What to wear: Lady Lawyer edition

September 8, 2008 at 9:40 pm | Posted in tax law is sexy | 3 Comments
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Wonder what this girl is wearing to work

My only other post concerning clothes has been this blog’s most searched, viewed, and commented on (by people other than cadre of loyalists!), so I thought I’d try again. I’m no fashionista — though I’d really like to be — so I shall now document my attempts to transform into one. Well, one who is a corporate lawyer at any rate.

Background: I start work a week from today. When I was a journalist, I had no clothes. This is because half the time I worked from home. When I did have an office to go to, if the editor wore slacks (yes, slacks) instead of jeans, something important was going on. The underlings (i.e., me), dressed even less consciously. Fast forward a decade to law school. Law students wear jeans. And then when I was a summer associate, I was nine months pregnant and ended up alternating between the same two pairs of Gap maternity pants for the last six weeks of my pregnancy (once my ankles became too swollen in the summer heat to wear all the cute maternity skirts I had bought. Oh well.)

Ergo, I have no lawyer clothes. And I needed to buy some lots.

But what to buy? I know I’m not the only soon-to-be lawyer suffering this anxiety (see this post on this brilliantly named blog). Because I have reached a certain age, with a body that has resettled into a slightly different shape after having a baby, I wanted clothes that really fit, that would last, but most of all would be a little more sharp (“fashion forward” is a term some might use) than either the A-line skirt & sweater set or pants suit & pastel pink or blue button-down that seem to be the standard lady lawyer uniform in my office building. So I did some real plotting and thinking about what I wanted to buy. There was an article in last month’s Domino magazine (the article is not online, but see the reference to p. 70) in which some lucky woman hired a “closet consultant,” with an end result of having less actual clothes cluttering up her tiny closet, but more options and outfits. This is what I want and need! I consulted not only my trusty InStyle and envy-inducing Vogue magazines, but also one of my best-dressed friends. I set out to shop with an actual plan.

Here’s what this 30-something, post-baby, clothes-loving, very-soon-to-be-lawyer’s closet now contains:

First: I went to BCBG (a store that’s always been good to me, fit-wise) and found a black-and-white silk dress, which I can wear now with flats and in the winter with tights and boots (also can dress up with heels for an engagement party or something); a flaired skirt with a tie-belt in a taupe-ish color (I’ve seen the term “griege” bandied about recently. This is definitely “griege.”); two interesting white blouses (one short-sleeved with a tie in the back to make it fit nicely, and the other with black and gray piping along the button line, as well as slightly flaired sleeves. Sounds weird, but it will look good under suit jackets); a purplish/cobalt colored blouse; a black cardigan with a belted waist; and, finally, a bright pink wrap sweater (you know, those ones you see everywhere now that you can tie in like four different ways.)

Next: I went to Saks and did some major investing in two Theory suits. I went all-out on the black suit: jacket, skirt, and two pairs of pants. On the advice of my tres stylish friend, I had one pair tailored for flats and the other for heels. I also got a gray suit (pants) — not a charcoal gray but one that almost borders on the aforementioned griege color.

Then: I went to a boutique on Newbury that someone had mentioned might be a good place to find work clothes that were more “interesting.” It’s a British brand called Reiss, and, much to my surprise, once I got the clothes off the hanger (where they looked sort of strange and drape-y) they fit me well (lots of jersey!). I got a purple skirt with a black belt (so not me! Or so not the old me — but I love it. I wore it to a lunch today with flats and a black button down shirt and know in the midst of February I’ll love putting it on with tights and boots). I also got a black shift dress with just the slightest flair in the skirt that I could wear with a cardigan at work (tights or right now while it’s still warm with just flats or heels) or even with heels to a party. I love it — it’s very Hepburn-esque!

My big splurge was a black-and-white Rebecca Taylor jacket. It looks sort of tweedy from far away, but up close it’s a teeny black-and-white pattern. There is a small fringe on the bottom, and it’s cropped, bracelet-length sleeves, and has a flower applique on the lapel. Again, something I can wear to work or out to dinner with jeans. This, and the black shift dress were my two favorite purchases.

Now: I just need a good pair of black pumps. Yes, pumps. Pumps I can wear with pants, skirts, and maybe even out to dinner on Saturdays. I went to four stores today, and tried on only pairs with toes too long and pointy for work, heels that were too low or too high, or were overall just boring and/or uncomfortable. Think: the style of Manolo Blahniks but affordable and you can wear them to work without walking around in almost mortal fear of a scuff-inducing brick sidewalk. Do such shoes exist? Please advise.



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  1. Love the post. Theory is my go-to label for work clothes and I also made a big purchase (on pre-sale at Bloomies) last week. However, I have the same problem that you had last summer: I need clothes for work, but I know none of them will fit me again in a few months once I gain back the weight I’ve lost from the surgery. So I’m sort of torn about what to do, where to go, and how much to spend. I just hope everyone I don’t know yet in the NY office doesn’t think it’s typical for me to wear the same five outfits over and over again! Oh, except for, as your friend Lindsey described in her blog, my Juicy sweatpants uniform for days at home. That never changes.

  2. Great post. I’m kind of in the same boat too. But I have the shoe problem solved. Try Cole Haan. They make great, comfortable shoes for about half of what Manolos cost. They look great, stylish and office-appropriate. And they have Nike Air soles which makes them extra comfy

  3. Shoes must be closed-toe with a heel under two inches. The open-toe, 4-in pumps pictured at the top of this post would not be appropriate. Shoes are a dead give away for women who don’t know what they are doing.

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