Sunday, October 17, 2010

Borrowing from the Boys

I work in a heavily male-dominated environment. Often, I'm the only person sporting a two X chromosomes in meetings and at events.

The women I meet through work often disappear into the background with drab, all-black separates, while the men dress with personality, whimsy and panache. However, I've learned that, for a working woman, there are many nuggets of sartorial wisdom to be culled from the dudes - reinterpreted, obviously, with a girlish slant. Here are the lessons I've learned so far:

LESSON ONE: EMBRACE THE PANT.

I used to be terrified of pants, and with good reason: finding a pair that flatters you and makes you feel good is a bit of a challenge. Shopping for skirts is much easier. But it's worth taking the time to search for a few just-right pairs; besides being warmer and more practical during the winter months, there's something so sexy and alpha female about a chick in trousers - like Faye Dunaway's character in Network.


I still think of Express as the chief purveyor of pants, even though they also sell lurex cardigans and cheesy leopard-print rayon blouses. So, I probably should have stopped shopping there about five years ago, but I'm a sucker for their "Editor" pant: the fit is flattering and the price is hard to beat. I like that it's available in on-trend olive green, too.

J. CREW "MINNIE" PANT, $178

The check-patterned wool is sexy precisely because it's so sexless: it's like golf pants by way of those slim trousers sported by Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face. The ankle length is challenging though: how do you wear these once the cold kicks in? With mid-calf height boots? Socks and heels? Discuss.

LESSON TWO: WEAR A WATCH.

It doesn't matter if you still instinctively pull out your cell phone whenever you need to check the time. You will look like an adult when you're wearing a watch.

GUESS GOLDTONE WATCH, $135

I love that the band and the face of this watch are gold. All gold! Imagine wearing this with tweedy separates - or, in the summer, with an all-white outfit. It's just gaudy enough to add an irreverent touch to an otherwise serious ensemble.

LESSON THREE: DON A HAT.

I've noticed that men accessorize much more cavalierly in the workplace than women do. How sad! Obviously, you don't want to go crazy - work time is not the time to bust out that vintage Dior turban I used to love - but a classic hat or carefully chosen piece of jewelry never hurt anyone.

AQUA WOOL BELTED FEDORA, $48

You guys, I think it's safe to wear fedoras again. For awhile, they were strictly relegated to the likes of Pete Wentz. However, I think the dust has settled, and fedoras are once again acceptable for non-douches. Do you agree?

AQUA BOW FELT CLOCHE, $48

In the words of the inimitable Kristopher Dukes (seriously, I would give my hypothetical first-born child to be half as witty as she is): "I love how those bell-shaped hats half-cover your eyes, so that you have to hold your head up hyper-high to look at the world. That’s how a lady should always walk." Amen!

LESSON FOUR: MONOGRAM EVERYTHING.

There's something so self-affirming about sporting a monogram. It says, "Here I am, world. This is me, and this thing that bears my initials? It's mine." I could wax poetic about how women are, due to societal conditioning, less comfortable with taking ownership of their possessions - of their lives - than men are. But I just want to write about fashion.

STERLING SILVER MONOGRAMMED FINGER AND PINKY RINGS, $124

I have a client - who is a rather heavy-hitter in the financial world - who wears a monogrammed pinky ring everyday. So did Coco Chanel. Either way, you can't lose.

But don't stop there - monogram everything! Your dress shirts! Your bathrobe! Your towels and bed linens! Even your underwear! Until I can afford custom-made shirts from Thomas Pink, I'll be taking my $60 Banana Republic shirts to Mary Monograms in the garment district.

3 comments:

Closet Crisis said...

I've always been a tomboy and entered a male dominated field. Worked for 7 years before meeting another woman on my projects. I dress in my uniform of pants, with femme coloured shirts and sweaters. I, too, wear a watch, and wear couple of "signature" rings and a bangle daily. Thanks for the post!

Dancing as Fast as I Can! said...

I totally agree. I work as an attorney in the compliance department of a large bank. I always wear parts. Never tried th editor pant but and a huge Banana Republic Martin pant fan

Anonymous said...

I too work with boys at a distrbution company. My regular attire is slacks and button up blouse.I wear a good sized watch and my gold signet ring on my pinky.I fit right in with them.