While it's true we're in the business of style, we're equally as interested in the cool things our favorite women in cool clothes are up to. So when it comes to our workwear wardrobes, what better way to get inspired than by taking a look at the lives of some of fashion’s most successful women? That’s the idea behind our #hipowered series, in which we’ll be profiling chic women from every corner of our industry, from our own Who What Wear team to top Old Navy executives to leaders paving the way in creative startups.
Ever find yourself endlessly scrolling through your Instagram feed in search of workwear inspo on a Sunday night? Us too—seeing all of the women out there nailing power dressing makes getting ready for work on Mondays so much easier (and so much more fun). Two of our favorite accounts? We follow Mandana Dayani of Everything But the House and Christina Stembel of Farmgirl Flowers for work wardrobe ideas as well as career advice (the two are essentially #workgoals). These leaders in the creative space have nailed down how to look like a boss because, well, they are bosses.
You may recognize Dayani from her time working with Rachel Zoe, and you’ve likely ordered (or received) a beautiful bouquet of flowers from Farmgirl Flowers, and now it’s time to learn more about the two. We caught up with the entrepreneurs to talk about the careers they’ve chosen for themselves and how styling jeans for the workplace—whether you work in a traditional office or a flower shop—is A-OK as long as you follow certain styling guidelines. Consider yourself warned: You may be so inspired by these two that you might pick up a new career (along with some jeans) by the time we’re through. Find a comfy spot, and start reading.
Give us a brief description of your job.
I’m the chief brand officer of EBTH, the premiere online estate sale marketplace. I joined the company to lead its rebranding, and to build teams dedicated to enhancing the EBTH brand profile and optimizing its user experience. Together, our goal is to accurately communicate our unique value proposition, build loyalty from our existing customers, drive global brand awareness, and ensure there is consistency in our brand across every customer touchpoint (which is quite challenging now that we have almost 1000 employees)!
Who is your work-style inspiration?
My celebrity crushes have always been designers. Phoebe Philo, Stella McCartney, and Carolina Herrera always look absolutely perfect.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever heard?
Never present a problem without a solution. Learning to be solution-oriented is such a pivotal point in your career. It’s one thing that really distinguishes true leader.
What do you love most about Old Navy’s Power Jean, and why?
They’re so easy to wear and look really polished. As a full-time working mom, I really need fashion that’s functional.
How do you style your jeans for work?
I like to dress up my jeans when I wear them to work with pumps, a blouse, and a blazer. Pumps and a well-tailored jacket always make me feel more professional and confident.
Can you give your top styling advice for your workwear wardrobe?
Always err on being professional. You will never regret looking too polished. Nobody wants to see your bra (avoid see-through tops) or belly (sorry, crop tops). And please rethink cutouts.
If I didn’t make it in fashion, my Plan B was to become a _____.
Senator. I still think about running for office every day.
Give us a brief description on your job.
My job can be summed up as doing a little of a lot. I’m officially the founder and CEO of Farmgirl Flowers, but I call myself chief Farmgirl because I have my hands in just about everything—product development and design, operations, marketing, finance, team management, strategy—and everything in between!
What did you wear to your first job interview?
A cheap brown poly-blend pleated skirt suit with a tie-neck leopard-print blouse! I wore that suit to every important engagement in high school, feeling so grown-up and fashionable, which is why I remember it so well.
Describe your workwear style.
My daily uniform is a pair of destructed jeans, a Naked Cashmere sweater, a warm scarf, Smartwool socks and Dansko Maria clogs. For meetings throughout the day, I take off the scarf, throw on a blazer, switch the clogs to heels, add some Jenny Bird or Mignonne Gavigan jewelry, take down the topknot, and go!
What’s your stance on when to wear jeans to work? Why do you feel that way?
I wear jeans to work 90% of the time. I think they’re chameleon-like—they can adapt to just about any situation simply by what you pair them with. Throw on a silk shirt, blazer, heels and jewelry, and you look polished yet cool.
Who (real or fictional) is your work style inspiration?
Our office/warehouse is super industrial, and not in the cute way you might be thinking, so our typical dress code is more “model-way-off-duty” than inspirational. In my fictional life, I would dress like Katie Holmes or Priyanka Chopra, and completely nail it.
Give us a word that describes both power jeans and power women.
Resilience. Every truly powerful woman I look up to embodies this, as does every great pair of power jeans!
What’s something that would surprise people about your job?
I think people would be surprised to find out that there is absolutely nothing glamorous about my job. It’s dirty and strenuous, and I absolutely love it! Most people think I sit in a beautiful office tucked away in a white subway tile– and reclaimed wood–laden warehouse and play with flowers, but that’s not the case at all. I work in a garden shed–turned-office in a cold, damp warehouse where we’ve hung ugly plastic tarps from the ceiling to prevent the pigeon you-know-what from landing on us.
Many people tell me that I have their dream job getting to play with flowers all day, or that they want to do this as their second act when they retire. I think it’s easy to glamorize creative companies, and I probably did the same before actually doing it—but I want to keep it real and let everyone know that it’s hard and far from what it seems like on Instagram. And like most businesses, it requires more work than anyone can imagine unless they’ve done it themselves.
Can you give your top styling advice for your workwear wardrobe?
The most important element is layering and building outfits that can change very quickly from informal to formal and accommodate an ever-changing schedule. Also, never underestimate how much a few pieces of jewelry and a bold lip can do to dress up your outfit.
What’s your power track?
I have SO many! Top of the list is definitely No Doubt’s “Just a Girl,” which was hugely impactful to me in the early years. I still go back to it often when I need a good rally song.