The ABCs of a Sophisticated Lady: Working it in the Workplace

At the invite of a colleague recently I had an opportunity to talk about Hygiene and Professional Attire to a group of aspiring, young students in a work development program from the Birmingham, Alabama area. My purpose was to directly speak to the women, while another expert was sent to speak to the young men. As teens would have it, both our conversations became all-inclusive, and boy-oh-boy did we learn as much from them as they did from us.

That morning session with those 80 students prompted this post on the ABCs of a Sophisticated Lady: Working it in the Workplace

untitled (2)

A-Attitude adjustments work well in the workplace.

B-Bathe daily (or twice daily if needed).

C-Comb and Care for hair daily (or more often if needed). Our hair (whether grown or purchased) is our crowning glory. Take care of your hair through regular shampooing, conditioning, trimming, through styles fitted for your face, colors fitting your professional positions or aspirations and styles fitting your budget. Don’t buy a $200 bundle of 14 inch Bobbi Boss Remi weave if you can only afford a $29.99 Hair Gallery special.

D-Deodorant is a must to prevent one from being musty. Be sure to choose a brand that is right for your body, and one which doesn’t cake up or show through sleeveless clothing.

E-Eat a healthy and hearty breakfast like a queen, a light and filling lunch like a princess and a reasonable dinner like a diva who wants the best for her body now and in years to come.

F-Find a good support team. We all need someone to tell us when our slip is showing (Google slip if you need to), when our attitude needs adjusting, when we need to improve or when there’s broccoli in our teeth.

G-Give back to those who are where you once were. No sense in a sophisticated lady keeping all of her goodness to herself.

H-Hang with the right crowd, especially around the water cooler.

I-Invest in a few professional, statement pieces. A blouse, some nice slacks, a standard suit and a comfy pair of pumps should always be available.

J-Join groups to help you develop spiritually, professionally, socially and academically.

K-Keep spare clothing, flat shoes, hygiene products, lip gloss, a nice snack and mints in case needed at work.

L-Lotion on feet, arms, legs, elbows and other places saves the day. (Enough said…and if lotion isn’t sufficient petroleum jelly works just as well as it did in the 70s.)

M-Manage your workload so that you are able to balance your professional and personal life.

N-Never underestimate the power of a consignment shop, thrift store, or fine garment from Wal-mart or Ross Dress for Less.

O-Own up to your flaws, but don’t hesitate to work to get rid of them.

P-Poise in the midst of chaos or confusion always comes in handy.

Q-Quit procrastinating. There’s nothing glamorous about being slothful.

R-Remember to rest.

S-Sit pretty so that the world won’t be able to see what lies beneath.

T-Teeth should be daily brushed, flossed, freshened with mouth-wash and refreshed with mints when needed (as often as needed).

U-Undergarments serve a purpose. (Don’t forget the benefit of Spanx, girdles, slips, stockings and a bunch of other support garments.)

V-Very little perfume, jewelry and other accessories go a long way.

W-Work out for now and for later (Trust me, this one caught be by an unfortunate surprise around age 33L)

X-eXude eXcellence. Yes, I cheated with this letter, but I’m sure you can see why. As women we have to carry ourselves in such a way that greatness, elegance, leadership, humility, kindness, joy, peace, and success are what others see…even when we don’t feel like it, and especially in the workplace.

Y-Yield to wisdom from those who know what you don’t yet know.

Z-Zip your lips to workplace gossip, complaining, undermining and murmuring. 


Fashion 101: I Can’t Do it Like I Used To (But I’m Better and On a Budget)

Fashion and shopping…I enjoy them.  At times I’ve found strength, albeit temporary, from them. But I can’t do it like I used to. Way back in the 90s, an era of economic bountifulness, parental dependency and self-inflicted fiscal tomfoolery I was a shopper’s shopper. I knew the women at Casual Corner, who would call me off of my good paying TV job to stop by and see a couple of pieces they thought “would be perfect for me”. In my humble little life, and meager little wallet I could give Olivia Pope and First Lady Michelle Obama a run for their suit money back then. I love fashion. To this day, somewhere nestled away at my parent’s house are a few notebooks I kept my high school days noting everything I wore to school and when (as to not be repeated too often). Why? Because I was honing the future journalist/writer/organizer/historian in me and didn’t even know it. Plus I loved fashion.


Not to place blame, but rather to trace roots, I must admit that I get my passion for fashion honestly. I get it from my father who is a shoe connoisseur, lining his leather, Italian or Johnston-Murphy shoes up around the wall and being able to buff polish them like nobody’s business, and who can easily outlast me at any outlet mall. I get it from my mother who should be on a first name basis with the likes of Michael Kors, Versace, Juicy and Louis Vuitton. I don’t blame either of them. They’ve worked hard, saved hard and sown even harder from everything God has granted them from my daddy growing up picking cotton, both of them living in the projects and them collectively sacrificing to get out of debt decades ago. Yes, their fashion bug has lived through some of the worst of circumstances, but for some of the best people I know. Salute.

