This is How I Toured Paso Robles Wine Country

What is up y'all!  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are enjoying the kickoff to the holidays!  This year I flew out to California to spend Thanksgiving with my boyfriend and his family.  I took the entire week off from work, UNPLUGGED, and thought what better way to kick off the week than with two days in wine country?  So I landed in LA Monday morning and hit the road immediately to travel the PCH up to Paso Robles. 

paso robles vineyards

Why Paso?  Two reasons - 1) I LOVE Justin wine and 2) I LOVE Ancient Peaks wine.  If these two gems came from Paso, then I was excited to see what else this wine country had to offer.

Paso Robles: The Itinerary

While planning this out, I was warned not to make the mistake of getting "slammered," which is the act of scheduling way too many winery visits in one day.  Whether that actually happened is debatable, but I like to make the most of my days so here's how it went down:

Monday afternoon: Ancient Peaks winery   

Pit stopped into Ancient Peaks since we were driving in to Paso from the South.

Pit stopped into Ancient Peaks since we were driving in to Paso from the South.

ancient peaks

Ancient Peaks sits at the bottom end of Paso Robles.  Since we arrived into the area late Monday afternoon, we thought this would be our winery choice for the day before driving into the heart of Paso and checking into our hotel. 

Ancient Peaks' tasting room is more of a storefront experience, versus sitting on sprawling vineyards.  But, I absolutely LOVED the interior of it, and our wine server was so awesome and knowledgeable.  They have a really cute outdoor area with little cask fountains and couches that look out to the streets of the quaint little town of Santa Margarita. 

The wine I went there for is the Oyster Ridge Cabernet, which is the final wine on their tasting menu.  Clearly I have good taste.  The wine that shockingly blew me away was their Chardonnay.  I'm NOT a Chard fan, but I was shocked at how light and airy theirs was.  The flight included 5 wines (1 white and 4 reds) for $15.  Overall good value and I recommend stopping in.  

Ancient Peaks Wine Tasting

Hotel: Holiday Inn Paso Robles

I researched a ton of different hotel options, but ended up using IHG points to stay for free at the Holiday Inn Express because it's located in the dead center of Paso.  We were 150% satisfied with the accommodations.  So after getting a much needed long night's sleep, we arrived to Justin the next day, bright and early. 

Tuesday Winery #1: Justin

20 minute scenic drive from hotel out to Justin

20 minute scenic drive from hotel out to Justin

Justin sits way back there in the valley so have patience on your drive.  I highly recommend making this your first stop of the day given its distance, then you can work your way back in to town.

The inside of Justin has an open air, contemporary vibe to it.  We took a walk around and found our favorite Justin bottles staring back at us behind thick glass cases.  Justin enthusiasts, carry a napkin to catch your drool.  The Eighty-One and Isosceles never looked so good. 

They also have a restaurant on site that overlooks the vineyard.  We opted not to eat so early, so we instead found a spot outside overlooking their vineyards. 

Looking out from our table at Justin

Looking out from our table at Justin

Justin's tasting is 5 wines for $20.  The pours were average 1 oz as you can see below, and their wines are all SO damn good that even if we got stiffed some, it didn't matter.  In my opinion, their wines are standout in quality. 

Justin Wine Tasting - 1st pour

Justin Wine Tasting - 1st pour

Enjoying the Isosceles Reserve at Justin 

Enjoying the Isosceles Reserve at Justin 

The views were really nice, and it just so happened that sitting next to us were Mia Hamm and Nomar Garciaparra!  This is me finally realizing why the couple looked so familiar.  No we did not do a group pic lol.  But Justin did have the most adorable fall setup at the entrance of their winery so Derek and I posed for that.     

Having a moment in Justin's fall foilage.

Having a moment in Justin's fall foilage.

Having a moment at Justin Winery :p

Having a moment at Justin Winery :p

Tuesday Winery #2: Daou

We enjoyed the same scenic drive making our way back towards the center of Paso.

We enjoyed the same scenic drive making our way back towards the center of Paso.

Ok.  Now you want to talk about views?  Daou's views are absolutely breathtaking.  And their outdoor seating area has couches, blankets, fire pits, and spans multiple levels into the vineyard.  Everything about this place is beautiful and you'll want to spend the entire day here... 

Daou vineyards

Daou vineyards

Looking out from Daou's upper deck

Looking out from Daou's upper deck

...If you're the richest man in the world that is.  It is EXPENSIVE, with the wine tastings coming in at a measly $40 per person.    What??  Yes, $40 for 5 tiny pours.  Now it'd be one thing if the pours were generous, but they were by far the tiniest pours I have EVER seen in my life.  Like, so tiny I couldn't even tell you what the wine tasted like. 

I was pretty upset about this, but when I turned my eyes away from the 4 drops of a "tasting" in my glass and looked out at the 360 degree vistas, I felt better. 

daou vineyards

We also ordered a $40 cheese and charcuterie plate (as if we had a choice lol), though it was pretty substantial, and really good I might add. 

Yes indeed I was having a moment :p

Yes indeed I was having a moment :p

And then the bill came. 

Pay up at Daou.  $200 and change. That one hurt.

Pay up at Daou.  $200 and change. That one hurt.

HERE IS THE SECRET TO NOT GOING BROKE AT DAOU:  Do NOT do the wine tastings.  Rather, you can order their best bottle for $65 and share it.  That's an entire bottle for you and your company to spend the day there soaking in the views, for a TOTAL of $65. 

Having a moment in Daou's vineyards.

Having a moment in Daou's vineyards.

Here's where it gets even better.  If you do the wine tastings, you're confined to their upper deck, so the server can keep watch on your status and tend to you better.  If you pass on the tastings and order either full glasses or a bottle, you can sit yourself wherever you'd like on the grounds.  And as I mentioned above, they have some STUNNING seating areas.  Trust me, this is 100% the way to go.   

A seating area in Daou's vineyard.

A seating area in Daou's vineyard.

Tuesday Winery #3: Alta Colina

Alta Colina is just a short 5 minute drive from Daou.

