I'm Mariel. My style is caught somewhere between a prepster obsession with plaid and the hard hitting trends of the big city. Employee at kate spade new york HQ, Astoria resident, big fan of the internet (I also blog at mariel and matt and mariellie.) All opinions expressed here are strictly my own.

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12 August 11

Anonymous said: Hi!

I love your blog. I'm about to start my first real job (it's actually kind of similar to yours). Anyway, I was wondering what pieces (both clothing and shoes) you recommend getting and investing in. I have a lot of the basics right now to start me off, but else should I look into getting? Thank you!

Hi there! Congrats on your new job! Sorry for taking awhile to get back to you on this. It’s not such an easy question thinking about that second layer of one’s wardrobe - what are the next must-haves after you’ve got the basics covered? Especially if you’re in a client-facing role, possibly in a creative industry like mine, where you have to be on all the time.

First, check out a similar reader question I answered about beginning a grown up wardrobe. Now, when upgrading from student basics to an office friendly wardrobe, you have to start thinking long term. Invest in quality shoes and a good bag (I’ve recently converted to the Church of Cross Body, especially if you’re lugging all your junk around like I am!). If you skimp there, it’s the most noticeable. Then think about basic garments that have serious outfitting potential - such as a red silk secretary blouse that can work equally well with 70s-esque wide leg trousers, with a chic pencil skirt, or with skinny jeans. Try these go-tos in saturated colors like turquoise and magenta for extra interest. Statement jewelry is another easy way to punch up an otherwise basic work look.

Here’s something else to help you started - the items I’m looking for this fall. This shopping list of classics-with-a-twist will take me through winter, plus I’ll go back to them each fall, over and over. (Even the weird citron silk shirt. I have a thing for that hue!) Making a list each season definitely helps me focus my budget on more meaningful purchases.


Inspiration only - these puppies are expensive. I mean, Ralph, cut me a break on these boots. I want to cuddle with them when I sleep at night, but $1100?! Masochistic readers can click through for the itemized list.

If you have a fashion dilemma or just want to say hi, shoot me an email or use the ask box!

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6 July 11

Reader Questions - Working in the Fashion Industry

Anonymous asked preppywithatwist:

Hey! I just read what you wrote about your job and was wondering what you got your degree in? I’m going to have to decide about colleges and careers soon!

Anonymous asked preppywithatwist:

Your job sounds like fun! What is your education background and intern experience? Just wondering how you trained for what you do. No specifics neccessary. Thanks!

A bunch of you guys have been curious about my job and how I came to be working in the fashion industry. Well, much like my favorite Teen Vogue editor, Eva Chen, I went through most of college as a pre-med, and I majored in psychology and neuroscience. I went so far as to take the MCAT; then I finally stopped being stubborn and gave in to the fact that medicine wasn’t the right career for me. I still loved my major but I wish I hadn’t frustrated myself over Physics and taken a couple more English and Art History classes instead. At that point, I realized that I was spending all of my free time reading and thinking about fashion, so I geared up for a big move to NYC after graduation. I started out interning in wholesale and loved it, so that’s what I’ve been doing since.

The single most important thing you can do to start your career in fashion is get an internship. Or two. See which areas interest you - sales, buying, styling, media, PR? You don’t have to go to fashion school, unless you want to do something technical like design or maybe production sourcing, and an internship will give you the best idea of the day to day in your potential field, even if you do start out entering orders or messengering garments around the city. Plus, you’ll gain valuable connections within the industry, and at my former job, we hired a particularly engaged and enthusiastic intern after she graduated. 

The take home point here is that in fashion (and a surprising number of other industries) it doesn’t matter what your college major is or even where you go to school. Work hard, find an internship, (and like they said in Little Miss Sunshine) do what you love and f-ck the rest.

If you have a fashion dilemma or just want to say hi, shoot me an email or use the ask box!

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11 June 11

Reader Question - Polos

I recently received this question from a reader named Alexa…

I have been looking around the web about preppy fashion and most sites mentioned that the door to preppy style is to have polo tee, and probably not just one but many! However, I have seen many people wearing polo tee, and I don’t think they have attained the preppy look; rather, I think they look rather casual. Do you have any suggestion to spice up a simple look into something preppy? How can one look preppy in polo tee? 

To me, dressing preppy is all about wearing traditional items of clothing in a new and exuberant way. We’re talking bright colors, bold patterns, bows, ruffles, cable knits - you have it. I recently came up with a huge wish list of preppy items for spring, which will be a good start.

L to R: Another Day to Dress Up, The Owls Are Not What They Seem, The Glamourai, Coco Canal  

I personally don’t like wearing polos too much - I prefer a button up or soft and snuggly tee. But for some direction on incorporating polos into your wardrobe, let’s look back to Ralph Lauren’s Pink Pony campaign from last September. 100 bloggers were asked to style the Pink Pony polo to raise awareness for breast cancer (and a portion of proceeds from sales of the line is donated to cancer care and prevention.) While most of these bloggers probably wouldn’t identify as “preppy,” they all took the preppy spirit to heart when styling their plain black polo with wild patterns, playful skirts, and reinvented classic items, like a scarf worn as a belt. Here’s a whole file of inspiration for you!

If you have a fashion dilemma or just want to say hi, shoot me an email or use the ask box!

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31 May 11

Reader Question - Preppy Staples, Part 2

I recently received this question from a reader named Paola…

I’m a sophomore in high school and I am going to attend a new school next year which is a lot bigger than my school now. I wanted to change up my style a little bit and go for the preppy look. Right now my style is somewhere between prep and hipster, mostly I just shop at places like Forever 21 and the Gap. But lately I’ve fallen in LOVE with the preppy look. I’ve been looking online a lot and J Crew, LL Bean and Anthropologie are my favorites so far, but I don’t know where to start!? So what do you think are the main essentials that I should have? 

Thanks, Paola, for writing! I answered a similar question regarding preppy staples for the fall season, but I thought I’d give you some more ideas for the warm weather months. Even though you’re on a student’s budget, keep in mind here is that preppy style is classic - you’re investing in some items you’ll use for years and will never go out of style.  I included practical purchases as well as a couple of lustworthy inspiration pieces.

1. Seersucker and Madras

clockwise from left: lands’ end canvas mini, juicy couture blazer, j crew top, tahari shirtdress, ae sandals, kjp headband, anthropologie sandals, old navy shorts, j crew shorts

These classic fabrics are the most cheerful way to dress for sunshine. Plus, patchwork madras and naturally wrinkled seersucker will travel well on weekend getaways —no need to iron to look polished.

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