Pantyhose or no pantyhose

The Boston Globe Job Doc board raised an issue I’ve been wondering about lately…. pantyhose or no pantyhose?

Growing up, my father insisted that a properly dressed woman wore nylons with a dress or a skirt. I internalized this lesson, and have done so every since when I’m really dressing up. I’ll wear a summer dress without anything on my legs, and in winter I’d wear tights… but to an interview I would wear nylons for sure.

But I have the growing sense I’m terribly old-fashioned in this. Are nylons only for old-ladies? I know where Posh Spice stands on the issue (from my reading of Glamour: she’s agin it)… but what about you?

Laureen’s Corner: Thoughts on Fashion

Those of you who know me have almost certainly encountered – by reputation or in person – my mother-in-law Laureen. Unlike the stereotypical mother-in-law/daughter-in-law conflict, Laureen and I get along superbly. We share some common loves (like her son and grandsons) and we’ve developed some common interests. When I first started dating her youngest son, I thought fashion was definitely for other people. Over the twelve years since I married her son, Laureen has persistently and patiently introduced me to a wider world. Every time she comes, she brings an entire season’s worth of clothes for me (paying attention to my preferences and feedback). She’s gifted me appropriate jewelry from her collection – or made me bespoke jewelry from her business at Jeweled Dreams. She’s pushed, prodded, gotten me to buy new things and told me I looked fabulous for years now.

She has also agreed to be a guest commentator on this blog. So, with no further ado, I give you Laureen.

Laureen and Adam before the ballet this winter

Laureen and Adam before the ballet this winter

Ahhh fashion, a constant preoccupation.

One of my earliest memories is of sitting on a couch at age four reading my aunt’s issues of Vogue and Mademoiselle. My aunt was a graduate of Katherine Gibbs and New York secretary for over 50 years, her timeless elegance influenced me all my life. For me the word timeless is where fashion begins and is the starting point for all clothing in all situations. This seems especially relevant for young professional women who are expected to play all roles to all people while still giving credence to their femaleness, balancing comfort, practicality, professionalism and still qualifying as pretty and put together is not out of reach by any means.

Cooking, architecture or brain surgery all start in the same place: with a foundation. Make certain your appropriate parts are covered and supported before you start to embellish. Next, the basics are not necessarily expensive, but if you put in some initial thought they allow you the freedom of expression and personal taste that makes a look yours. Fit of anything including a basic T-shirt is important. With well fitted dark washed jeans, a white T and a nice blazer you can go almost anywhere including the red carpet (though you might want to add accompanying bling). Brenda and I are still working on the shoe issue Ed note: this is totally true, though I concede to the need for marathon walking and comfort. However, having walked for miles in boots and low heels on the cobblestones of Europe I highly recommend gel insoles for all. (I buy a half size larger for all shoes and immediately insert the insole.)

Humans as a species are highly visual so our first impression of one another is usually by sight. As such we make immediate judgements about another person based on what we see. If we are shocked or offended we may never overcome that first reaction to discover other more worthwhile qualities. As most of what this blog is referencing is in relation to the working world consider the politics of the work jungle. As if working with wild animals the professionally pretty woman wants to generate smiles not raised eyebrows. To do this protective coloring is required. That means initially wearing outfits that fit in with what others are wearing. Again the words timeless and classic come into play. Some of the best visual examples of this type of dressing can be found in any photos of such as Katherine Hepburn (especially great tailored pants) and Jackie Kennedy (wonderful sheaths and suits) to name only two. This year is especially bountiful for tailored dressing in everything from Target, to Ann Taylor and Ralph Lauren and more. Just remember, classic and tailored are not synonymous with stodgy or looking like your mother (though even we can be fashion forward).

Having established a comfortable basis you are now free to add those elements that make a look yours and speak to your preferences and personality. Whether it is the color of a blouse or purse a quirky shoe or scarf or in the case of my darling daughter-in-law one of a kind jewelry (which I delight in creating for her) you are icing the cake. If you have established your basics, little thought is required except to choose the decorations each day. Hopefully this cuts down on time and stress.

Ultimately for me, fashion is everywhere, color, shape, textures,, even as in the case of something like leather, smell and the sound fabric like silk makes. It plays to all the senses and weaves in and out of all my life bringing energy and pleasure.

And now for a final initial bit of advice-GET A FULL LENGTH MIRROR. You may look like Venus rising from the sea in front but if you haven’t checked the back view… disaster will surely follow. Literally.

