Month

July 2016

5 Items Every Working Woman Should Own

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[Photo credit: Shot by Kelley]

So I got to thinking about my humble beginnings as a young woman venturing into the corporate world after college. I held jobs prior to that time period. Most in retail and food service. So dressing up in a suit or business casual attire was a little unfamiliar to me. My senior year of undergrad I held an office job at the campus bookstore. This required me to dress up a notch above my prior retail gigs. Though it was a more college student version of business casual. Translation: just don’t show up in jeans and flip flops.

When I interviewed for my first full time job out of school I wore a pink button down blouse with a black pencil skirt. They were staples from the professional attire line up I had for sorority business events. (Mind you this “line up” was about 2-3 go-to outfits.) Reality is, when you’re a full time student, there’s little need for “grown up” work attire.

I remember my mom taking me to the mall to shop for work ensembles right before starting my first job in the corporate world. I’m not sure if she wanted to invest in a young women’s future or just didn’t want me embarrassing her. Either way, bless her little heart and her wallet too. πŸ™‚

In addition to work attire, there are a couple other items I think every working woman should (ideally) have on hand. This is by no means a comprehensive list. Though, from experience, I’d like to think it’s a good start.

1) A black suit

Professional Dress_Suit

[Photo credit: Shot by Kelley]

You just can’t go wrong with a black suit. Besides being able to utilize it for multiple interviews (which is why I’d advise investing in a good quality suit), the separates (blazer and pants or skirt) provide more options when paired with other items in your closet.

{Outfit details: Suit (Calvin Klien- Macy’s); Blouse (New York and Company); Heels (Nine West); Bag (Aldo) }

2) Black pumps

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[Photo credit: Shot by Kelley]

Besides the fact that they can be paired with just about anything, they also are just…well…classic! A decent pair will last you for years and career ventures to come.

{Outfit details: Heels (Forever 21) }

3) Transitional bag

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[Photo credit: K. Williams]

Think multifunctional meets stylish. A piece that is feminine yet serves the many purposes of the working woman. Something on the larger end is more ideal to fit various items: technological devices (laptop or tablet), sneakers (lunch walk), change of clothes (post work happy hour) and any other necessities. This could be a bag you carry in addition to your purse or as the primary bag with a small clutch inside to carry your essentials (wallet, makeup, etc.).

{Outfit details: Bag (H&M); Suit and Top (New York and Company); Heels (Forever 21) }

4) Flat iron or hair essentials

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[Image as found on Pinterest]

Probably the most vital aspect of a woman’s professional image, second to her attire, is her hair. I highlight the flat iron because it can serve as beneficial no matter if you wear your hair straight, curly or natural. It can give you a quick touch up to a straight style or switch up natural or curly styles.

Don’t do straight styles? Here is where you would insert the products most essential to your go-to hairstyle. Perhaps perm rods for natural curls, a diffuser for all over curly tendrils or a curling wand for beachy waves.

5) Padfolio

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[Photo by target.com; Exterior]

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[Photo by target.com; Interior]

{See cover photo for the one I own.}

I didn’t realize how essential this was until I got to grad school. I remember being new to a job and two former co-workers each had one to take notes in a meeting. They looked so official. There is nothing wrong with a good old fashioned notepad but I feel like the Padfolio just ups the ante. Especially for interviews. It has a neat and professional look that polishes off a nice suit. In addition to the notepad insert, there’s also a pocket (in most models) that can keep paperwork like copies of your resume.

 

What are your go-to working woman essentials? Feel free to comment below.

Weekend Warrior

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Cheers to the weekend! One of my most anticipated weekend bonuses is dressing down. Some days this can be as casual as jeans. Other days I enjoy the feel of a girlie-girl dress.

The dress pictured is a bit more dressier than the more casual selections I own. What I love about it is how it can go from day to night. I can work it for a day of shopping and a night out on the town.

What’s also cool about this dress is that it can be worn to the office too. In the picture I paired it with platform oxfords and a leather jacket for a fun yet office worthy look. This particular look may be more on the Casual Friday side if your employer is conservative. Though that’s what makes the dress so fun to play with – you can dress it accordingly.

Ready to go from 9 to fly as your own weekend warrior? Let the styling be with you! {In my Star Wars voice. πŸ™‚ }

Please Excuse Me While I Put On My Work Face (Part II): Resilency

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By now you probably had the chance to read Part I. If not, please pause to go read the previous post and come on back over. (We promise to save a seat for you. πŸ˜‰ )

The purpose of this blog is to inspire. So writing the previous post was challenging. On one hand, I didn’t want to add to the dark cloud many people already had over their heads. Though on the other hand, I hope that others can relate through my transparency. I desired to send the message that they were not alone. The heartbreak was (and still is) at a community level.

So how does one maintain resiliency during this time? Here are a few thoughts on how to bounce back. Keep in mind, I’m not a professional but I have indeed learned from experience.

1) Take care of your basic human needs.
Eat! Get enough sleep!
No matter what is going on…good news or bad news…without taking care of these two needs performance will obviously be lower and mood affected as well. Take me for example, in my previous post I described how I was running on low fuel (and emotions) in the morning but after lunch I bounced back. Even if it was just enough to get through the day.

