Fashion Q & A:
Keeping Warm at Work

Q: I am always cold in my office. Is it appropriate to wear ponchos, shawls and wraps while I am working? I’ve been wearing these for a while and have been getting some weird looks!

A: Although the layering looks you are describing are indeed warm and fashionable, they are still considered outerwear and are not the best choice to help keep you warm indoors, especially in professional business environments.

If you have a job that requires you to interact with others, you want to select apparel that instantly communicates that you are focused on your job and the work at hand. Wearing any kind of outerwear all day long does not set a business tone and can be distracting to others. Since many do not consider this type of clothing to be appropriate, you also risk alienating people you work with or having them question your judgment. Clothing that wraps around your body like a blanket can also look sloppy and can pose safety issues as anything that drapes and falls can get caught in a variety of machinery and office equipment.

To keep warm, think layering traditional office attire — knit tops under blazers, cardigan sweaters over shirts and blouses. We’re also big fans of silk underwear and tights as both provide a thin, warm layer that does not create any extra bulk. Good luck!

With its interactive component, our Dressing Well Blog has replaced our monthly Fashion Q&A postings. We are leaving this section of our site live so that you can have access to our Q&A archives. Each month we will feature a popular Q&A from the archives that is relevant to the season at hand.

If you have something you want to know to help pull together your wardrobe with style and confidence, ask away! We are actively seeking to make our blog as interactive as possible and will be incorporating site visitor questions and comments.

 

Fashion Q & A:
Shopping for Dress Shirts

whiteshirt

Q: I'll be shopping for dress shirts this weekend. I do not want to have custom shirts made so please do not suggest that! Any guidance as I head to the mall?

A: We call dress shirts the centerpiece of male attire. When they fit, flatter your natural coloring and frame your face well, your style soars.

Here are a few tips for shopping for dress shirts:

Get Measured
Over half the men we work with are wearing the wrong shirt size. Even if you think you're in the correct size, get professionally measured–neck and sleeve–as a standard practice before investing in a new shirt wardrobe. You should be able to get two fingers between your neck and the collar. Tighter than that, and you’ll look uncomfortable and strained. And while you’ll certainly be more comfortable if the collar is loose, your professional presence will start to erode if the neck of your shirt is too big; you’ll look sloppy as opposed to crisp and polished. The shirt sleeve should cover the end of your wrist and extend about a half inch beyond a jacket sleeve. Like the collar of your shirt, you don’t want your sleeves to be too loose either. Play around with the buttons above the cuff, and choose to go a little tighter with the fit as opposed to too loose.

Body Fit Matters Too
Pay attention to the fit of dress shirts through the body, too. Even if you’re not super slim, fitted dress shirts are the current style and can likely be sourced in your size. We have been very successful getting our male customers who are carrying weight through their mid-section into less boxy, more flattering shirts than they thought possible given their size. Many brands offer slim cut shirts for bigger men that truly fit. Best part: a slimmer cut shirt will visually take pounds off your frame without necessarily having to go to the gym! A slimmer cut shirt also sits better under today’s more trim-fit suiting.

Wrinkle Free Options
When you wear suits, we suggest wearing shirts that are 100% cotton. Partner with a reputable dry cleaner for laundering and professionally pressing them if you're not good with an iron. In the Boston area, we recommend Anton's Cleaners. Non-wrinkle fabrics are a good option if you work in a business casual setting and want to launder your shirts at home.

The Details Matter
While there is certainly a wide range of shirt collars to consider, a modest “spread" collar is an easy choice for most men as it works well with both tie and non-tie looks. The "button-down" collar is the most casual of all shirt collars. In our humble (smile!) opinion, it is slightly dated to wear it with a tie and formal suiting. Pair shirts with a button-down collar with jackets, sweaters, dress slacks, jeans and khakis and wear them on days when you don’t need a tie. The shirt sleeve cuff should be loose and extend to the end of your wrist. The cuff of your shirt should extend about half-an-inch beyond your jacket sleeve.

straightspreadbutton-down

Move Beyond White
When we shop with a client for dress shirts, we typically start with white. Blues in a variety of shades and patterns are a great first choice when adding color. Lavender (i.e. a light shade of purple) is our second favorite color to add as it looks as good with dark neutral suiting as blue does. We like certain shades of peach, yellow and tan, too, but find them a little more difficult to add as you want to be sure the tones work with individual coloring as well as core wardrobe basics – suits, jackets, pants and sweaters.

