Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Suit Shopping

This year I decided to do a suit refresh. Women's suits tend to have a shorter fashion life span than men's, mostly because they have trendier details (remember shoulder pads from the 80's, long jackets from the 90's, and now the trend of short jackets?). Not only did most of my existing suits not fit well, many of them looked so early-2000s.

Here are my tips:
  • Buy one size up and take it to a tailor to have it fitted to YOUR body.
  • Find the discounts. I've bought 4 suits this year. 3 on a website called Rue La La. They have boutiques with high end clothing that you get at a drastic discount. My last purchase was an Anne Klein $400 suit for $120. I spent $75 at the tailor getting it taken in and it looks like a $600 suit. I like Beyond the Rack online as well. And Nordstrom Rack can have a good deal if you are willing to dig.
  • Stick with solids and pinstripes in neutral colors. Black, grey, navy, brown, tan, etc. Then add your color with the shirt underneath or shoes.
  • No matter what your size, a pencil skirt looks great. I promise. You may just need to get it tailored to the right fit and length.
  • Lately I've noticed, there are a lot of suit jackets that button high enough you don't need a shirt underneath. I got one and wore a colorful scarf in an ascot-type fashion. Adding a broach or scarf or big necklace is a must.
  • Change the buttons. I'm about to go on an antique and vintage store shopping spree to find fabulous buttons to swap out on my clothing. Cool, huh?
  • Throw away the cheap belts that come with them. Either cut off the belt loops (or have the tailor do it) or get a proper belt.
  • Wear proper dress shoes. I hate seeing a woman in a suit with Frankenstein boots or rubber soled shoes. If you must wear flats, don't get the kind that look like men's shoes with a 1-inch heel. Make sure they are feminine or have some sort of detail.
My last tip has to do with attitude. Don't be scared to wear a suit. Be appropriate, of course, don't wear one to a networking function where most people will be casual or business casual. But an important meeting on a Tuesday? Feel free to put one on! It will be like your super hero costume...

...QueenB Says

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Here's $20

On a recent trip, my friend Fifi and I were having one of those late lunches sitting at a bar with a cute bartender anticipating our every need where you have less than an hour to catch up on the past 2 years and you spend the entire time talking so fast and bouncing around from topic to topic in a way where you both are so on and orchestrated that it almost feels like you have memorized and rehearsed a script and are just playing it out for the final cut. You know those?

Now, I think you can call yourself brilliant once a month and that still keeps you in the confident, not conceited category. Well, Fifi was brilliant.

We were talking about people that need advice. The kind no one will give them. And she posed the idea of how philanthropic it would be to actually give them that advice, and to soften the blow you give them $20. It's like charity! "Here's $20. You drink too much." "Here's $20. Everyone around you isn't stupid/lazy/unreasonable. You are." "Here's $20. You are lucky to have her and you will never get anyone better. Marry her." At the time, this sounded much more brilliant.

Well, not a week later, I'm having dinner with 2 of my best girlfriends. And we decide that we are some of the most together and brilliant people we know. And wondered aloud if people would actually pay us to help them become awesome too. See why they are some of my best girlfriends?

I get that at this point I'm paying the $20 and I'm pondering getting people to pay me, so I'm back at ZERO. But humor me. In less than a week, 3 brilliant girlfriends and I had conversations about how we can save the world one person at a time by just speaking the truth. Obviously this is a need.

What am I going to do about it? I don't know yet. But stay tuned...

...QueenB Says

Monday, March 14, 2011

Working It Out

As I posted last week, I've been sick. Two weeks of recuperating from a cold and bronchitis meant no working out. I was pretty good at not beating myself up because of it. So, let's call that a success in treating myself well and having perspective, don't you think?

Well, it did give me a chance to pay attention to how I feel when I work out and how different I feel when I don't work out. Here's what I noticed:
  • I sleep remarkably better when I work out.
  • I need more sleep. Shockingly, about 2.5 hours more.
  • I worry much less about what I eat when I work out. Duh, right? But I crave about 500-800 calories more and I still don't worry.
  • I do not have any aches or pains when I work out. Whether I'm sitting in my chair at work, the couch at night, or in my bed, I get no back pain or hip pain or that weird foot cramp I kept getting when I didn't work out.
  • My mornings feel more rushed when I don't work out, which seems odd since I do it in the morning. Must be the planning that goes into it or the endorphins.
  • My days, even though they have been equally as busy and planned, feel much less overwhelming when I work out.
I can hear the cynical ones now: this is comparing your sick self to your well self. Could be. My question is: what if all of the above, all of the things that make me physically and mentally better, are because of working out? What if they are the cause? I'd bet they are. At least a high percentage of of the cause. But I figure I enjoy my daily routine of aerobic and anaerobic exercise so much, it doesn't matter why I feel better. I just do.

