How to dress for the job you want

by Susan Hodkinson

Mark Twain famously said  “clothes make the man,” and for generations men in the business world have adhered to an easy-to-interpret dress code of suits and ties. When women entered management ranks, the feminized version of the traditional corporate uniform marched into boardrooms all over the world: a navy skirt, matching jacket, white shirt, pantyhose, and sensible pumps. Oh, and if it was 1985, probably a little silk scarf tied in a bow. Red or burgundy. I remember those days well.  Not fondly.

Fast forward to 2014, and we are now the establishment. We baby boomers, being single-mindedly focused on our goal of corporate acceptance, and the journey up the corporate ladder, didn’t question many of the traditional expectations of how we should dress for work. We rewrote some of the rules, and put our own stamps on them, but clothes still do “make the (wo)man”, a fact of which we are acutely aware.

So what about Generation Y, our children, who are making their way into the corporate world? According to the Australian Centre for Retail Studies, “compared to earlier generations, Generation Y consumers … [are] the most ethnically and socially diverse cohort, [and] loathe stereotyping and demand to be treated as individuals”. No navy suits and little silk ties for these girls.

Jill is my 20-year old daughter, a university student specializing in communications who has her sights focused on the corporate world. Jill considered my question concerning how she would amend her personal style when she enters the business world. “Well, obviously I have my own style, but I admire the women who have gone before me, and I do want to be like them. I want to fit in, and show that I am serious about my career,” said Jill.

Debra McLaughlin is an image and wardrobe consultant with Images That Suit, a consulting firm that has answered the question “What do I wear?” for businesswomen for over 20 years.  Her advice to her clients in their 20s and 30s mirrors Jill’s thought.

“I would advise a younger client to look to some of the better dressed senior executives, and while she does not want to dress exactly like them, she will see that they have their look ’packaged’ and pulled together. If she is smart, she will try to figure out how to work that for herself, for her own age group, and for her own personality,” she says.

“You are your own brand, so you should be investing everything you can in supporting that brand. Your wardrobe is an investment in yourself.”

What about some specifics?  A few pieces of sage advice from Debra, a professional in this area, with some editorial comments from the writer,  who is enjoying watching Gen Y women making their way in the world in both her personal and professional lives.

Don’t wear worn shoes.  (Fix those lifts!  The sound of nails on a bare office floor … not pleasant.)

If you are wearing light-coloured clothing, make sure your underwear is not showing through.  Don’t dress provocatively or too casually.  (I am aware that it’s now fashionable to treat your bra as an accessory rather than a foundation garment, but not in the office please.  Oh, I sound very old.)

Casual Fridays – a minefield.  At Images that Suit, they emphasize “the third piece” – a jacket or beautiful cardigan over a shirt and well tailored, dark denim jeans.  (If you would paint your house in it, sit on the dock in it at the cottage wearing it, or wear it to a club, don’t wear it to the office.)

My conversation with Jill about this topic was illuminating and helpful. It is clear to me that the generation of women following us into the business world is perceptive, optimistic, and eager to be successful while remaining true to its own values and style. I asked Jill how she would prepare for her first big corporate interview in terms of image. She considered my question carefully, smiled, and replied: “I would definitely replace my nose ring with a small stud.”

Generation Y women will make us proud.

4 closet essentials for the busy mom

by Erin Nadler

Women are busier than ever. We are mothers, executives, lawyers, and entrepreneurs so it isn’t a surprise that we often face conflicts in juggling our many roles. We constantly strive to find the perfect balance between home-life and career-life. As a result, our fashion-sense and knowledge of the latest trends take a backseat behind children, hockey practice, and a million other household chores. For many of us, picking out what to wear in the morning is a dreaded task as we race the clock to get dressed and out the door within a five-minute timeframe.

Luckily, our mornings can be much less stress filled and our style much more fashion forward with a few simple tips. Here are a few key items that can be mixed and matched and will take you from the boardroom, to the playground, to an evening out for dinner.

A classic and perfect fitting jean 

It seems that every season a new style of jean emerges. Out goes the skinny jean, and enter in wide-legged trousers only to be switched back next season. However, classic boot-cut or straight leg denim remains a timeless item from season to season. Owning a dark-wash, comfortable, and mid to high rise pair of jeans is essential. A jean with ample stretch will provide the comfort and flexibility you need when picking up toddlers or running to make a lunch meeting on time. A dark denim jean can be dressed up or down by pairing them with heels or runners, a casual tee, or a blazer.

