Strong Suit: 12 People We Admire Share What They Wear to Look (and Feel) Powerful at Work

From the outside, Mindy Kaling is the definition of confidence. She’s never been afraid to speak out, she isn’t afraid to be vulnerable (she was so open about her fears of raising her daughter as a single mom), and she has redefined the outdated beauty (growing up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she wasn’t considered “traditionally cute”) and gender standards in Hollywood (for the first year, she was the only woman on staff at The Office) paving the way for the rest of us. But Kaling will be the first to tell you that she wasn’t born with confidence or as she calls it that “bulletproof feeling”—it was earned.

Just hearing that makes us all sigh a little in relief, and yet it also makes us acutely aware of the work that needs to be done to acquire it. One quick and simple solution is via the outfit you wear to work. Clothing can be an incredibly powerful tool to summon confidence and self-assurance—what that outfit is, however, is different for everyone. That’s way we launched our new series, Strong Suit where we ask people we admire what to wear to work and how it makes them feel.

Read on to hear from founders, entrepreneurs, and CEOs and be sure to let us know who you want to see featured next.

Jules Miller

Jules Miller

Founder, The Nue Co

Jules’ Work Outfit:

Nike Air Force 1’s

“You can’t go wrong with AF1’s—they’re classic and I like these because they have a slight twist on the original design"

Stella McCartney Silk Shirt

“Wearing comfortable clothes that make me feel confident is important for my day-to-day wear. I really like the cut and the fit of this silk shirt."   

Mother High Rise Skinny Jeans

“Jeans are a staple in my wardrobe. I find Mother fit really well so I have these in a few different colors and designs."

Tibi Linen Blazer

“This oversized blazer is an easy addition for an updated work outfit. I throw it over a shirt and jeans or a dress."

Jennifer Fisher Gold Hoop Earrings

“I wear hoops daily, but my favorite are these Jennifer Fisher earrings. I’m a big fan of all Jennifer Fisher’s designs, especially these, as they’re simple, and elevate any outfit I wear.”

Comme Des Garçons Small Zip Pouch

“The Comme Des Garçons pouch is the perfect size for everything I need. It fits just the right amount of cards and I can throw it into any day bag or smaller bag when I’m out for the night.”

The Nue Co Topical C

“My go-to beauty product is our Topical-C. It’s the one product I can say consistently keeps my skin bright, glowing and smooth. I mix around 2-3 shakes in with my face cream, morning and night."

Natalie Alcala—Fashion Mamas

Natalie Alcala

Founder, Fashion Mamas

Natalie’s Work Outfit:

Anine Bing Becki Suit

“This is my dream suit. I'd wear it with a black or white bodysuit at work, and go bare under the blazer for a night out. Date night would inspire me to trade the pants for a mini skirt.”

Nanushka Tandi Belt Dress

“I love the silhouette of this mini dress, and the fact that it has buttons which I can easily undo for breastfeeding on the fly.”

UO Pennsport Plaid Button-Front Skirt

“Urban Outfitters is my go-to for quick mini skirts. I like to have an arsenal of them at all times. They're comfortable, accessible, and came be worn with both heels and sneakers.”

LACUSA Sycamore Dress

“LACAUSA is one of my favorite local L.A. brands. I love that this dress is beautiful for work but also cozy enough to keep on when you're hanging around the house after work. I'm one of those people who has to change into cozy clothes the second I walk into my home.”

Rachel Pally Linen Rocco Jumpsuit

“This jumpsuit screams I mean business. I love that you can work all day in this, in a variety of environments, and that it also zips down to your liking.”

Fur founders—work outfits

Lillian Tung and Laura Schubert

Co-founders, Fur

Laura’s Work Outfit:

Pleats Please Pants by Issey Miyake

“As a business owner and mom to a toddler, I gravitate towards clothing that is versatile and durable without sacrificing style. I feel powerful in these knowing that I'll be ready to take on any situation, whether that's catching a flight, going to meetings, or chasing my daughter on the playground, who runs alarmingly fast for a two year old.”

