by Nakia P. Thomas
July 24
2 Comments

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This post was first published on the precursor to this website, www.stylechile.blogspot.com, on May 12, 2012. Since the message is still very relevant, and it is #throwbackthursday after all, I’m republishing here for your reading pleasure. You can look forward seeing some of the more popular vintage StyleChile posts on Thursdays on this site! Yum.

Here it is, fresh from the pages of one of the more conservative business newspapers, a primer on power dressing for the fashion conscious career woman. According to the Wall Street Journal, today’s corporate fashionista is no shrinking violet. She chooses outfits that are infused with color, unapologetically feminine, bold and understated and, of course, decidedly sexy. How does one achieve this look? Don’t shy away from mixing textures, embrace accents like pleats and bows, reconsider embroidery and lace, incorporate the new neutrals, and, really, does your suit have to match?

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Earrings: Lizzie Fortunato Left Bank earrings from Moda Operandi, $270; Purse: Alexander Wang Rocco Duffel, $875; Peplum Jacket: Alexander McQueen, $2, 815; Shoes: Sergio Rossi black suede sandals with gold frill, $447; Baroque freshwater cultured pearls, $180.

But, seriously, even with powerful women like Michelle Obama, Queen Rania and Olivia Pope leading the charge, can we mere mortals get away with being fashion forward in conservative corporate culture? Obvi, the lawyer in me is screaming “it depends”. That’s because it does! The old refrain: “dress for the job you want” is still applicable here. If powerful women in your organization openly embrace fashion, then it’s much easier to tread in the path that they’ve already blazed, easier still if you work in an industry in which looking fab is part of the job description, but if you work with the good ‘ole boys, the risk averse lawyer in me is cautioning you not to start bucking any trends. See below for elements of a stylish and boardroom appropriate ensemble.

There are ways to strike a balance, and I’d like to think that I do so. Even though the words from an ex still haunt me: “You look great, but that’s too much for a law firm”, and this from my main gay: “I’m worried that your outfits are too fashion-y for work”. So, in truth, I save fab outfits for the weekends or after work, but I do get it in where I can during the work week: bright nail polish (and long-ish nails), great shoes (in brown, black or gray), bold bags (even in bold colors) and feminine shells (always silk or satin, sometimes with lace and bows) buried under a navy, gray or black suit and topped off with double strand pearls. That usually does the trick, or so I hope . . .

Nakia works as a corporate lawyer for a Fortune 500 company, and as a fashion and lifestyle consultant — providing styling, lifestyle management and concierge services for brands and individuals along the Northeast Corridor, from her home base in New York City via Nakia Thomas Creative. Nakia also provides legal and advisory services to clients in the fashion, art and entertainment industries via Stelle Legal, and appears in that capacity as a cast member in WeTv’s Money.Power.Respect., a docu-series focusing on lawyers in New York City. Nakia is a member of the Board of Directors of Bronx Legal Services, and was previously on an Advisory Board for Moore College of Art & Design. Visit www.nakiapthomas.com for more information.

  1. Shara
    Reply

    This is so true. I love this much needed inFormation. Sometimes the woman inside in screaming to not wear black,blue,brown all week, but feminine colors and shapes Do help

    • Naki

      Thanks Shara!! I agree, it’s hard to find balance of feminine and professional. I’m loving what Zara and Ann Taylor have to offer in that regard. X, Naki

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