Wednesday, June 20, 2007

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Ophelia's Gaze: How to Dress for SL Success


Exclusive to NWN, Iris Ophelia's ongoing showcase of all things stylish in SL

What’s the business-minded avatar wearing?  Hard to tell, especially when there's so many different kinds of business going on: some companies exist only in Second Life, while others expand into real life; a few help RL firms launch in SL, and some RL businesses elect to do it themselves. Now big companies like Microsoft and eBay are participating in actual job fairs held in-world, too.  So what to wear if you want to look business-like, but maintain your fantastic avatar persona?

That in mind, I had a chat with two respected SL fashion personalities, then flew off to gather a wardrobe for the up-and-coming avatar-based executive.

My concept of business-appropriate attire is quite traditional, and the lessons my mother taught me when I first started working in the real world are burned into my brain: Look clean cut, presentable, and “normal”.

Shiryu But Shiryu Musashi (right), an SL businessman and RL fashion student, raised several points that are just as crucial to this world. First and foremost, it’s important to show style. Whatever your style may be, you should do it impeccably, down to the finest detail. “Fashion makes a statement," as he puts it, "and what's the point in making a statement if it's not your  statement?” This bring me to Musashi’s next point, that most RL companies moving into SL will hire based on skills, not avatar. They likely won’t care if you wear a prim tie, or even if you showed up in a default newbie avatar. However, imagine representing that company to the population of SL as an unfashionable newbie avatar. How well would that reflect on them, and on you, to the naturalized SL residents they want to appeal to?  “Show up badly dressed at a corporate event," Shiryu tells me, "and your audience will think, 'Look at that corporation, it's represented by noobs’.”

Torrid_midnight_2I also spoke with Torrid Midnight (left), a fashionista and Electric Sheep Company employee, someone I know and respect for her impeccable taste. She reiterated Musashi’s advice: “[T]he most important thing is to look polished, like you know what you're doing, like you put effort into it.” Perhaps considering the risque styles most popular in-world, she added, “I would stay away from anything that someone could find offensive.”

In that spirit, I’m using both normal and exotic avatar models for this article, mostly dressing them in traditional businesswear. Because as much as I want to emphasize a message of dress-code diversity-- in Second Life, even robots and large rabbits can take business meetings-- it can be tricky for those who do want to wear these more professional styles to find them.


Pukk Abel’s store, First Impressions, is probably the best place to send someone looking to outfit a female avatar in professional style. There are separates and full outfits available, such as the Feral ensemble pictured. On top of that, Abel sells basic black and white suits for L$100. The quality and shading is absolutely outstanding with these items, and I was a little disappointed with myself that I had overlooked her work for so long before I started shopping for this article.

[Shown in Picture: Ears and Tail by Anisa Naumova of OTCR; Hair by Elikapeka Tiramisu of ETD; Eyes by Miriel Enfield of Miriel; Eyelashes by Stumbelina Ophelia of Cake; Skin by Selos Dae of Trap; Blouse, skirt, and fopcoat by Pukk Abel of First Impressions; Shoes by Jackal Ennui of Lassitude & Ennui.]


... and that would be why I’ve opted to give you a double-hit of Abel’s work (or a second impression of First Impressions.) This particular outfit deserves special mention, however, as Abel released it (along with one lighter and one darker version of it) for the benefit of the Second Life Relay fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. This suit comes with a blazer, pants, long and short versions of the blouse, prim cuffs, a prim collar, and a tie. Very sharp, very versatile, very pink. If you’re not as enthusiastic about that particular color as I am, this is actually a special edition of suits that exist in a wide array of other colors in her store.

[Shown in Picture: Hair by Imani Moseley of Fetish; Eyes by Starley Thereian of Celestial Studios; Skin by Nylon Pinkney of Nylon Outfitters; Blouse, blazer, pants, and tie by Pukk Abel of First Impressions; Shoes by Fallingwater Cellardoor of Shiny Things.]


I reintroduce you to my male avatar, Siris, modeling the very detailed Kingpin suit by Avant Scofield of The Good Life. This suit is pretty simple and comes on a shirt and pants layer, in black, white, and gray. You can’t exactly mix and match it around, but it’s made quite well. It’s a great outfit to quickly spiff your avatar up. Another great option is the tried and true Barnes Boutique, featuring menswear by Barnesworth Anubis. I opted not to picture these suits in favor of some newer styles, though Anubis’ suits are among my favorites.
[Shown in Picture: Hair by Helyanwe Vindaloo of Deviant Kitties; Eyes by Starley Thereian of Celestial Studios; Skin by Funk Schnook of FNKY!; Suit by Avant Scofield of The Good Life; Shoes by Fallingwater Cellardoor of Shiny Things.]


Much more casual, maybe a little more suited to an artist contractor, I present these jeans and argyle sweater from Last Call by Ginny Talamasca. Not exactly traditional, but not far off the mark either. The Portfolio case shown is from Philotic Energy, by Aemilia Case who is a friend of mine. Bags in SL have no practical purpose but to add to a specific style or aesthetic, and this folio is the perfect addition to a clean-cut artistic ensemble.
[Shown in Picture: Hair by Lost Thereian of Naughty; Eyes by Portia Sin of Sin Skins; Skin by Lost Thereian of Naughty; Sweater and jeans by Ginny Talamasca of Last Call; Glasses by Cienna Rand of Primcrafters; Shoes by Fallingwater Cellardoor of Shiny Things.]


