Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Mary Sullivan’s Work Wardrobe

By Keri Foy

Creating a versatile wardrobe is necessary for Mary's ever-changing work environment. 

What does your workday look like? If it’s anything like Mary Sullivan’s insane schedule, you’ll need a closet full of… everything.

Louisville needs its own philanthropic red carpet when it comes to the fashion of Mary Sullivan, manager of corporate volunteer and engagement at Metro United Way. If the phrase “wardrobe change” conjures images of celebrities at awards shows, makeup artists, and that crimson runway, make room for Mary.

When she's at the office, Mary sticks with classic clothing pieces. 

Mary’s work demands flexibility, and she has mastered the art of no-fuss, sensible style to match her wardrobe to her responsibilities. Dressing for work might mean jeans and a logo T-shirt, or it could mean a suit.

“I had three wardrobe changes in one day last week,” says Mary, whose work takes her from her desk to corporate boardrooms to community playgrounds.

You won't ever catch her in heels -- in or out of the office. 

Mary encourages people to donate books to their Little Libraries literacy program. The books can be delivered to Metro United Way or you can contact Mary Sullivan if you'd like to organize a book drive. 

When at a site for a volunteer project, you’ll find her in appropriate gear — a Live United long-sleeve T-shirt and a pair of Talbots jeans or khakis. But at a corporate meeting, Mary flexes her fashion muscle with a blouse, slacks or skirt, and a silk scarf. “If I’m coordinating a project at Humana, I’ll have on nice slacks and a nice jacket,” she says.

What’s a girl to wear, especially when her day revolves around making the Louisville community a better place to live? Here’s an inside look into Mary’s closet, her shopping pattern, and her quick beauty routine.

Clothes: Talbots wins in Mary’s closet
Read the labels in Mary’s closet and you’ll find a deep devotion to Talbots. Mary’s mother shopped at the retailer and passed down her love of well-made clothing with classic lines to not only Mary but also her sister and sisters-in-law.

“Every year, my brother and sister-in-law get me a nice outfit and jewelry from Talbots,” says Mary, who looks forward to this annual Christmas gift. While Mary may frequent the store only once or twice a year, Talbots has helped her build her corporate wardrobe with dress pants, blouses, jackets, and even jeans for casual days at work. You’ll also find a few pieces from brands at JCPenney, Target, and Land’s End that have made their way into Mary’s closet.

Shoes: Forever in flats
No matter the terrain, Mary’s feet always prefer flat shoes, whether it’s close-toed, sandals, or tennis shoes. She refuses to wear heels.

Accessories: The usual suspects
When it comes to the items that can really tie an outfit together, Mary excels. She admits her love of scarves and earrings, watches and necklaces. Just about any accessory you mention, Mary has an affinity for it. “You can dress up a lot of things,” she says.

Mary purchased these topaz earrings from a street vendor in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

This bracelet was given to her as a gift. 

Hair and makeup: Minimal
Mary likes a low-maintenance beauty routine. She keeps her hair short so that styling it in the morning is as simple as a wash, comb, and blow dry — no hot utensils needed. As for makeup, this beauty sticks to lipstick, and even that is used sparingly.

Style Misses: Is your fashion at work off the mark?
Juli Larson, co-owner of Style U, a Louisville-based styling business, offers some advice on what not to wear to your 9-to-5.
  1. Don’t come to work with disheveled hair or attire. Get out the iron if your clothes are wrinkled, and bedhead at a breakfast networking event is a no-no.
  2. Do not forget your workplace environment. Take cues from co-workers. If they dress professionally, don’t show up in leggings and a sweater.
  3. Do not wear flip-flops. We repeat: DO NOT WEAR FLIP-FLOPS.
  4. Don’t wear clothes that are too tight or expose too much skin. Wear clothing that fits you properly. Otherwise, you can look unprofessional.
  5. Don’t take casual Friday to the extreme. This isn’t your excuse to wear pajama pants to work. Keep your look conservative, and show up well groomed.

Simplicity and comfort are important elements of Mary's overall style.

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