Alta Colina is just a short 5 minute drive from Daou.

Talk about some awesome estate wines.  It was really cool getting to meet this family, including the friendliest German Shepard pup I have ever seen - Honey!  Their wine tasting was $15 for 5 wines.  And it is here I finally bought a bottle to take home, in which they waived our tasting fee.      

Photo credit Alta Colina

Photo credit Alta Colina

This was one of those fun wineries where at this point you're loosened up and just shooting the sh-t with the owners.  Or, if you're like me, you're on the ground giving belly rubs to the family dog. (recall from my Instastories lol). 

Alta Colina's top member, Honey.  And she is absolutely as sweet as honey!

Alta Colina's top member, Honey.  And she is absolutely as sweet as honey!

There isn't a view from the tasting room's bar, per say, but that's because the tasting room sits at the base of their vineyards, so the views expand backwards and upwards.  Regardless, it was one of my favorites spots we visited.  

Tuesday Winery #4: Bodega de Edgar

Bodega de Edgar is literally the driveway next door to Alta Colina.

Bodega de Edgar is literally the driveway next door to Alta Colina.

This tasting room actually sits on the 2nd floor of another winery and distillery called Villicana Winery & ReFind Distillery.  So as not to cause confusion when you pull up, look for this staircase on the left side of the building.

Tasting room stairway to Bodega de Edgar

Tasting room stairway to Bodega de Edgar

I love Riojas which is what I was hoping to get from this winery, however they didn't have any on their tasting flight.  Major bummer.  We ordered the tasting regardless, which I think was $10, and yeah I'll say the wines were good.  I'll also remind you this was our 4th winery soooo.....recall that term "slammered" above. 

Tasting Room in Bodega de Edgar

Tasting Room in Bodega de Edgar

Now what I will say is the story of Edgar, the founder, is REALLY cool.  So if anything, I'd recommend reading the backstory to this winery.  And of course if you love Spanish reds, then swing on by for sure. 

Tuesday Winery #5 (barely) : Eberle

Eberle was a short 10 minute drive from Bodega de Edgar.

Eberle was a short 10 minute drive from Bodega de Edgar.

I mean, can I get a round of applause that we even made it to a 5th winery in one day on our own two feet?? 

My Eberle Wine

My Eberle Wine

So Eberle is the winery with the totally awesome cave tours.  However, we showed up 10 minutes before closing time so the tours were done for the day.  I wasn't really impressed with Eberle's wine quality, however the tastings were FREE so the wine bar was packed with people.  And for as packed as they were, the service was still really good. 

eberle vineyards

We grabbed two full glasses of wine (for free!) and walked outside to check out the views.  Did we really need two glasses of wine at this point?  Absolutely not.  But the glasses served their purpose, allowing me to get the pretty cool shots you see here.

Sunset at Eberle.  We survived Paso Robles wine country!

Sunset at Eberle.  We survived Paso Robles wine country!

Six Wineries in 1.5 Days....That's a wrap!

Whew!  We did good.  We had great weather, great wine, and great company.  Overall verdict - I would go back to Paso Robles in a heartbeat!  For now, I'm taking a teeny tiny break from wine lol.  Hope you all enjoyed this post, and comment below if you've been and want to share your experiences, have questions, or just want to say hi!

Keep doing it for kicks! - Kristin

How To Create 7 Different Outfits With 1 Pair of Shoes

This was SUCH a fun concept to come up with because a) who doesn't love buying an awesome pair of shoes, and b) who doesn't love justifying them with SEVEN different outfits??

Let me introduce you to the shoe, so appropriately named the Huntington Middie.  It's casual, it's clean, and quite frankly it turns heads.  Which is why I call it my game-changer shoe.  But, GET THIS.  As is the mission of everything Suits & Sneaks, I've taken this shoe and dressed it up for you to wear to WORK, to HAPPY HOUR, and yes, to simply #KEEPITCASUAL on the weekends.

So let's dive into this amazingly comfortable pair of sneaks (which include plush insoles btw!), styled SEVEN different ways for each day of your week.  Here we go!

Suits and Sneaks - How to wear Seavees Huntington Middie sneakers on a monday

Monday.

When All You Want Is Comfort.

When you wake up late, still feeling full and groggy from the weekend, and for the love of God just want to feel comfortable for the next 8 hours of your day....This is the outfit for you. 

Suits and Sneaks - Shoot #4 - Look 3-2 (2).jpg

Offset Casual With a Dose of Glam

For the Perfect Polished Casual Look.

Offset the casualness and comfort of these pants and sneaks with a tan blazer.  And, bedazzle yourself in pearls.  You've heard me say this a million times: Offsetting is the way to go for that refined, polished casual look.

Shop This Look:

Get the Sneaks: Seavees Huntington Middies

Suits and Sneaks - How to wear Sneakers on a tuesday

Tuesday

Styled Professionally.

You made it through Monday looking good, and if your coworkers had some sort of decency, they saved those important meetings for Tuesday.  Here's where you dress up your look with the easiest, most professional color out there - Black. 

BUT, don't be boring and wear black shoes.  That doesn't interest anyone. 

Hello Game-Changer.

Goodbye Status-Quo Dresser.

Instead, look like you've got style sense by changing up the shoe color with your black pants and blazer.  Sit down status-quo dressers.  Game-Changer just walked into the room.

Shop This Look:

Get the Sneaks: Seavees Huntington Middies

Suits and Sneaks - How to wear sneakers on wednesday

Wednesday

Polished Comfort.

Halfway through the week and starting to tire out?  Simply take it down a notch with a warm, comfy sweater and this soft, muted pink scarf.  Next, offset the comfort on top with some dark fitted jeans or even a pencil skirt on bottom! 

Slipping Into Your Middies

Couldn't get any easier.

Shop the Look:

Get the Sneaks: Seavees Huntington Middies

Suits and Sneaks - How to wear sneakers on a thursday

Thursday

Work + Happy Hour

A popular happy hour day, they say.  You definitely don't want to dress like a boring professional cause you're likely to hit up the bar scene after work.  You also don't want to walk into the office LOOKING like you're hitting up the bar scene after work.  #AMIRIGHT? 

