Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Paralegal Career Dressing : Two Thumbs Up from the Big Boss

I have two supervising attorneys, one I've worked with for about 20 years, give or take a few minutes. He's the same one who complimented my "new" ankle bracelet last summer - the same one I've worn every summer for ten years.

So this morning we're talking in his office, and as I get ready to leave, he asks, "What's with this new and improved style you've had for the last three or four months? You've really looked great. I like it. What's going on?"


Judy Bond vintage bow tie blouse ~ thrifted A Second Time Around, Wilmington, NC
Loft stretch pencil skirt ~ thrifted last year
Maripe red pumps ~ thrifted $6
MMD obi tie belt ~ Megan Mae Daily (She has several beautiful ones in stock now.)

Well, first, I was a little bumfuzzled that he even notices what I wear. Second, you can't help but wonder if you looked really bad before...

Knowing that blogging, mine or anyone else's, is not an area he follows much, I explained I had taken my paralegal blog in a new direction over the last year or so. While I had always posted about budget career deals since the start of the blog in 2008, I didn't start sharing my own outfit posts until a little over a year ago.

I started focusing more on budget career dressing, because when I attended large gatherings of paralegals, that seemed to be what they were most interested in - other than how to use their new iPads. Readers wanted to know where I shopped, what other style blogs I was reading, and what I was wearing. Many told me they were inspired to try thrifting career clothes because of this blog, or were using more accessories to liven up their more conservative career clothes.


I also told my boss that when I started trying to find other career style bloggers to read, besides Corporette with its Wednesday business suit recommendations often in the $500 - $1,000 range, I couldn't find very many style bloggers like me. You know. Middle-aged. Limited Budget. Not a model. Unable to afford J. Crew or Anthropologie even on sale most of the time.

So I decided to put my small wardrobe where my mouth is, even though self-photography is not something I'm comfortable with. I always managed to take all the family pictures or magically disappear when others were taking them. I was a homely kid, a kind of awkward plain woman in my 20s and 30s, and a little lost when it came to dressing my 40s body, especially when it got sick for a few years and I was too tired to care what it looked like.

The Teen, wearing a Loft striped cardi, Toms, and her elephant pendant from Jada's Jewels, helps take my pics sometimes.

I also learned a lot about re-mixing an existing wardrobe and adding more exciting thrifted or inexpensive elements from some of my favorite style influences: Megan, Sal, Sheila, Patti, Kasmira, Lydia, Melanie, Gracey, Psyche, Mongs, LeeAnne, and Tara, just to name a few. I learned my old clothes had more infinite re-mixing possibilities than I'd ever imagined, and was inspired to try stepping outside of my comfort zone more often (not too far out, I do work in a law firm.)

A slow and gradual weight loss due to a neurological condition that took a long time to diagnose has also been responsible for my changing wardrobe. I've even had to give away clothes bought last year that are now too big. Taking outfit pictures has not only helped me see I was wearing clothes that were swallowing me whole, but that certain cuts, styles, and colors really do a lot more for my figure challenges than others. I'm short, slim, with broad shoulders, long arms and a big head. (Thank you, T-Rex).

So, I'm not actually responsible for my new and improved style; many of my readers and new style blogger friends are. This blog is actually turning into a journey of self-discovery for me, as I espouse solid middle-age and even celebrate its pluses (and try to use fashion to minimize its minuses); as I try to express my artistic side with a more interesting wardrobe; and as I try learning to use my camera as another artistic outlet. I've always loved taking pictures of (other) people, and I've always loved clothes. And I've always told my paralegal readers they didn't have to have a lot of money to have a gorgeous interview suit and a working wardrobe that expressed confidence, professionalism, and great personal style.


Thanks to my boss for making me stop and acknowledge that my style is changing, and that maybe for the first time in my life, I have many days when I leave the house feeling like a beautiful woman.

Where are you in your own style journey? Still finding out what really works for you, or completely satisfied with your own unique style?

