Three Definitions of What It Means to Dress “Professionally”

DSC_9280

DSC_9183

DSC_9319

When I stand in front of my closet in the morning trying to decide what to wear, I’m often confused on how to represent myself professionally, but still incorporate my sense of style into my look. As a student, fashion blogger, entrepreneur, and social media manager, I need to wear clothes that I can easily transition from business meetings to photoshoots to classes (it’s a struggle sometimes!).
I love these professional, straight leg trousers I snatched from Old Navy because they work for almost any occasion. I paired them with a chic orange top with a few cutouts to show my sophisticated, feminine style, and I added some metallic loafers to give my look a fashion forward edge. With this look, I can easily jump from place to place without breaking my personal aesthetic.

DSC_9192

I used to work at a clothing store (which I’ll leave nameless), where I would initially wear what was true to my style when I went into work. But as soon as I walked in, I could feel the pressure as other girls stared at me, looked me up and down, and judged me for not dressing like them. I started to cave and began dressing similarly, but I wasn’t happy because when I looked in the mirror each morning and asked myself, “Am I dressing for me or am I dressing for them?”, the answer was them.

I eventually left that job, but my time there taught me a valuable lesson. I was beginning to lose who I was because I let someone else’s opinion define me. I think when we get into a level of professionalism, we want to change who we are to please our boss or others around us. Never let anyone change who you are, whether it’s for a job, or anything else.

I will dress professionally, but you can always count on me to add my own flair to it and most importantly, express myself.

-H

DSC_8945

As a photographer, it can be challenging to find clothes I can move around in to get that perfect shot and are still professional enough to meet clients for a consultation. My favorite part of the job is getting to know my customers and listening to their stories so I can reflect their beauty through my lens. I need them to be comfortable and open with me, and meeting them with a smile and a professional appearance is the most effective way to let my models know that they have nothing to worry about.

When I’m taking pictures, I have to be comfortable and flexible, so I can catch that perfect angle at any given second. Especially because I frequently work with families and children, I need to be able to move quickly and keep up with hyper little ones! To enable me to do this, I turn to clothes that are more loose and flexible, like jogger pants, loose tops, and leggings.

DSC_8962

I would honestly prefer to simply wear leggings and t-shirts 24/7, but I realize that as a business owner, I need to put a little more effort into my appearance. So, I dress up my athleisure-style outfits by adding some simple jewelry that doesn’t get in my way, like rings and earrings, and by incorporating some fun patterns into my looks. When it comes to shoes, I will wear more stylish flats or sandals for my consultations, but when I’m actually shooting, it has to be tennis shoes all the way. Fortunately, I have a pair of vintage high-top converse, which work with just about any outfit!
-B

DSC_9137

Geometric Black and White Romper

Even just a couple years ago, I thought dressing ‘professionally’ meant wearing dress pants, a button-down shirt, and heels. That was the standard ‘professional uniform’ in my head. So, that’s almost exclusively what I wore on the rare occasion that I attended an event with a business casual dress code. Whenever I put on my ill-fitting, probably-flared dress pants and a boxy button-down, I never felt like myself because I didn’t think there was any room for creativity and personal expression in the ‘professional world.’

It’s taken me until now to really start branching out from what most people wear to meetings and networking events, but I’m so happy I did because when I feel more like myself in my outfit, I act more like myself. I’m more comfortable talking to people and sharing my ideas, and I think people respond to me better because they can see exactly who I am before I even open my mouth.

Black and White Romper and Sunglasses

I love to toe the line and wear things like rompers because the last thing I want is to blend in with everybody else. As a fashion blogger and a soon-to-be fashion business owner, I set higher expectations for myself when I’m getting ready for an event or a meeting. I think that if you’re going into fashion, you have to try that much harder on a daily basis so that people trust you and eventually buy what you’re selling.
-S

Street Style Stars

Photos by: Rainwater Reflections Photography

Brooke’s Wearing:

| Goodwill Top (similar) | Nordstrom Pants (similar) | Goodwill Flats (similar) | Aldo Sunglasses (similar) |

Sabrina’s Wearing:

| Asos Romper | Amazon Heels | Express Earrings | Goodwill Purse (similar) | TJ Maxx Sunglasses (similar) |

Hannah’s Wearing:

| Old Navy Pants | Forever 21 Loafers | Rue21 Sunglasses (similar) | Amazon Earrings |

Falling in Love With Clothing Again

Do you remember how you felt as a teenager after you tried on a million prom dresses and finally found one that gave you goosebumps?