Extra Tip
Before you add any more dress shirts to your wardrobe, vow to ditch the ones that no longer fit, are stained, or are no longer needed – amen!

Fashion Q & A:
Sport Jackets and Jeans

Q: Is the sport-jacket-and-jeans look on its way out or in?

A: It came and went and is now back again! The key to the look this time around is to be sure each component is casual and connected to the other. Opt for a blazer that is rugged as opposed to one that looks like it was borrowed from a suit. A crisp, dark wash jean looks sharp with a blazer and button down for casual Friday.

Go with boots or shoes with a bit of an edge and shirts and sweaters that are less conservative than what you might pair with suiting.

Last word: Don't even think about a navy blue blazer with gold buttons paired with jeans!

 

jacketjeans1jacketjeans2jacketjeans3

Raves for our Newsletter!

Our Newsletter provides cost-effective strategies for managing your wardrobe and mastering professional and overall personal style.

"I get your emails, and like my favorite magazine publications, I scour over each line. I look forward to any and all words of fashion advice I can gleen from you. I strive to dress for success, and even for classy comfort, and look forward to your sage words of wisdom in the clothing and fashion world! Thanks again for keeping me on your mail list, and I will pull out the saved mails and books and plunge forward into the new orchid toned new year!!!"

"This is the best fashion site on the web. I wouldn't miss your tips because they pertain to all sizes and age groups and I always learn something I can do on my own immediately to make me feel better about my appearance. Keep up the good work!"

"Your tips are the only list-serve message that I consistently make time to read. ALL of the advice is very helpful."

"I enjoy your newsletter so much and have forwarded it to many friends. I especially enjoyed the Summer Shoe Pledge. We were in the middle of revising our dress code policy and enjoyed a little levity when our COO asked everyone to take the pledge at a meeting!"

"I want to thank you for such a fantastic site! I truly love the newsletters that I get from you — they offer really valuable tips! The subject is very important and since it’s not easy to know everything about yourself when it comes to fashion and what will look best, the information you share is really helpful. The criteria for how to dress in a work environment, for instance, are applicable not only in one country, but internationally. Thanks — you have a fan in Finland!"

"I want to thank you for this week's tip. I am the Director of Human Resources in a very conservative office and I'm frequently called upon to speak with employees who are not 'appropriately' dressed. It has been a challenge to come up with the right words to explain why a piece of clothing is a bad choice for our office. Your email just made it that much easier."

"I love these tips and they are all so true. They are a great tool for us fashion slugs who can't stay cutting edge on our own!"

"I've learned more by reading my e-mail from you than any ten books combined!"

"I bought my copy of Ready to Wear shortly after its publication, as I was traveling through the Orlando airport. I started reading it before they closed the aircraft door, and was so engrossed that I didn’t even speak to my husband the whole way home. I enjoy the website and the Tip of the Month and Ask Mary Lou. Thanks so much for your advice and wisdom — it has helped me out a lot!"

"Your website was listed as one of the best fashion internet sources by the Boutique and Agenda Consultant program at Stein Mart Department Stores. I along with hundreds of other 'Boutique Ladies' with Stein Mart have become subscribers to your very educational (and fun!) fashion tips. We all do our job more effectively because of you. Thank you."

"I live by your website and tips! I can't wait to see what fashion topic you'll tackle each week. I'm amazed at your ability to speak to me at exactly the same time I am pondering the question!"

"Well written, to the point and practical. That is the reason I pop open your e-mails every time they arrive."

"My closet is exploding yet I constantly feel I have nothing to wear. Your tips have givin me hope. I have started to weed out things and see new possibilities in the items I do have thanks to you. I am inspired."

Feel free to pass on our "Tip of the Month" to your friends and colleagues.