A commitment to sustainability

Can we add luxury to the five senses?

From the delicious softness of silk grazing the skin to the crisp feeling of pure cotton on a sunny day and the warmth of wool in Autumn. Natural fibers feel better against the skin and react more easily to the earth's elements.

At Primrose & Wilde we design with natural fabrics. Our first inclination to work with natural fabrics is quality – but the very veins of “quality” run deep and, like you, we share a commitment to quality of life, our planet and sustainability.

It's no small feat to consider your choices, to see the lasting impact of your decisions but it's a matter of integrity.

Save your energy

What do we know about the life of fabric? Natural fibers grow – either animal or plant – and require less energy and chemicals to turn them into fabric. At the end of the day natural fibers will also decompose faster.

Technological advances in fabric development have changed the way we dress and how we care for our clothes. But are we thinking carefully about these choices?

We know that 60% of the body lotions and chemical products that we put on our skin is absorbed into the bloodstream, which leads us to ponder...if it requires numerous chemicals and solvents to create any type of synthetic fabric, (synthetic fabrics are created by a process called polymerization, where chemically-derived fibers are joined together to create fabric) if clothes are created by chemical processes and then we get dressed and ... what percentage of these chemical will our skin absorb?

Here are some of the chemicals utilized in the production of synthetic fabric:

  1. Polyester is made from synthetic polymers that are produced from esters of dihydric alcohol and terpthalic acid.
  2. Acrylic fabrics are polycrylonitriles. The EPA suggest that these may cause cancer.
  3. Rayon is recycled wood pulp. It is treated with chemicals such as caustic soda, ammonia, acetone and sulphuric acid to survive regular washing and wearing.
  4. Acetate and Triacetate are made from wood fibers called cellulose and undergo extensive chemical processing to produce the finished product.
  5. Nylon is made from petroleum and is often given a permanent chemical finish that can be harmful.
  6. Anything static resistant, stain resistant, permanent press, wrinkle-free, stain proof or moth repellant. Many of the stain resistant and wrinkle-free fabrics are treated with perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), like Teflon.

Source

We believe it is the responsibility of the producers to provide fashion that is healthy, responsible and sustainable. Join us on the path to a better world.

Tere Stouffer's digital marketing strategy advice for small businesses

After we sat down with Tere Stouffer to talk about fashion, women and work we found that, true to form, she was unstoppable.  We could not stop her from sharing insider tips for digital marketing strategies that are invaluable for small businesses. So, here is Tere Stouffer's digital marketing strategy advice for small businesses....

PW: What would you encourage small businesses to adopt or change in their digital marketing strategy?

TS: I suggest that they have a strategy. There is a lot of mystery around this term but the strategy is just a couple of paragraphs – it is just a vision of what you want to achieve; the tactics you intend to use to get there, like who is who is going to do it and how we’ll measure it. 

Then take each of those components and write out a process model for it,  four-five pages tops. Identify what tools you will use. Include who will sign off on each detail.

So here is what you need to do:

 

Page 1: 

  • What’s your vision of your digital marketing: what does it look like if everything goes right?
  • What are your specific goals: what audiences will you reach, and how will they respond?
  • What social media channels you will use? What about your website…does it need overhauling? How will you use email marketing? And how will you tie digital to your physical (that is, non-digital) efforts?
  • How will you pay for digital marketing (mostly labor)? How much and out of whose budget? 
  • How will you measure success?

Page 2-4 (or 5):

Write a process model for each of your tactics. For social, for web, for email, for live-streaming, etc….who will is responsible, who is accountable and who is signing off.

What content will you be creating for each digital channel? How will it link to the other content? 

PW: What should a small company know?

TS:...

  • You want all your media to work together, not in isolation. Facebook posts can take the follower back to your website and that can link to Instagram or Snapchat. You want to engage your following so that they go from one medium to another, so the content has to be related but a little different so they benefit at each place.
  • Don't assume because you are small your work cannot be as good as a big company, you will not have the numbers but you can do great work. You can fully engage and enamor people with your work, which means that your clients will be sharing and expanding your base all the time. Great images and well written content. Check and double check your work. Excellence goes a long way.
  • There is no such thing as failure, try something and see if it works. You can delete social or web posts.

PW: Tere, really mistakes?

TS: Yes. I have made mistakes, once I put out a post on Columbus Day that received immediate pushback. The post referred to the courage required to take a long voyage on the seas back in the 1400s. But Columbus also represents repression of Native Americans. 

Rather than run and hide from mistakes, Tere embraced them, she turned this incident into an opportunity to engage and encourage opinion. She apologized individually to followers who were upset, left the article online for another hour to allow everyone to see that she was acknowledging a mistake, and then removed it and posted something else. You can delete social media.

The Art of Making Mistakes

Furthermore, Tere told us, she learned a valuable lesson from her boss at Alpine who allowed her to make any mistake once, but not twice. He encouraged her to take risks, take note and use the data to see if it works. Mistakes are invaluable as data-points, “try something” says Tere, “if it doesn't work, move on, it is not failure it is just an idea that does not work”. But make sure you learn from it. All that latitude referred to first-time mistakes. Making a mistake twice was grounds for firing.

PW: Final thoughts on women and the future of Digital Marketing?

TS: Women: what I learned from working with men: men don't seem afraid to claim their greatness. Many men have no trouble saying, “I’m great at this one thing or these two things.” Women, on the other hand, seem to want to say “I am good at a lot of things,” but do not claim their greatness in any area. I suggest that we can look closely at where we excel and claim that. What are you an A+ in?

