Okay, now the convergence of themes is getting downright scary. Sometimes I struggle to find something to write about so I can stay more or less on schedule. Other times, like today, the posts seem to write themselves.
Saturday a friend and I were lamenting the tribulations of childhood in the 70's when our moms actually made our clothes and we had to wear them to school. It is kind of stunning how long that psychological scar lasts. Funny, though, now that I think of it: Mom never made my brothers clothes that they had to wear to school...
The spring quarter started today for my daughter, and you guessed it, she's taking a sewing class. I had to practice breathing control in the fabric store as my vision started getting cloudy while selecting a pattern, finding some elastic, and then thumbing through various fabrics so she could make pajama pants for herself and a second pair for me as part of her class assignment. I swear I was about to break out in hives by the time we left the store. ($95 lighter, though. Most expensive pajama pants I ever hope to buy).
Then, I checked my twitter account and came upon what I suspect is the first ever post about how difficult it is for young men lawyers to figure out how to dress for success. OMG. (Am I allowed to write that?). Ladies you must read John Cord's post, The Clothes Make the Man. It's good for a giggle.
So once I'd recovered from the trauma of the visit to JoAnn's, I decided to get back to work and finish reading Tax Notes Today. Lo and behold, my favorite columnist, Lee Sheppard, began her article about Subchapter K (AKA hell in the tax code) with a fashion review. Lee has done more for changing the image of a tax lawyer from a gray-haired, gray-skinned fifty-ish male personage to a vibrant, living being than any other person in the profession. And she does it with such style.
In her January 11, 2010 column on Subchapter K's Attractive Nuisance she begins with commentary on the January issue of Vogue and its preview of the spring designer lines, with a view to the implications for a professional woman's wardrobe. It's a must read for those of you who are wondering what to add to your wardrobe for the spring. Unlike John Cord's advice (get a couple of suits in various shades of gray and black plus some ties from TJ Maxx and Ross), Lee's recommendations have a bit more style and spice to them, and acknowledge that a woman lawyer needs to put a bit more thought into her appearance than does a young man:
Regarding floral print dresses and shoes: "Those fabulous floral print silk dresses Balenciaga did for fall were shown on the runway with big necklaces and spindly, decorated shoes. This is too much unless one's destination is the opera. For day, tights and boots, oxfords or ballet slippers, and no jewelry let the dress make the statement."
Regarding Jewelry: "Lay off it. Wear one statement piece, and then only if the clothes do not make a competing statement."
Regarding Makeup: "Lighten up, or you'll look like a drag queen. Indeed, bright lipstick works best with black dresses and gray suits. When the dress provides its own color story, neutral makeup is best."
Regarding Cardigans: "The downside of frilly dresses is that they're not very warm, so wraps are necessary. We hate cardies--that's the Britishism for a garment that makes the wearer look like Granny. Women love cardigans, but as Michelle Obama's cardigan moment on Inauguration Day proved, they can ruin an elegant outfit."
And she wraps up her intro to Subchapter K with this advice:
"Many women just want to wear something more feminine than a mannish suit to their professional jobs. Moreover, many women don't look particularly good in tailored clothes.
"While business suits flatter men -- they are derived from 19th-century neoclassical designs -- they do not flatter most women. So the men walk around in clothes that make them look better, and the women walk around in clothes that make them look worse unless they are built like Chanel."
For the connection between fashion advice for professional women and partnership tax law, now that you are intrigued you'll just have to read her entire article. Tax Notes is available only to subscribers, so you'll have to ask your firm or law school librarian to get you a copy. It's worth the extra effort.