Travel for work? Here’s some wardrobe ideas.

Okay, so I haven’t done any fashion-related posts for awhile. I am a huge fashion nerd, and pretty much all of my site traffic comes from people looking for Dior dresses (sorry, don’t have any to sell, but a girl can dream!), so I thought I’d write up a piece on how to pack and dress while traveling.

So here’s the deal: I travel for my job. A lot. In fact, recently I’ve begun to wonder why I’m even paying rent. I think I’ve spent about 6 days in my apartment since I moved in this May. I guess it’s worth it to feel like I’m a functioning adult with a home to actually return to when I do manage to get a day or two off. ūüôā But anyway, this post is not about that. It’s about what I do with my wardrobe and how I manage to pack for all sorts of weather, work, and the occasional fun night out. Now, my job isn’t terribly controlling of how I dress. I am not allowed to wear sweatpants to work, which was a huge disappointment, but I am allowed to wear jeans. You may have a more formal job, in which case, you’re going to have fewer choices to work with.

The basics, and what works for most ladies:

If you’re going for a short business trip, say, between 2 days and a week, pack light. You might be thinking of a million things that you want to do, like sightseeing after work or checking out the nightlife, or touring a museum. But the most important thing here is that you’re going to be working, and that’s what you’ll probably be spending most of your time doing. So pack for work first, and fun second. You don’t want to have to pay an extra $100 because you over-packed your one bag. So your medium-sized suitcase should probably look something like this:

– Three pairs of slacks, dark and neutral colors (like black, gray, and camel, for example). Keep the hemline shorter. You’re not going to be wearing stilettos. For a touch of personality, try interesting, yet clean cuts, such as a tapered or wide leg, or a high waist.

– Blazers or jackets that match the slacks. They can button or drape.

– Several blouses. Make sure you bring blouses that fit properly; no one wants to see the epic straining button while you’re talking to your clients or investors. Well, maybe they do, but it’s not going to make them pay attention to what you’re trying to say.

– One pair of black kitten heels. If your dress code allows, you can have slingbacks or peep-toes to feel fancy. Otherwise, the heel should be no higher than an inch and the shoe will probably feel a bit dowdy, but it is professional and it will look good with the suit. And you can stand in these for awhile and not feel like your feet are trying to escape from your body.

РA pair of flats.  Love love love me some cute flats.

– If you like jewelry, pack a pair of stud earrings and maybe a few statement rings. I don’t think huge necklaces or layers of bangles are very professional, but a simple necklace or bracelet would be okay. You don’t want this to be the defining feature of your outfit. You also don’t want to show off extremely expensive jewelry when you’re traveling. Keep it simple and safe.

– Another easy way to accessorize is to throw in a cute scarf or two. ¬†They don’t take up much space and they are always in style.

– Underwear: Obviously this is up to you, but I usually bring 2 or 3 bras and enough underwear for every day I’m there.

– If you work out, pack a sports bra or two and your workout clothes. Don’t bring more than one pair for a week. Suck it up and reuse your clothes. You can do it, I promise.

– Sneakers/tennis shoes.

– For after-work activities, choose either a dress or a pair of skinny jeans and a cute top. There’s really no need to pack a lot for this. Try to pick something that you can mix and match with your blazers, or your blouses. You can create some pretty cute looks by mixing professional and casual.

– Finally, throw in a coat you can wear in case of rain, and of course, an umbrella. ¬†If the weather is going to be cold, pack a jacket. ¬†Don’t tell yourself you’ll be indoors all the time and therefore won’t need one. ¬†You’ll regret it. ūüė¶

Here’s an example of some outfits I would pack, thanks to the ever-wonderful Polyvore. ¬†Click the image to see the set up close! Oh, and a note on the prices: I just chose looks I liked. ¬†I’m sure you can find similar looks for wayyyyy cheaper:

Work wardrobe


Dorothy Perkins pleated dress
50¬†–¬†dorothyperkins.com

STEFFEN SCHRAUT slim fit shirt
$175¬†–¬†stylebop.com

Oasis red ruffle blouse
20¬†–¬†oasis-stores.com

Diane von Furstenberg crop top
220¬†–¬†matchesfashion.com

Preen trench coat
$759¬†–¬†boutique1.com

Lanvin drape jacket
$1,179¬†–¬†mytheresa.com

Paul Joe jacket
$615¬†–¬†net-a-porter.com

Blazer
$368¬†–¬†aliceandolivia.com

Maison Martin Margiela wool pants
‚ā¨208¬†–¬†luisaviaroma.com

Nudie Jeans Co. skinny leg jeans
$199¬†–¬†my-wardrobe.com

Anna Sui flower tight
$23¬†–¬†couture.zappos.com

Pants
$43¬†–¬†romwe.com

Oasis flat shoes
38¬†–¬†oasis-stores.com

Kg low heel pumps
55¬†–¬†houseoffraser.co.uk

Ivanka Trump croc bag
$150¬†–¬†nordstrom.com

Armani Exchange crystal ring
$25¬†–¬†armaniexchange.com

Just Female Acces wide ring
‚ā¨18¬†–¬†welikefashion.com

Urban Outfitters square earrings
$14¬†–¬†urbanoutfitters.com

Resin jewelry
$75¬†–¬†reissonline.com

Bajra brown shawl
$298¬†–¬†intermixonline.com

Polka dot umbrella
$17¬†–¬†kohls.com
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The Art of Being Socially Awkward: Let’s save some face.

