Friday, January 31, 2014

Purple Boots at the Office? Yes Please!

Today's outfit was a result of trying to add color to an otherwise rather plain grey work dress. Color is most easily added through accessories, so I settled on the purple earrings and boots to add a nice dash of style. These purple boots are probably on the edge of what is office-appropriate for me, but in the middle of the week, most people are much too busy to notice. Plus, it is quite cold in the office and boots are a nice alternative to sitting with a blanket over my legs all day. The Chanel-inspired jacket is proof that sometimes fast fashion can be worthwhile - I picked it up at Forever 21 several years ago and it still looks classy.

Dress: Mossimo from Target, similar here for US readers and here for UK readers
Jacket: Purchased from Forever 21 several years ago, but similar on sale here for US readers and here for UK readers
Earrings: Banana Republic Spring 2013, similar here for US readers and here for UK readers
Boots: Purple boots are definitely a trend item, and at the moment they are not currently being sold. But never fear - both US and UK readers can design their own pair of purple boots here!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sartorial Statements: International Online Fashion Attracts Big Investors

Shopping in a store is stressful. Between the horrible dressing rooms with bad lighting, non-existent sales associates and the high probability that the store will not actually have your size, it's no wonder that more and more people prefer to shop online from their homes and offices. Private equity companies, angel investors and anyone with extra cash are gambling that this trend will only keep growing, and will spread worldwide. Investors are pouring money into a variety of online clothing retail sites, particularly in international markets. They are focused on local companies who have managed to dominate the market in places like India, China, South America and Russia where US behemoths like and Zappos are still trying to break in. Even World Bank, a financial institution that is supposed to focus on global development and alleviating poverty, can't help but get in on the action. World Bank's IFC investment arm, which is supposed to invest in private companies that helping to eliminate poverty, has just invested 10 million euros in Lamoda, a fashion e-commerce site that operates in Russia and Kazakhstan, and 15 million euros in Dafiti, a fashion e-commerce site that operates in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Columbia and Mexico. World Bank's reasoning? These companies are providing jobs for thousands of people in these reasons, many of whom are women, and are facilitating demand for "locally-sourced goods." Which sort of makes sense, if you ignore the fact that both Lamoda and Dafiti are owned by Rocket Internet, a Europe-based private equity company that invests in internet-based businesses, and the fact that the websites operate within a given country does not mean they are selling clothing from that specific country or region.

In addition to the influx of investment, local companies such as Alibaba and Tencent in China are fighting for dominance over their markets, while other online retailers are trying to break into markets such as southeast Asia where there currently is no dominant online retailer. 

All of this activity and competition is great for the consumer, because who doesn't love more places to shop? However, it is unlikely to last. Over the next few years there will most likely be a consolidation of online retailers, much as there was in the US where Amazon and Ebay now dominate the market. It is likely, though, that each region will end up with a different winner. As Amazon and Google can attest to, it is difficult to transition an internet company developed in one region and based around that region's culture and interests into another region and unseat the locally-grown dominant player. From an investor's point of view, it is therefore unclear which online retailer will win out in the different regions, and so the best decision is to spread investment out amidst a variety of companies and hope that a few will make it big. In this business there are only two directions: keep growing up until you can IPO (which means you will have to start acquiring other companies to keep yourself going) or get acquired by a bigger player. It will be interesting to see which companies win in the international online fashion business.

For more information:
European Retail Sites: Lazada Builds Out its Marketplace and Zalando Gets New Investment
Fashion E-Commerce Site Lyst Raises 14M

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Power Suit With A Splash of Orange

Need to look professional and ready to conquer the world? Woke up late on a Monday morning and don't have time to put together an outfit? Reach for a classic pantsuit and add a lovely silk scarf. This look has been seen on powerful women from around the globe, including Hilary Clinton, Angela Merkel and Christine Lagarde. Here I've started with a basic navy pantsuit, then added an orange silk scarf and amber drop earrings for some color. The key to dressing this look up or down is the scarf. For a professional power look, choose a silk scarf in a bold color. To tone the suit down or make it more casual, choose a cotton or poly-blend scarf in a softer shade. You don't need much jewelry with this look because you want to keep the focus on the scarf, so I've just added small drop earrings in a complementary shade of orange.

Suit: I had this suit made in Hong Kong, but for US readers here are similar jacket and pants, and here are jacket and pants for UK readers.
Scarf: The scarf was a gift, but similar here for US readers and here for UK readers.
Earrings: The earrings were purchased at a market in Krakow, Poland, but similar can be found here for US readers and here for UK readers.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Wintery Warmth

The weather in London hasn't been too bitter cold yet - it's stayed around 40F/4.4C - but my office is still pumping out A/C like we're headed for a heat wave!! In order to stay warm and cozy around this time of year, I came up with an outfit that combined all my favorite parts about dressing for winter - warm colors, cozy fabrics and a hint of snowy sparkle! This outfit would definitely work around the holidays, but the wool sweater and cozy red fabric of the skirt will keep me nice and warm through the long cold days of January and February as well. 