Having been given the amazing gift of a daughter-in-law who is willing to let me shop for her I am enjoying our adventure as we explore the path to technically pretty.

Bright, Patterned and Skinny: Top Fashion Trends in Fall 2012

Part of the inestimable service I do for you by writing this blog is to read the fashion magazines, so that you do not have to discover that Victoria Beckham (aka Posh Spice) loves Lily Collins’ “little freckles and frizzy ponytail” because they make her look “fresh and less polished”. You’re welcome. I have just spent three commutes working my way through the Glamour September 2012 issue – taking notes in a notebook to identify trends and their strengths – in order to bring you information about What the Cool Kids are Wearing.

J Crew Shows off some pink pants

J Crew Shows off some pink pants

So the #1 hottest trend this fall?

Really flashy pants.

This trend seems to take two paths: brightly colored jeans and highly patterned pants. Lots of really crazy patterns are definitely a theme of the season – I’ve seen it in shirt, blouses, jackets and especially manicures. But the pants seem like the #1 trend. Even on the guys they’re showing orange, green, yellow and other solid but bright jeans.

I haven’t seen any in the wild yet, but as soon as the weather turns, expect your most fashionable colleagues and compatriots to begin wearing purple and pink paisley patterned skinny jeans. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

Here’s some of the bright, unpatterned pants at The Gap:

Colorful, unpatterned pants at the Gap

Colorful, unpatterned pants at the Gap

Juicy Couture apparently did an entire show with much crazier patterned pants than they’re offering for sale. Still, here’s what’s hit the market:

Crazy patterns

Crazy patterns

Kohl’s and Target are dipping their toes into the trend in terms of offerings, but you can see that they’re focusing on it with ads:

Kohl's Add shows bright pants

Kohl’s Add shows bright pants

So… should we buy into this trend or pass on it?

– Patterns are really fun
– One or two purchases could notch your “dresses like it’s this year” cred up considerably – especially since this is a breaking trend and if you buy now you will be a front-runner with it
– Colors are also really fun
– Usually we can’t get away with wearing stuff like this

– I suspect that if you’re larger than a size six, some of these patterns could be highly unflattering
– When something is this fashionable, you cannot wear it for more than a year … if it lasts even that long
– When something is this noticeable, you can’t rewear it very often. No one notices when you wear the same pair of black slacks twice in a week. But if you wear your leopard print pants twice in a week, people will notice.
– There’s no guarantee this trend will take off… at which point you will not look like a trend-leader, you will look like a person wearing weird pants
– You can’t buy it on sale – or even at discounters like Target – yet. It’s too early in the fashion cycle. And by the time it is not too early, the trend will already be passing by. Woosh!

Buy a pair of these pants if:
– You are not budget strapped, and it’s ok with you if you have a pair of pants you only wear 20 times before you get rid of them
– You really like pretty designs
– You really like colors
– You want people to notice you

Do not buy these pants if:
– You have a minimalist wardrobe
– You hate waste
– You’re trying to stretch every dollar as far as it can go
– You don’t like being noticed for what you wear

Be careful about whether the colors and patterns look good on your body type. When in doubt, take a picture of yourself in the dressing room mirror and look at the picture. Is it just too much? Then stick with khakis. However, some of the asymmetrical designs I’ve seen would look good on larger legs. As usual, it just means you have harder shopping in front of you.

So what do you think? Is this the trend you’ve been waiting for since Hypercolor went out of style in the 90s? Have you spotted a real life pair of these pants yet? Do you find this trend fun or terrifying? Would you consider buying some, or have you already bought some? Do these pants make people look good?

Fitting in vs. making waves

CNN just ran an interesting article about the trade-offs between a strong personal style and workplace expectations. They used (of course) the NASA mohawk guy as one of their examples. Another person profiled comes to work daily in a very unusual outfit. She argues that having a personal style makes her more memorable and (combined with competence) aids, not harms her job search.

Decoding the workplace dress code

What do you think? Do you think that having such a striking personal style can be an advantage? Or does having people with a wide variety of styles tell you something positive about a company’s culture?

What I wore today: brown knit dress

I have a schedule – more or less – of what KIND of outfits I wear to work for each day of the week. Monday – slacks and blouse. Tuesday – dress. Wednesday – slacks and blouse. Thursday – depends on what I feel like. Friday – jeans and shirt. There are exceptions of course: a client visit, a work-from-home-day, or Red Sox tickets after a day’s work will all affect my choices. (As will the weather.)