Digital marketing: Try to keep up with the trends and take advantage of what’s hot. Video on Facebook is leading to tremendous engagement right now. If you upload your video (rather than linking to YouTube or Vimeo) you will get significantly more engagement. Words are back too – oddly, in long form copy. For example Medium.com is huge and is from one of the founders of Twitter, which specializes in short form. With digital, it is never all one thing there will always be balance. Stay up to date.

Read Tere's blog for up to the minute tips

Tere will publish 10-Minute Manuals later this year, the first three are described online now.

Coming soon: 60-second Ask Tere videos – answering questions from clients in 60 seconds to help you move your digital marketing genius forward.

Tere has already authored and co-authored 20 books, she has more expertise on the way

 

What to wear to a video-conference

Our recommendations for Tere Stouffer. Primrose & Wilde Classic Silk Shirt and Skinny Scarf teamed up with a pair of dark jeans and designer sandals.

Our recommendations for Tere Stouffer. Primrose & Wilde Classic Silk Shirt and Skinny Scarf teamed up with a pair of dark jeans and designer sandals.

The new economy is digital, independent, entrepreneurial.

As many of us operate globally and interact remotely with our clients, partners or vendors we spend increasing amounts of time on the phone or in video conference rather than face-to-face. This obviously changes the balance of how we present ourselves visually and verbally, so we turned to digital marketing expert Tere Stouffer to find out more about how to present yourself in a video conference and how to dress to meet clients. Of course, Tere is bursting with ideas and gave us far more insights into business, dress and digital marketing than we had bargained for.

Who is Tere Stouffer?

Born an engineer, raised in publishing and emerging as a tour de force in digital marketing, Tere has carved out an enviable career, breaking gender barriers, winning prestigious awards and earning a reputation as a leader in her field, all while maintaining a beautiful work-life balance, flying across country to meet clients, running her digital marketing business from her home office and spending quality time with her dog.

Creating Success

Tere's success reads like a text-book of good moves, but is a story of hard work, long hours and a dedication to excellence. Starting her ground-breaking reputation in 1990 Tere was hired as an engineer at Alps (the company behind Alpine) a company with over 10,000 employees as the first female engineer that they had ever employed. 

After a leap into publishing,  she found herselfhired to oversee the publishing of new materials for Girl Scouts of the USA which evolved into a position as Digital Content Strategist and the brand began to flourish at a tremendous rate. After her work being selected as the “Overall Grand Champion” of the inaugural Global Social Media Leadership Awards run by the Wharton School of Business and Ernst & Young, Tere realized that she was really doing something right and a few months later she set out as an entrepreneur.

Do you think this is representative of a new economy?

Yes. The contract economy is a thing and it is here. It is a good fit for me I get to combine all the things I love and this is more and more how people want to be running their lives. But it is not a good fit for everyone. I think it is a younger generation who are less afraid of a life without security, but see the gains of flexibility and the opportunity to define yourself in a new way. As a GenXer, I see Millennials chaffing at job titles that do not adequately define them – they don't want to be pigeon-holed, we are multi-faceted as humans and we want our work-lives to fit in with who we are, rather than fit in with a job title. The contract economy allows all of us to piece together a career that fits fits all those facets.

As an entrepreneur how do you interact with most of your clients?

I try to fly out to meet them in the beginning to put faces to names. After that, we use phone, email and video-conferencing.

How do you dress for a video-conference?

For the most part, I can get away with jeans or a fun skirt, a jacket and nice jewelry. But my clients work in a great range of industries and I need to be cognizant of what is appropriate. When I fly to meet a client I now call and ask “how do you dress there” and pack accordingly. Image and perceptions are very important, but not always in the way you may think.

What do you mean by 'how you may think?'

When I was working at Alpine, I went for an interview at a competing company. I had an interview with the CEO and thought I had nailed it. I looked the consummate professional in a suit, silk shirt, I projected well and had great answers to all the questions.

At the end of the interview, the CEO told me, 'Well this has been one of the most enjoyable hours that I have spent. You are an excellent candidate but...you haven't got the job. I was astounded, but decided to take the opportunity to find out why. He told me “your fingernails aren't dirty. I just don't see you working on the manufacturing floor here, you're too clean” and I realized that I had dressed very professionally, but for the wrong job – he wanted to see how I would fit in with his employees, so if I gone straight from my current position in a greasy work smock I would have appealed as more suitable for the tasks ahead.

How do you suggest dressing appropriately?

Call and ask.  I learned that as much as under-doing it, you do not want to over-dress either. In this entrepreneurial economy you want to fit in and stand out, but every company and industry has its own culture and you want to be aware of that before you approach them for a first meeting. First impressions really do count.

Coming soon...Tere Stouffer's digital marketing strategy advice to small businesses

Leadership, Fashion and the Future

The Tara Dress by Jennifer Hamilton for Prim & Wilde

The Tara Dress by Jennifer Hamilton for Prim & Wilde

I recently had the pleasure to be introduced to Leadership Training expert Jessica Osedach while we were both spending the weekend at an exquisitely renovated home in rural Vermont. Over fine wines and gourmet food, the dinner party conversation started with a lyrical debate about success and whether leaders are born or made, but was quickly corralled by Jessica's experienced point of view and captivated by her crisp insights and laser-sharp vision of leadership in a changing world.

