“That outfit is not appropriate for work,” my supervisor said quietly.
“Why?” I demanded.
In retrospect, the question was hilarious. I was wearing a too-short orange tee shirt and black cargo pants with the sides torn and the hems worn out from where I kept stepping on them. But I was furious. I was humiliated. This was my first job out of college, working for a nonprofit I believed in, and I worked really hard, I followed all the rules (I even tore through the employee guidebook searching for rules that my outfit broke), and I expected to be judged for what I did, not how I looked.
That, and other experiences like it, prompted me to study the unspoken parts of what ‘appropriate-for-work’ meant. I wanted to keep my sense of personal style, but I didn’t want to get pulled aside by supervisors anymore. But more specifically, that experience got me near-obsessed with finding a pair of work-appropriate pants I didn’t hate.
So are there pants out there that are work-appropriate, flattering, flexible, soft, durable, lint-resistant, machine-washable, and somewhat affordable? No, not all at once, that’s too much to ask, but you can get a decent subset of those from Ministry of Supply, MM. LaFleur, and to a lesser extent Betabrand. (And since the Betabrand Mondo Anniversary Sale makes their Dress Pant Yoga Pant extra affordable, I wanted to get this up even though I still haven’t gotten some answers back from Ministry of Supply. I’ll update the post when I do.)
Please excuse the photos today, it’s pouring outside and my photo-color-adjusting PC is out of commission. Whee, getting back into the swing of posting!
I’m generally skeptical of MM. LaFleur’s ‘bust-friendly’ filter. Multiple shirts under that filter fit me anywhere from ‘terrible sack’ (yes, Didion, I’m talking about you) to it-would-be-perfect-if-they-added-just-a-tiny-bit-more-fabric-across-the-bust (Bourgeois Blouse). I impulse-bought the Rankin 2.0 top anyway because of MM.LaFleur’s recurrent combination of impeccable style and convincing branding (a shirt that makes it look like I tried really hard when I actually just threw a thing on? Yesplz.)
It arrived in the mail today, and I’m actually kind of surprised by how it turned out, so I thought I’d show you.
There are a lot of purely functional laptop bags out there. If you’re looking for that, my top recommendation is the Timbuk2 Command, which is super-sturdy and also has a neat feature that makes it easier to take through airport security. (The water bottle holder is a little small, though.)
However, if you are a professional and/or are at all vain, you might want something more formal-looking. Structured. But also, you probably want a bag with actual functioning pockets and/or organization, and maybe one that will not kill your shoulders. This post is for you!
I have not actually tried any of these bags. (Largely because right now I do not have a functioning laptop, and getting one is a higher priority than getting a bag for it!) But, as you’ll see, I have done ridiculous amounts of research into their functionality.
I have intensely conflicted feelings about MM.LaFleur. The idea of looking sharp and professional but having someone else do all the actual work is great; MM.LaFleur’s customer service is excellent; their branding and marketing is brilliant; their clothing is sturdy and conservative enough for any workplace and has a good balance of personality and versatility. Also, most of their stuff magically looks way better in photographs than I think it actually looks on me.
However, even though I did end up buying some of their stuff, I think I’m too hard to fit and too picky to be their audience. You’re best off with MM.LaFleur if you feel overwhelmed by the idea of picking work clothes, you’re not especially picky about color, and you have no emotional problem dropping $155-$295 on an article of clothing.
I’ve struggled a lot with this review, because I feel incredibly positive about Wallis Evera but many of my reasons are intangible. Sure, Wallis Evera dresses are eco-friendly, durable, work-appropriate, ethically made, and beautiful. Sure, they have pockets. But what I really liked about Wallis Evera’s dresses, what outweighed the dry-clean-only and slightly-itchy-on-me, is that they feel natural on me instead of like I’m playing dress-up.