Sweater: Banana Republic, part of their 2012 Anna Karenina collection. Similar can be found here for US readers and here for UK readers.
Camisole: Ann Taylor, UK readers can find similar here.
Skirt: Banana Republic from 2012. Red pencil skirts are hard to find at the moment, as they are a popular holiday collection item and then went on sale after Christmas. Here is an option for US readers and here and here for UK readers.
Belt: Nordstrom. Similar here for US readers and here for UK readers.
Pumps: Stuart Weizman. Similar ones can be found here for my US readers and here for my UK readers.
Necklace: Picked up as a winter accessory from Target many years ago. Similar can be found here for my US readers and here for my UK readers.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Story of a Jacket

One of the first places I discovered in London was Old Spitalfields Market. It's in Shoreditch, the trendy, up-and-coming London neighborhood where Keira Knightley used to live until she got married and moved to West London (which is apparently what Londoners do when they want to indicate that they are settling down to a quiet family life). Spitalfields Market is a full-on old fashioned European market, with everything from food to flea market vendors to fashion. The best day to visit is Saturday, when Spitalfields hosts their Saturday Style Market and up-and-coming London designers set up their stalls to show off their latest designs.

The very first day I visited the market back in September, I fell head-over-heels in love with Amin, the designer behind Love and Be Loved. His incredible structured jackets with their detailed seaming and iridescent materials were absolutely stunning. They also fit me perfectly, as Amin designs his clothes for hourglass figures like me :-) Needless to say, I was completely enraptured. However, I was also completely broke from the move over to London. So, for the next three months, I visited Amin's stall every time I came down to Spitalfields, just to admire his clothes. A couple weeks before Christmas, my husband and I were at the market doing some last-minute gift shopping and I stopped by Amin's stall as usual. After chatting with Amin for a while, my husband offered to get me one of Amin's jackets for Christmas. Amin and I discussed cut and fabric and he had me try on a couple of jackets that he had on hand, just to get an idea of my size and body shape. The weekend before Christmas, my husband and I picked up the finished jacket, but I had to wait until Christmas to wear it. It was the MOST PERFECT GIFT EVER!!! Every time I put the jacket on it feels amazing - Amin's tailoring and design work is simply phenomenal!

Amin's jacket is definitely a runway piece and not usually the kind of thing you see in a law firm. But, it is an elegant black jacket and I see no reason why it's slightly shimmery fabric and couture-cut styling should banish it from the workplace. After all, high-end design companies can hire us to do their legal work, we should be able to wear their style of clothing while doing it!! To make it office-appropriate, I paired it with a black cami, a warm red wool pencil skirt and basic black pumps. To keep the focus on the jacket, I kept my jewelry very minimal, opting for only basic stud earrings.

Jacket: hand-made by Amin for Love and Be Loved. Prices for his jackets start at £300.
Camisole: Ann Taylor, UK readers can find similar here.
Skirt: Banana Republic from 2012. Red pencil skirts are hard to find at the moment, as they are a popular holiday collection item and then went on sale after Christmas. Here is an option for US readers and here and here for UK readers.
Pumps: back to my Stuart Weizman's - they will make a lot of appearances on this site. Similar ones can be found here for my US readers and here for my UK readers.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sartorial Statements: Advice for JDs and MBAs Entering the Fashion Industry

Hi everyone! This is the first edition of Sartorial Statements, my weekly editorial where I discuss some of the latest news articles related to the the business and/or legal side of the fashion and luxury goods industry. Hope you enjoy it!

Advice for JDs and MBAs Entering the Fashion Business

The Business of Fashion is an incredible website run out of the UK that provides daily news coverage of the business side of the fashion industry. The website collates news stories from all the major international newspapers (NYT, Financial Times, Reuters, etc) and also has its own editorial staff who produce original articles. Imran Ahmed, BOF's editor-in-chief just put out an article on his 6 Tips for MBAs Trying to Break Into the Fashion Business. The tips are quite good, such as Ahmed's advice that MBAs should know the fashion industry's value chains and where their skills would let them fit in. However, since my job as a lawyer does not, unfortunately, lead to much skill at value chain assessment, I thought I would offer something similar but tailored to the skills we can develop as lawyers.

4 Tips for JDs Trying to Break Into the Fashion Business

1) If you like litigation, get involved in intellectual property copyright and trademark law
For litigators, the courtroom and the catwalk most easily come together when one design house sues a competitor over a copyright or trademark issue. Keep in mind that clothing itself is not able to be protected under IP laws (at least in the US - Europe has considered revising this), as it is a wearable item and thereby a useful good. However, colors in a logo and the logo itself are protected under trademark law, and an original pattern on a piece of fabric can be protected by copyright law. Luckily for all the women that love them, Louboutin's famous red soles are protected by trademark law. A judge ruled in 2012 that while YSL could make a shoe that was completely red all over (including the sole), only Louboutin could use its trademark red color on the sole of a not-fully-red shoe. Wouldn't it have been awesome to be a lawyer in that case? I would definitely ask to receive my fee in shoes!!