Back in Manhattan, I immediately jumped on the opportunity to ask her to share some of her insights on women, leadership, success and of course...style, with me.

We met at a cosy coffee shop in the heart of the new financial district of Manhattan – midtown. I could spot Jessica from a distance, striding across the Rockefeller Plaza – an extraordinary blend of delicacy and strength, which she extends to her business wardrobe – she wore an elegant ivory shift top with a pair of tailored pants, topped with a magenta silk jacket.

PW: What does leadership look like?

“Leadership is conveying confidence, even in the face of not knowing, or in the face of challenging situations.  It looks polished, 'put together,' elegant as opposed to noisy.  It's like the eye of a hurricane - remaining calm and composed even when surrounded by chaos, change, swirling priorities.”

Jessica explained to me that seniority itself is actually an important part of leadership. Seniority is not just the time spent learning and growing, but the ability to share, coach, mentor that comes with experience. We are constantly growing and a leader knows that they can share their knowledge because they are still learning. But seniority does not only come after 20 years in a position, it is a constant that starts with each accomplishment. Transparency is key to leadership.

How do women feature in your program? 

“Women in executive level roles are still a minority in some functions but their numbers are growing.  In our program our women participants are equal to men in every sense of the word.”

How do women react to leadership?

“Every woman reacts differently - some may initially be anxious about being in charge, others act as though they were born to take that role.  I really think that we've arrived at a time where individual differences between women drive how they react to leadership, as opposed to their gender alone.  There are so many different kinds of women!”

How do women lead differently?

“I don't think that they do.  On the whole you have tough authoritative bosses, you have more collaborative bosses - I don't think that gender drives the majority of these differences anymore. It has to do with who these bosses are...their gender along with hundreds of other attributes. I will say that women may have a more complicated landscape to navigate. Appearance does matter more for women...tone might matter more. Think of Hillary Clinton. Is Bernie Sanders really that much more 'like-able' than her or is she being held to a different standard?”

Is it totally superficial to consider your appearance?

“Not at all.  It's critical. For better or for worse people start to form judgments about other people upon first sight.  In the workplace, how you choose to 'show up' – including what you decide to wear – is part of your professional image. It's better to be intentional about this than to ignore it.”

What could women do to make themselves better leaders?

Let me preface this by saying that I found this to be the most interesting part of our conversation. Jessica stunned me with the simplicity and vulnerability of her answer. She told me that emerging leaders “should be open to feedback and willing to change.  Remain flexible and adaptable.” Jessica recommended that everyone do some soul searching to make sure you know what you want in terms of career goals and that those goals will actually make you happy. Then go for it.

Thanks Jessica. I consider myself so fortunate to be able to meet and talk with women who can so brilliantly talk about their work and Jessica, like the leaders she works with, is truly transparent and willing to share her knowledge.

 

The Fly Girl Challenge

Day 1

Day One

Congratulations on being ready to take the five-day Fly Girl Challenge.

Let’s dive straight into the first day of the challenge. I am so excited to introduce you to Claudia and Adriana the stylish duo behind Fashion Loves Style who are going to give you the low-down on how to use color to bring out the best in you and your wardrobe, scroll all the way down for your first challenge. Claudia and Adriana are professional stylists and are going to impart some of their expertise, so here goes...

Yes you CAN wear that color! How to standout and get compliments with color

We all have that special outfit that never fails to collect compliments and makes one feel unstoppable every time we put it on.  Alternatively, there are clothes that just don’t feel right or simply does not make an impact at all.

The most frustrating this is that most often, we have no idea why.  It does not matter that it is from your favorite designer or follows the same style as your power outfit.  Simply put, something is not quite right.

We have an answer.  It is very likely you are not using the right color for your skin tone.  We will give you some tips that will help you navigate colors and find the ones that most complement you by making you look young and healthy.

First, we need to start with the basics.  With help from the Carol Jackson 4 Seasons Theory, we can discover what color to use and which ones to avoid.

The first thing we need to figure out is the tone is warm or cold.  A very easy way to figure this out is to see of gold or silver look best on you by simply placing these colors, using a swatch or jewelry, by your face and evaluating the effect it produces on you.  You will notice a big difference as one of these tones will make your skin appear coarse.  Another way to explore this quality is my looking at your veins to see if they are green or blue.

If gold makes you look better or your veins are green in appearance then the 4 Seasons Theory suggests your are Fall or Spring and that warm tones suit you best.  If silver suits you best and your veins look blue, then your tone is colder and your seasons are Winter or Summer.

Cold Colors

Winter: if your season is Winter, it means that intense and brilliant colors fit you best.  Do not be afraid of using fuchsia, blue or red while avoiding colors such as yellow, orange or brown. Summer: Summer color are much more muted and less bright than Winter such as pink, blue and pastel red.

Warm Colors

Fall: Fall colors, similar to Winter, are brilliant and intense but darker, such as gold, yellow, orange and moss green.  These colors are simple and commonly seen in leaves during the Fall.

 Spring: Similar to Summer but less intense and best kept to pastel tones.

An important tip is to avoid black.
                
It is important to remember that the colors that best suit you should be near your face and should be part of your makeup.  The other colors should be deployed in your clothes.

My challenge to you:

  1. Take a look through your wardrobe – is it monotone? Splashes of color or a fabulous balance that draws from the entire spectrum? Make a note of where the color balance lies.

