Pensive in Pinstripes
Pensively ponder possibilities in pinstripes
It’s good to dream, to appreciate what you have while also visualizing what you want your life to look like in the future.
For me when I was just beginning my career over 11 years ago now, I knew a few things – eventually:
- I wanted to be able to run my own company.
- I wanted to have a flexible schedule that enabled me to schedule my work around my life.
- I wanted to be able to have a dog who would be at home and happy to greet me at the door.
- I wanted to have the most beautiful closet full of awesome and powerful clothing.
- The list goes on…
I’ve always loved great clothing and been drawn to good design – my mom is an interior designer – so I can’t help but see quality and appreciate gorgeous aesthetics. As a result, early on I knew I wanted to build a high-end wardrobe and consequently I kept a running list of all the key items I’d love to acquire (in addition to key accomplishments) through the years as I built my career. Fortunately, over the last decade plus I’ve been able to check off quite a few key purchases from that original list (while continuing to add to it) – typically reserving the big purchases as milestone markers, presents for achieving key successes.
One big item I’d wanted early on was a statement work bag. When I started my career, I worked for a software company and we were given backpacks to tote around (further amplifying our status as kids amongst our customers). When I transitioned into consulting in 2012 I knew I needed a work bag – I didn’t want to be seen as immature or ill qualified for the job at hand. At the time I was in the midst of a cross-country move, taking a big pay cut to leave my software job, and having to wait the requisite month before pay at my new job would start again – buying a statement bag wasn’t yet a possibility.
Instead, I did a lot of research and found a great-looking Tumi work bag that held my laptop (this was before Tumi started really focusing on female design so finding a good option was a challenge). And luckily my firm granted an allowance for new employees towards purchase of a briefcase or workbag that helped offset the price tag. However, that bag was black and as a result – I needed to be able to make most of my work outfits function with it (I had a dark brown bag, and dark brown heels, but that doesn’t always look good with a deep navy, and I certainly didn’t yet have navy heels). As a result, I had to get comfortable wearing black with navy if I ever wanted to wear my navy clothing. Recognizing that while you want everything to be perfectly coordinated it isn’t typically possible especially earlier on in your career is critical.
Almost three years later, and I landed a major client – my present to myself, a black Prada bag, and because the company issued laptop was huge I upgraded to a new laptop too that was svelte enough to fit with ease (we had a BYOD policy). I was now in a leadership position with my firm, working to sell engagements and as a result I felt it was time to transition my look to that of a polished executive. But, as it was still a black bag (this time with gold hardware) it still presented me with the same color coordination challenge – I needed it to work with all my outfits.
It took another almost 5 years before I was ready to add to my collection; to be able to branch out and purchase a camel colored work bag and navy heels. Now that I have those items they certainly support a broader range of outfit combinations I can wear – but when traveling and dressing from a suitcase, I still have to pick a foundational color for the trip and make sure all my outfits can work well with the bag and shoes I bring for the week.
For this polished professional look I show how it can be paired well with black basics or, if you are further into your career and have diversified your key pieces, with camel and navy instead. Pairing a sharp button up blouse with dress pants provides a put together look for days when you don’t need or want to be in a full suit. One thing you’ll notice is that the black bag has gold hardware whereas the camel-colored bag has silver – get used to mixing metals as it’s near impossible to ensure they always coordinate when dressing for work (this used to drive me crazy – I used to never mix gold and silver, and I certainly never used to wear black and navy or mix black and brown – when done well, it can and does work). My parents actually got me a crossover bracelet for my 25th birthday that has both gold and silver in it so that it would work with both metals regardless of what I else I was wearing that day.
My navy pants are newer – I got them at the end of 2018 on sale at Nordstrom while shopping in Chicago – I love their high waisted slim fit cut. The side zipper and low profile tailoring always look sleek (they also are the smallest size I’ve ever purchased so they keep me on target with my eating – I’d be devastated if they stopped fitting). My navy and white pinstripe button up was a purchase in 2012 when I entered consulting (I actually got it in 3 colors but always loved this one the most). What’s neat is the cufflink cuff’s – I get to wear it with my grandfather’s cufflinks which I always think is pretty special.
So, what are you planning for your future as you work to promote what’s possible?
All my best,