Work Outfit: Red Pants

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I found these red dress pants on sale at J. Crew awhile back. To wear them to the office, I tone them down with neutrals, like this black and white patterned top and black blazer. I actually am not a fan of blazers, but they’re just so darn professional. I like to wear them especially on days when I have important meetings. Nothing says “I’m gonna kick some corporate America a$$ today” more than the blazer. Seriously though, it’s an easy no-brainer for a great work-chic look. Plus, a blazer serves as a nice layer during transition times in the weather like now when that heavy pea coat would look ridiculous, no matter how cold the weather starts in the morning.

Work Outfit: Red Pants

Pants: J. Crew (scored on sale!) | Top: Banana Republic | Blazer: Brooks Brothers | Heels: Banana Republic | Purse: Tory Burch Amanda Classic Handle Hobo (scored on sale at their last friends & family sale and used Green Jeans $ to purchase!)

6 Desk Must-Haves {Work Chic}

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As a consultant, I don’t typically stay in one office for very long. But, one thing remains the same – my must-haves to keep at my desk. Unless the project is very short (my shortest ever was only 1 week), I typically have a small number of items I try to keep with me during the work day.

(in no particular order)

1. Lotion(s)

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Especially in the winter, there’s nothing worse than being stuck at your desk with your hands (or arms, etc.) painfully dry from the weather. Ok, there are always worse things (like late phone conferences or grouchy co-workers), but it’s pretty uncomfortable. I got this gift set of hand creams and lotions from the Body Shop at a post-holiday sale for pretty cheap. I also like to keep a bottle of regular lotion, if I have the space.

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2. Salt, pepper, & other condiments

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I usually eat lunch at my desk. This means I either grab something quick for take-out or bring something from home. Besides the fact that almost no office I’ve worked had salt and pepper (what’s up with that?), I sometimes don’t have time to wander around looking for salt and pepper. And sometimes food just really, really needs some kind of seasoning added, ya know (I may take after my dad as far as enjoying a little more salt than most)? And french fries without ketchup? Not for this girl. Sushi without soy sauce? I’m thinking not so much. They’re supposed to give you these things when you order take-out, but after having one too many snafus, I started keeping my own little collection at my desk.

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3. Sponge

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I’ll never forget the shared sponge at one of my first offices. It was discolored and smelled really weird from as far as 5-6 feet away. They told me they kept it in check by dousing it in bleach or something every once in awhile. Whoa. Not for this germiphobe. Even if the sponge wasn’t questionably safe, I probably still wouldn’t want to share it. I love to have hot tea at my desk, and I usually use a non-disposable mug (hmm…perhaps the mug should be on my must-have list, too?). I also like to keep some non-disposable plates at my desk, so the sponge is definitely required when those are being used daily. I store my sponge in a solo cup at my desk so it can dry out after use without getting everything else in my desk wet. (If you’re in a bind, I’ve found you can use a paper towel instead of a sponge.)

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4. Umbrella

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This one doesn’t get used much, but boy, has it been a life saver! Depending on your parking situation, keeping an umbrella at your desk can be very helpful. If you can access your car without going outside, then you can probably just keep an umbrella there. But for days with sudden, surprise rainstorms and your car outdoors, it can be great to have this back-up waiting.

5. Sweater, blanket, space heater

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This group may be the most important for me. Why do all offices seem to be set to “icebox”? I find most offices way too cold for my liking, so I’ll keep things at my desk to stay warm. Most offices don’t allow space heaters, but if they do, that’s usually my #1 choice. Otherwise, I like keeping cardigans (nice ones you can wear around the office – or even a pretty wrap) and blankets (that’s right blankets! sometimes you get desperate. what?) at my desk.

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6. Snacks

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The original list I had in mind had only 5 items…until I remembered that I needed to add my snacks. Did I say the heating items were most important? I may have to rethink that. I’m not sure what’s worse – to be shivering cold and unable to concentrate or starving and unable to concentrate. Either way, I definitely have to have things to eat at my desk. You can check out my post on healthy snacks to keep at the office by clicking here.

I have some more items that are more nice-to-haves. Perhaps I’ll share those next? :)

What are your desk must-haves at work?

Outfit: Simply Working It

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Hi, my name is Diana, and I work in corporate America. We like to stick to mostly neutrals, though I do like to add color now and again. For this particular outfit, I went neutral.

For this outfit, I knew I wanted to wear one of my favorite skirts – a tie-front Elie Tahari skirt I scored at a Neiman Marcus Last Call sale a couple years ago for less than $50. It’s my go-to and has enough personality that I need only add a basic top to call it a {work} outfit. I like to let the tie be the focal point, though the shirt does have some pattern on it and I added some bling on my wrist with a turquoise and gold bauble bracelet.

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I was in the middle of taking a couple photos when…

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…I got photo-bombed by Bailey!

