Wardrobe 101

Off the Shoulder!

Happy day, dear reader!

It is hard to go anywhere this past year without falling all over the off-the-shoulder (or it’s younger sister the cold-shoulder) top, tunic, or dress. They are absolutely everywhere! They are cute. They are sassy. They show off a body part that stays appealing longer than many others as we age. What’s not to love?

If you are an off-the-shoulder top wearing woman, knock it out of the park, but please be aware that this look is not appropriate everywhere you go. What? I know… Search Pinterest for work looks, and you will see off the shoulder tops, and leggings as pants. (Addressed in a previous post…) Pinterest may be the gospel for wedding shower crafts, and birthday decorations, but please, before you throw that cute top on for work, let’s talk about the message you may be sending.

A few months ago, I was attending a business networking event. At one point (in typical fashion), everyone was called on to stand up, tell their name, what they do, and what they needed from the others that coming month. There was a beautiful woman across the room, wearing trousers, pumps, and an off the shoulder top. Unusual at a business event, but I assumed she worked in style or fashion, maybe a salon owner, or a beauty products vendor. When she stood, and told us that she was a mortgage banker, my mouth literally dropped open. (Not suave, or refined, I know.) Banking tends to more conservative dress codes, for this reason: if you want people to give you their money, you need to look like you can be trusted with it. The disconnect between her request for borrower referrals and the going out on a date look made it hard to take her seriously as a banking professional. The same can be said other big money businesses, like real estate. If you want me to make a 30 year commitment, and sign a document whose name derives from the words death pledge (Yes, that is what mortgage means!), I’d appreciate it if you didn’t look like you were heading to the beach before the ink dries!

Full disclosure: This probably sounds like sour grapes, since I can’t wear strapless tops and dresses. (The one above I wear wide, but not off the shoulders!) A supportive and comfortable strapless bra in my size has been impossible to find. That’s okay, I will not die if I can’t wear a strapless top because: match the bra issue with modesty as one of my top values, and strapless or off-the-shoulder falls right off my buying radar, except for a date out with Mr. Closetplay. (Thank you, Swami Ratnamurti!)

Speaking of falling off… I hate to be the bearer of obvious news (not usually to the wearer), but a strapless top keeps about half the population in suspense, hoping it will fall off, or slip to the side for a glimpse of something interesting. If distracting almost half the population is the point of dressing for work, wear that little number to the office. Otherwise, think twice. You know your workplace. Look at the men’s dress. If they are not showing off their bare shoulders and collarbones, off-the-shoulder is probably not a good choice. Even cold-shoulders and slit sleeves are too risque for many business places. If you want to keep business business, save the off-the-shoulder look for after work, or on the weekends.

So how about you? Do you love the off-the-shoulder look? How about the cold-shoulder? How does it fit with your lifestyle? If they aren’t your cup of tea, why not? There is no right answer here, just a space for conversation. Let’s start one below!

Stylishly yours,

Many thanks to Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for hosting her weekend Link-Up! I love to find new bloggers there.

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