Interview Ready

Some of you may not know this, but I originally started blogging with the intent to share career advice to those getting ready to graduate or nearing the end of their college careers. I've sort of veered away from my original intent, but the yearn for sharing advice still resonates.

It has been almost three years since I first interviewed for my current job (yikes!! time flies, doesn't it??). Since then, I've sifted through hundreds of resumes and sat in on interviews through my current job and various positions I hold outside of work. So I've now been on both sides of the interview process.

While times are changing, there are a few key factors that go into being interview ready and for which haven't changed. One being the dress code and another the preparation beforehand.

In this post I hope to share a little "interview ready" insight with you. May is the perfect month to do so, because a lot of you will be starting the interview process for your first job or possibly searching for the next step in your career. First up, let's talk about what you should wear to an interview.

Dress (What not to Do): Before I get into the "interview appropriate attire," I wanted to touch on a few... well, don'ts.
  • DON'T wear overpowering perfume. One spritz goes a long way. Sometimes, none is better.
  • DON'T wear a lot of jewelry. One bracelet or watch, per arm. One ring per hand. Stay away from bright or colorful necklaces. Keep earrings understated.
  • DON'T show too much skin. Refrain from sleeveless unless it's middle of summer and there's zero AC in the building. Make sure your skirt or dress is appropriate length. And don't wear a top that's too low cut.
  • DON'T wear flats, unless absolutely necessary. Even a slight heel is all you need. In the same regard, don't wear heels that you'd wear out to the club on a Saturday night. 
  • DON'T bring ten thousand bags with you. Leave the lunchbox and workout bag at home. 

Dress (What to Do): Throughout this post I've featured the perfect interview ready outfit. A classic dress, appropriate length, minimal jewelry and the simple black pump (side note -- please ignore the purple nail polish... not really interview appropriate. Go with a nude or lighter shade). The necklace could be a bit bold for some interview environments, so a classic pearl necklace or simple gold chain would work as well. Use your best judgement based on where you're interviewing. For me personally, I like to make sure that I don't lose my personal style, even for an interview. As someone who has interviewed others, I appreciate the effort of looking business professional, but still seeing someone's personality shine through in their outfit of choice.

So I chose a simple, business appropriate dress from J.Crew Factory. The pattern is subtle enough that it isn't overwhelming. You could even add a black blazer over the dress for a more professional look.

When it comes to jewelry, I again used a bold necklace to tie the outfit together, but it's still understated enough that it doesn't overpower an interview ready outfit.

I kept to the golden rule of one bracelet or watch. And then wore classic black pumps. A good work tote and a put-together hair and makeup combo, makes for the perfect interview ready outfit.

**Note: always use your best judgement when preparing an interview ready outfit. Some business environments expect a classic pants or skirt suit for ladies.

Now that you're dressed and ready to go, let's talk about some things to do before your interview. A little preparation goes a long way.

  • Make copies of your resume and cover letter. Make copies of your list of references as well. Make more copies then you think you'll need. You never know who else might pop in the interview. The worst thing in the world is to arrive empty handed. 
  • Do your background research. Learn anything and everything there is to know about the company and who you're interviewing with. Employers like someone who is knowledgeable and seems interested. 
  • Eat. Nobody wants to hear your rumbling tummy in the middle of the interview. Eat a balanced meal beforehand.
  • Try to schedule your interview in the morning. You'll be fresher and your mind will be stronger. End of day interviews tend to be bad for both the interviewer and interviewee. You're tired and you've worked your brain all day. 
  • Plan out the route you're going to take to get to the interview place. Time out metro or bus schedules, print off a map, or setup the address in an app. My favorite app is HopStop. I used this when I lived in New York and I still can't live without it. HopStop allows you to input your start and finish addresses, plus the mode of transportation, and what time you want to "arrive by." That way you know exactly which train to get on, or what time the bus leaves. This app has helped make sure I'm always on time.
  • Set five alarms. If your interview is first thing in the morning, set several alarms. 
  • Arrive 10 minutes early. If your interview is at 9:00 a.m., walk in the door at 8:50 a.m. Any earlier is overeager and any later is well, late. 
  • Prepare three go-to questions for you to ask at the end of your interview. Employers love to be asked questions too! And an interview is just as much about you finding the right fit, as the employer finding the right candidate. My go-to questions are:
    • "What is your favorite part about working for X Organization?"
    • "What is the most important characteristic you look for in a candidate?"
    • "What is your timeline for hiring?"
  • Refrain from asking about salary during the first interview. 
  • Come up with a good response to "what is your weakness?" Always, always turn a negative into a positive. 

