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Nicole Martin
New Jersey
Remixing my wardrobe to create buzz-worthy, office-approved outfits! Find out more at: Creating Panache.
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Personal Branding IRL: Toy Story Faux Pas

Happy Thursday!  The weekend is almost here, and I am so ready for it!  So it appears that my trend here on EP will be about 3 pretty outfit posts a week and one thought-provoking post.  After all, I’m tying my outfits into personal branding, but my closet can only take us so far ;)  What do you guys think?  I’d love your feedback!

Last week, I was watching a local news station while working out at my gym.  One spot caught my eye: activists were protesting in front of the Times Square Toys R Us because of the use of PVC plastic in Toy Story 3 toys.  The rally was made up by folks from the Teamsters Union, the Center for Health, Environment & Justice, Clean New York, WEACT for Environmental Justice, and more.  The small group of demonstrators wanted to bring awareness to buyers and hopes to phase out the use of PVC’s in all children’s toys.

As I watched, I took notice of who was part of the protestors.  There was this guy:

Picture courtesy of
Mr. Mike Schade from the Center for Health, Environment and Justice.  Very official looking in his suit and black framed glasses.  He definitely looked the part of the expert.  I'm listening, tell me more...

Then there was this group:

Picture courtesy of
NYC school students – innocent children who are sad that the toys from their favorite movie will poison them and their siblings.  Well played, protestors… pull at our heartstrings and remind us that we’re doing this for the children.  At this point, I’m totally on board.

But then, this guy gets some airtime:

Picture courtesy of 
Mr. Mateo Columbi, a Teamsters union representative.  Yes, he’s dressed up as Woody from Toy Story!!!  Suddenly, the protest seems… silly.  And funny, but this is no laughing matter.  The Woody costume is hokey and quite unnecessary.  What does dressing like this accomplish exactly?  Mateo, your passion is obvious just by the fact that you’re there.  Why not wear a Teamsters shirt to represent their support in all this? 

On the other hand, this was a small, controlled group of demonstrators.  Crazy stuff happens in NYC everyday, but most of it doesn’t end up on the evening news.  So did they get media attention because of Mateo’s outlandish costume?  Or is it just the fact that they were in Times Square, where they were certain to get noticed?

What do YOU think?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My Kind’s Your Kind

shirt: Zara ~ shorts: Anthro ~ shoes: ?? via DSW ~ necklace/earrings: DIY ~ watch: Fossil

Date: July 28, 2010
Ensemble message:  Polished comfort was today’s theme!  The humidity has returned full-blast, and with no major meetings today, I didn’t feel like getting super gussied up today.  So I started with the shorts (my alternative skirt) and dug around in my closet for a top.  Lo and behold – this Zara shirt!  One of my faves, and I haven’t worn it yet this summer!!!  Done and done.  

Too bad humidity = bitey bugs = serious cranky face on Nicole.  I smile, I swear! ;)

Oh yes, I made the necklace and earrings.  Last time I was in the craft store, the different mediums just spoke to me.  I love the different textures and also wanted a larger turquoise piece.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

We Are the Innovators

dress: ?? (thrifted, store now closed) ~ t-shirt: Target ~ shoes: Aerosoles ~ earrings: Limited? ~  bracelets: bangle thrifted, guitar string bracelets via 

Date: July 27, 2010
Message ensemble: At this point in the summer, I tend to be sick of it.  While I love how relaxed summer tends to be (at least in my world), I loathe extreme heat and humidity.  And we've gotten way too much of both this summer!  So, I am today I wanted to feel both summery and fall-like at the same time.  

This sundress was the perfect solution... it's light and airy and shoulder-baring (without a tee underneath).  But the colors are a bit darker: shades of purple, grey, and gold, which I usually reserve for autumn - at least, mixed all together.

What are your go-to's for transitioning from summer to fall?