Brown knit dress

Brown knit dress

Today being a Tuesday, I wore a dress. My favorite dresses for work are knit dresses. I probably own six or so knit dresses. Why?

1) They machine wash
2) They’re comfortable
3) Done right, they look pretty good
4) They do not wrinkle
5) They are a moderate weight, good for layering (or not)

Did I mention that they machine wash?

Today’s brown dress is a good two season dress. I’m not sure I’d wear it in spring just because brown is not a very springy color. It also doesn’t layer as well as some of my other knit dresses, so I probably wouldn’t bother with it in winter. I pair it with sandals in summer, or with boots, tights and a sweater in fall. It can dress way up or way down, depending on how I want to play it. I could wear this dress to the theater easily. At the same time, with casual jewelry, shoes or a sweater, it doesn’t look out of place in the office. It’s not going to knock someone’s socks off with how amazing I look, but I can live with that.

There are two tragic failings to the knit dress (in general). The first is panty lines. The second is bulges. Knit looks good, but it hides nothing. Part of what makes it comfortable – that lovely give it has – also means it, er, outlines everything and forgives nothing. You will feel comfortable in a knit dress that is too small. You will look sausage-esque. The solution I’ve adopted to both these problems is either a) not to care (especially with my looser knit dresses) or b) to wear spanx. I have a whole paen to spanx lined up, defending them from the very judgement I myself weighed upon them before I actually owned them… but for now let’s just say that they fix the panty line and bulge issues nicely.

So here’s today’s fashion lineup for an 80 degree summer Tuesday at the office:
Straightish/wavy hair with barrette
Diamond stud earrings
Standard makeup
Caramel-colored rose necklace (custom made by Laureen)
Cocoa brown knit dress (this one is Dress Barn – most of them are Chaps from Kohl’s)
Brown sandals

What do you think? Where would you wear this outfit? (Or would you ever wear it.) What changes should I make to be more office appropriate? What outfit did you wear today? Do you have a “regular schedule” of outfits?

Advice for the future

I am hoping that some of you reading this blog are younger women, just getting their start in technology. Some of you might be thinking, “Yeah, that might be useful information in a few years, when I’m interested in managing a technical team. But right now, as a programmer/lab tech/engineer this fashion stuff just isn’t relevant yet. Jeans every day, baby!” I get that. I lived that. I agree – no need to do this stuff before you’re good and ready.

That said, there are three things I’m recommending you do today so that when you are ready to look managerial, you don’t have a big uphill slog. With no further ado, here are three pieces of advice I offer for the 22 year old girl programmer:

1) Moisturizer with Sunscreen
Wrinkles are almost impossible to get rid of. So are liver spots. Go take a moment and google “effective ways of removing wrinkles”. Notice how they are a) painful b) expensive c) quacky . Notice how many times they say, “This one really works, unlike all the other ones that totally don’t work”. Right now, you’re trying to look older than you are. There will be a blessed but brief period of your life where you will be happy looking exactly as old as you are. And then you will spend a long time wishing you looked younger than you are. Percentage wise, the largest period of your life is likely to be the “wishing you looked younger than you are”. But once you get to that age… there’s not much you can do about wrinkles or skin damage. So. Every day, put on a moisturizer with an SPF over 30 – even if you don’t currently care about how you look – just in case you change your mind.

2) Cut out sugary drinks now, while you still have a metabolism that can handle them
In the same way it’s much easier to prevent wrinkles than to remove them once you have them, it’s much easier to take smaller steps to prevent weight gain than it is to take the big steps needed to lose weight later. Now, I don’t think there’s much wrong with being overweight or large. I don’t think folks should strive to be skinny or hate themselves if they aren’t. I don’t think there’s evil in chocolate cake and virtue in celery. However, being overweight is another cultural stigma that has to be overcome to gain acceptance in certain circles. If our goal here is to be taken seriously, it is an easier task for a person of normal weight (however normal may be defined) than a person who is not a normal weight.

Not only that, as any plus-size shopper can tell you, it is much easier to get fun, flattering, professional, inexpensive clothing when you are roughly the size and shape that designers are working on. If you’re in the middle of the size bell curve, you can go to any store and find clothes that you can wear. If you’re at either end of the bell curve, the chore of shopping gets much harder, more disheartening, more expensive and offers fewer options.

