We all know the classic five monarchs of power dressing, Ralph Lauren, Jil Sander, Calvin Klein, Chanel and now, forever etched in pop culture history, is Prada.
But in the major American style headquarters, where the power players are getting younger and younger and the professions are far from traditional, who’s cashing in on the new generation of big bosses. How are they dressing now, in Soho, in the Hills and in Miami?
Today, you can still tell who has a fashionable career but it isn’t as easy to tell who’s in charge for two primary reasons.
First because of the aforementioned fact that the people “in charge” in creative industries today can be as young as 25.
Second, because our generation has adopted the theory that you should dress for the position you want not the position you have. Eclectic is the name of the game. The key today is to keep it fresh, dress to be taken seriously but never age yourself too far beyond your years. The pencil skirts that work best right now are the ones that give the illusion of being standard, a complex or creatively structured pencil skirt that acts almost as a parody of tradition. It will never go out of style but can appear too stiff for the casual environment of say, managing a photographers studio.
When the interns are allowed to come to work in Keds, your tweed, high- waisted pencil skirt may make you appear more like the principal than the boss. Knowing your environment comes before all things. Match the Zac Posen pencil skirt with a funky, printed tank and youthful jewelry. Skirts can now be worn short with the evolution of leggings (and yes if that’s your thing, you do need the leggings, unless there’s something extra about your job we don’t know, bare legs up to your panty line are not appropriate).
More often than not professionals are opting for the A-Line cuts as an alternative to the traditional pencil skirt. There once existed a time when the jacket didn’t exist without the skirt and vice versa. Then came the 80’s and pantsuits were the name of the game. It was the only way women felt they could be taken seriously and not as sexual objects.
Today, sexual appeal is intentional and it is used as fashion leverage. We have adjusted our sense of style to include our sexuality as a positive feature of womanhood, in every aspect of life – including our careers. The very best part of career ensembles in the millennium is mix of old school, new school and making pieced together look pulled together.
The most traditional power piece that is just as fresh today as its ever been is the blouse. It can be the centerpiece of the entire ensemble. There are the obvious blouses, pretty and frilly usually silks accented with beadings or with lace. Worn best with tough streetwear, typically not suitable for work, the blouse allows you to “pretty up” a casual ensemble. Accessories should still be kept to a minimum, 9 times out of 10 it makes a more fashionable statement to have a star accessory – your investment Jimmy Choo bag, the art deco inspired bib necklace or the patent leather corset belt.
One at a time, to offset an ensemble can make you a star. All together can make you look like the Riddler from Batman. Offices, particularly in creative industries, have become a lot more lax in terms of large jewelry. Do not think you can make partner at a law firm, channeling Carrie Bradshaw (who was channeling Salt n’ Pepa) with doorknocker earrings, believe us they will not get the irony.
Rule above all rules – stay on top of your game. It’s 2008 and Armani everyday isn’t the safe way out anymore. Truth be told, you will probably find a lot more Proenza Schouler and Stella McCartney in the most fashionable office buildings today. The designers who have captured the youth of their own generation but earned the respect of the most traditional of authorities. It makes sense to vary your choices and base them on the nature of your environment.
One of the chicest professions since the mid-90’s is that of the art gallery princess. Exhibiting and dealing art allows a lot of room for artistic expression. You want people to get the automatic impression that you are cultured and unique. This highly architectural look from United Bamboo definitely says something about an appreciation for avant garde without screaming it. It makes its statement quietly but definitively.
The Editor, the job that started the fascination. Believe it or not, the Conde Nast offices and publication houses like it, are filled with impossibly chic women. The truth of the matter is that in the case of a fashion editor knowing who should be on your back is just as important as anything. The main objective is to be fashion conscious and ahead of the pack but keep in mind you are still working for a large corporation. Such as in the case of this Burberry look, keeping it polished and implementing edgy city chic is key.
The PR Diva
Oh the life of a high powered fashion PR girl. They plan all of the fabulous events in the entertainment industries, their rolodexes are endless and they ride the fine line between executive and “it girl”. Sometimes with all the partying and schmoozing involved in the career it is harder to gain respect from the more straight laced colleagues. This 3.1 Phillip Lim belted dress is playful but smart enough to look like a grown up.
Let’s be honest, a stylist can dress however they so damn well please. A freelance stylist has no boss and is always expected to beat to a different drummer. No two stylists worth their salt should look the same. However, in our fashion labs we loved this look from Etro. It represents a very rebellious aesthetic but still somehow looks authoritative. There has to be something that tells people that you set rather than follow the trends – because after all that is your job.
Photos courtesy of the Fashion Spot forums.