Category Archives: What’s Your Cubicle Chic?

What’s Your Cubicle Chic?

Melissa Finell: Freelancer in Film & TV / Indie Filmmaker

Young filmmakers like Melissa often become a jack-of-all-trades in their industry. When directing your own movies, you usually have to take on additional roles depending on who is available and willing to share their talents. Your roles could include anything from director, to caterer, to actor, to driver, to editor – and the list probably goes on. Plus, when you’re working on someone else’s movie or TV show, the possible job titles include production assistant, script supervisor, production secretary, accounting clerk… etc. You basically have to be able to do everything!

With such a multitude of responsibilities, it is no surprise that when it comes time to describe exactly what you do to someone (such as the Cubicle Chic ladies), well, filmmaker is both the simplest and most inclusive answer to give. So we can’t wait for the day when this stylish filmmaker is garnering Oscar nods, because we’ll be able to say that we not only knew her but profiled her “back in the day”.

What defines your personal style?

I think my style is a combination of preppy and urban. I love that classic, collegiate/prep school look – rugby shirts, sweater vests, tie clips, blazers, argyle, elbow patches, boat shoes and I could go on. I never wear more than one or two of these items in a single outfit – that would be overdoing it – I like to mix them up with more everyday, “urban” pieces like jeans, sneakers, a leather jacket, or a graphic tee. Otherwise I’d end up looking like Andy from The Office.

What do you love about the looks that you wore for the “What’s Your Cubicle Chic” shoot?

I think this outfit makes an impression. It’s fun but also sophisticated, and it definitely shows my personality and style. When I first saw the cardigan at Top Man in SoHo, I just had to have it and was pleased they carry XXS since it’s a Men’s sweater and wouldn’t have fit otherwise! It’s elegant and tailored with a bit of a vintage feel. The red trim adds a touch of flare. Like the red trim on my gray sweater, the bright green accents on my gray Nikes definitely add spunk to the outfit. I bought my headphones to match the Swoosh on my sneakers. I can never get those tiny earbuds to stay in my ears, so they’re great for the commute out to the studios in Brooklyn and Queens and can also double as monitoring headphones when recording sound on set.

Do you have any signature or favorite go-to items you couldn’t live without?

I love jeans (both skinny and straight-leg) and wear them almost every day. The sneakers I wore for this post are also pretty much glued to my feet these days. Other go-to items in my wardrobe include a large selection of striped polos, plaid shirts, vests, graphic tees (my Batman and Where The Wild Things Are tees are my current favorites) and the occasional blazer or leather jacket. A lot of the things I own can be mixed and matched, and it’s fun to play with colors, patterns and layers.

Where do you get your style inspiration?

I’ve always been drawn to 60’s-era classic, tailored menswear. Whenever I watch Mad Men I get total fashion envy. Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl is another example. Probably the best overall style icon for me is Ellen DeGeneres. There’s a playfulness to her look that I’d love to capture. She incorporates some traditionally male items like ties and vests but does so in a very fun and endearing way, rather than looking severe or imposing. She wears clothes very well and – most importantly – always seems very much herself in what she wears, whether she’s on her show or the Red Carpet.

Have you ever made some fashion faux-pas that you now regret?

I can definitely look back at some things I used to wear and cringe, either because it was unflattering or just not me. One particular time I regret was in my first year of college when I first started experimenting with wearing ties. I had this outfit that basically involved jeans or black pants, a black shirt and this gray tie I borrowed from a friend (who also had to tie it for me). I thought I was being so cool and edgy, but looking back I think the combination of my gender and the gray tie on the solid black shirt made me look much more like a waitress than a party-goer!

What’s the best part of living, working and integrating your style into your life in NYC?

I grew up in New York and have always idolized the city. I love the theater, comedy and indie film scenes that thrive here. I love people-watching on the subway, the streets and in Central Park. I love the bagels, delis, diners and old buildings. As a filmmaker in New York, I feel surrounded by a community of artists who inspire, encourage and teach me. I never lack people to collaborate with or get creative feedback from. Just walking around the city, I constantly stumble upon locations from movies by great New York filmmakers like Woody Allen or Scorsese. In terms of style, I find it pretty easy to be myself here. NYC is diverse in terms of gender expression. In some other parts of the country, I might get more unpleasant looks from people on the street or under breath comments for wearing certain things in my wardrobe, but here in New York, androgyny is alive and well for both men and women. Plus, in the city there are always people weirder than you and nobody pays attention anyway, so you should just wear what you want!