Hanes x Karla the Crew t-shirt

“It's been said a million times, but having classic, go-to staples in your closet is a must. I love these updated Hanes classics designed by Karla Welch—it's the perfect boxy tee.”

Jill Platner Jewelry

“Jill Platner is a sculptor and jewelry maker who makes all her pieces on Crosby Street, only a few minutes away from where I used to live in Soho. In addition to being beautiful and durable pieces I can wear every day, I love that a lot of the metal she uses are made from recycled materials, in an effort to offset the environmental impact of mining.Z”

Zero Maria Cornejo Apron Dress

“Zero Maria Cornejo is a great woman-run brand that makes all their clothing in NYC, using sustainable practices. I recently got this denim apron dress that I love—I'll sometimes layer my Hanes x Karla tshirt underneath it so that I'm not shivering in the office.”

Lillian’s Work Outfit:

Fila Disruptor 2 Premium Sneakers

“I was recently told that the teens calls these ‘dinostompers’ but they're honestly so comfortable and fun. I wouldn't go as far as to call myself a sneakerhead but I like a good flashy sneaker that feels more dressy than athleisure. And you know what, I feel powerful dinostomping around in these.” 

Kiton Classic Dress Shirt

“While I was pregnant, I stole these from my husband's closet all the time—and now that I'm nursing, I'm not planning on giving them back. They're crisp, comfortable, and look great buttoned up or left open with a shirt underneath.” 

Issey Miyake Le Pain Trousers

“Laura had these on her list too, but I like the more wide leg funky shaped ones. Like she said, they're just such incredibly versatile pants and clearly very well designed.”

Stella McCartney blazer

“Having a power blazer in the arsenal is crucial. It's also the easiest way to dress up a t-shirt or whatever you have on underneath. It's cliche, but you can't not feel powerful in a good blazer.”

Laura Lombardi Franca Chain

“I love what Laura Lombardi is doing with her jewelry—they all seem to have such an eternal summer feel. She's an NYC based designer, and makes her pieces with almost exclusively raw or recycled metals, so it's a great brand I can get behind.”

Fur's Nothing-to-Hide Tote Bag

“We designed these tote bags with the slogan ‘Nothing to Hide’ as an homage to our mission at Fur of normalizing body hair, and being leaders in opening up the conversation. It comes with orders of the Fuller Frontal bundle, but lucky for me I'm always able to snag a few from the office supply.”

Anine Bing

Anine Bing

Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Anine Bing

Anine’s Work Outfit:

Anine Bing Becky Blazer and Anine Bing Becky Trouser

“There’s something so rock ‘n’ roll about a power suit. I love pairing something timeless with a tee and statement boots—this is a uniform that leaves me feeling ready for anything which is why it’s one of my go-to’s. I love this pinstripe pattern because it's so timeless, but when paired with a tee, this style can feel new again and modern. It’s so easy to dress up or down.”

Anine Bing Annabelle Boots

“I wear boots every single day. They give every look that perfect amount of rock ‘n’ roll. I love our Annabelle boots in white to break up the dark suit.”

Mary Peffer

Mary Peffer

Los Angeles-based writer and photographer.

Mary’s Work Outfit:

Re/Done Levi’s Ultra High Rise Ankle Crop

“I’m polyamorous when it comes to my denim wardrobe and there’s something about old Levi’s that really allow you to move with confidence. Crucial since I’m always rolling around trying to take the perfect photo. Re/Done nails basically every design they conceive and their skinny jeans are no exception. Put them on and live your life as they mold to your body with each wear. “

JBrand Elsa Birthday Blazer In Black Leather

“Two words: power shoulder. Elsa Hosk’s buttery leather jacket makes you feel at once chic and like you can take over the world.” 

Acne Studios Technical Sneakers

“I’ve always been a black-boot girl but this summer I leaned into sneakers out of necessity due to living on set and now I rarely take my Acne’s off. Who doesn’t want to work with pillows under their feet?” 