Current studies are showing that the single biggest impacts on weight gain is sweetened beverages – even if they have no sugar. Apparently, aspartame and some of those other sweeteners play nasty tricks on your metabolism. So if you’re a perfectly fine weight now, and you drink two sodas a day… well, cut down to one. Cut down to none. Develop a love for coffee/iced tea/water. Chances are you’ll thank yourself 30 years down the road.

3) Keep the tattoos in places you can cover
I have mixed feelings on this one. I’m pretty sure there is a cultural shift from the time I was breaking in a decade ago to now. A decade ago, this would have been no-brainer advice. Now, so many qualified people are highly inked that it may not offer an impediment. But if you keep your tattoo in a place you can choose to reveal (or not), you can play it both ways. You should think about the impact of what you choose to have tattooed as well. Celtic knots/geometric shapes are pretty neutral. Arcane code snippits (ok, I’ve never seen that, but you never know) might make it hard for folks to imagine you as CTO. Anime might make it harder for you to get people to take you seriously. Too much to look at on your skin that people get distracted from what you say because they’re trying to figure out what that bit is right there, and means people will be looking at your body instead of listening to your words. Look at the people in the roles you’d like to be in. Any more ink than they have, and you will have to work a bit harder and be a bit more qualified to get the same role.

So am I completely nuts? Terribly old-fashioned? Did I miss something obvious? What advice would you give your 22 year old self, if you could go back in time? If you’re the younger programmer, are you doing any things differently? What would your top three recommendations be?

Fashion engineering

Megan found a great article about Silicon Valley fashionistas. Go read it here:

I do love this portion:

“…dressing well (and talking about it) could help erode the stereotypes that repel some women from the technology field.”

The article also quotes Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, saying:

“‘My willingness to talk about it is because I believe the way we’ll get more people into computer science and ultimately more women into computer science is by making it really clear that you can be yourself and don’t need to give up parts of yourself to succeed,” she said. “You can be into fashion and you don’t have to be the pasty white programmer with a pocket protector staying up all night.”’

I’m surprised that several of the women say they wouldn’t be taken seriously if they dressed nicely. Do you (oh technical women), feel that’s the case? I feel like I’m not taken as seriously if I dress like a schlub… but are fellow programmers and management completely opposite audiences? What do you think?

Made Up

An Intro To My Makeup

$25 of pretty

$25 of pretty

Just over two years ago, I switched jobs from a pure-programming, behind-a-computer-all-day, best-dressed-because-my-jeans-don’t-have-holes job to a terrifyingly corporate environment. I went from a place where the CEO wore shorts, to one where the click of high heels rang through the halls. This was a job change I wanted to make. I like people. I like writing. I like coding too… but I wanted a mix, and this was my chance to get it.

And I did.

But before I showed up at my first day at the new job, I thought very carefully about how I wanted to look. How did I want people to see me? I could get by with my wardrobe for a while. My hair was ok. (Not great, but ok. That’s another post.) But I had just crossed the threshold of 30, and borne my second child. It was time for me to start wearing some makeup. Oh, and moisturizer.

So I did. Here were some of the things I weighed in my makeup decisions:
1) I didn’t want to wear a lot of makeup (or look really made up)
2) I didn’t want to spend a lot of time putting it on
3) I didn’t want to spend very much money on it
4) I wanted to be able to buy it in a store I already went to
5) I needed to come up with a good, non-obnoxious way of removing the makeup every night, so I didn’t seem young due to zits
6) I didn’t want to feel like I HAD to wear makeup to look normal. I wanted to feel makeup-free and confident on weekends and other days.

I’ve accomplished most of these goals. Here’s how I did it:

1) Moisturizer with SPF 35. (Target – $9.99) I use Neutrogena oil free moisture at least in part because it rubs in quickly and easily, and comes in appropriate portion controls. (I had trouble with some other kinds I tried giving me way too much.) Even if you do nothing else, if you ever might think you could care a little bit someday about how you look…. use a daily moisturizer with an SPF over 20 to prevent wrinkles. And by daily, I mean every day since you will burn much more easily if you use it regularly and then forget one lovely clear day in October. (Not that I ever did that. Ahem.)