My sister has been struggling with mono lately, which has hindered her ability to go to class, eat, drink, and generally functions like a normal human being. ¬†As such, we’ve spent a lot of time talking on Skype about a variety of topics: anime, drawing, writing, and developing careers, to name a few. ¬†One particular conversation addressed something that had been bothering her recently. ¬†She is a frequent poster at a site where people just talk about their daily lives, ask questions, and share media with the community. ¬†Well, it seems there is a person who regularly posted about how much she loved this guy, and how amazing and perfect he was. ¬†Then suddenly, she stopped talking to him. ¬†Said school took up too much time. ¬†Said whatever, she was just ending it. ¬†My sister‚Äôs problem with this arose because the poster claimed she didn‚Äôt want to confront the poor guy and tell him why she wasn’t responding to his calls or emails. ¬†Basically, her view was, “Why won’t he stop pestering me? I’m not responding, so obviously it’s over… why doesn’t¬†he¬†get it?”

My sister’s been through quite a bit in terms of rough break-ups; naturally, she felt for the guy in this situation. ¬†She asked me what I thought of it. ¬†Granted, I don’t know either of the people in real life and I can only glean details from the posts on the site, but I said I would attempt to articulate my thoughts on it.¬† It‚Äôs actually a pretty common phenomenon in any culture.

I’d say what is going on fits perfectly into the act of “saving face.” ¬†From the sociolinguistic standpoint, saving face pretty much means to “avoid being disgraced or humiliated.” ¬†As a person, your face represents your persona, your honor, and dignity. ¬†If you fail to maintain face, you then lose it, which results in humiliation and extreme emotional discomfort. ¬†So, to apply this to our situation, we can ask, “Why would someone not want to tell their partner that their relationship was over?” Perhaps your partner would lash out and insult you when you tried to end things; perhaps you know of your guilt in this situation — you know you really¬†should¬†give a proper goodbye — and don’t want to be called on it. ¬†Maybe in the past, you went through a really rough time when someone else dumped you and you think you’re saving them from feeling the same pain. ¬†There could be a number of reasons as to why someone would just stop talking to their significant other, but they all come back to one idea: You want to preserve¬†your¬†integrity and self-worth, while still desiring to be unimpeded by their actions.

Saving face fits into a larger sociological concept, referred to as “Politeness theory.” ¬†The face is further expanded into¬†positive face¬†and¬†negative face. ¬†Much like in psychology, the terms positive and negative don’t share a traditional definition with the more casual usage of the words. ¬†Instead, here¬†positive face¬†refers to your desire to have your interactant approve of the face you’re displaying, and you strive to present a consistent self-image or personality. ¬†Negative face¬†then represents your desire to your personal territory and preferences, and your right to have freedom of choice in your actions without imposition. ¬†In many conversations, someone will threaten your positive or negative face, and consequently there are politeness mechanisms that can be invoked to mitigate the damage to either face.

Now, our subject is avoiding confrontation altogether. ¬†She’s not even engaging in a conversation, so she won’t have to defend herself, or so she won’t have to deal with any fallout from her actions. ¬†Instead, she’s completely ignoring that this conversation should take place, and she’s failing to understand why someone who isn’t even included in her thoughts on the matter is not “getting” why she’s doing this. ¬†One could argue that this is still saving face (most likely negative face) but she’s losing positive face. ¬†She’s definitely not presenting herself in a positive light, and her interactant (or lack thereof) is receiving a very confusing unspoken message that is not consistent with the messages he’s received previously. ¬†So while he’s trying to defend his own ego by eliciting the expected response, which is an official break-up, she’s justifying to herself why she is “allowed” to do things her way: She’s too busy for this crap, she doesn’t have to explain herself, and things will blow over.

“But why does this constitute as being socially awkward, Helly?” You are probably asking (if you’ve even made it this far).

Well, because for every situation that involves the maintaining, loss, or saving of face, there is a required social interaction. ¬†This interaction varies from culture to culture, but there is a¬†socially expected¬†way that people “should” behave when face is challenged. ¬†If someone challenges your face, you defend yourself. ¬†You normally don’t fly off the handle and challenge their face, unless you’re 5 years old:

A: “You’re a stinky doo-doo head!”