Sometimes people comment on how nicely I dress (I’m in no way bragging, so please don’t think otherwise). I say “thank you” appreciative of the compliment, and often share where I scored my latest find. Some look at me like I’m Pinocchio when I divulge that most of my clothes are old, hand-me-overs (from my sister) or come from Ross Dress for Less, Wal-Mart, JC Penney’s and Belk. I rarely pay over $20 for anything. I place things in the back of my closet and pull them out years later. I wear items given to me by others and add my own spin. I do what I have to do because I can.

Take a look at what under $30, some savvy closet shifting, a bit of regifting, a dose of gratefulness and a dollop of self-esteem can do.


$1.97 from JC Penney… Let that marinate in your mind for a minute.


One of my high-end pieces… Ross’s “yellow label” Calvin Kline dress for $29. (I cringed at the register paying this much for this dress.)


It’s Fashion’s finest frock for just $11.


This little 2005 Newport News catalogue purchase gets to come out of the closet every now and then. I call it “Vintage”.


Purchased from an “urban” boutique (a mall store in Atlanta) for the low price of $13.99.


Ross Dress for Less at its $14.99 best.


Wal-Mart all day, every day! (I have a blue and black one too.) #GeorgeRocks


H&M for only $19. (I took a “dress” and made it a shirt.)


$17.99 from Ross Dress for Less


$19 semi-formal wear from Ross Dress for Less


$14 from Ross Dress for Less (sultry wig not included)


$16 Easter Dress from Ross Dress for Less (the $38 crutch cost more than the entire ensemble)


One of my two most expensive purchases in 2015… A $49 gown from Belk. (The tag said $200)


Straight from the YWCA’s My Sister’s Closet resale boutique for only $9.


A fab deal from a little shop in the ATL for only $30-something dollars.


Hat and Fringed sweater from the $.99 Store in Alabaster and Homewood. Sweater $14. Hat $2. Saving my hair from an initial downpour at the Magic City Classic=Priceless.


My second most expensive purchase of 2015… A $400 hand-beaded gown from Belk for only $49.

When it comes to fashion and shopping, as mentioned, I can’t do it like I used to. I’d like to think I do it better and on a budget! I’m so grateful for the times I’ve been in allowing me to value me far more than the value of a dress, some stilettos or a handbag. I’m so grateful for the ability to whip up a Target/Ross/My Sister’s Closet ensemble and rock it like it came from Nordstrom, the real one, not Rack. I’m so grateful for the little girl at Ramsay High School who cared enough to try to carry herself like her best, always trying to put her best foot and face forward regardless of what she was facing and having to gumption to write it down for the world’s (not really the world, but indulge me) remembrance. I’m so grateful for a spirit that stays in me that says where I am is not my final stopping point and the only one who can stop me from getting there is me not being ready, head-to-heart-to-toe.

What won’t be happening is me looking like what I don’t have and missing out on what I could have. I dare you to take that stance. It’s fun and fruitful. Trust me I know!



Cut Out That Clacking

Sometimes I wonder if I share TMI (too much information) on my blog. Today is one of those days, which is why I will get in, drop off this nugget and scoot out with my dignity in tact. So here I go…


For two years I wore a boot with a bad heel. No, not in the Run DMC Peter Piper-esq “bad meaning bad, but bad meaning good” sense, but as in bad meaning bad. Somewhere between a Girls Night Out in early 2013, a hot date in December of 2013 and a DC dance floor in 2014 the tap of the heel of my sparkled, ankle-length bootie met its demise. And guess what, I still continued to wear it. Yikes!

Clacking to and fro looking fabulous from the ankle up, I was also sounding foolish from the heel down to those with a keen ear who could hear the click, clacking, pitter pat of my size 10 transporters making their presence known sometimes before I did. Why did I do that knowing all I needed to do was get them fixed? I don’t know. Complacency? Possibly. Not wanting to invest in something that was already a costly investment? Could be. Hopeful that no one would know? Quite the option. Mad because it “seemed” like I was always having to fix things? Maybe. Waiting on some shoe angel to swoop in, hear me clacking and fix my problem for me, miraculously delivering my shoes to the cobbler for upkeep? That’s likely. Or was it plain ol’ laziness? Perhaps.


Take a look at my beautiful bootie. This, of course, is pre-no tap, but she’ll be back soon minus the click-clack.


Anywho, this morning I woke up deciding it was finally time to cut out that clacking. Pretty boot season is in full effect and I need to fully represent. Enough of me having the power to fix things, while pretending like there was no problem, having to sit with my leg gingerly crossed at the ankle so the exposed heel would not be exposed. After leaving a luncheon today I plan on heading straight to the shoe shop with not one, but two pair of shoes. Yep. I’m going all in, people! And I’m going at it alone too, having, in the past relied on my daddy, my ex-husband, or whatever lovely guy friend I had to handle matters of that manner. (Shout out to those who, dare I say it, spoiled me in that regard.) It dawned on me that I have never had shoes fixed before myself. There’s got to be some hidden lesson in there for me somewhere on top of not walking around with tapless shoes. So, I’m patting myself on the back in advance for walking out this small step. (Get it? ‘Step’ as in boots, as in “these boots were made for walking”? Ha! Ha!)

