The New Suit: Meet The 10 Most Creative, Innovative Entrepreneurs Redefining Office Style

The movers and shakers of our parents’ generation donned wing tips, wide ties, and poly pantsuits en route to the office. The look — and the work — was often practical and predictable, a mirror of the more conservative times. They reserved casual fashions like Levi's, sundresses, and quirky kicks for their off hours only... sad, but true.
But this generation's movers and shakers dream of — and often commute to — creative studios festooned with foosball tables and beanbags, instead of cookie-cutter cubicles. Alongside ideas of work and success, the company suit has also undergone an evolution. Today's innovators are as likely to wear plaids and skinny jeans as they are old-school worsted wool. And under the conference table, double-stacked heels and collector’s-edition high-tops share space with classic oxfords. Looking around a modern workspace, you might wonder if there's any contemporary office dress code at all.
Advertisement
Levi’s® — whose workwear has graduated from the mines to the boardroom — is our hunting partner as we Go Forth to track down the elusive modern professional wardrobe. With them, we've sought out those who are reimagining office style today — this generation's most inspired and successful young entrepreneurs. Come along and meet the men and women who are not only forging new professional paths, but defining what The New Suit can be in a world where anything goes.
1 of 10
Don’t be fooled by her smile and crown of roses — Denise Porcaro is a workhorse (a very pretty one at that).

Using only the most delicate tools — her hands and organic flowers — this chic, city girl has forged a business that’s changing her industry. Since 2004, the sharp founder of Flower Girl NYC has been creating unique, unexpected, and totally heart-melting arrangements of seasonal blooms, succulents, and other flora that have had wedding magazines and brides beating a path to her curious little shop. Her MO? Back up her natural, refined taste with a lot of hard work — no big shakes.

Like her arrangements, this flower girl's on-the-job style looks effortless and organic. But, surprise, surprise, all that casual wear is actually a curated craftswoman's outfit for keeping shop and courting chic clientele — a New Suit for a blooming business.

Because we're so head over heels for her, we grabbed Porcaro to find out how she arranged her unique career and her freshly cut take on the working woman's wardrobe. Here, we wrapped up her photos and answers in a pretty bouquet, just for you.

From Film To Flowers
"Well, I started doing flowers on the side as a purely creative outlet in 2001 while I was pursuing production design. Production design was one of those things we all did in our 20s while figuring out what we really want to do in our 30s and 40s (or, basically, as a real grown-up). I mean, in college, I toyed around with the possibility of cooking. I also thought about being a nurse at one point. I always knew that I would either be creating or caring, in one capacity or another."

Artist & Caretaker
"Flowers were always a passion of mine, and I always say, 'Do what you love.' (Honestly, why wouldn’t you?) Right now, this is my creative outlet, whether it be creating the brand, an arrangement, caring for a bride to make her big day extra special, or caring for my employees (who care for me, too, by the way!)"

Style Roots
"I think my clients or projects dictate how I dress. Am I in the shop? Headed to meetings uptown? Hopping in the car for a drive to our plant wholesaler? It's a product of who you are associated with, surrounded by, and the environment. Personally, I'm a lover of embracing the season, both in my outfits and my flower creations. Being a creative person has also helped. There isn’t one person that I totally call my icon — but I'm around other creative people and things that continue to inspire me all of the time."

Suit Yourself
"Wear what you feel the best in, and keep it stylish and user friendly. It doesn’t have to be that difficult. I feel so many people wind up in a uniform (myself included). But if that’s what you are comfortable in — even if you wear it every day — do it! When you're comfortable, you're happy, and when you're happy, you're more creative. It's a positive-vicious cycle!"

Levi's Striped Sweater Dress, $78, available at Levi.com.

Photographed at her previous work space, where Flower Girl NYC shared a space with Earnest Sewn for five great years. Flower Girl NYC has moved to a new home all its own, 245 Eldridge Street — opening at the end of this month.

Photographed by Maia Harms, Hair by Bryan Feiss, Makeup by Tiffany Patton
.
2 of 10
When Kevin Systrom combined his professional experience at start-ups with his personal passion for photography and co-founded Instagram (aka, the best app ever), he was putting creativity and bold ideas before profit. It’s the formula championed by our current generation of forward-thinking entrepreneurs. The fact that Systrom sold Instagram to Facebook for approximately $1 billion earlier this year is the proof it works (big, fat proof).