Suits and Sneaks - how to wear sneakers to happy hour

Why Limit Happiness to One Hour

When You Feel This Good.

Here's a happy medium that's fun, but smart enough for the office.  And if jean jackets are more so meant for Friday, just switch this jacket out for a cute fitted blazer!  Hello Polished Casual.

Shop the Look:

Get  the Sneaks: Seavees Huntington Middies

Suits and Sneaks - Shoot #4 - Look 4-69 (2).jpg

TGI Friday

Jean Jacket Approved.

Ahhh, the day where the jean jacket IS allowed.  Grab those comfy pants from Monday and just swap out the top!  Here you could go with a neutral shirt, or get a little ballsy with a graphic tee under your jacket or blazer.  Just don't forget the accessories with this look. 

Suits and Sneaks - how to wear sneakers to work

Accessories.

They Will Polish You Off.

While your threads are totes casual, you want to offset them with some accessories, like the bandanna scarf I've done here.  Or how about fun jewelry like a wooden watch??  No matter how casual you go, accessories and jackets will always polish you off.

Shop This Look:

Get the Sneaks: Seavees Huntington Middies

Suits and Sneaks - how to wear sneakers and look cute

Saturday

Sleep In Like A Boss.

I absolutely LOVE these Middies with shorts.  And here's where I stress how dang COMFORTABLE these shoes are.  I never even got blisters from wearing them brand new!  Take it from the girl with the foot injury that put her in sneaks in the first place.  These shoes are SO EASY to wear while you're running around. 

Suits and Sneaks - how to style sneakers

So Comfy

You Could Walk Miles In These Kicks.

The long cardigan takes the look up a notch.  It also covers the top half of your thighs if you're feeling a little subconscious about them.  Like in this case, I would've preferred tanner legs lol.  Florida girl problems. 

Shop This Look:

Get the Sneaks: Seavees Huntington Middies

Suits and Sneaks - how to wear a blazer to brunch

Sunday

Brunching + Shopping

A day meant for rest that's quite often supplemented with shopping or brunching.  Pair your Middies with a soft, floral shirt.  Top it off with a neutral, fitted blazer, and bam!  You're ready to walk in the door of any occasion. 

Suits and Sneaks - how to wear sneakers with a blazer

#Goals

She  Rushed Out the Door and STILL Looked Styled.

My favorite part about this look are the sneakers and the blazer.  Because the combo simply screams: This girl quickly ran out the door and STILL managed to look styled!  Can we say #GOALS??

Shop The Look:

Get the Sneaks: Seavees Huntington Middies

Speaking of occasion, today was a special day!  I mean WOW.  What a post!  You just got SEVEN different outfit ideas!  And all laid out for you with just ONE pair of sneaks!!! 

I hope you all enjoyed browsing through the pictures and outfit inspiration to pair up with your new Middies!  Click the signup or subscribe button and I'll send you an easy-access style card with all the deets!

And allow me to give mad props to my photographer Nick Pecori who took all of the beautiful pictures you see in this post.  Comment below with what you think!

 

 

Doing This One Simple Thing Will Ensure Your Cover Letter Is Actually Read.

Ah, the dreaded cover letter.  I’m not going to use this post to defend or debate one.  But what I AM going to tell you is that if you spent the time writing one, it could very easily get overlooked.  EVEN if the company required it.  Why is that? 

Cover letter blog post.png

Take note of this very important detail: 

When you apply through a jobsite and are asked to upload your resume and cover letter, are you uploading two separate files, or one file that includes both documents? 

Here’s what happens in the company’s recruiting system when you upload two separate files.  First, you and 100 other people applied to this job, meaning there could very easily be 200 files for the recruiter to open and read through.  Chances are the recruiter is going to go straight to the resume since that’s been the standard way to represent oneself. 

Then, the recruiter may or may not also open, read, and save your cover letter to their files.  And even if they do, your cover letter might not get submitted to the hiring manager with the resume.  Inadvertently, due to the sheer volume of files.

If you wrote a kickass cover letter straight from your heart, then make sure you do this one simple thing:

Save your cover letter and resume into ONE pdf file and title it, “[your name] Resume & Cover Letter”.  In that order.  Then, in the pdf file, make page 1 your cover letter and page 2 your resume. 

Ok, but that’s flip-flopped, you say.  Yes.  Intentionally. 

First, the recruiter’s eyes will automatically be drawn to the filename's first word, “Resume.”  That’s what they really want to see.  Then, upon opening the file, the recruiter’s eyes will go to page one, which happens to be your cover letter.  This will force them to at least take a glance through your letter while they scroll through to page two, your resume.

What if the company requires two separate file uploads on the application site?  Still, do the above.  Merge both cover letter and resume into one file like I advised above, then upload into the "Resume" upload box.  Then upload your cover letter into the "Cover Letter" upload box, if this is required.  So your cover letter is in theory uploaded twice?  Big deal.  Doing this will guarantee that both documents you worked so hard on will make their way through the recruiter’s review AND the hiring team's review, no matter what. 

Give it a try, you’ve got nothing to lose!

The Roadmap You Were Meant to Travel

WHAT. IS. UP. Y'ALLLL!  I am coming at you HOT in this blog post.  Why??  Because I feel ENERGIZED.  I feel HAPPY.  I feel FULFILLED.  I feel SUCCESSFUL.  And I'm seriously so stoked about the decision I recently made that I REALLY want to share it with you in hopes it can be of help to you in your own life.

Find your dream career

Ok so, what happened?  

Well, after 10 years of working in corporate audit, I decided to make a massive career shift into corporate recruiting.  How nutso is that??  I'm going from being an auditor to, like, almost a sales person.  Total opposites right??  

What was I thinking?

For starters, I was TOTALLY thinking.  In fact, I was thinking a LOT.  Probably too much.  For months and months, I had dissected and analyzed my options, my resume, my LinkedIn job prospects.  Every. Which. Way. Till. Tuesday.  

