Well, readers, the countdown is on: in one month, I’ll be back at at work, trading play dates and toys for contracts and coffee (oh, wait — coffee has never left my side). As I prepare for what’s sure to be an overwhelming adjustment period, I’m also revisiting my style resolutions. After all, there’s no better time for reinvention than coming back from maternity leave. But reinvention isn’t just for new moms. We could all benefit from a little sartorial renewal. Here are four resolutions we can make together!
First, develop a core style. This is, I think, easy to do: with a little self-reflection, most of us can figure out what we like to purchase (for the newbies, check out websites like The Chic Fashionista which offers “find your style” quizzes). But it’s much harder to put your style into practice as a lawyer. You may gravitate towards edgy pieces, but feel that you have to hide that part of yourself to fit your office culture. Or you may think fashion is frivolous, so you avoid anything overtly stylish or fashion-forward. But anyone who’s ever felt an incongruity between their personality and their appearance (watch What Not to Wear for a taste of this!) and discovered the transformative power of dress is proof that identifying and embracing your style can be powerful. Don’t be afraid of who you are and what you like – yes, even when it comes to dressing for work! (Of course, if your “self” loves to frequent nude beaches, then maybe leave that for the weekends).
Next, only buy perfect — not just “good enough” — pieces. Honestly, I cannot keep this resolution. I’m a sucker for sales. And I often settle for something close to what I want but not quite right. But good things come to those who wait. Case in point: for the past five months, I’d been looking for a cropped black jacket to wear over work and party dresses. Sounds simple, but nothing quite fit the bill. I forced myself to be patient, and finally found it — a $60 topper from H&M with ¾ length sleeves and a fun chiffon hem. Trust me: don’t buy the first thing you see unless it passes the “I want to wear this out of the store” test. Your wallet and wardrobe will thank you.
Third, don’t buy too much. Easier said than done, right? We live in a consumer society, and we’re constantly barraged with messages telling us to buy, buy, buy. Even I am telling you to buy stuff in every one of my columns! Guilty as charged. But at the end of the day, all you really need is a few weeks’ worth of outfits that can be mixed and matched. Though building a capsule wardrobe is a process, it’s worth the time and investment. Check out this helpful website for tips on how to create a functional and versatile closet. And if you’re inspired by images, just Google “capsule work wardrobe” to find a plethora of pics to get you started.
Finally, find one “power” outfit. Every lady lawyer needs one! We automatically think of suits as powerful — and they can be — but let’s think of other other outfits that can exude authority. I like The Classy Cubicle for inspiration. It’s gotta be something that makes you feel important and confident. It should be your go-to outfit when you need to feel and portray power and influence. Think strong, angular lines; impeccable fit and flattering silhouette; neutrals with a pop of colour; and fitted, not flowy, fabric. The possibilities are endless. Try a charcoal wool sheath and red jacket (red is the colour of confidence!); a pencil skirt and crisp collared shirt with a pointy pump; or a blouse with a cropped jacket and classic wool pant. If a suit is your power outfit, take it up a notch with the details: silk bow blouse, patterned footwear or standout accessories. Bonus points if your outfit can work for a client meeting, cocktail party and presentation with minor (if any) tweaks. See? Don’t you feel like a big deal now?
Emma Williamson is a fashion-obsessed corporate commercial lawyer at Dentons. Her mission is to inspire Precedent’s female readers to break out of a style rut while obeying obvious and not-so-obvious workplace dress codes. Follow her on Twitter: @EmmaWorkStyle.