What’s the most difficult part? 😉

Probably the cost of living. I wish I could devote myself fully to working on my own projects rather than having to work on big productions to make a living, but New York is expensive and like everyone else I need to pay the rent. In another city I’d probably be able to work less and spend more time on my own films, but then I’d also be sacrificing the inspiration I get from New York and the contacts I get from working in the industry here.

Has working in the television and movie industry affected your wardrobe choices?

Not very much, actually. Most of the clothing I like to wear is totally appropriate in a production environment. It’s a very casual industry, and if you’re working on set your clothing needs to be comfortable. A lot of my friends in other professions can’t wear sneakers to work, but in mine that’s the norm. Some of my women colleagues whose style is more feminine than mine have a more dramatic difference between what they wear on set and when they go out (you can’t wear skirts or heels on set!), but for me it’s a pretty good match. Certain things I wear do have to be toned down to be functional on set. For example, the outfit I wore for this post would be fine in the production office or at a meeting, but if I were spending the day on set I’d probably take the sweater off to protect it and just wear the jeans and t-shirt underneath. Also, after working on a particular shoot for long enough, with hours on set ranging from 12 to 16 per day, complete physical exhaustion takes over after a certain point, and I’m lucky if what I’m wearing is clean and not accidentally inside-out.

Any advice for looking your best in the movie/television world for aspiring filmmakers?

I think the most important thing is to be yourself and try to let your unique personality show. It’s a very social industry and there are a lot of people with similar qualifications trying to break in. It’s important to make a strong and lasting impression and try to stick out in people’s minds. In the film/TV industry, you’re selling yourself – your creativity, personality and overall style. Film people are very visual, for obvious reasons, so it makes sense that your physical presentation is part of that overall picture of you. It’s important to know your place, but at the same time to have confidence and not fade into the background.

 

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What’s Your Cubicle Chic?

Dawa Lhatsamtsang: The Financial Analyst

Cubicle Chic found a kindred spirit in Dawa! Not only does she work in the corporate world like yours truly (she’s in finance), but she enjoys experimenting with colors and styles in her work wardrobe, too. If Cubicle Chic ever needed a third stylish lady, Dawa would be the perfect fit!

Dawa brought along two of her favorite outfits to share with us because sometimes it’s nearly impossible to decide which of your looks ranks the highest. We all had a fabulous time snapping photos around the East Village and discussing the pros and cons of the workplace and commuting in New York City. Conclusion? Sometimes you get caught up in the gloomy and cynical side of things, but you have to keep everything in perspective and maintain your positive attitude. Plus, wearing a colorful blouse or cute heels to work can absolutely be mood boosters!

Earth Tones

What defines your personal style?

My style is classic – I usually go for smarts cuts and fits. But every once in a while I like to change things up and will go away from my comfort zone. However, I always like to feel comfortable in anything I wear. Anything that looks simple and easy is where I put my money.

What do you love about the looks that you wore for the “What’s Your Cubicle Chic?” shoot?

I wore a green DVF wrap dress (don’t know the name of the dress because I snagged it at a sample sale), and for the second look I wore a burnt orange shirt with beautiful bowtie details and a beige skirt. I love the versatility of my DVF dress – I can wear it for an occasion, from shopping to dinner to a night out. It is fun and feminine! The orange shirt was also picked up at a sale, this time at J.Crew. I love the color of the shirt and it’s especially apt for summer! The color makes you look fresh and bright. The popular image people have is that women in finance can only wear gray, brown, blue or black (basically muted neutrals). This is true to a certain extent, but also false. I think women in finance wear clothes that span the entire color spectrum, especially during the summer! One of my favorite sightings was a woman at work wearing a hot red summer dress with a cinched waistline. It was all “va va voom!” but did not look inappropriate at all.

Do you have any signature or favorite go-to items you couldn’t live without?

A black dress from Zara! A black dress is like a blank canvas. It can be paired with any color! When I am in a rush, I usually wear my black dress and reach for the nearest cardigan without stopping to think of the color combo.

Where do you get your style inspiration?

