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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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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Holiday Gifts for the Office

As I sit and watch 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' special on tv, I think it is appropriate that I write about holiday gifts in the office!  Depending on your office culture, you and your co-workers may or may not exchange gifts during the holiday season.  In the past, I have traded gifts with my boss, sent out cards to all my team members, participated in a team yankee swap, and done absolutely nothing.  Keep in mind that this is across 3 different companies, so make sure you know what's expected before going overboard or doing nothing.

Of my past 7 holidays in the working world, I have done yankee swaps just twice, but they seem to be pretty popular.  For those who haven't played before, yankee swap is like a grab bag: each person brings in a wrapped gift within a certain price range.  Everyone picks a number, and the first person chooses a gift from the pile (not their own).  The next person chooses another gift, and then decides whether to keep it or take a gift that someone else has unwrapped.  And so on... it's a lot of fun!

But what do you buy for someone in your office, who you may not even know that well?!?  Well, my friends, I've put together a list that should satisfy young or old, man or woman, traditional or hip.  Check these gifts out for ideas:

Candle - Organic Soy Candle
Business Card Holder - Leather Holder with Horse Emblem
Money Clip - Enamel Finish Money Clip
MP3 Player Sleeve - Hand-printed Leather Sleeve
A Fun Gag Gift - Office Voodoo Kit
Cell Phone Sleeve - Phone Pouch with Pocket
Desktop Speaker - Pop-Up Mini Speaker
Desktop Greenery - Bonsai Village Biodome

What would you give to a colleague??
Monday, November 29, 2010

Tie Front Sweater & Wool

sweater: Banana Republic ($25) ~ skirt: Ann Taylor Loft outlet ($4) ~ shoes: Marc Fischer via Macy's ($36) ~ earrings: gift 
Date: November 29, 2010
Ensemble message: Despite having a glorious 4 days off from work, which included lots of sleeping, eating, and time with family and friends, I have been forced quickly back to the real world with a big meeting at work today.  So while I really wanted to wear a comfy sweater over a summer dress for a more casual feel, I instead pulled out some go-to work basics: a wool skirt and tie-neck sweater.

Let's admit it... together, they are ok.  The bow is fun, but there's nothing much exciting going on here.  I was guaranteed to look professional in front of a room of directors, but I wouldn't be memorable.  In my attempt to liven things up a bit, instead of nude hose or brown tights, I went with maroon.  A little pop against a canvas of light colors bordering on neutral.  Add some colored pearls, and I was ready to go!  Still not a favorite, but it worked.

What did you toss on this morning, while still in a food coma??

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Black Friday Deals

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  In the United States, today is a day to give thanks for all your blessings... and to fuel up for a full day of shopping tomorrow :)  Do you guys get up early to get your Christmas shopping done??  I personally cannot deal with crowds of people (I tend to get anxious and overwhelmed) so I love the online deals that most stores have these days.  Take advantage - you can really save a lot of money!  Here are some of my favorite Black Friday gift deals:

For Your Mom:  Get her a Nook from Best Buy!  This is a doorbuster special, so be sure to get there early... stores open at 5 a.m.

For Your Dad:  Get him a sleek pair of leather gloves from Macy's for the winter - classic!  Macy's is great for online deals, so you can shop from the comfort of your home.

For Your Sister:  Go to Old Navy for super inexpensive, on-trend knit sweaters!  These deals are also in the store only, and they have different specials on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

For Your Brother:  Got a bro who loves snow sports?  Head to Dicks Sporting Goods today for early bird specials on adult and kids thermals (among other items), and then in-store specials tomorrow!  (Hint: great golf deals for Dad too!)

For Your Boyfriend or Hubby:  You know those ratty t-shirts he just won't get rid of??  Change his mind with a cool new graphic tee from Threadless!

For Your BFF:  Get her an awesome studded purse, from JC Penny's of all places!  Seriously, check it out... the plum color is so hot this season, and you don't have to go to the store to get this deal.

For Your Niece/Nephew:  Be the cool aunt or uncle ever by giving the little ones a portal DVD player from Target.  Bonus: Mom & Dad will enjoy the quiet travel ;)

And don't forget Yourself!  Take advantage of Black Friday deals to pick yourself up something fantastic.  I recommend heading over to Carissa Rose Designs for work wear.  Remember the Lola dress I wore last week?  Well, you can get it for 20% off with the code CYBERBLACK20, beginning Thanksgiving Day and going through Monday, November 29.  This is a classic wardrobe piece that will carry you from interview to important dinners to the holidays!

