Friday, February 28, 2014

Old Lace and New Texture

Today's outfit is a slight move towards spring because it incorporates a lot of brown. Over here in London, brown is definitely a spring/summer color, and black is for fall and winter. The inspiration for today's outfit comes from the beautiful vintage purse I picked up at Vintage Skins in memory of a purse my grandmother used to have. Its polished dark brown color looks lovely with my black lace sweater and my brown snakeskin print shoes! They aren't technically new, but I haven't worn them all winter so they feel new to me. To add to the old-world look, I accessorized with pearls and my cameo earrings. The dress is a touch shorter than I would normally wear to work, so I wore black tights to keep everything appropriate. Happy Friday!

Dress: White House Black Market, similar for UK here
Sweater: Banana Republic from 2012, a couple of options for US here and here and UK here and here
Earrings: similar options here and here, or check Etsy or Ebay
Pumps: Corso Como, similar for UK here
Purse: Vintage Skins (they ship overseas to the UK)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Office-Appropriate Street-Style

Inspired by all the Fashion Week bloggers throwing together trendy looks to attract the attention of the street style blog photographers, I decided to put together a street style-inspired office look. "Street style" as generally seen on fashion blogs is, at its core, an amalgamation of different "trend" pieces that are styled together in such a way that they actually form a cohesive outfit. Most people who wear the street style look start with some very basic pieces (like a white blouse and jeans, or a blazer and ankle-length pants) and then start layering on more trendy pieces to create their outfits.

Here, I've started with a basic black J. Crew dress as my base. To add some color and a touch of Asian-inspired flair, I then added my wide obi-style red suede belt. Over that, I've thrown my cropped motorcycle jacket. Its basic black color and the chiffon ruching on the front panels tones down the metal zippers on the sleeves and makes it work-appropriate. To finish off the outfit, instead of a necklace or earrings, I've decided to go back in time with my jewelry and wear some vintage brooches. Wearing two next to each other gives it a modern, "stacked" look that keeps it from looking too much like my grandmother. So there you have it: classic + Asia + motorcycle + vintage = street style that works in the office.

Dress: J. Crew, similar for UK here
Jacket: Forever 21, similar for US here and UK here
Belt: Chaos Leather, similar for US here
Jewelry: For similar pins or something unique that suits your style, look at websites like Ebay or Etsy

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sartorial Statements: Vodafone London Fashion Weekend

 Entrance to Somerset House

Since my day job obviously precluded me from attending anything at London Fashion Week, or hanging around Somerset house hoping to spot a few celebrities, I decided to try out the Vodafone London Fashion Weekend instead. LFWend is held in the same location as LFW and is set up to be a whirlwind fashion-and-shopping experience best enjoyed in a group of girlfriends. In addition to all of the fashion, there were pop-up stations where you could get your hair and makeup styled into several different runway-inspired looks, and stations for manicures and shoulder massages. The prosecco was flowing liberally and people were handing out free samples of yogurt and chocolate bars. The outer rooms of Somerset House were turned into a shopping center where numerous British designers set up pop-up shops. The center tent, which held the catwalk shows for LFW, hosted both a few repeat shows from LFW by up-and-coming British designers and trend shows for the current season, which featured outfits comprised of ready-to-wear pieces which the audience could immediately purchase online. The trend show was quite fun, as it was focused on current Spring 2014 trends. It was also quite useful as it got me thinking about trends for spring, which I had not given much thought to yet because it is still so cold outside. 

The showcased trends for Spring 2014 were: metallics, floral, lace and sportswear. All of these trends can be worn in the office, with a few tweaks to make them work-appropriate.


 The trend show hostess wore a beautiful metallic lavender pencil skirt that, paired with a conservative grey blazer, grey pumps and pearls, would look very classy at the office.

An alternative way to work metallics into an office wardrobe is through a metallic blazer. The runway look showed these blazers with jeans and metallic cropped pants, but they would look incredibly classy with black or grey suit pants or a tailored pencil skirt. Keep the rest of your jewelry and accessories simple, however - you don't want to overdo the flash for the office.


