A Revolution in Women's Wear: Pockets! And a Reversible Suit!

Clothes for the Serious Business Lady

Argent Washington DC storefront.JPG


I have a friend who’s been talking about creating a line of products for the ‘serious business lady’. Because women ARE serious business ladies, but we don’t necessarily want to surround ourselves with bland, colorless office products, nor wear black and gray all the time. And after attending many networking events trying to manage my drink, my bag with laptop, and my coat, all while attempting to exchange business cards and establish rapport with the fascinating new people I was meeting, I mentioned to her that she needed to include a ‘networking suit’ in her line of serious business lady products. Something feminine, professional and smart, flattering to most every woman, and with pockets to handle all those business cards.

Turns out she doesn’t need to. Because Sali Christeson and Eleanor Turner have already done it with Argent.


Women’s Suits With Pockets

Argent women's suit with interior pockets.JPG

I’m not even sure where I first came across Argent, but I was immediately interested in what they have to offer; fully reversible suits (the pants too!), jackets made with cool-max breathable linings, blouses with hidden elastic on the sleeves so you can push them up and they stay pushed up, and a sweater that can be worn four different ways. And pockets, lots of pockets. Taking men’s suit design a little farther and not just incorporating the interior pockets, but adapting them to today’s woman – pockets for pens, pockets for your phone and earbuds, and yes, pockets for your business cards. And no, you don’t suddenly appear bulky and strangely shaped when using said pockets, you look smart and actually turn heads because the jacket you’re wearing is attractive and distinctive too. Argent likes color as much as I do!

After combing through Argent’s website and seeing a lot of things that got me very excited, I needed a field trip to see, and more importantly, feel the fabrics for myself. Because as you may know, I’m a big fan of natural fibres, and dare I say it, a little old-fashioned when it comes to what I wear. I am increasingly disheartened at having to pay a lot of money for the essentially polyester suiting that is available at most retailers.

My dear friend and sometime style advisor (everyone needs a friend like this!) and I planned a field trip for a cold, cold January day to visit Argent’s pop-up DC location.

Field Trip to Argent

And oh, what fun we had! Because the stars aligned that day, and even though the first two places had hour-plus wait lists, the third let us sit down for lunch, and by some amazing luck, we got to Argent and discovered that the two founders were not in San Francisco and New York as they usually are, but here, in person, in DC. And they were thrilled that we were there too. And we got to hear first hand about the thinking behind this amazing design, how the fabrics are sourced and why they are chosen, and the reason Argent was started in the first place. Like most innovative businesses, out of frustration, but also because there are studies that show that the way a woman looks can impact her earning potential by as much as 40%.  Ugh. Clearly, we need functional, serious business lady clothes that make us look as amazing as we are.

The Completely Reversible Suit

I had to start with the reversible suit. I mean, really, how cool is that? A fully reversible suit? Yes, indeed! With interesting contrasting stitching details, a fun multi-length hem, and non-wrinkle, super packable fabric. I HAD to see this in person!

It didn’t look as fantastic online as I had hoped it might be, and truth be told, this is no wool suit, but it doesn’t matter. Because in real life it looks smart, professional, and a little sassy, and it FEELS amazing on. I almost never put on a pair of pants that actually fit properly without tailoring and these didn’t just fit, they were comfortable and I could really move in them. And all three pieces, the jacket, the pants, and the shell top are completely reversible. So, while you may pay a little more for this ensemble than you would at Ann Taylor, you’ve actually got the foundation of most of your working wardrobe right there. Argent manufactures all their garments themselves, in Manhattan’s garment district, and so removes the wholesale middleman. You get a made-in-the-USA piece that is the quality you’d find in a department store, without the big scale pricing.

Argent red crossbody jacket.JPG

Now about those pockets. Argent’s jackets are either reversible, made with breathable linings, or constructed with an entire portable office’s worth of pockets. Which I road tested because my need for business wear (and pockets!) is more about local networking and less about traveling. I bought their most popular jacket, the crossbody, in tomato. And I tested it out, filling up the pockets with all that essential stuff I would normally carry in my handbag. I can say that I looked professional (and comfortable – every jacket has a little bit of stretch) and my loaded pockets didn’t make me look misshapen. I think I’m going to really love having this super versatile and super practical jacket in my wardrobe!


Pinstripes, Please

Here’s another of their fantastic, I’m no shrinking violet, suits. Now that’s a pinstripe! The top was also something unusual – things that fall away from the body don’t normally work for my shape, but this one did somehow. And what an interesting piece with its asymmetrical hem and multi-layer design.  I also tried the simple navy cropped blazer which fit and flattered me and had not just those amazing pockets, but a fun red contrast stitching.

Four Ways to Wear It

How about this for a great cost per wear piece? This sweater (also in black and white) can be worn four ways: front to back, back to front and turned inside out. That seems like a winner for anyone’s wardrobe. I think it would be fair to say that every piece I tried on could be dressed up or down, including this sweater.