Good luck with your deals!  I will be taking the remainder of the holiday weekend off, but I will see you all on Monday! :)
Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Casual Friday - On a Wednesday!

*Note to self: this log is swarming with ticks. Never go near there again!

sweater: Express (ancient - maybe $35?) ~ jeans: Target ($14) ~ vest: Old Navy ($14) ~ scarf: H&M ($8ish) ~ belt: Target ($17) ~ boots: Bandolino via Macy's ($85ish)

Date: November 24, 2010
Ensemble message: Happy Thanksgiving Eve to all my U.S. readers!  Because the office is closed for the holiday for the next two days, and today is a half day, we at the Day Job treated today as a Friday.  Jeans all around!  So I know that the whole safari was trendy like... last year or something, but I'm digging this look.  It's comfy and perfect to go from half a day at the office to an afternoon of errands and then dinner out.

So what's everyone's plans for Turkey Day??  The Husband and I are going to my family's house, but we are cooking and bringing all the side dishes!  So yes, despite the fact that I am the furthest thing from a chef, I am helping cook for my family (fair warning to those who read my blog... like my little brother who won't admit it but always makes fun of my most recent posts... haha! :)

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Give Back This Holiday Season

These days, we are constantly hearing about people in need.  And not just around the holiday season… economic hardship is an unfortunate constant that doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon.  But since the holidays are upon us, I want to take the opportunity to encourage all of my dear readers to donate in some way.  Below is a list of a variety of causes and how you can help.

Your first thought might be to donate money or necessities.  While this is of course fantastic and generous, I realize that my audience is pretty widespread, and some of you may not have money to spare.  That’s ok!  My list includes ways to donate used goods or even some of your time.  Either way, this is the time of year to be thankful for what you have, whether it’s a little or a lot.  While reflecting, think about those who truly have next to nothing, and how much they would appreciate your generosity.

Personally, I will be buying a gift to donate to the Day Job’s toy drive, which benefits the Boys & Girls club.  I also believe that the HR department will once again do community service the day of our holiday party, which I will participate in. 

Monetary Donations and Donation of Goods:

For those who want to help…
Feed others: Community Food Bank
Sick children: Make A Wish Foundation
            The environment: Rainforest Alliance

Donate Used or Inexpensive Goods:

For those who want to give…
            Food donations: Feeding America
            Everything from household goods to cars to airline miles (no, really!): Salvation Army
            Clothing & household goods picked up at your door: Pick Up Please
            Through internet auction: Giving Works

Volunteer Your Time:

For those who want to help…
            Feed others: Meals on Wheels
A child feel loved: Boys & Girls Club
Someone down on their luck: Help USA

…or, find an organization near you: Volunteer Match

What’s your favorite charity??  Tell me how you’ll donate or volunteer this year!
Monday, November 22, 2010

She & Him

shirt: H&M ($40) ~ pants: Banana Republic ($70ish) ~ belt: Target ($17) ~ shoes: Steve Madden via Famous Footwear ($14) ~ bangle & chains: gifts

Date: November 16, 2010
Ensemble message: Wow, what a looong day!  For those of you who do not have insight into the world of HR, once a year, we help facilitate meetings where managers discuss their employees' performance from the past year.  Because my company operations on a January to December calendar, we are in the middle of those conversations now.  These meetings last multiple hours because there is typically a standoff when we get down to the last few people who need to be bumped down a rating.  I'll stop boring you now, but feel free to e-mail me with questions (I expect none, haha!)

This outfit was from last Tuesday.  It was a typical day in the office, lots of computer work and no face-to-face meetings.  I know I don't normally wear pants, but I love the contrast of the feminine shirt to the houndstooth pants.  I'm not wild on the boxy fit, but I think the tucked in shirt and skinny belt accentuate my curv.  And while these pants are hemmed just a smidge too short for heels, they work perfectly for flats!  

