Tastefully Trendy

A life and fashion blog by Sarah Beth

Tag: Professional (page 1 of 2)

Major Announcement

If you’re familiar with the Enneagram (i.e., you are immersed in Christian culture and/or you live in Nashville), then my penchant for making big, dramatic announcements should not surprise you since I am a 3 wing 4. If you’re not familiar with the Enneagram but you’ve ever met me, then it probably shouldn’t surprise you, either. I enjoy making a splash.

So, with that as an introduction, allow me to make the biggest announcement I’ve made in about 4 years – since I announced I was moving to Nashville…

I am, once again, moving!

I’ve accepted a position with the Department of Education, Federal Student Aid office, and I’ll be heading to DC in a few weeks.

When I told my current boss about my new job, he said, “well, that sounds boring.” Which made me laugh. But, I agree – if I were packaging individual loans for students, it would be pretty boring (no offense to any student loan officers out there; you’ve got a tough job). But, I’ll be on more of the big picture side, working with the people who are trying to resolve the student loan crisis, provide the public with good information, and affect policy. It’s a really incredible opportunity, and I’m grateful for it.

Most people who I’ve told about my move have had similar reactions and asked the same questions, so I thought I’d go ahead and address them now to save us all some time.

Q: But, I thought you loved Nashville!

A: I do love Nashville. Nashville is the best city I’ve ever lived in, and I will miss it, my friends, my church (especially my church), the music, and so much more. Of all my many moves, this one is the most bittersweet. But, it is time, and this opportunity opens up a whole new avenue for my career. I couldn’t pass it up.

Q: But, I thought you hated DC!

A: Hate is such a strong word… DC has never been my favorite city, that is true. However, I’ve also always thought I’d end up there at some point. I’ve been interested in government work for most of my adult life, and when I first graduated with my master’s, I moved to Virginia Beach with the plan to use it as a launching pad to DC. And I guess I did – just with two states and a lot of years in between.

Q: Why do you move so much, anyway?

A: I’ve wrestled with this one myself. To be fair, the majority of my moves were as a child, and I think growing up that way gave me a bit of a free spirit. I enjoy change and new opportunities and adventures. However, I’m also in my 30s now so I think about change and all its ramifications more seriously. At the end of the day, though, while I sometimes feel old, I’m not actually and life is long. There is plenty of time left to try new things and if I don’t like them, I can try something else. On the other hand, time does go by quickly and I don’t want to waste a moment by being afraid to take risks and seize opportunities.

Q: Are they paying you enough to live there?

A: Yes, and I’m sensitive about this question because I feel like it implies that I’m naive and don’t know that DC is expensive, and/or that I wasn’t smart enough to consider cost of living in my decision. So, if you ask this, and I snap at you, I’m sorry; I know you are just trying to be helpful. But, at least now you know why I’m touchy about it. Also, thank you for paying your taxes so that I can pay my bills.

Q: Can you get my student loans forgiven?

A: No.

Q: Are you excited?

A: Yes, I am excited. Like I said earlier, it’s definitely bittersweet. But, I miss the East Coast. I spent almost all of my 20s along the coast, and many of my close friends are still scattered up and down the shoreline. I have a few friends from different points in my life in DC, too, including my middle school bestie and a friend who I have accidentally followed to college, Nashville, and now DC.

Plus, the beach is closer – a significant factor that can’t be ignored.

But, I realize that my life is about to be dramatically different. Nashville is the biggest city I’ve ever lived in, and DC is literally 4 times its size. I’ll be taking public transportation every day and walking a few blocks from my home to the metro stop and from the metro stop to work – in all kinds of weather. I have to get “walking” shoes. It snows in DC, and I haven’t lived in a place where it snowed regularly in over 12 years. I’m going to have to wear suits. Maybe not every day. But more than the average of two times a year that I currently wear them.

So, yes, I am excited. But, I’m also nervous. I know I’ll adjust, and I think I’ll end up really liking it. I guess it would be a little ridiculous to do it if I didn’t expect to like it. But, I’m realistic enough to realize that the transition might be a little tough.

Q: This seems so sudden!