 Florals can be worn on any item of clothing, but for the office, pick one floral piece and keep the rest of your outfit simple. In the picture above, a floral-printed pencil skirt is paired with a classic solid-color sweater. In the picture below, a floral-printed top is paired with plain trousers. Jewelry should also be kept simple and classic, so as to avoid overdoing this look.


The amount of lace one can wear depends on how conservatively-dressed your office is. For less conservative offices, a classic A-line or sheath dress in lace, as shown above, may be completely appropriate. For more conservative offices, the amount of lace worn should be a bit less. Pair a lovely lace top, as shown below, with a traditional pantsuit. The jacket and trousers will keep the look tailored and professional, while the hint of lace underneath the jacket will keep the outfit on trend.


This look is a bit difficult to translate to the workplace, as it can look too casual for most traditional corporate offices. However, the top on this model gives one example of how the look can translate: pair a sportswear-inspired shirt with a classic black or grey pantsuit. The pantsuit keeps the look from becoming too relaxed, while the sportswear-inspired top keeps you comfortable and looking cool.

And for anyone who is interested, this is what I wore to Vodafone Fashion Weekend - definitely not an outfit for work, but fun for the weekend :-)

Friday, February 21, 2014

#LFW-Inspired Pantsuit

The grey London weather made the coloring on these pictures look a bit dark, so it is difficult to see the contrast between the black jacket and the navy blue pants. But under the fluorescent lighting of the office, you can definitely see the difference. Ideally I think the jacket would look better with very slim-cut pants, but it works fine with my regular suit trousers. This outfit is also my nod to fashion week, as I am sporting my handmade London jacket and slightly larger jewelry than I would usually wear to the office. Plus, I like mixing in some green through the necklace - it makes me think of spring!

Jacket: Love and Be Loved by Amin Philips
Cami: Ann Taylor, similar for UK readers here
Pants: made in Hong Kong, similar for US here and UK here
Jewelry: Similar necklace here for US and here for UK

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sartorial Statements: Behave Like A "Real" Company, Haute Couture - Pay Your Interns

 Photograph: Libby Page

Fashion companies are happy to be treated as corporate entities. They want to be listed in the stock markets of New York, London and Hong Kong. They want to issue debt and equity, or acquire new businesses and divest from old ones. They hire people with business degrees and backgrounds in finance and law to ensure that they make a solid profit every year.  Large fashion companies are no longer cottage craftspeople singlemindedly devoted to their trade. While fashion companies may celebrate the artists who serve as the brand's lead designers and "faces," the company itself is a corporate entity. But then these companies turn around and plea that they are "artistic establishments" and therefore do not have to pay their interns. According to these fashion companies, the mere "experience" of getting to work for them should be payment enough.

That is absolutely ridiculous. Fashion companies are not the only companies with prestigious histories that have hordes of young people lining up for internships. For example, Goldman Sachs is certainly prestigious enough to entice young people to work there for free. But most large corporations do pay their interns and often have a system in place to later hire at least some of them.  Goldman Sachs' summer internship program is paid and the bank gives out offers at the end of the summer. 

Obviously fashion companies are not alone in milking the economic crisis for as much free labor as possible - plenty of other companies in other industries are doing the same thing. And while Article 23 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that " Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and for his family an existence worthy of human dignity," the drafters of that document were undoubtedly thinking of people in much worse circumstances than recent graduates in their 20's working as unpaid laborers for up-and-coming fashion designers.

The fact that others around the world are in much worse circumstances, however, should not be used as an excuse to dismiss the struggles of the Millennium generation that has come of age in a world where paid jobs have been replaced by unpaid internships, particularly in the fashion and media industries. It is true that some millennials have parents who can lend a helping hand, or generous friends with a spare couch. But not all of them do. By turning the entry-level positions in fashion companies into positions that are unpaid, the fashion industry has effectively shut out those millennials who need a paycheck to live. They are left with little to no chance of ever getting their foot into the fashion industry's door.

