These Women Want to Dress You for the Office

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Back Story As a young woman in finance, I was always frustrated with my work wear options. I was working 70 hours a week, on the road from Monday through Thursday, and I definitely didn’t want to spend my nights and weekends sifting through racks in a department store. So I started MM.LaFleur to take the work — and the stress — out of shopping for work.

What We Do I wanted to create a beautiful collection that not only met the professional woman’s needs, but also offered a seamless shopping experience. That’s where our personal stylists come in.

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Looks from MM.LaFleur.

Credit
Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Coolest Trends Jeans or black leggings may have raised eyebrows even 10 years ago, but now women in senior positions pair those pieces with a blouse and a jacket, signaling a kind of duality: My pants show that I am young and keep up with the latest trends, but my top signals that I am professional and dependable. And more women are wearing flats, which once would have been considered too playful. Now they signal that you’re busy and always on the move.

Bonus Advice There’s nothing wrong with having fun with fashion, but we resist the assumption that women are supposed to be decorative. If a guy can get away with jeans and a gray T-shirt every day, why can’t a women enjoy the same level of simplicity?

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Emelyn Northway, left, and Dorie Smith, founders of the work wear label Of Mercer.

Credit
Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Of Mercer

Still trying to master that whole work/life balance thing? Of Mercer, founded by Emelyn Northway and Dorie Smith, aims to make styles that easily transition between the two so you don’t have to stress, at least when it comes to dressing.

Back Story Ms. Northway: The two of us were working in conservative environments in finance and consulting and didn’t have time to scour racks asking ourselves if something was work appropriate, nor could we justify paying over $1,000 for a boring suit. It seemed crazy that we didn’t have a go-to brand that could deliver.

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A look from Of Mercer.

Credit
Karsten Moran for The New York Times

What We Do Ms. Northway: We hit the three key features we always looked for: using high quality fabrics, designing everything with the workingwoman in mind and manufacturing every piece in New York City. A lot of our focus is on functionality — utilizing wrinkle-free, machine-washable fabrics and design elements that make wear easier. We have a number of reversible styles (yes, really!); we incorporate pockets as much as possible; and we engineered an above-the-bust wrap dress (goodbye, camisoles!)

Why Did You Introduce a Maternity Line? Ms. Smith: We want to make the transition back to work as seamless as possible. We designed a collection of pieces that work with a woman’s changing body and circumstances pre- and postpartum so she can confidently focus on all the other priorities in her life.

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