Friday, May 30, 2014

What to Wear to Work: Gold Bows On My Toes

My favorite metallic by far is gold! Silver is nice for spring and winter, and bronze is fun in the fall, but year in and year out I always go for a nice warm touch of gold. So last year when I saw these SUPER CUTE pumps with gold bows, I absolutely had to have them! I spent a lot of time thinking about how I would make them work for the office, and finally decided to pair them with my classic grey sheath dress and a fun necklace that I picked up a LONG time ago, but haven't really had a chance to wear to the office. The cardigan is a necessity in my perpetually freezing office, but if you don't have an office that is perpetually cold (and your office is OK with bare shoulders), the dress is classic enough to be worn without a cardigan.

Dress: J. Crew (US and UK)
Cardigan: J. Crew (US and UK)
Necklace: found at an Italian craft store in Venice, check out Etsy for some similarly lovely Murano glass necklaces
Pumps: last year's Corso Como, more pumps with bows here for US and here for UK

What to Wear to Work: Electric Blue T-Straps

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE these Repetto T-straps? I picked them up on sale two summers ago at the original Repetto store in Paris and am constantly looking for ways to wear them. Repetto is known for making some of the world's best pointe shoes, worn by dancers at many of the leading ballet companies. The bright blue color is very summery, though, so I really only have three to four months to squeeze in all the wear that I can for these shoes. Today I've paired them with my navy blue pencil skirt (sorry it looks black in the photo) and my pale purple oxford shirt. I used to never wear oxford shirts because I could never get them to fit properly. But, I finally discovered the secret when I took one in to the tailor - you have to buy the shirt a size larger than you would normally wear, then take it to a tailor and have him/her tailor it down to fit you properly. Once they do that, the shirt will fit neatly across your back without lots of extra fabric bunching up, but will also button smoothly across the front without gaping. I've added my go-to pearls to finish off this look - when in doubt I ALWAYS reach for the pearls.

Skirt: custom-made in Hong Kong, similar at J. Crew (US and UK)
Blouse: Banana Republic (US and UK)
Shoes: Repetto, some styles available in the US here
Pearls: US available here and UK available here

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sartorial Statements: Fashion News Roundup

It's been a while since I did one of these, but since the June window for IPOs is now upon us, and the M&A market is still extremely hot, it's time to check in and see what's going on in the business world of fashion.

Starting off with news that will make LOTS of people happy, J. Crew has announced they are moving back into Asia by opening two stores in Hong Kong. This is in addition to the fourth London store they are planning to add this fall. In addition, J. Crew plans to launch a budget store called J.Crew Mercantile. My guess is that this is  an attempt to diversify the brand's reach so it can compete for the lower-budget consumer who frequents H&M and Forever 21 without diluting the core J. Crew brand. It may also be an attempt to simply generate more revenue, as J. Crew has begun to rely heavily on sales and discounts (though they are definitely trying to control that and are maintaining their high-end status by never offering more than 30% off). Rumors of an IPO are still being floated, but the CEO Mickey Drexler appears to be content with the direction the company is going in at the moment.

While the big news on the street is Alibaba's coming IPO (rumored to be the largest IPO ever in the US - between $150-$250 billion), other e-commerce sites are jumping to cash in on the positive IPO market. Coupang, a Korean e-commerce site, is now being valued above $1 billion and is expected to announce $100 million new round of financing. Tradesy, an online consignment shop for luxury items, has just announced a $13 million Series B investment with backers that include Richard Branson. 

In the world of M&A, Apple Inc. has confirmed that it is buying Beats Music and Beats Electronics for $3 billion. While headphones aren't technically clothing, they are definitely an item that is considered "trendy" and, similar to watches, could be classified as an accessory, particularly for those of us who live in big cities and have our headphones on constantly during our commutes. For real fashion M&A, check out the Cocosa deal. Cocosa is a luxury flash sale site that was owned by Mohamed Al Fayed, who used to own Harrods and whose son died in the car with Princess Diana. Al Fayed has just sold Cocosa to MySale, an Australian flash sale site who is planning to expand into the UK. MySale is hoping to take advantage of the counter-seasonal trends, figuring that, for example, it can sell excess summer merchandise to Australia in September (when Australia is having its summer).