2) Don’t compromise your mental health.
This one is dedicated to good ole’ social media. It will suck you in and have your emotions boiling like a pot of stew on a winter day.
I have seen a couple of posts promoting mental health in the wake of recent tragedies. They all give common, helpful tips such as knowing when to log off and staying away from heated debates with those that disagree.
My favorite one said something to the effect of “Taking a step back from it all by logging off doesn’t mean you don’t care about the problem. But how can you effectively contribute to the solution if you’re not your best self?”. Golden words.

3) Embrace your co-workers and their variety of conversations.
I saw a few social media posts from people that were frustrated that their co-workers weren’t discussing the issues behind recent tragedies and racial injustice. I can understand this. I longed for someone to vent to as I struggled to get through the work day. (And thankfully I identified someone who was equally concerned.) But in actuality, it could be refreshing to hear a different conversation. Especially if you’ve been plugged into social media where people are outraged, sad and a host of other emotions.
I overheard a group of co-workers talking outside of my office. They were eagerly asking another co-worker about her wedding plans. It was so nice to hear their pleasant discussion. I welcomed the break in my train of thought. Not because I didn’t want to deal with the hard core issues anymore. But because my brain was on overload and if I didn’t regroup I would have been staring at the computer screen lost in deep thought.

4) Get some fresh air.
When I went out for lunch I was still a bit dazed and disoriented. But boy did it help to see the light of day. Being outside was such a refresher from being stuck in the office with my thoughts.

5) Connect with a higher source.
As a Christian, I find that prayer and reading my devotional helps ease my mind and remind me of God’s presence. Some may debate because they just can’t understand how God is there and can help us through the heartbreak that follows repeated senseless acts of violence and hate. But my thought is that a higher source provides guidance, wisdom and peace to get you from one level to the next. How can you act upon a solution to the problem if your mind is racing and your thinking is irrational as a result? A higher source is going to ground you in an unstable time.

I hope this post helps and inspires those trying to bounce back from all the negative, hateful and heartbreaking news out there.

Have a safe, peaceful week-end. And please remember to hug your loved ones just a little bit tighter today. ❀️

Please Excuse Me While I Put On My Work Face (Part I): A Reflection

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Last week was pretty intense. You would think it being a short week, with the holiday Monday, would have made it a breeze. Nope…opposite. So much going on both near and far. Allow me to chronicle 72 draining hours.

Tuesday morning I barely got settled into the office when I received a text from a former church member: “Just wanted to share with you the VERY SAD NEWS…”. She was informing me that a young lady from the congregation passed away. After the initial shock I thought to myself “she graduated from high school about two years ago…so that would have made her about 19…20?” (*Sigh*)

Wednesday morning I logged on to Instagram and the first thing I saw was the video of the Alton Sterling shooting. Despite telling myself to get off social media, I was looking throughout the day and night to see what folks were saying about the situation.

Oh and did I mention, while I was on social media I saw a son promoting a Go Fund Me account for his mother who had recently passed away. (*Long sigh*)

Thursday (should have learned from Wednesday to not start the day with social media) began with social media being on fire about the Philando Castile tragedy. My emotions were all over the place. I read my daily devotional…thoughts still racing. Turned to my John Coltrane station on Pandora to ease my nerves. But I still struggled to concentrate. I put on a podcast in the background of my work and found myself turning it off because that only worked for so long.

I decided it was time for an early lunch. I needed to regroup. So I went out to get something to eat. In a daze, I looked up to see a tall, well tailored Caucasian man bending down and reaching his arms out. A little girl was running into his arms to meet his embrace. Subconsciously I wondered “wow…will she ever have to worry about her dad being extinguished due to senseless violence by those who are employed to ‘serve and protect’ him?”. {Praying she never does.}

Yes, this could be seen as a generalization to some. It is humanly possible that this father too could face that situation. But as a Black woman in the aftermath of what had just happened within 48 crucial hours, I wasn’t buying the possibility. At least not that day. As raw and uncensored as those thoughts were, my aching heart was speaking louder than any logic my brain could pull together. And while I love, appreciate and value my brothers and sisters of all races, in that moment I escaped to the tunnel in my heart where a Black woman was on her knees curled in a ball weeping. She was hurting because she has a father…a Black man (unlike the happy little girl)…that she does have to be concerned about.

I ate lunch and having food helped. I took my food in the office, shut the door, dimmed the lights and watched a lighthearted YouTube video. I needed an escape in that moment. It reminded me of the first time I lost a loved one. I longed for normalcy in that initial mourning period. Was I experiencing grief again? Quite possibly.

The afternoon got better. Though my mind was still distant. I stepped out of the office to fill up my water bottle. A co-worker approached me to ask how a new office arrangement was working out. All I remember saying was “it’s good!” with a painted smile. I don’t remember the rest of the conversation. My body was present, I was responding but my mind was just.not.there.

I could have jumped when it was time to go home. And not because work was bad or someone had upset me. But because my heart was broken, my mind was troubled.