And the side effects are not the heinous things you hear recited at the end of pharmaceutical commercials. They are things like, weight maintenance, muscle tone, better lung capacity, cholesterol control, heart health. Look good and feel good? I'll take it...

...QueenB Says

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Taste of My Own Medicine

I have blogged about balance and priorities and health and taking good care of yourself incessantly. I guess I need to take my own advice.

I got a cold last Sunday, the kind where you are achy and have a fever and basically feel miserable. I worked sick every day, I came home sick every day, and I sleeping sick was the worst! After 6 days of this, I went back to the doctor and was diagnosed with bronchitis. That I got because I didn’t take care of my cold. I spent the weekend as a ghost of myself. I set up the guest room as my sick room and only came out a few hours here or there to basically sit quietly on the couch.

I am finally on the road to recovery and almost back to 100%. Which means I’ve started analyzing and criticizing myself…  Why didn’t you take a sick day? One day off might mean that you would have been well 5 days earlier! Is anything more important than your health? Are you not a priority? Is it fair that you gave everything you had every day to work and came home to be a silent, unengaged wife? You haven’t worked out in over a week!

I know, I know, I am trying to be kind to myself, and it’s getting easier the better I feel. But, dammit, I know better! Next time I will take my own advice…

…QueenB Says

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


I am on the board of directors for the professional women's group at my company. We do things like bring in personal and professional development speakers and encourage and provide the opportunity for networking. It's a rewarding part of my corporate life that has allowed me to develop myself in many new ways and develop some strong friendships, that I know will be lifelong. I am lucky.

Or am I?

In this role, I get the opportunity to speak with and work with many amazing and accomplished women. I was on the phone with one who advises our group and others like ours. In the course of conversation she asked how things were going at my company overall. I answered energetically that things were going very well, we were exceeding numbers, the company was growing, our management team is bringing in new perks every day, and I was having the most fun... and I feel so lucky.

She said, "Betsy, can I offer you some coaching right now?". Of course, I responded affirmatively. Then she said some of the best advice I've received of late.

"You are not lucky. You made it happen. You are there because of what you do. Quit giving away the credit."


That is so right on. Lucky insinuates that I have nothing to do with it, and that is far from the truth. I show up most days with my game face on, ready to play, and I work hard. I continue to put effort into developing my knowledge and skill set and I learn from my mistakes.

Once it was pointed out to me, I realized how much I say that I am lucky. I say it all the time, about all kinds of things. But in reality, I'm grateful. Time to stop giving away the credit to some twist of fate fairie or magic genie.

As much as I try, I still catch myself saying it. So if you hear me give the credit to my wish on a falling star, remind me that I'm grateful, not lucky...

...QueenB Says

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Kick It Into Gear

It's about that time! The time when the gym finally clears out a bit because the resolutioners have given up. While I'm glad to have my treadmill back, I want all of YOU to keep moving.

So, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite 30 minute workouts.

Here is a great interval workout I love on the elliptical.
Minute 1  -  Level 4
Minute 2  -  Level 5
Minute 3  -  Level 6
Minute 4  -  Level 7
Minute 5  -  Level 8
Starting at the 5 minute mark spend 30 seconds going as fast as you can go, back to regular pace for 90 seconds, repeat at every odd minute, 7, 9, and so on.
Stop at 25 minutes total.
You'll end up doing a total of 5 minutes at a very high intensity pace.
Tip  -  When you are sprinting, hold your core very tight. It will keep you stable and give you a great ab workout.
End your cardio with some ab work for 5 minutes.