I thought so much I couldn't think anymore.   I took personality quizzes.  I listened to podcasts.  I got other people's opinions.  But yikes, I invested 10 years of my life into being a CPA, so I was terrified that I'd be throwing it all away!  What would recruiters think of me if I suddenly left my career progression for something totally different?  Would they still contact me?  Would I still look competitive in case I needed to default back to accounting one day?  

Then a voice inside my head shouted...

Stop focusing on your contingency plan and for God's sake, just do what you were put on this earth to do!

Uhhh, yup.  Makes sense, voice.  I'm pretty sure I wasn't put on this earth to be an auditor forever.  Ok, I'm positive of that.  But I have bills to pay, and medical insurance is everything!  So how do I get from where I'm at, to where I'm supposed to be?  This next question was the start to how I answered it all...

A colleague recently asked me, what's the one thing you dream of doing in your career?

My response was, "I want to get in front of 1,000 people and Steve Jobs the shit out of a stage."  Ok, whoa.  Would you believe that for the first 80% of my life I was incredibly shy??  Like, hide in the bathrooms during lunch, shy.  And now I want to Steve Jobs the shit out of a stage??  Pshh, yeah.  Why??  Cause I so badly LOVE making a positive influence on people.  Especially when it comes to finding fulfillment in their careers.

So let's connect the dots...

First, a disclaimer.  It took WAY longer for me to figure this all out than the five minutes it's taking you to read this post.  I'm going to spare you from all that noise, and just cut to the chase to give you this piece of advice: Don't let the KNOWN of your COMFORT ZONE distract you from where you're trying to be.  Yes, I just originated that quote.  And it's true.  So where do you start?

Identify your dream job, or a dream milestone, then start to work backwards.

If you start where you're at now, you will stress yourself out trying to get from your known "present" to something you haven't even experienced yet. Simply said, if you want to live your dream life, then you better start focusing on your dream job!  But don't panic.  That's why I put this Roadmap exercise together for you.  This is the last thing I did that finally cleared the skies for me.  So grab paper, a pencil, an adult beverage if you so wish, and get to it!  And don't forget to comment below to let me know how it goes!

A Gift of Time for Mom

JORD Wooden Watch in Mint

JORD Wooden Watch in Mint

I’ve heard it many times, “There is nothing greater than being a mom.”  While I’m not one myself, I’m awed by the fact that every time I hear this, I’m watching the words come out of a somewhat exhausted-looking woman’s mouth.  I can tell that underlying those words are hours, days, and years of worry, sleepless nights, and money hard spent.  And I can’t find any other way to describe witnessing motherhood as witnessing a life of complete selflessness.  While these two words can’t ever truly portray that amount of gratitude I have in my heart, I want to say to my own mom, thank you.

Mother’s Day is around the corner and chances are your mom, or your wife, to this day continues to run around the house, checking off her to-do lists, cleaning up after your family, cooking you dinner, and transporting your kids.  Basically, everything you somehow never remember to do, yet she always does.  Because Mom always knows the time and when to be where...

 

 

I came across a totally unique Mother’s Day gift idea to share with you. 

Have you ever seen a wooden watch? 

JORD Wooden Watch in Mint

JORD Wooden Watch in Mint

Now when it comes to shopping, I am one who tends to venture off the beaten path.  If the rest of the world has it, I don’t want it.  So as you can imagine, when I came across such a unique watch I didn’t think twice about getting one.   

If you’re shopping for Mom, here is a link to the women’s watches.  Or, if you’ve already fallen in love with the glowing mint-faced watch in this post, here is the link to this specific mint-faced watch

Now that I own one, I can tell you what I love about it:

1.  Shipping is free and mine arrived in two days! 

2.  The packaging makes for the perfect gift. 

I opened the packaging to find this beautiful wooden keepsake box.  Spend some time looking at this box because you’ll even see it has a little hidden drawer.  Perhaps, the perfect place to store your most treasured rings or earrings. 

JORD Watch Keepsake Box

JORD Watch Keepsake Box

3.  The wood color on these watches is beautiful and so different than the typical metal watches.

And when you finally get past the packaging, you’ll notice your brand new watch resting on its little JORD pillow.   

4. Because it’s wood, it’s lightweight. 

Which means there’s no sweat piling up between your skin and the watch. 

5.  The face color options they have are so springtime and beautiful.

All of the models and colors for women can be found here.

And GUYS, men's models and colors can be found here

BONUS:  Best of all, the company, JORD Watches, will engrave the watch for you.  Honestly, could this timing be any more perfect for Mother’s Day?

If any moms are reading this, I wish you all a Happy Mother’s Day.  Whether your kids are with you or far, know that your time is cherished and you are so greatly loved.

~Kristin 

Thinking about a Grad Gift or Father's Day surprise?  Follow @suits.and.sneaks on Instagram where I'm giving away $100 for a JORD Watch on 5/21/17!

The Turquoise Series: Bright. Bold. Becoming.

You guys.  I'm not even exaggerating when I tell you I wore this outfit to work today and got compliments ALL DAY LONG.  They went a little something like this:

1. Nice job on the outfit!

2. You look so bright!

3. Omg, that is so springy and summery!

4. That is a total springtime color, I love it.

5. Omg even your shoes match!

6. I just love that color it makes me smile.

7. Wow I've seen you twice today, I can't believe I've never met you prior!  

See what good outfits can do you??  Can we say #makeyoumemorable??  I mean gosh, who wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of such love every day?  And while at work!  

As such, get ready for an explosion of turquoise on my Instagram feed.  In the meantime, get in on the color pop!  I put together my some of my favorite turquoise dresses and sneaks for you ladies below!  A separate makeup and accessories post will follow. And guys, I have a whole separate post for you hitting suitsandsneaks.com right after this one.  Happy shopping!