I jetted out of the office, had small talk with a colleague in the elevator. When I got to my car I had a sigh of relief.

Finally…I could take off my work face…

Makeup In The Workplace: Does The Struggle Have To Be Real?

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[Image credit: Shot by Kelley]

A girl’s gotta look her best, right? Well does that always have to include makeup?

Please allow me to start off by saying that I’m not much of a makeup gal myself. It’s pretty much limited to special occasions. Oh…and photo shoots so you readers don’t talk about me too bad. πŸ™‚

I’ve considered taking the plunge of wearing makeup to work. But it just never seems to work out. Take last week for instance…

On Sunday night I thought about dazzling up my Monday with a coat of mascara. You know, so I wouldn’t have raccoon eyes if I got less sleep than required. Monday morning rolled around and there was no mascara in sight. In fact, I didn’t even attempt to pack it in my purse. I had forgotten all about it until I was already on the freeway fighting morning traffic. (*Sigh*)

I once had a boss who would touch up her makeup in the office before heading out to meetings. Some mornings I think she would be completing this routine for the first time because she didn’t have enough time to do so earlier as she scrambled to get out of the house in time. (Ahhhh…the sacrifices involved with am commutes!) From time to time I would watch her so patiently prepping herself in the mirror and think: “Yeah, maybe my woman card needs to be revoked!”. I just don’t have the dedication. Not only did I admire the extra time she put into her image but I also thought she did such a great job of keeping it modest for the office. Electric blue lipstick was never in the rotation. πŸ˜‰

Seems like so much planning goes into not just wearing makeup but wearing it in the workplace specifically. Kuddos to my former boss and other women who make the process look so effortless.

Ladies, what are your thoughts on makeup in the workplace? How often do you wear makeup to work? How much is too much? Feel free to comment below.

 

 

6 Things To Do Before Summer Ends

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[Image from https://pixabay.com]

It’s 4th of July weekend already! How did that happen? (*gasps*) Part of my brain is still stuck in 2015! Well we’re half way through 2016 and close to half way through the summer. So before summer ends, make sure to put at least one (if not all) of these activities on your to-do list.

1)A Summer Gathering

Let me start by mentioning that this could translate into different types of “gatherings” depending on the attendees. One may refer to it as any one of the following: “a BBQ”, “cookout”, “function” or “turn up”. No matter the term used, the end goal is that a good time is had by all. Typically the more food served, the better the event. Because what’s better than ribs on a sunny summer day? Oh and let’s not forget music, games and being in the presence of good company.

2)Outdoor Adventure

So overall this category refers to taking a solo, duet or group trip which often involves a body of water. I say that in general terms because this could vary depending on where you live. For Southern California residents like myself, the beach is typically the hot spot of choice. If you’re not in a coastal region, a local river or lake would serve the same purpose. And if you’re lucky enough to have a pool in your backyard, apartment complex or neighborhood then you don’t have to go far to get in on the water action.

The common marker of summer seasons across the globe is it can get HOT! There’s nothing like beating the heat with a refreshing dip in the water.

And if all else fails, feel free to break out those water balloons or the make shift slip-in-slide (*cue in the cut up trash bags and water hose*).

3)Outdoor Movies

Watching movies on the outdoor big screen while sitting out on the grass is so, well…”summery”. Here in LA small entertainment organizations frequently host movies at beaches, parks or other outdoor spacious grassy areas. Usually classic or very well known movies are shown because hosts know that while folks are watching, it is still a social event. (Definitely not the time/place to debut a new film.) Some venues also host food trucks and bands that play before the featured movie so you can make a whole afternoon-night of it.

Don’t have these events in your city? Not to worry. With the rise in popularity of this concept, people are hosting their own versions at home. I’ve seen people put projectors in their backyard or on the front lawn and set up blankets, chairs and etc. to host their own movie night. Browse Pinterest or Google for ideas on how to pull off this concept at home. Don’t have a big enough space? Consider pairing up with neighbors to have an epic viewing.

4)Festivals and Fairs

This is one of the summer activities I look forward to the most every year. Between the two, there is always so much to explore: music, food, art. And the vendors…oh the vendors! (*looks in closet at purchases from past summer festivals and fairs*) In fact, I’m not sure which is the lesser of the two evils: the vendors or the fried desserts!

5) Blast a Summertime Song

What’s the season without summertime 90s classics like Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff’s “Summertime? The lyrics are pleasant reminders of long, fun-filled days in the sun:

“While the dj’s spinning a tune as the old folks dance at your family reunion/Then six o’clock rolls around/You just finished wiping your car down/It’s time to cruise so you head to the summertime hangout”

Why hello summer anthems! #onrepeat

6)Make Friday Count

I often feel conflicted about whether or not to count Friday as a part of the weekend. Technically Friday at 5:01pm (could be earlier or later depending on your schedule) begins the anticipated time off. Well in the summer season this concept is a little bit easier to buy since the sun is out longer and the weather is still, generally, nice in the afternoon/evenings.

So make Friday count! Get out and enjoy an evening activity. Spend time outside with family and friends.

 

How do you like to spend your summer fringe hours? Feel free to comment below.