(Photo by Bianca Bueno)
Be warned: This is an awfully frivolous topic. So if you’re reading this blog for the serious, earnest stuff about how to be a good little associate or how to develop business at your college reunion, you might as well tune out. Right now.
But from my observations, I think this is a timely, maybe even urgent, issue. I’m talking about how far we ladies push the fashion envelope in August—when the temperature is steamy and we let down our satorial guards.
If you’re a faithful Careerist reader, you know this is the type topic I cover every summer. (I’ve analyzed the pros and cons of wearing bikinis at the summer outing, flashing a bit of cleavage for strategic reasons, and donning nauseatingly cheery colors at the office.)
So here’s the issue du jour for you, Ms. Ambitious Associate: What kind of message are you sending with your latest nail polish?
In case you missed it, the trendiest colors are a bit dreary, almost slightly morbid: Grays, taupes, blues, greens and purples. Lately, I’ve noticed women who work in finance or law wearing these off-beat colors.
They are great colors for the walls of a Calvin Klein or Armani showroom or the leather banquette of a bar in the Meatpacking district of New York—but on your hands and toes?
For a profession where open-toe shoes still carry a whiff of scandal, the idea of adorning bare toes with blue, green or gray enamel might be going too far. “I can’t figure out those tones for the life of me,” says a senior counsel at a Fortune 100 company. “Maybe those women are trying to make some kind of sexual statement—something kinky.”
Kinkiness is something that most lawyers might want to avoid. So maybe it’s wiser to lose those avant-garde colors.
But that might be old-fashioned because fashion is always about change.
Former lawyer, turned fashion maven, Kat Griffin of Corporette, says nail aesthetics are changing. Though she advises women to pick a skin-tone polish for formal meetings and courtroom appearances, she says bright red nails are no longer taboo. She adds, “I think that darker shades of red/purple are also commonly accepted.” As for grays and darker solid colors, Griffin says those colors are fine if it’s “a crazy day at a fairly casual office.”
Hmm, how many “crazy” days have you had at your firm? Would you ever wear the color of morbid-chic to your office?
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