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STYLE GUIDE

June 2, 2016

By Leah Melby Clinton

WHAT WOMEN AROUND THE COUNTRY ARE WEARING TO WORK NOW

Work Clothes Around Country
When it comes to dressing for the office, no two women look at their closet the same way. The field that you’re in greatly affects what you wear to your 9 to 5, but so too does the part of the country that you call home. Some general truths hold (many New Yorkers do maintain a heavy load of elegant black), but other differences are purely practical. To wit, we connected with several professionals around the country, querying them on the wardrobe they’ve adopted in their working lives. After, we had Lauren Chan, Associate Fashion Writer at Glamour, weigh in with a new sartorial prescription that would inject their closets with of-the-moment styles befitting their unique circumstances.

Lauren McKeon, Lawyer, Tempe

“Because of the heat, dresses are a popular choice,” offered Lauren McKeon, an Arizona-based lawyer. “It seems counterintuitive, but layers are also super important in the summer.  It’s blazing hot outside, but every building is blasting the AC. It goes from 100-plus to 60 degress, and if you don’t have a cardigan, you’re freezing.” The heat’s also made a former corporate style staple obsolete. “I worked at a firm back east where every woman wore pantyhose—you would never see that here in the desert!”
The prescription: “Easy-wearing styles that still look polished are a great alternative to constrictive suits,” Chan suggested, pointing to lightweight silk blouses and tailored culottes — a silhouette Tibi did particularly well for spring ’16 — that are ideal for an office where bare legs are frowned upon. Chan recommends corporate types play with shoes, too. “Finish the look by swapping your usual pumps for flat oxfords.”
Tibi Spring 2016

Tibi Spring 2016

Emily Attia, School Counselor, Atlanta

Down south, it’s all about “preppy, preppy, preppy. Most southern ladies dress up for work in pencil skirts, dresses, cardigans, flats, and pearls,” said Emily Attia, a school counselor in the Atlanta area. The weather is more humid than scorching, but using layers to combat the indoor-outdoor temperature differential is common, too. Bags, shoes, and fabrics that don’t do well with rain are often abandoned due to the area’s frequent (and often unexpected) rainstorms.
The prescription: Heavy heat can easily be bested with classic silhouettes — Chan likes cotton shirtdresses with a twist like those done by Phillip Lim and Jason Wu at Hugo Boss. “If your work allows you to wear jeans, pick dark-wash boyfriend styles that sit away from your skin,” she said, also advising southerners to reach for dark fabrics rather than poppy lights. “They won’t show rain drops or perspiration.”
Boss Spring 2016

Boss Spring 2016

Lauren Wettenstein, Sales Professional, New York

Dressing in the northeast involves its own unique hurdle: a commute that likely involves public transit. While many select their footwear with practicality in mind, it doesn’t mean that their shoe game suffers. Rather, it emerges when the time is right. “I always wear flats to walk to work and change when I get to the office. Right now I have five pairs of heels under my desk,” revealed Lauren Wettenstein, a sales professional. “I have a pair of Manolo Blahniks that’s never even been to my apartment.” Bags are bigger to accommodate a commuter’s load and work essentials like laptops, so large carryalls like monogrammed Louis Vuitton totes are common on city sidewalks.
The prescription: As a New Yorker, Chan’s adopted the trick of tucking a small bag into her tote to avoid an overstuffed appearance for work lunches or after-hours drinks.  As for silhouette, she’d advise urbanites to abandon sleek and simple shift dresses in favor of more casual styles like those that came down the Altuzarra and Ralph Lauren runways. “I stick to short-sleeved button-downs and sleeveless denim dresses —but I make sure that they’re long enough to cover the backs of my legs for when I’m sitting on the subway or in a cab.”
Altuzarra Spring 2016

Altuzarra Spring 2016