After your interview, be sure to send thank you emails, as well as handwritten thank you notes... immediately. My trick is to prepare the envelope and card before the interview, write it as soon as I leave and slip in the mail that day.

Did I miss anything? Have any questions about preparing for your interview? I'm happy to help! Just shoot me an email or comment below. **Photos by Lisa Chiu

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Daily Reads

One of the most popular questions I get asked about my life and blogging, is what do I read on a daily basis. While I have a full-time job in politics during the day, it can be hard to keep up with everything going on. So I've narrowed my daily reads down quite a bit over the past year or so, and focus on sites and blogs that I know I'll enjoy and can best relate to. I typically read the various mentions below on my way to work, during my lunch break or afternoon coffee break, on the bus or metro, and at night before I go to bed. It really just depends on the day. Read on to find out what those daily reads are!

To get the news... when it comes to staying on top of world news and trending topics, I usually rely on Twitter and several other resources. I'm not one to read twelve pages of text, so Twitter and the sites below, really help break it down.

  • Twitter: Some of the key people/publications I follow are the Today Show, Fox News, Breaking News and Politico. These are just a few news resources I follow on Twitter. All of them do a great job in sharing the basics in a tweet and linking to a more detailed article. I can either get what I need from 140 characters or click the link to read more.
  • The Skimm: If you don't already subscribe to the Skimm, you're missing out. It's a daily dose of the news, in a short and humorous way. It makes "reading the news" far more enjoyable, and the Skimm does a great job of getting down to the basics. They're pretty middle of the road and share news on everything from world events, sports, fashion and more. 
  • People Magazine and E! News for all my entertainment and Hollywood gossip! 
  • I also follow various Twitter accounts of the news stations back in Tennessee. That way I can stay up-to-date on all my Tennessee happenings and not miss anything, even though I'm 8 hours away.

To find out what's going on in DC... I usually turn again, to Twitter. I subscribe to a few daily emails as well. Side note -- if you're not on Twitter, you should definitely change that. About a year ago I barely knew what my Twitter handle was... now, I cannot live without it. Twitter is my daily source for everything.

  • Daily Emails: While I try to narrow down the amount of emails I get on a daily basis #inboxoverload, I do subscribe to a few daily emails that offer plenty of info about DC happenings and events. 

Daily blog reads... initially I had quite the extensive list. Now, things are made easier by saving all of my blogs in one place. Bloglovin' sends me a daily email with all the new posts from the blogs I follow. It's a great way to condense all of the new posts into one email, and I can quickly skim the posts to see what I want to read that day. Some (and I repeat, some) of my daily blog reads are:

And some of my daily DC blog reads are... well, ALL of them!! So many to name, but ones I rarely miss are District Sparkle, Southern Anchors, Alicia Tenise, A Touch of Teal, McKenna Bleu, A Dash of Gold and Poor Little It Girl.

What are some of your daily reads?! I love discovering new resources, news sites and blogs. Leave some of your faves in the comments below. 

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**Photo via


Mother's Day Gifts from Minted

Mother's Day is quickly approaching y'all! I cannot believe how fast this year has flown by already!! If you haven't looked at your calendar recently, we have two weeks till the special day that we all celebrate the woman that has given so much to us over the years.

Mother's Day is Sunday, May 10th, and if your mother is anything like mine, she can be extremely hard to shop for (sorry Momma Sue!). For any holiday that a gift is necessary, I tend to scour the internet for the perfect present for my mother. Will she like this? Or will she like that? It's never easy to decide.

Over the years, I have found that the sentimental and well thought out gifts tend to go over the best. So this year, I wanted to get something that she'd actually use, and at the same time cherish. Awwww. So I looked no further than one of my favorite online print shops, Minted.

Minted is a design marketplace that connects you with artists all over the world, and helps you to create something special. Everything from personalized stationery, to all kinds of paper products and artwork. I've been a fan of Minted for a LONG time!! I've used them for Christmas cards, event invites and most recently, my blog business cards. Before I let y'all in on what they're doing for Mother's Day, I have to brag about Minted for a second....