I get it, finally. Those boots represent life. They represent the things we all have or face in life that we just don’t want to deal with for whatever reason, settling for them being less than their best with not much surface reason in mind. So we carry on seemingly business as usual with clacking in the background. Enough of that clacking!

I believe with my whole heart and my new heels that this small step will take me to leaps and bounds so much bigger than boots. So the next time you see me rocking those beautiful booties, know that you won’t hear me first. If you clack, I won’t clack back…LOL! (I crack me up!) Do know also, dearies, that the next time I come in those surprisingly comfortable, black, suede, sparkled-heel, ankle-strapped booties I’ll be coming correct, and the boots are only the beginning!



These Styles Can Stay: Women’s Edition


While unpacking from a trip to New Orleans, Louisiana, it dawned on me that for six days in a row I wore a different pair of leggings or jeggings. I was cute, in my humble opinion. I was in style, but appropriate for a 42-year-old. I was supported by garments that didn’t reveal more than should have met the eye and more importantly, I was comfortable. The thought that one day leggings and jeggings will be a thing of the past was daunting. Now, there are some fashion trends I wouldn’t mind snatching off the shelf forever myself. That list of items may manifest into a post itself. However, there are some styles for women I want to stick around as long as fashionably possible.


And they are, in no particular order:

  • Blunt bangs
  • Naturally, beautiful hair accessories (also known as wigs, weaves, extensions)
  • Appropriately supported and/or covered Leggings
  • Appropriately supported and/or covered Jeggings
  • Fashion-forward ensembles for women of all shapes and sizes
  • Maxi Dresses
  • Faux Fur
  • Blazers and beautiful jackets
  • Sparkly things to adorn boring things (like t-shirts)
  • Lipgloss
  • Dramatic red lips
  • Riding boots
  • Jeans with a little stretch in ’em
  • Dresses that make ladies really look like classy ladies
  • Big, beautiful, colorful handbags
  • Wristlets
  • Spanx, tights and an assortment of supportive garments
  • Flannel PJs
  • Swimsuits with a forgiving waistline (in other words, a bit of spandex, or “span” something sewn in)
  • Peplum dresses and blouses
  • A classic lace dress or blouse
  • Ruching on dresses and blouses
  • Denim jackets
  • Capes and swing coats
  • Wrap dresses
  • Houndstooth
  • Animal print…moderately bold
  • Gucci
  • High-heeled shoes that you want to wear and can actually walk in
  • Jumpers and rompers
  • Anything elegant, classy, sophisticated, lady-like or clearly announcing that a grown woman has entered the building.



Child Please!

It’s coming! In the words of the Jackson 5, “Can you feel it? Can you feel it? Can you feel it?!?!?” Summer’s about to hit us and depending on what part of the world you call home that also means hotter temperatures, and fashions gone wild.

Let me just say that long ago in a far, far away world known as The Land of My Teens and 20’s I was a “skintight”, “bare as you dare” Diva with a capital “D”! Tube tops showing practically everything below my upper rib bone? Child Please! I did it! Super short shorts and even shorter skirts on my 5’9 body? Child Please! I did it! Mega tight can’t breathe, can’t move dresses? Child Please! I did it! Backless frocks to the lowest part of my spine that would make the sight impaired blush? Child Please! I did it! Clothes so revealing that my daddy had to hide one of my dresses that ended up fitting my sister (who ss actually nine years younger)? Child Please! I did it!

Notice how I cleverly refrained from posting any of those frightening photos:)

While I ventured into the form-fitting arena quite often, I never had a desire to wear clothes that were too big or masculine in style, perhaps, except the tie I would wear to work at the Cobb’s Midfield Six Theatre. However, today there also seems to be an overwhelming amount of attire that doesn’t distinguish the women from the masses. I get the concept of comfort and individuality all day long, but I believe there are certain features about us that are meant to be gracefully embraced, not totally embedded. Also today, there are hodge-podges of “tight is right” and “loosey goosey” styles that seem to have swept the world of little girls, teens, young women and grown girls by storm.

Now before you start to think that I’ve turned into an old, complaining prude that rests on terms like “back in my day” or “when I was younger”, I haven’t. Child please! I think young girls should be confident and comfortable and cute, and can be all of those at the same time in a manner that makes them who they should be, and how they should look at that stage in life. I still think grown women should be fierce and fabulously beautiful, but with taste and distinction (and a choice of selections of appropriate sass, uniqueness, comfort and flare). I think it’s possible to catwalk down the fine line of fashion and appropriateness, strutting to the tune of individuality, uniqueness and crazy creativity and look good while doing it. That, my sisters and sisterettes is what I believe makes one not just a woman, but a lady!

And so it is that I happened on the words of Marilyn Monroe and have nothing more to say: