Kids Corner


Preetma Singh:
Stylist, Attorney, Writer, Blogger




Dilettante is not a word in Preetma Singh's vocabulary, between her Ivy League education, political knowledge, time spent as a corporate lawyer and then the courage to kick it for her first love of fashion, which she describes in no simple terms as "the tangible incarnation of a practical fantasy."

Each and every outfit is like a graphic page-turner in one of the Russian novels that she avidly reads and her passion to convey their personal liberation is taking off on her blog. The details are nothing less than her very thought out views on our depressingly splintered and fractured political system that is more about the interest of the individual than the whole.

On the virtues of detail, Preetma cites her favorite designer, Dries Van Noten: "It's more interesting to have just a picture of a detail - then you can dream all the rest around it."

On Dries van Noten: "He pays a lot of attention to the craft. I think it's made for the modern woman. It's easy, chic, sophisticated, elegant; whether you're in the creative field or professional. I just think his clothes really take on [that] personality ... He says, 'I want a woman to take a piece and make it her own, no matter how she styles it.'"  

"I have this very traditional base that I like to play with. I like having some rules to play with because I think it's more subversive that way. You can really say something about yourself when you play with stereotypes and tradition ..."  

"When I get dressed up, I feel like I have a conservative, or professional way of dressing, even when I'm casual. I like to look put-together; not contrived, but put together. That's how I want to be portrayed: A capable, intelligent, strong woman."  

Strong, capable and intelligent women run in Preetma's family - her grandmother was a lawyer in India at a time when most women were not - and she likes to dress the part but with a touch of humor and fun mixed in. Her camel Dries blazer that is masculine save for the nip in the back, worn with a McQueen bubble print skirt, a Ralph pinstriped shirt with fluffy sleeves (the Princeton prep in her) and Marc's twist on the Wallabee is a case in point.

While a little bit more of her moody heady side, the part that likes to make an impression as if someone would write about her, is clear in the Comme blanket coat, with jean cut offs, the way over the knee and sickly perfect Prada slouchy riding boots and an Akubra fedora.

Preetma's splattered Proenza jeans are as close to dressed down or edgy as she gets.

"I wanted to be Ms. Kurt Cobain at one time, but it didn't work ... I never get holes in my jeans. I am pristine with clothes," she admits. Instead she plays with tradition through the lens of tailored clothing like her dad's old custom suit, a button-down shirt - you can never have too many, she feels, and I agree - and an open embellished sandal.

"[Fashion] is the tangible incarnation of 'practical fantasy,' which is an oxymoron I try to live by."  

More typically an old lady trapped in a woman's body, Preetma says that she plays up her "incoherent anachronisms." She was very excited to show me her "advanced style chic" look for Spring, embodied in Marni sandals that she bought while in law school in Nashville, with ankle socks, a cardigan that looks like a robe and a floral dirndl skirt.

One's sense of empowerment comes as much from within as without.

Her family's spiritual practice of Sikhism preaches acceptance and cherishing our differences. "When you go to the gurdwara, everyone sits on the floor, there's no division and everyone sits in the same place."

As a result, Preetma feels as authoritative in the fragility of her Rodarte pink dress that is "like being in a cloud" as she does in anything else, especially with her forceful touch of a sheer embroidered legging and a studded wedge.

Unsatisfied with practicing law, Preetma decided to pursue fashion.

"Being a lawyer, I found myself suffering from tunnel vision. I wasn't thinking about new ideas because you're doing the same things over and over again. I wasn't reading as much, I wasn't involved in the things I loved. I just wanted to come home and go to sleep or watch TV."  

On her hunger for reading: "I think a lot of modern literature is so concerned with the individual that I get a little tired of it. I have enough neuroses, my friends have enough neuroses; I really like books that make me think about society and other people, how I want to act, and what I want to achieve."  

"I think I'm really inspired the most by novels. Even if it's not directly from a certain novel, it's just that I kind of want to make an impression that someone would write about me in a novel."  

Preetma started her blog, The Working Girl, Esq. to address personal style in the conservative environment of her law office: "... at work, people would ask me, 'Oh, what do you think I could do to jazz things up?' That's a thing that fashion magazines don't pay enough attention to ... there really wasn't anything out there for people who love fashion and work in conservative environments ... I just really loved writing about it. I would go through shows and pick my favorite looks, find out what it made me feel and think about." 

Preetma credits her parents, Sikhs in an arranged marriage, for their encouragement and support. "They're not like stereotypical Indian parents who are like, 'You [can] only be a lawyer or a doctor.' But I ended up being a lawyer anyways."  

Preetma studied at Princeton. "I was in Tower, which is kind of the dorky club." Tower Club is one of ten "eating clubs" at Princeton, attracting students of art and politics. The process of joining, called a "bicker," is a carefully kept secret.  

"I was a political theory major, so the stuff that's really important to me are the foundations, the end-goal of government. [Those big questions] are things that interest me. It doesn't even seem to bother anyone, the way the Constitution has been turned around - everything becomes meaningless."  

When she left law behind, "People were like, ‘You gave up all that money!' But I was miserable. I'm still young, and that's why I wanted to do it. I don't have a family to support, so there was no excuse not to go for it."  

She is presently an editorial intern at Refinery29 and Stylesight.  


[Edited for]

May 13, 2011

Conversation about this article

1: Brijinder Singh (New York, U.S.A.), May 14, 2011, 10:06 AM.

Ajj fir kithe chaliye morni banke morni banke ...

2: Bhupinder Singh Ghai (New Delhi, India), May 16, 2011, 1:37 AM.

Of course, a fashionista like her is not meant for courtrooms. I am glad she made a career switch. With her style she amply demonstrates that you can be very chic and sophisticated without being overtly sexual. I wish she could give fashion tips for Sikh males as well.

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