- Sources of Inspiration
- The Fine Print
- And Whatnot
- Red Cardigan: Vintage Michael Kors, mommed and perpetually remixed
- Orange Knot-front Top: Olian via Nordstrom’s, gift from Mom
- White Cami: Old Navy “Tall”
- Grey Trousers: Ann Taylor Loft Maternity via eBay
- Brown Peep-toe Wedges: Naturalizer via Amazon.com
Would you take legal advice from a woman in bright, closely analogous colors (if she had been admitted to the bar in the state in which she was practicing, or from the licensed attorneys supervising her work)? Would it matter what you wanted advice on? A securities offering? A merger? A white collar criminal matter? A bet-the-company products liability suit?
Sal talked last week about how “color isn’t cool,” but it strikes me that color also suffers from another unfortunate perception: that color isn’t professional or authoritative—at least not on a woman. My father, for example, who is very much the kind of litigator you call when the FBI is at your door in the middle of the night, is frequently known to rock the pastel-purple oxford shirt (he, in fact, has several). When he walks into the office in a purple shirt, people think that he’s awfully sharp looking. When clients see him, I don’t think they give a lot of thought to how he balances their truly critical legal problems and the intentionality with which he approaches his wardrobe (or the intentionality with which they assume my mum approaches his wardrobe, if they think about it). If I tried to pull of such a look, say, pairing these trousers with a pastel purple top, particularly in my current state, I’m guessing it would give rise to a totally different set of rapid, stereotypic readings: youthful. Girlie. Maybe not all that serious. One of “those” pregnant women (+10 points for floral print). With a woman in brights, the assumptions are a little bit different, but I think there’s a strong common thread: a woman wearing bright colors isn’t conforming, isn’t the kind of girl to keep her head down and do her work, either doesn’t know the rules or has time to think about breaking them.
I hate these kinds of readings, which of course not everyone who works at a “serious” job and looks at a woman in bright colors comes to. But I’m mindful, as I navigate this new environment and try to figure out what the “rules” are, that I’m forming first impressions every day, and my self-fashioning strategies have deep non-sartorial implications. Even if I knew exactly what they were, I wouldn’t be out to break all the rules of workplace dressing in the first few weeks, but I’m trying to chart a path that feels like “me,” or at least, “pregnant me” in this new environment. And that includes, as Mr. Jefferson once said, “a little rebellion, now and then,” like this almost-colorblocked ensemble of tightly-analogous brights, which I wore to the office and then out to the theatre on Friday. Was it an obvious choice? Of course not—but I felt, strangely enough, incredibly confident in it. And surprisingly, it was the thing that seemed to make the most sense when I got dressed that morning: I put on this orange top (we’re going to talk more about my obsession with orange later) and thought, for reasons largely passing understanding, “well, of course I’m going to wear a red sweater over this.” Am I going to repeat it every day? Probably not—but I appreciated yet another reminder that confidence continues to be my most important accessory.
What are your thoughts on colors in the workplace? Are there gendered norms that apply to color choices in your work environment?
- White Blazer: Diane von Furstenberg via Nordstrom’s, gift from Mom
- Black and White Print Tunic: Japanese Weekend via eBay
- Black Ponte Pencil Skirt: Olian via eBay
- Nude Cork Wedges: Jones New York via DSW
- Silver Necklace: Gifted
Thankfully, my office is not a “suits only” environment. (I say “thankfully” now. “Thankfully” will be the understatement of the century in mid-July.) That said, there are definitely moments that are “jacket required” or “jacket strongly encouraged,” and I haven’t had a suit that fits in, well, a while, I’ve been getting experimental with the suit alternatives these days (about which more later). This was one such attempt, worn last week with an eye to a meeting where I was updating my assigning attorney on the status of a research assignment I was working on.
