Friday, May 4, 2012

Formal Friday: Checks and Stripes

I am not a huge fan of brown suits generally.  Something about them just makes me think they look too rural or informal.  This suit, however, is an exception. 

I love the contrast of the stripes of the jacket and the checks of the vest.  This is a great example of how playing with complimentary patterns can really add an eye-catching element to your standard suit.  Here, the colors are the same but the variation in the pattern arrangement gives the outfit a sense of depth and vitality.

Also, check out the bowtie/ascot/scarf.  Little twists like this can really pull an outfit together.  Taking something like a scarf or handkerchief and tying it around your neck as you would a bowtie gives a brazen edge to an otherwise put-together look. 

Lastly, make sure to slick back your hair and look super serious and you will OWN that brown suit.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Asked & Answered: Summer Work Style

Reader North writes:

"Want to do something on summer clothes for queers?  I have a hell of a time finding anything even approximately work appropriate when it's 100 degrees."

Hot weather gives most people an excuse to relax into an informal wardrobe of shorts, tees, and sandals.  Even some of our more feminine friends from the professional real can get away with short sleeves and breezy skirts in the summer.  But you are not the average person - you are a Lezsquire.  So although it may be 100 degrees outside, it's important that you still maintain a professional appearance.  Follow these tips to keep it classy through the heatwaves. 
  •  Lighten your fabrics.   This applies to both the color and the weave.  Darker colors absorb light and make you hotter (in a bad way), faster.  Lighter colors, on the other hand, reflect light and keep you cool.  So go with a lighter color scheme - whites, light greys, and more pale colors (yellow, blue, pink, green, etc).  As far as fabric, ditch denser fabrics such as wool, pinpoint oxfords, or (shudder) polyester blends and go with natural, breathable, and light fabrics such as linen, silk, and cotton.  
Linen Perfect Shirt by J.Crew
  • Ditch the suit?  As mentioned above, wardrobes tend to get more informal in the summer.  Does this mean that you can ditch your suit?  Well... probably not.  It will depend on your work environment.  A good trick is to take cues from what your (more fashionable) co-workers and bosses are doing.  One option is to ditch the jacket altogether and don a vest and matching slacks instead.  Still professional yet breezier than a suit.  I personally would feel uncomfortable without a suit at work - but there is a compromise!  Bring your suit jacket draped over your arm.  You can hang it in the office in the event that you need it, and stay coolly jacket-free in the meantime.
  • Summer Suits.  Again, try to go with breathable cotton or linen suits and avoid wool.  An unlined suit (one that ditches the inner layer of fabric completely) or one that is half-lined is also a good option.  Though you may need to wear a dark suit for more formal occasions, for everyday wear try a light grey, kahki, or cream colored suit or (if you're daring) white or seersucker.
  • Under the suit.  If you are wearing a suit, there are a few tricks you can do to keep cool as well.  There are a number of short-sleeved or sleeveless shirts that look like your average button down when worn with a jacket.  No one will be the wiser and there will be one less layer of fabric between your arms and breezy freedom.  Also, as a woman (not required to wear a necktie), you can get away with a number of other sleeveless or short-sleeved, or tank-like (yet still professional) tops under your jacket, so use this to your advantage!
  • Summer footwear.  The sockless look has been in in recent years, and if you're looking to pull it off (again, for those "less formal" workdays), make sure you use some shoe powder in them or wear "invisible socks" to keep them dry and clean.  If you're wearing socks, again, go for naturally breathable fabrics like cotton or silk.  Avoid polyester blends at all costs.  Italian-style loafers or dress shies are also a good summer choice and made from lighter and softer leather than most of their counterparts.  I do not advocate sandals, ever.
  • Tip of the hat.  If you're going to be outdoors (even if it's just walking to your office from your car), now is the ideal time to bust out that sweet panama hat you have been looking for an excuse to wear. 

  •  Shades.  When the sun is beating down on you, don't forget your eyes' health.  Sunglasses are a very personal thing, so pick out a pair unique to you.  If you're struggling to find the right fit, Ray Ban Clubmasters or some squared-off aviators are a good place to start.  

Hold these tips in mind and you'll make keeping your cool at work look effortless (even while you are smoldering with hot hot style).