December 11, 2011

Clothes Don't Make The Woman

Via The Gentleman
On Friday, I had the pleasure of finally meeting up with an alumnus from my undergraduate alma mater. After several email exchanges and a phone chat, it was nice to sit down over lunch. Some time ago, I volunteered to serve as a resource for alumni seeking and currently holding positions within my field. I'm always happy to share my career experiences. After discussing everything and the kitchen sink, we ended up on workplace dressing. It's impossible to come to my office and not be drawn to what people are wearing. I like my workwear to feel smart, sharp, tailored, purposeful, timeless and (most importantly) authentically me. Clothes should be an extension of ourselves and we all know I'm partial to a very polished/chic approach to dressing. 

Regardless of where I'm headed there's a consistency to my style. I can't imagine dressing like someone else for the office. Lucky for me I've always interned and worked for companies where casual isn't exactly in the lexicon and being polished is paramount. When it comes to office dressing, The Gentlewoman says it best- "She's opted for power dressing in it subtlest form, with superb fabrics sculpted to the body." Exquisite fabrics and tailoring make workwear all the more fun. Dressing to command respect is of utmost important when you look as young as I do. 

There's something refreshing about professional, no nonsense clothing, appearing in an editorial. I've been reading The Gentlewoman since the onset and it's become a favorite because of the inspirational women featured who are at the top of their fields and look quite wonderful doing it. The looks above are very similar to the separates I've been wearing to work lately. I love dresses for work, but there's something nice about separates that coordinate with one another. So who's ready for the work/school week to begin?

PS- If only the lovely Donna Hemmingsen was compulsively checking two phones... Yes, that would be me.

Photographer- Daniel Riera
Fashion Editor/Stylist-Jonathan Kaye
Hair Stylist- Christian Wood
Makeup Artist- Petros Petrohilos
Casting Director- Matthew Laskey at Starr & Co
Model- Donna Hemmingsen


  1. Such elegant images! I am partial to a polished look, with a gamine/tomboy streak. A draped tee or Brooks Brothers shirt with a pair of bespoke trousers and my 2-inch Varas. But, depending on what's on the schedule (reporting on protests, travelling to villages, etc) I sometimes go super casual, which usually involves a loose tunic, jeans, and sneakers I don't mind getting dirty!

  2. It is interesting to know that you make sure to dress to command respect because you look young - I use makeup in a similar way. I´m very calm and positive and a bit too much of a people pleaser, so I make sure to add some edge before I leave for work. I like to think that it will be a little more difficult to push me around if I look a bit tougher than I really am ;)

  3. Ammu- So elegant. I want to look that elegant when I hail a taxi- hehe.

    I like the gamine look too. The draped tee, bespoke trousers and Varas sound beautiful. It's all about balance.

    I LOVE that you aren't afraid to get dirty:)

  4. Maja Piraja- Yes, I think a lot of people think of makeup the same way. No matter how much knowledge or confidence I possess it's hard for people to take it in. If I'm not dressed the part people definately look at me as a kid they can push around. It's so interesting how clothes and makeup can totally change one's perception.

    I'm so glad to hear that others have this issue as well;)

  5. Everything looks so beautiful! You have such lovely taste ;)

    I am back from hiberation with a giveaway, I hope you will stop by ;)

  6. just tututiny- Glad to see you back from hibernation:) Hearing that you have good taste is always reassuring, so thank you:)

    Will certainly stop by your blog.

  7. I keep wondering for several months now (if not years, literally): are bare legs work appropriate for you US women? I am always astonished to see pictures of working women wearing classic and proper suits...with pumps (pointy shoes ahem) and bare legs. Even when it starts being cooler. Here in France (can't say for the rest of Europe), being bare leg at the office (at least layers, finance, accountancy, bankers...) is not really appropriate but only during the hottest months of the year. Most of the time women wear tights or socks (under pants thanks God). As for me I do like tights, fancy tights and colours and can't stand to wear nice closed leather shoes bare feet. Difference of culture if any can be.. What is your input on that? For instance, I am amazed to read how on some blogs women wrote about bare legs as normal day to day outfit.

  8. I couldn't agree more. When I used to work in a corporate environment, my favorite pick me up would be a jacket. It hasn't changed all that much now that I work from home but these days, I pair it with denim.

  9. That's so kind of you to help out fellow alumni! I totally agree with you that excellent fabric and tailoring are essential to looking good in the workplace. Great post!

  10. Love these pictures! (I'm a new follower of your blog & love it!!)

  11. I couldn't agree more! I have spent several years in the past working in business casual environments -- borderline sweatpants, flip-flops, and gnarly teeshirts -- I get the need for comfort, but I also love feeling totally dialed and professional from 9-5. When I feel like I look great, I just automatically feel great and that is all the comfort I need.

    Before I retired from corporate culture, I didn't care how cool and lax the company was, or if they had a ping-pong table and a Wii. I was going to dress like a bombshell that was ready for anything, Chanel ascot and all--haha!