  2. Select three new colors from your color grouping that could work for you, put them next to your skin. Good? Take a risk and wear these bold new colors for the next three days. Count the compliments you get. Post to our Facebook page and let us know how people responded to your splash of color.

  3. Now you have committed to introducing more color to your work chic, you will need to organize your wardrobe. This is a little more time-consuming, but will help you keep the color flowing through your daily choices. Organize all your tops and dresses (anything that will be next to your face) into color groups.

  4. Commit to color – wearing the right color for you will make you stand out. Make a commitment to yourself to wear a bold color at least once a week.

    Stay tuned for Day 2 of the challenge tomorrow.
    And remember...If you are interested in a personalized color analysis, feel free to visit www.FashionLovesStyle.com to request an appointment.

Day 2

Welcome to Day TWO of the Fly Girl Challenge!! How to try out a new layering style to expand your wardrobe.

How are you liking the Challenge? What's your biggest takeaway? Just REPLY to this email and let me know!

(If you missed the previous challenges, scroll down to the P.S. for access).

OK let’s do it…

1) Have a point of view
Tim Gunn is right – and it goes for all of us too. Your personal style needs a
POV because you want to stand out from the crowd. 
Consider this quote from Johnny Cupcakes that applies to both business and personal style (of which they are a master at combining): 
“Come up with original, clever ideas and make sure you're doing at least 12 things different from anyone else in your business category.

If you don't give people something to talk about, then nobody is going to talk about you.” 

2) Take a risk
Getting ahead at work means learning how to stand out from the crowd. Shaking up your personal style is one way to get people to talk about you and make you stand out. But the great news is that you don't need to go shopping, you want to make what you already have go further.

I challenge you to get a little creative in your wardrobe. Show your personality and be YOU. 

Here are some examples of what you can do to experiment with layering to pull off a creative but polished #officechic outfit:

  • Take a sleeveless dress and add a shirt under it for a fly grown-up-schoolgirl look (inspired by Miu Miu & Prada)

  • Add a splash of color, take two contrasting colored tops and wear them together. 

  • Wear a short sleeved sweater over a long sleeved shirt for a hip and 70's inspired office look. Pair it with a well cut and elegant pants.

  • Layer accessories, take a scarf or a man's tie and wear it at the neck of your fave shirt. Skinny scarves are an excellent sly addition to any outfit as they can be worn in so many ways.

  • If your wardrobe is looking too monochrome, how about introducing a pair of bright tights to your look to transform the balance and get attention.

3) Planning ahead takes the panic out of morning dressing.
Taking a risk first thing every morning offers an extra challenge that you don't really need to take, if you are like me you fall asleep thinking of what will be the most appropriate outfit for the day ahead, so why not make your life easier by introducing planning into your wardrob?

  • Set aside a little fly girl time for yourself on the weekend or in the evening to have fun with your clothes. Lay out some key pieces and then experiment with laying different separates on top of them.

  • Try them on. Knowing how you look and how you feel in a new outfit is key to being comfortable in it on the day of wearing.

  • Get ready to rock the office. 

YOUR CHALLENGE

  1. Write up a fashion statement in your imagination. What adjectives would you like to describe you? How are you going to live up to your statement?

  2. Work out what percentage of your week you spend at work. OMG, it's a big percentage, it's time to get excited about how you look and how you feel!

  3. Dress for success every day – what does this mean for you? Do you dress your best? And don't forget “your best” is how you feel best.

  4. Have a little dress up time, just you, your wardrobe and the mirror. Try on different combinations and set out five outfits for the week ahead.

  5. After you complete this challenge, hop on over to my Facebook Page (/primandwilde, use hashtag #flygirlchallenge) and tell me your AHA moments from Day Two.  

Don’t just READ this email, tell me what you’re going DO about it – what’s your next step to loving what you do, doing what you love and feeling great doing it?

If you prefer Instagram, my handle is @primandwilde : tag #flygirlchallenge #primandwilde

Day Three

 

When you have finished with today's challenge you will be more than half way through. So congratulations on getting this far!

What do you think of the Challenge so far? Let me know here:

www.facebook.com/primandwilde  Use hashtag #FlyGirlChallenge.

Everything Old is New Again. Dive into your closet and pick out a piece you haven't worn in 6 months. Post it on my Facebook Page and I'll personally tell you what to wear it with.

I am going to take two crazy risks today – I am going to persuade you not to go shopping and I am to go on a bit of a tangent.

So let's take a ride on the tangent first. Discounts. This is something I am really concerned about on your behalf. Discounts are something that we have all become so addicted to, discounts for Spring, discounts for Labor Day, discounts for Mother's Day, discounts for your birthday or just because it's Tuesday. But what does it really mean when I get a discount? It means that someone else is paying an inflated price for the same thing. I believe so strongly in fair-pricing, in everyone in the production chain getting paid a decent wage for their skilled work. This is one of the reasons that I produce in NYC, so I can work with my producers, make sure that they are happy and that I receive a quality product at the end of the day to pass on to you.

So next time you are considering buying goods that are made in China, think about the high price of producing far away, the cost to the environment of shipping long distance and the conditions in which your purchases are made. Fashion and accessories that are made in NYC are much more likely to be made ethically and yes they will cost more to produce, so don't look for the discount, look for the quality and you will see the value.

 

My second risk is that I am going to tell you not to go shopping. I think we should appreciate quality over quantity. Retail therapy may make you feel good for an instant, but making long-term quality purchases will actually save you money and make you look more chic. Less is definitely more when worn with style. So... here is the challenge.