They're AMAZING! And I'm not just saying that. I seriously have had the most wonderful and easy experiences working with them. I've never had an issue or problem. The ordering process couldn't be any simpler. They break it down so their site is user friendly, and has all the necessary information. They even send you a free proof for your order that shows what the final product will look like. The turnaround and shipping is quick too. Sounds great, doesn't it?
Anyways, back to Mother's Day. Minted usually offers different selections for various holidays. Their current Mother's Day selection is totally on point! What mother wouldn't love a framed photo with her family and/or children? You can customize your framed photo or even create a collage. Minted offers plenty of sizes, frame finishes and mattes to choose from.

If your mother already has quite the extensive photo collection in your home, then you can choose from other products such as stationery, notebooks or artwork.

I decided to choose a few pieces of art for my mother to hang in our home or take to her office. I cannot wait for her to see the prints I chose! I featured a few of my favorites below:

Minted has even taken their Mother's Day prints one step further, by creating a custom made print for Every Mother Counts. Minted has long been a supporter of the non-profit organization, which is dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother. For every EMC print purchased, Minted will donate $5 to the organization. How great is that? Yet another business giving back! Y'all know I love that!!

Be sure to checkout Minted's entire artwork selection here. Shopping for your mother? You can use code PROPER10 to get 10% off your order (code expires May 4th). Whether you're shopping for your mother, or your own personal use, I couldn't recommend Minted enough. Happy shopping!!

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**This post is sponsored by Minted. Product was given as compensation. Even so, I've been a long time supporter of Minted and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Primp & Proper going! Xo


Tips for Attending a Media Preview

One really important aspect of blogging actually happens offline, and in real life. That is networking. You can network with other bloggers at events, network with followers at meet-and-greets, and network with brands at media previews. Most people don't realize this, but a good bit of blogging is done offline and in person. 

When I first started blogging, I would receive email invites to various store openings, requests to come into a restaurant and try out the new menu, and invitations to media previews throughout DC. At first I was really excited to even have someone recognize that I (and my blog) existed. Really cool, right? I also thought how great of an opportunity these events were to snap a great photo, enjoy a few light bites and a glass of pinot. All the while never realizing the importance behind these events.

So let's take a step back to probably one of my more embarrassing moments when I first started blogging. I received an invitation to come into a store and preview their new line for the season. Of course I was the first person to arrive. My promptness definitely can be a negative in some cases. Any who, when I arrived I was immediately introduced to their sales rep. She asked how much I knew about their company and I froze. I really didn't know anything past the fact they serviced women's clothing. That was it. After walking through the store, I left with zero questions asked and no photos taken. A week later, their PR contact emailed me and asked when I was going to do a post on their new line and when I was going to share photos on social media. DOUBLE FAIL. In the end, I should have asked questions beforehand. I should have "known," but I was still so new to blogging and just didn't realize. That was very early on in my blogging career, and I have since then learned "what not to do."

As the spring events season amps up, I thought it was the perfect time to share a few tips I've learned over time. I'm most certainly still new, still learning, and still grasping the event concept, but for newer bloggers, here are some tips I've learned for attending media previews and/or brand events.

Before You Go:
  • There is a purpose // A media preview, blogger happy hour or event, has more than just a "come enjoy light bites and mingle with other bloggers" purpose. This is your opportunity to learn more about a brand, and for a brand to expose their new line or menu to some really powerful voices in the area. 
  • It's OK to say NO // As you progress in your blogging career, you'll start to get invited to more and more things. Some of the time, several events can very well be on the same night. It's key to remember that you shouldn't over commit. Give yourself one or two nights off each week to hangout with friends or just relax. It's okay to say you can't attend an event, but hope they'll keep you in mind for future things. 
  • Take a friend // Especially if you're new to blogging and a fairly shy person, go with someone. If the event says, "you and a guest," bring someone with you. Typically bring a fellow blogger, because they'll be just as interested in the event as you. That only makes for a better time and makes you feel more comfortable. 
  • Do your research // This is very important. Don't walk into a media preview and have zero clue how to pronounce the brand's name. Do a little background and know what the brand is about. Do they service men's fashion or women's? How long have they been in the area? Etc. On the flip side, you don't need to be an encyclopedia of information who knows every single detail about the brand. One of the points of attending the preview is to ask questions and be interested. So make sure to ask the brand reps questions about their company and anything you feel your readers would want to know. 
  • Know what's expected of you // There's nothing worse than attending an event or trying out a local restaurant, and then the PR contact comes back and asks, "where's the post?" That has happened to me. I quickly went back through emails, searching for where they asked for a post. Never did. So make sure if you accept the invite to try out that new restaurant, you ask the contact what they expect. Just social media? Great. They want a post? Ask what they expect of the post. It NEVER hurts to ask. 