Suits & Sneaks Turquoise Chuck Taylors

Suits & Sneaks Turquoise Chuck Taylors

Turquiose dress brings smile and cheer
Suits and Sneaks Turquoise Dress Eliza J

Meet Turquoise Chuck:

My Favorite Turquoise Dresses

When You Can't Change Your Job, Change Your Mindset.

2017 is here and it’s time to finally bite the bullet and make that career change, right? You know, the job you really should be in.  That career you deserve to have.  At some point you determined that quitting your job cold turkey and starting over in a field you love would be the answer to your professional frustrations.  It certainly could be.  Yet, you’ve kicked yourself every day since for not actually doing it. 

But maybe, for good reason, you just can’t change the job situation you’re in right now.  And you know what?  That’s ok.  So here’s how you can find happiness and fulfillment in the job you already have.  Identify your frustrations, then change your mindset.  Let’s walk through some common examples together:

Frustration: My personality and passions don’t fit this job.

Mindset change:  This actually makes me better than my coworkers at certain things.

These differences in your characteristics and traits are what make you unique, so list out creative ways your differences could benefit your company.  For example, I am a corporate auditor.  Yet, I love to design things and write influential articles.  So I asked my boss if he had any side projects that might put my passions to use.  He had me redesign a presentation for senior leadership and update our job postings to be more appealing to the millennial generation.  While my fellow auditors might’ve cringed at these projects, it came easy to me.  And major bonus, my boss loved it.  So you see, you have a unique opportunity to really shine when your differences can be put to use.

Frustration: Professional attire just isn’t my thing.

Mindset change:  I’ll take my personal style and make a brand for myself.

Start wearing your favorite clothing item 1-2 times a week, then balance it with what’s considered more typical attire for your office.  For example, I love cute sneakers but I work in a corporate setting.  When I wear sneakers, I make sure they look damn good, and then I offset their casualness with a blazer for professionalism.  It’s all about balance.  I have an entire article on how to pull this off on my website.  Eventually people will pick up on your new style with enthusiasm.  Not everyone will prefer it for themselves, but they’ll fall in love with your confidence.  And that means the real you can now shine through during your workday.  How awesome is that?

Frustration:  I tried, but the opportunity just isn’t there for me to do what I really want to do.

Mindset change:  Make a game out of your day job and devote one hour each night to your passions.

When all else fails, you might just have to lose the expectation that you’ll be passionate about your current day job.  So make a game out of it to get you through the day.  Have a speed contest with yourself each week to get you through the work faster.  Or, for each of your job responsibilities, write out one thing you’d do differently if it were up to you.  Figure out a way to put a different spin to your work so that you can at least get it done on time and exercise your brain in a new way.           

Now for the important part.  Devote one hour each night simply to do what you’re really passionate about doing.  For example, I started writing at night over two years ago.  I placed no expectations on myself other than to spill my thoughts onto paper as I ate dinner each night.  This did two things for me:  1) It was a healthy outlet for my frustrations, and 2) After two years of doing it, I got really good at it.  And look, here I am writing to you today.

To sum it all up, you ultimately got hired because of who YOU are.  So don’t ever change.   A business cannot sustainably thrive on one set of personalities and skills.  So find creative opportunities for your differences and offer them up to your leaders.  Because guess what?  If nobody else has the skills you have, then that automatically makes you the best at them.

Suits & Sneaks: How to Look Polished Casual

Suits & Sneaks Polished Casual

So you’re one of the lucky ones who got hired into an office casual workplace.  Your brilliant HR department recognizes that productivity, creativity, and innovativeness can be directly correlated with comfort.  I mean let’s be real here, how can you think freely when you’re being choked by your necktie or trying to sit still to avoid wrinkles?  Ladies, how can you run down the halls cranking out work when you run the risk of tripping over your heels?  So much for efficiency.

But now you can breathe a sigh of relief.  Those days are behind you.  No more ironing or dry cleaning.  You get to wake up and throw on whatever the heck you feel like and waltz into work straight up Zuckerburg style.  You’re ready to innovate, produce, and speak freely in your white tee and jeans.  Your productivity has soared.  You feel like a gazelle flying through the Sahara.  Nothing is stopping you now.  At least nothing YOU seem to notice.  But not so fast speed racer. 

Let’s face it.  Work clothes are annoying.  They’re expensive, and they put many of us in a bad mood even before we put them on.  But I think we can acknowledge that, when worn correctly, they make a good employee look really good.  A serious employee look seriously driven.  An all-talk employee look, well, believable.  Basically, work clothes make a worker look legit.  Put someone like that next to the t-shirt and jeans guy and let the stereotype answer the question for you – Mr. Suit-and-Tie surely has to be the other guy’s boss, right?  Not necessarily.  But you must realize, perception is everything.  And whether you like it or not, a HUGE part of one’s upward movement in a company, no matter the size, industry, or location, is based largely on the element of perception.  Perception of your work ethic, your accessibility to others, your willingness to help, and, wait for it, your appearance.  And guess which one is recognized by most people first?  Ding, ding, ding!  First impressions are everything, right?  This still holds true in an “office casual” setting, yet this logic often gets thrown out the window with the dry cleaning bag full of no-longer-needed white collar shirts. 

So let me introduce you to a concept I like to call, “polished casual.”  This is my inspiration, my passion, my main purpose behind creating Suits & Sneaks.  You can dress as casually as you want, exactly to your personality, and still look driven, passionate, and promotable.  So, some tips:

  1. Rock the Suits and Sneaks look (obviously):  I’m not even kidding, blazers are the godsend to the office casual phenomenon.  And yes, I know they can get hot, but listen here, if I can sport this attire in Tampa, Florida’s 100 degree, 98% humidity months, then y’all can too.  The look here is to be yourself, with an added layer of professionalism (blazer), offset with an added layer of hip (sneaks).  Contrary to the full business professional attire, you’ll rock the same fashionable look while appearing as if you didn’t even try.  [suddenly singing Beyonce’s “I woke up like this” song…]  I can’t even tell you how many times people have stopped me and said, “I love the Chucks,” or, “You’re rockin’ that outfit, nicely done!”  So find a few good fitted blazers or jackets, pair with some hip, casual sneakers, then get ready to rock. 