Celine Medium C Bag

“When it comes to handbags, Hedi Slimane can do no wrong in my eyes. After some significant denial about my financial means I took the plunge and invested in the C bag for my birthday. Reasoning my emotional response was intuition telling me this cross body with compartment space for days was rare. But maybe most importantly for me, I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about seeing my industry peers rocking duplicates coming and going. Something I can’t stand when dropping a significant sum. Happy to report it has proven to be an extension of my body for its polished yet edgy vibe. “

Lauren Alexander—LNA Clothing

Lauren Alexander

Founder, LNA Clothing

“My go-to, everyday office look, has been a white t-shirt and blue jeans for almost 14 years. We started LNA with just four white t-shirts in 2006 and it’s still my ultimate uniform. I grew up in California so classic relaxed dressing has always been my thing. I feel the most confident when I am being true to my personal style—in or out of the office. And plus, a perfectly worn pair of jeans and a crisp white tee is never going to go out of style.”

Lauren’s Work Outfit:

LNA Ava Tee

“My most worn LNA tee of 2019 is the Ava tee. It’s slightly cropped and boxy which a super thick neckband. I wanted it to look like you cut an old Hanes tee that was about 2 sizes too big for you.”

Ophidia GG Tote

“Because my daily uniform is pretty basic I really focus on accessories to elevate my look and keep it from getting boring. Shoes, earrings, and my workbag are always my focus. It makes my jeans and tee outfit so much more fun. It’s where I tend to spend more money because to be honest these accessories get the most use and also take the biggest beating. I never treat anything like its too precious—I love the way my Gucci work bag gets all scratched and worn from over stuffing it with fabric and lugging it around to factories.“

Gucci Quilted slide sandal with Interlocking G Horsebit

“The main area where I like to change it up and keep things from getting mundane is my shoes. Designer shoes are a splurge, but my twin sister always repeats a quote to me when we go shoe shopping—“you spend the majority of your life in bed or in shoes”—and I just love that quote. I was in Italy last week and brought these quilted Gucci slides. They look like bedroom slippers and they are just the most comfortable shoes on the planet. I have worn them every single day since I got them.”

AGolde Cherie High-Rise Straight Jean

“I currently have 10 pairs of blue jeans that I keep on rotation. I used to only wear Levi’s but since last year I have become a massive AGolde fan. They remind me so much of old Levi’s and are my current go-to’s.”

Luv AJ Cross Hoops

“My favorite jewelry to wear every day is Luv Aj. Amanda (the owner and designer) is a friend of mine but I would wear it even if I didn’t already love her. I sleep, work out, shower, swim in the ocean, and work in her jewelry. My most worn Luv Aj pieces are always the earrings. I live in her cross hoops and dagger earrings the most. I love the edge they give my outfit. They are also the accessories I get asked most about. The rest of my jewelry is either vintage or one-of-a-kind.” 

B-Low the Belt Baby Bri Bri Belt

“I grew up riding horses so I’m a sucker with anything that ties back to it. I love belts that have a western or ranch look to them. I saw a street style photo of Candice Swanepoel wearing one like this and I had to buy.”

Beautycounter Precision Liquid Eyeliner

“Another important element of my daily uniform is my make up. I always, always, always wear a cat eye. I like to think it’s my signature along with my red nails. It’s a way to instantly make me feel more dressed up and put together. I’m very big on natural and non toxic beauty so I use a lot of BeautyCounter products. I could go on and on about my whole routine, but, my eyeliner is defiantly the focus. The BC liquid liner is prefect for my every day cat eye and really stays put. I’ve tried almost every natural eyeliner, and this one is definitely one of my faves.”

Dr Melissa Doft

Dr. Melissa Doft

“I almost always wear a dress to work. Being a female plastic surgeon is a rarity and I love to let my feminine side show through—it is also so much easier. Perhaps because I am a surgeon, I favor tailored clothing. To feel great in your clothes, you need to choose brands which fit your body well or have them tailored. I also love clothes with a fun detail or top stitching. Here are some things which I have my eye on.”

Melissa’s Work Outfit:

Zac Posen Asymmetric-Neck Sheath Dress

“I love the strong color of this dress. So often New Yorkers wear only black so I usually want to throw a color into the mix. This dress is tailored but sexy. I love it.”

