Hello-hello, we hope you are enjoying a splendid week!
For years we have seen the topic debated: is Lilly work-appropriate? This story addresses the issue as it relates to legal firms, it is written by Vivia Chen, who knows her stuff. Not only is she chief blogger for the Careerist, her bio notes she has been covering the “business and culture of law firms for a decade”. From the post:
Nine months of the year I’m cloaked in grays, black, and occasionally a dash of purple. It’s the New York uniform. It can take you to the office, a corporate cocktail party, or a memorial service for the senior partner. (Come to think of it, “funeral chic” describes a lot of law firm attire.)
But come summer I transform into someone decidedly unManhattanish: the Lilly Pulitzer girl. Unabashedly bright and nauseatingly cheery, Lilly Pulitzer prints don’t reflect my true personality at all. But for reasons that would take a Freudian analyst to explain, I can’t resist them this time of the year. I own about two dozen Lillys, and I can’t get enough of them.
Now, truth be told, yours truly lived in black when doing TV, with occasional pops of pink as well as the sporadic white contrast piece. (Early on when an intern and junior staffer I did wear bright colors, but we’re talking later in the career.) While many would argue that television is a creative field with plenty of room for personal expression via one’s wardrobe, you did not see me in Lilly in the office. Why not? Because I was in management. It wasn’t done.
As we changed stations and migrated back east and then moved about as far west as one can go the dress code loosened. When on the west coast I remember being… well, let’s just say I was ‘concerned’ when I realized that some female employees were not wearing hose. Oh, the horror. (Insert smirk.) Fortunately someone counseled me before I did anything, deterring any imposition of any sort of silly-dress-code-that-only-a-new-person-would-dream-up.
Life and lifestyles vary hugely in different parts of the country, and are even more broadly mixed depending upon one’s chosen industry. The dress code is further defined by the position one occupies within a place of business, but there really are not nearly so many absolutes about office attire these days. Back to Ms. Chen’s story:
Luckily, I no longer have to stand out as the oddity in pink, green, and yellow, because wild prints are all the rage right now. Almost everywhere you look—J. Crew, Kate Spade, Jason Wu, Altuzarra—flashy, splashy prints abound. So the issue is this: How far can you go in sporting bright, loud designs while still maintaining professional dignity?
In my field—journalism/blogging—what’s acceptable as office wear is a nonissue.
Below, several Lily looks via the Zappos blog.
Clearly we’re not speaking about something like the shorts shown in the montage above. The debate is about dresses, tops and pants in Lilly’s splashy prints and bold colors, the very things that make Lilly “Lilly”.
I know several practicing attorneys who would not even contemplate wearing Lilly in the office. Wouldn’t consider it. They are in positions of influence, working in firms located on the east coast and in the midwest. Others who work in the southeast and southern California have worn it to the office, culturally it is a different ballgame where they are working. A friend who is in the corporate offices of a large financial firm would not wear it, but you do see sleeveless, or short-sleeved pieces in bold patterns on any number of personnel in the branch offices.
Personally, I think you should dispense with the gradual approach and self-analysis. I say go whole hog with the crazy florals. If you are in the mood to wear an over-the-top print in the summer—assuming that the dress is simply cut and not too revealing—what’s the downside? It will probably make you cheerier—and maybe even lighten up the sullen souls around you.Really, what law office couldn’t benefit from a dose of gutsy color?
I’m curious to know your thoughts? Are you in an industry where Lilly is fine for the office?