Janie Marlowe of Mischief has a great sense of style and a lot of innovative designs, so I was thrilled when I saw her new line of businesswear at a clothing fair in May. The suits shown, Plush, is my favorite of the releases, and something I would consider professional, but not explicitly so, like the outfit shown above.
[Shown in Picture: Hair by Rita Groshomme of Curio; Eyes by Starley Thereian of Celestial Studios; Skin by Starley Thereian of Celestial Studios; Camisole, blazer, and pants by Janie Marlowe of Mischief; Shoes by Sylfie Minogue of Prim Seduction.]


This is one of Shiryu Musashi’s releases, a female version of his Revolution suits. it comes with many options for ties, blouses, blazers, skirts, pants, and stocking, though I’ve opted for some more modest stockings from First Impressions instead. These ties (along with the ties from First Impressions) are flexible prim attachments, which means they often look more convincing than ties that are drawn onto the shirt, but you can’t tuck them under your jacket either.
[Shown in Picture: Hair by Imani Moseley of Fetish; Eyes by BettiePage Voyager of BP; Skin by Starley Thereian of Celestial Studios; Blouse, blazer, skirt, and tie by Shiryu Musashi of Musashi-Do; Cyber Arm by Disembodied have of Steam-Powered Inc.; Stockings by Pukk Abel of First Impressions; Shoes by Fallingwater Cellardoor of Shiny Things.]


Nyte Caligari of Nyte’n’Day is one of the few designers I follow whose quality hasn’t improved that much in the past year. And I mean that in the best possible way, because her work has always been very well done. This outfit, Business Major, is almost ancient by Second Life standards, and I picked it up when Caligari was still sharing Couture Isle with Elikapeka Tiramisu. Caligari, like Marlowe, adds a very special flair to her designs, even something as simple as a pinstriped suit.
[Shown in Picture: Hair by Helyanwe Vindaloo of Deviant Kitties; Eyes by Shizuka Hayashi of ShH!; Piercings by sandy Cleghorn of Prim Sinners; Skin by dreams Anubis of Unpredictable; Blouse and pants by Nyte Caligari of Nyte’n’Day; Wrist straps by Ameshin Yossarian of Curious Kitties ; Armour rings by Dagron Stonebender ; Shoes by Eponymous Trenchmouth of Jeepers Creepers.]


The final suit is also for the men. This suit by Storma Amarula of X2:Exotica has many colour options along with prim blazer/shirt cuffs. There’s the option to wear the jacket open or closed as well. The shape of the tie does bother me a little, but over all it’s a simple and well executed outfit which offers a little more room to move in the way of personal tastes and style than many men’s suits in SL.
[Shown in Picture: Hair by Elikapeka Tiramisu for Aveda; Eyes by Starley Thereian of Celestial Studios; Skin by Funk Schnook of FNKY!; Suit by Storma Amarula of X2:Exotica; Shoes by Fallingwater Cellardoor of Shiny Things.]

Whatever you do, and whatever you wear, just remember: Wear what you want, but wear it well. You have 3 audiences to please: the employer, the consumer-- and yourself.

Iris Ophelia covers and creates metaverse style for New World Notes.  Visit her blog for a view at the source; and in-world, visit her pose store, Orchidee-- direct teleport at this link.


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I would say that in general the most important fashion choice is whether or not to appear human or "other." For most job type situations that aren't SL-centric, appearing as anything other than human can be offputting. What corporate interviewer would take seriously a bipedal dragon?

For SL-centric businesses, there are of course many more options.

For men, a suit is just always sharp. You can accent with wings, weapons, artificial limbs, whatever. But having business attire as the basis gives you gravitas.

Women, as in RL, have more options and flexibility. SL makes it too easy to play up the sexual aspects of your wardrobe and avatar. This does not always help in a business situation.

Ti Mosienko

This comment is in reference to the photo of the Feral ensemble. Mules can be fine for business attire - but if you are going to wear a sandal - I suggest you paint your toes. It's summer in North America, and there are plenty of toes showing everywhere. Pedicures can usually be found in the same stores that sell manicures, and can either be attachments or easy to wear sock items. It really adds to the look of the foot, especially when you have high quality footwear to show off.

Sequoia Hax

Does this mean we’ll soon be able to approach Microsoft or eBay at a RW job fair wearing a hot pink suit or Cyber Arm? Which would show not only that you’re no noob (or at least, that you have virtual experience), but that you can engage playfully with the virtual-real interface, which is a quality employers are presumably looking for. Expanding possibilities for RW businesswear via SL job fairs. I like it.

Iris Ophelia

A couple thoughts about pedicures, because it's definitely an interesting suggestion.

SL feet are quite hooflike and unless the skin designer made the pedicure they do not always line up, since the artist decides where the toes and toenails are placed. sachi Vixen of Adam and Eve sells manicures and pedicures with some of her skins which match up nicely, but most skin designers don't.

Also, the neko skin I'm wearing with Feral has no "makeup" on it at all, just bare skin and pelt markings. A pedicure would look a little out of place on it, in my opinion, but it's definitely a suggestion I will take into account for the future.

SL Name = Malcom Bricklin

This is Priceless Research - it is still very difficult to find (shop for) Business Attire in a V-World designed and built by users who make things for fun and entertainment.

Ekio Locataire

I am replying not only to the article but to a comment as well.

I love some of these choices. There are so many choices for women, so I'm happy to see some nice clothes for guys as well in this department.

As to the comment of showing up at an interview in a non human form. If a company is not ready to accept a well put together furry * canine, dragon, or feline* then they are not ready for SL. This goes also for drow, elf, and the other many forms of an SL avatar.So long as your avatar is well groomed and clothed, and your really what they are looking for, it won't matter.


ohhh as i see these well dressed people it reminds me to buy a new good looking tuxedo real quick and i now know a good place for that :) ty

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