    While You're There:
    • This isn't a frat party // Don't be that person ripping shots just because it's an open bar. At the same time, enjoy yourself and do look like you're having fun. Nobody likes a wallflower. 
    • Take photos // Brands love when you take photos and share on social media. Most reps will mention that you should take photos, but in case they don't, it never hurts to ask. 
    • You don't have to buy something // We're all on a budget. Just because a designer brand invites you into their store, that doesn't mean you have to throw down several hundred dollars for their new bag. They don't expect you to either. You can find other ways to share the brand with your followers. Try taking a photo of the new bag and sharing on social media instead. 
    • Make new connections // Even though you may arrive with a friend, that doesn't mean you can't meet new people and network. Don't be afraid to introduce yourself to others.
    • Business cards // Always, always, always have them with you. No matter when or where you go. 
    • Enjoy yourself // While media previews can have some business to them, they're also meant to be fun. Enjoy the evening and enjoy the company. How often do you get to attend a private party at your favorite designer's store OR try out the new local restaurant's menu before it opens? Okay, for some it may be often. BUT you're getting to do something most people don't. So have fun!

    After the Event:
    • Send a thank you // Always email the PR contact and person you met with at the event, thanking them for the invitation and that it was a pleasure to meet them. If you have a mailing address, send a handwritten thank you. Trust me, thank you's go a long, long way.
    • Post social media // If that's requested of you. Even if it's not, I generally try to share a photo on Instagram or tweet that I was there. Going above and beyond goes a long way as well.
    • Write your post // If you were asked to write a post, make sure you get it up in a timely manner. Posting a recap a month after an event doesn't make much sense. Unless there are other variables involved, like featuring outfit photos, etc. 

    These are all points I have learned along the way. We all start somewhere, and I'm still learning with each event. But hopefully some of these tips will help you next time you get an invite to an event or media preview. Have any tips that you live by? Let me know!

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    When life gives you lemons, buy a skirt!

    I suppose I can officially say I've made it as a fashion blogger, because I finally started a craze over a particular piece of clothing. I found this LOFT skirt about a month ago when it was one of their new arrivals. Initially I bought the lemon yellow color. When I received the skirt, I freaked out over the fit and quality. I just loved the way it flared slightly, and was impressed with the thickness of the material. I couldn't wait to wear it! The first time I wore the skirt, I got countless compliments from coworkers and passerbys. If that wasn't enough, the first time I featured this skirt on Instagram, y'all freaked!! Needless to say, it didn't take me long before I went back and bought the other two colors.

    That was the first time numerous people raved about a piece that I found on my own, before anyone else. So it has officially made my month that so many of y'all loved it!

    Today's post features the lemon yellow eyelet once again, but I've got a few more outfit posts coming your way with the white and teal versions. I wore this outfit recently to a DC blogger event, hosted by Ashley in DC, at Charles Schwartz & Son. It was a fabulous morning of sips, snacks and trying on very expensive diamonds. What more can a girl want?! I even got to try on a ring worth a million dollars. My hands were literally trembling.

    If you did happen to snag this skirt during yesterday's 60% off sale (and got it for only $22), let me know how you style it! Be sure to share photos with me via social media; links are below! **Update: this skirt is STILL 60% off!! Plenty of sizes left in all three colors! So make sure you hurry on over to LOFT and get one for yourself!! Xo

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    Spring Dresses with Nordstrom

    Spring Dresses with Nordstrom

    Spring, a rather short season, is definitely the most jam packed for events, showers, horse races and the like. A good dress is key to surviving the spring events season, so I've rounded up a few of my faves. All of them just so happen to be from one store, so you can get your one stop shop on.

    I've featured dresses for all occasions, and price levels. I've got quite a few events coming up myself over the next month or so, and I've got my eye on a few of these. I even wore the Spring Gala dress to Taste of the South last month! Next on my list? A dress for Virginia's Gold Cup Horse Race next month.

    Make sure you checkout all the dresses Nordstrom has right now! So many options, perfect for any spring occasion.

