There seems to be a problem with British women finding anything they can wear when they enter the highest echelons of management. One executive had to start designing the clothes herself:
“I hate that asexual look – that middle of the road at Morgan Stanley style. I like a double-platform shoe,” she says, looking down at her Louboutins. “You can run to meetings in them, they’re comfy . . .” At 29, Paterson Smith, a state-school-educated girl who can pitch in three different languages, runs sales and marketing in the UK for hedge-fund products at Rothschild. The more successful she has become, the more flamboyantly she dresses. “I enjoy my clothes now, instead of wearing them as armour,” she says. But it was only when she got together with Starkey that she found the right grey pinstripe to wear with baby blue. “I’d been looking for eight years.”
A Lintner or Starkey design never leaves room for the sort of wardrobe malfunction Paterson Smith suffered on her first day in a new job. She stalked into the office wearing a cream Alexander McQueen suit, with a zip up the back, which undid itself to reveal an embarrassing expanse of executive thigh and caused a riot of internal e-mail banter for days afterwards.
Even though there is room for McQueen – and Pucci, Issa, Dolce & Gabbana and Temperley – in Paterson Smith’s work wardrobe, she says that most seasons, when she browses Style.com, her heart sinks. “Smocks? All I thought then was, ‘What the hell am I going to wear?’ That season it was Michael Kors, Celine and Kate,” she says, looking fondly at her saviour