  12. Everything about this post reminds me that I'll be joining the workforce in just a few short years...and only 10% of my wardrobe is ready for that. *sigh* College casual just doesn't transition well into power dressing.

    May I ask when did you start 'dressing to command respect'? Was it always inherent to your style (even before you started working)? I'm wondering if I should start shopping with that concept in mind...and get a jump start on creating a work-appropriate wardrobe :) However, I don't think that 'looking young' is a problem I have to contend with (unfortunately) I often get mistaken for my mother (or, at least, her younger sister -_-)

  13. eveange66- It’s hard to generalize about US women as a whole. How people dress really varies widely by industry and by region. It’s always interesting to travel and see how designers alter their collections for specific regions and alter their stock lists depending on the preferences of the clientele.

    Finance, accounting, banking are inherently more conservative fields with stricter dress codes regardless of where you are living. In Manhattan, women wear tights to the office. In the heat of the summer people will go bare legged (if their company allows), but by October everyone wears tights. It’s just too cold (normally- we had an extremely warm fall) not to. I think people really like their tights here. I definitely see a lot of fancy tight here. I also think tights can be a nice way to add contrast if you work in a more conservative field. I also think there’s a divide along age lines as well. Women of a certain age (even here0 wouldn’t go bare legged)- it’s generational.

    Chocolate, Cookies, and Candies- I love jackets! They’re such an easy way to look pulled together and a smart investment. I’m not that into denim, but find that a jacket makes it look so much more pulled together. I love that not much has changed for you even though you work from home.

  14. Katherine-Thanks Katherine! Yes, we all have to help each other and I love my fellow alums!
    Exquisite Fabrics and tailoring really do make all the difference! Even a lining on a jacket or skirt makes me excited for workplace dressing. Sigh, the little things.

    Lisa @Tales of A Young Housewife- Welcome! I’m glad you are enjoying the blog. It always makes me happy when people say that.

    Love the title of your blog- so cute!

  15. i really like the juxtaposition of the square briefcase style bag and her blouse and bow skirt in the top pic - very smart. totally agree- editorials which feature polished work friendly clothing are really short in supply, and this one proves they dont have to be as boring as it sounds. makes me feel like next year i should be working on building up a proper seperates work wardrobe as mine is currently in very weak shape.

  16. Love the images, I rather use separates instead of a suit which the safer option here normally in corporate dressing. I have always worked in tight work environments and I prefer a more relaxed dress code. I agree with you in how much clothes and makeup can change people's perception about you but I like always to be me not feeling like I am dressing to be someone else.

  17. Speck- “Being ready for anything”--- you nailed it. I think that’s key for office dressing. In my experiences people think nothing of pulling you into a meeting with top level executives at a moment’s notice. It’s all about being ready and bringing your A game.

    Sweatpants, flip-flops and gnarly (that word cracks me up) tees in the workplace? Really? I agree with you. Being dressed professionally puts you in a certain frame of mind. Even in a very casual office I would still dress the same. It’s somewhat empowering and inherently me.

  18. Drifterqueen-I think joining the workforce is a big transition for most people. It’s one of those times when wardrobe planning is helpful. In my opinion it’s never too early to add a piece here or there that will transition well. Especially if you will be interning over the summer.

    Hmm… I’m not sure when I started dressing to command respect. Inherently I think I gravitate toward this. For me dressing has always been less about trial and error and more about what I'm naturally drawn to.

  19. navyandbeige- Classic and pulled together certainly doesn't have to be boring. I agree with you; it's all about juxtapositions. The square briefcase offsets the femininity of the blouse perfectly.

    I would love to see more editorials that focus on work dressing. Whenever i see a good one it lingers in my mind.

    I think you're onto something with keeping a list of items you need to build up and focus on.

    lunaday- I love these images too. Suits will always have their place in the workplace. I love boucle suits.

    I think it's very important to remain true to yourself. I guess it comes down to the larger issue of corporate culture and how we all self select when it comes to that.

  20. I love how witty and well balanced your blog is. Being a working woman myself I am always trying to balance an inner scruffy child with a polished working woman it is at times difficult yet entertaining. The pursuit of elegance is always peculiar. I think your blog in brilliantly refined and consistent, yet varied and insightful. I am so happy to learn about The Gentlewoman. I have long been looking for a men's magazine for women. The GM seems to achieve that plus a little more that is be a magazine for women with a purpose.

  21. T like Bubble- Aww... Thank you! That's very kind of you.

    It's such a balancing act when it comes to being polished and ready for work. You're right it's such a peculiar thing.

    Oh you must check out the Gentlewoman- it's so good.

  22. I agree well matched separates look very polished for the office. My problem is finding bottoms for the endless tops and blouses that I own. The two never look right and I resort to a dress :(

  23. catssaymeow- I wear dresses a lot for this exact reason- it's just so simple and easily transferable to after work events.

    Yes, it's so hard to find blouses and bottoms that work perfectly together.