A: It’s really not. While I’d let my government ambitions subside for a while, a little over a year ago, I began to think about DC seriously. This was a big thing for me, because as we’ve already discussed, I’ve never loved DC and have actually been quite vocal about that in the past… But, the more I thought about it, the better the idea seemed, and it stuck with me, too. I get whims all the time, and most go away within a few days. It’s the ones that stick with me that I start to really pray about and pursue.

I applied for a few things last fall but took a little break when those didn’t pan out. Then, this summer, I started putting out feelers again and setting up alerts on USA Jobs. I went up for an interview with FSA in September, and I didn’t receive a final offer until November. So, really, none of it has been sudden at all. But, it all has been remarkably smooth and easy – something I also couldn’t ignore in my decision making process.

In fact, the process was so easy, I can’t help but think of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde getting into Harvard:


I hesitate to even make that joke because I do know that the typical process of getting a federal job can be very difficult, and I’ve had several friends be incredibly frustrated in their search. So, I don’t want to make light of anyone’s disappointment. However, I can’t help but marvel at the way God has thrown open doors for me, and as Proverbs 3:6 says, “made my paths straight.”

Q: Can we come visit you like we did in Nashville?

A: Of course! The accommodations will likely be a little more snug…and you might have to sleep on an air mattress or the couch. But, I’m always happy to have guests!

And there you have it – the major announcement! I’ve already begun altering my wardrobe to include Ann Taylor, Tommy Hilfiger, and some sensible pumps. But, honestly, I think DC fashion is a little lacking, so even within the confines of my professional wardrobe, I’m excited to bring a little Tastefully Trendy flair to the big city.

And in the meantime, if you have any boxes or newspaper, I will gladly take all of it off of your hands.

To cap off this post, I don’t have any great outfit collages. I do, however, have a picture of me examining a closet at a potential DC apartment (I deemed the closet inadequate, as you might be able to guess from my face). And a couple of my favorite selfies from the magical mirror in my church bathroom. Dear Magic Mirror, I think I’ll miss you most of all.

Thank you for reading, and much love to you all.


Black to Basics

In my professional life, I’ve developed a bit of a uniform for when I’m visiting schools/churches/”clients”. It’s not super clever or unique – I just wear black. But, maybe my reasons for doing so are a little more distinctive.

Of course, the primary reason I wear black is pretty obvious: it’s professional. Also, it’s really easy, and as we’ve established on multiple occasions, I’m the worst packer ever, so black reduces the effort I have to put into the work side of my suitcase (I really do divide it that way; work clothes in one half, fun clothes in the other).

But, I also love black because it allows me to mix and match all of my shoes and accessories and come up with different looks that suit whatever audience I’m meeting, while still showcasing my personality.

In this outfit, I was meeting with someone for work, so I wore jewelry from Rahab’s Rope, of course. The leopard print shoes are mine and I love them.

1 - black to basicsDo you have a uniform – required or just developed?  Any go-to looks for certain occasions?  You know how I feel about that whole minimalist wardrobe thing, but there is something comforting in not having to think.

Red, White, and Blue Times 2

Sometimes I feel like my fashion identity is all over the place – I’ll be bohemian one day, preppy the next, super trendy another.  I attribute this primarily to having moved so much and picking up different style characteristics from all over the country (seriously, travel the four hours from Georgia to Nashville and you’re in another world.  Go up to New England, and it changes again.  And California has always done it’s own thing, of course.)

I also just genuinely like elements of a lot of different styles and can’t bring myself to be limited to only one.  However, one of the biggest current factors in my sartorial (doesn’t that make me sound like a fancy fashion editor?) identity crisis is my job situation.  While I love being able to wear almost whatever I want to work, I did work at a law school for 6 years, and I can’t quite break the professional dress code.  So, I waffle back and forth between jeans and heels on a daily basis.

I really love dressing professionally, though.  I also really love wearing patriotic colors all summer long (why restrict celebrating the greatest country on earth to only one or two holidays?)

