Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Polished Casual, a Guest Post

Polished Funky Casual, a Guest Post

How thrilling to be a guest on StartCloseIn! I was so flattered to be asked to contribute something about my point of view on style this week. You'll probably recognize some serious Ella-influences in my post (ahem, three elements to an outfit...)

Last week I began a new job as General Manager of a tapas-style Spanish restaurant in the West Chelsea neighborhood of New York. I have been working as a restaurant manager for the last several years and it's thrilling to be taking this step forward in my career. While a lot of my day to day work looks like any work- which is to say it looks like spreadsheets- the highlight of my job is working service. Even on a rainy Tuesday, every person who walks through our doors in expecting a fun night out. It's a wonderful energy to have as a daily influence.    
You won't be surprised to learn that the question is: what the heck do I wear for this job?! My role is a lot about setting a tone for my staff and our guests. It's important to me that guests who might have a problem (a hopefully rare occurrence!) immediately recognize me as a responsible, professional authority in the restaurant. In a more formal restaurant managers wear suits to work everyday. In my restaurant a suit would be totally tone deaf. I'd look more like a clueless undercover cop than a manager. In my vision of a great restaurant, the staff are a seamless part of the dining ambiance. So the criteria are: 1) recognizably professional, 2) not corporate or formal, 3) fun! (but not too sexy or casual). 

Tough right? I have developed a strategy for creating appropriate work outfits. You could say that it's a sort of equation based on the criteria above. Take one piece that is formal, one that is casual, and one that is fun, combine, and hope that you have shoes to go with it!

In the first outfit, the formal piece is a blazer. This one is a sale find from Urban Outfitters and has a racy leopard print lining. In my book, blazers read as serious no matter what. For my casual piece I chose my favorite summer maxi dresses with a beautiful batik print- totally hippy, casual. For a bit of fun I chose these long black feathered earrings. 
They're dramatic but not over the top and add a bit of dressy-going out fun to the ensemble. This outfit also uses lots of different dark tones. The navy/black of the blazer and the brown/black of the dress. I love not having to choose just one! I'll wear this on a weekend night when our guests tend to be a bit more dressed up. 

In the second outfit I have the "business on the bottom" with a navy sweater knit pencil skirt. In the past I have styled it with a blazer and and it comes very close to looking like a suit.  Next I add a super easy going denim, cowboy-style button down. It has snaps! The most casual of all fasteners. Finally, my fun element is this green and silver statement necklace. A dear friend got it for me years ago and the color is so vivid. It breaks up the blue on blue of the skirt and top a bit also. This is a great outfit for a Tuesday or Wednesday evening. 

Et voila! Two outfits ready to welcome guests, open wine, fix toilets, interview cooks, compute sales, and all manner of other tasks that might come at me in a day.

In a perfect world, my equation would mean getting dressed in the morning is a simple, stress free enterprise. But in this imperfect world, we have to wear shoes. 90% of the time I end up wearing the boring, unsupportive black ballet flats that live in my office. Hopefully Ella will devote a post to cute/professional/comfortable shoes soon! ;)
Thanks, Rose! What fun to get a glimpse into your life-and your wardrobe! Congratulations on the new job! -Ella

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