Where to Find It

If you’re like me and you really appreciate good design, corporate color, and just plain old practicality, run, don’t walk, to Argent’s location in DC at 1921 8th St NW. And if you live somewhere else, Argent will ship to you at no cost, even including a free shipping return label if the item isn’t quite what you had in mind.

Aside from the fact that I really enjoyed spending time with Sali and Eleanor, (they clearly love what they do), I’m always going to support a woman owned small business when I can. And when that business is doing amazing things to revolutionize women’s office wear, I’ll be checking in regularly. My wardrobe needs more super cool clothing like this! Yours probably does too – give them a try – the clothes are much, much better than they look on the website.

About Argent

HI, WE’RE ARGENT—a collective on a mission to make clothing that equips women to take their seat at the table. Like many, we’re at our best when we look great, feel comfortable and don’t waste hate on our closet. So we made the wardrobe to achieve it.

We’re into those who take charge and make noise. But change can’t stop at the closet door. Join us in a community aiming to dropkick the glass ceiling.  

Here’s to changing the conversation—and your clothes.


Wool Winter Wonderland

We saw this amazing seamless, sequined cape worn by the designer herself! See video below.
We saw this amazing seamless, sequined cape worn by the designer herself! See video below.

My dear friend and I regularly find cultural events to attend; sometimes something artistic, sometimes something gastronomic. This past weekend we got a bit of both - a fashion show, with bubbly! and a whole new kind of people watching.

But that's not what this is about. This is about the fashions we saw: beautiful, forest nymph-like dresses fashioned from wool felt. It was the spring collection, but it got me to thinking about wool felt as a fiber choice.

Wool Felt IS Warm

Now you know I'm always looking for ways to stay warm. What I didn't know is that felted wool is much warmer than woven wool (nowhere for air to sneak in), and with a much greater warmth to weight ratio. It's incredibly time consuming to make (Elynn at Amano Studios has some great videos illustrating the process), and tends to be strictly hand crafted as a result. Which can be both good and bad.

Good because you end up with beautiful, one of a kind garments that can be truly show stopping. Bad because that could you mean you take your appreciation of the art form a little too far into the fringe. I think you know what I mean!

Wool Felt for the Office

So I set out to see what I could find that could be suitable to wear for statement making office dressing.  I had to get past all the slippers, hats, and other extremely arty things that are typically made from wool felt, but I did indeed find some wonderful felted items.

The brown sleeveless top and the red 'sweater' could work in just about any office setting and are certainly more defining than something from Ann Taylor. Interestingly enough, many of these felted items are made by craftspeople in Russia - they just might know a thing or two about handling cold weather! The white sculptural top is a little more casual, but the detail alone is interesting enough to pass muster in most environments. I think they all have tremendous versatility as well as maximum seasonable wearability on their own or with some carefully chosen layers.

Some more office worthy jackets that are decidedly statement making. Felt is so interesting because it is often shaped into garments without any seams, or combined with other fibers to make beautiful embellishments. The blue oversize jacket in the middle I can see both as a dressed up or a dressed down piece, either layered or not.

If full-on felt is a little too 'artsy' for you, you could still add that statement making impact with a felt scarf like these:

All by Elynn at Amano Studios.

Special Occasion Felt

Now for something really show stopping and ultra feminine, you could do much worse than these beautiful felted dresses. I'm fairly certain you would turn heads for all the right reasons wearing one of these! Left, emerald green silk with felted flowers. Right, all wool felt.


As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, many of the wonderful pieces we saw at the fashion show were sylph-like and made me think of goddesses in the woods. Not necessarily what you want on a day to day basis. But for a special occasion, Irena Levkovich of Wool Wonders has some absolutely fantastic pieces, like this collar. I don't know where or how I would wear it, just that I desperately want to!

We enjoyed Irena's Wool Wonders fashion show and I even had a chance to talk with Irena herself. She features tutorials online and runs felt classes in Northern Virginia - maybe something my friend and I will find ourselves signing up for in 2018.

And here's what we saw last weekend:

Surely a Shearling

Faux fur 'toque'. That's Canadian (well, First Nations) for 'fur hat'.
Faux fur 'toque'. That's Canadian (well, First Nations) for 'fur hat'.

Well, it looks like we might get our first seriously wintery weather in DC tomorrow. And as you probably know, I don’t deal so well with the cold. I’m still searching for that marvelous locale where there are seasons (for my husband), but mild and not so variable temperatures for me . . .

I’ve done my best to prepare for the impending colder weather; I’ve invested in 'fur' lined leggings, added some more wool and heavier weight jackets, bumped up my layers to cashmere plus underlayers, and bought this fun fur hat that I think will work even for ‘fancy’ outfits!

But it won’t be enough.

So I thought I would investigate some out-of-the ordinary options for staying warm. None of which are in my budget range, mind you. (If you’ve lived somewhere truly cold recently, please share with me how stylish people remain stylish AND warm when they aren’t in the top income bracket!)