The irony of this first outfit is that I bought the dress in India, yet it is often part of my most patriotic outfits.  I love this red bow belt my mom gave me, too (well, it’s a bow if I wasn’t wearing it on the loosest hole…so just take my word for it), and the neutral heels allow the outfit to pull the weight, while not looking too matchy-matchy as red, white, or blue might have.
1 - polka dots, red bow beltThis second dress is so pretty – it’s a navy and white, almost tapestry fabric, and it’s a very flattering cut…if it fit properly.  Alas, I didn’t try it on and it’s too big.  I’m planning to have it taken in because it’s just too cute to give away, but in the mean time, some safety pins hidden by a cardigan kept everything in place.

1 - tapestry dress, white cardigan(Disclaimer: a lot of my skirts are probably a little too short for a truly professional environment.  I would have felt self-conscious at the law school.  So, that is one freedom I do not take for granted!)

If I had to dress only one way for the rest of my life, it would probably be this – the professional/business/business-casual look.  Thankfully, I don’t have to do that, but if the world suddenly took a cruel turn, what would be your one style of choice?

Statement Shoulders

Do you ever have those times where you think your life is returning to normal, only to discover it is decidedly not?  I’m in one of those phases right now.  Just when I think my travel season is over, I get another trip that keeps growing, and my poor little blog goes neglected.

Alas, I’m about to leave for an event right now, so I’ll be quick.  Mostly, I just want to talk about how happy I am that leather accents are doing their thing right now.  Due to the conservative nature of my office, I can’t really get away with much all-leather.  But I can certainly get away with leather shoulders – especially when tucked into a traditional pencil skirt.

Second, aren’t these envelope earrings the cutest things ever?  I got them in a boutique in Boston’s North End – right after I’d picked up my Mike’s Pastry treat.  Obviously, it was a perfect day.

This pencil skirt is a heavy jersey knit, so it’s super comfortable, but also very flattering and maintains its shape well.  The pockets are real, but I didn’t cut them open because I think it probably won’t lay as nicely if I do.  It kinda drives me crazy knowing I have pockets I can’t put my hands in, but it’s a small price.

Shirt: Target clearance rack ($6, I think?)
Earrings: some cute boutique in Boston
Skirt: the Limited
Shoes: Payless
Baby Ring: I don’t know if that’s really what they’re called, but I love them and call them that. From Love Culture. 

Inspired Look: People who Pack Well

The last time I blogged…seems like ages ago.  Well, I guess Monday counts, but the last time I blogged about myself was 2 weeks, 4 states, 2 countries, and countless cities ago.  So, it seems like it’s been a really, really long time.

In that blog, I promised you a look at my attempt to be a good-packer for my 12 day marathon journey through the Northeast.   I couldn’t figure out the best way to show you my packing list, so I just took a picture of my screen.  If you click on it to make it bigger, you can kinda read it.

The point is, I outlined every single day and tried to mix and match as much as possible.  It’s probably the most organized I’ve ever been for a trip, at least in terms of my packing (I left all of my flight confirmations on my desk…)  Yes, this list took forever to make, but I managed to stay at the weight limit of my suitcase – no small feat (technically, it was 51.5 pounds, but the guy was nice).

Here are a few of the outfits that came from my mixing and matching.  There are not more because I was lazy and didn’t take more pictures.  But you get the idea.

Below is one of the two suits I brought – I wore the suit itself twice, and I wore the skirt another time or two.

Next you’ll see one of those times were my suit skirt did double-duty.  Apparently, I took this picture before I’d ironed.

Here, you see my gray cardigan again, combined with the skirt for my other suit (one which you’ll recognize from my grandmother’s closet.)

That skirt and suit also got worn at least two other times.  However, as you can tell, I’m still not very good at mixing and matching my shoes…but 4 pairs of dress shoes for a 12 day business trip seems pretty reasonable, don’t you think?

Perhaps not my most exciting outfits, but it got me through until I was safely reunited with my full wardrobe.

Do you have any good mix-and-match tips?


I thought it might be a good idea to show you one of the reasons why blogging from the road is difficult for me – I have to wear boring things.

The outfit below is a typical look from a recruiting trip (although since the background of the picture is recognizable, you can tell I wasn’t actually on a trip when I wore this).  My suit is cute, but it’s still a suit – not a whole lot you can do with it.  I tried to spice it up with some cute patterened shoes – a subtle print-mixing is about all that is appropriate professionally – and some colored jewelry.  But, really, that’s all I could do.

