- Sources of Inspiration
- The Fine Print
- And Whatnot
- Navy Cords: J.Crew, skinnied and hemmed
- Brown Metallic Loafers: Naturalizer via DSW
- Long Black Cardigan: Halogen via Nordstrom’s, gift from Mom
- Black Nursing Tank: Bravado Designs via Figure8Maternity
- Chevron Dolman Tee: Old Navy
- Earrings: Old Navy
- Off-White Scarf/Wrap: comme des garcons, mommed
This outfit was born of an online shopping disaster.
I tend to be a long-searcher. I do a lot of online shopping (and a lot of returning), and when I do shop at a bricks and mortar store, it’s usually a place with an online catalog I’ve perused extensively before walking in. And it usually pays off: it takes a while, but I often end up finding just the right version, and it limits buyer’s remorse over the thing I end up actually keeping.
Every now and then, though, I fail catastrophically. Usually it happens when, under the aegis of stepping outside my comfort zone, I become somewhat entranced by a look that just isn’t me, one that doesn’t work for my proportions or the lifestyle I’m actually living. (Nota bene: while I absolutely abhor the phrase “you just shouldn’t wear that” because of an alleged mismatch between garment and body type, I don’t believe there’s harm in thinking, “hmmm. I don’t feel quite as fabulous in this as I do in other things.”) In these cases, the problem isn’t that I didn’t find the right one, it’s usually that I was barking up the wrong tree to begin with.
Case in point: the past few weeks, where I’ve been feeling a strange infatuation with a kind of quasi rock-and-roll-ish aesthetic of colored skinnies and motorcycle boots and drapey, woven tops, for reasons largely passing understanding. After looking at more pairs of mid-calf and ankle boots than I’d like to admit, I ordered the pair pictured above, which were (and still are) on super sale at Nordstrom’s and eagerly anticipated their arrival. And as I probably should have known, they were a complete disaster. Not that they’re not fabulous boots (which they are), they just aren’t fabulous boots for me. They looked all wrong, they didn’t go with anything in my closet, they belonged to a universe which is, I’m sure, a very nice place, but not the place I’m living in. The blazer and draped top above (dreamed about but not purchased) are in similar veins. While I fantasize about the colorblocking (and in my favorite combination of colors), I couldn’t ever really get away with wearing it to work, and it probably wouldn’t ge enough use in my at-home and at-school lives to justify the expense (though it’s still in the “maybe someday on eBay” list). The top is gorgeous, but not really the right silhouette for me, and besides: it belongs on someone who both isn’t getting spit up on 50 times a day and can get away with wearing 1″ owl print (a woman I’d like to meet, for sure).
The fact that some kinds of things are less “me” than others is fine, and it doesn’t make any of the things that aren’t “me” any less beautiful or even make me like them any less. They often make great recommendations to my mother for things she might like, even, since she’s admittedly more adventurous and less likely to get spit up on. Recognizing what works well for me is part of what makes personal style, well, personal, and that’s important, too.
So, slightly defeated and already looking for my fourth outfit of the day (thanks, little m.!), I rummaged in my closet with fairly low expectations. Clothed, looking like enough of an adult to take m. to the pediatrician (oh, the shots! and the screaming!), warm enough, reasonably efficient breastfeeding access, and if I didn’t match, at least looking like I didn’t match on purpose. And while the resulting look is a little bit girl-of-alt-summit/all-things-at-once, (a) that doesn’t really matter and (b) by the end of the day, I ended up really liking it. It was responsive to my inner drive to try something new (which is what brought on the shopping disaster in the first place), it worked with my body and with what’s actually in my closet. It sparked my creativity without the psychic, financial or temporal toll that the desire to acquire can sometimes take, and that was worth something, too. And probably I get some bonus points for putting together an outfit that combines comme des garcons and Old Navy.
As an aside, when my mom handed this wrap down to me, I remember saying, “are you sure? I already have an off-white wrap,” to which she said, “yes, but you don’t have this one.”
As usual, she was right.