Overall there aren't any super interesting announcements, as most of the big luxury good companies are lying pretty low after a fairly active spring. I'm still hoping that J. Crew does an IPO and desperately needs a London-based junior associate to help out :-P

Monday, May 26, 2014

What to Wear to Work: Grey and Pink as Springtime Neutrals

I picked up this lilac-colored oxford shirt from Banana Republic when they were offering 40% off and, surprisingly, it's been in pretty heavy rotation in my closet this whole spring. It's very well made and the fabric is lightweight, but textured so my undergarments don't show through. Here I've paired the shirt with my grey pencil skirt and my brown patent leather pumps with bows on the toes. I generally try to stay away from anything too "cutesy" for the office, but I figure as long as I can keep the rest of my outfit professional, I can wear shoes with bows on them every once in a while. For jewelry I've just thrown on a green jade necklace I picked up at a Chinese market - I'm not sure whether it's real or not, but the necklace adds a fun pop of color!!

Skirt: J. Crew (US and UK) - 30% off this weekend with code WEEKEND
Blouse: Banana Republic (US and UK) - 40% off this weekend with code BRHEAT
Pumps: originally from Ann Taylor, but there are lots of cute office-appropriate pumps with bows on the toes! Try here, here and here in the US and here and here in the UK
Necklace:  I picked up mine from a market, but for a similar pop of green, try here in the US and here in the UK

Monday, May 19, 2014

What to Wear to Work: Black Cotton Blazer Over Grey Sheath Dress

Another staple that gets a TON of wear during the summer months (but unfortunately hibernates all winter) is this fabulous black jacket with white piping. It's 3/4 length sleeves and cotton fabric make it definitely a warm-weather piece, plus I think the white piping gives it a bit of a nautical feel. Here I know I said I would ban all black from my closet during the summer, but this jacket is my one exception because it's just so cute!! Here I've paired it with my go-to grey sheath dress, a pair of black pumps, and topped it off with a fun, crafty silver necklace.

Dress: J. Crew (US and UK)
Jacket: old Ann Taylor, similar options here, here and here (all both US and UK)
Pumps: Stuart Weitzman (US and UK)
Necklace: similar here for US, here for UK

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tips and Trends: 10 Wardrobe Essentials for Summer Interns

10 Essentials for a Summer Internship

1) J. Crew, 2) J. Crew, 3) J. Crew
4) J. Crew 5) J. Crew, similar style on UK site here, 6) Banana Republic, 7) Banana Republic
8) L.K. Bennett in US and UK, 9) John Lewis, similar at Baublebar in US, 
10) Banana Republic, similar in UK at John Lewis here and here
Where only one website is given, it means the piece is available on the store's US and UK website.

Summer associates have just started in our New York office this week and throughout all major cities around the world, the law firms, banks, consulting firms, accounting firms and various companies are seeing an influx of young summer interns flood through their doors. So for today's post, I decided to discuss the 10 essential items every summer intern should have in her wardrobe. These items are in addition to the basics that I assume most professional interns already own from their interviewing days: a pair of black pumps, a black or dark colored interview suit, and a basic white blouse. If you already have those, but are looking to add a few more essential items to your closet to get you through the next three months, this list is for you:

Items 1, 2 and 3: A Second 3-piece suit (matching jacket, pants, skirt)
It might seem like an unnecessary expenditure, given that you already own a nice interview suit, to splurge on a second suit. Plus, you say, suits can be so boring! It's so much more fun to buy sheath dresses! Well, that may be true, but the downside of dresses is that they always, well, look like a dress. You simply can't mix them up the way you can with a good three piece suit. But don't buy another black suit. One good black suit for interviews, court dates and very business formal occasions is enough. Get a suit in a nice neutral color that you can wear throughout the year - I would recommend navy or dark grey. If you really want to get something dark, get a pinstripe suit, like the dark grey pinstripe suit I've shown above.

Item 4: Colorful Cardigan
You probably already have a nice black suit jacket from your interview suit, so there's no need to buy a black cardigan as well. Get one in a color you love that will make you smile when you put it on at 10pm at night as you sit down to draft risk factors or make a 50 slide powerpoint deck. Here I have recommended a lovely rich purple, but choose the color you love best. I would also recommend finding one that is wool or partially wool, as office buildings are often freezing and this cardigan should keep you warm!