This workout should take you about 30 minutes. Figure out what weight works for you, I'm just posting what I use.
Bench press with bar  -  3 sets of 10  -  45 lb (that is what a typical bar with no weights weighs)
Bent over row with dumbbells -  3 sets of 10  -  30 lb
Overhead press with dumbbells  -  3 sets of 10  -  30 lb
Bicep curl with dumbbells  -  3 sets of 10  -  30 lb
Tricep extension with dumbbell  -  3 sets of 10 each arm  -  10 lb
Squat with dumbbells  -  2 sets of 15  -  40 lb
Walking or stationary lunges  -  30 each leg  -  40 lb
Dead lift with dumbbells  -  2 sets of 15  -  40 lb
Lower ab lift (lie on a flat surface and raise both legs while keeping them straight)  -  30
Ball crunches (using one of the big exercise balls)  - 30
Here's the kicker: do 25 jumping jacks between each exercise.

Get your music and start running.
At the start of every song stop and do one of the following:
30 squats
30 walking lunges
30 push ups on a bench if you can find one
30 tricep dips on a bench
I usually go through this list twice.
With a warm up song and 8 other songs you will get about 30 minutes of exercise.

Pick one. Do it. Let me know what you think...

...QueenB Says

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Sometimes I’m awkward. Especially in larger groups or when I don’t really know anyone else or when I come into an established conversations.

Sometimes I don’t fit in. I worry that I look wrong or I will say the wrong thing or that I don’t understand the group dynamic and might “mess up”.

If I’m quiet, it’s usually one of these two things. And I’m very aware of when I’m in one of these timid states and I struggle to get out of it.

I was especially going through one of these phases right before the holidays. For the first time ever, I did not go home for Christmas. Instead we had my husband’s family here. I was asking a lot of questions about traditions and what I should do and shouldn’t do, what dynamics I should be aware of, trying to learn what I could about people I don’t spend a lot of time with, and planning and making lists and preparing the house the right way (you hear the crazy, right?). I don’t think my husband or his family know this (so if you’re reading... hi! You are NOT scary!). And I think I did a good job hiding my timidity. Proof?

My brother-in-law got me this gorgeous print. He said he thought it was perfect for me. How awesome is that?

In actuality, I had nothing to fear. It took about an hour or so for me to realize that this was going to be easy. Conversations flowed, laughter was continuous, and fun was had by all.

It brings to mind some great advice I got about 10 years ago, from an amazing woman who is a mentor and friend. I was in a new sales position and was rightly nervous about my skills and ability, and my lack of confidence showed. She told me to “fake it til you make it”. I did. And she was right. No one even noticed.

And the picture is hanging in my office for me to see everyday…

...QueenB Says

Sunday, February 13, 2011


On a lazy Sunday morning, drinking coffee, sitting in my reading space, keeping a close eye on the little Casper, I decided to catch up on all my blogs. The ones I read for work or fitness or fashion keep me informed, but my favorites are the dozen or so I read from my friends and family. Well, turns out I'm not the only one who has neglected their blog in the past month. So now I don't feel so bad for an almost 6 week hiatus!

I am not going to make excuses or beat myself up about it, that is wasted energy. I'm just going let it be what it is... and hopefully was, as I truly hope to get back on the regular schedule. In 2010, blogging was one of the most fulfilling things I did. It made me think about many things more intensely, it made me organize my thoughts logically - which either strengthened my view or potentially changed it, and it gave me a fun, creative outlet. I'm planning to keep it a priority for those reasons.

To catch you up on what has been taking up all the time in QueenB's world, here's the quick summary:
  • Little Casper ended up having double ACL surgery. She's doing great and we're doing great, it's just a lot of work right now. She's been very sweet and hasn't complained at all about pain or being cooped up, so we are very lucky. Can it last for the 12 week recovery? We'll see.
  • Things at my workplace are hopping! We are busy, successful, and I'm thoroughly enjoying all of the fun projects that I'm involved in. I've come to realize how lucky I am. I get to drive an easy, gorgeous 12 miles to work, be around some of the smartest and most talented people I've ever worked with, report to a management team that cares about me and my team and that we have a good work-life balance, and I have a lot of flexibility in managing what to do and how I want to work. And I'm going to be in magazine for it later this month, more to come on that.
  • I got Netflix. I've not watched this many movies in years. And I'm not talking about chick flicks or action films, I've actually been watching some classics and foreign films, and "critically acclaimed cerebral documentaries" has been my top category. This has been inspiring, educational, and emotionally rewarding... I love it.
I'm determined to get settled into a good routine in 2011 that includes all of the things I love. Paying attention to QueenB Says is high on the list. So, I'll talk to you again soon...

...QueenB Says