“If you’re going to be a little bit adventurous just make sure you’ve got a classic suit on hand so you’re never in a jam.”
Every morning working women struggle with the balancing act that is finding a way to make their workplace attire both professional and fashionable. While most professional environments require a degree of conservatism and traditionalism, more and more women today are looking to express themselves and their love of fashion in their everyday lives. So how then do you find the balance? How do you keep it work place classy with a hint of fashion savvy? To find out I went straight to the source and sat down with a woman who has all the answers. Rachel Moses is a lawyer with Minden Gross LLP, whose passion for fashion is no secret. “If I weren’t a lawyer, I would be working in fashion, I love it” she says as we begin to chat over a mid-week lunch at the Holt Renfrew Café on Bloor St. Sitting across from me in a long cream sweater, dark stockings and a drool worthy pair of Chanel biker boots Rachel is the embodiment of the career woman executing this delicate combination between professional and fashionable. I asked her to share her tips and tricks with us and was excited to find that not only are they simple and easy to attain but also very effective.
Pops of Color.
Color can be tricky in a professional environment as most business attire is made up in muted and neutral tones like black, brown and grey. To combat this Rachel suggests pairing a colorful statement piece with a muted accompaniment. “When I wear my purple Miu Miu skirt for example I will pair it with a black or white top” this tones down the brightness of the skirt making the outfit more workplace friendly. Another sure fire way to add that pop of color to any business attire is in the shoes. Every woman knows the power a good pair of shoes possesses and in the pursuit of office-fashion balance this sentiment holds true. While bright and colorful accessories are tricky in the office, shoes provide the perfect outlet for those trendy jewel tones or hot pastels.
Pair the Extraordinary with the Ordinary.
We all own it; you’ve probably looked at it a million times before, longing to wear it. The fit, the color, the style, it’s perfect and it makes you feel like a million bucks. But there is no way you can wear it to the office right? Wrong! There is a way to pair that to die for piece with a laid back look that will make your favorite item a new member of the work clothes crew. Speaking in a tone reminiscent to how I probably sound when asked about my favorite Prada blazer, Rachel explains how her beautiful teal satin Lanvin dress, once too dramatic and flashy for the office, became a part of her work wardrobe with the addition of an understated black Miu Miu trench. Her favorite part about this particular tip; in doing this you are able to transfer from day to night without having to stop off at home to change by simply removing the trench!
Always be Prepared.
At any time in the workplace situations may arise that require you to be extra professional, if this were to arise on a day where you’ve taken a bit of a fashion risk with your wardrobe the results can leave you feeling distressed. How does the expert handle these situations? She recounted her own personal experience about a dress down Friday that found her unexpectedly summoned to the Judges chambers for a meeting while clad in a black skirt, black sweater and patterned stockings. “If you’re going to be a little bit adventurous just make sure you’ve got a classic suit on hand so you’re never in a jam” she warns, going on to say that she now keeps two basic black suits on hand in the office for just this type of occasion.
Know your limits
Let’s face it ladies, some things will just never be workplace appropriate, Rachel’s advice? Know your environment and adapt accordingly. Coming from a more laid back work environment to the more traditional and conservative business environment of Minden Gross LLP brought new fashion challenges, but understanding what pieces will never be business appropriate and using the tips and tricks above she has been able to find her niche and even leads the firms Fashion department as Industry Chair. “I’ve been with the firm for about ten years and they know now that I’m a wild card. There are obviously things that will never be okay at work, like my pair of red leather Balenciaga pants.” Maybe not, but we have a feeling they’re fabulous!
When you sit back and examine your wardrobe the idea of eliminating your favorite fashion pieces to make way for more business appropriate attire can seem daunting. As new grads venture into the work force keeping these tips and tricks on hand will ensure that you are always business classy and fashion savvy! Remember to play by the rules but don’t be afraid to explore and express yourself, the balance is there, it just takes some practice!