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    Marriage of ‘fun clothes’ and work clothes

    Of Mercer places a premium on women’s empowerment and confidence.
    Of Mercer
    Of Mercer places a premium on women’s empowerment and confidence.

    Of Mercer cofounder Dorie Smith was fed up with her corporate wardrobe, toggling between what she calls “fun clothes” and work clothes. She conferred with female peers, who had the same experiences.

    “We felt frustrated after work. We’d go out for drinks with a team and be in a dowdy pantsuit that we’d worn all day,’’ Smith says. "But men could take off their blazers and ties like Clark Kent and Superman, and they looked cool and casual. That transition was impossible for us.”

    So she launched Of Mercer in 2013 with Emelyn Northway, a classmate from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. The shop, based in New York City, is now popping up at 127 Newbury St. in the Back Bay.


    “We were solving a personal problem. I was in consulting; she was in finance, and we dressed formally or in business casual. There were no brands that catered to us. They were either too expensive, and we didn’t have the budget, or else they were mass market, poorly made, and didn’t capture the trends we were hoping to wear and embody,” Smith says.

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    Of Mercer places a premium on women’s empowerment and confidence. For example, the Boston shop will host a series of business-focused events on salary negotiation and entrepreneurship.

    As Smith tells it, this confidence must extend to fashion.

    “When women wear our clothes, we want them to feel like, ‘Yes, I’m going to nail that presentation,’ ” she says.

    Fortunately, it’s not necessary to jockey for a bonus before shopping here. These work ensembles are mainly under $200.


    Clothes, in classic colors like black and gray, are made in New York City factories and created by in-house designer Aja Singer. They are designed to be machine washable, durable for business trips, and mindful of little details, like fit when seated at a meeting. Each piece has a helpful lifestyle and size key: Clothes are advertised as good for things like “baby bumps” or “hips.”

    Popular pieces are a Fifth Avenue sheath in European wool; a stretchy, elongating polyester Bedford dress suitable for board meetings or nights out; and the Dupont, a belted sheath inspired by stylishly shrewd “House of Cards” first lady Claire Underwood.

    “Perfect for plotting corporate takeovers . . . or your path to the White House,” reads the outfit’s description.

    Make your path to Newbury Street until Jan. 5.

    Kara Baskin can be reached at