Scheduling a WORKWEAR UPDATE is a must but how to find the time? Here’s how THE GLOSS and some brilliant working women do it, as we are just days from LOOK THE BUSINESS 2016 …
The corporate culture chameleon: Linda Green-Kiely, Co-Founder, Voxpro
“I haven’t the time to spend or the energy to try on 40 things but I love fashion, so it’s about finding a formula that works,” says Linda Green-Kiely, co-founder of Voxpro, the Cork-based international outsourcing business that created 1,700 jobs here and counts Google, Airbnb, Nest and other successful brands as clients. She has always deployed clothes as armour in her professional life. In her first job, before she had earned any real money, her mother’s advice to “buy little, buy good” served her well. She bought three good tailored suits and mixed and matched them. Her later success in business, having international clients all over the world and three hubs in Silicon Valley, Cork and London, with a new HQ to open shortly in Dublin, has meant a different kind of pressure on her wardrobe. “Embodying our clients’ corporate culture is what we do and in our business you could change three times a day to synch with that.” In Silicon Valley, it’s tech companies and a casual dress code. “I wear dark J Brand jeans, a Balmain jacket and maybe some statement jewellery.” Or, she could be talking strategy in Georgia: “It was me and eleven men, all wearing ties, so I wore a sharp suit.” Enviably tall (she’s five feet nine with 33-inch legs) and slim, she looks good in pencil skirts, Victoria Beckham dresses and Tom Ford. On a cost-per-wear basis her Céline evening coat has served her well as has her leather coat from Christian Lacroix, bought in Harvey Nichols 15 years ago and bang on trend this season. “Leather likes to be worn, it just gets better all the time.” But, it’s not all designer labels from Samui in Cork and Brown Thomas. When on those longhaul flights to the west coast she’ll put on soft loungewear and cashmere wraps from Dunnes Stores.
Just listening to Kiely talk about her working wardrobe is to understand some of the signals that we send when we wear certain pieces. “Voxpro is about adopting a client’s corporate culture and delivering beautiful customer service on their behalf. So, we are chameleon-like and clothes can play a huge part in that.” In New York where business is conducted with a certain formality, she dresses conservatively. In San Francisco, it’s a different story. “You can’t wear dark suits when there are blue skies and you can experience four seasons in a single day.” She observes the young men and women who work for her and is proud of how well they dress. “They are extraordinary. They know how to rock a modest wardrobe with style.”
THE NEW SUITS
Elevate your suit game with the help of a print. Checks are always a safe option, but for the more adventurous dresser, the choices are endless this season.
If you prefer to play it safe with colour, texture is a clever way
to add a subtle element of luxury. Think heavy herringbone and chunky tweed.
In failsafe black or navy, a classic suit is a workwear must-have.
Look for sharp tailoring, fine fabric and consider altering it to get that perfect fit.
The dress enthusiast – Anne O’Leary: CEO, Vodafone Ireland
Over a lifetime, faffing over what to wear adds up to a significant amount of time. It’s not time Anne O’Leary, CEO of Vodafone Ireland, has to spend. “I use fashion to simplify my life, not to complicate it.” O’Leary’s diary is jam-packed and, while many of her commitments are scheduled months in advance, the unexpected meeting or event will often crop up. Always prepared to meet a customer at short notice or agree to a photo op request, she must always look smart. “I want to focus on making every moment count, and any planning that helps keep my brain free to concentrate on important decisions for business is worth investing in.”
A triathlete, O’Leary trains or swims early every morning so cuts deciding what to wear down to a couple of minutes: “Simple, uncomplicated dresses that can be dressed up to go from day to evening engagements by adding heels and a Marni necklace.” Choosing outfits takes even less time now she has installed glass-walled wardrobes. “My clothes are visible, accessible, on display. It makes it easier.” O’Leary keeps her clothes for ten years so always opts for quality in cut and fabric. She has evolved her own style and acknowledges the effect clothes have on her outlook. “Colour suits me, and it suits my personality. It lifts my spirits. I am a positive person and it makes me feel motivated.” O’Leary’s favourite designers include Roksanda, Roland Mouret, Erdem and Victoria Beckham. She loves Mary Katrantzou and Peter Pilotto too: “Their clothes are like pieces of art.” She wears heels, black or nude, many of them by Jimmy Choo, but has recently discovered the lower-heel comfort of those by Roger Vivier. For work, one great bag – a Mansur Gavriel tote – carries all her files, a laptop, make-up bag – and for evening, she favours a Chanel shoulder bag or a clutch by Charlotte Olympia. “Spending money on the right clothes is a great incentive to stay the same size and go to the gym,” she says.
THE NEW DRESSES
Equal parts flattering and smart, a wrap dress is a versatile investment. As wrap dress pioneer Diane von Furstenberg says, “It allows you to be a woman.”
Whatever your dress code, workwear doesn’t have to be dull. Enliven your wardrobe with on-trend shades of merlot, pink and lavender.
A tunic, worn over trousers, is a stylish alternative to a typical dress, whether in coordinating or complementary colours.
This article appeared in a previous issue, for more features like this, don’t miss our November issue, out Thursday, November 3.
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