Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Tips and Trends: Top 6 Classic Office Pumps

classic shoes for professional women

US Brands: 1) Jimmy Choo, 2) SJP, 3) Corso Como
UK Brands: 1) LK Bennett, 2) River Island, 3) John Lewis

We all know how much women love their shoes! But sometimes it can feel like working in an office takes all the fun out of shoe shopping - every day it's just the same basic black pump. Soooooooooooo not true!! Today I've put together a collection of the six basic, classic pumps that every woman can have in her wardrobe and wear to the office, no matter how conservatively dressed she must be.

Classic Black
Just because it's classic does not mean it has to be boring! Since this is your go-to work-horse shoe, make this the footwear item that you splurge on. That way, even normal days at the office will feel slightly special, and you will know that you have gotten your money's worth out of the item, since you will wear it so often. If Jimmy Choo is out of your budget, try Stuart Weizman, SJP or even Corso Como. Just make sure that this pump is real leather, a comfortable height, and fits your foot as perfectly as possible. This is NOT a shoe that should be uncomfortable - save that for those super cute strappy stiletto sandals!

These shoes come in as a close second to your basic black pump, because they will end up replacing your black pumps for all but the most formal occasions during the spring and summer. Since this is definitely a two-season shoe, however, I would recommend not shelling out the super big bucks for it. Just make sure you find something classy and comfortable. Patent leather is an excellent choice for this shoe, because sometimes nude regular leather can show scratches or marks. Plus, it can be difficult to find a shoe polish that exactly matches the shade of your shoes. To clean marks off of a patent leather shoe, rub them gently with mineral oil.

Who doesn't love a pair of red high heels? Maybe not a banking client or a judge, but for a normal day at the office where (let's be realistic) your feet will spend most of the day under your desk, red pumps are definitely OK. Add to the style factor by choosing a pair made out of a fun fabric, such as suede or even cotton. If you are still worried about standing out too much, make sure your outfit is toned down and very professional (think a conservative black sheath dress) and tuck a pair of black flats into your bag to be used if necessary.

Navy Blue
This color isn't as fun as red, but at least it is a nice change from your basic black. Plus, navy blue shoes can be worn year-round and look lovely in all seasons. Pair them with brown in autumn, deep reds and purples in winter, grey in spring and white in summer. Stash a matching navy clutch into your work bag and use it for cocktails on one of the rare days when you make it out of the office before 7pm.

Love, love, love the snakeskin pattern! The nice thing about snakeskin is that it is the most "classic" of all the animal print patterns, and the least likely to raise eyebrows at a conservative office. I think it's because from a distance, your shoes just look like they are different shades of brown and cream, in contrast to leopard or zebra print which are always very obvious, even from across the room. Since snakeskin print shoes are supposed to be fun, you can definitely get away with having this pair be the cheapest in your wardrobe. I would suggest either nice leather or high quality vegan material, but you definitely don't need to break the bank here.

Grey Pumps
These are the last on my list because you can easily make do without them. However, grey pumps give you a nice "something different" when you are bored with your standard shoe circulation. Like navy pumps, they transition easily throughout all four seasons, and like red pumps, you can buy them in a fun fabric since they are a bit of a "different" shoe. Again, I wouldn't break the bank for a pair, but if you want to go work shoe shopping and already have all of the above, think about going grey for a change!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What to Wear to Work: A Touch of Pink

The downside of living in London is that no matter how many sunny days you get in a row, you know that pretty soon the grey, rainy skies will be rolling back in. Even though it is the end of April, I'm still wearing my winter coat to work and keeping a few wool sweaters on rotation in my closet. In a nod to the fact that it is technically spring (at least according to the calendar), I layered a bright pink cami under my sweater and wore my nude pumps instead of black. I'm loving these dangly purple earrings. They are a touch longer than what I would normally wear to work, but as long as they are the only piece of jewelry I'm wearing I think they are fine.

Skirt: J. Crew, here for US or here for UK
Sweater:  old Ann Taylor, similar here for the US or here for the UK
Cami: Ann Taylor, similar here for the US, here for the UK
Earrings: Banana Republic, similar here for the US, here for the UK
Pumps: Manolo Blahnik, available online here with shipping to the UK

Friday, April 25, 2014

What to Wear to Work: Blue Stripes and a Pencil Skirt

For today's outfit, I wanted to wear something a little bit more casual and relaxed. This shirt is actually a boyfriend-style shirt that is cut long and loose. To make it work for the office, I paired it with my navy blue pencil skirt, but left it a little bit "blousy" on top. To make sure the look didn't end up too casual, I paired it with nude pumps and a simple gold chain necklace. But overall I tried to make sure this look was as laid back as possible (given my office's dress code).