How do you balance trying new things, genres, trends and styles with the need to fit your shopping habits into your financial, temporal and psychic budget? Are you a long-searcher or an impulse buyer? Have you ever tried a trend or an aesthetic that turned out to just not work for you at all?
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I’ve been struggling with blogger’s block lately. Partially, I’m sure, it’s because I’ve been genuinely busy and have had a lot of Serious Writing to get out the door. I suspect there’s more to it than that, though. I’ve been trying to figure out how to reconcile my (evolving!) blog-mission with my (evolving!) life-mission right now, and I hope you’ll be willing to indulge me just a little … mission creep. It sounds frightening, I know, but I hope it’ll be a step forward in the long run.
I believe (really, a lot!) in the power of our style choices to fashion our selves and deeply influence our experiences. It’s part of why I started this blog: to push myself to think critically about the self I was presenting to the world, and about the ways that outward self did (and sometimes didn’t) jive with the inner reality. To take a little bit more seriously a part of my life that I often didn’t. Or at least, to take it seriously enough to get out of the rut I’d been in as I tried to navigate what I was supposed to be doing as a (slightly) older student in the second half of law school.
And it’s worked, by and large: I’ve pushed my own sartorial boundaries in ways I never would have expected, toppled some serious body image barriers (even while enormously pregnant), made friends in sometimes surprising places, and felt comfortable and confident in my own skin. Along the way, you’ve encouraged, challenged and inspired me, and I hope I’ve done some measure of that for some of you as well. Or at least kept you from feeling like you had to wear 1970s floral smocks for your entire pregnancy.
But while this space is a lot about style, it’s also about identity, both general and specific. Identity in a category: as a woman, in professional life, in academic life, in a region, in a family, as a spouse, as a parent, a thinker, an athlete, a daughter, a friend. My own identity, in my own real set of day-to-day lived experiences actually being all of those things. At once. Not all of which neatly reduce to and find metaphors in what I’m wearing (though it might be neat, just as a thought experiment, if they did).
All of this is really to say, I’m expanding the scope of what you’ll see around here over the coming weeks and months. While I promise not to entirely devolve into posting adorable pictures of my kid (which is fine! As a life choice! Really!), I’ll probably talk a bit more about her and our lives and what I really think about what it’s like to have a baby in law school (some of that specific identity stuff). And I’ll probably have a bit more to say about the broader picture, about professional and academic life, about gender, about working parenthood, too. And maybe even on a good day, some of the things that make up the “spare time” of my life, the extracurricular thoughts and activities that flit in and out of a currently relatively packed existence. Probably, also, there will be some things that are just pretty and enjoyable. I’m not sure precisely how this content will or won’t weave in with outfit posts and some of my ongoing series on personal style development, so I’ll beg your indulgence as I figure out what works best.
As I said, think of it as mission creep, not mission abandonment. This space is and always will be about self-fashioning and the aesthetics and politics of identity, about finding and claiming a spot in transitional times in life, about finding the creativity and joy and self-love for which a serious job should be no excuse. As a result, explicitly style-related content will remain the majority of what you see here. But after more than a year of blogging through a lot of life changes, I’m just testing out a slightly broader lens in examining these kinds of questions. I’m hoping it will give me a chance to push the content you see here a little further in terms of the writing, photography and design, and to provide an outlet for a little bit more of life as I’m living it.
I couldn’t be more thankful for all of you, long- and short-time readers, lurkers, commenters and tweeps, for the way you’ve enriched my days and made what seemed like a slightly zany experiment in stepping out of my comfort zone feel so worthwhile and awesome. I’m looking forward to this new phase, and as always, welcome your thoughts on the kinds of content you’re most interested in, whether via e-mail, comment or 4:00 a.m. tweet.
And who knows, this might even be fun.
Tagged with: meta
[You'll have to forgive the terrible pun. It was just lying there. Waiting to happen! And I tripped over it.]
While I’m not officially blacked out today in protest of the proposed anti-piracy legislation known as SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act, H.R. 3261), PIPA (the Protect Intellectual Property Act, S. 968), or the “internet blacklist legislation” (depending on whether you’re the House, the Senate, or the Electronic Frontier Foundation), I did want to take a minute on this internet-wide day of action to say a few words. I promise, there won’t be too many, and I also promise that even though there are words like “law” and “compliance” and “rights,” nothing you are about to read constitutes legal advice or creates an attorney-client relationship of any kind or in any way represents anything that even looks like the practice of law. (Not a jedi mind trick, I promise: it really isn’t, and a vague disclaimer is nobody’s friend.)
This post is really aimed at other bloggers, but if you tweet, you update your facebook status, you hang out on google+, you post photos on flickr or instagram, you run a website of any kind, you send content out into the ether of the internet in any form, you’re an internet content provider, and these debates affect you. Not just the people who run the website for the Church of Pirated Content. You. And me. And people who do stuff we care about online.
SOPA/PIPA have been called attempts “to capture a lion that has escaped from the zoo by blasting some kittens with a flamethrower,” but that’s only part of the point. The SOPA/PIPA debate highlights an issue that was already there, lurking within the existing law: bloggers and social media types are (often) internet content providers. And with that great power comes great responsibility: a huge matrix of laws and regulations seek to both regulate us and protect us. Even if Congress does nothing to change current intellectual property law.
So, yes: I wrote my member of Congress, communicating my opposition to SOPA (okay, not so hard: I used to work for him, and I knew he was opposed anyway), and there are a number of great resources out there to help you do that (try these). And whether you support or oppose the legislation, I’d urge you to do the same. But I’d ask a bigger favor of you today, while you’re flipping out when you’re on call in class and can’t look up the cases on wikipedia (or are struggling through a slow part of the afternoon because you can’t do similar research on how titles are inherited by the English aristocracy while watching Downton Abbey, or because you can’t procrastinate on reddit): take a few minutes to educate yourself about your rights—and responsibilities—as an internet content provider, what they are now and how they might change if SOPA/PIPA were enacted.
In disputes with small internet content providers like bloggers and social media types, the “other side” often has a lot of advantages: money, lawyers, conventional media access, shows of overwhelming force. But might doesn’t necessarily make right. You have obligations to play fairly in the great sandbox of the internet, but you also have important rights that are worth knowing about, protecting, and deploying effectively when necessary. And while nobody can do it for you, some great organizations have done their best to get you on your way.
So go forth, friends: boldly, confidently, and, yes, responsibly, and keep making the internet awesome. It wouldn’t be the same without any of you.
This post is part of a series on maternity wardrobe essentials and approaches to dressing for pregnancy. See the complete series.
Ah, the second trimester. By all accounts, pregnancy’s golden age: the risk of miscarriage is greatly reduced, you’re likely ready to share your news with friends, colleagues and family, nausea (it isn’t morning sickness at 11:30 p.m.!) and exhaustion are mostly a thing of the past, and you’re finally starting to look pregnant (at least a little…), but aren’t yet (a) hugely uncomfortable or (b) ready to burn anything that says “maternity” on the tag. As always, we are all beautiful and unique snowflakes, so your mileage may vary, but here are a few strategies from and highlights of my second trimester:
Before and After
For a little perspective, here’s what I looked like at the beginning of my second trimester, a time period which spanned the end of my second year of law school and the beginning of my summer work at a law firm in the city:
Acquire with Long-Term Wearability in Mind
The second trimester is when most women find they start to need a significant number of maternity items, and in particular, maternity tops and dresses. As I started to pull together some of these pieces, E. gave me some great advice that I’ll pass along here: try to resist buying tops and dresses in the first half of your pregnancy that don’t at least have some post-pregnancy potential (particularly if you plan on nursing). The first three of these pieces are from Japanese Weekend’s “d&a” (or “during and after”) line, designed with various forms of easy nursing access — and I’ve worn all of them in the first few weeks of m.’s life. The last, a wrap dress I snagged during the first of what turned out to be many desperate Target runs, represents a different kind of long-term thinking: although the fit was slightly awkward at the beginning, I wore it at least biweekly from week 15 to week 41.
