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The M Dash

Live with purpose.

I Wore MM.LaFleur Knitwear from Head to Toe—and Felt Just as Powerful as You’d Think

March 08, 2019 | Filed in: Your Closet

To celebrate the release of our 12 gorgeous new knits, we challenged writer Deanna Pai to spend a weekend wearing a head-to-toe knit suit. Here’s how it went.

Last weekend, at a dermatology conference in Washington, D.C., you might have spotted a polished young woman walking around the product booths and asking for free sunscreen samples. She looked poised and professional, even though it appeared that she forgot to pack a hairbrush.

Brace yourselves, because that polished young woman was me.

I finally emerged from my sweatpants cocoon as a professional-looking, very confident butterfly thanks to the new knitwear line from MM.LaFleur. And best of all, I didn’t even spill anything on it.

My expertise historically lies in under-dressing—that is, I’m always dressed too casually for the occasion. And when something very important is on the line, like a meeting with a client or a networking event, I usually just pull out the trusty, black jogger-style trousers that I first relied on for comfort and style during chemo.

Those jogger-style trousers are showing their age, though—it’s been a few years—so what currently passes as my business attire could really use an update. As luck would have it, MM.LaFleur debuted the new knitwear collection at the same time I was invited by a major pharmaceutical brand to attend this medical conference. I’d be around peers, experts I speak with for stories, and higher-ups within the beauty industry. Clearly, I would need to look the part. It was kismet.

What struck me when I first received the pieces was just how…substantial they were, an instant sign of the quality. The material felt weighty in all the right ways, so much so that the word “sumptuous” comes to mind. This is not the kind of knitwear I’m used to—you know, the kind that’s going to be full of holes within six months. I decided to pack the Woolf jardigan in black, the Peggy top in ivory, and the Harlem skirt in black for my trip to the conference.

The morning of the conference, I put them all on, pairing them with simple black tights and black leather booties. One of the most underrated features of knitwear is that it doesn’t wrinkle. You can stash your knits in the bottom of your duffel bag for a few hours and forget to hang them up when you arrive (alas, we all make mistakes) and even so, there won’t be so much as an errant fold in the fabric.

I slipped on the Peggy top first. It’s super-soft but it offers the structure and elegance of a blouse. I had no problem with peeking bra straps or weird bumps from the cups—and, again, it had zero wrinkles. What is this witchery? (It’s the magic of knits, that’s what.)

The Harlem skirt was perfect in that it conformed nicely to my curves, but never once felt clingy. I ditched pencil skirts a long time ago since they always felt uncomfortably tight and almost constrictive around my hips and thighs. But the knit material of the Harlem skirt offers a ton of stretch, so much so that I could ease my way in and out of a car without having to maneuver myself with my outfit in mind.

I also loved the Harlem’s fold-over waist. Not only was it more comfortable than your average high-waisted skirt, but it allowed me to personalize its positioning. I pulled it up a little higher up on my waist so that the hemline fell just below my knees. (And another unexpected bonus: I had no problem eating deviled eggs, French toast, and a crab cake. Sure, you could unbutton your top button or loosen your belt, but real pros wear knits.)

I topped it off with the Woolf jardigan. Let me count the ways I love thee, Woolf jardigan. I adore it so much that I had already worn it out the evening before for a work dinner, pairing it with a bright tank and black jeans. And I did this as a woman who hasn’t worn a blazer or anything blazer-adjacent since 2014, opting for loose, soft jackets or heavy sweaters instead. The Woolf proved its versatility as something I could wear to drinks as well as a conference.

Worth noting: I’d also received the Merritt jardigan, the newest addition to MM.LaFleur’s lineup of jardigans. The lapels and sharper shoulders give it a menswear vibe that I loved, enough that I thought it might pair better with pants for me. And since I was set on trying the Harlem skirt on this occasion, I went with the Woolf

When I dug the Woolf jardigan out of my bag, it was still pristine. And it’s like the anti-blazer. There are subtle shoulder pads to give it a little structure, but otherwise, it moves and stretches just like a soft, unfussy jacket. I appreciated being able to easily push the sleeves up my arms, which I thought was a cool, casual touch.

I met the rest of the group, which included publicists, colleagues, and executives from the brand feeling like I was an executive. I felt prepared, for one thing, like I was showing up to class having done the reading and studied for the test. And knowing that my outfit was on-point with the unspoken dress code inspired my confidence. I found myself asking more questions and feeling more charismatic when speaking with people I might otherwise find intimidating.

An unspoken feature of conferences is that they go on and on. I had some spare time to walk around the enormous conference hall to learn about different brands and chat with dermatologists. And it was a revelation not to have to stop to shift my skirt back around (has your skirt zipper ever creeped to your front?), tuck in a blouse that had come loose again, or try to squeeze a sweater in my purse when it got too warm to wear.

I know people say to dress for the job you want, and usually I think that’s outdated thinking in a world littered with tech-bro hoodies. And, anyway, if that were really the best course of action, I’d be dressed as a professional dog walker.

Still, there’s something of value to the idea of dressing up. It’s like the sartorial version of managing up, a.k.a. managing your manager. By anticipating and meeting the needs and work style of your manager, you’re able to establish yourself as an essential resource. And when I wore my head-to-toe knits, I felt like I’d elevated myself through my style, looking polished and capable without fussiness. My outfit—and by extension, I—rose to the occasion.

Others agreed. “It looks so chic,” said one publicist as she eyed my jardigan. “The material looks amazing,” noted one colleague as she and another woman reached over to feel my sleeve.

I left with a few business cards and connections that just might benefit me in the future. “We always love to get a fresh set of eyes around here,” said one exec, who asked for my card. I credit it to both myself and my good friends Peggy, Harlem, and Woolf. Since so much of my work comes through connections and word-of-mouth, it’s a good sign.

Perhaps the best part was the long trip home, which involved a car ride, waiting in a train station, three hours on an express train back to New York, and then another car ride home. (Just typing that made me tired.) I’m not one to change into leggings or other comfort-forward clothes when I travel, and this time, I didn’t have any reason to do so. Instead of buttons digging in or fuzzy sweaters feeling itchy, my all-knit ensemble felt like a soft, warm cocoon—and I fell asleep.

By the time I got home, I was ready to change back into my more pajama-type knits. (Old habits die hard.) My boyfriend interrupted before I had the chance. “Damn,” he said upon seeing my outfit. “I really like when you wear business-wear.”

“Weird, but thank you?” I replied. (I guess this is what happens to people when they turn 30, as he recently did.)

But my point is this: Everyone loves knits. I loved wearing the new pieces, and am grateful that the timing allowed me to make the best possible use of them. The people around me loved the knits, if the compliments and business cards were any indication, and my boyfriend loved the knits. Comfortable yet chic, they offer the best of both worlds. And why would you ever settle for less than that?

Inspired to try your own version of head-to-toe knit dressing? Shop our new knitwear here.