ordered by very own Erin Condren Life Planner.  You can see them here






Here are a list of my tips and strategies to stay organized at work.  I openly acknowledge that I am still a work in progress with all of these....

1.  Set annual goals.  How do you even know what you need to plan, organize or accomplish if you don't set goals for yourself.  Write them down and hold yourself accountable to them.  If you don't decide where your time and energy is going to go, someone else will decide for you.  You will end up working on other people's priorities rather than your own.  Goal-setting allows you to look a year into the future and decide where you want to be.  Your work needs to support your strategic efforts to get to that place when the year is over.

2.  Make a weekly "to do" list.  These tasks can include routine operational kinds of activities, as well as more complex tasks that support your work goals.  Write down the tasks and check them off when completed.  Set deadlines for completion.  It helps you prioritize your work and manage your time.  It think when you actually write something down you will feel more committed to accomplishing it.

3.  Create a filing system.  Design the system that works for you.  Don't follow your boss's system or the person who had the job before you because their way of thinking may not be your natural way to organize.  This includes paper and electronic files.  I file all my papers by major project and/or program area and then other items are filed by alpha list.  I use Microsoft Outlook for my email and I have folders and sub-folders where I move items out of my inbox once I have read them or completed any action or follow-up that is required.  This also makes it easy to delete a whole folder of emails that you won't need any more.

4.  Use a planner or calendar.  I use an electronic calendar, Outlook, for my work calendar.  Much of my day is spent in appointments with students advising and coaching them on their career planning and job search.  Many people need to have access to my calendar everyday to schedule appointments and meetings for me.  Through Outlook I can access to my "work" calendar through my phone or iPad.  I can also drag emails into my calendar to use to provide meeting details or references for meeting topics.  I color code my office calendar by topic so I can quickly see what my day looks like.  Your brain can not possibly remember all of your commitments, you need to calendar to organize yourself.  I use a paper agenda, now the Life Planner, to organize my personal life.

5.  Stop multi-tasking and start managing your time.  I've learned this lesson the hard way too many times.  The definition of the word is to "work at several different tasks simultaneously".   Honestly, I don't think anyone multi-tasks well, not even millenials.  Don't nickel and dime your day away, organize each day so you can get the biggest bang for your buck.  I feel much more satisfied at the end of the day when I can reflect back on one or more big accomplishments rather than barely chipping away at several tasks.  Use your calendar system to schedule in everyday tasks like reading email, returning phone calls, filing reports or approving work hours.  These are everyday tasks that take up more time than you think so you have to account for them in your day.  Another helpful tip is to try to read and respond to email only once a day.  When you start responding to emails rather than working on your "to do" list you start putting other people's priorities over your own.  That will never help you reach your goals.

6.  Clean up your work space.  A clean and organized work space will help you be more productive and appear to be more professional.  Clutter creates chaos in my life.  If I am not surrounded by papers and clutter than I can fill my work space with things that inspire me like quotes, pictures and colorful pens (have I mentioned I'm obsessed with colorful Sharpie pens?).

7.  Use a "To be filed" tray.  My final tip is probably more of a reflection of my personality type than any researched organization strategy but I have a "to be filed" tray.  This is where I put papers and reports that I think I need to hang on to but I don't have the time to file them away.  This is the "put it off Paula" part of my personality.  Every summer I pull out that "to be filed" tray and start sorting through it.  I usually end up recycling 75% of it and only filing 25%.  Once I've had some distance from it I usually realize that I don't really need it.  That saves time and space!

What tips do you have for staying organized at work or home?