Embrace the Empire Waist
This is a tough one for me to sell, since I’m now ready to burn anything in my closet with an empire waist, but it was an incredibly practical silhouette. On a pregnant woman, it reads as “yes, I’m really pregnant” rather than “I’m wearing this shirt that makes me look pregnant and I’m not really sure why!” And while an enormous number of maternity items are empire waisted, there’s something about this look during the second trimester that looks a little more polished and a little less … twee. Again, your mileage may vary, but I felt less like an overstuffed pumpkin wearing these kinds of looks in my second trimester than my third. Empire waists can also be a great way to stretch your non-pregnancy wardrobe (or newly-acquired non-maternity items) a little bit longer: while the tunic on the left is, in fact, a maternity item, the one on the right is not — just a two-sizes up top I snagged at a clothing swap.
Go Long…or Short
For whatever reason, long cardigans with wide-leg (or wide-ish-leg) trousers are fixed in my head as being associated with Life Before I Understood Proportions, so I’m not quite sure why I wore so many of these combinations while pregnant. And yet…something about that silhouette being interrupted by my nascent baby bump muted its leg-shortening, long-torso-emphasizing characteristics and made this kind of cozy, slouchy, untucked (gasp!) look work for me. It became yet another example of experimenting with my unfamiliar body in a way that was unexpectedly exciting and fun. Cropped toppers were less of a surprise (see above re: long torso), but particularly early on, they helped to show off what bumpage I had while still preserving the illusion of a waistline.
Drape, and Drape Again
Although I was ambivalent about draping early in my pregnancy, I came to see the advantages later on. See, the thing is, maternity waistband choice is complicated and fluctuating (about which more later. Really. A whole separate post.). Depending on how you carry, different options may be easier, harder or downright impossible. In my particular case, because I carried fairly close in and somewhat spread out to the sides (which the old wives tell me is typical of someone carrying a girl), a number of the available options left me with something of a preggers muffin-top, which I was particularly self-conscious about during my second trimester (when it was not, much as I believed it was, obvious that I was pregnant). Enter these two draped tops, both gifts from my saintly Mum: not only did they feel incredibly luxurious, they simplified dressing on the days that I didn’t want to spend twenty minutes precisely arranging the right combination of slips, camisoles and other undergarments to avoid Segmented Worm Syndrome.
Recently (or not so recently) pregnant? What were your best tips and tricks from the middle of your pregnancy? Things you wish you’d done differently, or would do again in a heartbeat?
- Printed Knot Top: Banana Republic, on long-term loan from A2.’s closet
- Black Jersey Skirt: Mountain Hardware via Hudson Trail Outfitters
- Brown Die-Cut Flats: Lifestride via Zappos.com
Hey! Look! I’m not pregnant anymore!
At times, I wasn’t quite sure that would ever happen!
This isn’t what I wore on Tuesday, my first day back in classes, but these are my first post-partum outfit photos, taken when baby m. was seven days old (I look—I hope!—slightly less dead-eyed at this point). I’m still getting my bearings in so many ways right now—including sartorially—but this is a reasonable representation of the kind of thing I’ve been wearing much of the time: some vaguely nursing/pumping friendly top (I’m trying not to wreck this one, A2.!), flats, and a jersey skirt of some stripe or another. This formula has pros and cons (gentle on my recovering waistline, but not always so practical for someone who now spends large stretches of time crawling around on the floor), but it fills an important need in my post-partum style vocabulary, giving me the chance to feel “assembled” without having to fret quite as much about whether what I’m wearing fits just so or whether I’m wrecking some beloved and non-machine-washable item with the inevitable baby spit up. It’s not the solution to all of my getting-dressed-post-baby challenges (about which more later), but it certainly helps with some of them!
Those of you who follow me on Twitter know that Tuesday was my first day back in class since baby m. was born, and were kind enough to pass along some much-needed encouraging words as I prepared m. for a fantastic day with my mother-in-law and tried to pull together my deepest thoughts about the horizontal merger guidelines. On the whole, my first day back was great: m. had a great day at home, and I felt, surprisingly, more efficient and balanced for the experience. We’re still working out some of the logistical details of how I’m going to get homework done on the two days a week I’m home with m. (without becoming nocturnal and/or destroying what’s left of our weekends), but almost three weeks in to being a full-time law student and a first-time parent, I feel . . . if not very nearly competent, at least less spastic than I expected. And that’s progress, right?