Today's unpaid internships at fashion houses are relics of a bygone era where young people joined the houses as apprentices and were taught a particular skill over the course of several years. The old apprenticeship model bears little resemblance to the internships of today, where training is often severely lacking and the interns serve merely as unpaid labor. The group Intern Aware has been protesting at both New York Fashion Week and London Fashion Week, trying to raise awareness of the fact that not only are these companies taking advantage of young people who have no other options for working in the fashion industry, but they may also be breaking employment laws in both the US and the UK.

Fashion companies cannot have it both ways. Law firms, financial institutions, pharmaceutical companies, technology companies and most large corporations pay their interns at least minimum wage. Fashion companies cannot consider themselves corporate entities in the boardroom, concerned with compliance, revenue and respectability, but then use their artistic heritage as a ploy to garner free labor.  

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sartorial Statements: London Fashion Week!! #LFW

Hi everyone! No Monday outfit this week is London Fashion Week!!! Unfortunately maintaining my normal job means that I will not be able to go to any cool shows, but I was able to attend one of the LFW kickoff parties!! My husband was very nice and agreed to go with me even though it was Valentine's Day. We ran into the beautiful Lu Li from 3 Ways To Wear and I'm pretty sure I spotted some other well-known London fashion bloggers in the crowd. It was definitely an event for up-and-coming fashionistas, and there was a LOT of networking going on! But of course the focus was on the clothes!!!

The party was sponsored by London Ethnic, which is an e-commerce site selling clothing and accessories designed by London-based designers and produced in the UK. Browsing their site is a great way to really get a feel for the current London fashion scene, and the designers they feature are quite talented. The runway was a mix of various designers London Ethnic sells online. To see all of the outfits featured on the runway, visit my web album. Here I've just featured my favorites :-)

LOVE this combination for the summer! I would definitely rock the jacket at the office, and if the dress could be made in a looser light wool with less ruching, it would be totally work appropriate.

Both of these tops would work for the office with a few tweaks. The neckline on the blue top would need to come up a bit, and I would get the fit tailored in a bit to be less blousy. The purple top is almost perfect, though I would wear a cami underneath it and obviously wear it tucked in.

 This beautiful jacket/dress would be perfect for the office in fall if the skirt was a bit longer! I would wear it as a dress, not a jacket, however, as I think it looks beautiful on its own.

 All of the components of the outfit on the left could be worn to the office, just not with each other. But, if you mixed them with classic black staples, they would be simply stylish without overdoing it. The dress on the right is perfect for work - just raise the neckline a touch or wear a cami.

 This is definitely NOT a work outfit, but we all need something to wear when celebrating with your friends on a (rare) free weekend. The necklace is fabulous!

 This incredible blue velvet gown was definitely the highlight of the evening! With the blue silk flowing from the shoulders, this dress definitely belonged on a red carpet. The high neckline makes it perfect for a work-related black tie gala where you want to be stunning, but not shocking.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day, Office Style!!

I LOVE holidays and I've always loved matching my outfit to the holiday! Unfortunately, due to my office environment it is no longer acceptable for me to wear head to toe pink and red with heart jewelry, like I did in high school and college. And I can't even get away with one of the adorable heart sweaters that so many other bloggers have been sporting this week. So, this is my toned-down and subtle Valentine's Day office look. The cream sweater and cranberry red skirt look more sophisticated than the bright red and pure white combinations I used to wear to class. I also stayed away from heart jewelry, as I thought it was a bit much, but added a bit more sparkle than I would normally wear to the office. The shoes are my favorite part of this outfit! I didn't want to go with black pumps, because I thought they would look too severe, and these cream Jessica Simpson ankle-strap pumps turned out to be just perfect!

If you like my posts, please follow me on Bloglovin', Facebook and Twitter!