By the way, I think I took pictures in 4 different spots today... my original intent was to take shots near a river, but apparently the sun doesn't really make its way there at 7am.  Too dark and I prefer natural light. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Before They Turn the Summer Into Dust

shirt: Target ~ skirt: Fossil ~ shoes: Nine West Outlet ~ necklace/earrings: gift ~ wrap watch: NY&Co ~ rope bracelet: DIY

Date: July 26, 2010
Ensemble message:  It was finally below 70 degrees this morning!  I’ve had this out fit in mind for a couple weeks, but couldn’t bear to wear ¾ sleeves in the heat.  I feel like anything I wear with this striped shirt becomes a bit more nautical, but I’m ok with that!

The woods were cool and damp this morning (we had some pretty bad t-storms yesterday).  It was the perfect start to a Monday morning because everything felt fresh and new.

I hope everyone had a nice weekend.  I did a little DIY on Friday and will show it off later this week! 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Interview Styles

We’re going take a break from our regularly scheduled outfit post today.  Instead, I wanted to post another tips/tricks/advice article.  This week, I wanted to address a topic that unfortunately a whole lot of people are facing these days… interviewing!

Some may say that dressing for an interview is super easy – throw on a suit and you’re done.  But what sort of impression does that leave on the interviewer?  Without any panache, probably not a lasting one.  Of course it’s your experience and skills that will help you get the job in the end, blah blah blah.  I completely realize that a snazzy outfit is not always necessary, but it can differentiate you from the crowd.  And, it will help your potential new employer understand who YOU are!  A good real-life example of this is Meg over at Bow Ties Are Cool ... she pulled together a quick and simple interview outfit that was both professional and reflective of her personality.

So, for today’s post I’ve created interview styles based around the simple black suit:

This first look is classic with a twist.  Just because you love your pearls and preppy look doesn’t mean you need to be boring.  Bring out your fun side with ruffles!  Or wear a ladylike print under that jacket and pair with an interesting necklace.  Just don’t pair ruffles with the necklace… they’ll end up competing for attention and may be too much.

The second look is what I call quirky… mainly because this is how I lean and I’m not sure what to call my style at times :)  Vintagey pieces will balance against the suit.  Leave super cutesy prints at home though – they may give off a more childish feel (not the first impression you want!)  Here is where the jewelry can shine and play up a more retro look. 

Others may want to push the envelope a little more, which is why I pulled together an edgy but professional look.  Depending on where you’re interviewing, this may be completely appropriate and sometimes expected.  Strut your stuff in bright, graphic prints.   I love the blazer + dress look here, especially paired with the booties.  Bold jewelry tops it all off!

Quick caveat – these looks are obviously based on my own personal style and preferences.  There’s no one “right” look, but there are several wrongs.  For example, be sure that your skirt/dress isn’t too short, or that too much cleavage is showing.  And of course an unkempt look is never right for an interview (or regular work day, for that matter).

What makes you feel the most confident in while on an interview?

Finally, my 5 top tips for any interview:

  1. Research the company you’re interviewing with.  Meaning, go beyond the part of their website that provides the mission statement.  Find out if the company has been in recent news.  This will prepare you for tip #4, and may help you understand whether you actually want to work there.
  2. Prepare everything the day before your interview.  Gather your resume, portfolio, entire outfit, etc. so that you’re not scrambling and creating unnecessary stress for yourself the day of.
  3. Know your resume inside and out – in other words, don’t put something out there because you know it sounds good.  Be prepared to speak to each bullet point – realistically, this probably won’t happen, but you’ll be ready for anything.
  4. Prepare smart, thoughtful questions for the interviewers.  This makes a really good impression because it shows that you have a true interest in working for the company.  The questions can be around their personal experience with the company or something you found during your research.  Don’t do a quick Google search and ask super generic questions, this will be obvious.
  5. Follow up later that day or the next (at the latest) with an e-mail thanking the interviewer for his/her time.  I don’t think many people do this anymore, and it’s a nice touch.  It also opens up a line of communication that allows you to politely inquire about their progress in filling the role.  This question should only be asked if it’s been a couple weeks since you’ve heard from the company, or if they are several days beyond a promised decision date.