Basic black or boyfriend jacket 

A fitted and tailored black suit jacket will be the best item you will ever purchase. Not only are jackets great for whittling away at your waist but a well constructed jacket can take your boring t-shirt to the next level. By rolling up the sleeves you get a more relaxed and chic approach to the basic black jacket. Also perfect for every season this jacket can serve as a spring and fall jacket by layering underneath it, adding a shawl, or a scarf.

Layering tees and tanks 

Owning a couple long-sleeved and short-sleeved tees and tanks in various colours and lengths are a must. You can layer a tank under a long-sleeved tee and look effortlessly put together. Add a fabulous scarf, interesting belt, or a black jacket and this outfit instantly becomes a perfect look for the office.

A wide belt 

Belts are a must-have accessory in every woman’s wardrobe. A wide black belt can become an important item in your accessory collection if you know how to wear it correctly. Tip: look for a belt that is leather and has an elastic back that allows you to easily move the belt up and down onto your waist or hips. Taking a simple t-shirt with jeans and adding a belt can complete your look instantly. Adding the same belt to a straight sheath dress, or to your black jacket and white blouse adds a touch of class and is an easy way to make your ‘look’ more current.

Follow Erin on Twitter at @betterstyled.

Follow Women’s Post at @WomensPost.

FASHION: Style experts review Ford’s crack announcement outfit

“If I looked as good as him I wouldn’t step down either.”

With the news of Rob Ford’s crack use reverberating around City Hall this week in Toronto only one question remains that even the Toronto Police and the journalistic teams of the city’s best papers haven’t been asking: was Rob Ford wearing the right outfit to announce he has used crack? We consulted with the style experts to find out!

Mayor Ford kept things simple in a black suit when he met reporters for both his proclamation and subsequent press conference. Remember that when the weather begins to get colder more muted tones are always a great way to get your message across. Black and white help RoFo give off an impression of both professionalism and style while apologizing to the people of Toronto for his crack cocaine use.

Rob Ford, a portrait of fashion in Canada. Photo by Canadian Press.

“Don’t be surprised if you see a lot of the girls on Church street wearing XXXL suit jackets with poppies this season,” says Toronto drag queen and tireless fashionista Barbie Jo Bontemps. “Style always seems to trickle down from fashion icons like Ford to the drag queens and then hit the runway in Paris.”

Always remember that for a larger man, black is your best friend. No one was thinking about Ford’s ongoing weight struggle when he wore this number at the crack press conference yesterday!

RoFo also seems to have done away with dress shirts that are his proper neck size and is starting a new trend of leaving the top button undone and covering it with his tie. Keep an eye on this — we may see much of the same at next year’s Fasion Week.

Ford’s simple black suit looks like a rack number from Brooks Brothers or Moore’s, a smart move that gives him all the style without the designer price tag, leaving him with a bit more pocket money to spend freely — and still look good doing it!

One important fashion accessory in the fall is a poppy pin in support of the Royal Canadian Legion. Ford contrasts his black suit jacket well with the red pin. To get the RoFo look and show you care about veterans, freedom, and style at your next big drug related press conference pick up your own pin at many subway stations, shopping centre entrances, and Legion halls near you for as little as a dollar! For an extra bit of flair try to get your hands on the slightly more rare felt covered poppy.

Ford also rocks a City of Toronto pin. While you may have never been mayor or the fourth largest city in North America you can still complete the look. Check out similar broaches on Etsy for around five bucks.

Don’t forget the flare! there is no need to be a bore when holding a press conference about the string of deceit and lies that he fed to voters in the aftermath of his crack tape becoming public knowledge, so Ford spiced up his outfit with an NFL team tie. Multi-coloured ties work great to breakup solid coloured suits on men!

“Vintage NFL ties are in this season.”

“Vintage NFL ties are in this season,” says Toronto based artist and style icon Andrea Pelletier, while wearing her Dallas Texans scarf. Queen West fashionistas have already been seen sporting other Father’s Day gifts as haute fashion lately including re-darned socks and coffee mugs.

