As a wardrobe stylist, personal style matters to me regardless if I'm presenting on-stage, pitching to a potential client or doing an IG Live with another influencer. Just because I think it matters doesn't make it so. Therefore, I decided to find out what other successful women had to say about personal style when no one is looking, especially in the Covid-19 era.
These six women have varying careers, lead different lives, reside in various locations and have developed their own style sensibilities. Nevertheless, they all share a common perspective: personal style does matter.
It's an opportunity to reiterate the importance of image, choosing wisely and 'showing up' even when it's just you.
I left the definition of personal style totally up to the individual but asked each woman to describe hers using a morning beverage and – spoiler alert – there is a preponderance of chai lattes!
What would be your morning beverage? For me, it’s a French vanilla coffee with a hint of Turkish cardamom spice sugar. Coffee with a little flavoring can seem pretty ordinary, but it's the Turkish cardamom spice sugar that gives the beverage an unexpected kick – and that's my style!
Collectively, this group will leave you wanting a stronger morning beverage and a more dedicated focus on how to bring your personal style A-game more often than not.
Michele Occhino, Founder, Bradley & Barnett Agency
This matcha tea drinker whose style is self-described as having "staying power with a natural jolt of energy" said personal style is her thermometer for how she'll approach any day (i.e., comfy, casual, dressed-to-the-nines). It also helps to set the atmosphere for any professional situation. For example, if she’s suited and ready to do business, then others act accordingly.
Her wardrobe and essentials haven't changed with the pandemic because she's an essential worker so she sticks by her "Anne Fontaine white shirts, camel slacks, and metallic Tieks."
Occhino said she's "focusing hard on sustainability and is considering her wardrobe, driving and eating choices to be true to the cause of doing better by Mother Earth." That includes incorporating more black, female-owned brands in her closet, and following influencers like Joy Buolamwini, founder of the Algorithmic Justice League, who is working directly to minimize the negative consequences of AI.
Lena Badr, Founder, Lena Badr Design
While Badr is a creative at heart, the morning beverage that best describes her personal style is simple: a straight-no-chaser Americano!
“It's classic, strong and no-frills," she said, which aligns with the fact that she wears a lot of black, denim and natural colors, focusing on great staples. For Badr, personal style matters 100 percent because it helps her retain a sense of normalcy, happiness and readiness for what’s ahead. “When I look put together, I feel put together,” she said. “That helps me take on the day!"
Although her three wardrobe staples have changed since the Covid-19 pandemic – from black cigarette pants, cashmere sweaters and black heels to leggings, AYR button-downs and luxe loungewear– it’s clear her aesthetic hasn't budged from these classic staples!
Badr was inspired by Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, LaTosha Brown and the many Black organizers who mobilized voters during the state’s Senate runoffs this month. Her style takeaway from these leaders is that consistency counts: Stay the course.
Aside from following these trailblazers in the year ahead, Badr’s style goals include closet editing, thanks to yours truly and “The Creatives' Closet.” She wants to be more selective about purchases that reflect consistency in how she shows up every day.
Clare Press, Podcast host, Wardrobe Crisis
As the former sustainability editor for Vogue (she left the magazine last year), Press isn’t just pushing for the increased use of second-hand and repaired goods, but of moving toward clothes designed with the circular economy in mind.
The founder of the podcast, Wardrobe Crisis, she makes her mission clear with her personal style morning beverage: organic green juice followed by an espresso.
She likes her fashion healthy – good for people and the planet – and favors “bold, talking-point pieces.” For Press, the small details count: “red lipstick or an unusual button make me feel good in a simple, uncomplicated way.”
She added that the $3.5 trillion fashion industry cannot be dismissed as frivolous because "personal style is a powerful tool for self-expression and communicating your values."
The concept of sustainable fashion is one that she advocates even more in the coming year by looking at the new wave of young designers focused on upcycling and giving back: Priya Ahluwalia, Bethany Williams, Anyango Mpinga and Nicole McLaughlin.
