Professional Packing Light (and cute)

I once led a roundtable discussion at a tech conference, where men are very typically decked out in faded jeans and t-shirts, (possibly with a blazer thrown on top). So, I, too,  adopted the casual, “I’m friendly and approachable look” and wore nice, new dark jeans, a nice professional-looking blouse and a tailored black blazer.  I was stunned when feedback from the session included a comment that stung:  “she wore jeans – very unprofessional.”

[Theatrical sigh.] I wish that I could be like the cool men at these event….But  – alas, the gender divide exists.

I’ve always known appearance matters – you know, dress for the job you want, not the job you have. I just thought I could blend in with the other jean-wearers. No dice. Gosh, how I envy the guys who can pack for a week in one tiny carry on because no one will know they’re wearing the same pants/jeans and shoes everyday.

A little retail therapy seemed in order…so, here’s what I’ll be packing this spring.


  1. Ann Taylor All Season Stretch Split Neck Shift – light weight, packable, looks good with heels or flats, adorned with jewelry or plain, and takes up very little suitcase space.
  2. Ann Taylor All Season Stretch Pocket Top – same fabric as dress and – when paired with the matching ankle pants (below) is trendy, casual, yet a polished look – especially with heels.
  3. Ann Taylor Devin All Season Stretch Ankle Pants – A great investment in midnight blue that will look great dressed up or dressed down; with enough stretch to make a long flight more comfortable – and trendy with that new ankle length that works well with heels or flats.
  4. A splash of color and fun with Loft’s Statement Necklace in hues of yellow, blue, orange and crystal.
  5. Banana Republic’s Mixed Media Peplum Tee in Preppy Navy – as a topper for my skirt, pants or shorts – comfy and packable.
  6. Loft’s tie neck soft blouse in dusty cornflower – which will look awesome with jeans for a casual evening out with colleagues or as a top with my Midnight Ann Taylor Slacks or Loft Ankle Pants (in # 12).
  7. Loft’s White Lacey Peasant Blouse will give me a classic – yet stylish look with any bottom.
  8. Love, love, love this Banana Republic Double-Breasted Chambray Light Wool Blazer in “Spa Blue.” (Even the color says “ahhhhh!”) – and have already worn this to a meeting with the Floral Pencil Skirt (#9) and Peplum Tee (#5).  Just the right weight for the current weather – and travels well!
  9. This Floral Pencil Skirt, also from Banana Republic, was a steal on their sales rack ($118 down to $26) – and, therefore, I could simply not pass up the exotic and non-traditional pattern for office attire.  The fit and length is perfect – very classy.  And – bonus! – I sat in the car for an hour and a half driving to my meeting and arrived looking crisp – not wrinkled – and happy.
  10. My go-to flats for long days on conference show floors will be this Ann Klein Ottila Flat in tan suede.  Trendy lace up with a comfort sole, I am banking on wearing these with slacks, shorts, skirts and dresses for a more casual look – or just for  plain comfort.
  11. I got this top for a pop of color in my otherwise BLUE wardrobe.  This Ann Taylor basic fluid tee will pack well and blend with anything from shorts to jeans to skirts and trousers.
  12. A second pair of trousers is always a requirement.  These Loft Kate Ankle Pants are in a shade known as “pearl sand” — a very light tan shade that will be complimented by my various shades of blue tops. Like most of my other clothing choices, these well-tailored trousers have comfort built in.
  13. Even business trips need a pair of shorts — especially in hot climates.  The challenge is how to sport these hot weather favorites in a business setting.  I chose a pair of Ann Taylor Metro Shorts in a slightly longer – yet fashionable – length. (Still – I promise – they won’t make an appearance at any sessions I’m leading!)
  14. Tumi takes me places in style and comfort.  I carry a Tumi tote today in burnt orange — but THIS Tumi Voyageur Q-Tote happens to blend in with my spring wardrobe and will hold my laptop, chargers, snacks, carry-on toiletries, cosmetics and even a rolled up sweater for chilly plane rides. The pocket that slips over the handle of my suitcase is a treasure, making running through the airport a breeze. ❤
  15. Last, but not least, my highly impractical, GORGEOUS Carson Tassel Suede Pumps in black from Ann Taylor will NOT be on my feet dashing through airports, but will look slick with my dresses, skirts and trousers.

And – that – my dear friends — is how one responds to criticism of one’s attire. 😉


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