“MEL” or Polished Professionals as we know her is the epitome of class and grace. Her chosen Instagram name fits her perfectly as I’ve never seen her veer from her personal brand. No ripped jeans for MEL! Given her chosen profession you’d quickly assume her attire is as a result of her legal profession. For MEL however it goes deeper and further than that.
There’s an old saying “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” MEL has been dressing for success since elementary school both figuratively and literally. Her entrepreneurial and business savvy mom dressed her mind sharpening Mel’s tenacity, ambition and thirst for excellence. MEL holds three degrees including a JD and an MBA, practices law, helps run her Mom’s 43 year old dance studio, is the founder and vice president of Manners Pro, and a successful blogger. I got tired just writing all of that! Her mind stays dressed! With regards to her actual attire MEL grew up wearing uniforms all the way through eighth grade, is a certified etiquette consultant and had a grandma who instilled in her “the one asset rule” – only show one asset at a time. In an age where more is more, it’s refreshing that she is still listening to her grandma and dressing not for the moment or for what’s in style but for her personal and professional brand. MEL is truly a “polished professional“, not just 9-5 but 24 * 7.
See what else MEL shared with us in this week’s fashNcurious 5:
You’re a lawyer and you have your MBA, why did you start blogging? Was there something missing?
I have been blogging in different forums since 2012. It mostly came out of seeing lots of unspoken rules of the office and networking that I did not feel were being addressed in colleges or graduate schools – the things that really prepare you for professional etiquette, co-workers, office politics, etc. You can know everything there is to know about quickbooks. balance sheets, legal briefs or spreadsheets but if you miss the personal aspects of the job, you miss out on a lot. And it can impact your chances for success even if you were the top of your class I want to give tips to professionals from my own hard learned lessons and give them resource where they can ask the questions they may be afraid to ask at the work place.
You have such a classic, elegant style, Is this as a result of your profession? Where do you get your style inspiration?
Thank you. That’s very kind. I grew up wearing uniforms through the 8th grade, so classic styling I think came from this experience. Uniforms were classically styled and versatile so I think I come by a classic style naturally. But, being a lawyer does sometimes force this issue – especially in a court room where there is not a lot of leeway in what I can wear.
Where do you shop? Do you have a favorite designer or go to store?
I try to shop local Houston area boutiques when I can but I must confess I find online shopping really convenient. Specific brands I wear a lot are Theory, LK Bennett and Nanette Lepore. I like the quality of their products for work. One Nanette Lepore dress I have in 8 colors – yes 8. I think that is definitely a throwback to my uniform days. I put on a different jacket or necklace and its a different look each time.
What 5 things should a stylish professional woman have in her wardrobe?
1) A timeless, classic interview suit that fits impeccably.
2) A power suit where you can show them you are in control – I vote a bold color for this.
3) A quality bag that is structured and fits the essentials without looking slouchy. I don’t find briefcases that useful anymore but a great tote is easy to carry my laptop or documents I may need and still match the outfit I picked for the day.
4) Heels that you can wear all day long – these heels should be well kept – no ragged heels or scuffs. They should look polished and should be able to be worn all day without pain. This will serve you well on the marathon days that inevitably happen in this working life.
5) Statement jewelry – work wear can be boring so I think its important to show personal style in your accessories.
How does manners pro and your etiquette classes impact your style if at all?
I keep my work style professional in that I do believe you should always dress for the job you want and the respect you want to receive. It has mattered in my experience. And as to etiquette of it all, my grandmother had a rule that I have tried to live by. It’s called the one asset rule – you should only show one asset at a time. If you show more than that you look…well….let’s just say unprofessional. So if you are out on the town one weekend and you have on a short dress then your legs are all that should be out. A mid-drift and low cut top with a short skirt just leaves a girl exposed literally and, as I have experienced, in her professional life. I would hate to be dressed in a way that if I were to run into a client and his/her spouse and have them say “that is your lawyer?” I worked too hard to let something as mundane as a fashion choice have any potential to tarnish my reputation so it does impact what I wear at all times.
Is there a certain etiquette a fashion blogger needs? Can you share 5 rules of etiquette that can help fashion bloggers?
I think the same golden rule of life holds true for being a successful blogger as well. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That means treat others with respect. Encourage others when you can. Be willing to share anything you have learned in love. Everyone has different experiences. My thoughts about professional etiquette or office rules are not the definitive answer for everyone. It’s just the things I have learned from my mistakes and experiences in the workaday world that I hope others find useful on their professional journey.
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