We are so excited to introduce our latest Siren, VP of Investment Trust Marketing, Mary-Jane Clarke. Whilst running the Investment Funds Marketing & IR team, MJ loves to build and experiment with her corporate wardrobe, so we think it’s fair to say she knows a thing or two about navigating the new modern working wardrobe!
We spent a day in the city with MJ, styling our latest Pre-Fall 22 arrivals (perfect for polished office days!) and talking work fashion ‘rules’ post-pandemic, AM-PM styling – from meetings in the morning to client dinners after work, her biggest style inspiration and so much more!
How did you start your career?
Initially, finance was not an industry I had ever considered because I didn’t think I had the appropriate skillset. I thought I would work in fashion, or a language-based job as I grew up in France studying a literary baccalaureate. I was given the chance to work in a small investment bank straight out of school and I have never looked back! I was lucky to get my foot in the door by someone taking a chance on me.
Do you have any advice for people looking to get into this sector?
Do your research, familiarise yourself with the different areas of finance (for example investment banking, investor relations, asset management, private equity, M&A etc.) and crucially leverage connections or relationships you have with someone in the industry and ask them for a coffee or a phone call. You can learn so much from real, honest conversations.
What is your favourite thing about your job and why?
My job is all about relationships, which I really enjoy. There is a lot of desk time in my day-to-day speaking on Zoom calls, but I also often meet clients for lunches and spend time developing new connections.
“For the office, I tie the dress up at the back, wear a nude pair of heels and carry a handbag. For the evening, I’d swap my shoes for a pair of black Aquazzura heels and a designer clutch”
Mary-Jane takes our Eloise dress from AM to PM swapping heels and a bag for a sophisticated look.
What is the best advice you’ve been given personally and professionally?
‘Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves’. I was given this advice in a professional context, but it applies to my personal life on an even greater scale. Being financially savvy and saving money is very important to me – whether it’s for a designer bag I’ve wanted for months, or a bigger investment such as a property.
Has the way you dress changed over time?
I had a spinal fusion in January 2020 to fix scoliosis which had been getting progressively worse. I grew about 2 inches post-surgery (I’m now just under 5’10). A few life changes since then have contributed to a refinement of my style. It’s important to be polished at work and wear something fun on a night out, but also be comfortable and have key pieces in my wardrobe that work in different settings.
“The colour is impactful but not too bright, and the cut is formal but worn with different accessories can be fun too. The blazer is a great capsule piece which I wear with black leather leggings and a silk camisole on a night out, or over a dress for an important meeting.”
Style up or down our classic new rose suit, swap our Riley blouse for a black cami and clutch.
How would you describe your style?
I would describe my style as feminine, classy, and current but not trend led. In recent years I have added a little bit more colour to my summer wardrobe but in the winter my style is more neutral. I have stepped away from tight clothing as I have got older and instead prefer to highlight the areas of my body where I feel most confident.
Who is your biggest style inspiration?
The Duchess of Cambridge is my style inspiration because she is modern, elegant, and confident – my interpretation of being inspired isn’t just about what you wear, it’s about how it makes you feel and if you’re confident in yourself, that will shine through in your style.
“This is the perfect dress to leave the office and head to the South of France in! I carry a basket bag with some accessories – I have these fun Cult Gaia earrings and slip on a pair of tan sandals to create an effortless but pulled together look”
See our Ingrid dress styled for a day running errands but then also a day mooching around the markets on holilday.
How would you say corporate work uniform has changed post pandemic?
Pre-pandemic, I wore mostly dark colours to the office and wouldn’t deviate from a knee-length dress or a high-waisted pencil skirt and blouse. These days, I see much more colour in the city. Whilst still being mindful of the industry I work in, I love to wear a midi dress with ¾ length sleeves, or a wide-leg high-waisted tailored trouser with an interesting blouse. If I have an important meeting, I make an outfit more formal by adding a blazer or changing my shoes. I think Cefinn do all of the above really well and so many of their pieces have become staples in my work wardrobe.
How do you navigate AM to PM dressing?
It’s all in the accessories to take you from AM to PM! A typical day in the office might be followed by a client dinner or drinks in town with friends. I go to the office in an outfit that’s formal enough for work but with a few accessories in my bag to elevate my look in the evening: chunky gold earrings, black stilettos and finally I’d swap my handbag for a clutch and put on some eyeliner. I love Cefinn’s designs as they are the perfect base to build your look on.
“I’ve seen so many women style the pieces differently in accordance with what suits their lifestyle, age, shape and size and it’s so fun to see these pieces work for women in different ways.”
Wear our Emilia dress casually to morning meetings right through to evening drinks, the perfect, flattering, go to dress.
Your top 3 style tips?
- Wear clothes that make you feel the most confident.
- Quality over quantity – I prefer to save up and buy a more expensive piece which I will get a lot of wear from, versus buying lower quality more often.
- You can never be over dressed in London – I live by this for nights out!
What do you love about Cefinn?
I love that so many of the pieces can be worn from one season to the next but also from day to night. Samantha has hit the nail on the head with Cefinn being aimed at the modern, multi-tasking woman regardless of her lifestyle or place of work. It’s a brand that I have come across at the right time in my life. I also love that most pieces are machine washable!
Favourite piece from the collection?
The Emilia dress! It was the piece I was most confident in during the siren shoot and which I will get so much wear out of. The print and colour are beautiful, and the light fabric makes it so comfortable to wear. It’s a flattering cut, and I love the high neckline.