Skirt: Banana Republic, similar for US here and for UK here
Sweater: Banana Republic, similar here for US and here for UK
Jewelry: Similar earrings - US and UK, and necklace - US and UK
Shoes: Jessica Simpson from several years ago, similar here for both US and UK

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sartorial Statements: Battle of the Fashion IPOs

The Olympics are now in full swing, but those of us in corporate law/banking/finance have another spectator sport coming up: IPO watching! The Q2 season is just starting to kick off and rumors regarding which companies will or won't make it this year are flying around faster than a speed skater.

First up, we have Berlin-based fashion e-commerce site Zalando, which is rumored to have recruited Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley to guide them through the IPO process. Word on the street is that the company could be valued at more than 4 billion pounds, which would make it Europe's biggest IPO for an internet company. Not bad for a company who, from the looks of their website, definitely ripped off of the Zappos model in the US. Zalando definitely knows how to do business in the EU, as there are 15 different versions of it that you can use to purchase everything from adidas to Versace Jeans.

Moving to the US, we have the well-known flash-sale site Gilt which was EXTREMELY popular when I was in law school. All that typing of students frantically taking notes in Business Administration - yeah, that was actually tons of students frantically purchasing 7 For All Mankind jeans on Gilt for up to 40% off. Gilt Group is said to have picked Goldman Sachs to lead their IPO. Looks like Goldman Sachs' bankers will be stylin' this spring :-P While Zalando's IPO could theoretically be in any number of countries (most likely the US, the UK or Germany), Gilt will most likely go public in the US, as they do not really have an international presence. Gilt is also one of the few flash-sale sites to still be profitable., Rue La La and Lot18 all have reduced their staff or stopped offering flash sales. Since Gilt was the site that originated the concept of an online flash-sale, they are obviously enjoying the benefits of being the first mover. And to throw a bit of spice into the pot, rumors are constantly circulating regarding how much Net-A-Porter could be worth if Richemont ever decided to take it public. That being rather unlikely at the moment, however, it seems like the face-off for e-commerce sites this spring will be between Gilt and Zalando.

Now onto traditional retail. In one corner the British department store House of Fraser, said to be planning a UK IPO for sometime in May. This was apparently not Fraser's first choice, as according to the FT plans for a buy-out by Galleries Lafayette were squashed in late 2013. Next up will supposedly be British retailers Boohoo and Fat Face, both rumored to be planning spring IPOs. They will most likely be going public on the UK exchange, as neither is known in the US. And finally, our dear friend Arnault over at LVMH would like Marc Jacobs to IPO his line and hopes for the same success as befell Michael Kors, who has just officially become a billionaire.

With this lineup heading into the spring, it looks like there will be plenty of capital markets activity for all the lawyers and bankers interested in fashion, particularly if you work at Goldman Sachs. It will be interesting to watch and see who actually manages to IPO, who gets acquired, or who simply doesn't make it to their closing date. Becoming a publicly-traded company is not easy and in lean times like these, only the strong survive.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Ladies Who Lunch...At Their Desks

I know the term "ladies who lunch" is sometimes used derogatorily, but I've always thought it sounded quite elegant. It brings to mind pictures of women in beautiful clothes delicately nibbling on cucumber sandwiches and lobster salad. Unfortunately, my daily lunch is much less elegant - microwaved food made over the weekend and frozen, eaten while catching up on the news at my desk. But, while I may not be able to eat like a "lady who lunches," I can certainly dress like one :-) My outfit today is based off of what I imagine those ladies would wear - a classic pencil skirt combined with a bright sweater, accessorized with a long strand of pearls, my class ring and matching pearl earrings. At least I can dress like I live a life of leisure!!

Skirt: Ann Taylor from several years ago, similar here for US and here for UK
Sweater: Gap from several years ago, similar here for US and here or here for UK
Pearls: similar for US here and UK here
Class Ring: wear your own, or similar here for US and here for UK
Belt: similar here for US and here for UK
Purse: Longchamp Le Pliage medium tote, US and UK

Friday, February 7, 2014

What is Black and White and Red, and is NOT a Marked-Up Document?