Ok, done for tonight... check back tomorrow for the first of four holiday related wordy posts!  (vs. picture posts :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friend Friday: Blogger Copying

Hello everyone, and welcome to Friday.  Specifically, Fashion Beauty Friend Friday!  I know you’ve been eagerly anticipating another video full of “umms” and obvious glances at my notes (ha!) but I just did not have time or energy last night to do this via vlog.  Please forgive me.  I am still participating in Friend Friday, but the good ol’ fashioned way – the written word!

This week, we’re discussing copying other bloggers.  Here are the questions, which I will then answer in a rambling essay format:

1. What are the 'unwritten rules' about copying content that we bloggers should 
all abide by? 
2. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. But when is a post 
imitation and when is it copying? 
3. Taking another blogger's idea (perhaps for an outfit, or DIY tutorial) is 
pretty common in the blogging world. Do you think it is necessary to credit the 
original source? 
4. How have you improved your blog by comparing it to other blogs? Have you made 
changes due to something you have seen others doing? 
5. Have you ever had one of your posts copied by another blogger or publication? 
How did you handle the situation?

Unfortunately, because our content is out there for the world to read, bloggers may discover their content on another person’s site.  I’ve read about this on several blogs recently, Dear Baby and Mashable being just two.  It is scary and leaves the victims feeling violated.  Yes, I said victims, because to me, this is straight out theft.  What’s worse is that the content of our blogs reflects hard work and dedication, as compared to an object that you can probably replace (family heirlooms, etc, aside).

This topic boils down to one word: INTEGRITY.  While it may not be a written rule, bloggers should never, ever take credit for another blogger’s content.  If you do want to use a picture or quote, then the blogger borrowing this content must, at the minimum, link directly back to the original source.  Even better is asking that blogger permission first… they’ll usually say yes if there’s a link back!

I completely understand that part of reading blogs is to get inspiration for any number of things.  And if you have your own blog, you may want to recreate what you’ve seen.  If this is the case, again, give that original blogger credit for inspiring you!  And, if you really want to gain credibility, take the inspiration one step further and put your own twist on it.  For example, you may recreate an outfit you saw, but make it your own by adding funky jewelry or changing up the shoes or adding a scarf.  Or if you want to post a DIY that another blogger also posted, then credit that blogger and change it up a bit.  I think this is the true definition of inspiration: motivating another individual to take something and making it better.

Question 4 is an interesting one for me… I read blogs for a long time before creating my own.  Once I decided to launch Employed Panache, I took note of format, styling, and content that I liked at a higher level.  And then I asked myself, “How can I make this new, different, interesting, and at the same time, make it my own?”  If you look through the first few months of Employed Panache, you can see that I experimented with a variety of ideas, and then figured out what worked and what didn’t.  It’s overwhelming, trust me, and it might be tempting to copy what works for others… but why wouldn’t you want to get credit for something that’s yours?

I have not discovered my content on another person’s blog yet… and I hope it never happens.  I like to see the best in people, but you never know!  If I did find any of my posts on another site, I would immediately contact that person and ask for a link back.  But, if that person was blatantly taking credit for my work, I would out them similar to how Melissa of Dear Baby handled her situation.

What do you think?  Where do you cross the line?  Have any of your posts turned up on another’s blog without your knowledge??

The Friend Friday project by Modly Chic is a way for fashion bloggers to share more about themselves and create a friendly connection with other bloggers. Join the conversation by joining the Fashion Beauty Friend Friday Google Group.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Meeting in Prints

dress: Poof via Daffy's ($15) ~ long sleeve t: Old Navy ($6) ~ belt: UO ($14) ~ boots: Rocket Dog via Famous Footwear ($40) ~ necklace: chain was a gift, pendant is actually from a key chain (in other words, all free)
Date: November 9, 2010
Ensemble message: Today I had to drive to Connecticut to meet with one of my client groups, so there was zero time for pictures.  Luckily I had this outfit left over from last week!  On this particular day, I had an off-site meeting to attend and help facilitate.  Knowing the culture of the Day Job, I would bet that most people would be in jeans while others in khakis and a relaxed shirt.  But, I purposely chose to wear a dress instead of dressing like everyone else.

