It’s 90 degrees outside, beads of perspiration form; the natural reaction is to shed layers and expose skin, but this is not an option for women at work.

It’s 90 degrees outside, beads of perspiration form; the natural reaction is to shed layers and expose skin, but this is not an option for women at work.

Fashionista Tamika Nurse is the well-known author of “It Girl Rules,” a handbook that offers women advice on everything from tailoring to dressing for success. She is also the CEO of It Girl Industries, a business that conducts workshops on business etiquette, personal branding, vision mapping and dressing for success.

She understands that women want to show some skin when the temperatures rise, but stresses there must be a level of appropriateness. “Ultimately it’s about looking professional, like you have respect for yourself, that you’re mature, that there’s no question about what you’re bringing to the table,” Nurse said.

Each company’s dress code policy is different, so speaking in general terms, Nurse has a list of “Don’ts” for women when it comes to dressing for work this season.

When wearing open-toed shoes don’t show all five toes, but instead, limit the opening to the big toe and second toe and “make sure you have clean nails even if they’re not polished, make sure you have a pedicure,” she said.

Cleavage should never be shown, no matter how high the temperature is outside, said Nurse.

“I have a section on style and work and I talk about no cleavage, that’s huge. Whether it’s hot or not, no cleavage,” she said.

Nurse stressed the tradition still stands for dresses and skirts. The hem should end in the knee area, anything higher is considered inappropriate. It’s also important to be aware of where the split ends.

“Some women have the length close to the knee, but if the split in the back is in the mid-thigh, then you have a mini-skirt so that’s still not quite the right focus,” she said.

As of late, pencil skirts have been popping up under the guise of a professional look. The color and pattern is an exact replica of the more traditional skirt such as solid colors or pinstripes, but the issue is in the length and the split.

She explained there are two common styles of splits. The standard split and the vented split.

The standard split comes out from the seam in the back and goes straight up the skirt. The vented split is where the fabric on both sides of the split sit on top of each other, but it “vents” when the woman walks.

“If it’s a vented split you can get away with maybe the split being in the mid-thigh because when you stand it doesn’t really open that much because it’s almost like the split is sort of camouflaged,” Nurse said. “If the split is at the mid-thigh, even if you bend over a little bit all your business is out there and I think that’s very inappropriate.”

Some companies offer a dress down day, but even on casual Fridays, leggings should not be worn. “I think it’s just a little too revealing and I’ve seen many women not do it right. It looks extremely sexy and that’s not the goal in the work place ever,” she said.

She says the best way to not bend any dress codes is to look around and see what other people in the office are wearing.

“Check to see what the senior management is wearing and maybe just emulate what they’re doing as the que to what you should be doing or at least [let it] give you a gage of what’s appropriate and what’s not,” said Nurse.

Since women have more options than men in the office, the line gets blurry, but the best advice Nurse gives is to not wear it if there‘s any doubt.

“If a woman thinks, ‘I’m not sure,’ then it’s probably inappropriate,” she said.

Fashion should be fun and creative, not confining and dull.

Nurse loves the summer colors and says that bright oranges and blues are definitely in this season. Trends are great, but she likes to look at them for inspiration.

“I think trends are good for inspiration, but trends come and go so you still have to figure out what works for you,” she said. “I always like to look at magazines to get inspiration and ideas about what colors might work for me because every color doesn’t work for everybody.”

Nurse has a long list of fashion do’s and don’ts, which she addresses in It Girl Rules.

Some tips she likes to share are:

ƒ Have store-bought clothes tailored,

ƒ Layer

ƒ Wear breathable fabrics in warmer climates like silks, linens and cottons

ƒ Store a neutral color cardigan or jacket in the office to help with the air-conditioned climate

ƒ Wear short-sleeved jackets and cropped pants to stay cool, but look professional

ƒ Be aware of panty-lines and ensure bras are properly sized

ƒ Shave legs if hosiery isn’t worn

Nurse holds a Bachelor’s in accounting and an MBA in marketing. She has been able to combine her corporate background with her brief modeling and pageantry background. Both paths of her life helped her write the book and provide professional fashion advice to others.


Copyright 2012 Chicago Defender

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