  1. Re-organize your wardrobe. Take everything out and start to put it back. If you have enough space to create levels then hang your tops on a level above bottoms and dresses on a separate section. Organize by color. Use the color wheel to create a progression.

  2. Take something you have not worn for a year and work it into your plan for what to wear this week.

  3. Find three things that you don't wear anymore and set them aside. Could you change them? Could you pair them with something new for a different effect? I challenge you to find a way to like these three items again.

  4. The next time you feel the need to buy a whole new outfit, find something in your wardrobe that you had totally forgotten about. Make it new again by wearing it with a different necklace, add a belt to a dress or try a totally different pair of shoes.

  5. Finally I challenge you to challenge us. Post a picture on our Facebook page of something in your wardrobe that you do not know how to wear and we will give you some ideas of how to shake it up and make it new and fabulous again.

Day Four

The Pencil Skirt Challenge.

This is one of my favorite challenges. Last year WNYC challenged listeners to wear the same clothes everyday, like a uniform. I LOVE this idea and think the Pencil Skirt or the flared skirt f(or a different body type) is the ideal solution. A super simple, but well-made and well-fitting skirt worn in as many ways as possible.

What I love most about our own Pencil Skirt is that it has a very chic Parisian cut, long and cut narrow at the bottom. It is made of a stretch wool or a stretch silk so while it loves your curves, it works with them so you aren't squeezed into your skirt, but rather hugged by it.

So today's challenge is short and sweet. I challenge you to take one piece of clothing and see how many outfits you can make with it, then post them on our Facebook page or on Instagram and tag it #flygirlchallenge #primandwilde

 

Day 5:

Today is the Bossy Challenge. I hope I have peeked your interest with that.

A little background first...

I have spent my career in and out of many offices – fashion, finance, sports and many others. Sometimes I have worked in fashion offices on long projects (like Philips van Heusen or Ralph Lauren) and sometimes I have been hand-picked to work on a single project for a brand like Chanel (I wrote their sales video one season) or more corporate offices like Citibank and even some non-profits. So I have had an opportunity to see a huge range of what people wear in different offices and how their choice of clothes really reflected what they wanted to say about themselves.

One thing I noticed, people at the top dressed well, they are unflustered by trivia and appear confident in tense situations. Did they always dress and behave like leaders or did they become more stylish and confident as they took on new, higher positions? My guess is the former.

Another thing I notice is that stylish people love “bold”. A bold color, a statement necklace, a dramatic print, They don't over-do bold, but they do embrace it.

Take a look at some of our previous posts on What to Wear to a Pitch Meeting, What to Wear to a Presentation or What to Wear to a Business Meeting in France – I am fortunate to cross paths with some intelligent, influential and inspiring women and they all have a bold sense of style that reflects their approach to the world.

All these women share certain traits – they are smart, organized, diplomatic, engaging, visionary and...bossy, yes, I said it. Bossy. A term that is often used to stop women and girls expressing their leadership qualities, but bossy is awesome. To celebrate this great quality I have produced a line of “I am bossy” tee-shirts.

So today's fifth and last challenge, it's Friday, it's fun and you are going to feel fabulous.

  1. Dress like you are the boss.

  2. Strut around like you own the place.

  3. Set out five things you want to achieve before the end of summer (if five is too many, a minimum of three things).

  4. Lay out a plan for how you are going to get there. (Without a plan there is no action).

  5. How are you going to improve your status at work? – three actionable items that will make people notice you.

  6. What single action could you take to show leadership in your group?

Have a great weekend, be bossy and be proud of it.

 

 

What to Wear to a Business Meeting in France

Cathleen Kelley is a force of energy and sophistication, the consummate New Yorker marrying high heels with high ambition, effervescent charm with a bullet-proof business acumen – as the “ambassador” of the Palace Hotels in Monaco.

Cathleen Kelley of Monte Carlo SBM-Hotels, Casinos, Spa poses in front of a hand-painted mural in her New York office gracing the Prim & Wilde Spring 2016 Cape and Pencil Skirt with her innate chic and charm.

Cathleen Kelley of Monte Carlo SBM-Hotels, Casinos, Spa poses in front of a hand-painted mural in her New York office gracing the Prim & Wilde Spring 2016 Cape and Pencil Skirt with her innate chic and charm.

She has a “professional home” on each side of the Atlantic and is the sole American in a company of 4500. Dividing her time between her office in New York – with a towering view of mid-town bustle, Monaco – where the mountains run down to meet the sea, and the offices of Fortune 500 CEOs Cathleen's work demands not only a versatile mind, but a wardrobe to match.

She greeted me in her laser-cut leather skirt and wool blazer then we sat down to talk fashion, travel, how to love your job and why French women always looks good. While many of us think of this beautiful location as the playground of the rich and famous, the image behind the scenes is all business.

We asked Cathleen....

Do You Dress Differently in France?

Yes. I have to put it together differently” advises Cathleen, her key rules are “Always a jacket and closed-toe shoes. French women do not show their toes but their heels are higher.

Suit or Well-Coordinated Separates?

Definitely well-coordinated separates, in France you have to show “style” rather than an off-the-shelf look.

How Long Is Your Trip To Europe And How Much Luggage Do You Take?

