The M Dash

For the Woman with #BetterThingsToDo

How a Stylist Gets the Most Out of Her Wardrobe

Filed in: Your Closet

You know the term “investment piece“? It refers to an item of clothing that’ll give you tons of mileage, through thick and thin. You’ll wear it to your Monday morning presentation, then to dinner on Wednesday—where you’ll accidentally smear it with chocolate sauce—and then wash it just in time for your weekend conference. These pieces are the backbone of your work wardrobe, so choose them wisely.

The key to an investment piece is versatility—it can be dressed up, dressed down, and styled in infinite ways. No one knows this better than Nyjerah Cunningham, one of our Out of Office stylists, who has a rare knack for creating unexpectedly chic outfits out of things you’d never think to put together. (Also known as great personal style.) For example, this is what she wore to work last Wednesday:


Nyjerah wears the Ono cardigan, the Fey top, the Nakamura trouser, and the Greenwich Avenue belt.

When it comes to maximizing your wardrobe, Nyjerah relates firsthand: “I’m a pragmatic shopper, in that I want to know how many times I can wear a piece in different ways.” (In MM parlance, this is known as PPW, or Price Per Wear—the cost of the item divided by the number of wears it will get over the years you own it. The lower this number is, the better.)

During her showroom appointments, Nyjerah works with customers to find multiple ways they can wear the same item, and how they can pair it with their existing staples. “I love to push the envelope,” she says. “If you’re owning a look, there are no ‘rules’ you need to follow.”

Below, Nyjerah takes an MM classic, the Lydia dress, and works her magic.

Look 1: Clean & Minimalist


Nyjerah wears the Arbus sweater, the Lydia dress, and the Gramercy Coat.

Why did you pair these pieces together? “This is a more casual look, inspired by street style. A lot of women I work with are hesitant to buy sleeveless dresses, especially in the colder months, or because they don’t like to show their arms. I love to play around with layering to find new ways of wearing sleeveless items that will make people comfortable. In this look, I revamped the Lydia by pairing it with a turtleneck sweater. It’s like you’re not wearing a dress at all—just a skirt.”

Look 2: Creative & Streamlined


Nyjerah wears the Ono cardigan, the Lydia dress, and the Greenwich Avenue belt.

What makes this outfit work? “This is a mix of business casual and comfort. You can wear this outfit to the office while still feeling like yourself. The Ono is a perfect sweater to pair with the Lydia because the lengths complement each other so nicely. The belt pulls everything together—although you could go without it for a more formal, serious look. In general, I don’t follow specific guidelines when it comes to deciding which pieces to belt. If a customer wants to define her waist and change up her look, it’s a great tool. The ostrich color of the Greenwich Avenue belt complements my shoes, but the color still falls in line with the darker shades of the sweater and dress.”

Look 3: Fancy & Flexible

How did you put this together?  “This is a more formal take the on the Lydia in dapple jacquard, which is a more elevated version of the dress. The Morrison shirt  is quite blousy, so it layers well, and makes the dress appear as a skirt; cuffing the sleeves gives a relaxed touch. I belted the top to add sharpness, and to pick up the black pattern on the dress.”

Photos by Frances F. Denny.

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Alexandra Johnson is an editorial associate at MM.LaFleur, where she started out as a summer intern. Her happy place is the room housing Monet's Water Lilies at MoMA. Read more of Alexandra's posts.

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