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Welcome to the latest edition of Working It, where Racked takes street style to the next level—the office. The litmus test of the true style-savvy is how she (or he) rocks a look on any old day to work. Forget the pedestrian khakis and buttondowns—these fashionable professionals take the office dress code to a whole other dimension. Quick, somebody call HR!
All photos by Porter Hovey
Today we take you to the Manhattan offices of Milly NY by Michelle Smith. Known for a bold take on feminine style, Michelle Smith has been designing and producing her line in New York City since 2001, so she knows a thing or or two about city dressing. But recently the brand has been showing it's softer side: they just announced a Hamptons-themed collaboration with Banana Republic that will launch this summer, making them a true town and country label. Here's how they work it when they're working.
Michelle Smith, Founder and Designer: I love to take a classic and turn it on its head—a slim, sexy pencil skirt in Hologram leather, an oversized men's-style coat in an exaggerated tweed, a sweatshirt with luxurious leather and multimedia detailing.
Style advice: First, don't wear clothing that is too tight—even if you are a size zero. It looks good on no one. Second, always check your back view before leaving the house! And third, choose clothing that makes you feel comfortable and confident.
Laura Lau, Product Development Manager: I like to think my style is sweet with a touch of irony and the unexpected. I love pairing oversized boyfriend sweaters over feminine short flouncy skirts. Mixing cocktail dress-up pieces with street style is always fun and perfect for day to night. Whoever said you couldn't play dress up for work?
Style advice: Don't be afraid to dress for yourself and buy what you like. Stock your closet with pieces for every possible moment in life—even if you haven't lived it yet! And always remember to shop for your body type. My body type is that of a 12 year old, and I have no shame shopping our Milly Minis collection!
Laura is wearing Eryn Brinie sweatshirt, Milly ostrich mini skirt, Milly heart tights, and Alexander McQueen booties.
Monica Johnsrud, Associate Designer: When I'm putting together an outfit, I tend to gravitate toward neutrals and layers of textures accented by subtle pops of color and print. As a designer, I value craftsmanship in clothing, especially with touches of leather, architectural draping, and inspiring fabrics. My favorite accessory: a transparent glass necklace with wire wrapping—it adds just a touch of shine and blends with any outfit.
Style advice: Buy clothes and accessories that you LOVE, not just pieces you like. When you do, you will have a wardrobe that reflects who you are; it will mix and match together effortlessly.
Monica is wearing a Milly dress and leather jacket, See by Chloe Shoes, and a necklace of her own design.
Louisa Rechter, Assistant Buyer: My style reflects the ease in which the clothing fits and it must enhance my personality. My style evolves and changes according to my mood and my activity. I don't wear clothes just to be trendy, I wear them as a representation of who I am and what I am doing. I try to be thoughtful in the way that I dress, thinking about the people I will be with and whether my attire is appropriate. This works for me and people respond favorably!
Style advice: Look for versatility in clothes: be able to dress them up for a party or dress them down for a meeting. Nice shoes are worth the investment. A terrific handbag can make an outfit pop. But most importantly, make sure it fits and you feel happy in it. It's not about the dress on the girl, it's about the girl in the dress!
Louisa is wearing a Milly Brydan blazer and strappy dress, Manolo Blahnik Ardos, elephant earrings from the Bangkok Mandarin Oriental, and a Raymond Weil watch.
Nikki Martinkovic, Assistant Designer: I love layering separates! I always like to dress in a classic way with a punch of spunk, whether it be two colors you wouldn't naturally think to wear together or chunky statement jewelry. It's better to invest in nice quality pieces than it is to invest in quantity. At Milly, we make all of garments with luxe Italian fabrics and in New York City. I like to not only invest in my wardrobe but in NYC too!
Style Advice: I think it's always important to feel like a lady. I always make sure I have some pop of color on my lips, even if I don't have time to put any other makeup on. If you don't know what to wear, throw on a button down and go; always comfortable, always chic. And if you are going to live in flats, make sure they have some sort of a heel to make you feel a little bit leaner, plus you'll have a little more pep in your step.
Charlotte Greenough, Knitwear Designer: I strive for easy Parisian street style with a little punk rock thrown in the mix. When I'm traveling in Europe and am asked for directions, I know I'm doing something right! I love mixing structured and soft pieces with unexpected accessories, even if it's a t-shirt and jeans kind of day, I always try to have at least one element that makes it special. My go-to outfits are a fitted skirt with an oversized sweater or a tailored pair of pants with a silk blouse and mean high heels, but once in a while I'll go all out. My favorite outfits of 2013 have been a backless sequined gown and the last look of the Milly fall fashion show, all hologram leather!
Style advice: I think the most important thing is to look like yourself and to be comfortable? and once in a while to step outside of that and go for the truly over-the-top-glam or humorous. An outfit that makes you feel confident, smart and cool is an outfit that works! Buy a couple of really beautiful pieces and take good care of them. I still have a printed Milly mini skirt from 2001 that I find a new way to style every season.
Charlotte is wearing a Milly sweater, James Perse t-shirt, Joe Fresh shirt, Helmut Lang jeans, Valentino belt, Christian Louboutin shoes, Fahrenheit NY necklace, and a vintage bracelet.
Sarah Vallimaresu, Social Media Coordinator: My colleague recently described my style as "easy cool," which I appreciate (thanks Lou!) and definitely agree with. I always feel great in a skinny pant, blouse, heels, and simple accessories. I also love a fun printed pant or a timeless dress. My style depends on my mood and the occasion—like most women, some days I am excited to get dressed up, while on others I just go for comfort.
Style advice: You know what looks best on your body and what makes you feel most confident, so stick with it. When shopping, I try to think about whether I'll still like the piece in a year - buying something and regretting it later on is the worst... Invest in a few pairs of pants and killer shoes that you can wear to work and out at night. Also, find a couple of staples that you absolutely love.
Sarah is wearing Milly Tia cascade blouse, vintage fur vest, J Brand coated jeans, Manolo Blahnik shoes, Chanel bracelet, Bulova watch, and Chanel necklace.