Why would I make this decision?  Well, I knew that the audience was made up of all managers and above… no one at my level.  Also, besides the co-op helping me out, I knew that I would be one of the youngest in the room (plus I look younger than I am).  Maybe I’m a little too aware of titles and age, but dressing up just a bit made me feel professional and comfortable.  Notice that I went for a more laid back dress vs. a blazer and pencil skirt… while I wanted to look nice, I didn’t want to come off as uptight.  Also, since I was facilitating, I choose a knit dress and small heels for easy movement.

When attending off-site meetings or conferences, what do you wear??

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Office Boho

dress: F21 ($23) ~ vest: Target ($12) ~ boots: Bandolino via Macy's ($85-ish) ~ necklace: F21 ($5) ~ cuff: gift

Date: November 17, 2010
Ensemble message: This morning I was unexpectedly greeted by bright and blinding sun!  The problem was, I was totally expecting heavy rain… meaning I was not planning on taking photos this morning, so I didn’t lay out clothes last night!!  I felt like a kid waking up to no snow when 5+ inches were predicted.  Except that I’d rather be disappointed by the sun :)

Since I was in a rush, I started looking through my dresses.  And since I knew I’d be number crunching in front of my computer all day, I grabbed this one since it’s an easy fit and cotton.  I added a spin with the vest and originally had my blue mary janes, but it didn’t really fit together.  The vest said “boho” and the shoes said “girly,” so I swapped the heels for my short cowboy boots.  That was too costume-y for me, so I went with these boots, a good ol' stand by.  Not terrible for being in a rush… that’s why I make sure my clothes can mix and match with at least 3 different pieces before buying them!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How to Switch Industries

Between going to business school for my graduate degree and exploring the blogosphere, I feel like more and more people are doing complete 180’s when it comes to their careers.  In grad school, a lot of my classmates had two goals: to earn their MBA and to land a job in a completely new industry.  Talk about pressure!  Within the blogging world, I’ve read back stories of those who utilized their blogs to start new careers and even some who have made blogging their main source of income.  I admire everyone just mentioned because it is certainly not easy to make a huge career switch.  But, it’s definitely possible!

In some aspects, I too am an industry switcher.  I am not sure if I’ve ever mentioned it in this venue, but as an undergrad, I majored in chemistry… and now I work in Human Resources.  Yup.  I made that switch right after graduation with zero planning and a whole lot of accidental luck.  But even after being in my first job for a couple years, my chemistry degree still haunted me during job interviews, so I figured out how to strategically get that next job.  Here is what I have learned and observed:

Educate Yourself:  This starts with learning about the new industry that you are interested in… from a distance, making that leap seems like the best decision you’ll ever make!  And maybe it is, but make sure you understand the work at all levels, from good to bad.  If everything is still telling you full steam ahead, then start to educate yourself in the more traditional sense.  Not only will this help you actually do the work in your new field, but it will give you credibility when you start applying for jobs.  Depending on your situation, this step might mean going back to school for another degree or certification.  Or, you might be able to get away with attending conferences and/or self-educating through a lot of reading.

Get Experience:  Next you have to prove that you can actually perform well in this new industry.  Think about getting experience in a part-time side job, by volunteering, or even by taking on special projects at work.  During my first job out of undergrad, I volunteered to be a part of the HR Employee Satisfaction Team.  Even though I was a compensation specialist at the time, this team gave me experience and insight necessary to become a generalist later on.  Don’t forget to leverage the experience you already have… most soft skills will transfer and some technical skills will too.  Also, as I mentioned above, starting a blog can both educate you and get you experience at the same time.

Network, Network, Network:  Finally, utilize every corner of your existing network, and then work to expand it.  You never know who knows a guy in your goal industry, or who knows a recruiter who can find you a new job.  Keep in mind that networking means fostering relationships… people may not be inclined to help someone who does not show that they are passionate or willing to work/learn.  So be sure to build a repore with others first, and then you’ll have a better chance of getting referrals or even someone throwing your name out there when a job opens up.

Questions on your particular situation?  Or, have you made an industry switch yourself?  I’d love to hear from you!  Please comment or send me an e-mail  :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Carissa Rose - Lola Dress

dress: c/o Carissa Rose ~ shoes: Sam Edelman via Nordstrom Rack ($100) ~ necklace: Free People (gift) ~ bracelet: thrifted ($8) ~ wrap watch: NY&Co ($20)

Date: November 15, 2010
Ensemble message: Today I was a back-up interviewer for an all-day recruiting event.  This is one of those times where I wanted to look super professional so I would make a good impression on our candidates.  Since I was a back-up, there was a good chance that they would not need my help.  I never did get called in, but I wanted to be prepared, just in case.

