A Levo League of Their Own: Closed Set with Julie Bensman

Levo League

If, in the first few weeks one launches a website, said site garners press hits including The Wall Street Journal and Business Insider, two things become clear:

  1. You have an amazing product
  2. You probably have an amazing publicist

In the case of Amanda Pouchot and Caroline Ghosn, both have been proven true. The ladies are co-founders of Levo League, an online community providing resources, networking tools, and support for exceptional women in all stages of their careers. Think of it as a LinkedIn for women, a place where the likes of Susan Lyne (Gilt Groupe) and Fran Hauser (Time, Inc.) engage and advise with members ranging from undergrads to entrepreneurs. Why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of that?

Sure, an Ivy League diploma and a sick resume are tools that make the job search a wee bit easier, but lest we forget le look of the candidate. A cleavage-baring dress paired with your favorite skull jewelry doesn’t exactly scream power executive, now does it? And what exactly IS the rule for wearing open-toed shoes to an interview? And once you land the $23,000/year magazine job you wanted so badly (not that I’m speaking from experience or anything), how is one expected to take her meager earnings and buy an entire closet of new office ensembles? So many questions, so little time.

Besides being tech- and business-savvy, Pouchot (above, right) and Ghosn (above, left) also know a thing or two about fashion-forward, yet office-appropriate attire. I caught up with the duo to get down to business.

Julie Bensman: When it comes to a building a professional wardrobe, which three items should every woman own?

Caroline Ghosn:

  1. A form-fitting tweed piece that indicates presence and taste. It can be a blazer or a simple pencil skirt, depending on your body type. Tweed dresses anything up, and it can be applied to a myriad of different ensembles. 
  2. Black slacks that fit your body and are tailored to the right length. It doesn't matter how much you spend on the pants, it matters how they fit. Find a tailor you trust and take your clothes to that person. 
  3. A discreet nude bra that you feel comfortable sitting in for hours on end that doesn't show under light blouses.

JB: How does office attire differ at a corporate job vs. a start-up/creative company?

CG: In a corporate job, the goal of your attire is often to communicate that you are a serious, hygienic, dependable individual. At a start-up, I tend to find that the goal differs: you want to express your individuality, your sense of curation and your approach to culture (whether it be counter- or pro-). The results ensue from the purpose.

JB: As the old adage goes, first impressions are everything. How true is this in the current professional environment, especially as it relates to women?

Amanda Pouchot: According to data, you have less than a second to make an impression. While it’s important to be physically put-together, nothing means more to a first impression than a natural smile and a welcoming attitude. People want to meet and be around other people who are positive.

CG: We, as humans, are visual creatures and we draw patterns. If I walk into a meeting with my shirt untucked, my bra strap out and my hair in a messy bun, will you extrapolate that I am a hard-working, values-oriented young professional with parents that made Tiger Mom's thesis emollient?  

JB: How would you describe your own personal styles?

AP: I'm a tomboy-turned-New York fashion-obsessed woman on a budget. I’m often more comfortable in running shoes and on the field, but when I do get the chance, I love an amazing pair of heels, skinny pants, a fun flowy shirt, and a great necklace. I'm all about comfort and trying to be myself and believe that fashion is about expressing yourself through what you wear.

CG: Classic with a twist and an occasional dare. I always seek an interesting element or structure to my clothing and am fascinated by the concept of craftsmanship and creativity as it applies to fashion. I am also attracted to feminine florals after hours, but often in powerful, counterintuitive shapes. 

JB: What's next for Levo League?

AP: This summer is all about improving our product offering to the community, continuing to get to know our members and building the strongest community of women out there to support one another. A favorite initiative at the moment is our matching program, where each member is matched with another member we think they could learn from, inspire, or help.