Now, I don’t have to wear a suit to every event I attend when I’m away, but I do often wear them, and in the interest of space saving, I wear the same one multiple times.  I also have to plan every outfit in advance in order to pack, which really inhibits my creativity (my outfits usually come together very spontaneously).  So, my suitcase ends up being a rather jumbled bunch of boring professional clothes.

This week, my goal is to wear as many blog-worthy looks as possible so that I have a reservoir for when I’m on the road.  But, if the next two weeks end up looking like a lot of the same black dress with different scarves, at least you will understand.

Indian Summer

The days of wearing my pretty yellow dress this year are numbered.  I can add a brown cardigan or blazer and extend it’s life a little later into the fall, but not much.  Soon, it will have to be retired until next year.

So, I wanted to get one more summer wear out of it.  The weather right now is sunny and mid-70s; the kind of weather that makes me want to wear color.  I went with one of my go-to palettes – the crayon box  – and came up with the outfit you see below.  I love the electric blue and yellow combination and the white belt gives it a very crisp, polished feel.

I don’t ever really put my summer clothes away, but it still makes me sad when some of my favorites have to lie dormant for a few months.  Do you have any pieces you hate to put aside for the changing seasons?  Any you’re really excited to bring back out?

Dress and heels: JCPenney

X Marks the Spot

Today’s outfit is comprised of almost all new things! I love doing that.

Let’s play that memory game they always play at baby showers and list all the things you remember from yesterday’s post.  I’ll give you a hint – five of them are in today’s look.

When I bought this tank from H&M, I thought the pattern was crosses.  I clearly looked at it sideways.  When I put it on yesterday, I realized it was more like pirate X’s.  Which, you know, is not really me.  However, it does look cute on me, so I paired it with pink accents, and I loved the juxtaposition of tough and feminine.

Also, the pink made me not feel depressed when wearing black.  And it wasn’t even raining!

Finally, I took this blurry picture of my shoes because they’re just perfection.  Look how skinny that heel is!  And the color is the ideal pastel pink – not too pale, not too Bubble Yum.  Elle Woods would approve.

Shoes: JCPenney
Tank: H&M
Sweater: Loft
Skirt: Express, I think?  It was a hand me down
Belt: Charlotte Russe
Necklace: Charlotte Russe?
Earrings: Wet Seal (and they’re actually professional!)
Barrette: Wet Seal
Ring: Love Culture

My Boss’s Mini-Me

Inspiration for my outfits really can come from anywhere.

Yesterday, my boss was wearing a blouse and cardigan very similar – in both color and style – to the ones I’m wearing below.  Her outfit made me think, “I haven’t worn a good all-over neutral look in a while.”  So, I told her I was going to copy her.  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or something.

I did switch up her look a little bit, by wearing a white skirt (she had one that more matched the color of the cardigan) and adding tortoise shell pumps.  But overall, we could have been twinsies!

Also, while I decided to wear this yesterday, it’s raining again today.  Of course.  So, the black is appropriate.  (Maybe not the white so much.)

Shirt: Old Navy.  I literally bought this shirt in college – which was now a long time ago.  It’s been with me through thick and thin.  Also literally.
Skirt: H&M or something in France
Cardigan: also Old Navy.  The length kinda makes me feel like Mr. Rodgers.  But in a cute way?
Pumps: Charlotte Russe

Dress like a Professional Day

You may find this hard to believe based on my usual blog posts, but sometimes I do have to dress like a real professional adult.  Shocking, but true. (You may also find it hard to believe based on my photography skills that I don’t have jaundice, but that is also true.)

The other day, I had to give a presentation at work, so I decided a tailored blazer was in order.  I use the word tailored instead of conservative, because I hardly think hot pink could be classified as conservative.

For this outfit, I chose to let the jacket color do all the hard work and kept the rest of the look very simple and clean.  Except, my shoes – these are just one of my favorite pairs.

Sometimes I think about what I would wear if I had to dress like this everyday – like, if I worked in a law office or was a Congresswoman.  I’d probably just have a lot more neon suits.

Jacket: swap party win!
Skirt: somewhere in France (I think at H&M, actually)
T-shirt: Wal-Mart – best t-shirt I’ve ever owned.
Shoes: DSW

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