Skirt: here for US or here for UK
Blouse: similar here for US or here for UK
Pumps: Manolo Blahnik, available online here with shipping to the UK

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What to Wear to Work: Grey Suit for Spring

Ah springtime - it's finally the end of winter :-) Today was definitely not hot, but it was warm enough to banish my wool suits to the back of the closet and take out this lightweight grey choice instead. The peplum styling of the jacket and the folds on the lapels definitely make this a more casual, modern suit, not a formal "interview appropriate" suit. However, since it is still a suit, I think this is totally fine to wear to a business meeting or drafting session. Here I've paired it with bright orange earrings and pinned on my cameo brooch instead of wearing a necklace. I am keeping the outfit more conservative by wearing a cream cami underneath, but later on in the summer I will probably try out some fun colored camis and bolder jewelry.

Suit: Classiques Entier from several years ago, but here is something similar from Halogen for US readers. For UK readers, I recommend this jacket and pants.
Cami: Here for US and here for UK

Earrings: Similar here for the US and here for the UK
Pin: For cameo pins I recommend searching on Ebay or Etsy

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tips and Trends: Accessories for Tea and the Races

Spring Accessories

Red Collection: 1) Purse 2) Hat 3) Shoes
Blue Collect: 1) Purse 2) Hat 3) Shoes
Cream Collection 1) Purse 2) Hat 3) Shoes

Short but fun post today in honor of Easter weekend :-) I love late spring/early summer because that means tea parties, garden soirees and horse races, which are all occassions to wear BEAUTIFUL hats! So, as a break from the usual work-appropriate clothing, here are three hat-purse-shoes combinations to get you inspired for your own spring events! 

What fun spring/summer events are you looking forward to? Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What to Wear to Work: Floral Top and Formal Suit Pants

I love shooting the pant styles for this blog because they always inspire me to pose like Victoria Beckham with her "I'm not smiling" face. I promise I'm not mad at anyone here - I'm just trying to look pouty :-) This is a classic spring office look, and another way to work this season's popular floral prints into your wardrobe. I probably wouldn't wear this to go see a client, but again, it should be completely acceptable for a day at the office. 

While the outfit definitely looks better without a sweater, my office is WAY TOO COLD to ever not wear some form of arm covering. Also, the top is sleeves, though I'm actually not sure if sleeveless is considered inappropriate for my office, or the office is just so cold that no one would ever consider the possibility. In any case, since I am usually bundled up in a shawl and blanket while sitting at my desk, I know there is NO WAY I would ever wear anything sleeveless.

Readers, what do you think? Would you wear a sleeveless top in your office?

Top: Anthropologie, similar for US here and here, similar for UK here and here
Cardigan: J. Crew; also available on UK website
Pants: Classiques Entier at Nordstrom, similar here for US or here for UK
Shoes: Manolo Blahnik, available online here (they will ship to the UK)

Monday, April 14, 2014

What to Wear to Work: Summery Coral Necklace and Grey Sheath Dress

This look is my classic spring/summer office look - grey dress and cream cardigan (because the office is freezing even on the hottest days in summer) with bright jewelry and nude pumps. I finally got this grey dress back from the tailor and I am SO EXCITED to wear it!! If it looks a bit familiar, that's because it is the exact same J. Crew dress that I have previously featured in black. I plan to eventually do a full write-up about this dress because it is one of the most comfortable and most flattering pieces I have found. I wear it at least once a week. The black dress is out of my closet for the next four months - I know that in the corporate world, it is always acceptable to wear black, but for me, May through August are the four months of the year where I try to wear as little black as possible, just to give some balance to my wardrobe.

Readers, what do you think? Would you consider banishing your black clothes for the summer months? Discuss in the comments below!

Dress: J. Crew (color is heather flannel); UK website sells a similar style here
Cardigan: J. Crew; also available on UK website
Pumps: Manolo Blahnik, available online here (they will ship to the UK)
Necklace: picked up in San Francisco's Chinatown, but similarly-colored options here for US and here for UK

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tips and Trends: How to Dress for a Drafting Session (or Other Business Formal Meeting)

One of the things that a law associate will eventually do is accompany the partner or a more senior associate to a drafting session.The same thing happens in other industries as well, particularly finance or consulting - at some point, the junior is asked to accompany the boss to a very professional meeting. For men, the dress code is always simple: wear a dark colored (but not solid black) suit with a tie. Simply prepare to lose the tie and jacket if the session gets heated (either literally due to the thermostat or figuratively because the banks and the company begin to have a disagreement about how to phrase some part of the prospectus). For women, however, the wardrobe choice is much more difficult. A "suit" can mean a pantsuit, skirt suit or a dress with a matching jacket. What should you wear for shoes? What about jewelry? Above all, how do you dress so that you are comfortable in a situation where there is a good chance that you will be the only woman at the table?