B: “Well, YOU’RE a smelly poo-poo butt!”

No, that doesn’t really work for adults. ¬†Instead, you usually try to defend yourself, maybe take a jab at the person if you feel you are being slighted, but you don’t straight up reach for wild accusations of poop and how strongly your interactant smells of it. Instead, the ideal interaction would be to both be mature adults who have a mutual parting and no drama, and perhaps a rebuttal:

A: “I don’t think we should date anymore. ¬†I’m too busy with school and I simply don’t have the time to devote to a relationship. I’m very sorry.”

B: “But I thought what we had was great. Can’t we find some way to work it out? I feel like this is unfair to me.”

A: “No, I’m sorry. I’d rather concentrate on my career right now, and I really don’t think I’d be able to give you the attention you deserve.”

B: “I see. Well, I wish you luck. Goodbye.”

Or something like that. You know, it could be more drawn out and tears would probably be involved.

Here is what has happened to many adults, but is considered socially awkward and generally unacceptable:

A: “I don’t think we should date anymore. ¬†I’m too busy with school and I simply don’t have the time to devote to a relationship. I’m very sorry.”

B: “Seriously, fuck you. You’re the worst thing that ever happened to me and I’m glad this is over. ¬†This was a complete waste of my time and money. ¬†Have a nice life.”

I hope you can easily see the difference. When one person is presenting positive face and trying to amicably end a relationship, they hope that their partner will still see them in a positive light, despite the fact that this situation must be very painful for them. ¬†They hope that their consideration will save them from having to defend themselves and being viewed negatively. ¬†The other party should ideally have a reaction commensurate with the level of politeness and respect they’ve just been shown. ¬†They shouldn’t lash out and overreact and say things they don’t mean; that’s just perceived as terrible and no one really wants to be seen as terrible.

Now what if you eliminate this interaction all together?  And, more importantly, what if you don’t see anything wrong with eliminating this interaction?

That, my friends, is still saving face.  It is not in the socially acceptable spectrum of ways to save face, though, and as a result, most people will not view this as the proper way to react.  To most people, it comes off as immature, harsh, and unnecessary.  Outsiders reading about this want to know that her ex did something to deserve such treatment.  Something commensurate with the punitive way he’s been tossed aside.  But, inferring from her posts, he did absolutely nothing wrong, and was completely blindsided by her actions.  So it strikes a dissonant chord in many readers, particularly if they have experienced something similar.    It smacks of arrogance, immaturity, and lacking in mastery of social skills.  The desire to save face is so strong that we want to right what we perceive as wrong.  And I’m sure that’s why people like my sister wrinkle their noses at this story.

Thoughts?

Btw, if you would like to read more about the face and politeness theories, check out authors Erving Goffman and Penelope Brown/Stephen C. Levinson/John Gumperz:

Erving Goffman: The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life

Penelope Brown, Stephen C Levinson, John J Gumperz: Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage

So, let’s talk more about marketing.

I know that you know by now that I’m a feminist. So that probably explains a lot about why I get so irritated with marketing techniques, and the tendency to paint women with one brushstroke. Quite a few other feminists have spoken out about women and marketing already; one of my favorites is wundergeek over at Go Make Me A Sandwich, a blog which regularly examines marketing tactics in the gaming industry through a feminist lens. Wundergeek’s most recent post got me thinking about many topics, one of which was being a feminist and not always enjoying feminist-friendly things or events. ¬†Another was how I could use this as an example of how varied women’s tastes are. ¬†Allow me to elaborate, starting with a little bit of background about the topic of Wundergeek’s post.

In 2007, Shelly Mazzanoble, a D&D fan and (gasp) WOMAN, wrote a book called “Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress,” which was apparently received pretty well by her target audience. Wizards of the Coast, the publisher of her book, noted her success and subsequently offered her a monthly column, “Conessions of a Full-Time Wizard.” Both the book and the column are meant to familiarize women with the tabletop game Dungeons and Dragons, as well as let them chuckle a bit at the author’s learning experiences as she navigates her way through her own gaming sessions. Wundergeek has read both the book and the columns, and she doesn’t necessarily agree with all the points Mazzanoble presented. She selected examples of the writing that address her annoyance with the way the author portrays female tabletop gamers, and explains why these comments are hurtful to the acceptance of women as competent game players. While I’ve never read Mazzanoble’s column, I have played D&D, and I certainly know what it’s like to be a woman learning the game in a group of experienced players, who just so happen to be male.