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    Floral Pants

    Floral Pants // Button-down (old, similar) // Cardigan (Yellow in-stores) // Block Heels
    Bag (H&M in-stores, online option) // Necklace // Bracelet (Loft in-stores, online options)
    Photos by Lisa Chiu

    Right now we're in what I call, fashion limbo, weather wise. Recently my morning walks to work have been cool and windy, but as the day progresses temps get well up into the 70's. So how does one dress during these few weeks of back-and-forth temps? My go to right now is layering. I'll walk to work with a light jacket, blazer or cardigan over a button-down or shell. As the day goes on, I can lose the outerwear. This is really the only way I know how to dress in the spring.

    As for DC though, our "spring weather" typically lasts a few short weeks before quickly diving into summer type weather and heat. So I'll take the cool walks to work in the morning for now, rather than the blistering heat that makes me arrive to work looking like I jumped in the pool first. So I'll let summer stay as far off in the distance as possible. Anyone else agree?

    P.S. Yesterday was the big Lilly for Target release. How did everyone do?? I waited up for hours to get my hands on everything I wanted. After numerous site crashes, countless false alarms of everything being in my cart only to have it dumped during site maintenance, to being extremely jealous of everyone's confirmation receipts... I walked away with only a romper and blanket. I guess that's better than some people made out, so I can't complain. One thing that's for certain, is Pink Sunday will officially go down in fashion history as being one of the most stressful and chaotic days, ever.

    Oh and thank you to my dear friend Paige for also having an extra maxi, in my size!! At least I'm going to get one thing that was on my wish list. Anyone do better, or worse than me? Would love to hear your story! And if anyone has scarves they're looking to sell or the pineapple sandals in a size 9, 9.5 or 10... lemme know! :) XO

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    The Perfect Bags for Spring

    Bags for Spring

    Every fashionista has "their accessory" that they tend to purchase the most of. Whether that be shoes, bracelets or handbags, I feel like most people have one particular accessory that tends to fill their closet more than others. For me, that's handbags. When it comes to jewelry, I'm pretty basic and tend to wear the same pieces over and over. As for shoes, I love those too, but I typically invest in quality rather than quantity. BUT when it comes to bags, there are no restrictions! A good work tote, a fun clutch for events. You name it, I want it (if only I could afford to buy them all!).

    My favorite time to purchase new bags is during spring. The reason being, most brands bring out the statement bags, bright colors and major trends during this season. Simply because you can get the most wear out of it. Find a bag you love, and you can carry it all spring and summer long. Sometimes well into the fall too. So for today's post, I featured a few items I'm lusting over right now! I recently snagged the Kate Spade NY scalloped clutch for myself during Bloomingdale's Friends & Family Sale. I can't stop carrying it! It's my favorite! Oh, and the GiGi New York clutch is a year round staple. Choose a neutral color, like the stone, and you can use this clutch during any season!

    Which ones are your favorites? Happy shopping y'all!

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    Spring in DC

    GiGi New York Clutch // Michael Kors Watch (old, similar) // J. Crew Pave Link Bracelet // Sunglasses
    Photos by Nicole

    If you follow me on Instagram then you've probably seen the countless photos of flowers and cherry blossoms I've been posting lately. How can I not post so many though?! Washington, D.C. is known for being one of (in my opinion no other city even compares) the most gorgeous cities in the country during spring time. I guess it's the vast amounts of cherry blossoms throughout the city. Downtown, on Capitol Hill, and most famously, the Tidal Basin. You can find these beautiful blooms everywhere.

    Over the Weekend they were in peak bloom. Meaning the cherry blossoms were at their fullest and most gorgeous, and the point right before the white/pinkish tint of the bloom disappears. Peak bloom typically lasts two-three days. So there's always a mad rush to get down to the tidal basin to see them. Even though us locals have to battle the hoards of tourists, it's worth it.

    I get asked all the time what my "go-to" outfit for touring the city during the spring is. For me it's about being comfortable, warm (as the winds can be pretty cool), but still adding a pop of color to my outfit. My favorite outfit is a good denim jean, chambray button-up, a bright cardi and most importantly, good walking shoes. I tend to save the tennis shoes for the gym, the ballet flats for the office and under ZERO circumstances, do I ever wear heels or wedges to sightsee. It's just not worth it. Choose a comfortable sandal. I love these sparkly sandals from Target. Bonus, they're a much cheaper option of last season's J.Crew stunners that everyone seemed to have.

    Do you have a go-to outfit for sightseeing in any city? Let me know!

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