But what do her wardrobe essentials say about sustainability? Before the pandemic, Press focused on statement earrings, high-necked blouses, and folksy dresses. While things have remained pretty much the same, she said not every day is perfect. “There are more days when I fall apart and stay in my pajamas,” she admitted. “Remember shoes? Me neither."
Stacey Ferguson, Digital Director, Time’s Up and Founder, The Revelry Box
Ferguson’s personal style is "approachable and unpretentious with a twist," just like her morning beverage, a lavender chai latte. The Maryland-based founder straddles the 9-to-5 world and the creative space at the same time but affirms personal style really does matter.
“It’s an expression of who you are and what you want to say to the world. Even if no one sees it, YOU see it and you can create a certain energy with your style that flows through your space. It has a ripple effect; energy is everything," she said.
As a mom, business owner, wife and employed professional, Ferguson said she's working to keep it simple, so her focus this year is on "classic pieces that go the distance."
Given her focus on simplicity and function, her pre-pandemic wardrobe essentials transitioned from scarves with fun patterns, stylish flats, and a denim jacket to leggings, patterned headwraps and shawls.
Ferguson’s personal style philosophy revolves around telling a story, so it seems natural that the women she's eyeing for the coming year are VP-elect Sen. Kamala Harris, Eudoxie and Marjorie Harvey – all dynamic women with amazing stories.
Daisy Auger-Dominguez, Chief People Officer, Vice
A woman after my own heart, Auger-Dominguez said a chai latte (obsessed with Anjali chai masala) best describes her personal style because it awakens the senses and grounds her.
At Vice she must be fully awake and engaged every day. She firmly believes that "wearing great clothes can lift the spirits immensely even if you’re confined to your home office."
Her three wardrobe staples – dresses, skirts and well-fitting tops – haven’t changed since the pandemic. Self-described as effortlessly chic and polished, she’s "making the most of this new normal by putting an elegant spin on off-duty dressing and wearing what brings joy!"
Auger-Dominguez believes personal style counts. To prove it, she started the year with a major closet edit. She’s investing in pieces that speak to who she is now on her current career path, which leaves her mind clutter-free.
The chief people officer said time is THE most important resource and being able to have a closet of awesomeness allows her more time! Her personal style definition comes down to “how you show up, how clear you are on who you are and what matters to you.” Therefore, Auger-Dominguez’ short list of women to watch includes Ava Duvernay, Dr. Anita Hill, Tiffany Dufu, Alicia Menendez, Robin Arzon, Stacy Abrams, and Elaine Welteroth.
Jen Jean Pierre, Founder, Jen Jean Pierre
The voice behind the fashion blog with editorial content, Jean Pierre laid out a convincing perspective about personal style: "It absolutely matters because personal style is ... about you. You get to ... feel the confident energy that radiates when you are dressed up. I truly believe in the 'look good, feel good' mantra. Even at home when you have taken the extra step to do your hair or put on an outfit that makes you feel beautiful or bad-ass, I guarantee productivity increases. There is nothing that puts a little extra pep in your step when you catch your reflection in the mirror at home looking great and can bring that enthusiastic energy to your Zoom call."
Convinced? Well, the self-described "bold yet classic" blogger mom (Cafe Bustelo is her morning beverage) is consistent if nothing else. Her pre- and post-pandemic wardrobe essentials have not changed: wide-leg pants, wide-brim hats and statement outerwear align with her bold personality.
The emerging theme here is bold and trailblazing, so when Jean Pierre said that she'll be looking out for Karine Jean-Pierre and Symone Sanders – two black women charged with leading President-elect Joe Biden's senior communication team, it just makes sense, right? And what could be her fashion focus for 2021? Less is more. “Buying higher quality items ... that feel good on my skin, look good and have longer wear,” said Jean Pierre.