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1. I think with shoes, you may have to go for "funky" rather than "sexy." I have seen pointy toed flats, which look kind of cool with a pantsuit with the right leg length and might walk that line between cute/pretty/sexy and "ohmigod, please just amputate my feet." Skirt suits are harder, and so I just avoid them. Loafery shoes with a heel also can be "funky" but not ridiculously uncomfortable. I would counsel avoiding mules for work. I think a person looks silly shuffling around trying to keep her cute shoes on, rather than striding confidently about.

2. Hair. Hmm. It can be done both ways. Our director of research has a big mane of beautiful hair that she sometimes wears down, sometimes pulls back into a thick braid, sometimes in a bun/pony tail. I have longish hair (for similar reasons to your stated desires) and when I have a meeting I pull it back in a simple, mid-head ponytail (no bangs), or I pull half back in a subdued tortoise or metal barrette. When I speak to groups, I'll either do low ponytail, or hair straight, and tucked behind the ears. I also have layers in my hair (but light ones, nothing dramatic) that gives my hair, when down, some "interest."

You couldn't pay me to cut bangs. Too much work.

I think the short hair professional woman thing comes from the fact that long hair often looks "young" (to some) and shorter hair is considered at least by my hairstylist, to be more flattering as you get older. Thus, professional women mentors often have shorter hair.

I think long, professional neat hair is just as acceptable for young, smart professional women. Neat is the operative word, however you do it. In more formal workplaces, (not mine, thankfully) that may mean drying your hair before you go to work, which is probably just as much work as styling short hair.

I've had short and long hair, and I have an easier time making the long hair look good. But I also have a great hair guy, who gives me a great, no fuss haircut everytime, and I suspect that makes a lot of difference.


About the shoes--avoid the mules, but you can find details that make black pumps more interesting. Look for slingbacks, kitten heels (surprisingly comfortable to walk in), details at the toe (but not too cute, just classy), topstitching, straps at the ankle or across the instep, and other fun things. Also, finding a brand of shoe that works for you is really important. Everything Nine West has ever made fits my feet beautifully--but the last that they use at Aldo just doesn't work for me. In terms of hair, get a good hairdresser to give you a solid lesson in French twists, chignons, or whatever works for you. I think women with long hair pulled back into a bun (or their version thereof) look professional and classy and sophisticated in a way that short hair doesn't always pull off. And that way you keep it long for off-hours. If you ever watched Ally McBeal, think about Portia DeRossi's hair in the early years--tightly pulled back, completely professional, and gorgeous.


I liked your hair best when it was short and layered and kind of flippy, as in the big headshot of you we have in our hallway. However, I can see how you'd want to keep your guy-allure options open by having it long. Maybe that guy in the Mall hairdressing shop who gave you the great short haircut, could help with long hair styling.

And I'm always up for going to get some new courtly suits.


At the shoe store I was pretty mesmerized by these
although I didn't end up getting them, and wasn't even sure they were flattering. They were, however, very unique and funky and really comfortable. But not "cute" nor "conservative," both of which are criteria. And unfortunately, I can't really duck the necessity of skirt suits from time to time.

Chan S.

Shoes - I don't know anyone who does cute+conservative+comfortable better than Aerosoles. Hair - I'd go with the bun or chignon for workplace mufti, but can't speak from personal experience, as I've been quite closely shorn since becoming a mom lo these many years ago. :D


Just a question: Why does everyone's mother like their hair short? My mom keeps trying to tell me that my hair was so adorable in college when it was chin length and flippy. I keep trying to tell her that it wasn't the hair that was adorable, it was me, in my younger and more carefree (read: less legal) incarnation!

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