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Friday, May 18, 2012

As I said in a recent post, I have worn neon-colored clothes since the 1980s.


When I saw this neon-pink-and-black Spring 2012 dress by designer Chris Benz last fall, I took a chance and ordered it.

Photo from Style.com. Click for source.

I don’t usually go for blousy tops, but I figured the slinky neon skirt would balance it out. I wore the dress today to the 2012 Elly Awards lunch at the Plaza Hotel. I didn’t get to take a photo till after the lunch, so I’m a little rumpled. I also seem to have a pair of jeans growing out of my arm. Whatever! This isn’t Vogue.

What Wendy Wore
Dress: Chris Benz (2012)
Shoes: Prada (2010)
Purse: Louis Vuitton (2001)
Rings: My own designs
Band-aid on left arm: Johnson & Johnson
Lip color: Girl About Town by MAC

I didn’t get a shot of the exposed zipper in the back or the pink lining inside the kimono sleeves. I did know the sash for the dress would be pink and black instead of the light blue used for the sample.  Next time I wear this, I’ll try to wear the sash obi-style, at the waist, as shown on the model. I was running late today and didn’t have time to fuss with it. I still felt fine!

The Elly Awards benefit the Education Fund of the Women’s Forum of New York. The Education Fund provides grants for undergraduate college degrees to mid-life women who have overcome adversity. The nine 2011 fund beneficiaries include Dena Ferreira, a recovering alcoholic with nearly 18 years of sobriety. She works a full-time job, raises her two daughters, and is an English major at Hunter College. She plans to continue on to law school after getting her B.A. Another woman, Liliete Lopez, who is blind, wasn’t allowed to attend school in her native Nicaragua. She attended school for the first time at age 15 when she came to the U.S. She got her GED and is double-majoring in political science and urban studies at Queens College. Amy Stone survived domestic violence, prison and substance abuse. She’s now studying social work at LaGuardia Community College. The other stories are equally inspiring. During the program, I was praying that I’d win the Mega Millions so that I could hire people to make my jewelry while I devote myself to this cause.  As someone who changed careers in her late 30s, I appreciate the way this program gives grown wimmins a second chance at life. You’re never too old!

I was at the lunch because my dear friend Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel was being honored. She gets honored a lot for her many good deeds related to arts, architecture and cultural and urban policy. You can read all about her here. Her award was presented by Emily Rafferty, the president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the first woman to serve as the Met’s chief administrative officer.  The funny and charming Katie Couric presented the other Elly award to my other good friend, Arianna Huffington. Okay, Arianna and I don’t actually hang out, but I do blog for the Huffington Post.  Plus, she was kind enough to speak at a fundraising event that I worked on, and it was a huge success, so she is my good friend in my mind.

Arianna at my event in 2011. Click for original post.

After the awards were presented, CBS This Morning co-host (and Oprah’s BFF) Gayle King, moderated a discussion with Barbaralee and Arianna. They chatted about leadership, inspiring and mentoring other women, and never giving up personally. Arianna said, “The worst thing for me was overcoming my own negative self-talk,” which she compared to having an obnoxious roommate in her own head. She spoke about writing her first book when she was very young, and how scary it was to live up to its unexpected success. “I had my midlife crisis at 25,” she said.  Her second book was rejected by 25 publishers. At that point, she mustered up all her courage, went to a bank and talked her way into a loan. The 1500 British pounds she got helped her survive through another 13 rejections before the book was published. She still sends the bank officer a Christmas card every year. “You know when you read fairy tales and you have these helpful animals?” she said. ” … he was a helpful animal disguised as a bank manager.”

Meanwhile, Barbaralee said if something doesn’t work out, she comes up with Plan B. Gayle asked her whether she prepares Plan B in advance. Barbaralee said, “I develop it at the moment!” She emphasized that you have to be flexible while pursuing your dreams.

I think it was Katie Couric, in her introduction of Arianna, who first brought up a quote from Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of State:  “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” I agree with that, but want to add that women have to earn the help. I wrote about this issue in 2007, but it’s worth reiterating. If you’re a woman with a bad, distrustful attitude towards female colleagues, bosses or underlings, you’re creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Why is anyone going to help you if you’re oozing with negativity? Remember what the great philosopher Eminem said: “If you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you.

When I had to hire people during my corporate years — and I didn’t look like the stereotypical hiring manager  — I wasn’t surprised when testosterone-laden men tried to challenge my authority. (God! Men and their hormones! They’re so emotional!) It was much more disappointing when a woman came in and, for instance, addressed all her comments to whatever lower-ranking male was in the vicinity. I swear, a few women would probably give more respect to the male window-washer hanging outside the office building than to me. Luckily, it didn’t happen too often, because I am a big supporter of women and I think all but the most obtuse recognized that. To make it totally clear to the obtuse: I won’t hire stupid men OR women. If you’re chilly to the person with the power and fawning over her subordinate, you’re stupid!