The tie gives Ford a chance to have a little fun with the outfit while showing off a bit of his personality. Did you know RoFo coached a highschool football team for a number of years? You do now! By showing off his love of football on his tie Rob is letting us know he’s just a normal guy who loves football and was eventually asked to remove himself from the team he coached due to months of bad press. Try to include a little bit of your own self into the story your clothes tell.

Don’t let your fun tie get out of control! Ford’s multi-coloured neckpiece  straddles the limit, but he made sure not to let the patterns get any busier — his look lets him have a little fun but still be taken seriously as he tells Torontians he has smoked crack and lied about it for half a year.

With his brother Doug flanking him wearing a similar outfit we can’t help but wonder who wore it better, and the tie instantly pushes it in RoFo’s favour. Not since Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have we seen such a stylish set of siblings with their own take on what makes them look good.

“”His graceful elegance and fashion forward thinking were the real takeaway from this press conference,” says Bontemps. “When it comes to fashion, it’s clear that yesterday was a pure victory for Mayor Ford. The public won’t soon forget his debonair portrayal of this season’s latest vestments.”

“If I looked as good as him,” says Bontemps, “I wouldn’t step down either.”


Our verdict on RoFo’s outfit:

5/5 review stars



Follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.


CONTEST: Win a $300 gift certificate to Harry Young Shoes!

Love shoes? Want to support a company that makes a positive contribution to society? Well, you’re in luck because we have the contest and company for you. This October, Harry Young Shoes will donate $5 to the Daily Bread Food Bank for every pair of Munro shoes purchased at the store. And now, Women’s Post and Harry Young Shoes are offering one lucky winner the chance to win a $300 gift certificate to the store. Get your feet moving and enter today!

Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Thursday, October 31st, at 1 p.m.



CONTEST: Win a Christopher Kon bag from the Saddle Bag!

Want to get your hands on the hottest selling bag this season?  Well, Women’s Post and The Saddle Bag are giving you the chance to win this Christopher Kon leather beauty. Plus, as an added bonus, all contest entrants will receive a 15% discount coupon to use towards their purchase of a new handbag at The Saddle Bag (valid until November 30, 2013 and excludes LeSportsac). Support Canadian entrepreneurs and enter today!Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Monday, October 14th, at 5 p.m.


This contest is now closed, thanks for entering!

CONTEST: Win white gold diamond stud earrings

Do you long for more sparkle in your life? Women’s Post is giving one reader the chance to win a pair of white gold diamond stud earrings from Classic Jewellery. Specializing  in custom jewellery design and restyling, Classic Jewellery also provides on-site repairs for both jewellery and watches. Enter today for your chance to win.

Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Friday, August 2nd, at 2 p.m.



WHAT’S HOT: Sleeveless summer whites

This summer’s hot trend is a basic, simple, and trendy look. Sleeveless summer whites are in for all women this year, giving you a chance to show off your guns while looking fresh, airy, and ready for sunshine. Linens, chiffon, and blouses fit the criteria and buttons or zippers work well to ad a little bit of grunge when you wear the tops long and untucked.

Check out these three picks to complete your summer wardrobe,


Sleeveless Blouse — H&M $19.95

Sleeveless Chiffon Blouse — H&M $19.95

Broderie Anglaise Blouse — H&M $34.95



An open letter to Mike Jeffries

Dear Mr. Jeffries,

My name is Andreea Hluscu, and it is fair to say we will never meet. I am writing to you because your latest comments about overweight, unattractive and not-so-cool kids affect me, and if you’re going to publically state that you look down on this group of individuals and refuse to sell your company’s clothing to them, I feel like I need to introduce myself.

I’m not really a cool or attractive kid by your definitions. I have a dry sense of humour, my eyebrows are usually uneven, I have a chipped front tooth that I’m too scared to get fixed, and I have a nervous habit of biting my nails. When I sit down, my thighs expand and I have a few rolls on my stomach that no amount of sit-ups can seem to fix. That being said, I also have a lot of really great qualities. I am educated, I am a kind person, I am loving and I am fortunate to be very loved in my life. I like my sense of humour and my ability to connect with others, and I work very hard because I have a lot of big dreams that I know I will accomplish. Unfortunately, Mr. Jeffries, I am not a size 4 and I probably will never be a size 4, but guess what? I’m still a good person.