A trip is usually 5-7 days, with a few extra tacked on for personal travel. I always have one checked bag and one carry-on that has 2 days of business clothes – oh yes, luggage can easily be lost and that is never an excuse for not being dressed appropriately.

What Do You Wear for the Journey?

Business dress. Always. I may go straight to a meeting if my flight is delayed, but equally important, I have also met future clients while traveling so I need to look professional

What Do You Take for Le Weekend?

I take professional pieces that you can work into a weekend wardrobe. Like a suede jacket, a scarf, a white blouse, wool trousers, walking flats, a silk shell. Never jeans – jeans just do not work in Monaco. If it's chilly, I take a trench as a cover up, it looks polished but can translate from business to casual.

What Can You Tell Us About How The French Women Dress For Business?

Feminine, tailored, well-fitting. Practical – you NEVER see them fidgeting with their clothes and the fabrics are always sumptuous. They are not fussy, just stylish.

French women dress for their body type – they know it and stick to it and that is what makes them look good. They are not shackled by trend but are deeply stylish. They live in their own body and that is why they look so good.

What are Your Go-To Pieces?

I have staples that I know are going to work and that I can dress up or down: a wool jacket, a trench, I love working in suede or leather – it breaks up the suited look. Pencil skirts and a shift dress with long, cap or short sleeves – I can change the necklace, add a belt, change my heels and you would not know it is the same dress. I love natural fabrics so they work in different climates. My job is on the move so dresses are less wrinkled – morning meeting; jacket on, afternoon; jacket off, pearls in my bag for dinner. A dress is ideal for desk to dinner.

How Do You Minimize Your Packing?

I love monochrome, black, beige, a pop of red so when I pack I know everything works together. I take Less but add shoes, jewelry and a belt to create new looks.

Do You Have Any Final Thoughts On Dressing For a Business Trip To The French Riviera?

I know that that I am going to be with men who are dressed to the nines, shaved, in a 3-piece suit with handmade Italian shoes, and they dress like this from breakfast to dinner, so I have to match them in elegance and style. They never take their jacket off.

Quality reigns supreme over quantity. I am not expected to have something new everyday. I repeat my outfits but with creative and stylish touches --as do they.

A busy Cathleen whisks around her office demonstrating the view and her ability to juggle interview, phone calls, contracts and to charm everyone along the way.

A busy Cathleen whisks around her office demonstrating the view and her ability to juggle interview, phone calls, contracts and to charm everyone along the way.

I am the physical embodiment of the Monaco Palace Hotels with 150 year history so I feel I need to constantly represent that history, tradition and elegance. I take this part very seriously.

Thank you so much to Cathleen for taking time out of her busy schedule to chat with us and try on some Prim & Wilde classics.




How to dress for an interview

Let's start with the premise that interviewing is fun. It really is – you are creating your best “you” and taking it to meet other people.

Have you ever packed for a solo trip to another city? You pack your favorite “you”, your ideal version of yourself (or even a fantasy self) – you browse through your favorite clothes, or shop for new, you choose ones that you know will look great on you. You are creating an image, you have no history and no future – all that exists is the “now”.

  "You are creating your best you"

 

Going to an interview is the same. You take your sharpest mind and your sleekest look and wrap them with the ribbon of self-confidence.

#getdressedforwork

No matter what the position you are applying for, it's a no-brainer that you want to look professional, crisp and confident. Any other website is going to tell you how to don a dark suit and a white shirt. But more than that you want to look interesting. While you need to fit in, you really want to stand out as someone ready to attack any problem head-on – so you want to incorporate your own style into your interview outfit and show a little of your personality in your dress.

Know your body type and dress accordingly.

A sleek, well-fitting suit is a go-to solution, but maybe an office-chic dress with a coordinating jacket or a long-sleeved classic shirt with a well cut skirt. What looks best on you will be determined by your body type. We don't need to tell you that your shoulders should always be covered, you should not be showing cleavage or any thigh above the knee. Dignity is key, but the super-fun part is that you are going to enjoy dressing up.

Look like you

Dressing the part, is dressing as “you in the part”. Take time to savor the process of getting dressed in the morning, choose the right bag and shoes, the earring and necklace. What can you include that gives a hint of your unique style? You are not imitating someone else, you are bringing out the best “you” so don't hide beneath your interview costume.

The people who are sitting across the desk, throwing questions at you, are hoping that you will be the right person for the job. It's a game. A high stakes game, but undoubtedly one that you want to win.

Interviewing is the sales job of a lifetime.

Get dressed. Work Hard. Have fun.

Find us on facebook, twitter or instagram and tell us how you dressed for your best interview.

Casual or business casual? How to decode the dress code.

The dress code, really can sometimes feel just like that...a cryptic code., especially if you are going on an interview and need to dress to impress. How do you hit the mark, avoid over-doing it and definitely not under-do it? How do you break down the code and bring your own personal style to the table?

Know the Code

Who knew the Dalai Lama XIV was talking fashion when he said, “Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”

For office wear there are several names that seem to imply some overlap:

  • Casual

  • Business casual

  • Smart casual

  • Business

Break the Code

Casual is just what it says...casual. Almost anything goes just so long as you are wearing something. But, even when the company code is casual, you can up your own game and style yourself as you see fit for your position. Don't forget that dressing more professionally impresses on your colleagues that you are a leader and not long for this casual world.

Business Casual and it is starting to get more cryptic, because every industry will have a different take on what is “conformist” and really, that means that this is where it starts being fun and bending the rules to suit your own style. However, here are some guidelines.