Step 1: Wear a Suit
This cannot be overstated. These meetings are EXTREMELY professional, so wear a suit. Any of the 3 forms of suits below are usually fine, but you must have a jacket and it must match the other items you are wearing. If you do not wear a suit, you will look and feel very out of place at the table.

Suit Options

Jacket, skirt, dress and pants are all from J. Crew 
I know it's a lot of J. Crew (and no, they did not pay me for this post - wish they would though!), but in my opinion these pieces are the highest quality and most classic option on the market at the moment. All pieces can be purchased in both the US and the UK.

Step 2: Keep your shoes professional
This is not the time to wear purple pumps. This is not the time to wear leopard-print flats. This is the time to wear classic black pumps or low heels, maybe in patent leather if you are feeling daring. You do not want your shoes to be stealing this show. Also, I recommend walking to your meeting in flats and putting on your heels while riding up in the elevator. That way you don't risk damaging your heels by walking them through the city streets.

Classic Black Pumps

Step 3: Wear classic jewelry (and a watch)
The men at the table will be wearing, at most, 4 items that could qualify as jewelry: a watch, a wedding band, a tie clip and cufflinks. You should also be wearing, at most, 4 items: a watch, wedding rings, a necklace and earrings. This is not the time to overload on bracelets, particularly if they jingle (i have seen someone do this and it does not make a good impression), or try to copy the layered necklaces trend. Also, keep everything in proportion to your role in the meeting. If you are a partner or CEO, go ahead and rock your XXL diamond stud earrings. You have definitely earned them. But, if you are a first-year associate, no one should be looking at your jewelry thinking "I wonder how much she spent on that?" Generally speaking, pearls are a safer option than large gemstones because even expensive pearls look appropriately subtle.

Classic Jewelry

1. MARC by March Jacobs 2. Lagos 3. Judith Jack
4. Radley (UK) 5. John Lewis (UK) 6. John Lewis (UK)

Step 4: Carry an appropriate bag
All the men will be carrying black leather briefcases. I highly recommend that you find something you like to carry that will hold all your documents, possible a laptop and definitely an extra shawl in case it gets cold and an umbrella if it starts to rain on your walk over. The large size Longchamp totes are perfect for this, but if you want something more structured than a tote bag, there are other options.
Black totes

Best of luck in helping banks and companies see eye-to-eye and make a mental note of funny things people say to share with your co-workers when you get back to the office (assuming they are not client confidential)!!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tips and Trends: Floral Pencil Skirts

Floral Pencil Skirts

I am super excited about this - I have finally figured out how to make those cool collages that I always see on other fashion blogs! For my first collage, I decided to do one based on the trend that I definitely want to add to my work wardrobe this spring: the floral pencil skirt. It's a bold piece to be wearing around a law office, but as long as you aren't going to visit a client, it can be perfectly acceptable for daily wear. I recommend keeping everything else simple and toned down by wearing classic accessories, such as a white or pale blue button-down shirt, simple small earrings and a classic watch. For shoes, I would definitely suggest sticking with nude or black and let the skirt be the focus. While you may be stuck in the office while everything is comin' up roses, these skirts give you a way to bring a little bit of the spring foliage inside!!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Mixing Browns with a Dash of Plum

Apparently the weather can't make up its mind about whether it wants to be warm or cold. Luckily for me, this morning I was able to make up my mind pretty quickly about what I wanted to wear. I've been gravitating towards my pencil skirts a lot lately - I think it's because I can change the colors of camis that I wear with them, and they are super easy to wear with flats to work. Whenever I wear pants, I always have to fold them up and use clips to hold them because I have my pants hemmed to be worn with heels. Plus, pencil skirts are that perfect mix of feminine but professional! Today I've gone for a palette of all browns, with a dark brown jacket, lighter brown skirt and snakeskin print pumps. The dash of plum, courtesy of the cami, adds just the right pop of color so the outfit doesn't get too boring. Plus I can bring out my plumeria necklace and Chanel earrings to give the outfit a bit of a spring-y vibe!

