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The Only Thing That Really Matters in a Work Wardrobe

Here at Who What Wear, we’re champions of female-founded, -owned, and -operated businesses—after all, our company was founded by two fearless women. That’s why we’re launching Female Founded, a new editorial series that dives into the stories of those who launched their own businesses. Here you’ll discover who these women are, what they’ve accomplished, and how they style pieces from our own Who What Wear collection at Target.

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On Ariel Kaye: Who What Wear Pull On Track Pants

Invest in good shoes and bags. Take everything to the tailor. Dress for your body type. We’ve been told that these are the “rules” of getting dressed for the office, and we’ve heard them so frequently that they’ve started sounding like a broken record. Sure, there’s certainly merit in the whole “wear this, not that” rhetoric (for instance, shorts—just skip them). But there’s a less tangible element that women with great work wardrobes all know, and it doesn’t require you to strictly abide by any of these guidelines. Yes, it’s all about how you feel.

Ariel Kaye is one of those all-knowing women who’s figured this out—and her understatedly confident work style really shows. The founder of dreamy L.A.-based bed and bath line Parachute has cultivated a work wardrobe that embodies the aesthetic of the sheets and pillows on sale in her stores—easygoing yet elevated, with a penchant for the minimalist. We caught up with Kaye, who shared her refreshing perspective on style (“Comfort is my highest priority”) and her ultimate career advice as a female entrepreneur who’s built a cult brand in a noisy interiors market.

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On Ariel Kaye: Who What Wear Straight Leg Relaxed Ankle Trousers

On what really matters in a work wardrobe

As a successful entrepreneur and expectant mother, Kaye’s found a winning balance between function and fashion in her ensembles for work, proving that a few key pieces can really go the distance. Take our Straight Leg Relaxed Ankle Trousers, for instance, which she styled with a black tee and block-heel mules for sleek, all-day comfort that ultimately lets her focus on work without sacrificing style whatsoever. Isn’t that the hallmark of an ideal work wardrobe?

Her philosophy cuts right to the heart of what really matters: that it feels authentic to you. Although she’s been busy running Parachute since its 2014 launch, she shared what she’d wear if she had to interview for a new job today: “I always dress like myself, no matter the occasion. Comfort is my highest priority. Style and confidence require knowing yourself and wearing what you feel best in. That’s powerful for a job interview,” she tells us. Job interview or otherwise, putting yourself and your comfort level first will always translate into an unspoken confidence.

On the key items to invest in for the office

Just because Kaye is a founder and CEO doesn’t mean that those of us with tighter budgets can’t also emulate her confident work style for ourselves. Her outfits tend toward the minimalist, and we get the sense that she knows how and where to invest in quality, long-lasting items, like the clothing equivalent of what she’s designed for Parachute.

“Invest in a few key pieces that can be mixed and matched,” she advised. “You can’t go wrong with a crisp white button-down, jeans, and a great pair of leather flats.” Wardrobe staples like those will prove to go the distance. But as for the number one piece she wants you to invest in to build a solid work wardrobe? “A great dress is a must,” she says.

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On Ariel Kaye: Who What Wear Pull-On Track Pants

On the best piece of career advice she's been given

As someone who took a leap of faith and launched her business from something unknown, we were dying to hear her words of career wisdom in addition to her style advice. “Trust your instincts because when you’re doing something you love, you can’t imagine doing anything else,” she says. As soon as I learned what exactly inspired Parachute’s launch in the first place—a meticulous search for the softest bedding Kaye encountered in a hotel on the Amalfi Coast—it became clear that she wasn’t just repeating words she’d once been told, she took them to heart.

“When you are so invested in building something, it’s challenging to do anything but obsess over every mistake, delay or piece of criticism,” she shared. “But wasting energy on every small detail hinders momentum. Keeping a positive, solutions-minded attitude and focusing on the big picture is imperative to moving forward.”

On her biggest career mistakes and what she's learned from them

No successful entrepreneur has gotten to where they’re at without a few bumps in the road. In fact, Ariel is quick to remind us that it’s more likely you won’t get it right the first time you start a business, so failure is an accepted part of the process. In fact, her biggest learning curve with Parachute came early. “Within three months, we completely sold out of everything, which felt like a huge mistake,” she told us. “Many people who ordered had to wait several months to receive their bedding. I thought we had failed our first customers, the people who had taken a shot on a new brand, and that there would be no way to recover.”

That didn’t stop Kaye, though, who took the opportunity to connect with her customers in a really personal way. “I personally reached out to each back-ordered customer, explaining the circumstances and thanking them for their business and support,” she said. “We quickly learned that honest and open communication is essential, and being able to listen to our customers’ feedback is one of our biggest advantages as a direct-to-consumer company.”

On her goals for Parachute

Kaye’s got a healthy dose of ambition for Parachute, sure. But she knows when to slow things down and invest the time and energy needed to grow her business sustainably and authentically—not just monetarily. “My goal is to build a brand that positively impacts people and their day-to-day lives,” she says. “I want people to remember us or know us as a brand that is consistently great, avoids shortcuts, and always delivers the best home essentials.”

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On Ariel Kaye: Who What Wear Teddy Bear Sweater Jacket

We’re inspired by Kaye’s ability to approach everything—work, getting dressed, building Parachute—with authenticity and thoughtfulness.

Photographer: Paley Fairman | Photo Assistant: Anthony Espino | Stylist: Yasi Moshtael | Makeup Artist: Dana Delaney | Hairstylist: Ian James