New York designer spotlight: Office-appropriate women’s dresses

NYC clothing labels Carrie Hammer, emploi New York and M.M.LaFleur are dedicated to outfitting professional women in stylish, unstuffy dresses.

  • Photograph: Melissa Sinclair

    Danielle layered-sleeve peplum dress, $295

  • Photograph: Melissa Sinclair

    Elizabeth peplum dress, $295

  • Photograph: Melissa Sinclair

    Cerise square-sleeve pleated-bust dress, $295

  • Photograph: Melissa Sinclair

    Newspaper-print pencil skirt, $195

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    Carrie Hammer

Photograph: Melissa Sinclair

Danielle layered-sleeve peplum dress, $295

Carrie Hammer (

Who she is: Carrie Hammer asked for her first sewing machine in the fourth grade, so it wasn’t surprising when she made the career leap from ad sales to fashion in November 2011. “People would stop me 20 times a day on the street and ask, ‘Where did you get that dress?’” recalls Hammer, who spent years getting business attire custom-made by inexpensive tailors in Vietnam and China to meet her unique style. Realizing she had an eye for design, Hammer decided to enroll at Parsons Paris in 2011 to study fashion and launch her eponymous women’s clothing collection. “The boys have enough custom options,” she says. “Women are set to outpace men in earnings in the next 30 years, yet we have five stores to shop at [for professional clothes]. I think it’s ridiculous.”

About the line: Working out of her West Village studio, Hammer designs retro-style dresses ($295) and separates, including blouses ($90–$125), skirts ($195–$295) and blazers ($225), all priced under $300. She updates classic silhouettes with modern twists, such as asymmetrical necklines and bold colors, and chooses cotton-polyester blends that have stretch for comfort in the workplace. “They allow some room for when you’ve had a few too many cookies,” she quips. Hammer caters to the busy woman, often traveling to customers’ homes and offices for bespoke fittings ($295), which are included in the price of the garment. Custom orders ($295) allow shoppers to select the color, fabric, sleeves and length of the frocks, but do not include the fittings (up to ten) that are available with bespoke purchases. After fielding requests for accessories recommendations from her clients, Hammer recently launched Dynamic Style by Carrie Hammer (, a curated site that sells jewelry ($25–$150), shoes ($80–$100) and handbags ($100–$300) from her favorite independent brands, such as Million Bag totes and Chromatic Gallerie pumps.

Where to buy: Online at

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