Skirt: J. Crew, similar for US here and UK here
Jacket: Ann Taylor, if you are in the US, this cream blazer would make a lovely contrast, and if you are in the UK, this blazer matches the skirt and makes the outfit into a suit!
Cami: Ann Taylor, similar for US here and UK here
Necklace: Na Hoku - plumeria collection
Earrings: Chanel, vintage Chanel earrings can be purchased at a discount from LXR & Co.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sartorial Statements: How Mulberry and J. Crew Have Lost Touch With Their Consumers

“Don’t be a lemming!” “If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?” It is unfortunate that the executives who run Mulberry and J. Crew have forgotten these childhood lessons. J. Crew and Mulberry found success by positioning themselves as affordable luxury: purveyors of on-trend high-quality items that were priced for upper-middle-class consumers. J. Crew’s classic clothing was the uniform for young lawyers and bankers in New York City who spent the bulk of their salaries paying off student loans, but needed chic, professional clothing. In London, Mulberry’s handbags named after famous stylish women, such as the “Alexa” after Alexa Chung, were carried by young professional women all throughout the city. 

Craving ever-larger revenues, both brands tried to reposition themselves as purveyors of high-end luxury goods. Their business logic looked sound: while general retail has taken a hit recently, the luxury goods market has continued to rise. Mulberry hired former Hermes executive Bruno Guillon, while J. Crew capitalized on the star power of creative director Jenna Lyons. Both brands sought the elusive status of becoming luxury icons akin to Chanel and Cartier, for whose goods there appears to be no price ceiling. From the viewpoint of someone who studiously reads Bloomberg, the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, it would appear that attempting to become Chanel is a fail-proof way to increase revenues. Simply reposition your brand to attract the high-spending customers whose only criteria for purchasing are that the brand must be European or American and come with an eye-popping price tag.

Unfortunately, the executives leading J. Crew and Mulberry fundamentally misinterpreted their brands’ position in the market. Consumers purchase J. Crew and Mulberry precisely because they are not in a position to purchase Chanel and Hermes. Women such as the Duchess of Cambridge and Michelle Obama know that when they wear Mulberry or J. Crew, it is seen as an expression of solidarity with the average professional woman. J. Crew and Mulberry are fundamentally not haute couture brands and their products have a definite price ceiling. That ceiling is the price of real couture item. The price ceiling for J. Crew’s professional clothing is the price of an Armani or Chanel suit. The price ceiling of a Mulberry bag is the price of a Dior, Celine or Hermes bag. When purchasers of affordable luxury goods find themselves with enough disposable income to purchase real luxury goods, they are not going to continue purchasing affordable luxury brands. Instead, they will switch and purchase the real luxury brand, because a lambskin Chanel 2.55 bag will turn more heads than a Mulberry ostrich-skin Bayswater bag. As a result, affordable luxury brands will find themselves losing customers if they price their goods too high in an attempt to compete with real luxury brands.

In addition, the idea that a high price tag speaks for itself in regards to the quality and exclusivity of a product worked ten years ago, when consumers in emerging luxury goods markets were not as savvy, and when the world’s economy was doing much better. However, today Asian shoppers are no longer willing to purchase whatever high-priced item Western brands tout as the hot item of the season, even if it is from Chanel or Louis Vuitton. Meanwhile, American and European shoppers are finding they no longer have the disposable income to maintain a shoe closet that rivals Carrie Bradshaw’s.

J. Crew and Mulberry have learned their lesson the hard way. Mulberry has lost two-thirds of its value in the past two years since Guillon attempted to scale up its market position, and Guillon has now left the company. J. Crew’s attempt to break into more fashion-focused clothing has left many of its loyal customers complaining that the brand’s quality has declined and its clothing is too trendy and no longer wearable for the professionals who provided the brand with its early success. The complaints have been strong enough that last July the CEO responded by holding a personal phone call with a long-time customer. While a brilliant PR move, it did not appear to help J. Crew’s results, as its profits have declined much more severely in the past quarter than comparable companies like Ann Taylor and Banana Republic. Nevertheless, J. Crew is still clinging to its desire to achieve semi-couture status by offering an increasing array of expensive, trendy items that are definitely not office-appropriate.

The market for clothing and accessories is extremely wide, with plenty of room for Mulberry, J. Crew and similar affordable-luxury companies to flourish and expand. Indeed, as the real haute couture brands continue to push their prices up, brands such as Mulberry and J. Crew will likely find an eager customer base among consumers who seek style and quality, but are not willing or able to pay astronomical prices. But consumers have already shown Mulberry and J. Crew that they will not find success if they insist on jumping off the high-end luxury goods bridge like a pair of lemmings.
Blogger Template by DESIGNER BLOGS