I thought it might be interesting to have an open thread about some of the most stylish professional women we know personally. I would suggest we avoid names and, instead, focus on painting a picture of the women who inspire us. I also suggest that we limit this to women we know personally, not famous people — unless you see the person every day it doesn’t count.
Personally, I’m lucky to have almost too many women to inspire me! It’s funny to me that some of the most stylish professional women I know are also some of the most senior and successful women I know. Some of the stylish women I remember the most…
- When I was an assistant editor at Family Circle magazine in my early 20s, the editor in chief of the magazine was stunningly put together every day. Beautiful suits that never looked wrinkled… shoulder-length blonde hair that was somehow perfectly coiffed — it had volume and bounce and curl. She had 2 or 3 children under the age of 15, also, if memory serves — no idea how she did it. She was an extremely intelligent woman who had interviewed for an assistant editor’s position and, when asked what her ideal job was, had said “editor in chief of this magazine” during the interview — and 15 years later, there she was.
- A female partner I used to work with also stands out in my mind. She had silver hair, just below her chin, and had a collection of eyeglasses that all had a bit of spunk to them. I remember admiring her Chanel bags and her Valentino suits — and her extremely, extremely successful career in a niche practice area. She had a very low voice, and a dry sense of humor.
- The third I’ll mention is another female partner I used to work with. She was the first woman to make partner at the firm, and I marveled at her ability to write the most ladylike “f__ you” letters to our opponents. I remember her very simple pieces of clothing (mostly black or gray trousers, black or cream jackets, a few solid colored silk tees) and her beautiful, colorful collection of Hermes scarves. She told me once she wore the scarves because she found tags at the back of her neck to be itchy.
Looking back, I think it’s interesting that all three had some of the same things in common. For example:
- They nailed the hair. Each of these women had figured out a hairstyle that worked for her (flattering and, I’d imagine, easy to do) and she wore it that way, every day — there was no frizz, there was no sloppy ponytail or bun, and there were no “wow she’s really past her appointment to get her roots done.” Perhaps it’s a reflection of my own taste that each woman wore her hair loose, and not done up in a French twist or whatnot.
- They went for quality over quantity. I wouldn’t say that any of their wardrobes were extensive — instead, I probably saw the same pieces repeat once every two weeks or so — but they all wore quality items of clothing that fit them like a glove (nothing too tight or too loose) and were well-taken care of.
- I primarily remember the woman — not the style. Nothing was overly trendy or of-the-moment (and nothing ever seemed dated) — and her style didn’t speak louder than her words. That said, each woman took her own risks — the funky glasses, the colorful scarves — and had, I imagine, fun shopping and putting together her working wardrobe.
All right, readers, who are your real-life style inspirations? What lessons have you learned from them (tips and tricks you’ve picked up and implemented), what lessons CAN you learn from them as you think about them today?
Psst: stay tuned for a round-up of my favorite fashion books for women lawyers!