  • Shoes: Heels or flats are okay, but no sneakers.

  • Tights: If the weather dictates that your legs should be covered, but not necessary in summer.

  • Skirt length: Not too far above the knees or below the calf (a great time to point out that hemlines should fall at the narrowest point of the leg just above or below the knee)

  • Skirts or Pants?: Either, but not jeans and... khakis?...well who wears those anyway these days?

  • Dresses? Absolutely, but check with your HR about shoulders. If they should be covered then carry a little jacket that you can throw off as you head out of the door for the roof-top cocktail lounge at 5pm.

Smart Casual tells us that the company is more on the artistic side (and oddly scientists fit perfectly in this group, because scientists usually wear whatever they want and defy code of any sort.)

Smart casual is a fun place to be, because you can really step up your fashion-game and break out your most creative hi-lo wardrobe pieces. You want to observe all the codes of skirt length, but you can style your look with more color and bolder prints. Smart casual is the place to wear your fave skinny jeans with an elegant designer blouse or your chic wrap dress with the bold design and chunky ankle boots.

Business. Oh Dalai Lama, we need your advice here to save us from our button-down selves. As expected, business is the strictest of all dress codes, and therefore requires us to use our most creative code-breaking skills. Not many industries still hang on to business dress, but the financial and legal industries do and yes...it can be one of the most fun dress environments to be in.

Firstly business dress usually requires heels, polished hair and a slick uniform that is going to make you look and feel dressed to kill each and every day. Next, you are forced to chose luxury fabrics like silk and wool. You will dress to go from day to evening in sharp colors like black or navy. You can choose one bold and fabulous item to wear each day from a knock-out designer blouse to a sleek long-sleeved dress.

 

 

How Rock Climbing Can Help You Reach the Top of Your Career

You reach out, shift your weight slightly, reach again. Fail. Fall. Chalk up, swing yourself back, reach again. Fail. Chalk. Try again. A little closer this time. Fail. Fall. Catch. Chalk. Reach.

The sweat and chalk of rock-climbing and the business of fashion – seemingly so far apart, but stand any rock-climber in front of the mirror and you will see someone en route to the top.

I have had three passions since the age of six that have been running concentric circles around each other, providing me with balance, drive and a sense of direction and honing my vision.

I learnt to sew when I was six, developed a passion for writing at eight and started running when I was  ten. In my teens I bought books on design and taught myself pattern-making while competing in national track competitions ... and documented it all in a combination of fiction and fantasy on paper.

I still love to run, but now I have broadened my sports resume to include whitewater kayaking, mountain biking, snowboarding, skate-skiing and rock-climbing. Each of these sports has taught me so much about life, technique, strategy, pain, survival and knowing that failure is just the start of success.

I recently overheard a conversation at Brooklyn Boulders where a very beautiful and graceful woman, obviously early in her career, was relating her office politics to her climbing partner saying “...my co-workers don't like ambitious women, but I can't be any other way. I just want to reach the top and I'm going to get there.”

And that is just how it is with rock-climbing, your ambition and drive lures you to the wall where you try, and try again, to reach for the top. Your journey is clearly delineated between the goal and the route. Failure does not mean you give up, it is merely a challenge – a challenge that you need to go back and work on again and again until you can solve it and move past.

Rock-climbing requires balance, strength, technique and commitment. Commitment will guide you through failure, it will drive you back to revisit the problem in a fresh way. You need to unerringly rely on others, knowing that they are going to support you and knowing that you will support them too. You learn technique and develop a strategy. The struggles of rock-climbing mirror the difficulties of running a company, you have to stay true to yourself, but rely on others. You have to be accepting of failure, yet understand that failure is just the wrong route, it is not personal, it is trial and error, an opportunity to choose a new route, explore a fresh approach. Business is full of challenge, and it is your commitment to getting past the challenges that will determine how your business or your career is managed.

So...take a risk, reach for the top and...climb on.

What to Wear…to a Presentation

I have the good fortune to meet many people who are driving change in their field. Fashion transcends industry, it is a tool for self expression, a reflection of status, ambition and a means of creating a very public image.  I sat down with Sherry Orel, the witty, smart and stylish CEO of Brand Connections, to chat about her life at the top of her game, and to find out how fashion plays a role in her life as the leader of an innovative marketing agency.

Sherry Website.jpg

PW: How often do you give a presentation?  
SO: I present to clients on a weekly basis.  I speak at conferences, board meetings or in front of other large groups one to two times each quarter. I present to clients, staff, board members, industry leaders.


PW: When you give a presentation, what is the most important thing that you want people to take away? 
SO:  Authority, credibility, intelligence, aspirational, inspirational. 

PW: How do you like to dress for a presentation?  
SO: I don’t think women need to dress like men to be successful in business, so I take a feminine, tasteful, professional approach.  I try to look high-end but not designer snob, and use a strategy of mixing expensive things with inexpensive things to pull a more premium look together (like an expensive necklace with a dress sub $200, Prada shoes with slacks from Chico’s, etc.). 


PW: Is color a factor that you consider?  
SO: Yes. Bold colors are dramatic and great in small quantities. I select one item as the “bold” factor in an outfit, and stay more conservative in other areas.  If I’m wearing my 8-carat Tanzanite ring, I skip the bracelet.  If I’m wearing giant hoop earrings, I skip the necklace.  If I’m wearing a bold scarf, no belt, etc.  Too much “bling” is distracting and takes away from the message.  I want to be viewed as smart AND well put together professional, not just a well-put together woman.  