Still, in the spirit of hilarious comments law students are willing to make, I have to relate by far the funniest moment from my first day back at school. A young woman in my antitrust class, who competes on the moot court team with me and is a friend of friends, turned around at the break and said, at full volume and across about a two row separation in the classroom, “Oh, [S.], were you absent the last two weeks?” My friends sitting in the adjacent seats laughed, and I looked at her a little bit funny and said, “yeah. . . I don’t know if you remember, but I had a baby two weeks ago.” She was rather taken aback (understandably), and the rest of the folks in the room laughed. Of course, she apparently recovered quickly, since a few minutes later, she managed to ask me a rather hilarious variant on “was that planned?” In a way, it was a very funny reminder that as fraught as the embodied experience of being pregnant—and being a parent—can seem to the person living it, more of that struggle than you’d think is completely invisible to the outside world.
I’m M. of An Epic Battle in High Heels, where I mostly blog about trying to professionalize my later stage of PhD wardrobe while slaying demons (i.e. my dissertation, applications, and other such projects). Congrats, S. and family!
This guest post is not going to make any sense if I don’t begin with what seems like an incredibly personal admission for the Internets: A while ago my husband I tried for a few–actually, more than a few–months to conceive and didn’t. Don’t worry. This is not going to be a sad post. We’re okay with it.
When we were in the midst of trying, a number of fashion bloggers on my blog roll, including S., announced their pregnancies and began writing about elasticized maternity trousers and strategies for dressing the gestating body in academic and office situations. Thinking I would soon be dealing with the same issues, I paid close attention. This had an effect on me that I didn’t expect: I reassessed my wardrobe’s pregnancy friendliness and had a hard time of purging my wardrobe of things that had to go but could be incorporated into a maternity wardrobe. I’m also in the late stages of a PhD program and need to work on professionalizing my wardrobe more, but I didn’t want to purchase a pair of dark trouser jeans and a fitted blazer on my limited budget if I could only wear them for another month or so and then would have to buy maternity pants soon after. Furthermore, I had no idea what my body would be like a year later. This put me into a state of wardrobe limbo and it was on my mind a lot when I was blogging at the now suspended Fashionable Academics, but in general women don’t announce “I’m trying to get pregnant and that’s why I’m still holding on to this awful shirt that already makes me look pregnant!”
It feels less strange to talk about it in hindsight, however, so if you’ll indulge me, I will now narrate what was going on in my head while dressing myself last year and trying to conceive. This may be especially interesting to former readers of Fashionable Academics who will have some of my repeat offenses explained:
MVP Red Dress
I had always wished that I had purchased a Small instead of a Medium for a better fit, but my thoughts towards this dress (which I love) changed the day that S. of Academichic and Simply Bike wrote about how a skirt of hers in a size too big was good maternity wear in the second trimester. I began to value this dress for its potential flexibility with an expanding belly.
Before “use it or lose it” became a thing to do on fashion blogs, I decided to shame myself into getting rid of pieces that I either didn’t wear, hated wearing, or needed never to wear again. I’m so glad I got rid of these because I can only imagine what my 5 feet nothing stature would have looked like while in an in-between stage of showing during pregnancy. But I hesitated to get rid of these because of the roomy shirts and elastic waist skirt.
December – March Limbo
When I didn’t have a meeting and wasn’t teaching, which was after December of last year, I stopped varying the bottom half of my body as much as I used to because I needed some new pieces, but didn’t want to invest in any because they might be wearable soon after. My solution was a frequent bottom-half uniform: black jersey knit skirt, black leggings, and black boots (mostly wellies). These would be paired with some sort of sweater/cardi combination. I figured this was fine, since it was probably how I would soon be dressing out of necessity anyway.