The inspiration for this outfit did actually come from looking at a printed document which had been edited in red pen and thinking "wow, nice color combination. I should wear that." I should point out that I had marked the document in red myself, as my colleagues are all very nice and do markups in pencil, not in glaring red ink. Red, white and black is a great color combination, though some might think it's a bit daring for a conservative office. What grounds this outfit is the tweed skirt and sensible white blouse, which are both quite traditional. The zebra-print belt adds a touch of whimsy, but overall it stays well within the bounds of appropriate office attire.

Shirt: Banana Republic, here is the same on the UK site
Skirt: Nordstrom Fall 2013, similar here for US (but pricey), here for UK (but it is technically a mini skirt, so may not be appropriate for taller ladies)
Belt: Chaos Leather (handmade in London), similar for US here

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sartorial Statements: Is Western Fashion the Only Fashion?

PCJ Delhi Couture Week


 Paris Fashion Week - Christophe Karaba / EPA

It is very obvious that the future of the luxury goods industry, e-commerce and fashion all lie in Asia. E-commerce sites are fighting over who will win the battle of the market share all across Asia (see last week's Sartorial Statement), while famous European brands are highly dependent on an ever-increasing stream of Asian customers and are refocusing their branding and marketing efforts accordingly. But where are the Asian luxury brands and couture houses? Why is it that in order to be considered a luxury good or a haute couture house, the brand must be European? This is particularly true for haute couture, which is closely regulated by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. Similar to the way "champagne" must come from the Champagne region of France, to be considered haute couture, a designer's house must be registered with the Chambre Syndicale. In order to register, the design house must maintain an atelier in Paris. These rules ensure that only designers whose clothing is western enough to be approved by the Chambre Syndicale will be considered haute couture. 

The Business of Fashion recently ran an article about the fashion weeks in India, Singapore and China which feature local high-end designers. In response, the chairman of the Chambre Syndicale  said “They [India] have a different concept of what couture is. It’s also very classic and not as exciting as what we show here in Paris. As for what they show in Singapore, that’s something else. It’s not haute couture, it’s a kind of ready-to-wear. It’s well done; clever; it has its position. But it is not really couture.” This statement is ridiculous and smacks of old European imperialism. While certainly Paris Fashion Week shows off its designers' hand-made garments, all of the haute couture houses have extensive ready-to-wear lines which produce most of their garment-based profits, and their ready-to-wear shows are promoted just as heavily as their couture shows. Moreover, the shows in China or India are every bit as exciting from an artistic perspective as what is being produced in the Western world. The designs are simply based on clothing constructs from a different culture and, particularly in India, must accommodate certain levels of modesty. To say that these shows are not "exciting" is to display an alarmingly narrow artistic perspective.

Asia may appreciate all that Europe has done to create and market the concept of luxury goods and the world of high fashion/haute couture. However, instead of using their purchasing power to simply enhance the egos and revenues of old European luxury purveyors, they should use their purchasing power to force the industry to recognize that Asia has its own artistic and design background - one that should be considered an equal to the west.

Monday, February 3, 2014

These Boots Are Made For Walking...Into Work on Monday Morning

Monday mornings require something peppy to wake me up, and usually a good pop or country song does the trick :-) I usually try to make it to the gym on Mondays before work, so I want clothes that fold nicely into a gym bag and don't wrinkle - a wool sweater and skirt are the perfect combination. Since I'll be getting dressed at the gym, I keep the jewelry and accessories to a minimum. The boots are much more stable than my usual high heels - perfect for racing between my office and the printing room as another crazy week kicks off!

Sweater: Banana Republic from 2012, similar here and here (in peach) for US and here for UK
Skirt: Ann Taylor from several years ago, similar here for US and here for UK
Necklace: Gift, similar here for US and here for UK
Boots: Ann Taylor from several years ago, similar here for US and here for UK

Saturday, February 1, 2014

RSS feed

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>
Blogger Template by DESIGNER BLOGS