It’s theoretically possible (though not terribly likely) that I could button this jacket, but I’m mostly relying on its angular shape to create a little bit of hour-glassiness in my decidedly non-hourglass form. The sharp, angular shoulders are a bold look for me, as I tend to avoid things that make my shoulders look even broader, but I love the strong, authoritative look here. The skirt is sneaky: it looks like a normal pencil skirt from afar, but it’s actually comfortable, stretchy, easy-draping ponte knit (and snagged off eBay at a huge discount). The fit isn’t perfect (this week), but as with most things I experiment with on my changing shape, it remains entirely possible that it will fit entirely differently in a few days, weeks, or hours.
I tried on dark heels with this look, but ended up really liking the way these nude pumps visually “disappear.” They keep the focus firmly on the top half of the outfit, which hopefully, kept the focus on my insights on the research question I was addressing, while giving me an added confidence boost along the way.
Is your office a suit or non-suit environment? Under what circumstances do you wear a blazer where you don’t “have to”?
- “Jackson Pollock” Wrap Dress: Liz Lange for Target
- Black Tank: Gap Maternity, via gap.com
- Black Pumps: Nordstrom’s store brand, ancient
Here’s hoping the third time is the charm: taking advantage of all of your sweet and helpful comments as I’ve tried to figure out how to style this dress, I’ve given it one more go. This time around, I’m trying a less is more approach, pairing the dress with simple pumps and a modesty tank. And while this isn’t necessarily the apotheosis of this dress, I have to say I’m pretty pleased with this version.
Adding the tank happened almost as an afterthought, but I’m glad I did: it kept the surplice neckline from feeling too revealing, and from, er, encapsulating my chest in a way that made me feel more…bovine than I appreciated. The simple black pumps (which I’ve had since I first interviewed for jobs coming out of college) added a little bit of detailing without distracting from the dress, and had a sturdy enough heel that I didn’t feel like I was tottering too much (though, in fairness, I did trade these in part-way through the day — thank you, swelling!). Some of the credit for rescuing the dress, though, does go to the passage of time: as my bump grows, the dress fits a little better and somehow manages to seem decidedly less tent-like. Because someone has a sense of humor, my valiant return to wearing this wrap dress happened…on an unexpectedly blustery day, but I managed to avoid any truly alarming scenarios.
Any other ideas? Is less more with such a boldly patterned dress?
As an aside, I know this print is a bit orderly for true Pollock, but we’ve dubbed it the Jackson Pollock dress in honor of one of our dear professors from undergrad, who had such a fondness for Mr. Pollock that he could go not three minutes without mentioning his name. We’re fairly confident he would have found the comparison apt enough.
- Magenta Dress: Olian via Nordstrom’s, gift from Mom
- Long Oatmeal Cardigan: Halogen via Nordstrom’s, gift from Mom
- Brown Peep-toe Wedges: Naturalizer via Amazon.com
This is not what I wore for my first day of work on Monday, when I chickened out and wore a suit-analogue in response to the “our dress code is business casual, but you can wear business or business casual for your first day as you feel comfortable” dress code. It is what I wore on day two, though, and while I’m probably not going to convert my entire summer class to the ways of bright colors in the workplace, I felt both appropriate and comfortable in my own skin. The outfit met the guidelines, in letter and spirit, but it felt considerably more like me, and particularly the “me” I’m capable of dressing now: safe but flattering shapes, trying to find something a little special through one element (color, texture, accessories…).
I can’t say quite enough about how much I’m loving this dress length, which is keeping the look modest and helping the office-appropriateness by “muting” the bright shade. While I think I may like it better with something cropped up top, I actually loved it with this cozy, longer cardigan, which I hadn’t tried it with before. And I continue to be amazed at the ways my perception of proportionality changes as my body does: not two months ago I was swearing I’d never wear another long cardigan with a dress again, but I’m now discovering combinations that make this proportion look columnar and sleek, rather than dowdy.
I’m still figuring out how to dress in this new environment, and how to dress in a way that sends . . . whatever message I think I ought to be sending about my pregnancy and its role or lack of role in my working life. It’s definitely a complicated work in progress, but one through which I’m trying to stay true to what feels emotionally, sartorially and politically comfortable. How do you dress for the first day in a new environment?
Really, you think I don’t look pregnant?
