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13 Clothing Equivalents of Work-Life Balance

Styles that can be worn for work, off the clock, and for those times when the two bleed into one another.

By Madeleine Kim

Real question: Does work-life balance still exist? Personally, I’ve been having a hard time finding where “work” ends and “life” begins (not to get too intimate, but I can confirm I have answered Slack messages from the bath). And I don’t even have kids. To have a job at all right now is a gift, and to be able to work from home during a pandemic is something I will never take for granted. But still—navigating this time period is hard, especially when so much is out of our control.

It might seem trivial, but being thoughtful about what I wear, even if it’s just for myself, has helped. It’s something I can control, and it feels good. So, I get dressed every day—in pieces that are comfortable enough that I don’t want to change back into pajamas, but put-together enough to make me feel at least a little bit like my old self (i.e. a person who goes outside and interacts with people, places, and things. Just all the nouns.) I’m thinking of my current go-to pieces as the clothing equivalents of work-life balance—styles that can be worn for work, off the clock, and for those times when the two bleed into one another. Here are 13 versatile styles to try.


1.

A Top That Thrives on Contradiction

Talk about balance—the Leo top is made from our new silk jersey material, which is 100% silk, but also stretchy, machine-washable, and just a little bit sporty. A polo-style collar allows this top to stand in for your button-downs on formal days, while the relaxed fit and slinky fabric make it just as ideal for staying chic off the clock.

2.

A Jacket That Should Be in a Gallery

The Lilia jacket is wearable art, and I’m not just being pretentious: Our design team modeled its intricate stitches on the pictorial artwork of Anni Albers, and every detail is exquisite, down to the hook-and-eye closures. Of course, you could wear this tailored jacket to the office—but it’s also versatile (and more importantly, comfortable) enough to throw on with jeans, shorts, or a bikini (why not?).

3.

A Knit Dress That Petites Will Love

The petite-friendly Hayden has the easy-breezy silhouette of a T-shirt dress, but its subtly textured material gives it an elevated look. Style it with white sneakers and casual layers (think: the Anna jacket and Tyler sweatshirt) for a power-casual look that transcends occasion.

4.

A Pair of Secret Sweatpants

This week, a customer who just received her Georgina loungers wrote in our community Slack workspace, “I don’t know how we go back to real slacks after wearing cloud pants.” Good news: You don’t have to. The fine terry Georgina loungers feel like your softest, most cloud-like sweatpants, but they look like real pants. You could pair them with the matching Harris sweatshirt (and save 15% when you buy the complete set), or you could pair them with a blazer and trick everyone into thinking you’re wearing suit pants.

5.

A Cult-Favorite Desk Sweater

Speaking of our Slack community, I’ve noticed that whenever someone brings up the Graham kimono, the entire thread turns into a Graham love fest. It’s one of those low-key bestsellers we’ve had for a long time and keep restocking, because it’s so very beloved. Many customers treat theirs as a “desk sweater”—a goes-with-everything piece to throw on when the office thermostat is lower than you’d like. Others wear it after hours as a unique alternative to the classic cardigan.

6.

A T-Shirt That Feels Like Butter

The Alina is a T-shirt, but it has all these little details—thoughtfully shaped armholes, a polished neckline seam, beautifully buttery Pima cotton fabric—that allow it to fit in with the heavy-hitters of your business-casual wardrobe. Plus, our new dusty pink color goes with everything from rust and fawn to dark olive. Dress the Alina up with an elegant skirt, or wear it with cozy cashmere joggers.

7.

A T-Shirt for Stepping it up

For times when a cotton T-shirt feels just a liiiittle too casual, the 365Knit Choe top is one step up. It features a slimmer fit and slightly longer sleeves than a typical tee, and its smoothing knit material gives it a more elevated feel than cotton. I’ve worn mine for big-meeting days with my favorite blazer, and I’ve worn it on weekends, tucked into jeans. (Also, for anyone with an eye toward the day when we can go places again, the Choe top is wrinkle-resistant, which makes it one of my favorite travel companions.)

8.

A Totally Unexpected Pair of Leggings

I know—”leggings you can wear to work” sounds like a dubious claim. But the thing you need to know about the Stella leggings is that they’re not like your athleisure leggings (no, not even the super fancy ones). Made from luxurious ponte, the Stella leggings are as stretchy as can be, but they have way more structure—so nobody will think you’re wearing tights as pants. A foldover waistband makes them extra comfy, and the notch at the ankle adds that extra something.

9.

A Dress That Comes with Talking Points

Fun fact about our silk desert print: the colors that make up this imaginative design are the very same colors you’ll find throughout the rest of the collection—rust, sky blue, sunshine, and dusty pink, to name a few. Aside from being a top-notch tidbit of M.M. trivia, this feature also means that pieces like the Joslyn dress will pair easily with other items in your closet (I especially love it with the Gaia jacket in rust and the Rowan flats in rose). The belt is optional, and removing it gives your dress a way more casual, almost sundress-like look.

10.

A Button-Down with Hidden Talents

You already know how to wear a button-down shirt for business-casual settings, so I’m going to focus on some of the Lagarde shirt’s lesser known talents. The first thing to know is that there’s more to this shirt than meets the eye: Unlike other tailored button-downs, the Lagarde feels smooth and light—none of that starchy stiffness. It’s also machine-washable and has an extra button at the bustline to prevent gaping. And in terms of styling, the possibilities are endless. Knot it at the waist and wear it with high waisted jeans; try a half tuck; wear it open over a tank top…I could go on.

11.

A Jardigan That Adapts

The Merritt jardigan in latte is a chameleon if I’ve ever seen one (although if I had, would I even know?!). Made from our stretchy-yet-structured jardigan knit, it’s a polished, more flexible alternative to a classic blazer. But that’s not why I love it. I love it because every time I see someone wearing the Merritt, it looks completely different. Some women cinch it with the sash and wear it with the matching Harlem skirt for a monochrome-cool skirt suit. Others wear it unbelted with black jeans, a fitted black top, and knit booties. Basically, you can’t go wrong.

12.

A Dress That’s—Dare I Say—Quite Fun

Polka dots—but make them subtle. Our soft, stretchy new Juliana dress sits in the middle of playful and professional (think: cracking a well-timed joke right before you give the presentation of a lifetime). You can add a belt and some heels to create a tailored, business-ready look, or just wear sneakers and fun earrings and call it a day.

13.

A Back-and-Better-than-Ever Pair of Pants

“Corporate Catwoman pants.” “The perfect skinny pants.” “The thing that made me want to change out of pajamas.” Call them what you like—the new-and-improved Curie pants are worth writing home about (and by “writing home,” I mean crafting an adoring email that will make your stylist’s day). Now with an elastic-lined waistband and re-engineered fit, they come in two inseam-length options so everyone can find their perfect fit. In navy, they can stand in for denim or complete a power suit—the choice is yours.

Madeleine Kim

Written By

Madeleine Kim

Madeleine Kim is a Brand Manager at M.M.LaFleur, where she started out as a stylist. She loves developing styling-focused content and creating newsletters that bring the M.M. community together.

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