Street Fashionista: Deconstructing Professional Style

Categories:      Fashion
Wednesday, July 25th, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Street Fashionista: Deconstructing Professional Style by Leslie McAllister
Leslie McAllister

With e-commerce and self-employment on the rise, work attire has taken on a whole new role. The day of the ‘power suit’ has dwindled and the trouser jean has exploded. Casual dressing has taken a professional turn. I mean, heck, you can’t even find a pair of suntan hose packaged in an egg anymore (reference “Legg’s” RIP 1988).

The fact of the matter is, dressing down is the new dressing up. We pair jeans with blazers and secretary blouses with shorts. We combine cardigans with dresses and belt them, and guys are wearing their dress shirts sans tie and it looks great. It is relaxed, cool, breezy, effortless, chic.

And what is the fate of the suit? Hard to say. For men, bespoke has not waivered since the 19th century. For women, the trend is skittish. Working in an office, I no longer see many women wearing suits; the fashion is mix and match – blazers and skirts, blazers and dresses, slacks and blouses. Colors are bright and bold. Heels are getting taller and taller.

So how to deconstruct your professional style? There is one big rule – tailoring. Make sure your proportions are correct and your fit is perfect; just look through the current J. Crew catalog and you’ll get the picture! If you work from home and have to represent yourself to a client, tailoring and fit are your best friends. You can do those trouser jeans with a blazer and a bold T-shirt, or go all-black in skinny jeans and a button-down oxford; finish it off with a pair of ballet flats to say “I’m a relaxed and relatable professional!”

Who? Nikki Wagner, local photographer, Nikki May Day Photography

Where? My backyard, celebrating a photo shoot she shot for me

Why Nikki? I love the shorts with the blouse; it puts such a modern twist on a classic look. She pairs it with some bold raspberry wedges, and looks the part! As a photographer, Nikki knows how to make a photo more interesting. While living and working in NYC – she worked at NBC Universal – an opportunity to shoot fashion week for “Thread NYC,” Universal’s fashion blog, popped up during fall of 2010. She said of the event, “Furs and layering patterns with bright colors was big that season, so it led to some really great, vibrant pictures.”

A Couple of Questions:

After leaving Edinboro University with a Fine Arts degree and working in Washington, D.C. and New York, you returned. Tell me why you love Erie.

I love the versatility of Erie – the people, the locations. Erie has so many talented people and artists. It has every kind of location you could think of for a photo – from rural farms to urban industrial buildings to waterfronts and beaches. You can always give your client what they are looking for.”

Describe your style and tell me where you draw your inspiration from.

I love Kate Moss and Brigitte Bardot. Though my closet lately is dreadfully neutral – my Pinterest dream closet says otherwise – Kate really inspires me; she is currently the spokesmodel for Mango, and I would wear everything in the summer 2012 catalog. Except for the zebra pants – a little too fashion forward for me!

What do you look for in the composition of a photograph?

I am always looking for expressions and moments. I prefer candid photos to posed ones; it’s more natural. Color – though I started with B&W – I still love when a photo pops.”

Your workdays can be long; what’s your busy girl outfit look like?

Unfortunately, wedding photographers wear black. It gets really boring, and I constantly look like I’m dressed for a funeral in black pants and a top. I like to add a little flair when I can, and I do that with my leopard print ballet flats by Toms; they are comfortable, and cute! When I am constantly moving and doing more casual shoots, I like to sport my muscle tanks with boyfriend jeans – rolled cuffs, of course – and flats. I wear my Aviators because they are multi-functional keeping my bangs out of my eyes, and my Kelly Moore hobo bag helps to hold all of my camera gear.

Where are your favorite places to shoot in Erie?

I just did a boudoir piece at Grape Arbor B&B, and it is hands down my favorite location for this type of shoot. The interior is amazing. I also love photographing on farms. Erie has so many great industrial buildings with great textures for backdrops, too!

Want Nikki to shoot for you? She does weddings, portraits, engagements, headshots, family, entertainment, and even fashion shoots for budding vintage Etsy stores (shopjujus!) Check out her website at From there, find her on Facebook and Pinterest.

Find me out on the town and challenge yourself to get noticed by the Erie Reader!

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