2) Pressed powder. I use the Maybelline Shine Free Pressed Powder #4 Beige. (Target) It costs $4.94. The primary purpose of the powder is to reduce the shininess that comes from the moisturizer. (I actually brush my teeth between steps 1 & 2 in order to give the moisturizer time to “Sink in”). I think this has a pretty big impact on how I look – it gives me a more polished, even look.

3) Mascara. I have blonde eyelashes. I like to use brown mascara because I don’t like a look that screams EYE MAKEUP, but brown mascara is not an “in” color so I’m still wrestling with finding the perfect mascara. In the interim I use Maybelline Great Lash. ($4.44 Target) Beware if you wear mascara and have never worn makeup before… if I had even plausibly present eyelashes I’d probably skip it. When you are wearing mascara you cannot cry or rub your eyes while you’re wearing it, or you look awful. Waterproof mascara may be ok, but it’s really difficult to get off afterwards. Try both ways – and not wearing mascara. If you wear mascara, can you keep your hands off your eyes? Are you a cryer? Do you have darker lashes? These should all affect your decision about whether to wear mascara, and what kind to wear.

4) Eyeshadow but… for my eyebrows. I also have blonde eyebrows. They sort of vanish by themselves. So I more or less paint them on with brown powder every morning. You probably don’t need this, unless you also have pale facial hair. Once again I find myself with a $5 Maybelline product (Maybelline Expert Wear Eye Shadow – $4.49 at Target.)

That’s my daily routine. It takes two minutes. Nothing in that set costs more than $10 … you can stock up brand new for $25 at Target. (And most of that is moisturizer.) The powder goes fastest, followed by mascara, followed by moisturizer. I have yet to “finish” an eyeshadow.

At the end of the day, I remove it all with makeup wipes from Costco (~$15 for a bajillion). Chemicals yadda yadda, but awfully convenient and not at all messy.

There are a lot of makeup elements I don’t use, that you may need or want. For example I don’t:

– Use blush. I have a great natural blush and I don’t need it.
– Use eyeliner. I have not the skills. Nor do I want the “made up” look that eyeliner gives you.
– Use eyeshadow as eyeshadow. I only do this when I’m dressing up, and I have trouble making it look the way I want to look. The colors in eyeshadow are very particular to a season or trend, so you can easily go wrong in eyeshadow if you don’t know what you’re doing. (See also: blue, green, purple)
– Use lipstick. Proper lipstick is a dangerous thing, in terms of going where you don’t want it, being hard to maintain, and being hard to get a color that flatters. I use a lip gloss if I am feeling fancy, but most of the time I have naked or lip-balmed lips. Again, my lips have good natural color, so I don’t need it. Some lipstick colors are highly seasonal, so it’s easy to go wrong.
– Use foundation. I just never have. I have relatively good skin, so I don’t really need it. Also, when I see people whose makeup seems excessive to me, it’s usually with eyeliner, foundation and bright lipstick. That may be why I avoid those three.

Do you wear makeup daily? Do you feel naked without it? Do you know how to put it on? What mystifies you, and what have you mastered. Do you feel that expensive makeup is really that much better than cheap makeup at Target? What’s your makeup story? What do you do every day?

Why bother?

I spent a lot of my youth and young adulthood feeling that anyone who judged me on my looks was someone whose good opinion I could live without. I was loved by a good parter. I was happy with myself. Why should I conform to some sexist, culturally derived notion of beauty just to please them? I had (have, actually) no desire to look like a fashion model.

But there are a lot of reasons – internal and external – why it pays to attend to how you look.The internal ones you hear a lot about: how you will feel better when you look good, the morale boost of being attractive. There is some truth to those. But what I’m paying attention to here are the external ones. In short, people treat you differently based on how they think you look. This goes beyond, “And when you look good, you are more confident blah blah blah”. This study,done by Harvard University and published in the New York Times, concludes that makeup “…increases people’s perceptions of a woman’s likability, her competence and (provided she does not overdo it) her trustworthiness”. I think that lesson of “looking good means people think you’re better” can be extended beyond makeup. Still, for the scientifically minded, here it is: a double blind study showing that you can be more effective in (most) jobs if you pay attention to how you look.

Should this be the case? Probably not. Is this the way society ought to be? Unlikely. Should work be a pure meritocracy based on production? That would be nice. But right now that’s not the case. As women, we already suffer a penalty in the “Being taken seriously department”. Add in being women in a technology field, and sometimes it feels as though that penalty is squared. Is it cubed if you add in “Being an unfashionable woman in a technology field?” I don’t know. I do think that whatever mitigations we can take to lessen the slope of our uphill battle, we should seriously consider as a tool in our arsenal.