Item 5: Work Dress
Here is where you can run out and get one of those cute sheath dresses. Just make sure that it is in a color that will match most of the items in your wardrobe. You should definitely be able to wear it with your colorful cardigan, your new suit jacket and your black suit jacket. Here I have suggested a soft grey color, but you could easily do a wine or a blue if those colors worked with the rest of your wardrobe. Versatility is the key here - make sure you can wear lots of different items with the dress.

Item 6: Non-White Button-Down Blouse
I assume you probably already have the staple white button-down shirt somewhere in with your interview clothes. For this piece, again choose a versatile color that will go with your wardrobe, but is not white. You should be able to wear the shirt with your two pairs of suit pants and two suit skirts during the week, and during the weekend, you can belt it over your work dress for a more casual, trendy look. Make sure the shirt fits you properly and does not gap in the front. If necessary, buy one size up and take it to the nearest dry cleaners for a bit of tailoring. Ask the tailor to take it in along the back darts.

Item 7: Office-Appropriate "Tee Shirt"
I highly recommend finding one of these "dressy tees" in a versatile color you love. The fabric should be either a cotton blend or a very high quality cotton - not your typical t-shirt fabric. The benefit of these tees is that they look very nice under a suit, but are less bulky and hot than wearing a button-down all day. In addition, they allow you to take off your jacket in the office because they have sleeves. And, if you want to mix up your wardrobe a bit, you can wear the tee under the cardigan, with any of your suit pants or skirts. On the weekend, you can wear the tee over your workdress for another trendy/casual look.

Items 8, 9 and 10: Accessories (Nude Pumps, Statement Necklace, Clutch)
Even while working a long, tiring internship, you always need some fun accessories. First up, I highly recommend nude pumps. While many other colors might be more fun to invest in, a good pair of nude pumps are second only to a pair of black pumps in your closet. If the Duchess of Cambridge can wear them to everything from charity events to royal balls, you can wear from cocktails to the board room and everything in between. Make sure you find your appropriate shade of nude - for some skin tones, this may be a dark brown or a medium tan. The point is to find a shoe whose color makes it look like an extension of your leg. I guarantee you will wear them everywhere!

Second, find a good statement necklace. I did an earlier post on how to find the perfect statement necklace here. The wonderful thing about a statement necklace is that it is incredibly versatile - you can wear it to work, to cocktails on Friday, brunch on Sunday and then back again to work on Monday. It is also a great way to express your personality through the colors and style that you choose for the necklace. 

Third, make sure you have a cute and classy clutch. It will do double duty as both an evening bag for those after-hour cocktail parties, and as a mini purse that can be stashed in your bag during the day to be grabbed when you are running to lunch or sneaking out to do a quick errand. Also, if you happen to be interning at a company where they take you out for nice lunches, it's much easier to go to lunch with a small clutch rather than hauling around a tote bag. Make sure the clutch is large enough, however, to fit your regular phone, your work phone/blackberry, a public transportation card, a credit card, your office pass/badge and some cash.

So there you go! I hope you find this helpful when planning your summer internship wardrobe!! Readers, do you have any helpful hints or suggestions??

Monday, May 12, 2014

What to Wear to Work: Boyfriend Style Blazer Thrown Over Sheath Dress

Today I managed to bill two hours from home before I could even get into the office! Emails were flying around like crazy and it was all I could do to get dressed. So, I threw together a look that would be polished and professional, but would let me get out the door as quickly as possible! I know I wear these J. Crew Emmaleigh dresses a TON, but they are SO CONVENIENT when I need to get dressed in a hurry. Here I've thrown a boyfriend-style blazer with cuffed sleeves over the dress, popped on my red pumps and added red drop earrings just to put some color near my face. I've kept everything else simple because today is a day for working hard and pushing through!!

Readers, what is your go-to outfit for a busy day at work?

Dress: J. Crew
Jacket: Target, similar here for US or here for UK
Pumps: L.K. Bennett, similar here for US or here for UK

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Tips and Trends: Make A Statement!