Shearling Makes a Showing

Featured on the runways at Fashion Week for Fall/Winter 2017, shearling has for me always been something more casual and country. Think beige coat with shearling collar and cuffs. However, shearling is now neither casual or country, unless you want it to be. And it has a price tag to match. All photos Harpers Bazaar Fashion Week 2017 - left to right: Prada, Proenza Schouler, Miu Miu, Hermes.

Genuine shearling is the tanned hide from a sheep with the wool left attached. It can be dyed, trimmed, worn as leather or suede and with the wooly part either inside or out. It’s remarkably warm (you don’t see sheep shivering on the hillside do you?), hard wearing, and probably super cozy. I don’t know, because genuine shearling is in the four-figure price range. (!). These marvelous coats from Blue Duck are entirely too yummy - left to right: reversible shearling, grooved multi-texture shearling, color block shearling, karacul (astrakhan) reversible shearling.

Or something a little more street style. Both genuine shearling and therefore expensive. L: Badgley Mischka. R: Trouve. Both at Nordstrom.

What most of us wear and what you see in the store is faux shearling. Which really has none of the properties of the real stuff and is just about a certain sort of look, generally not the one I’m going for. But this can be had for three figures, the low kind. I do kind of like this velvet one, but can't see how you would ever fasten the belt at your hip? Both at Nordstrom. L: Blank NYC. R: Kut from the Kloth 'Abigail'.

Since this post is about staying stylish and warm, I started thinking about some of the more expensive clothing items that we KNOW are warm, but are out of reach of most of us. Shearling, fur, silk and wool are all known for their insulating properties, but hmm, seem to be the exclusive reserve of the wealthier among us. Even Canada Goose parkas, known to be the warmest coats around, are in the four figure range.

What they all have in common is an animal source. Now I came of age in the time when fur was not the thing to be wearing. Never mind that my Canadian relatives all wore it (Yes it is warm! Yes, it feels amazing!), I wouldn’t wear fur on principle for a long time. But in researching this post, I thought “how is shearling any different than fur?” In both cases the animal must give its life. Same for the goose down coat. And come to think of it, same for the leather shoes and boots I prefer.

The reality is that we rely upon animals for our health and comfort. Most of us eat meat. Most of us purchase and wear leather footwear and bags. We may own a leather or suede jacket. And we may even have a fur or shearling coat. Maybe it’s time for me to ease up on my fur ban and stop feeling so miserably cold during the winter. But since it’s not the done thing where I live, maybe I just need a fur-lined coat. Or maybe a shearling coat. I think I may have to find somewhere to try one of these on . . .

And if you've been horribly offended by my statements on fur and shearling, have a look at this article by National Geographic on fur rearing done right.

Feathers, Elegant Feathers!

Manolo Blahnik, previously available at The Real Real

Manolo Blahnik, previously available at The Real Real

I’ve always been a fan of feathers, but it’s at this time of year when the weather turns colder and we have more occasions to ‘dress up’ that other people seem to want to join me.

There is something decidedly elegant about a feather embellishment. Something that sets the wearer apart. And let’s face it, they’re warm.

Feathers on the Runway

All the reports from the Fall/Winter 2017 runway shows would have led me to believe that feathers were a ‘thing’ for this season. Woo hoo! Except, I was unable to find much in the way of feather embellished garments available for those of us without the glamorous budgets to accompany our glamorous clothing ambitions. Sure, the designers were using feathers lavishly this fall, but that doesn’t appear to have filtered down to ready to wear.

I searched up and down the interwebs to find feather anything to share with you. And perhaps not surprisingly, given where feathers come from and their delicate nature, it seems that feathers are simply not used in everyday clothing for every day people, even for special occasions. Where I found them was at The Real Real, a designer consignment site that I have recently begun to explore.

And while I have previously written about banishing black, it does lend itself to more formal clothing. And apparently to feather embellishments. I apologize in advance if you are unable to see the feather detail in these images – some of them simply are too dark to see properly. All images are linked to their original source so you can ooh and aah at your leisure if you want a closer look.

Feathers For The Common (Wo)Man

To my surprise I was able to find many feathered items at a modest price point. True, these items are not brand new, but my experience with The Real Real has been that the items are top notch and just as described. You only need to be sure of your measurements and have the time to trawl the site.

Feathers for Fair Folks

And I found some wonderful feather embellished pieces that certainly could be worn at this time of year for those whose complexions suit paler or warmer shades.

Feathers for Fantasy

And just for fun, here are some truly drool worthy pieces, with the price tags to match!

I think I could happily add just about any of these pieces to my wardrobe! Now if I just had someplace to wear them . . .

What to Wear to Work? Banish Boring Office Wear!

What to Wear to Work? Banish Boring Office Wear!

We've been conditioned to think that office wear should be a feminized version of the man's suit - conservative, lacking in imagination, and uniform-like. MM.LaFleur, a company that makes beautiful, quality corporate women's wear even sells a book called "What to Wear to Work - A Guide to Building your Professional Uniform". And while I like their quality, I don't like their approach.

Here's how to banish boring office wear.

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