It might not seem like conforming to society’s standards for good looks can help the cause of women in technology, but I am going to argue that it does. Some of the key reasons that the share of women in technology is actually dropping since the 1980s include: lack of mentorship, lack of role models, lack of desire and stereotype threat. It’s a chicken-and-egg scenario: there aren’t women going into science and technology because there aren’t women in science in technology already. So if we few (we proud few, we band of sisters!) can take steps to be successful, to be seen, to impress our peers with our overall competence… that helps all other women. Additionally, it might convince some girls who WANT to look pretty and feminine that they do not have to check their cute heels at the door if they want to be a programmer or an electrical engineer.

What do you think? Do you believe that it’s selling out to change your look because it may make you more successful? Have you ever noticed a difference in how you’re treated at work based on how you look? Do you treat women differently based on their external presentation? Or do you work in a place that is a true meritocracy?

About Brenda

About the Author

Between client meetings in London

Between client meetings in London

In order to write about being technical and pretty, one should probably present one’s bona fides for each. This presents a bit of a challenge. I’m used to defending myself as being a real-o, true-lo technical person and trotting out a few well-chosen acronyms to prove it. But I’m considerably less convinced that I am actually pretty. What I do know is that I can convey myself as a professional woman, which isn’t quite the same thing as being pretty. It means having your outer appearance provide no distraction or incongruity from a Person Who Knows What They Are Doing.

Technical Bona Fides
OK, so am I really technical? I started writing web sites in 1997, using hand-coded HTML on a UNIX system. I spent about 10 years as a web application developer, writing everything from stored procedures, through business logic, up to front end displays. I like databases best. I know how to create an SOA architecture and can tell you how SOA builds on object orientation. I currently have a job where I regularly have to explain the difference between RESTful APIs and WSDL-based ones. Do I know everything? Of course not. But I can and do write real code.

My geek credentials go well beyond just coding, though. I have played in a role-playing game for twelve years now. I played in my first RPG when I was 12 years old. I love the German strategy board games. I prefer RPG-like video games (I love the Fable series of games). I’ve been to Gencon more than once, and I can explain the difference in probabilites between FUDGE dice and a D20 system, as long as you don’t want actual math.

I feel completely comfortable when I tell you: I am a technical person, and a geek.

Pretty Bona Fides

I feel a lot less confident telling you I’m pretty. For one thing, objectively, I’m no better than “eh”. I’m in my early 30s, 20 pounds or so overweight and not stunning to begin with. (My husband and mother-in-law will tell you otherwise. But they love me.) Combine these attributes with a fondness for pockets and a complete resistance to wearing shoes that aren’t comfortable, and you might very get the stereotype of a Geek Woman: obscure jokey t-shirt, baggy jeans & Birkenstocks.

But my path diverged from that expected outcome when I met my mother-in-law. She has been indefatigable in attempting to convert me to a bona fide professional woman. She’s bought me clothes in styles I would never have picked, provided me with makeup (and advice on how to use it), recommended moisturizer in the strongest of terms, gifted me with jewelry, forbidden certain shoe choices (“My arthritic mother wouldn’t be seen in those – and she’s dead!”), and generally pushed me towards making myself look good. Along the way, I’ve added my own flair and style, and figured out I LIKE looking good. And I’m willing to make (tactical, non-intrusive) sacrifices to get there.

I value most the compliments I’ve worked hardest for. I had an interview a few months ago with a Vice President of Professional Services. The feedback I got was that I was the “Most polished interview he had in five years”. There were a lot of things that went into that: deep technical knowledge, presentation skills, oration skills. But part of it was that I looked polished. My hair looked attended to. I had a great suit that really fit. I had nice looking shoes (that I could walk in) that matched the elegance of the outfit. My jewelry added a touch of style. My makeup was understated but evened out my looks. My hands were well kept. I acted polished, and I looked polished.

It’s taken me a lot of time, a lot of heel-dragging, and a lot of “why should I conform to other people’s expectations of beauty” to get to where I am today: which is someone who can show up in almost any professional or social situation and feel confident that I am appropriately and appealingly attired. So am I a fashion expert? No. But I think I might still have learned a few things about how to look as a woman in technology that you might find helpful.

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