  2. Wear the right balance of fit vs. comfort:  Obviously fitted clothes will always look better than baggier clothes.  But, you can totally mix both!  Gentlemen – Wear that comfy t-shirt with an added sport coat on top.  Add fitted jeans, and finish off with some spankin’ new casual kicks.  I can’t speak for all women, but for those who share my style, gentlemen - you will look HOT (again, that Beyonce song is in my head).  Ladies – there are some awesome linen pant styles out now that finish off fitted at the ankles.  Tuck a loose fitting shirt into these, add a scarf, pull your hair back, finish off with fashionista sunglasses, and voila! You’re totally comfortable, yet look like you stepped right out of a Pinterest board.  Which leads me to my next tip...

  3. Accessorize!  Guys and girls both.  Guys – you can do this by rocking all different watches, belts, ties, and shoes.  Girls – Scarves are the easiest, most manageable, versatile, cost effective accessory you could buy.  Check out some of our favorites on our Shop page.  Accessories will instantly dress up your I-rolled-out-of-bed-and-threw-on-what-I-had look. 

  4. Carry a trendy laptop bag.  This is getting easier as more purse-laptop bag hybrid styles are hitting the market.  Buy a few different colors so you can swap them out with your outfits then get ready to rock your new arm candy.  See some of the styles we picked out on our Shop page.

  5. Look crisp.  This is all about ensuring you look polished in your comfy clothes.  So give them a good starch and iron before wearing them.  Don’t come to work in wrinkly, casual clothes.  That is when you look like you don’t care.

And finally, be yourself!  Dress to your personality.  Make your base truly reflective of you and use some of the above tips to simply polish off your look.  Then, go into work feeling fabulous in your body, because your outer shell better reflects the inner you.  And to have a feeling as fabulous as that during your 9 to 5 workday is truly rewarding.

So you get the concept but need some inspiration ideas?  You came to the right site my friends, because this is what I love to do.  Follow Suits & Sneaks on social media and check out new outfit inspirations weekly!  Want to contribute your inspirations to Suits & Sneaks?  Go ahead and tag us on social media or submit your best kicks here

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The Most Flattering Piece of Clothing You Should Wear Today

While the name “Suits and Sneaks” speaks for itself, I wanted to take a quick moment and share with you why the “Suits” part is so key to your polished causal wardrobe.  Guys and girls, read on for the top four things simply wearing a jacket can do for you.

1.       You can wear whatever style you want underneath.

I love when I see professional on the outside and then something so stylish, trendy, or heck, even downright funny underneath it.  It shows the world that you can be professional and have a totally kick-ass personality shining through at the same time. 

2.       It shapes you where it counts.

How a blazer slims figures

Ladies, the blazer tucks you in on both the waist and chest lines so you can walk into work with clean edges.  Guys, if you’re looking for size, the jacket gives you the broad shoulders and chest you’ve been working towards (with no extra reps needed).  And just as the ladies benefit, it also polishes off your waist line by hiding that little bit of extra you might be carrying.

3.       It hides wrinkly or sloppy shirts.

Photo credit: stylemeblue.wordpress.com

Photo credit: stylemeblue.wordpress.com

Even if your shirts are perfectly pressed in the morning, they’re going to soften up and wrinkle as the day goes on.  The jacket however, being the heavier material it is, will stand strong for you, keeping you crisp looking and sharp for the entire day. 

4.       It shows you care.

Throwing a nice, fitted jacket on top of your outfit is the easiest way to one-up your level of professionalism without actually having to do any extra work.  It gives you an added layer of clout, of stature, and it simply polishes you off.

Suits & Sneaks' Kristin Leigh

Suits & Sneaks' Kristin Leigh

So hold up your jacket my friends, give it a great big smile and say, “Jacket, you complete me.”  Because that’s exactly the look it’s giving you, one of polished completion.  Be sure to check out some of my favorite styles I picked out below.  And of course, follow @suits.and.sneaks on Instagram for your dose of daily Suits & Sneaks fashion posts.

Jackets for the Gals:

Jackets for the Guys:

Sending You Chooka & Cheer

Suits & Sneaks recognizes that sometimes the weather could be a little better, and when moments like that strike, one must save the sneaker from the elements and don the next best thing: The Chooka Boot.

Suits & Sneaks Chooka & Cheer

To start, the brand name itself is just adorable.  But you really haven't seen adorable yet until you've browsed through their collection.  It's large, and it's versatile.  So we took it upon ourselves to pick out our favorites and share them with you here.

For the Trendsetter Who Screams "Look at My Baby Blues" :

For the Timeless Designer Who Loves a Gray Slate:

For the Plaid Lover:

The Horse Rider:

And For the Love of Dots & Designs:

These are the easiest gifts for any girl on your list.  May you send her Chooka & Cheer!

~Kristin, Suits & Sneaks

Orange & Gray: How Cole Haan Kicked Us Into a Color Obsession

Ode to Cole Haan and their attention to detail.  Who would've thought the little orange tag affixed to their Grand Ox lace-up shoe would send Suits & Sneaks into a serious color obsession? 

suits and sneaks cole haan

Not that Kristin's downtown condo wasn't already decked out in orange and gray... 

condo orange and gray
condo orange and gray furniture

...But let's just say this got her really excited.

For starters, this lace-up shoe is so versatile, it can be worn just about anywhere.  To work, to shop, to school, to teach school, to fun gatherings, to...ok you get the point.  To anywhere.  Second, it is SO light and so comfortable.  We dare you to just stop what you're doing and see how high you can jump in them.  And third, the orange accent makes it so fun to pair with other pieces.  And you can do so in such a way it looks like you didn't even try.  Actually, you don't even have to try, it's as simple as this picture below.

suits and sneaks gray and orange outfit

We pulled some of our favorite gray and orange accessories and included here.  The shoes are marked down from $150 and the scarves are, well, just flipping adorable.