The Discoball Skirt
This skirt marked the end of limbo dressing. I had eyed this skirt for a few weeks, but had been saving a GAP giftcard for maternity jeans. When another month passed without a positive pregnancy test, I bought it. It also marked a shift in my thinking on trying to conceive–I kept taking vitamins and limiting my caffeine intake, but I decided that the state of limbo needed to stop. And seriously, it’s not that much more sustainable than 5 months anyway. Until it actually happened, I needed to dress for the present and look presentable and professional instead of looking like I was constantly leaving dance class. And the present also allowed for some frivolity.
Tagged with: Guest Post
Hi, I’m Millie from Interrobangs Anonymous! S. asked for guest posts loosely themed around transitions, in any interpretation, and I was a bit stumped initially. I’m in my late twenties, in the thick of a PhD, and there’s no major transitions for me on the horizon, so I had no material at my fingertips. I’ve found that academia slows transitions, sometimes until they’re almost imperceptible: there’s no job transitions in the same way, not usually any major moves, and academic progress can be measured (at least for me) in millimetres. It’s sort of like a suspended animation: you’re a fully adult member of society, but you’re still ensconced in the bubble of student life. Of course, some people get married and/or have kids while in grad school, but neither of those are in my foreseeable future.
But they are in lots of other peoples’ futures/lives, and as I near the end of my twenties I’m starting to feel like I’m at loose ends. I’ve been in school now for about ten years, and in that time most of my friends and acquaintances have left school and gotten on with their lives — getting jobs (some more permanent than others), buying houses, having kids — and I feel like I’ve got little to show for the time I’ve spent in university. I know what I’d like to have in my life, and while it’s mostly not on the “get married buy a house and have kids” axis, it’d be nice to be able to paint the walls and buy a table not from Ikea. I want to transition out of this academic limbo, but I’ve still got at least three years I figure with this degree, so it’s not going to happen naturally (or at least not any time soon).
At the same time, September is always a reinvigorating month for me. After a few months of loose hours and loafing around in the sunshine while my model churns out numbers, September is a time of sitting down and getting stuff done with those numbers. This year in particular feels like a fresh start with a good bracing mug of tea to get me going, and while I still can’t paint my apartment walls, and I already have enough Ikea tables to last me for a while, there’s other ways in which I can transition. I’ve matured a lot in the past few years, and I think I’m ready to transition into the organized, together, productive, and yes, stylish, lady I’d like to be. Since there’s no foreseeable transitions ahead, I can take the time to do this right, without pressure on my or my wallet. It’s not a major transition, but if academia’s taught me anything, it’s that subtle transitions are just as important as the big obvious ones. The subtle transitions are the ones that let you get somewhere you didn’t even know you could go, because you got there while you weren’t paying attention to it. That belt over my cardigan up there? It just sort of happened, though not that long ago I’d never’ve left the house with it; my style evolved when I wasn’t always paying attention to it.
So, here’s some of the things on my list of things to try to do to feel less stuck, less restrained, and more polished:
- Get proper bras. I’ve bought my bras at La Senza for years now, always the cheapest ones available, and if I’m honest they’ve never really been comfortable. When I was younger my logic was “I don’t like bras, so I’ll buy the cheapest one so I’m not spending money on them,” which is totally counter productive. So, proper bras, no molded cups.
- Get more regular sleep. I’m pretty good about this for the most part, but I generally stay up too late, and need to get in the habit of being able to be up early without it being an ordeal. The fact that my supervisor is rarely around in the early mornings doesn’t help, but I need to work beyond what’s the easiest a
- Be conscious of my posture, and stand up tall. I slouch a lot, but it’s bad for my bones and makes my muscles sore at the end of the day. I’ve been working on being comfortable taking up space in public, and that’s all about posture and attitude.
- Toss* any clothes that are decrepit or don’t fit. I fear this will take out literally half my wardrobe, but after pulling a tank top out of my laundry that had disintegrated in the pits, I realized that this is very necessary. Again, I have a habit of buying the cheapest available thing because I know it won’t be just what I want it to be and am reluctant to spend money on something that doesn’t fit. At the same time I’m a grad student who doesn’t have oodles of money to spend on clothes, and am apparently to big for some retailers to want my money. This will be interesting. (* Toss = donate, give to friends, use for dishrags, etc)
- Try new shapes. While I’m very good about trying new food, I’m more reluctant to try new shapes of clothing, because in the past I’ve used clothing as a way to blend rather than to stand out, and unfamiliar shapes tend to make me feel conspicuous. But new doesn’t equal conspicuous or outrageous, and breaking out of my narrow sartorial comfort zone will hopefully make me feel more secure in breaking out of other comfort zones.