Miu Miu Crystal-Embellished Ruffled Mini Dress

“I love this cady dress. I wear this style often as it’s both professional and classic. The pink makes it fun and more modern.”  

Gabriela Hearst Polka-Dot Silk-Twill Midi Dress

“Shirt dresses always work well. To me, they are equivalent to wearing a button down but so much better, and I like to be more playful with prints like understated polka-dots.”

J.Crew Fluted Hem A-Line Dress

“Tweed makes me feel grown-up, but the print and little ruffle are so fun.”

Melissa Jones

Melissa Jones

CEO and Creative Director, DTE Studio

Photo: Su Mustecaplioglu

Melissa’s Work Outfit:

Dries Van Noten Sateen Double-Breasted Blazer
Dries Van Noten Crepe Wide-Leg Trousers

"I love an oversized blazer and trousers, it’s comfortable, not tight and restrictive and the oversized look adds a playful touch but is still business. Dries Van Noten is my favorite for suits; tailored but casual and easy. His suits are perfect to wear together or as separates, you can’t go wrong with this kind of an investment."

Rentrayage GY/B Rosette Tee

"For an everyday look it’s always cool to dress down a suit so wearing a casual top is more my style. My friend Erin Beatty (formerly of Suno) started this awesome new brand Rentrayage to repurpose, reinvent and redesign existing clothes. I love this piece from her latest t-shirt collection but they sell out fast."

Stella McCartney Shirt

"For a super important meeting where you want to make an impression I love a clean, fresh white blouse. To avoid contributing to over-consumerism I try to buy these basics from outlets or designer warehouses so that I still get the quality I want but I’m helping to reduce waste by buying great products from unsold older collections."

Mejuri Single Mini Hoop

"With jewelry, I prefer pieces that I can wear every day and never take off. I’m not great with changing my jewelry everyday so simple clean styles like a tennis bracelet or gold hoop earring are my staple. Jewelry Designer Bliss Lau is a client and friend and I adore her work so she creates custom rings for me that expand on her Kaleidoscope puzzle ring—five rings in one that you can mix and match. I love creating new combinations with her pieces."

Balenciaga BB Slingback Flat Ballerina

"For shoes, my go-to is a flat pointed toe. It’s comfortable and stylish, not too frumpy. I’m obsessed with these Balenciaga flats lately."

Rachel Krupa

Rachel Krupa

Rachel’s Work Outfit:

Goop Annika Henley Bodysuit 

“ I’m obsessed with this bodysuit, it’s literally the one piece that I always travel with.  It’s so versatile. Great with jeans, shirt, under a dress, heck, I’ve even wore it under leggings to work out—a staple.”

Kosas Phoenix Red Lipstick

“I feel awake when I put on my red lip. This is the perfect red that can be worn day or night. It literally boosts my confidence.”

Everlane The Trainer

“I call these my cool grandpa shoes. They are sustainable which adds a pep to my step and they are comfortable.”    

Annie Bing Rosemary Slip Dress 

“Three words to describe this dress:  sophisticated, sexy and comfortable. I’m loving pairing this dress with my Everlane Threads.”

Annie Bing Juliette Sweater

“Hot outside equals cold inside. When the air conditioner is bumping, I love tossing this sweater on. It’s a beautiful color and sooo soft.”

Fleur Du Mal Straight Neck Cami 

“I’m all about how things feel and this cami feels incredible on. My work uniform is typically black, white, navy and grey with pops of red. This is my go-to red.” 

Rachel Comey Legion Jeans

“I love a good high waisted jean… it’s something about feeling like I’m getting a hug all day long.”  

AYR The Onliest Jeans

“If I were to live in a decade based on fashion, I would have been the 70’s and these jeans are the perfect pair. Soft to the touch, high waisted and really interesting.”

unnamed-1.jpg

Evelyn Couzijn

La Prairie Vice President Sales, North America

Photo: Russell Starr @ Starr Digital Photo Inc.

Evelyn’s Work Outfit:

Dolce & Gabbana Half-Sleeve Jewel-Neck Sheath Dress

“This classic dress is perfect for a day in the office or to meet clients.  Classic, simple and sleek exudes confidence.”

