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Be Your Own Stylist

Making your personal style work at work
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Making your personal style work at work
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If you read this column regularly, you already know that I’m a big proponent of bringing personal style to work every day. Whether it be in the form of clothing, shoes, accessories or all three, I truly believe that your style should reflect who you are, both inside and outside of the workplace. Look at it this way: we lawyers work 24/7, connecting with clients on vacation, at our kids’ hockey games and en route to appointments. This constant connection has blurred the lines between the personal and professional – and why shouldn’t that extend to style? Below are my tips on how to make your personal style work at work (disclaimer: I’m ignoring my classic & chic readers, because let’s face it – work wear is by definition right up your alley!).

So maybe you’re an athletic girl, or maybe you just love the casual, natural look. While I don’t recommend that you wear sneakers to work, comfortable, sleek flats with a pointy toe combine the practical and the professional. Cotton-blend cigarette pants, cropped just above the ankle, paired with a ponte or knit blazer and striped blouse make for a great casual outfit. Push your own boundaries and experiment with the quirky/preppy look, such as cool cat eye glasses and collared shirts in fun patterns. Remember, bright colours are your friend: I love the vivid combination of navy and orange. Tote a nylon shoulder bag (Longchamps is especially popular), and wear your hair in a smooth low ponytail. Retailers such as Massimo Dutti, Tommy Hilfiger, Loft and J. Crew are your friends.

If you prefer an edgy, rocker-chick look, you’ve got it a little bit easier: wearing all black to work is always in style. Don a classic blazer or dress with leather detailing. Try bright pointy-toe pumps with an otherwise neutral ensemble, and go for vampy nail polish in dark purple or navy. Or inject additional punk influences with accessories, such as a studded bag in a classic shape or a structured cuff bracelet in metal or leather. And don’t be afraid to rock that motorcycle jacket during your commute! You can’t go wrong by shopping at Zara, Mango or BCBG.

 

Or maybe you’re the feminine type, lover of all things pink and girlie. If so, try pastel silk blouses under structured skirt suits, or sheath dresses with cropped jackets and fabulous heels (as long as you can walk in them). Showcase your romantic side through jewellery (a delicate pearl or charm necklace) or add a silk scarf to an otherwise simple outfit. Try wearing your hair pin-straight, with a slight wave, or wound up in a bun. As a lover of feminine pieces myself, I love Winners for dresses (try the one on Front Street for a fab selection of dresses and jackets), Aritzia for blouses and Stella & Dot for jewels; Anthropologie is also great for unique finds.

Finally, if you’re obsessed with wearing the latest trends, you’re in luck: many trendy clothes are quite wearable for work (no, that does NOT include crop tops). Artistic prints are in this spring – try them in a shift dress, blouse or pencil skirt. Or pick a topper with pizazz: gathered shoulders, a peplum (yes, they’re still hip!) or unique buttons. Statement jewellery is always a good choice, enabling you to experiment safely with the latest trends. Whatever the trend, use that well-honed lawyer’s judgement and ask yourself: will I look inappropriate? Like a fashion victim? Or just ridiculous? Generally speaking, something fashion-forward paired with otherwise neutral and classic pieces will work. Though it’s hard to narrow it down, your go-to shops include H&M, French Connection, Aldo and Club Monaco.

(And a note to all readers: steer clear of Forever 21 – according to the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland, California, they are selling products containing toxic levels of metals in violation of a legal agreement! Further reading here)

Take your style with you. When you’re well dressed, your personal style, no matter what it is, can work in and out of the office. Readers: what is your personal style? How do you make it work for the office? Or do you choose to hide your style – and if so, why?


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.