Sharing the Love!

Photo Credit: Parrot Design Studio

Photo Credit: Parrot Design Studio

In honor of Valentine’s Day on Saturday, I am sharing the love this week and highlighting some of my favorite etiquette experts and notable figures for their Valentine’s Day articles. Here are my top 5 picks – There is a little something for everyone no matter how you are celebrating this year!

  1. All My Single Ladies! Check out “Cupid’s Corner: The Single Girl’s Guide to Valentine’s Day” by Allison Norton of LaurenConrad.com
  2. It’s Just a Date – If you are going out with someone new or it is just a date for the evening, read “Dating Etiquette: 7 Ways to Engage in Intellectual Foreplay on Valentine’s Day” by Jacqueline Whitmore
  3. For the Couple – Be sure to read “7 Commons Mistakes Couples Make on Valentine’s Day” by Jacqueline Whitmore
  4. Girl’s Night In! Get some great ideas from “A Valentine’s Dinner Party with Your Girlfriends” by Diane Gottsman
  5. And for all the gentlemen out there, read a great article from Good Guy Swag titled “Valentine’s Day Checklist: 5 Things to Make it Instaworthy” by Kris Wolfe

Wishing you all a wonderful day full of love, laughter, and lots of pink! Happy Valentine’s!

Sparkle On,

Alexandra

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Being Polite While Using Your Cell Phone

As a result of the tech-age we currently live in, a lot has changed when it comes to social interactions. However, somethings should not change. Being polite during social interactions and being respectful to those around you should always be at the forefront of your mind. Seeing as we use technology, especially our cell phones, in all aspects of our lives, this week I am breaking down cell phone etiquette into the 3 most prominent settings – Work, Social, and General Public usage.

  1.  At Work
    • Put your phone away when you are arriving and leaving work so you interact and say hello/goodbye to those in your office.
    • Silence your cell phone when you are in the office, especially if you work in an open space or cubicles with other people. Hearing your phone ring or alerts go off can be very distracting to those around you.
    • Refrain from using your cell during meetings and other people’s presentations unless you are adding things to your calendar or referring to it in order to review current events. Even with that, be cautious – it may still look like you are texting or not paying attention to the presenter.
    • Take notes with a pen and paper, not on your phone. If you do not have good handwriting, cannot write quickly, or need the information recorded to send-out immediately, use a tablet or laptop to take notes, but be sure not to have any other windows open.
    • If you work in an open space or in cubicles, excuse yourself to take a personal call on your cell phone. It allows you to keep your privacy and also prevents you from distracting your co-workers.
    • If you have a work/company cell phone, use it only for work purposes and never for personal use.
  2. In Social Settings (On a Date, Out with Friends, Visiting Family)
    • Put your phone away and give the people you are with your undivided attention. After all, you are out to be socializing with them and not with other people via your phone or social media.
    • Silence your cell phone. If your phone is continuously ringing and you keep checking it, you will offend the people you are with by making it seem like you are too busy to be there.
    • If you are driving with other people in your car and using Bluetooth throughout the car, make sure whoever you are speaking to knows they are on speaker phone. Also, unless it is an important call, let the caller know you are driving with other people and will call them back.
  3. In Public
    • If you are taking a call in public, use your “inside voice.” No one around you wants to hear your conversation.
    • Do not be on your phone when you are at the check-out counter or someone in a store is assisting you.
    • If you need to take a call that you know will make you emotional (upset, cry, raise your voice, etc.), find a private place to use your phone or stay in your call until the call is over and you have collected yourself. If you are getting heated about something over the phone, it makes people around you feel uncomfortable and quite frankly, you will embarrass yourself.
  4. All the Time
    • Do not text and drive!
    • If you are awaiting an important call and you need to have your phone with you during a meeting, appointment, meal, etc., simply let the people around you/who you are with know. When the calls comes, excuse yourself and take the call in private.
    • If you accidentally text the wrong person, simply send a follow-up text to saying, “I’m sorry, that text was not meant for you. Please ignore it.” Then, be thoughtful and add something like, “But how have you been?”
    • Lock your phone so you do not accidentally call someone while your phone is in your purse, pocket, etc.

I hope these tips help you to be more “Tech-Proper” ūüėČ Remember, when you are with other people:

put your phone down

If you have questions, suggestions, or comments on this topic or any other topic, please leave a reply for me!

Sparkle On,

Alexandra

You Got Invited to a Military Ball!

It’s one of my favorite times of the¬†year… Military Ball season! Between growing up in a military family and working in the field of event coordination and protocol for the military, I have had the pleasure of attending several military events. One of my favorite formals is the traditional “Birthday Ball” for¬†the¬†services in the Fall.

There are many pieces to a Military Ball/Formal so I am breaking this topic into a two-part post. Today, I am covering preparing to attend a Military Ball/Formal.