- Long Black Cardigan: Halogen via Nordstrom’s, gift from Mom
- Patterned Tunic: Japanese Weekend, via eBay
- Boot Cut Jeans: Kut from the Kloth, via Nordstrom’s (rubber- and belly-banded)
- Red Pumps: BC Footwear, via amazon.com
- Blue Necklace: Forever 21
With one noted exception (in the form of a seminar paper that has been drafted, but isn’t due in its revised form until June 20), I closed the book on my 2L year this weekend, a result I pretty much couldn’t be happier about. While it’s all been fine, and it’s been a great year in a number of ways, I’m more than ready to be one step closer to JD-ness! Because of the way the timing worked out with my exam schedule and when I needed to start my summer associateship, I actually ended up with a pre-work summer “vacation” of about six hours. As a result, I spent most of the weekend in two states of mind at once, trying frantically to finish my papers and to get ready to start a new job all at the same time.
I wore this outfit to take my last exam on Friday afternoon (during which I pitied, extensively, the poor 3Ls who were there taking a test during the last time slot of the exam period of their last semester of law school). While I’d ordinarily wear something a little more formal, I realized as I was getting ready that it was my last chance at a “casual day” during the week until August, and figured I might as well take advantage! This outfit, though, is an example of iterative, accidental dressing. I had a plan (in theory) that involved wearing this tunic and sweater, but I ended up standing in front of my closet for a while trying on different combinations of pants and heels and necklaces until something stuck. I’m not usually a fan of this approach, but these days, when nothing quite fits the way I expect it to and I wake up most mornings with little to no idea how the demands of my day and the body I have at that second are going to line up, it seems to work relatively well.
Not accidental? My hair, which I had hacked off on Wednesday in preparation for starting work this week. I’ve never really thought of myself as a short hair person, but I think I’m becoming a convert. Something about the precise length to which she cut my hair and the extent to which she’s graduated the back has made cut incredibly easy to style, and I love the breezy feel of hair that’s cut to well above my collarbones for the summertime.
How does your style (clothes, hair, makeup) change for the summer?
- Wine Jersey Dress: Japanese Weekend, via eBay
- Oatmeal Cardigan: Halogen via Nordstrom’s, gift from mom
- Brown Peep Toe Wedges: Naturalizer, via amazon.com
- Teal Chandelier Earrings: Forever 21
- Silver Necklace: gifted
I was on my way back to the car this afternoon after my Constitutional Law final, and my friend J. says to me, “you look nice! Why are you dressed?” I thanked him for the sweet compliment, but as I was getting into the car, I couldn’t help but chuckle over the fact that he had asked me not, why are you dressed up, but why are you dressed, as if having appeared to put on any clothes with intention was somehow surprising. I’m pretty sure it was just a Freudian slip on J.’s part, but it struck me as a pretty funny comment on the typical approach to exam week dressing around my law school (and not just exam week, sadly).
But, Freud aside, this was what I wore for my final exam this morning, a 3.5 hour affair of joy, fear, and individual rights jurisprudence. I was going for something that was versatile enough that I wouldn’t be too hot or too cold in the exam room, that would feel polished but not constraining, and, most importantly, that would make me feel like a superhero. This dress came in the mail from its eBay seller yesterday, and it’s possible I never want to take it off again (but I will! I promise.). It’s matte jersey, which is a pregnant woman’s best friend, and the detailing and dark color make it dressy enough to wear to the office. It’s from Japanese Weekend’s “d & a” (or “during and after”) line, so it comes with a built-in modesty “bridge” in the surplice neckline designed for both coverage and easy nursing access. In return, though, it’s a bit shorter than most maternity dresses and doesn’t have quite as much “bump room” as some do. At least at the moment, though, I’m willing to sacrifice a few days of 9th-month wear in exchange for a longer post-pregnancy afterlife. The color felt like a slightly controversial choice this time of year, but I like that it’s subdued enough to wear to work, and a bit of a break from the BRIGHT brights I’ve been acquiring a lot of. To me at least, it feels a bit more formal and like it balances out the informality of the matte jersey. And even though I swore I’d never wear another long cardigan with a dress again, I somehow didn’t mind the proportions here, which felt somehow more sophisticated and less dowdy (though I could be persuaded otherwise!).