2) If you like corporate law, get involved in M&A
Aaah corporate law -- where we get up close and personal to some of the world's most famous companies. We do that by helping those companies do three things: sell off parts of themselves that are not profitable or in keeping with the company's business, acquire new companies, and list themselves on various international stock exchanges. If being the next Pierre Godé interests you, then M&A is the place to start. Godé is the vice chairman of LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) and is now a billionnaire. He started off as the lawyer for Bernard Arnault, the CEO and Chairman of LVMH and guided LVMH through numerous acquisitions of luxury brands. LVMH now is the largest luxury goods group in the world and owns brands as diverse as Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Guerlain, Marc Jacobs, and Bulgari.

3) If you like corporate law but the M&A department is full, get involved in IPOs
The nice thing about stock exchanges is that there are so many of them. And it takes a lot of money to list your company on any given exchange. And really big international companies sometimes like to get listed on more than one stock exchange. Which all goes to say that if you find yourself in the right place at the right time, you may be able to get an incredible insider's view of a company like Prada, which listed itself on the Hong Kong stock exchange in 2011. The benefit of doing an IPO? Well, you get to look through all the company's books and records and REALLY see how a company does business. Before it can list itself on a stock exchange, a company must have itself thoroughly examined by lawyers to ensure that it is fully keeping with the rules governing public companies in the country where the company wants to list. If the company is a fashion house, the lawyers are in for a treat as they will get to pour over copious amounts of detail regarding how that fashion house does business.

4) If no fashion is coming your way at the law firm, be an entrepreneur
Not all law firms have fashion companies as clients, and even at the law firms that do, those companies will be few and far between. So if there is no fashion coming your way at your current firm, you have two options:
1) Find a boutique firm that specializes in fashion law. This is better option for those interested in litigation, as these types of boutique firms seem to all be IP litigation firms. Unfortunately I have not yet heard of a boutique corporate firm specializing only in M&A and IPOs for fashion companies. Maybe one day I'll start one.
2) On that note, start your own company. The all-time favorite way of trying to break into the fashion industry is simply by, well, breaking in. As in starting a company that has some connection to fashion and seeing if it will take off or not. This will obviously take capital and having to live the life of a start-up entrepreneur instead of a firm lawyer (though you could hedge a little bit and join an already-existing start-up), but if the fashion catwalk is where you want to be, you've got to be willing to WORK IT!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Giving Classics an Edge

Hi everyone! Going back to work after the holiday season is always rather miserable, especially when it comes to clothing. I love my holiday wardrobe: comfy knit dresses with cozy holiday sweaters for lounging, and gorgeous party gowns with sparkly heels for the festivities. Having to get back into suits and hose just isn't very exciting. So, in order to get myself out of the fashion dumps, today I added a little edge to my standard J. Crew dress and blazer combo. I paired it with some heeled knee-high leather boots and a statement necklace that always give me a little rocker-chic feel. The necklace and boots are definitely edgy for a traditional law firm, but the classic LBD and blazer combo tones them down a bit. If you have a less rigid dress code, switch out the classic blazer for a more modern looking jacket - maybe even in leather :-)

Dress: J. Crew Emmaleigh dress in black -- for US readers see here, for UK readers see similar here
Blazer: J. Crew 1035 120s Wool Jacket in black -- for US readers see here; for UK readers see here
Necklace: Betsey Johnson from a few years ago, but a large selection of Betsey Johnson necklaces can be found on PopSugar. You can choose to search either the US or UK site by changing the flag icon in the upper right-hand corner.
Boots: Ann Taylor, also from a few years ago, but similar ones can be found here for US readers and here for UK readers

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Welcome to Polished Pinstripes!

Hi everyone!! I am so incredibly excited to launch this blog and hope my readers enjoy it. For my very first outfit, I wanted to do something classic and slightly vintage. This suit is about as classic as you can get. The style is directly copied from Coco Chanel, as the tweed boxy jacket and pencil skirt were her invention. The red color adds a bit of flair, and to top off the vintage look, I added Chanel's favorite jewels in the form of a pearl necklace and large pearl earrings.

Suit: Classiques Entier at Nordstrom. Currently it is out of stock, however they have another similar suit on sale (skirt here, jacket here). If you like the style but not the color, keep watching for their new spring collection to come out, as Classiques Entier always seems to have a Chanel-inspired suit in every collection. Nordstrom ships to the UK.
Pearls: Picked up from the jewelry market in Kowloon, Hong Kong, but a similar pearl necklace and pearl earrings can be found here for my US readers and here and here for my UK readers.
Shoes: Classic black Stuart Weizman pumps. Mine are a few years old, but similar ones can be found here for my US readers and here for my UK readers.
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