Make a Statement

US: 1) J. Crew, 2) Nordstrom 3)  Baublebar,
UK: 1) Oasis, 2) John Lewis, 3) Topshop

Today let's talk about one of the most ubiquitous ways to make a statement - statement necklaces!! These extra large, chunky necklaces have become super popular in the last five years, and you can now pick one up at almost any store, for any price. The downside to them is that in a conservative work environment, they can quickly look too cheap or flashy (or both). Here are four tips to help you pick out a lovely statement necklace that still looks classy and office appropriate:

1) Quality
Make sure the metal and jewels on the necklace do not look cheap or damaged. The metal should not be scratched and there should not be areas of the necklace where the coating has worn away, allowing you to see the real metal underneath. The jewels should be made of heavy plastic or glass, as the heavier material will be more durable. Color should be consistent throughout the jewels, and they should be firmly glued or held in place by prongs. If they are sliding around, that is a sign that they may fall out. 

2) Usefulness
Be sure to pick a color that will coordinate and look classy with lots of pieces in your wardrobe. Don't pick a necklace in a color that will not go with anything you own. On non-work fashion blogs, statement necklaces are often used as clashing pieces or harsh contrast pieces to give an outfit an edgy "fashionista" vibe. In the work environment, however, that can quickly end up looking like you just have no idea how to coordinate an outfit. If you have lots of purple in your wardrobe, pick a necklace in a complimentary color, such as blue or grey. If you like to wear lots of blue, pick a necklace in coral or peach that will pop against the darker color, but still look elegant.

3) Tasteful
Statement necklaces are supposed to be large and eye-catching. However, they should still look tasteful. The office is probably not the place to wear a necklace made of huge flowers that looks like something a small child would pick out. Nor is it the place to wear the huge, super fake crystal gemstones that scream "Real Housewives". Look at stores such as J. Crew or Banana Republic to get an idea of what the more tasteful statement necklaces should look like. Even if you plan on picking up your signature necklace at a local market, at least you will have an idea of what you should be looking for.

4) Fit
Just like you never know how that pair of pants will fit until you try it on, you never know how that statement necklace will look and feel on you unless you drape it around your neck for a few minutes. Everyone's face and body are different, and a necklace that may look great on your best friend might end up being too long, short, thick or heavy on you. So definitely make sure that you try on several styles of statement necklaces in order to find out what suits you best. If you are shopping for them online, I recommend making sure you can return any that don't look absolutely fabulous once they are around your neck. 

Ladies, have you found your signature statement necklace? Where is your favorite place to shop for them?

Monday, May 5, 2014

What to Wear to Work: Red High Heels (but keep everything else neutral)

This morning definitely felt like one where I needed a little bit of color in my outfit, so I decided to wear the beautiful red jewelry that I picked up in a market in Tunisia.  And I finally pulled out my FAVORITE L.K. Bennett shoes!!! Yes, these would be the famous Sledge pumps that Princess Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, is known to frequently wear :-) L.K. Bennett did a limited run of the red patent leather version through Nordstrom and I was lucky enough to snag a pair. With this outfit I've definitely let the shoes take center stage and kept everything else simple and classic, which I think is completely fine for a normal day at the office.

Skirt: J. Crew (they ship to the UK)
Sweater: old Banana Republic, I'm loving this one in the US and this one in the UK
Bracelet: bought at a market in Tunisia, similar here for US and here for UK
Pumps: L.K. Bennett, unfortunately the red patent version is currently sold out online. The website can be used to ship either to the US or the UK.

Friday, May 2, 2014

What to Wear to Work: Printed Florals and Gold Bows

One thing I'm loving in my closet this spring is this fun floral top from Anthropologie. It's from a few years ago, but compliments my pencil skirts so nicely that I just adore rewearing it! Today I've paired it with various shades of brown to make the blue really pop. Because the shirt has a bold print (well, bold for my office), I've left my jewelry very simple. But, just to add a touch of (office appropriate) cuteness, I'm wearing my adorable suede pumps with gold bows!! At least my clothes can be fun today, even if I'm putting in  long hours on preparing a filing.

Skirt: old J. Crew, the brown is out of stock, but the style is available here in other colors (they ship to the UK)
Jacket: old Ann Taylor, similar styles here for US and here for UK
Blouse: old Anthropologie, similar here for US and here for UK
Shoes: old Corso Como, similar here for US and here for UK
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