Way more to come with this color scheme and shoe so be sure to like Suits & Sneaks on Facebook and follow us on Instagram!

Lose the Template, Have a Conversation: How to Successfully Plan Your Team's Next Project.

Consulting engagements, audits, really any project at hand, involve some sort of pre-set methodology or plan for you to follow.  While a predefined methodology might carry some importance, it can also be debilitating to the most key part of your project – planning.  So if satisfaction of your work engagements in some way involves templates or checklists, then this article applies to you. 

Suits & Sneaks laptop and coffee

But templates are easy, so why should I change?

 1. Templates pre-scribe the way you are to think.  

Imagine someone asked for your opinion, but instead of openly and naturally responding back to them, you had to first consult a template of possible response formats saved on your laptop, pick which one best relates to the question, then reply in that exact format.  Crazy, right?

Now imagine a totally different person asked you a totally different question, but you had to go through that same exercise again and reply in that same format.  Do you really think that person views you as adding any sort of value to their situation at hand?

You must be following me now.  Do not find a previously similar project and simply copy-paste as your basis for this one.  This does nothing for the recipient of your work or for your own professional development.

2. People are more knowledgeable than an excel template, checklist, or work program as recent as even one day ago.  

The world is changing FAST.  So before anything, talk to people!  You'll get the best information this way because not only will your conversation be real-time, the content in it will usually be forward-looking.  This is where you add value – not only caring about what “was”, but what “could be”.

3. Remember the audience, or beneficiaries, of your work.

Recall that template analogy above?  Hopefully the work you produce brings some type of tangible benefit to someone else.  This is critical – bringing a “tangible benefit to someone else” means that they can understand the purpose behind your work and realize the value it will bring to them going forward.  To start, you need to speak your audience’s language, and we all know that every person speaks and listens differently.  So you can see where a template fits in at this point.  It doesn’t.

OK I get your point, so how do I plan from a blank slate? 

 1. Learn the origin of the requested work engagement at hand.

Why did it come about, and by whom?  What were this person's biggest concerns?  What answers are THEY looking for?  I stress THEY.  Not you.  Remember this isn’t about you, this is about bringing value to someone else.  Find an answer to this next question before even moving forward – “How might this work fit into the bigger picture or goals of our company?” 

2.  Communicate these data points to your team.

Even if the answers to the above questions already exist in some unsightly Excel charting exercise, I don't care.  Do not have your team read through any type of file as their primary source to learn the engagement.  If you want to be an effective manager, you need to personally communicate the background and purpose of your projects to your entire team.  Now wait, repeat after me, “I need to personally communicate the background and purpose of my projects to my ENTIRE team.”  Why?  Because this is how value is established on your team.  You want every team member to understand how they're contributing to your greater goal, right?  You should.  

3.  Next, send forth your team to gather information, efficiently.

Allocate your planning research and information-gathering activities out to your team.  You want to develop all levels of your employees.  So rather than saving the planning process for you higher-ups, involve everyone in all key parts of your planning process. 

With this, your entire team will feel they have a purpose and can understand how they each can bring value to the engagement.  Not only is this good for morale, but does wonders for your team’s efficiency.

Great stuff.  Now I have a ton of information, but no template to document it in. 

First, please realize your average person doesn’t actually ENJOY reading through checklists, Excel templates, or pages of words. 

So, apply art.  Use tables, webs, fancy formatting.  Basically anything to grab your reader’s attention and force them to focus on key information.  Accept the reality that not every word YOU think is important will be considered important by someone else.  

So how do you identify important, key points?  Apply the “so-what” rule.  Imagine presenting to your CEO, and at the end of your spiel he looks at you and says, “so what are you telling me?”  This is where he wants you to zero in on those few critical points that have enough impact they warrant some sort of change to his organization, whether it’s now or in the future.  So cut out all the other mumbo jumbo stuff, and deliver one clear, key message that’s easy for your audience to reference, retain, and repeat.

Finally, if Mr. or Mrs. Boss needs a completeness check for comfort that everything that should’ve gone into planning actually went into planning, and a checklist is the best way to give assurance on this, then insert your checklist here.  Saving this for the end will allow your team to think openly and strategically throughout the planning process.  This is key to completing a successful project and ensuring the greatest value emanates from your team. 

Want to contribute planning ideas that work best for you?  I want to hear them so please, share them below!

Suits & Sneaks Goes Two Ways With the H&M Slit Skirt

This just might be one of our favorite fashion features yet.  This slit skirt can be glammed up or dressed down, and both with you in your sneaks!

Suits & Sneaks H&M Slit Skirt Dress Up
Suits & Sneaks H&M Slit Skirt Dress Down

Classy Elegant:

We absolutely love the color of this H&M button-down blouse tucked into their navy blue slit skirt.  Both fabrics are super light, super chic, and super comfy.  Crank the glam factor up a notch with this pink and gold studded clutch held in your fancy Lagos-blinged hand.  Want a true kicker?  Grab these pink and navy Pumas for a match made in heaven. 

Suits & Sneaks Classy Elegant

Classy Casual:

Winter is around the corner and we're just going to say it - the only things missing from this look are snowflakes.  Here is a classy casual, comfortable, yet oh-so-adorable everyday take on this H&M skirt.  We were fortunate enough to snag this simple, light-blue fitted tee for just $5 during an H&M sale, and we found the deal of a lifetime with this beautiful H&M scarf.  Which kick did we pick to finish it off?  Our vote goes to Toms for total comfort.

Suits & Sneaks H&M Slit Skirt Polished Casual

Shop similar styles below!

10 Tips To Have You Walking Out of That Interview Like a Boss

Suits and Sneaks Interview Boss

Suits and Sneaks Interview Boss

Maybe you’re new to interviewing, or maybe it’s just been awhile and your confidence needs a boost.  Let me spare you the stress of worrying about the unknown and give you 10 tips to have you walking out of that interview room like a boss.