For those out there interviewing right now… good luck!!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Show Me the Sidestreets in Your Life

skirt: Xhilaration via Target ~ tank: Mosimo via Target ~ vest: Merona via Target ~ sandals: Nine West Outlet ~ watch: Fossil (gift) ~ necklace/earrings: gift

Date: July 21, 2010
Ensemble message: I swear I was in a good mood this morning, despite the pretty evil looks I'm giving the camera :)  Definitely feelin' girly girl today, but with a twist.  It’s rare that I am comfortable with a 100% girly look – I hate being too cutesy, it’s just not me.  So instead of the predictable cardigan and demure heels, I tossed on the long sweater vest and gladiator sandals.  Different, but still work appropriate!

I could also see myself easily transitioning this outfit into weekend wear… switch out the pearls for tougher silver jewelry and the maroon tank for a graphic tee.  Viola – new look!  Hmmm… if it wasn’t going to literally be 100 degrees on Saturday, I’d probably rock that look for my sister in law’s bbq :)

By the way… entire outfit via Target?  Cheap or financially savvy?!?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

You Run Through the Forest, Settle Before the Sun

t-shirt: Target ~ skirt: RD via Century 21 ~ scarf: Lucky (gift) ~ shoes: Elle via Kohls ~ bracelets: all gifts

Please excuse the appearance as I work on a new layout!

Date: July 20, 2010
Ensemble message:  Today I wanted to look and feel approachable.  When I meet with my client groups, I work very hard to build that relationship so that they and their employees feel comfortable speaking with me and coming to me with questions.  So many people view HR in a poor light… I work to overcome that on a daily basis!

Inspired by the talented Jessica of What I Wore last week, I recreated this simple but chic outfit.  Only I wore a t-shirt for more coverage in the office.  I love how a white t-shirt can make an outfit feel more down-to-earth!

Like the new backdrop?  It was extremely centering to be in nature early in the morning.  I felt like I could tackle the world when I got to work :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Shake It Like a Ladder to the Sun

khakis: Express ~ t-shirt: Target ~ trapeze blazer: Ann Taylor Loft ~ sandals: UO ~ bracelets: bangle thrifted, guitar string bracelets via ~ necklace: reconstructed from keyring

Date: July 19, 2010
Ensemble message: My intent was to go for a sloppy preppy look today (if that makes any sense).  I saw this picture on Chictopia and was totally inspired, but I think I fell short.  It all started with the rolled khakis and sandals, which was so casual that I wanted to add structure.  In comes the cropped trapeze blazer, which in these pictures makes me a look a little frumpy*.  I also would prefer a little more panache in the way of patterns, or an interesting texture.  

Any one have suggestions on how I can re-mix the cropped khakis?  Think I should go for total copy-cat look and wear a cardigan next time?  

* I got a tripod over the weekend!  Unfortunately, I took about 7 pictures total before my camera's battery died (hence no jewelry close-ups), so I’m not even sure this is the best angle I could have taken.  I don’t think I’m that frumpy IRL, haha!  And I only say that because when I inspected myself in the office bathroom mirror, I appear more polished than in this pics.  I think I need to explore different areas of my condo, or a new backdrop altogether…

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I Can Feel with My Sun Hands

shirt: Target ~ skirt: Necessary Objects via Century 21 ~ shoes (not pictured): Elle via Kohls ~ watch: Fossil (gift) ~ bracelet: thrifted from Beacon's Closet ~ earrings: yet another gift (my mom loves to buy me and my sister jewelry from local artists in Cape Cod :)

Date: June 15, 2010
Ensemble message: Let's hear it for remixes!  You might remember these pieces from such blog posts as Training Gear and Sailor Stripes.  Another hot Thursday, and I wanted a cute, casual, cool, and comfortable outfit for work today.

My friend Monica, owner of the other buddy skirt, told me that she wore hers yesterday.  Instant inspiration!  But I wanted to steer away from nautical.  Browsing my t-shirt drawer, this green one caught my eye.  And it pops so nicely against the navy/denim skirt.

Extra bonus: wearing the same bright green color as one of my directors - brownie points! ;)

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