All of these sound like basic things, but I think putting deliberate and considered effort into it will help me feel less like I’m scrabbling through my wardrobe/degree and more like I’m a professional, on-top-of-her-game student. I’m trying to fake it (with my dress and demeanor) ’till I don’t feel like I’m faking it (with my brain) anymore!
Has this sort of thing worked for any of you? Any advice or additions to the list?
Tagged with: Guest Post
Hi Narrowly Tailored readers! Angeline from The New Professional here. While S. is resting peacefully with the bean (one can hope), she asked several bloggers to sound off on variations of a theme: adaptation.
Adaptation in professional dress can be prompted by a number of factors: job change (to a different position or a different company), office management turnover or major career change, such as a lay-off or resignation. If you’re staying in the same industry, your workwear may not change much from workplace to workplace, but leaving the office environment entirely? What do we do with that?
Let’s take into account why we dress professionally in the first place: it’s often required to some extent by our employer and we want to be taken seriously by our colleagues. For freelancers and entrepreneurs, the need to look professional extends beyond our home office or coffee shop spot—every interaction is a potential opportunity for networking and business development. That doesn’t mean you should be wearing your suits to Starbucks, but rather finding a professional-casual balance that works for you.
Your exact formula and preferences will vary based on your own style and the demands of the new work you’ve chosen, but here are some tips to get you started to looking polished and professional and grow your freelance career or business.
Do your research. You’ve probably done a bit of reconnaissance into your new field. What do others in your field wear? Are there any physical requirements that you should take into account (will you be on your feet much, getting your clothes dirty, etc.)? The worst outfit is always the one that is inappropriate for the situation, whether it’s overdone or underdone.
Mix and match. From my observation, freelancers tend to strike a balance between work and casual wear, since their days usually involve some business interaction and some working alone. Plus, with the elimination of a regular salary, you don’t want to be spending money you haven’t yet earned on new clothes. Not all business and casual wear will be able to make the transition, but you’ll be surprised at how much of it can.
- Dressing down business wear: Split up your suit sets and pair each separate with a more casual piece. Blazers with a dress, for example, or pencil skirts with a tee. Roll up your shirtsleeves and leave an extra button open over a cami or tee. Soften a trouser-based look with an embellished cardigan and open-toed shoes.
- Dressing up casual garb: Add polished accessories, shoes, and toppers (blazers, cardigans, jackets) to instantly dress up a casual look. Fit is key here…clothes should be flattering and fit your body well.
Be confident. This goes for any kind of dress code or outfit, but is even more important as a freelancer. Your work is your calling card, not your ability to follow an HR policy. Above all, how you dress be empowering to you. Your confidence in yourself will inspire potential clients to place their confidence in you.
Know your audience. While business wear could get you from 8-5, M-F in the office world, you have much more of an ability to adapt to your customer or client in freelance work. Don’t be afraid to bust out a suit if you’re headed to a corporate client or bring out some boots for a farm visit.
Continue adapting. Just as in a traditional office-based career, freelancers and entrepreneurs grow and advance in their careers. Don’t be afraid to tweak things when your business starts booming or when your clientele becomes more high-brow.
How do you strike a balance between casual and professional wear? What pieces do you find to be the most versatile? Do you have any other advice for first-time freelancers or entrepreneurs?
Hi friends! Just popping in to joyfully announce the arrival of Baby M., who made a safe and thrilling entrance into the world at 7:39 p.m. EDT on Friday, September 23. She delighted her adoring parents and grandparents by staying awake and alert for quite a while Friday night, and continues to amaze everyone with fascinating new tricks like figuring out the whole eating thing, being swaddled by her daddy, and getting the hiccups. D. and I are thrilled and overwhelmed with joy and love for this beautiful new life, and can’t wait to bring her home tomorrow. Many thanks to all of you for your kind wishes and words of support in the last weeks and months; we feel truly blessed to have so many near and far to share the moment with us.