  1. Be Fashionable, Yet Tasteful
    • Think classy, sophisticated, timeless elegance. Your date will be in his/her most formal uniform with full ribbons and medals; therefore, you need to dress to that standard. Civilian women¬†wear floor length gowns or very formal cocktail dresses and civilian men wear tuxedos.
      • What to Wear – Here are some beautiful examples!
        What to WearWhat to Wear
    • Military culture is traditional and on the rather conservative side. Avoid neon/fluorescent colors, side cut-outs, excessive displays of cleavage, extremely high leg slits, or backs that plunge so low you can almost see your bum. I am sure you can rock those styles and look dynamite, but this is not the place to do that.
    • Be cautious of too much glitter and/or sequins, tulle, and poofiness. Believe me, I am the first one to go for the glittery gown (see photo below), but you do not want to look like¬†a mirrored disco ball or an overdone pageant queen.
      • What Not to Wear: While shopping, I found the gown pictured below. I think¬†this gown is¬†so fun and a¬†glitzy¬†show-stopper; however, it is definitely not the look for a military formal.
        Deep v-neck + high slit + low back + cut-outs = A big no, no.

        The low v-neck on this gown shows a lot of cleavage and the high leg slit is rather revealing. The low back with cut-outs also shows too much skin. While the sparkles and pink are fun, it’s too much for a formal setting.

        The low v-neck on this gown shows a lot of cleavage and the high leg slit is rather revealing. The low back with cut-outs also shows too much skin. While the sparkles and pink are fun, it‚Äôs too “in your face” for a formal setting.

    • Wear pretty, yet comfortable shoes!
      • There is almost always a cocktail hour before the Ball and mingling during the evening so you will be standing a lot.
      • There is dancing!
        • I highly recommend keeping your shoes on and not being the girl who flings them off at the table. It is¬†much more proper to keep your shoes on and even if you have not, it may give the impression you¬†drank too much and are not able to keep your balance in heels. If you truly cannot dance in heels, you may bring a pair of flats and discreetly put them on in the restroom before you start dancing.
  2. Makeup, Hair, and Accessories
    • Keep your make-up clean and elegant.
      • Simple and pretty¬†fake eyelashes? Yes!
      • Red¬†lips? Go for it! (Just be¬†sure to¬†do a more natural eye to avoid competing looks.)
      • Pure glitter or bright¬†neon eye shadow?¬†Not the best idea.
    • Style your hair how you like it: Straight, Curled, or Wavy – All Down, Half-Up/Half-Down, or an¬†Up-do are all gorgeous, especially when they compliment the style of the top of your gown!
      • I advise against tiaras, large hairpieces/pins, and¬†having a¬†hair color¬†that looks like it came from the rainbow.
      • Personal preference note:¬†I tend to stay away from the low up-do. Females in the military always have to wear their hair in a low bun or braid to keep it off/above their collars. I figure my date sees that hairstyle a lot so, I like to change it up and do something different!
    • Get your nails done or do them yourself! You will be shaking a lot of hands and it looks so much better when you have¬†nails that are clean and polished!
      • I suggest a¬†nude color, pale pink, or a¬†French manicure.
      • If you do choose to have colored nails, be sure it is suttle and matches your gown.
      • Stay away from overly long,¬†bright, and¬†decorated/bejeweled nails.
    • Jewelry – Keep it simple and make sure it compliments your gown.
      • I know I said simple, but girl, if you have¬†big diamonds – Wear them! ūüėČ
      • My personal fashion¬†tips:
        • If you are wearing a one-shoulder gown, skip the necklace and go for drop earrings or a dazzling bracelet.
        • If your gown has beading/accents/etc. at the top, you may not need to wear a necklace. The accent in the gown may speak for itself and you do not want the necklace to take away from your gorgeous gown.
        • If your gown is plain and you are looking to sparkle it up a bit, add a broche or a statement necklace.
        • Avoid wearing a statement necklace and drop earrings together. The looks will compete and draw attention away from your gown and overall look.
        • Avoid gaudy pieces.
  3. Be Knowledgeable and Respectful of Military Culture and Tradition
    • Military Balls are FULL of tradition! From parading the colors (bringing in the¬†American and Service flags) to¬†the traditional cake cutting and so much in between, the evening involves an array of traditional elements. If you are unfamiliar with the traditions, ask your date to tell you about some of the important things¬†to that branch of¬†service and his/her specific Corps/specialty/MOS beforehand.
    • Military Rank. I highly recommend making yourself familiar with the rank structure. Here’s a great link to the rank structure and insignia.
    • Sir and Ma’am. Saying “Yes, Sir/Ma’am” and “No, Sir/Ma’am” is a BIG one in this setting! Any officer who is a higher rank than your date and all Flag/General Officers¬†should be referred to as “Sir” or Ma’am.” Follow your dates lead on this!
    • History. Be sure you know the basic history behind and reason for the event you are attending. Your date and his/her fellow service members will appreciate it if you take the time to know the basics of their branch of service as well as why you are there that evening.
    • Current Events. Be up-to-date! Seeing as balls/formals are a social occasion, you will not be thrown into deep conversation and strategic talks about current events, but it is very important to know what is going on in the world. After all, it often dictates where these service members will be and what they do.
      • If you do not already read TheSkimm, I highly recommend it! It is a daily newsletter delivered to your inbox that summarizes the biggest stories and adds a little fun to your morning news report.

These tips are all meant¬†to make you a successful and stunning date (fashion, etiquette,¬†and¬†knowledge wise)!¬†You will¬†be sure to “knock the socks off” your date while also impressing the host and¬†other attendees with your poise and elegance!¬†So, start getting ready because it will be time¬†to attend a fabulous event in just a couple weeks!

Sparkle On,

Alexandra