In a bi-weekly series, we're interviewing female executives, founders, CEOs—basically, boss ladies—on their "power suit" a.k.a. the outfit they wear every day for easy dressing to conquer whatever the job throws at them.
M.M.LaFleur recently made headlines with the company's announcement of a new program that will provide complimentary clothing loans (opens in new tab) to women running for public office, whether it's for the House of Representatives or the town council. Anyone who has followed the workwear label, will know that—even though this news is exciting—it's not out of left field for the brand.
M.M.LaFleur (opens in new tab) was launched in 2013 by Sarah LaFleur and creative director Miyako Nakamura with a mission to make cute and functional work-appropriate clothes for women. They launched with a tight line of seven dresses, and have since expanded into suiting, shoes, jewelry and more. Whatever you need for work, you can find it at M.M. LaFleur.
Nakamura is a self-described "Kyoto-born Japanese person living in America who went to college for fashion in Ohio before landing in New York City." Her official entry into the demanding but magical world of fashion was as Zac Posen's assistant designer in 2003, creating ready-to-wear looks. "I stayed there for seven years and graduated as a head designer," she recalls. "I really adored working for Zac and I cherish those memories." However, like many people in the business, Nakamura's departure was a result of burn out.
She worked as a freelancer for Theory and Jason Wu for some time before a headhunter reached out to her to connect with LaFleur. "Sarah had a finance background and didn't know many people in the [fashion] industry. I remember the headhunter saying 'you're going to really love this woman and you guys will hit it off,'" Nakamura recalls. "When we met, we instantly got along. I was also very interested in what [M.M. LaFleur] could become."
How does she stay creative and inspired designing pencil skirts, blouses, and other office-friendly pieces after approximately nine years? "Instead of dreaming out of nowhere, now, we have a more functional direction for what we would want to satisfy for next season," she says. "Let's say we want to give her a travel outfit or something between loungewear and workwear. We then think about what kind of art feels relevant for the season, what kind of silhouettes are feeling fresh, and how we can take all this into a territory where our customers feel comfortable. Inspiration comes from having this slight restriction. And that does inspire me because it holds in itself a challenge."
As for what Nakamura herself wears to work, this power woman has a distinct edgy style complemented by classic M.M. LaFleur pieces. Ahead, the creative director dives deeper into her own personal style.
Her Morning Routine
"When I wake up the first thing I do is make coffee because I can't function without that. I have a daughter who is 3 years old, which means my mornings revolve around trying to get her up, having her eat breakfast, and dressing her. After that is done, I take a shower and get dressed. This is one of my favorite moments in the day. Afterwards, I walk to the subway for work."
Her Getting Dressed Strategy
"I'm very much an intuitive person, so I definitely dress for my mood. We actually have a company dress code—Monday through Thursday are business casual and Friday is fashion forward—but I don't really follow that. Sometimes I want to dress up fashionably and sometimes I just want to be comfortable. I also decide on one piece that I want to wear that day, whether it's a blouse or a dress or shoes, and then center everything else around that one piece."
Her Work Uniform
"There's one vintage jacket I found that I can't stop wearing, and it's one of the best jackets I've ever had. I wear that nearly two days a week. I love high-waisted, wide leg pants especially for slouchy trousers because I'm not a skinny-leg-fitted pants [type of person]. I only wear long skirts and don't own anything shorter than my calf. In terms of silhouettes, I really do prefer the knee-length kind.
For shoes, my go-to are the Comme Des Garçons Adrian (opens in new tab) from the collaboration with Dr. Martens, which looks like a loafer version of Dr. Martens. I actually had to [buy a] second pair because I wore my first one to death. It's very comfortable and made with a very shiny calf leather, so it does dress up my outfit quite a bit. Also I have very small feet, so I kind of need volume on my shoes and they just work perfectly with my composition.
[In terms of accessories] I have this Celine bucket bag from the time Phoebe Philo was there. I found this bag to be the best bag I've ever owned because it can fit my laptop. I can put anything into the bag and it never loses its shape."
The Three Words That Describe Her Power Outfit
"Liberated, strong, and comfortable."
"There's a saying in Japan that translates to 'If you fall seven times, get up eight times.' Basically it's saying the best thing you can do in life is to keep trying despite failing."
If you love Nakamura's outfits, get her aesthetic, below.
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Marina Liao is the former fashion news editor at MarieClaire.com, where she covered celebrity style (from Meghan Markle to Katie Holmes), fashion trends, and shopping advice, plus conducted original interviews with industry insiders. She's also had many opportunities to write content in other areas such as beauty, food, tech, and even home. Her previous fashion stints include POPSUGAR and Cosmopolitan.
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