Tom Ford Bell-Sleeve Silk Sheath Cocktail Dress

“This dress is great when the day moves into an evening function for classic elegance.”

The Row Devi Sleeveless Sheath Dress

“Another classic dress for the office or for meetings out of the office.  Classic no frills make this a comfortable style that is non-distracting.”

Giorgio Armani Formal Jacket

One can never go wrong with an Armani suit. The relax cut in the pants and jacket makes sitting and working at a desk super comfortable. This style takes it up a notch with a velvet blazer that works from day into the evening. The midnight blue is very flattering.”

Donna Karan Double Breasted Jumpsuit

”This Donna Karen jumpsuit is perfect for a no-fuss day touring malls. Easy to walk and sit in.” 

Dr. Lamees Hamdan

Dr. Lamees Hamdan

CEO and Founder, Shiffa

“I don’t wear full-on suits. I wear either a cool pant (by Marni, Chloe or The Row) with a shirt, or a suit jacket with neutral pants. I love midi and long dresses as well. Every season I buy a silk printed shirt from Isabel Marant. Comfort, good fabrics and great cuts rule above everything else for me. I would rather repeat something to death, than buy lesser quality, or buy more clothes. And I build on things—I expect to wear my clothes each season, so I tend to choose styles that don’t date, or that are “anti-fashion” such as Marni and Prada.”

Lamees’ Work Outfit:

Isabel Marant Jalford Ruched Roll-Neck Top

“Leopard print for me is a neutral, and I am so into nude palettes right now (my only colorful clothes come from Marni).”

Brooks Brothers Merino Wool Jacket

“This blazer is so beautifully cut, nice and sharp—I wear it all the time.”

J. Crew Silk Button-Up Shirt

“Silk shirts (black, white, and colors) from J. Crew are great value and beautiful to wear.”

Borgo De Nor Rafaela Orchid and Leopard-Print Crepe Midi Dress

“This dress is supremely comfortable, sexy yet professional at the same time.  I love this dress and it’s quickly becoming a favorite (I’ve already worn it many times).”

Chloe Caravan Silk Pants

“I find good pants are a must, so I usually get mine from Chloe and The Row.  They both look good on my body type, and, especially Chloe, always has interesting prints. Because I live in hot areas, I find loose silk printed pants very useful (T-shirt for a casual office look, with a blazer for a “meeting” look).”

Manolo Blahnik Carolyne Leather Low-Heel Slingback Pump

“For shoes I usually go for neutrals—Manolo Blahnik nude sling backs or gold Gucci gold pumps. I bought these Monolos in nude and wear them until I need a new pair. It covers me for so many outfits, both dresses and pants.”

Gucci Marmont Metallic Loafer

“ I bought these years ago when they first launched, and I find I use them a lot especially fall/winter. The block heel is strong and the gold color gives a little playful irreverence to your look. I don’t like a ‘too-stuffy-office’ look.”

Kim Perell

Kim Perell

Angel Investor, National Bestselling Author and Tech CEO

Kim’s Work Outfit:

Karen Millen Forever Dress

“Black dresses are simple and always look good, no matter the setting.”

Ted Baker Michahd Dress

“This is a great comfortable dress with an exposed zipper up the back, which is always recognizable.”

Theory Travel Wool Classic Blazer

“A red blazer is a powerful color which stands out and makes for a great statement piece. Wear this for a professional look with a little bit of flair.”

Madewell The Reid Ballet Flat

“My job requires me to travel up to 80% of the time and a classic black flat will always look classy and comfortable for long walks through the airport or between meetings.”

Manolo Blahnik BB Pumps

“This is a great investment piece. Classic, professional, comfortable and will take you from meetings, to dinners, to after work events.”

Vince Camuto Savilla Point-Toe Pump

“A black classic pump with a wearable heal height. Perfect for a young woman building her wardrobe.”

Longchamp Le Pliage Tote Bag

“I love a big bag. It provides enough space to keep everything including my purse, laptop, and any business materials, as well as a change of shoes. This bag is easy to travel with and matches everything.”

Up Next: 3 Thoughts That Are Holding You Back From Everything You Want in Life.