PW: Do you have any considerations when dressing? For example do you consider where the lavaliere will be placed?  
SO: I had to look up the word “lavaliere”, so I guess this “smart” thing isn’t working out for me so well…but yes, I don’t wear necklaces unless they are a length comfortable to me.  I almost always wear heels because I find being taller has helped create an air of authority, as when I can look a man or woman that’s 5’10” in the eye, it levels the playing field.  High heels are also viewed by many people, especially women, as being “difficult” or “impossible”, so having trained myself to actually be comfortable in 4” heels makes me feel invincible and is a psychological signal to myself and others that I embrace and can master difficult tasks.  

PW: Are there are “good choices” or “poor choices” that you think about when deciding what to wear?  
SO: Yes, anything that creates a first impression that is not consistent with your desired outcome is a bad choice.  For example, cleavage and “peek-a-boo” lacy bras are respected by neither men nor women professionally.  If you’re going to add a little appropriate, feminine sexiness, pick one thing at a time.  If you’re going sleeveless, the hemline should be slightly longer.  If you’re going above the knee, a higher chest line is appropriate.

PW: What would be your best advice to someone who is about to present on stage for the first time?
SO: Sit in something before you buy it.  Imagine yourself on a stage as part of a panel perched on one of those awful bar stools they always use with the crossbar/foot bar positioned too low to accommodate most women’s leg length, so rather than have your legs dangle like you’re a 4 year old, you’re forced to sit on the edge of your seat to reach it and hope you don’t tip forward.  Now cross your legs, balancing all your weight carefully on the one foot that barely reaches the foot bar, and then see what happens to the cellulite on your thighs when your skirt shortens by the 4 inches it does when you sit with your legs crossed.  Now imagine the event photographer taking that shot and posting on the event’s Facebook page.  Good times…

PW: Sherry, you are as witty as you are fabulous and of course smart. You are an inspiration not as a woman, but as a person who is successful and seems to manage to pull all the pieces of your life together. We have talked a lot about your fashion choices, but as we know, fashion is not the be all and end all, it is a means of expression and in this case a tool to support your on-stage presence. Do you have any parting wisdom that we can share with women who are starting out in their careers?
SO: Words Matter.  Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you should (I often use this referring to fashion), life is like a pendulum so swing big, and so very many more…

For more insightful thoughts, ideas and a window into Sherry’s vision as a CEO check out her company blog [http://brandconnections.com/#blog] where she is a frequent contributor.

What To Wear To... A Pitch Meeting

As an entrepreneur you are, at some point, going to come face to face with an investor or a client, you are going to pitch your business and you need to be able to look professional, polished but modern and stylish – just like your business model – streamlined, modern and efficient.

Huge amounts of money can change hands and you need to look as if you are as professional and responsible as your awesome pitch presentation.

So what to wear?

We asked, Brigit, Kalena and Eleni and from PR agency Antenna (antennagroup.com) for some expert guidance on what to wear and when.

“As a PR company we are constantly pitching,” says Senior Account Executive Brigit, “we mainly represent tech, energy and life sciences companies, so we find ourselves in front of clients that range from very traditional to very relaxed. You need to do your research and find out who you are pitching to and how they dress. If we are meeting a client in the financial sector, we have to dress appropriately in a blazer, heels, skirt and very polished hair. But this can be a turn off in a different sector, for example if we are at a tech meeting then the look is going to be much more relaxed.”

“My go-to look is a pencil skirt and one statement piece that pops, but does not distract” adds Kalena Gravina, “with a well-fitting, chic pencil skirt you can fit into almost any meeting. You can dress it up or dress it down as the occasion demands and you will always look professional.”

“Read the situation,” says Eleni Polychroniadou.

If you are meeting at an investor's venture fund office with partners or to make a presentation, you will want to be dressed in a way that at least meets the dress code of their office. You want to look like a professional who will responsibly spend the millions that are on the table, and will be able to increase the investment in spades.

But if you are having a casual coffee around the corner then you can afford to be a little more relaxed, but still professional.

They all agree that you want to have a flexible wardrobe – a handful of key looks that you can make work for the clients that you are meeting. It makes a difference whether you wear a straight or a flowing skirt. A woman just has to be more conscious about how she looks, “I changed between events once,” says Brigit, “I realized I was the only woman and felt out of place in a skirt. My go-to tech pieces are chic skinny black jeans, a nice shirt and a pair of stylish flats.”

What is their best advice for a business woman pitching to clients or investors?

“Make sure if you are the youngest person in the room, you don't dress as if you are the youngest person in the room” says Kalena.

“And be certain that your words are the most important thing that people are going to remember.” adds Brigit. “Dress to show that you are a talented professional who has earned her position at the podium”

Thanks to Grind Spaces for their help, and for providing a great space for entrepreneurs to work in NYC!

 

We live in a brilliant era of entrepreneurial development, as an increasing number of women are breaking with convention, quitting the corporate world and driving change in the free market.

We work out of Grind Spaces in NYC's garment district and are honored to be surrounded by so many brilliant people who are building new companies that can and do change the world. And when we all work in our chic co-working office or on days when we work from home offices, gathered around our laptops on someone's living floor we can dress as we wish. The entrepreneurial world is famous for being low-key and casual, but the truth is, we all need to know how to step it up when necessary.