There's no doubt that the clothes and accessories we wear can imbue us with a certain sense of confidence. On a low-energy day, slipping on a well-cut blazer or sleek mules can be all it takes to feel prepared, and when you're short on time, having a go-to "uniform" can be a savior.
"How I dress is a reflection of what I need to conquer that day," says Michelle Kennedy, founder of Peanut, an app that connects moms with similar interests. "On days that I have difficult meetings … what I wear is my armor and does a huge amount to abate my nerves."
Kennedy isn't the only one who turns to a few carefully chosen power items in her wardrobe for a jolt of confidence. Here, we asked women with both business and style acumen in tech, publishing, design, and art to open their wardrobes. From a wrinkle-proof dress that can survive a red-eye to Gucci sliders that are ideal for running to meetings, these are the items cool CEOs, founders, and execs wear on repeat.
"I love clothes and I love shopping, but the reality is I have much less time to ponder what to wear on a weekday morning—especially with my 3-year-old in the mix who just wants me to play trucks. I usually go for simple, well-made things with special yet understated details. When I find something I like and test-wear it a bit, I often go back and stock up!"
"Season after season, I consistently love A.P.C.; it's a major source for things I wear to work all the time—especially the shoes and leather goods. I own these sandals in an oxblood red, black, and I'm eyeing the navy ones with silver buckles (yes, I admit I have a problem). They are the dressier salt-water sandals of adulthood."
"Everyone looks great in a white shirt—man, woman, probably even dog. A good crisp white shirt (I have Gap, J.Crew, Carolina Herrera, you name it) or pretty white silk top with some interesting details (Vince, Joie, Chloé always make good ones) makes anyone look instantly fresh and pulled together."
On cooler nights or in air conditioning, I reach for a thin pullover. I am embarrassed to admit I have this cotton Cos sweater in gray, navy, and black. Our entire office seems to shop at Cos. They are certainly a trusty spot for work staples."
"On days that I have difficult meetings I want to project the very best version of me without losing my personality—I want to be pulled together and sharp but still playful. Sometimes, we're really head down in the product, and on those days, my uniform is my Peanut sweatshirt and jeans.
"Sometimes, you can't do heels because you're running to meetings. I love these loafers. You always look together, they are crazy comfortable, and they're [available in] Peanut pink."
"I love the New York label 3x1. They have a great cut, and the more you wash them, the better they get (imperative with tiny sticky hands touching my clothes every day!)."
"I am obsessed with every dress and jumpsuit Reformation does. I love that I can wear this dress, feel like I have armor on. and look feminine. And I love the social conscience of the brand too."
"My work style is all about relaxed elegance. I'm constantly on the go and traveling, so I need outfits that can keep up."
"Brunello Cucinelli pants are staples in my wardrobe—they are perfectly cut, super comfortable, and come in a range of beautiful fabrics from silks to cashmere to leathers. I wear them with a structured white shirt or a relaxed cashmere sweater and a nude heel or slip-on loafers."
"If I need to go straight from a red-eye flight to the boardroom, I'll wear a dress from Maria Cornejo—I love how architectural they are while still being easy and wrinkle-proof. I'll throw on a nude heel and I'm good to go."
"I'm definitely a little extra when it comes to workwear, and my style is always just a little overdressed. I like to think that I'm making up for my days in finance when my greatest style rebellion was pairing pastel nails with my ill-fitting suits!
"I'm also a slave to a routine, and having a 7-month-old baby means my mornings are anything but relaxed. I can't quite commit to a work uniform, but I do have a few foolproof staples that carry me through the mornings when I'm totally uninspired and/or covered in mashed-up baby food."
"These are so slimming and make you feel instantly professional. I like to hide my highest heels under these since they'e super wide-leg."
"I definitely over-wear these! They clip on and are super light, and they instantly dress up even the most boring outfit. I love going totally maximalist with these and pairing them with lots of color and pattern, but they work just as well with a great pair of jeans and a sweater."
What's your go-to workwear item?