Backpack to Blazer

The ICE Institute and Women in Business recently hosted Backpack to Blazer, the mission of the event was to teach young women how to dress professionally, appropriately and yet, still fashionably. The biggest question female students face is “What do I wear?” when presented with professional events. Professional dress varies with industry and business causal is an even bigger mystery. Women are lucky to have a multitude of clothing options, however, they are also faced with greater scrutiny for what they wear. Having so many options can often be overwhelming. The large amount of options accompanied with finding something that is professional and appropriate is often a seemingly impossible task. Further, trying to find outfits that don’t look like something you’ve taken them out of your grandmother’s closet is a big challenge. Backpack to Blazer wanted to show students you can still look and feel like yourself while also helping to maintain your own personal brand.

Lisa Taylor Richey, is a business etiquette expert, and business woman who founded The American Academy of Etiquette. With the help of models, and clothes donated by Nordstrom, Lisa was able to show the students actual examples of what they could wear on fellow students making this foreign concept more relatable. One of Lisa’s biggest points was to buy investment pieces. In other words find a nice, well-fitting basics that can be paired with more inexpensive clothes that can be rotated and updated. In addition, she said having a blazer (an investment piece) always on hand can enable you to dress up any outfit in the event. For example if you are working in the office and you are suddenly invited to dinner with the CFO you can make sure that you look appropriate for the occasion. Lisa also had all the students repeat “closed toed shoes, closed toed shoes, close toed shoes.” Wearing open toed shoes takes away from your professionalism because they are associated with a more relaxed atmosphere. It is also important to find clothes that fit properly and that are not too low cut or too short. Overall, the best thing Lisa said was to be comfortable in what you’re wearing. You want to feel as if you are still you in the clothes you wear.

Lisa also taught the students that once you’re dressed correctly it is important to then carry yourself confidently. The clothes do nothing to make you stand out if you are not confident in your abilities. It is important to shake hands firmly and stand up tall. Lisa pointed out that women and men are equals in the workplace and women no longer have to prove themselves as “one of the guys” by wearing the suits most commonly seen in the 80’s. It is not only acceptable, but also celebrated to be feminine and confident. Business to Blazer’s goal was to allow young women to feel confident in what they wear so that when it comes to work they don’t have to even think about their clothes or hair. Rather, they can focus on their work and be confident inside and out.