Ask Jeanne

THE KIT Business oomph!

Dear Jeanne,
Most summer clothes in fashion magazines are too casual for the corporate environment I work in. I’m looking for a few ways to boost my business suits with stylish accessories or makeup. Can you steer me in the right direction?


Dear Lili,

Always remember this adage that I’ve subscribed to for years: “It’s not what you wear, it’s how you wear it.” I do agree that most of the styling for these summer magazine issues is dictated by the relaxed and playful spirit of the season. And so, many of the ultra colourful and print pieces that we’re seeing are being presented in ways that look more worthy of the beach than the boardroom. But even the most staid office environments can use a little pizzazz. I’d try at least a little splash of colour or some subtle lace under your business suits. That’ll not only give a nod to the current trends, but also help lighten up your conservative look. Of course, coloured shoes are all the rage this summer, and a pretty pair of sleek, colourful pumps could really elevate your working girl wardrobe to hot new heights. Or go a wee bit wilder and try a colourful, strappy heel. That would be especially nice peeking out from under a pair of slacks—if pantsuits are acceptable in your workplace that is. Of course, bags always make for great style statements, and there are some great ones around this summer from over-sized clutches to boldly coloured totes to print hand-bags that really celebrate summer. Even a classy straw bag could work, and certainly help lighten your look. In terms of jewelry, I’m a big fan of cuffs and bangles. Just make sure any bracelets you choose for work won’t be clanging around too much. A big hoop earring always says summer to me as well, and with lines that clean and modern, should be okay for work. I’d stay away from anything too dangly though. That kind of earring just doesn’t say “business” to me. And don’t forget the joys of lovely silk scarves to boost your business suits. Animals prints are especially welcome this time of year, and a hint of exotica never hurt anyone in the workplace.


When it comes to make-up, this summer, less is more. A clean fresh look is definitely the way to go. You might try an illuminating base-coat under your foundation, and perhaps a light brushing of bronzing powder just to help with your glow. Just make sure to keep your foundation super light. Nothing’s worse than a heavy “mask” look, especially in the summer. One of the biggest make-up trends going right now is coloured mascara. Again, being subtle is key for the office. But a little mint or tangerine hue, perhaps even blended in with your basic black or brown, would be fun and again, give you the boost you’re looking for. Or even just applying coloured mascara on the lower lashes could do the trick as well. And a pale, pastel pink or peach lip is lovely, but for something a little punchier, try coral or even classic red. If you’re worried about too much glamour in the lip department, and want to tone things down a tad, try a sheer shade of lipstick. There are so many beautiful, glossy ones out there. And don’t forget the fun you can have with nail colour! I wouldn’t go too crazy for the office, but there certainly are some interesting shades out there to liven up your look. Finally, fragrance can really help put you in the breezy, summertime mode. Just make sure you don’t go overboard with your fragrance for the office. A very subtle, light floral or citrus scent is perfect for daywear this time of year, and will undoubtedly put you in the right, feminine frame of mind to get any job done.