12 comments:

  1. I've also noticed your turn around - even within the short time I've known you and been reading your blog. Your style has grown by leaps and bounds. I love the obi belt with this printed blouse. So bold and fearless! But they both play off each other to let the colors glow.

    How cute is your Teen! She's got a great casual style. Roping family into the blog-business is always a plus.

    Glad your boss realized your change and is happier for it!

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  2. How amazing...getting noticed by the bosses! Style is so powerful.

    Self-portraits have been crucial on my style journey too. What I like most about where I am on my journey, though, is that I've completely accepted the notion that style is important and it's okay that I enjoy thinking about it. You see, in the academic worlds that I've always worked, fashion is often seen as anti-intellectual.

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  3. I have definitely noticed a big change in your style, just in the few months that I've been reading you, Lynne. You are much more creative and willing to do colour, and you play with accessorizing much more.

    Isn't it funny how changing yourself on the outside affects the inside? Blogging has been a huge factor in my life over the past 4+ years.

    You look amazing in this outfit (as you do in all of them!). Love the red pumps. Thank you for the shout-out...I am honoured.

    PS - the teen is freakin' adorable. Aw!

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  4. Lynne--we surely are Paralegal Soul Sisters. This is my favorite post of yours EVER! I completely agree and relate to everything you say. I have also evolved in style since I first started blogging in all areas--I'm more in touch with what I am comfortable with, I find new ways to use all my clothes, I discovered the importance of staples, I realized that I wasn't the only one living on a budget, I am prouder of my thrifting instead of ashamed. And the whole self reflection bit of it, the self photography (I also love to take photos in general) and the meeting (or in my case "meeting") lovely ladies that I have similar interests in are all just cherries on top.

    I'm gonna say it--Lynne your the best and I am so glad to have "met" you on your lovely blog. BTW I ended up email subscribing to your "Divorce Disclosure" blog recommendation and I read it all the time. I have even forwarded some of them around the office! It's a great read--thanks!

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  5. This is a SUPER EMPOWERING post! High fives with a loud slap for doing this for yourself and for everyone else!! How cool is it that your boss noticed? Your light is definitely on high beams.

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  6. You look stunning and happy and put together and your outfits show that you are interested in how you look so its was a matter of time until the boss mentioned it. I think we often wait to see if a 'new look' is a once off a few weeks and then the person may fall back into their old ways, but after a serious lenght of time ... they have to notice.

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  7. A great, thoughtful post. I've noticed more and more 40+ women becoming more conscious that style is not something you have to abandon as you age. It can evolve and become more personal.

    I think I'm finally dressing how I've always wanted to dress but couldn't due to pressure from peers and colleagues to dress a certain way. In the 1980s, I wore a tapestry skirt and lace tights to school, trying to be unique, but that didn't last more than 1 day before I fell back into the preppy clothes that the popular kids wore.

    In the workplace, I felt pressured to wear suits, which I hate. I abandoned those a few years ago and now I feel comfortable enough to just be me. My blog has helped because of all the positive feedback I've received. Bloggers are awesome!

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  8. I really enjoyed reading this post on your journey - I didn't know all of that about you and I learned a lot! And I can honestly say you are now influencing my style in the same way those other ladies have influenced yours, so I'd say you're doing plenty right! I look forward to much more to come from you!

    I love your MMD obi belt! And the Teen looks totally fab.

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  9. I love that you notice that you're coming into yourself, so to speak. I feel like I'm finally getting there too. I'm 32 and I'm finally at the point where I'm confident in who I am and what I wear.

    Your teen is so cute!!

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  10. a style journey never ends
    as we age we have to adjust for a varied amount of reasons
    i love this about fashion, we are always discovering or rediscovering ourselves
    thanks for sharing your journey
    brett

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  11. This was really inspiring, both from a fashion and a journey perspective. Rock on with your bad self, Lynne!

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  12. Hm, I wonder if your boss ever visits your blog! I think it is great that he's noticed! I've had similar encounters with my colleagues. I've tried some wild things in the classroom and I've not heard one negative remark!

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