Be Runway Ready at Work: Tips from Nina Garcia of 'Project Runway'

Just because Nina Garcia is a glamorous fashion editor and judge on 'Project Runway' doesn't mean she's incapable of understanding and helping us regular girls with our everyday needs. The fashion maven has recently come out with a fashion guide for all of us, 'Nina Garcia's Look Book: What to Wear for Every Occasion,' in which she gives us advice on how to look great in any situation, from a job interview to therapy to a funeral, but hopefully not on the same day.

Garcia dedicates a complete chapter to what to wear to work, since that's where many adults spend up to 40 percent of their waking hours. "Never upstage the boss," she cautions. And, quoting Edith Head, one of the world's greatest costume designers, she says, "The basic elements of any businesswoman's wardrobe should rely on this trio: simple, casual suits, tailored dresses, and good separates."

Here is but a tiny sampling of Garcia's tips from each of some of her workplace categories:

What to wear to a job interview

A woman who walks into a room wearing a chic, modern take on the classic suit is immediately in the game.

  • Your bag should go with your ensemble without being too matchy-matchy, and it should be very, very neat.
  • Even in the middle of summer, a jacket is a must to pull your outfit together.

What to wear on the first day of work

  • The key word is details... Expect to be scrutinized by just about everyone during the first week or two.
  • There's something about a crisp, collared, button-down shirt that makes us stand up a little straighter.
  • A blow-dry is a must. Nothing compares to the polish and shine of properly blown out hair.

What to wear on the average day
  • Dressing for the average day is about springboarding into who you want to become next.
  • The key is to look pulled together and polished: Be neat, relevant and modern.
  • Break up your suit by pairing the jacket with a black, knee-length skirt.

What to wear on casual Friday
  • I prefer not to take advantage of casual Friday...[it] seems to me like a fashion disaster waiting to happen.
  • ... the most important wardrobe consideration women have on Friday is how to transition from the office to happy hour and the weekend.
  • Peel away your day look to reveal a glamorous, glitzy outfit, and you'll be ready to start your weekend in under 15 minutes.

What to wear to an important meeting or presentation
  • Whenever an important presentation or meeting looms, it's time to bring out the power suit... an outfit that perfectly captures the energy of your professional efforts.
  • Don't be afraid of slightly overdressing.
  • I cannot stress enough the importance of quality and construction when dressing for a presentation.

What to wear when asking for a raise

You have to look unstoppable, and, even more important, you have to feel unstoppable.

  • Wear strong, assertive shoes that force you to stand a bit straighter and taller when you stride confidently into your boss's office.
  • Gray connotes strength. Black is also a great "I mean business" color.

What to wear when you work from home
  • Getting dressed and ready to begin the day at a specific time enables you to be more productive.
  • Take the freedom your work environment affords you and experiment with new looks each day.
  • The more you schlep around in your drawstring pants and boyfriend tees, the less you're going to be able to pull your look together when necessary.

wear-to-workThis, of course, is just a tiny sample of the many categories Garcia covers in her book. When it comes to work, she also instructs on what to wear to an office party and what to wear on a business trip. Outside the workplace, you'll find suggestions for the right look for a date, daytime activities like shopping and volunteering, nighttime activities from wine tastings to rock concerts, holidays, life events like jury duty and baby showers, and weddings.

Since the book focuses mostly on timeless classics and shuns the trend du jour, it's going to last quite some time. To use a phrase from Heidi Klum, Garcia's colleague on 'Runway,' the guide will help you know, without a doubt, whether "you're in, or you're out."

Next:Makeovers Bringing Confidence to Job Seekers

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