If you are anything like us, you probably took it out of its garment bag and tried it on at least two or three more times before prom night because you simply could not wait to wear it until then.

It was a magical feeling that most of us can still remember.IMG_2771People used to have that kind of emotional connection with a lot more pieces in their wardrobes, but many of us have lost that. We buy the same, boring button-down shirt in three different colors because it works for the office, and we don’t want to have to put in the effort to find three amazing, unique tops instead.

This is precisely why we as a society have accepted fast fashion. We’re perfectly content with finding clothes that are kind of cute and that we can wear two or three times before the seams start coming apart and the appliqués start falling off because we honestly don’t care enough about them to want to wear them year after year.

But, it’s time to bring back the emotional connection to clothing because without it, we are losing out on some of the greatest benefits that fashion has to offer us.

IMG_2709

IMG_2751

 

 

I know there are a lot of people out there who love services like Stitch Fix, where a personal stylist selects clothes for them based on their style preferences. This service is great for those who don’t have time/don’t enjoy shopping, but I personally do not think you can develop that same attachment to something if you do not pick it out yourself.

This is big part of the reason why I develop more of a connection to clothing items that I purchase myself, rather than those I receive as gifts from friends or family members. I truly do appreciate that someone else has put the time and effort into choosing a dress or pair of shoes they think I’ll like, but even when I do like it, I don’t fall in love with it in the same way I would have if I had found it myself.

 

So, use Stitch Fix for everyday wear if you like, but if you have a big event coming up that you are really looking forward to, I urge you to go out, do the old-fashioned thing, and find a dress or an outfit yourself.

The joy of discovery leads to a deeper connection with that piece of clothing, and you’ll be more likely to wear it again and again.

-S

 

There are not a lot of times I can find a print or a pattern that works for me, but when I saw this dress online at Lulu’s, it was love at first sight. This print was minimal, chic, and two of my favorite colors. I was motivated to widen my wardrobe and find more prints that I adore because of the designer, Dom Streater, who was a Project Runway winner.

IMG_2791

 

What inspires me about Dom is that she creates her textile designs based on her own paintings, and you can see her constant love affair with prints come through in her clothing pieces. Dom took a lot of risks during her season by using prints in every challenge (even the million dollar runway challenge!), but because she continually made clothes that she personally loved and never compromised her design or aesthetic, she prevailed and won her season.

Even though I’m not quite as much of a prints person, I want to try to be more like Dom by not being afraid to take a risk and always wearing pieces that I’m emotionally attached to instead of ones that I merely ‘like’.

-H

 

You are probably tired of hearing this by now, but we’ll say it again anyways because it’s important: Clothing is how we show the world who we are inside.

How are we supposed to do that if we do not care about what we buy or what we put on our bodies?

Treating clothes as if they’re disposable not only harms the environment and contributes to unethical labor practices in developing countries, but it also dilutes this crucial form of personal expression.

There is a famous quote that reads,

“Life is too short to wear boring clothes,”

but we’d like to amend that to say,

“Life is too short to wear clothes you don’t love.”IMG_2896Sabrina’s Outfit Details

Dress: Target
Button Down Shirt: Goodwill
Ankle Boots: Lulu’s
Sunglasses: TJ Maxx
Earrings: Jeweller in India
Purse: Aldo
Hannah’s Outfit Details
Dress: Lulu’s
Bralette: Aerie
Ankle Boots: Lulu’s
Choker: Rue21
Earrings: Amazon
Hat: Target
Sunglasses: Eyeglass Direct