From the Law Courts to her family farm, we talk to Caitlin McConnel about how she is creating a unique uniform for herself.
Caitlin McConnel is a Brisbane-based lawyer and a sixth-generation custodian of and an historical spokesperson for her family property, Cressbrook Station near Toogoolawah. Caitlin is also a member of the RNA Future Directions Committee and the Somerset Regional Art Gallery advisory committee.
What is your professional style?
At work, I am surrounded by barristers and Judges in robes and men in formal suits, and have grown up in an historical home. Therefore I’m heavily influenced by the traditional styles and well-tailored shapes from ‘the men of old’, like those still made on Savile Row, London – but with a feminine touch to suit my personality. A well-fitting suit is like a suit of armour. Doctors wear scrubs when they go into surgery, farmers wear jeans, boots and collared shirts to do their work; just like lawyers need a well-fitting suit. When I wear a good suit, it puts me in the correct headspace to take on my daily challenges.
Do you have difficulties in finding professional attire for women in Brisbane and why do you think that is?
I find women’s fashion changes too much from season to season. I can never walk into a store and find what I need. If I find something that fits, I won’t be able to buy it again next time I walk into the same shop. When you are limited for time, and know exactly what you want, it is very frustrating to not be able to find it. Professional women require some semblance of a uniform, whether they work in finance, law or other corporate settings. That is why I have come to PQ Fashions to have my work attire tailor-made. I am creating my own uniform in styles that I love and I know will suit me.
What advice do you have for young women straight out of school?
I would say also go and explore fashion while you’re young. I believe that it is important to try on difference types of fashion in order to determine what suits your body shape and your personality as you mature. I’ve been there, I’ve had the hits and misses, and fortunately now I know what suits me – even if it’s not what the latest trend in fashion may be. My mantra is, if it fits, and you look good in it, you will have more confidence in what you’re doing – whether that be going out or going to work. There’s nothing like an ill-fitting garment to ruin a mood or event. In short, once you ‘know who you are’, there’s no need to be a slave to fashion or wear things that don’t suit you.
What is your go to outfit to feel confident and empowered?
I know I don’t have the perfect model body and never will, so it’s important for me to be confident in what I wear. I love the 1920’s style wide leg pants, a men’s thick collared, French cuff style business shirt and a sharp, well-fitting jacket. I accessorise with a good brooch on my jackets, a vintage watch, and a vibrant lipstick. I also love well-structured dresses that will take me from a corporate setting to evening outings.
What is the weirdest thing you have worn?
I don’t think it’s weird (others might!), but I simply love it. I have a full-length 100% wool black cape that I inherited from my Aunt. She was a model in Western Australia in the 1960’s, and did a lot of work for the Australian Wool Company. She received this cape after a successful modeling campaign at the Perth Royal Show. I wear the cape in winter or when it’s raining to protect my suits, as I find in Queensland sometimes an umbrella doesn’t quite do the job!