For the first few years of my career, I worked at a huge law firm in New York, and it was a pretty incredible experience. I’d never had a full time job before (I went straight from college to law school), and for the first few weeks, I was so nervous and excited that I pretty much held my breath all day long. I was constantly working at a breakneck pace — it was ordinary for me to eat dinner at my desk almost every night, and pretty common for me to collapse into a car home at 2 or 3 a.m., only to get a few hours of sleep and head back to the office.
If that sounds awful… well, it sort of was, and it also sort of wasn’t. I was twenty five and didn’t have much in my life besides work, and Chad’s a lawyer too, so we were pretty much on the same insane schedule. I was excited about the work I was doing (many of those late nights were spent on an incredibly rewarding case, which I wrote about in January) and I really liked the people I worked with. The hours were tough, but those early pedal-to-the-metal years were also kind of fun. Everyone was as intense about their careers as I was, and we all committed to the work that had to get done.
And I also learned a lot.
A lot of what I learned is specific to being a lawyer: how to write a brief and pick a jury, how to prepare a client to be deposed and how to be courteous and professional even when the other side is being completely outrageous. They’re lessons I remember to this day.
But I also learned something else: how to appear confident and professional, even when I was twenty-five and completely terrified that I had no idea what I was doing.
As much as I learned from the work itself, I learned more from the people I worked with. And although I worked with a lot of wonderful male lawyers, truthfully, I paid more attention to the professionalism of the senior-level women I worked with. Law has traditionally been a very male-dominated field, but that’s changed dramatically in the past decade or so (like many industries, of course, it still has a long way to go). One of the tremendous upsides to this shift is that my law firm had a number of female lawyers who were five, ten, and twenty years ahead of me on their own career tracks, and often, they made a special effort to look out for female junior associates.
So I’m going to share one of the tips I got with you guys, one that isn’t specific to law at all. When I was a first year associate, I was sitting in the office of a junior partner, and she was talking about what it’s like to argue in a courtroom filled with men, when sometimes (if not often), you’re the only woman there.
And she filled us in on a little secret. “When I want a boost of confidence,” she told us. “I wear a red suit. I don’t know why, but there’s something about wearing red that always makes me feel strong.”
Wearing red is a small thing, but the small things really matter. When that partner told me about putting on her red suit, she wasn’t saying, “sometimes it’s intimidating to be the only woman in the room.” She was saying: Here’s what I do when I want to feel as good as I can. Here’s a small thing that, for me, makes a difference.
And, you know what? It’s good advice. When I’m getting ready for anything from a big meeting to an oral argument, I make an extra effort to dress in a way that boosts my confidence. So in honor of that piece of advice I got years ago, I’m sharing this Workweek Chic outfit today.
My own confidence-boosting red dress.
And, hey, if you’re on the fence about red in your industry, I have an easy workaround. There’s a reason Louboutins have a red sole!
Tags: style · work
You know one thing that I really miss about New York?
It wasn’t always the most glamorous way to get around, but man, the New York subway was a huge melting pot of people, schedules, sections of the city, and just about anything else you can imagine. Chad and I had about a half hour commute because we were going from the West Village to our law firms in Midtown, and when we first moved in together, we used to split the morning paper between the two of us. (I’d get Fashion & Style, Arts, Opinion, and Travel, and he’d get World News, Business and the Front Page section. I promise, our news is much less divided along gender stereotypes now.)
Our subway ride wasn’t a local train with lots of stops and law firms have slightly different hours than many businesses (a regular day often started at 10 a.m. but ended with emails at midnight or later), so our subway rides weren’t particularly crowded. And, you know what? It was a nice way to start the day. Even though commuting by car is a lot easier, sometimes I still miss the subway.
So, when my new photographer suggested a shoot on Houston’s Metro, I thought it was a great idea! Houston has a long way to go before public transportation is widely used, but it’s making some important early strides. The stop nearest to our house is in the Medical Center, so that’s where we ventured to for these photos — and I love them!
What’s your morning commute? Do you take a subway, car, train, or bus? (Buses get a bad rep, but I actually liked NYC buses a lot, too!)
Alice and Olivia dress, Nordstrom jacket, Stripes and Sequins x BaubleBar necklace, Rachel Leigh cuff bracelet, SHOEMINT heels.
Photos by Banks Farley.
So, here’s the thing. I used to post all these cute outfits that I’d wear on the weekends, and exactly none of the way-less-exciting suit rotation that I wore to work every. single. day.
But lately, since my weekends revolve primarily around machine-washable clothes that can be spit up on (sigh, but it’s reality), I really haven’t had many outfits to photograph.
But you know when I do get dressed up? For work! And since I started my own practice, I have a little more freedom to take fashion risks, even in the courtroom. The legal profession is very conservative, but I’ve become pretty good at choosing workweek outfits that are professional but still fun — I’m frequently (always) the only lawyer sporting colorful blazers and stiletto heels, but hey: it’s what I like.
(The other day, going through security at the federal courthouse, my Jimmy Choos set off the metal detector, yes they did. The officer asked if my heels were dangerous, and I promised him they wouldn’t hurt anything except my feet. Hahahahaha. I had to work that story in because I thought I was hilarious, but it occurs to me now that it might also be construed as wildly dorky.)
I didn’t actually wear this to court — it was for a regular day of meetings and a charity event. What I love about this outfit was that it went really easily from work to play — just taking off the blazer made this a cute, summery outfit (I know, it’s February, but this is Houston we’re talking about), but I could still put it back on and be professional.
What I don’t love about this outfit: the blazer is probably four years old and was originally under $100 from Zara — it’s showing some wear, and I need to upgrade. I’m insanely picky about blazers — the cut, fit, and style have to be exactly right before I’ll buy one. But here are a few I’m thinking about ordering, and I’d love your thoughts! None of them are exactly like this one, but they’re all under $200 and could be really fun additions to my workweek wardrobe.
I’m thinking about ordering this one from Shopbop in black — I like the three-quarter sleeves and the single-button style. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll probably try this bold blue from Nordstrom, or maybe even this blush pink from Topshop. (I wish I could see the color in person on the last one, but Houston doesn’t have Topshop yet! It’s only $90, so I may order it just to try on.) Let me know if you have any thoughts and I’ll let you guys know when I decide!
So, here we go: Workweek Chic. What do you guys think? Should this be a regular Sugarlaws feature?
Tags: style · work