Mariko Kuo (formerly known as Silk & Suits) is Legal Counsel at Deloitte LLP come day, and fashion blogger by night. From embracing ‘Power Dressing’, to setting firm boundaries to retain a balanced personal life, Mariko sees blogging as a creative outlet from her corporate career and explains how it has opened many doors to new experiences…
How did you get into law? Could you give us a quick snapshot of your career to date?
After studying politics for my undergrad and masters, I decided that rather than working on making the law, I wanted to work on applying the law. I trained to become a solicitor at a silver circle firm and qualified as a corporate lawyer. I moved to a US firm for a couple of years where I specialised in private equity transactions but recently moved to a big four accountancy firm as counsel where I work on the firm’s acquisitions and innovation investments.
How did the blogging come about? Has your creative side positively impacted your career or do you these two remain separate?
The blog came about when I started my training contract. After years of studying and working hard to secure a training contract, I found myself quite deflated when I actually started working in a law firm. Although the work was challenging, I felt like I wasn’t stimulating my creative side enough. This is when I decided to start blogging about my life in London and talking about what I love the most – fashion and travel. The blog has definitely turned into a creative outlet and I find that this has had a positive impact on my legal career as well.
You have a very intense career day-to-day… On top of that you manage to blog and keep your Instagram looking fresh (which is almost a second full-time job!) – how do you manage your time and are there any personal sacrifices that you have to make?
I absolutely love blogging so I don’t approach it as a second job, but more as a lifestyle choice. During the working week, blogging definitely takes a back seat as it is very important for me to be on top of my day job. Blogging and social media activities are therefore limited to evenings, weekends and any other spare time I have. It’s definitely all consuming, but I’ve never thought of this as a chore or something that takes over my entire life.
“With social media now being such a massive element of blogging, it’s very easy to get lost in this virtual world for hours on end.”
That being said, with social media now being such a massive element of blogging, it’s very easy to get lost in this virtual world for hours on end. It’s certainly a balancing act; I value having a personal life and stick to some firm boundaries such as limiting all blogging related activities to 2 hours a day and no phone or Instagram activities at the dinner table.
“If I’m going to be in high-pressure meetings, I tend to wear things which have more colour – red if I know the negotiation will be tough, prints and pastels if the meeting should take a friendly and co-operative tone”.
If there are sacrifices, what makes it all worthwhile?
Blogging is my passion so sacrificing some of my personal time for this is definitely worthwhile for me. I absolutely love how blogging has opened so many doors to new experiences and projects with incredible brands (like The Fold!) and friendships with other likeminded modern women.
How does the way you dress influence the way you are perceived/the way you behave at work?
I’m a firm believer in the power of ‘Power Dressing’. Over my career, I have come to realise that the way I dress does influence the way I am perceived at work and the way I think. When I feel like I am dressed to impress, I feel more confident and I think this is reflected in the way I carry myself.
Being a corporate lawyer in the City means that there are many meetings where I’m the only woman in the room. I used to struggle slightly with this and dressed in a way which I thought would ‘blend in’ with the rest of the group. But as I progressed with my career, I started questioning this approach – why blend in? I now try to dress first and foremost for myself and am not afraid to wear pieces that make me feel confident and stand out from the crowd. The sense of power dressing gives me self-assurance which allows me to voice my opinions and be able to participate at work and in meetings in a constructive way.
“I absolutely love how blogging has opened so many doors to new experiences and projects with incredible brands (like The Fold!) and friendships with other like-minded modern women.”
What are the style considerations for your daily wardrobe?
I decide what to wear in the morning by checking my diary first and then tailoring my wardrobe according to who I will be seeing on that day. If I am going to be in high pressure meetings with senior stakeholders of various businesses, I tend to wear things which have more colour – red if I know the negotiation will be tough, prints and pastels if the meeting should take a friendly and cooperative tone. This is my subtle way of saying that I mean business as I think first impressions do count. If I don’t have any meetings scheduled, my work style revolves around being comfortable, yet sophisticated at the same time.
What one piece or style should every city woman own?
A black pencil dress. I think you can never go wrong with a black dress and it’s the easiest style to transition from day to night.
What are your favourite pieces from the AW16 Fold Collection?
The Claremont Coat is a stand-out winter coat. I particularly love its silhouette which has a flattering neckline and a self-tie belt which accentuates the figure. It’s a very elegant, one-of-a-kind piece!
Words and styling from Mariko Kuo
Photography: Alice Reinhardt
Accessories: Mariko’s Own
Represented by: B Talent
Follow Mariko on Instagram
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Read Mariko’s Day to Night Edit here.