S., D. and m.!
Tagged with: Special Occasions
This post is part of a series on maternity wardrobe essentials and approaches to dressing for pregnancy. See the complete series.
If you’re reading this on Monday morning, and it’s not preceded by a note welcoming our new arrival, my due date came and went and I’m . . . still pregnant. Which is, of course, fine, but I am looking forward to the day when I can stop writing about dressing for pregnancy in the present tense!
I’ve been looking wistfully at September issues and fall catalogues for the last few weeks, trying to piece together a vision of how I’ll incorporate fall’s trends into my post-partum style (which involves some seriously magical thinking, since I have no idea what my post-partum body will look like, what my needs will be—other than sleep!—or how quickly I’ll feel up for getting dressed). It feels like a whole new experience, after months of maternity dressing, which, while it can be stylish (and I’ve certainly tried!), is mostly not trendy—at least as to silhouette, since the range of bump-able silhouettes is, well, small. That said, some trends—particularly those involving color, texture and accessories—can work really successfully on the pregnant body (sometimes with a few adjustments).
For example: I loved this spring and summer’s brights, but dressing a newly-proportioned and (let’s face it) outsized body in bright colors takes some care and some thought. As usual, these aren’t iron-clad rules, but here are a few things I thought about and some particularly (and sometimes surprisingly!) successful strategies for making this trend work on a pregnant body. Like my list of suit alternatives, these go from least to most adventurous.
Let’s face it: pregnant bodies are, well . . . often bigger than their non-pregnant counterparts. Larger bodies lead to larger expanses of, in this case, bright, fabric, which can sometimes feel like overkill . . . or simply like a more dramatic look than you were going for. Starting with simpler shapes may be a good way to baby-step your way in to making these looks work, and giving you a chance to experiment with drawing attention to different parts of your body.
Likewise, pairing brights with neutrals can tone them down in a way that really unifies a look. I wore this taupe-ish cardigan with many a brights-based look, taking advantage of both its snuggly nature and the way it made bright colors seem a little less overwhelming, particularly on darker, more inside-oriented days.
Brights at the Office: One Thing at a Time
As we’ve discussed at length, it depends on where you work and what you do, but not all offices are universally brights-friendly. For example, at the firm I worked at this summer, the expected number of bright wardrobe elements per woman on any given day was probably less than .5. Keeping the rest of the outfit more neutral and relying on one (or maybe two) colored elements may make these kinds of pieces more office-appropriate, and make you feel less like you’re ringing alarm bells walking through the hallway.
Pairing with Pattern
For whatever reason, I love the look of brights with patterns. Depending on the overall look, either the bright element or the patterned element can function as the anchor piece, with the other functioning as an accent. On the pregnant body, this is one of those relatively unusual examples of where more is more: even though it can be both a lot of pattern and a lot of bright on an unusually proportioned form, it feels celebratory and intentional and really, really fun.
Out There, Live: Color Blocking, Analogous Brights and Dramatic Shapes
Broadly and generally, these are bolder bright looks, and your mileage may vary on appropriateness for your work environment, your state of pregnancy, and your temperament. I’ve found that I’ve come to really love analogous brights, which seem really soothing to me, oddly enough, but they’re definitely not for everyone. Likewise, I wasn’t a huge fan of color-blocking while pregnant (though this was in part a proportion issue, brought on by my inability to wear high-waisted anything). But I loved, LOVED, the look of a bold, unexpected silhouette in a bright color, even though it was something I don’t think I ever would have worn not pregnant. I never would have bought this crazy coral/watermelon colored, puff-sleeved blouse under ordinary circumstances, but again, the playful, experimental mood that pregnancy dressing put me in made me more open to these possibilities—and thrilled to try to make them work. It definitely wasn’t subtle, but it was kind of a blast.
How do you feel about trends and the pregnant body? In particular, do you think things like brights or pattern mixing have a place in the pregnant gal’s wardrobe, or are they better reserved for the not-currently-reproducing set?
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