I do not consider myself a fashionable person. I don’t follow trends. What I really look for in an ensemble is how the colors mix and match. I think part of my obsession with color has to do with my Tibetan upbringing. I grew up in small Tibetan Refugee Community in Northern India. Until my late teens, married Tibetan women in my town only wore the Tibetan Chuba (a Tibetan style kimono minus all the frills would be the closest comparison) paired usually with a blouse. I grew up watching my mother meticulously pair her blouse with her chuba. She always looked great! These women did not have a choice in silhouette, but capitalized on colors and always looked great. So I have always admired women with a great sense of color.

Have you ever made a fashion faux-pas that you now regret?

Yes! Too many to count. A lot of attempts at wow-inducing fashion gone wrong. I once wore a dark green silk dress with black tights and a neon green wedge peep toe. Black tights with a peep toe is fashion suicide on its own, but matching the dark green dress with a different shade of green shoe was absolutely horrific. I guess I was channeling a leprechaun??!

What’s the best part of living, working and integrating your style into your life in NYC?

The best part about living in NYC is that you have access to a lot of shopping options. The city has plenty of discount clothing stores which are perfect for a bargain shopper like myself. In addition, there are always a lot of shopping events happening in the city. The DVF sample sale is a riot! If you are in the mood to splurge, you have Barney’s and Bergdorf’s. You’ll never see me there! I also get my DailyCandy emails that give an update on sales and shopping events in the city. I also love the city because it almost encourages you to be more experimental with your clothes. I get that sense that there is no one judging you, however, a serious wardrobe malfunction obviously attracts a lot of furtive glances.

What’s the most difficult part?

The commute to work can be pretty ugly in the morning. There is a high chance your starchy white shirt will get dirty.

Any style tips for aspiring financial analysts?

A dash of color can be an instant mood booster!

How does being female in a male-dominated industry affect your sense of style?

I don’t think being a female in finance particularly affects my sense of style. Just being a professional, I think you have to honor some work fashion protocols which can be broadly applied across all professions. Fashion dictum at work – less is more, perhaps?

Iconic DVF

Thanks Dawa!!

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What’s Your Cubicle Chic?

Pink Brick House

We were lucky enough to meet the ladies of Pink Brick House at a Sammy Davis Vintage sale (naturally) this past spring. After chatting them up, we realized that we are both duos, have a common interest in providing inspiration to women and that we all genuinely love what we do… suggesting a collaboration just seemed natural! Their photo shoot occurred at two of their favorite working locations: Jasmine’s East Village apartment and a cute cafe on Avenue A and 12th Street, Table 12 {read: free wifi}. Pink Brick House is more than just a website: it’s a venture that strives to empower women through media, style and culture. They both also do their own things in addition to operating PBH: Kristen freelances as an ad copywriter and Jasmine works with artists at Project for Empty Space.

Kristen Dolle, Creative Superstar

Jasmine Wahi, Businesswoman Extraordinaire

What defines your personal style?

Kristen: Inspiration and energy. I get so excited by New York and the life I lead here, I can’t help but wear bright colors and fun outfits.

Jasmine: I live by a code of discriminating tastes. When it comes to fashion, I’m all about black and sophisticated pieces accentuated with fantastic accessories and shoes.

Does your style change for your work outside of PBH?

K: Yes. I’ve found that most of the professional world is ruled by convention, so if I’m working as an employee on someone else’s turf, I’m most likely toning myself down, wearing lots of gray, white and black to fit in. But, I never hide my purple hair!

J: Nope, and thank God. I don’t have to go to someone else’s office, so I’m able to be 100% me at all times.

Do you feel like your state of dress or working environment has an effect on your work?

K: I dress for the moment and align my clothes and atmosphere to whatever I’m trying to achieve. If I have to write or code, I’m in sweats, in my apartment, in the wee hours of the night. If I need inspiration, I’m usually in a dress, dreaming in a café or frolicking around town. I’m really sensitive to energy, so all the details in my surroundings matter to me.

J: No, as I said, I’m really fortunate that I can work comfortably all the time.

What was your favorite item your wore during the “What’s Your Cubicle Chic” shoot?

K: I think my favorite thing was my turtle necklace. It’s a little treasure I found by surprise for $2 in a Maryland thrift shop. I’m not too crazy about the chain (it’s a bit disproportionate to the turtle), but his little face and personality are so precious, every time I look down and see him, I’m happy.