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He’s such a ham.

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Hubby ended up playing frisbee with him for awhile – it’s one of his favorite forms of entertainment (both for Bailey…and hubby :lol:)

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Ensemble:

Skirt – Elie Tahari (scored on sale at Neiman Marcus)

Top – Ann Taylor Loft (purchased on sale)

Shoes – J Crew (heeey…also scored on sale)

Bracelet – local boutique

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Random, but awesome – reader Alissa made my Individual Italian Spinach Parmesan Egg Bake (click for recipe) for her hubby for their anniversary this morning! Too cool! Glad you both liked it, Alissa! :)

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Reader question: How formal is the dress code for your work environment? How do you push the envelope fashion-wise?

Work Chic: Investment Pants

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I got all Stacy + Clinton on a pair of pants recently.

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I’ve always been an off-the-rack shopper.

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It wasn’t until I started watching What Not to Wear that I even considered getting clothes tailored.

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So, while I’m sure I’m a little more late to the game than most, I’ve finally taken the plunge.

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My weight has fluctuated significantly over the last several years and thusly my pants are in various sizes and shapes. Basically, none of them fit just right. I’m going to go through them and get them tailored one by one, but most recently, I purchased a pair of investment pants at J Crew. They weren’t the cheapest, but I’m hoping they’ll last awhile. I got a simple, black, classic-styled pair of pants in a mid weight wool that I can wear year round. I’ve purchased pants at various stores over the years, but the J Crew ones by far fit my body best.

I was torn between two different sizes. The smaller one was a little too tight and the larger one a little too big. I ended up going with the bigger size and having J Crew take them in. They also hemmed the pants to take them up a wee bit.

I wore them to work for the first time today and they fit like a charm. Yay for custom-fit pants!

If you work in a professional environment requiring dressy or business casual attire, I definitely recommend purchasing some investment pants. You’re looking for a classic color (black or gray) that will go with a lot of your other clothes and accessories in a professional (not clubbing-tight or low-cut) style. Get at least one nice pair, and get a tailor to help them fit you juuuuust right. ;)

I purchased my pants at J Crew, but I also really like getting work clothes at:

  • Banana Republic
  • Ann Taylor LOFT
  • Ann Taylor
  • Gap
  • Limited
  • Department Stores (Belk, Nordstrom, etc.)

Where’s your favorite place to get work clothes?

Christmas Tree Garnish + Work Chic: Commute Shoes

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Work Chic: Commute Shoes

I adore reading The Sartorialist, a blog featuring street fashion of (mostly) regular people in NYC, to get great ideas for style and fashion. Ok, who are we kidding, I mostly just look at the pictures. But the stories are usually short and well-worth the couple minutes it takes to read them if you have the time. I always wonder when I see the photos of the stylish women on The Sartorialist, “How on earth can someone really be walking around NYC in those sky-high heels?!” I’ve asked my friends who live in NYC and most say you just deal with the pain. But, I’m not a deal-with-the-pain-kind-of-girl. I suppose that’s why I don’t work in the fashion industry, though I did once have a fashion blog (one that I’m considering updating again!).

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When I want to dress up without killing my feet, I turn to commute shoes.

Commute shoes are comfortable shoes you can wear getting from Point A to B (usually from my house to work). These shoes are not necessarily stylish, but take the brunt of my walking so I can wear the slightly less comfortable, but decidedly more attractive shoes once I reach my destination. For example, I used to park in a flat lot and have to walk 3 or 4 blocks just to get to my office. While I could have walked 3 or 4 blocks in heels, it just seemed more sensible to walk to my office in tennis shoes and put my heels on once I reached my desk.

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Heels are fun to wear and look great. But, heels are not fun to wear when you’re carrying a couple heavy bags and huffing and puffing down the street because you’re late to work and trying to move quickly. Have you ever tried speed-walking in heels?

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Instead, wear something more comfortable while you’re driving/walking and otherwise commuting. Once you reach your destination, throw those heels on, baby!

What types of shoes would make good commute shoes? Anything that you find comfortable to wear! Personally, I like to wear either some comfortable flats or tennis shoes.

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As an added bonus…ever notice that scuff mark where your heel hits the mat in your car? If you use commute shoes, your heels will be saved from this terrible damage.

Eats

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I made hubby and I carob oatmeal today! You pretty much just make regular oats, but stir in about 1 tsp or so of carob powder. It’s sooo good!

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Carob oatmeal tastes so much like chocolate oatmeal and yet not. I loved it! It was a super easy way to switch up breakfast.

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In the bowl: old fashioned oats, water, milk, chia seeds, flaxseed meal, carob powder, coconut flakes, organic peanut butter, agave.

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Post-work, I went to a birthday dinner at Big Daddy’s to celebrate Michelle’s birthday. A couple of us ordered the Kill the Keg special – a holiday beer for only $1 with a cinnamon-sugar rimmed cup. I loved the sugar-rimmed cup idea…it was so festive and tasty.