  1. Don’t be scared to chit-chat.

    One of an interviewer’s biggest fears is a quiet, minimally-worded candidate.  Sure, we’ve got our list of questions for you.  But if you respond with one sentence answers, and we have 45 minutes slotted for you, we’re going to have some seriously awkward, uncomfortable silence on our hands.  In that case, you won’t be remembered very well.  So erase the notion that you’re the little pea who’s sitting across from a total king.  Of course, show your full respect to your interviewer, but realize that at the end of the day you are just two people.  So give yourself some credit and wipe that reason for anxiety off your chest.

  2. On that note, play yourself up, but don’t be cocky.

    One of the most common things I see are interview candidates who shy away from showcasing their experiences because they don’t think they’re worth enough for the job at hand.  You got a seat at the table for a reason, honey.  We know you have potential, so showcase it for us!  Prep for this by listing out the main responsibilities and accomplishments you’ve achieved in your previous jobs, no matter what capacity or how silly you think they were.  Then, group this list into common experience categories.  Examples could include teamwork, leadership, public speaking, disagreeing with someone, you get the point.  Now when your interviewer asks you, “Tell me about a time when…” you’re ready to respond.  And don’t forget to be enthusiastic.  You should be proud of who you are and what you’ve achieved. 

  3. Here’s what the cliché “We just want to see how well you can handle a difficult situation” really means.    

Basically what we’re trying to say here is that the way you formulate your response holds just as much weight, if not more, than the actual content of your response.  We know you’re not going to know everything.  You’re interviewing for a (key word) NEW job, so we’re well aware that hiring you comes with a learning curve.  The key to your response is to keep smiling, keep showing confidence, and find the right words to say so that when you don’t have the technical answer to the question, you simply portray how eager you are to learn it.  Which brings me to my next point…

4.     Smile!!!

Be enchanting.  Your actions are 100% contagious.  If you go in with uncertainty or uneasiness, which trust me is common, the interviewer will sense this and naturally display the same feelings back to you.  This also applies to phone interviews.  Smiles can, without a doubt, be heard over the phone so make sure you smile at all times.  This is HUGE and will be THE #1 saving grace for you if you bomb everything else.

5.     Offer your faults, strategically.

So many people dread the cliché interview question, “so what are your strengths and weaknesses?”  Here’s how you master this question.  First, put yourself in your interviewer’s shoes.  What strengths do you think they’re looking for in a candidate, and what weaknesses do you think they would be happy to help develop you through?  Then, think about where you fit into this equation.  Play up your strengths that you’d think they’d love, then offer your weaknesses in a positive, forward-thinking way.  For example, let’s say you despise working in teams but you know this job requires it.  You could say something like, “I’m really good at being self-sufficient so I’d love the opportunity to participate in some group projects where I can develop my teamwork skills.”  Wording it like this shows you a) can acknowledge where you need work and b) are eager to improve yourself.  Both of these are wonderful traits to have.

6.     Learn self-awareness.

Probably one of the biggest lessons you’ll learn the hard way in the real world is the concept of awareness, both of others and of yourself.  Self-awareness is being conscious of your own character and how others might be perceiving it.  (Warning – the results might be very different than what you think).  Awareness of others requires being able to step out of your shoes for a moment to best identify and relate to what others are feeling.  This is extremely difficult for people to do.  So if you really want to stand out from the crowd, make sure your verbal and nonverbal responses show the interviewer you understand it takes at least two (not just you) to tango in business, and that you can be trusted to be able to read people and react accordingly. 

7.     Show me how bad you want the job – do your research.

If you really want to work for this company then you need to know its ins and outs.  Read the company’s entire website.  Search recent press so you’re up to speed on the company’s current strategies, industry, and key competitors.  This will give you a ton of fuel come that time your interviewer says, “so what questions do you have for me?” 

8.      Proofread your resume.  Then proofread it again.

Your resume is the biggest piece of ammo you have to attract people to you, so make sure it reflects you in the best light possible.  For starters, there should be no spelling or grammar errors.  Next, it should be formatted in a visually grabbing way.  Google examples for your industry.  Also, bring copies to your interview.  You could end up with the virgin interviewer who didn’t quite think that part out yet.

9.     Email a thank-you note.

Sigh…a common courtesy that unfortunately is slipping through the cracks.  Please, I beg you, send a thank you email to everyone who interviewed you.  It shows us you’re appreciative of our time and you really want this job.  Keep it short and sweet, but try not to be too generic.  Throw in a line or two that’s personalized to the interview to leave us with a good memory of our time spent with you.  All things equal between two candidates, the one who sends the thank-you note wins.

10.    Look good.

Look like you put a solid effort into getting sleep the night before and ensuring your clothes look as crisp as they possibly can.  Be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.  Our assumption is that this is the best you will ever look should we hire you, so make it count. 

Simple Conclusion: Be poised.  Be prepared.  Be confident.  But above all things, be full of smiles. 

Got more tips for our interview candidates out there?  We’d love to hear them, so please share below!

 

Suits & Sneaks Outfit Calculation: The Monday Morning Meeting

Your alarm is blaring.  You don't want to move.  Yet, you can't hit snooze to fall back asleep because the anxiety of your morning meetings is taking over your head.  Yippee, it's Monday!  And the last thing you want to do is starch, iron, and put on heels.  Here, we've calculated a non-iron, super comfortable, no-heel, yet chic, professional look to get you through your day.

Step 1: The blazer.

Suits and Sneaks Blazer

Suits and Sneaks Blazer

Go to your gray, fitted blazer and wear it over a chic, pretty, non-iron, high-neck, lace shirt. Got professional appeal? Check.

Step 2: Dark skinnies. Gray oxfords.

Suits and Sneaks Polished Casual Outfit

Suits and Sneaks Polished Casual Outfit

Dark, fitted jeans and these Cole Haan Oxfords make it easy to get dressed.  Got comfort? Check.

Step 3: Glam up.

Suits and Sneaks Polished Casual Accessories

Suits and Sneaks Polished Casual Accessories

Gosh we love this part.  Add a little bling for that final touch.  Got the Polished Casual look?  Check.

Now go make it a great day!