How do you like my dress?  It was sent to me by Carissa Rose, and it truly fits like a dream.  This is her Lola dress, which you can see is a slim fit, high waisted design.  It is such a classic look and can work for any number of occasions.  To put my style spin on it, I decided to wear tougher heels and a studded statement necklace.  Other than that, I wanted to keep the accessories to a minimum so I could let Lola shine!  In the future, I'm going to find ways to remix this dress on the more casual side, and I also have plans to wear it to Christmas Eve dinner.

Carissa Rose clothing is designed specifically for women with larger busts.  While she advertises for D cups and larger, her clothing fits B and C cups too (I'm proof of that!).  Carissa Rose clothing is made to flatter the curviest of bodies... meaning there is amble room in the chest, but is nipped in at the waistline for the most flattering hour glass silhouette.  The main clothing line is actually button down shirts, probably THE HARDEST basic to find if you have any sort of bosom at all.  Based on the high quality construction of the Lola dress, I would recommend anything from the Carissa Rose line.  Check her out today!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friend Friday: Self Promotion

Happy Friday!  For your enjoyment, here is another Friend Friday video.  (Please ignore the train sounds in the background... to be honest, I don't even hear them anymore!)

So what do you guys think?  What types of self promotion just plain do not work, or maybe even work against you??

The Friend Friday project by Modly Chic is a way for fashion bloggers to share more about themselves and create a friendly connection with other bloggers. Join the conversation by joining the Fashion Beauty Friend Friday Google Group.
Thursday, November 11, 2010

Buttoned Down & Untucked

shirt: H&M ($15) ~ skirt: Target ($6) ~ belt: H&M ($10ish) ~ shoes: Sam Edelman via Nordstrom Rack ($100) ~ necklace: thrift shop in Zurich, Switzerland ($20)

Date: November 11, 2010
Ensemble message: Today once again lacked meetings and general face-to-face human interaction, beside the people who sit around me.  Which is ok by me… the start of the week was hectic, so I needed these couple days to catch my breath!

Knowing that my schedule was open today, I leaned more towards a casual look and left my shirt untucked.  Oh the horror!  Just kidding :)  Because this shirt is so long, I treated it like a tunic and belted it for some shape.  And because of the looser fit, you can’t really tell that I’m wearing a body con skirt underneath… it could easily have been the bottom half of a pencil skirt.

Oh one last thing… a big shout out to my new readers!!!  Over the past couple weeks, I’ve seen more traffic and comments, so welcome!  If you would like to share what you wear to express your personality at the office, please e-mail me to join the People’s Panache.  You can also follow me via Blogger, Bloglovin’, RSS feed, Twitter, and Facebook.  That’s right, 5 chances to see all my new posts.  Y’all come back now, ya hear?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Shorts & Lace

"There's a radio in the corner
It's dying to make a scene
So give me soft, soft static
With a human voice underneath
And we can both get old fashioned
Put the brakes on these fast, fast wheels
Oh let's get old fashioned
Back to how things used to be
If I get old, old fashioned
Would you get old, old fashioned with me?"
~Frightened Rabbit "Old Fashioned"

Date: November 10, 2010
Message ensemble: Going for a preppy look today, but added a bit of lace for more texture.  As if wool and corduroy weren't enough ;)  Also, I did not have any major meetings today, so the wool shorts would be ok.  I have probably already mentioned this, but I do not wear these shorts on days where I have big meetings or when I know that I'll be meeting with directors, VPs, or new employees.  Even though the Day Job is pretty laid back, I always want to make a good impression and do not want to put anyone off with my different taste in work wear.

shirt: Limited (gift) ~ blazer: Old Navy ($??) ~ shorts: Anthropologie ($35) ~ shoes: Steve Madden via Famous Footwear ($14) ~ necklace: Macy's ($11)

Though I'm cautious as to when I will wear these shorts, I've donned them quite a bit.  Here are the older posts... which one do you like best?

July 14, 2010
July 28, 2010
September 22, 2010
November 2, 2010

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