April 24, 2016

In Uniform

Nearly two years ago (Ha. Ha. Yes, I know), my friend sent me a link to an article from The Independent about how many of us end up gravitating towards a uniform in our adult years. The uniform may be idiosyncratic, but a uniform nonetheless. Think Anna Wintour with her A-line skirts, pointy toed pumps, and of course, her signature dark shades.

On a different but related note, another friend of mine was telling me how uninspiring and wearisome it is to be forced into a suit everyday for work. He calls it a costume he puts on for the office.

These two instances bring me to the topic of uniforms. As a fashion fanatic, I have always feared the idea of mandatory attire. Growing up, I hated the idea of a school with uniforms, and even cried when I learned I was accepted into a private school for junior high (I didn't end up attending that school, thankfully). My mom had a uniform when she was little and chides me whenever I voice criticism against it. She praises uniforms for making her morning routine much simpler. While I acknowledge the benefits of a set outfit, I most certainly believe they are not for everyone.

For me, fashion is my greatest form of self-expression. Like an artist materializing his/her mind's creativity, clothing is my paintbrush and my outfit is my masterpiece. I strongly value the freedom to wear what I want. I've always considered the liberty to dress outside of the box as a huge bonus of working in the fashion industry. Nonetheless, while I adore experimenting with fashion, I do recognize that the article from The Independent is right: we can develop our own uniforms over time. Call it personal style, call it a uniform - most of us will get into a groove. But the difference with these uniforms is that they are our own. They become our uniforms because we created them. As a result, we love them.

The problem is, as an adult, we may still find ourselves forced into a uniform - this time not of the school variety. I've been lucky enough to work for an organization that is not strict on dress code and encourages the right attire for the job, resulting in a wide range of casual to dressy. I am also glad to have worked around amazing people who were either appreciative of those who enjoyed dressing up, or liked the art of style themselves. But I can imagine if I were forced into the traditional blazer and pant for five days a week, I would very quickly begin to dislike my job. Is lack of self-expression really enough to make someone pack up and switch jobs? I think it is.

To some, clothes are just pieces of fabric. To others, they're much more than that. Being forced into a cookie cutter image can take its toll over time. Attire is an element of corporate culture that should not be overlooked, whether you consider it a priority or not. One size (or uniform, in this case) does not fit all. If you insist on a particular uniform, know that you consequently insist on recruiting a particular person. Understandably, that may be exactly what your organization wants. But if you value diversity, there's worth in having people discover their own uniform. Of course, there should always be baseline rules that must be adhered to, but freedom to operate within those rules (it can be as simple as casual Fridays) will give people the leeway they need to remain true to themselves.

Looking forward to my adulthood, I will continue to insist on my freedom of fashion expression. I never ascribed to a uniform as a kid, and I'm not going to start now. There are ways to dress appropriately for the office while still having fun. We're in the workplace for the majority of our lives - don't let it be a place you lose sense of who you are.

Image source: Speaking of Style, Pinterest, Memorandum

April 15, 2016

Work-Life Balance

Now that I've graduated university, it's time to enter into the next chapter of my life: my career. I actually love working partly because it gives me an excuse to dress up everyday. When putting together outfits for work, versatility is definitely a factor I consider if I have after-work plans with friends. T.M. Lewin recently asked me to share some tips for transitioning from the office to the pub, and I thought now would be a very fitting time to tackle the subject!

Of course, the classic solution to making an office look more casual for after-work drinks is to take off one's blazer (a transition that also works really well with men's suits). I took that basic idea and brought it up a notch by playing with colour. Traditional officewear can be a bit drab for a night out, so my advice is to update traditional silhouettes with punchy colours. Here, we have the classic sheath dress, blazer, and pointy-toed pump, but re-imagined in bright red, pure white and periwinkle blue. I also chose a pump in suede (instead of leather) to soften the look. As soon as your Friday night happy hour begins, simply take off your blazer and you'll be left with a statement-making colour-blocked look sure to turn heads.

Dress: Zibi London | Blazer: Alexander McQueen | Shoe: Kristin Cavallari | Handbag: Louis Vuitton | Watch: Skagen | Bracelet: Cartier | Nailpolish: Butter London

When dealing with such bold colours, it's best to stick with clean and simple pieces. After all, stark minimalism is the new name of the game. But remember, as much as you may want to dress with after-work activities in mind - business first, ladies! Never leave home without your black business tote and a watch. With an outfit like this that toes the line between '9 to 5' and 'after 8', get ready to command attention in the boardroom, and attract attention in the bar.

April 3, 2016

Guest Post: Spring Date Night

Today, for the first time ever on my blog, I am publishing a guest post. This guest post comes courtesy of Adam King, a Retail Merchandising student at Syracuse University, who asked if I could help share his post for a digital fashion course. Needless to say, I was happy to help! Adam has come up with a pretty outfit for a spring date night. The spring and summer seasons are undoubtedly the best times for a date, and I can definitely see myself wearing that lovely duster coat for a romantic walk around the park after dinner.

Spring and warmer weather are just around the corner and I cannot wait! It seems like everything's more fun when it's warm. There are so many more options for a date night and if you stay with just dinner plans you can walk around and extend the night. Here is a perfect simple outfit for a date night out!

I love this blue dress from Mango. It is such a classic staple for your wardrobe and it can be dressed up or down, and it's a perfect dress for all of those summer weddings you may be attending! If it is a cooler night throw a light duster on over to keep you warm.

Right now I adore gold jewelry and I love the gold and navy combination. Adding simple gold statement earrings dress up the outfit just enough. To tie into the gold earrings this clutch has the perfect amount of bling. Felix Rey co-founder Lily Rafii, now Lily Band after marrying Doug Band, designs her products with a vintage flirty vibes which is perfect for a date night!

To finish off the outfit, add a pair of cut out heels like these from Target. These heels are great for summer and you can pair them with so many different outfits!

-- Adam King

Thank you for the guest post, Adam!