Bringing Pretty Back, Part I

Sometimes when I walk down the halls of the Capitol and see the women in their staid black suits and their boring twin sets, I remember a scene from the documentary “The September Issue,” and I hear the voice of Andre Leon Talley screaming in my ear: “It is a famine of beauty.”  Except, in this case, it is a famine of pretty.

That’s part of the reason this blog exists, not just to discuss what is appropriate for work but also, how to maintain some femininity in a masculine world.  And I am all about the pretty.  Yet, some woman refuse to accept that they can be taken seriously as professionals without dressing all in black with shapeless suits and square toed heels.  So let’s bring pretty back, shall we?  

To bring pretty back to Capitol Hill, we need to start with the shoes.  Because while every woman needs the basic black pump and the comfortable flat, a woman cannot live on bread alone.  We need chocolate.  We need bows, rosettes, vibrant colors and cutouts if we are meant to survive this famine of pretty.

Cutwork Shoe (Karen Millen, $225)

While I usually preach that pumps should be under 3″ for comfort, this shoe is so cute that I’m willing to make an exception.  (In fact, this shoe is so cute, that I was willing to break out the high school physics skills and convert centimeters to inches.)  This lovely pump has a 4.5″ heel with a 1″ platform and perhaps, a little pain is a small price to pay for shoes this cute. 

Just buy a pair of comfy flats, and change into them at your desk.  All will be right with the world.

Betsey Johnson Calandra Pump (Piperlime, $150)

Mary Jane styling? Check.  Perfect peep toe? Check.  Satin ribbon braiding? Check.  Adorable but not overpowering bow? Check.

Seriously, what else do you need to pronounce these the prettiest shoe in all of Christendom?  These adorable pumps could add a little zing to even the most boring work attire but frankly, they deserve a flirty cocktail dress and a night on the town.  Because if you’re going to own them, you better treat them right.

AK Anne Klein Rosette Pump (Zappos, $79)

These pumps would add a bit of pretty to a basic black pencil skirt.  The print is classic and chic but the flowing vines are lovely with the small rosette on the front.  And unlike the other pumps in this post, these shoes are under 3″ high.  

Charles David Pompadour Pump (Zappos, $97)

Like red pumps, green high heels are a fabulous way to add punch to your outfit.  The emerald pumps would look especially lovely with blue, purple or yellow separates.  A navy skirt with a yellow printed blouse and yellow printed cardigan would be a gorgeous way to wear color to work.  

This blog is a celebration of pretty.  I am a firm believer that when you work in such a male dominated industry adding a little femininity your wardrobe is never a bad thing.  You can be a girl and be a professional, the two are not mutually exclusive.

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  1. EAC says:

    I follow another “business wear/fashion” blog and good Lord, are the women there terrified of fashion. They pitch a fit at the mere suggestion of wearing color, patterns, clothing that shows a hint of their womanly shapes. And, by golly, their clothing must “scream authority”. Uh, hello, it’s the woman in the clothing that commands authority. I like the way you think and I’ll be hanging out here a lot more.

    April 13, 2010/Reply
  2. KLo says:

    I DIE for those Karen Millen shoes.

    April 13, 2010/Reply
  3. Belle says:

    EAC– I agree completely. You can be professional and pretty. In fact, I think it helps get you more attention at first meeting so that when you open your mouth to reveal that you are pretty, stylish and smart, people take notice. Sure, I there are some “pretty” things that I wouldn’t wear to work. But a dash of pretty never hurt anyone.

    April 13, 2010/Reply
  4. Lacy says:

    Right on – some pretty projects confidence to be different; the famine screams timidity, lack of creativity, or worse yet, is simply forgettable.

    April 13, 2010/Reply
  5. Jay says:

    Great post, Belle! Love reading your blog. Keep it up!

    April 13, 2010/Reply
  6. Ms. B says:

    Your mother brought you up right.

    April 13, 2010/Reply
  7. Belle says:

    Not to toot your own horn or anything. Right, Mom?

    April 13, 2010/Reply
  8. Ms. B says:

    just pointed the way. You’ve made it your own. I’m actually tooting YOUR horn.

    April 13, 2010/Reply
  9. Kristin says:

    PerfectPatty, if you don’t like Belle’s blog, don’t read it. It’s as simple as that. And attacking someone’s family is just unacceptable, no matter how much you dislike that person’s blog or disagree with their views.

    April 13, 2010/Reply
  10. Belle says:

    I deleted a comment. I have only two major rules: Don’t swear and don’t call people names. The commenter violated both, and she did so in regards to my Mother. I can hardly be expected to keep that comment up.

    This is also not the first time that I have had to delete comments from this reader.

    April 13, 2010/Reply
  11. MAB in VA says:

    omigosh, those Anne Kleins are gorgeous — thanks, Belle!

    April 14, 2010/Reply
  12. Hae Min says:

    I really enjoy your blog!! Those AK d’orsays are awesome!! I’m seriously considering getting a pair of the black/yellow floral ones for the spring!! Would accompany a simple black pencil skirt and breezy cream chiffon blouse perfectly… Thanks!! ­čÖé

    April 14, 2010/Reply
  13. CourtK says:

    Belle, thank you. I found CHS via Currently Obsessed, which is appropriate given that I am currently obsessed with your blog! I'm new to your site, but am diligently going through the posts from the earliest available-hence a comment so long after this post. I too work in a male dominated field–CA regulated energy and utilities–and overwhelming women I encounter have given up on the pretty for day to day. Your voice is refreshing and comforting when I've become so accustomed to dull stares of un-madeup eyes attached to shapeless forms. Thank you for reaffirming my belief in a place for feminity with power and for sharing it with other women.

    June 29, 2012/Reply