Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Fitting into a New Environment

Workplace fashions for summer

All across the nation this summer, the temperatures have soared, and in some cases, breaking long held records. Arizonans and Californians are seeing triple digit temperatures in many areas. It causes one to ask, “How can I stay cool in the summer, still feel confident, and ensure I’m dressed professionally and appropriately for my office/workplace?”

If you’re beginning a new position, you want to ensure you project polish and a professional look. Take a look at the employer’s Facebook page, for instance. Perhaps there are photos of past events, or snapshots of employees at work. At least initially, it is imperative that you fit into the corporate culture. Perform a mock interview with someone in your field, or an individual who works for a competitor. You may even utilize your LinkedIn profile (yes, you should have one, if you don’t already) to connect with and ‘follow’ companies you’re interested in. Google the companies you’re targeting, and chances are, there will be information regarding the company and corporate culture they adhere to.

Save your signature style (especially if you’re prone to changing your hair color to a trendy bright or primary color, or you’re saving for a new tattoo that will be visible in a uniform, for instance) until after you’ve secured that long awaited interview. If that look is acceptable, you will know once you’ve entered the hallowed halls of the workplace. You will feel a confidence, rather than a feeling of exclusion, if you’re dressed similarly to your coworkers. This doesn’t mean that you forgo any trendy accessories or ‘bling’, for instance, but avoid displaying any questionable looks until you feel that you ‘fit in’ to avoid being ridiculed either openly or through Human Resource channels. You’ll be scrutinized closely as a new hire to begin with, and you want it to be due (in a positive light) to your qualifications and abilities rather than for your high hemlines or sheer blouses. 

I really felt my age when, while researching for changing workplace fashions, I saw several items I still own in an article on items featured in a ‘blast from the past’ article. So, suffice it to say, most of us aren’t wearing our washed out jeans at the moment, but I surmise it’s mostly due to the weather this time of year! The classic jean will return with the advent of fall; most of the denim worn this time of year is in the form of jean shorts or capris. 

The look of the moment is the high-low dress. The dress (or skirt) is typically shorter in the front, and then graduates into a longer length in the back. Women will be sporting this style into the fall, and perhaps into the winter months, although it’s a fairly new trend and may not fare well in colder climates. Elle magazine online featured the summer version with a gladiator sandal as well as a bootie type shoe, and a fall-into-winter look with tights and boots.

Note to students: This fall, be certain that your ‘return to school’ look doesn’t include the short shorts that may have been a wardrobe staple this summer. Include more demur and conservative items in your wardrobe that are appropriate for the classroom or workplace. If you are a student and typically dress casual for class, do be mindful that your employer may not give you a ‘hall pass’ on your casual look (if you’re heading directly to work after class). Bring a change of (conservative) clothing to school; think items that are wrinkle proof, and shoes/boots that will go with both your summertime casual look and acceptable workplace attire. 

So, keep it classy and stay cool and confident, no matter what the temps- and know that fall is just around the corner!

Diane McLelland has been called a ‘fashionista’ from a young age, acquiring her love of a fashion after enrolling in Sears Charm School as a young girl. After earning her degree in Fashion Merchandising and Business, she gained experience by appearing in movies, commercials, and magazine layouts in the Phoenix area, and worked as a flight attendant for over 15 years. Diane considers herself to be a personal shopper as she shops for family and friends whenever possible. She has written for a travel publication and numerous newsletters and currently works as a Career Services Advisor, assisting students find viable work in their chosen fields. She has two grown sons, and along with dog Cooper and ‘his’ two cats, resides in the Valley of the Sun - Phoenix AZ.

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