I love what these chandelier earrings are doing to add a little bit of sparkle to the outfit, but as I’m contemplating my wear-to-work style in a more conservative office, I’m wondering whether there’s a place for things like bigger earrings. Bold necklaces somehow seem less fraught to me, but I’m not sure why this is. What are your thoughts? Do you have boundaries on what kinds of earrings you will and won’t wear to work?
- Teal Earrings: Forever 21
- Necklace: Gifted
- Pale Purple Tank: Gap Maternity, via Gap.com
- Boot-cut Jeans: Kut from the Kloth, via Nordstrom’s
- Belly Band (invisible): BeMaternity, via Target
- Studded Flats: kind of ancient Nine West, via DSW
- Cocoon Sweater: vince via Nordstrom’s, gift from Mom
Although we’ve had mostly gorgeous spring weather, we’ve had a couple of deeply regrettable cold, rainy days that more or less made me want to retreat to the comfort of my bedroom and a big warm blanket (you can do that during finals, right?). To the rescue: this sweater, which has magic ties in the back (or the front, if you want to play it that way) that give it some much-needed shape while allowing it to remain the warm snuggly thing that it is. I’m still a little ambivalent about the angling of the sides (what exactly does one wear with something at precisely this length?), but I’m loving the idea that something quite this cozy could look at least borderline polished.
I don’t usually ascribe to the “just pile on the accessories until you feel ready to go out the door” theory. That said, I think the extras here are what save this look from being pretty ho-hum: the enormous earrings, the long necklace, the sparkly flats. And no, these aren’t the ones from the Sigerson Morrison for Target line, though they do look quite similar. I’m not 100% certain of their provenance, but I think I picked them up at DSW in a frantic search for cute flats when my feet were absolutely killing me. Unfortunately, since impulse shopping is not smart shopping, they aren’t quite supportive enough for consistent wear involving lots of walking, but they’re a fun special occasion piece.
I’m back to the library for final preparations for a crazy 48 hour sprint involving two final exams and a draft of a seminar paper, but I’d love to hear your suggestions on how to style this sweater — any thoughts? To those of you still taking and/or grading finals, good luck!
- Printed Silk Scarf: Vintage Burberry, mommed
- Turquoise Slub Knit Tee: Gap Maternity
- Seafoam(?) Ribbed Tank: Gap Maternity, via gap.com
- Jeans: Gap Maternity, via gap.com
- Wedge Sandals: Earthies, via Zappos
It’s florals day over at Everybody, Everywear, and I’m jumping in in a way that pretty fairly represents both my approach to florals (tentative) and to finals week dressing (very casual). While I did recently acquire a floral skirt, I realized that all the other floral items I own are scarves. They also tend to be pretty subtle prints, like this dreamy, water-color-inspired one or this tissue-thin rendition that always reminds me of an oriental rug. But by far my favorite floral item in my closet is this bold, painterly scarf, which I’ve worn ascot style and repeatedly as a belt, and even draped over my shoulders and belted. I love the color combination (cool red, champagne, navy and off-white), and the randomness and range in sizes of the floral elements. I love that it’s floral, without being girlie or twee (something I’ve been particularly conscious of lately!): this is a grown woman’s floral print.
I’m that girl: I love dressing up for exams. But, on the days I’m home studying, I’ve been taking advantage of this two-week hiatus from my business-casual wardrobe and dressing much more casually. This is a pretty reasonable approximation of what many of these looks have been like: jeans, cuffed or not, with some combination of layered tees or tank tops. Ironically, while I normally worry that layering tends to add lumps and fussiness to a look, I’ve been embracing the layered look during my pregnancy for accomplishing exactly the opposite purpose. While I feel a little . . . exposed in just a tee and jeans (hello, visible maternity panel lines), adding another layer gives me a chance to add another color to a look, smooth out the inevitable elastic-waistband pinches and/or unbuttoned non-maternity pants, and add some warmth without adding too much bulk.