Those people you’re putting down, the “not-so-cool” kids? Those happen to be some of the most interesting people I have ever met. They are the people with stories to tell. They are the ones who embrace their differences and are a better person because of all the struggles they have faced in their past. They are the ones with hearts as big as their brains, and if I were you I would be lucky to have those types of individuals wearing your brand.

Mike (I hope you don’t mind I’m calling you Mike!), I did a little bit of research on you and I discovered that you don’t have a child. I can’t say that surprised me. Maybe your comments wouldn’t be as harsh if you saw your own child cry to you after he/she got bullied for not being cool enough or attractive enough. Maybe you would be more accepting if you saw the struggles that young men and women face every day, or if you were aware of the rising rates of depression and eating disorders amongst youth. Maybe you would think twice about making hurtful comments towards human beings and let them decide whether or not they even want to wear your company’s clothing.

By the way, Mike, I own one thing from Abercrombie & Fitch and that’s a pair of sweatpants. In honour of you, I’m going to put them on and eat as much pizza in one sitting as I can.

Women of the week: Kathy Cheng

Do you “buy local”? With the ever-increasing globalization of the market and the growing awareness of the unstable working conditions of overseas factories, the buy local movement is gaining a strong presence in the marketplace.

Kathy Cheng, president of WS & Co., strongly believes in supporting this movement.

“Each time a Canadian buys something that is Made in Canada, they are supporting not only their local economy, but also contributing to the continuation of a skilled workforce – that’s located on our very own soil rather than across the Atlantic.”

One of Canada’s leading apparel manufacturers, WS & Co. maintain a factory here in the Toronto area. As “crusaders for Canadian garment manufacturing,” the company has rejected the potential of increased profit through outsourcing, choosing instead to ensure that their employees are working in an environment protected by the rules and regulations of the Canadian government.

Started by Kathy’s father, Chak Wai Cheng, in 1988, WS & Co was originally a much smaller operation, employing only five seamstresses. Business improved and the company expanded; at its peak, it employed 500 people.

Growing up, Kathy spent a great deal of time in the factory, learning about the various steps of the production process. Then, in 2000, Kathy officially joined the team. It was a change from her previous role in financial consulting, but she feels it was the right thing to do.

“The factory and those who make it successful have allowed me to experience many privileges over the course of my life. So when my dad asked me to join in the family business, I believed this was my opportunity to give back,” she says.

In 2009, after surviving two recessions, the company went through a re-structuring process. Debra Tse and Gary Cheng, Kathy’s aunt and uncle and co-founders of the company, retired and Kathy became her father’s new business partner.

Her role was “to put a North American spin on a traditionally Chinese company and explore a new revenue stream for the factory.” It was at this point that Redwood Classics Apparel, WS & Co.’s in-stock apparel line, was created. The website for this division has proven to be very successful, increasing its search engine presence by 650% since its launch in 2009.

But Kathy’s pride and joy is a new division of Redwoods Classics, the Heritage Collection.

“Featuring a limited-edition lineup of classic fits, vintage colours and retro styles for men and women, the collection is proudly designed and manufactured in Canada with principles rooted in quality and integrity. The line is really a tribute to the preservation of our country’ craftsmen.”

The collection is being launched at an apt time. Given recent world events in the manufacturing industry and the increasing awareness of consumers as to where their products come from, WS & Co. is in the position to “expand and thrive” with their socially-conscious collection.

But expansion is about more than just the product, and Kathy is quick to point this out.  Redwood Classics chose to partner with the Pay It Forward movement, giving a white bracelet to those who purchase a PIF x RW Kangaroo Hoody.

“[It] is a physical reminder to do good. It’s that simple: give someone the bracelet and ask them to pay it forward,” she explains.

As the market changes in the coming years, Kathy and WS & Co. will adapt and thrive, thanks to her clear understanding of the new world order.

“Business is no longer just about the bottom line. It’s about people first, the planet second and profit third. For a positive and fruitful business environment, all three of these components must be present.”

Win a Tilley Weekender bag

Women’s Post is offering one lucky reader the chance to win a Tilley Weekender Bag. Stylish and functional, this bag features leather handles, a detachable leather shoulder strap and zippered interior pockets. Enter today for your chance to win.


Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Wednesday, May 22nd, at 4 p.m.