J: My leggings – because they were black (obviously) and they had gold zippers on them, which gives them an extra bit of character.

Along the same lines, do you have any favorite or go-to items you couldn’t live without?

K: White tanks, black leggings and skinny jeans. These are the staple pieces that make colorful outfits look good instead of crazy.

J: Black tops. Any shape, any style, black tops always work.

Where do you get your style inspiration?

K: From children. Children have the most amazing energy and aren’t afraid to wear things they like because they like them. Silly bandz, animal shirts, glitter ballet skirts… yes, yes, yes.

J: Umm, the goth contingent circa 1993? I’m just kidding — I wear black because it’s the easiest thing to wear and it highlights my jewelry. That’s really my claim to fame – jewels!

Any style secrets to share?

K: Whiten your teeth. A lot of people don’t have white teeth, but that’s one of the most important things you can do to enhance your appearance. Everyone will like you more, trust me. Also, Kerastasé conditioner. I’m a conditioner fiend and Kerastasé is hands down the absolute best.

J: Red lipstick.

What has been your biggest fashion faux-pas? (Come on… we all have them!)

K: I like to experiment. And really, there’s no such thing as faux-pas anymore. Personality is what’s most important — if you don’t have that, nothing else matters, and if you do, then you’ll be fabulous no matter what you wear.

J: Wearing American Apparel. I’m so happy it’s going bankrupt.

Has working together influenced your individual senses of style?

We wouldn’t say working together has influenced each other’s styles, but it has made us more confident about who we are and how we represent that. Jasmine’s the exclusive businesswoman and Kristen’s the creative superstar.

Have the women you work with through PBH impacted your style (or have you impacted theirs)?

No one copies or “borrows” anything look-wise from each other even though everyone dishes out compliments all the time (everyone we work with has so much unique style and we’re all kind of obsessed with each other). In terms of impact, we instill confidence and strength in each other, which immediately comes across in the way we carry ourselves.

What’s it like working as a duo?

It’s really, really fun. Going after our dreams, with a purpose that means so much to others, is thrilling. And it’s great having someone to share the highs, lows, and everything in between with.

How do you like working from NYC?

NYC is great because everyone is here. If you want to network with someone, anyone, you email them and meet them for lunch. You can’t really do that anywhere else.

Plus, New York is a city of dreams, where people come to have adventure, push themselves, and get rich — that challenges us to go even further with what we’re trying to do.

What kind of influence does your East Village hangout have on your style?

The East Village is filled with so many authentic people – most are young and determined, and some have been here since the 60s and are quite striking both in personality and looks. Overall, the influence is very much about keeping it real, not being pretentious and enjoying life. That’s how we like to be.

These girls have attitude!

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What’s Your Cubicle Chic?

Sara Hennessey, Freelancer at RealBeauty.com

What you choose to put on in the morning as you get ready for the work day is what we’re all about. At Cubicle Chic, we focus on assembling stylish outfits for a corporate office environment, but not everyone who goes to work sits down at a cubicle like we do. Many people don’t even enter an office building or have a desk to go to.

In an effort to showcase the many different styles of dressing in the working world, from corporate to creative, we have put together a new segment called “What’s Your Cubicle Chic.” We plan to bring you stylish men and women from all different industries in New York City with the hope of one day including readers’ inspiring style from all over the country (dare we say world?).

Our first brave contender is Miss Sara Hennessey, freelancer and CMS extraordinaire at Hearst’s RealBeauty.com. We traveled to Sara’s adorably decorated apartment in Brooklyn for her shoot, and it became apparent quite quickly that she’s a natural. Talking about her work experience made Cubicle Chic a little jealous… we wish we could work from our couches!

“Freelancer on Her Day at the Office”

“Freelancer Working From Home”

In an effort to capture Sara’s full philosophy on style, Cubicle Chic asked her a few questions. All you aspiring freelancers out there, listen up!