Other things I’ve been loving lately? These architectural wedge sandals from Earthies. While I could go on (and probably will at a later date!) about my unending joy that wedges are “in” for spring/summer this year and that I’ve been able to find so many towering wedges to experiment with, I’ll spare you for now and just say: wow! Comfortable! Different! I love the way these add some height to my frame, and feel “summery” without exposing quite so many inches of blinding white foot. I have no idea how long this heels-loving streak will last before swollen feet and/or a shifting center of gravity force me to make other plans, but for now, I’m loving it. Thanks, pregnancy symptom wonder spirits, for giving me at least a few more weeks of being the woman with the baby bump and the surprisingly precise command of substantive due process, and the cute shoes, all at the same time.
Are you wearing florals this spring? How do you incorporate these pieces into your wardrobe, particularly for the office?
- Long Black Cardigan: Halogen via Nordstrom’s, gift from Mom
- Red/Orange Tee: Swapped
- Silver Necklace: Gifted
- Grey Maternity Trousers: Loft Maternity, via eBay
- Teal Pumps: BC Footwear, via Zappos
It’s possible that the basic structure of this look is one you’re going to see a lot of as I transition from my exam-induced fog into eleven weeks of life in a “regular” office: trousers, pumps, and a shirt that can be worn either by itself or with a slightly draped sweater. It feels a little “conventional” on the one hand, but on the other, can be a great opportunity to let color and texture, rather than shape, do the talking. And since “shape” is a daily adventure around these parts . . . I think I’m more or less fine with that.
Like E. and Tania, I have a love of “grellow” (and even “grellowvy”!) as a color combination. As grey has become my go-to neutral this spring, I’ve loved experimenting with new color + grey combinations. I snagged this slightly day-glo, somewhere between orange and red top at my friend R.’s clothing swap last month. For an item this bright, I’ve been impressed at its versatility. While it plays well with a variety of colors (who knew it would match teal pumps?), its natural mate in life seems to be dark grey. So, gred/grorange, you’ll never replace grellow in my heart, but who knows: maybe you’ll turn out to be a close second.
How have you been wearing brights this spring? What’s your favorite neutral to pair with eye-searingly bright colors?
- Patterned Blouse: 3.1 Phillip Lim, via Nordstrom’s, gift from Mom
- Black Tank: Gap Maternity, via Gap.com
- Black Ponte Trousers: Ann Taylor Loft Maternity
- Nude Cork Wedges: Jones New York, via DSW
- Necklace: Gifted
Remember my shopping trip with Mom a few weeks ago? I finally picked up the last of the pieces I’d had altered last week, including some very special items I’ve been really excited about wearing. They included this 3.1 Phillip Lim blouse, which, other than my wedding dress and the first time I’m able to button my pants again, may mark the high point of my anticipatory joy in wearing an article of clothing. I’m not entirely sure why: the detailing, the gorgeous drape, the construction quality, the fact that I’ve never owned anything even in this stratosphere before, let alone something that was purchased new and altered to fit me…but I was, in fact, so excited that I got all dolled up…to go to the library.
While I’ve always admired women with a well-edited closet of designer duds (Sarah is a great example), I’ve never considered myself in that category. Over the years, I’ve acquired a decent number of quasi-vintage designer items from my mother’s hand-me-down pile, but they aren’t things I would have had the means or inclination to buy myself. And while it’s possible that I should be embarrassed or circumspect about, in my state of being closer to thirty than twenty, accepting so much of my mother’s sartorial generosity, I’m just not feeling it today: I’m just humbled by and appreciative of her thoughtfulness. There is, of course, a fraught and complicated language implicit in this fabric-woven dialogue about labor and value and self-respect and shouldn’ts and shoulds, but allow me to take this opportunity, for once, not to be quite so over examined and just say, thanks, Mom. Even though we may not always use the same language or attach the same values to every signifier, I can’t thank you enough for all the things you’ve shared with me in all these years. So, happy mother’s day, to the best-dressed woman I know, a great lawyer, a feminist fashion role model and a constant reminder that, well, a serious job is no excuse.
Have a great weekend and a happy mother’s day to all the moms, grandmothers and moms-to-be out there!
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