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Hubby and I split a salad…

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…and a burger with fries.

Decorating the Christmas Tree

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Hubby and I decided to finish decorating our tree tonight. Yes, I realize it’s been nearly a week since I first started decorating the tree. *sigh* I’ve been running around like a crazy person for the last week, staying up till 1 or 2 am trying to finish projects…things have been so busy! I guess that’s one of the downsides of trying to keep up with a 9-to-5 job, teaching Zumba, blogging, and keeping up with everything else. Or at least…attempting to. I may or may not have a pile of laundry in the dryer that has been there for 3 days now. ;)

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Anywho, what tree decorating party would it be without cookies?!

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I made chewy, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I’m hoping to share the recipe soon! They’re pretty tasty – crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Mmm…

We also found a Christmas station on Pandora…

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…and we even got Bailey into the spirit by putting on his “Bailey Claus” costume. He pretty much hates wearing this…you can tell by his face. lol

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But he was a good sport about it.

Bailey watched patiently while hubby and I finished garnishing our Christmas tree.

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Hubby and I enjoyed hot carob drinks with our oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

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I’m telling ya…this carob stuff is gooood!

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Addicting even. Maybe even more so than dough balls!

Also, thank you all for your tips on my first 5k! I’m really nervous, but mostly really excited! Please keep the tips coming if you have other ideas. Thanks!

What are your tree decorating traditions? Do you do it on a certain date? In a certain order? While enjoying certain foods or drinks? Tell me about your holiday decoration traditions.

Work Chic: Staying Out of a Fashion Rut at the Office

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Work Chic: Staying Out of a Fashion Rut at the Office

When you’re dressing for work, there are ups and downs of having a casual dress code. The up is that you can dress much more casually than you could in many other situations, so you can be more comfortable during the day. The down is that because you can dress more comfortably (and who doesn’t want to be comfortable at work?), you find yourself easily falling into a too-casual habit of dressing and (dare I say) fashion rut.

I admit it…I’m a victim. I used to work in an environment so formal, we could barely wear peep toe shoes and couldn’t even wear denim or cropped pants! The strict dress code had me a little less cozy than I wanted, but it kept me looking nice. But now, I wear jeans almost every day and my typical top is some sort of simple sweater. Sometimes I wear khakis. Usually, I stick with denim. A skirt is a rarity and a button down shirt, which I used to wear a few times a week, is now more a memory than a staple item.

But, every once in awhile, I catch a second wind and decide to dress up!

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Lookie at me! I wore a skirt AND heels!

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So, how do you keep business casual from putting you in a fashion rut? Here are my tips:

  • Remember, you’re at work. If you want to be treated professionally, you need to dress professionally.
  • Try to purchase work clothes that are both dressy enough AND comfortable. If you actually like wearing something that looks nice, you’re more likely to wear it.
  • If you can afford it, go shopping. Purchase a new staple item to throw into your usual rotation. If you’re short on cash, try adding just a new accessory. Or shop your closet and find something you haven’t worn in awhile that you want to wear again.
  • Have fun getting ready for work. Turn some music on, dance around, and primp yourself.
  • Consider planning your outfits in advance. Choose your outfit the night before work. Or if you want, go ahead and select a week’s worth of work outfits. You may have more fun when you have more time putting different looks together.

Reader Question: What are your tips for staying out of a fashion rut at work?

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I had fun dressing up today, but boy was I ready to get out of these heels when I got home!

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You would too if you were wearing these! lol

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For tonight’s dinner, our star ingredient was brussels sprouts!

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I recently saw a brussels sprouts and cous cous dish in my Martha Stewart from November and decided to do a play on it.

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I made warm brussels sprouts and quinoa salad with lemon and garlic.

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I needed two sizes of garlic for dinner: sliced and minced.

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The sliced was for my chicken. I did a quick chicken in garlic, lemon, and white wine.

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Dinner was pretty tasty, but I’d have to tweak the recipes before sharing them.

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I did love the combo of veggie, quinoa, and chicken!

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I love how quinoa is a nice change of pace from my usual carb-ish side – rice!

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Hubby and I enjoyed dinner whilst catching the latest Glee.

Not trying to spoil anything for my West cost friends, but did you see Emma’s “bling”!? Whoa! I didn’t see that coming!

I was trying to finish dinner and blogging early enough so I’d have time to either read or do some crochet, but most importantly, get to bed at a reasonable hour. I decided baking cookies > crochet, so I threw a quick batch together. They’re cooling on the stove now…can’t wait to try them!

Anywho, I’m finishing blogging at a record early (yes…late for most, but early for me!) time for me – 10:25 pm and I’m about to hit publish! Woohoo! :)

Remember to weigh in on my question about fashion rut above! I’d love to hear your tips!

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