What defines your personal style?
I like to think of my style as a ‘tailored vintage’ look. I’m a really big fan of very classic looks (eg. the khaki trench coat, black pencil skirt, wayfarers), and I always like to look polished (I’m That Girl that tends towards matchy-matchy and can’t wear silver and gold together), but I love wearing vintage. The clothing is so beautifully-detailed, and I find that vintage styles suit my figure best. My favorite Brooklyn vintage clothing store sells these amazing re-worked vintage fashions, and I never walk out of there without three new dresses. Oh yes, and dresses are my “thing,” I’ve officially stopped buying pants. 😉

What do you love about the looks that you wore for the “What’s Your Cubicle Chic” shoot?
I think it’s a pretty good reflection of my own personal style, which is to take classic pieces (the black blazer and the white shirtdress) and put my own spin on them. For example, the jacket is something my mother bought me for like $5 years ago, and it’s too large to wear as a business-y jacket-pants combo. However, it works perfectly as an oversized blazer that I can pair with items like the shirtdress, which, on it’s own, would be too sheer and short for the office, but looks chic when paired with the jacket.

Do you have any signature or favorite go-to items you couldn’t live without?
Absolutely! I could not bear to be with out my favorite nude pumps. They go with everything, and they add about four inches my 5’3 frame, which I love. I also have two rings that I would be lost without. One is from my grandfather, and the other is from my father. I always think of those two amazing men when I wear them, and they give me some happy, positive, confident vibes that I think are the the best way to top off any outfit!

Where do you find your style inspiration?
I am a magazine fiend. Honestly, it’s ridiculous how many magazines I subscribe to (12 is not too many, right?). So mostly, my inspiration comes from the pages of BAZAAR, Vogue, Marie Claire, New York, etc. Beyond that, I adore reading fashion blogs and sites. I’m always intrigued by interesting ways to put together clothing, mix fabrics and prints, and just interpret what’s on the runway and en vogue into something totally unique. Some of my favorite bloggers are What I Wore, My Style Pill, The Clothes Horse, and, of course, The Sartorialist.

Have you ever made some fashion faux-pas that you now regret?
More than I can count, undoubtedly! My mother dressed me until I was in middle school and I realized that that just needed to stop; but, the years prior to that were filled with huge hairbows, massive knit sweaters with huge jewels and puppies on them, and more pink flounces that should ever happen to a person. Then, when I was in the fourth grade, I had this pair purple velour overalls that I literally wore until they just fell apart from overuse. They were hideous, but I thought they were fabulous. And then, my freshman year in college was when gaucho pants were very en vogue, and don’t worry, I had three different pairs. They looked horrendous on me, but I did not let that stop me.

What’s the best part of living, working and integrating your style into your life in NYC?
I adore everything about New York; from the dirty subway rats to the towering skyline. I love it all, and I count my blessings every single day that I live in such an amazing city. One of my favorite things about it is that it’s filled with so many different people, with so many different styles and attitudes. New York is one place where taking a fashion risk is welcomed and respected, and I have definitely felt that rub off on my sartorial taste. For example, I went back home for the holidays last year, and I wore something I wouldn’t have thought was bold or flashy (skinny black jeans, a black leather jacket, nude heels) when hanging out with my friends, and they all said I looked “so New York,” which… well, I’m still not sure if that was a compliment, but I certainly took it as such.

What’s the most difficult part? 😉
Feeling like I always have to look great! As much as I love getting dressed for the day, there are times when I miss rolling out of bed and schlepping around town in sweatpants and some ratty old college tee. Maybe this is a reflection of my own insecurities, but I would never think of wearing sweatpants or flipflops outside anymore.

As a freelancer, do you feel like you get to express your style in your “home” attire and your “office” attire?
Definitely! I don’t buy clothing that I am not proud to wear as a reflection of who I am. The only difference between the “home” and “office” looks is (hopefully!) that my “office” attire is more polished than my “home” attire. For example, usually something I would wear at home is also something I would also wear to the office, but with the addition of heels and earrings. I definitely put more thought and effort into an outfit I would wear into the office, just because, clearly, I want to be taken seriously as someone who works in the fashion/beauty industry.

Any style tips for aspiring beauty “dot com”  freelancers?
My mentality, and this is may not be not true for everyone, is that freelancers don’t have the same leeway that those on-staff have to go for a relaxed look. When I am meeting with my boss, I try and always look polished, professional, and chic, regardless of whether I’ll be in the office for 30 minutes or all day long. This is perhaps the one in-person impression I’m going to give my team members for a week or two, and I want to make sure I’m representing myself as best I can. You may not be able to judge a book by it’s cover, but a well-dressed cover certainly makes for a far better impression than an ill-dressed one.

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