The “all women are so competitive with all other women” shizz is simply not true; if it was, the Women’s Forum of New York wouldn’t exist. And so what if some —  not all — women are competitive with you? The last time I checked, a lot of men are pretty damn cutthroat. I think that one or two or maybe a million wars have been started by men who want to dominate other men. I worked at Lehman Brothers, people. I saw ferocious male competition up close. Yes, there are many great men who want to mentor women … and other men too. (I’m married to one of them.) But if you’re one of those gals who tells me that women managers are 100% jellus h8ers and brag that you bat at your eyelashes at male bosses to get what you want — well, think about it. Maybe you’re not dealing with great mentors. Maybe you’re getting what you want because the men don’t see you as a threat. There were very few female managing directors at Lehman — the one I knew was in human resources, of course, not in the more powerful revenue-producing part of the company. So, if you were a a guy at Lehman, why not hire some eyelash-batting chick? It wasn’t like she was going to rise high enough to put a dent in your paycheck.

I wasn’t interested in hiring people who were going to be stuck at a low level forever. My goal was to find someone who could take over my job. I was never going to spend my whole life in any of those jobs! I wanted to do bigger, better or just plain different things. Smart, talented employees were necessary for an orderly transition upon my eventual departure — and before then, the bright ones were much more pleasant to work with. They also made me look a lot better to my bosses. I’d rather be known for leading a team of smartypants than a gaggle of fools!

Like Arianna said, negative self-talk holds women back, but so does negative other-women-talk. Change your attitude and you’ll change your outcome. That’s my Bitchtastic Guide to Business™ advice for the day.

Occasionally, women who are really, really nice to me get my helpful advice whether or not they want it. I’m always very nosy about whether people are using social media to help their careers.  Online content is a habit of mine. My first job on teh Interwebs was in 1995, when I was an editor at the Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition during the site’s launch. In 1999, I was managing editor of People.com. I left People to become managing editor of Lehman’s websites. Now I like to nag gorgeous friends to blog and tweet. I think Tina Anderson and Stacy Lomman both found it less painful to start blogging rather than hear me ask about it again.  (I have to keep working on their tweeting.) More recently, I decided my gorgeous rapper friend Gangsta Boo needed a pretty website. I introduced her to my highly recommended graphic designer, Lori Kadezabek, and voilà.


Now I need a new victim!

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11 Responses to “What Wendy Wore: Neon-Pink Chris Benz to the Elly Awards”

  1. stacy says:

    There are so many nice things about this post…
    1. YOU
    2. Your beautiful outfit — baggy tops suit you just fine because you’re a nice thin coat hanger.
    3. Powerful kick-ass women.
    4. Arianna’s comment about negative self-talk. I’m taking a page…
    5. Madeleine Albright’s awesome comment!!! <3
    6. Congrats to Barbaralee
    7. (gotta have at least lucky 7!)Your Bitchtastic Guide!

  2. Powerful post Wendy and “what Wendy wore” is always my favorite. Among the women I work around, negative self talk is one of the worst enemies…they have often lost a vision for life and hit a stalemate. I love learning of a fund which rewards those who turned things around…how inspirational for so many!

  3. Great post!!! Your outfit is stunning and your words are wise, powerful, and compelling. Your brilliance is as bright as your smile!

  4. déjà pseu says:

    Wendy, I’ve said this before, but you’re an inspiration. It’s so true about self-fulfilling prophesies. Good for you and all these women for the work they’re doing.

  5. Jean says:

    I love how you drew me in with the fashion equivalent of batting your eyes; the dress is gorgeous. But then I ended up reading this amazing post and was energized and informed. Thank you.

  6. Style4Curves says:

    That dress is a dream!

  7. Terri says:

    Good for you and Arianna and this foundation for mentoring women. I think it must be very different in academia as my relationship with my higher ups has always been a positive one.

  8. Andrea says:

    you look beautiful!

  9. Access to higher education for those facing adversity is a cause close to my heart. Great post Wendy, and what a beautiful outfit! The blouse isn’t too blousy. I see an owie on your arm, the one growing jeans. Hope all is well.

  10. Lorena says:

    I am a wimp with neons.
    So i do small stuff, like a belt or nailpolish – i need to get some courage.
    That dress on the other hand is spectacular – and i do no see no jeans growing anywhere – you look fabulous.