It’s important to keep in mind that I only read the quotes that Wundergeek posted, so perhaps the language didn’t hit me as strongly as it did her, when she would probably read about the same topic, written in the same style, month after month. Much like Wondergeek, some of the quotes I found to be highly irritating, such as the whole “I made this character and I think it was very difficult to do, and now I’m gonna have someone explain how to play her because I certainly don’t know how” bit, or the “Hey, I don’t know what else to resort to, so I’m just gonna have my character start crying” habit she seems to have. Others I felt were things that could potentially be annoying to some people, but some of these things sounded exactly like something I’d done in my gaming sessions. Specifically, Ms. Mazzanoble had an irrational fear of looking stupid in front of the group. She had a really difficult time getting into roleplaying, character manipulation (and by this, I mean rolling up a character and deciding how to give her talents or abilities), and then when she gets overwhelmed, she has a tendency to whine. A lot. My dilemma was the fear of looking stupid, of not wanting to make ANY mistakes. I didn’t want to be perceived as some dumb girl who didn’t know what she was doing, and yet, I had no idea what I was doing! Why? Well, because I’d never played before. And because it takes time to learn the rules of a game of that complexity. There is absolutely nothing wrong with needing help while you’re learning, but obviously at some point, you must start to carry your character on your own. Mazzanoble doesn’t do this, as evidenced by Wundergeek’s post, and she never seems to learn her lesson. She just keeps making the same mistakes, or avoids taking on a challenge, and then relies on her old tricks to save her ass.

Wundergeek also takes issue with the constant references to fashion, shopping, chocolate… you get the idea. I do enjoy fashion. Shopping can be fun if I want to go shut my brain off and look at shiny things for a few hours. And chocolate? Well I know some people don’t like chocolate, but I’m definitely not one of them. Does that make me a bad feminist? Of course it doesn’t. Feminism is about ensuring that women have choices in life, not about restricting them to only certain roles. And those roles could be what we normally think of when we consider why feminism is necessary: 50s housewife happily serving her husband, not allowed to work, and must look presentable at all times; on the other hand, we are also not trying to say women can only be the opposite of that, for that is just as limiting, and does no service to women by simply demanding they do something else. ¬†I am by no means saying that this is what Wundergeek was implying by pointing out that she didn’t enjoy these activities. ¬†The ultimate point of Wundergeek’s post was that she did not believe that Shelly Mazzanoble was really all that much like her writing made her out to be. She suspects it’s actually a marketing tactic that attempts to draw women in with the use of humor (so it doesn’t sound too powergamer-y), a lovable ditz (isn’t she cute, though?), and mentioning stereotypical female interests (all we really want to do is play dress-up, anyway! Where’s that cute dress robe I saw earlier?).

The fact that there exist interests that intersect with stereotypical ideas of women’s desires, and there simultaneously exist interests that fall outside of this boundary or are considered non-traditional or alternative hobbies for women, is a great example of how varied women’s tastes actually are. ¬†Yes, most women experience some overlap of interests with most stereotypical marketing schemes’ tactics to garner female attention. ¬†But that doesn’t make it okay for the marketing crews to assume that this is what all women are interested in and will respond to. ¬†In fact, it further enforces the assumption that women are casual about games, or are only playing because their significant other plays, or are unable to learn the complex rules of a game such as D&D, ad infinitum. ¬†And the solution would most definitely not be to make fun of these “stereotypical” women’s hobbies either (remember that droid ad I ranted about?), because a lot of women really do enjoy “girly” things, like finding something they enjoy wearing, or eating something that tastes really good (like chocolate!). ¬†Shunning these activities only makes it seem like women are punished for just liking things that they like, and they then feel pressured to conform to another set of ideals, which are somehow defined as “better” than girly things. ¬†That’s still misogyny, no matter which way you slice it.

So my point here is not to condemn anyone for what they like or dislike. ¬†It’s to stress that, duh, women have different interests and trying so hard to draw their attention with just a few tired old tricks is kind of insulting. ¬† Humor, likable characters, and being able to relate to what is being sold to you are all vital assets in the marketing process. ¬†But they need to be careful to avoid using tropes that reinforce stereotypes, and definitely don’t limit the product to only one kind of personality. ¬† Sure, the intended demographic might be “women ages 15-60” or something, but going for GEE THEY ALL HAVE BOOBS, MAYBE WE SHOULD TRY TO REMIND THEM OF HOW FUN SHOE SHOPPING IS SO THEY’LL WANT TO BUY OUR GAME probably isn’t their best effort. ¬†That can’t be all you have to offer us… right?

Getting back into the swing of things

Well, I realize I didn’t exactly start off with a boom. But I’ve been doing a lot of writing recently, and I’ve decided to start blogging again. The wonderful gomakemeasandwich blog was brought to my attention by my always-awesome sister. It reminded me of my blog, and what my original vision with it was. I’m planning a new article to be pressed tomorrow (which just so happens to coincide with the beginning of Brewfest on WoW, which my husband and I will have celebrated irl for four years with the 2011 event), so let’s get this party started!

Prost!