When we are looking for style inspiration in the workplace, one of the places we turn to regularly is The Classy Cubicle. Whether it is Mary Orton’s knack for making trends office-appropriate (corporate crop-top anyone?), straight-shooting about the importance of looking the part as you climb the corporate ladder (her hysterical and on-point Top Ten Cubicle Crimes), or her expert mixing of print and color and texture….we simply can’t get enough.
When she agreed to answer some questions for our blog and Spring newsletter…well, we did a little dance. So without further ado:
How would you describe your personal style?
It’s tough to describe because my personal style is such an amalgamation of vastly different influences. I work in finance in New York City, so my professional environment is business formal, but within the context of the fashion capital of the world, I’m able to infuse a lot of different fashion trends and creativity within those parameters. In general, I’ve always been a huge fan of menswear, and love juxtaposing menswear elements against classic feminine silhouettes. I’ve always been inspired by color and love finding interesting ways to wear color and mix different palettes. But whether I’m wearing bold colors, trendy pieces, or classic staples, I always try to wear everything in a polished way that allows my personality to shine through–“wear the clothes, don’t let the clothes wear you” sort of philosophy.
What inspired you to start your blog? was it a specific event?
The Classy Cubicle is really the product of two separate, yet complementary, events in the past two years. I’ve always been so inspired by the visual arts — fashion especially — but never understood what the blogging world was all about. Quite frankly, if you asked me two years ago what a fashion blog was, I’m not sure I would have had an answer for you! Eighteen months ago I was working on a separate fashion-related project and started learning what these “fashion blogs” were all about. I was amazed to learn what successful businesses they have become and how influential they are in the fashion and retail industry. However, I couldn’t believe that there was almost nothing out there for real, working women.
Concurrently, I was starting my career in a male-dominated business-formal environment, and becoming increasingly aware of the challenges faced by females in the workplace. My female colleagues always voiced frustrations about how to dress at the office. Unlike our male counterparts, we can’t rely on the suit-and-tie uniform, so coming up with an equally professional look requires a lot more effort!
In the end, it was the confluence of these two events — the discovery of a major hole in the fashion blogosphere and the sartorial challenges faced by myself and my female colleagues at work — that made me realize there was a great need for women to have a professional fashion resource like The Classy Cubicle.
Where do you find inspiration for your looks?
My outfits have been inspired by everything from a beautiful sunset, to a painting I found in Versailles, to suit-and-tie combinations worn by my father, to a high-fashion ensemble that recently graced the catwalk. I also have drawn so much inspiration from other fashion bloggers and the people I see on the streets of New York City. While on vacation last year, I saw a little beach bungalow painted in a dull olive green with the most beautiful fuchsia flowers cascading from the windows. I found the unexpected color combination to be so beautiful, and it inspired a post on the blog the following week when I wore a pleated fuchsia skirt paired with an olive green geometric sweater.
What are your favorite spring trends that can be easily translated to workwear?
A major goal of mine on the blog is to show that many, if not most, fashion trends can be translated into workwear with a little creativity. For example, spring’s crop top trend may not sound work appropriate when taken at face value, but I’ve tried to show on the blog that you can wear the cropped silhouette in a really polished, professional way, without actually showing any skin.
As for other spring trends, I’ve always been a huge fan of menswear, and am thrilled that it’s particularly en vogue right now. And, whether it’s wide leg trousers, loafers, or pinstripes, it doesn’t get much easier than menswear to translate into a professional setting! Otherwise, the obsession with color and prints that we’ve been seeing on runways are among my favorite Spring trends–especially head-to-toe print and monochromatic looks.
Do you shop tall? If so, where do you shop and what are some style tips you have for taller women?
I’m 5’10”, so depending on the retailer, shopping for “tall” sizes can be a life saver. I love places like
and Banana Republic
that offer tall sizes. Other labels like Theory
, for example, often come with a longer inseam that works for me. But regardless of height, making sure garments fit properly is really important, so finding a good tailor or learning how to adjust hems
properly at home is critical. You can be wearing the most beautiful, expensive pieces, but if they don’t hit you in the right places, the result will still be sloppy.
A woman is feeling blah about her work wear. What are your top three ways to quickly and easily add personality, punch, style, etc. to staid work attire?
Find some fun accessories to liven up more traditional pieces. Throw cobalt pumps
on and a large statement necklace with that black sheath dress, and you’ll have a dramatically different look. Whether it’s jewelry, shoes, belts, or scarves–accessories can be an amazing way to bring classic workwear pieces alive in a new and personal way.
2) Don’t Be Afraid of Color: Work wear doesn’t have to be limited to gray, black and navy suits. Instead of opting for the same white blouse you wear with that beige pencil skirt, pair it with the colorful blouse or cardigan that you usually gravitate towards on the weekends.
3) Don’t Be Afraid of Trends:
If styled the right way, a lot of “trendy” pieces can be incorporated into your work wardrobe in a completely professional way. Don’t be shy to pair the graphic print sweater
you like wearing to Sunday brunch with a black pencil skirt. Or, perhaps the embellished sleeveless blouse you wear on warm weekends could be paired with a blazer and black cropped pants. A lot of fun pieces that you may have blindly thrown on the “nights and weekends only” pile can be worn in a way that looks completely polished and professional–while livening up your boring work attire.
Love your your Top Ten Cubicle Crimes! Would you add anything to your list today? Have you ever been guilty of a cubicle crime?
I haven’t come up with anything major to add to the list, but always love hearing suggestions! As for violating myself–absolutely! As I discuss on the blog, we’ve all been guilty of these “cubicle crimes” and I am definitely no exception. To name a few, there have been a few times when I’ve run out the door with an oxford blouse on without a camisole underneath, and I am constantly freaking out all day about the huge gaps between buttons when I sit or stand in a certain way. I’ve also had a few times when I’m eager to make a gym class and think that no one will notice if I switch into my running leggings and sneakers before finishing up for the day and racing out the door. Inevitably, those are always the times when I would run into senior managers in the elevator. Lesson learned!
For more from Mary Orton, follow her blog at www.theclassycubicle.com, or by following @theclassycubicle on Instagram and @classycubicle on Twitter!