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. 


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.