But, unlike so many Internet multimillionaires (we're looking at you, Zuckerberg), Systrom has left behind the de rigueur Silicon Valley business suit — sandals and a hoodie. A former Massachusetts prep-school kid, he’s far more comfortable in chambray button-downs, desert boots, and pegged jeans as he charts Instagram’s future from its sunny, midcentury-styled San Francisco office.

Inspired by his drive, creativity, and style, we asked this millennial poster boy for success to give us a few wise words on his personal path, his custom-built offices, the New Suit for the start-up worker, and, of course, to follow our Instagram feed.

Breaking Away
“I actually started working at start-ups while I was still at Stanford. Around then, I did an internship at Odeo (which eventually became Twitter). Then I spent nearly three years at Google. After that, I split off to work with some co-workers on a start-up — that didn't pan out. Eventually, I decided to work on one independently with my co-founder, Mike Krieger, and that's how Instagram came to be.”

Photo Shop
“Originally, we worked on a pier in San Francisco at two desks we rented in a co-working space. Back then, we were so enveloped in our work that work space was rarely a concern. Recently though, we've gone to great lengths to work with a designer to make a work space that really feels like our own. I look around this space now and think how far we’ve come from two desks!”

School Ties
“People assume that because we work at Instagram, we're hipsters. Thing is, I went to boarding school on the East Coast, so it'd be tough to find me in a shirt without a collar. I guess that makes me a creature of habit, though I’m all about matching with a great pair of funky shoes.”

No Sweat (Shirts)
“I definitely try to dress up more than most people at a start-up — you won't find us in hoodies here. We're craftspeople, and I think that shows in our choices, whether they be software design choices or what we wear. That said, I want people to know we work hard, but that we're not too serious. I think I'd get banned from my office if I showed up in a suit.”

Start-Up Style
“There are long days and stressful times with a growing company, so it’s super important to stay comfortable, happy, and confident. Invest in basics that make you feel good — a great watch, solid shoes for different occasions, etc. Trust me, a tiny bit of effort to cover the basics goes a long, long way.”

Levi's 511 Skinny Trousers, $58, available at Levi.com
Levi's Stock Workshirt, $68, available at Levi.com.

Photographed by Maia Harms, Hair by Kendall Shira, Makeup by Katie Nash.
3 of 10
Sometimes, the most innovative ideas come from the past. Before the rise of big-chain stores, women bought bras that actually, you know, fit from professionals who used expertise and the right questions to find the proper sizing and support. It's a kind of — excuse the pun — intimate, customer-service rarity in modern retail. But two tech-savvy women have made it available to anyone with an Internet connection.

Created by Michelle Lam and Aarthi Ramamurthy, True & Co. is the online version of your grandmother's intimates shop. After asking intelligent, charming questions — “Which hook do you clasp your bra with?” and “Do your cups runneth over?” — the site uses a Netflix-like algorithm and express shipping to find five bras best suited for you. It's an of-the-moment way to deliver the ideal fit and a surprising education in your own body, inspired by a time-tested, almost-forgotten method.

Fascinated by the company's approach and impressed by its dedication to dressing as empowerment, we visited Lam and Ramamurthy in their specious San Francisco office to talk fits, fashion, and how their modern, working wardrobes start underneath their chic ensembles.

Underwired
Michelle Lam: “I’m glad I took the scenic route to becoming an entrepreneur. I started out crunching numbers at a Big Four accounting firm, went on to corporate strategy at Microsoft, and then spent years investing in young companies at a venture capital firm. I never imagined I’d start a lingerie company, but I did want to redefine what lingerie means to women. All lingerie, especially bras, are emotional purchases. Whether we admit it or not, it's all about liking who you are in the mirror. So, one year ago, I came up with the idea for True & Co. and Aarthi joined me in October to actually build the company.”

Aarthi Ramamurthy: “By then, I’d been building widely used products for companies like Netflix and Microsoft for more than seven years. I’d come to understand algorithms while working with big data, like how personal recommendations work at Netflix. It’s funny, prior to working with Michelle, I found shopping for bras to be an extremely painful experience. After we met and commiserated on the difficulty of finding stylish bras that fit, we began to realize the possibility of leveraging our different backgrounds to build a company that would reinvent that experience.”

Team Building
Michelle: “Our entire company sits around a giant white table in an industrial workspace… well, actually, it's five tables pushed together. We get into each other's business all the time, and the energy is incredible. On one wall, we write our favorite True&Co. customer quote of the week. It reminds us what we're all here for.”

Aarthi: “I love the open space with the sunshine coming through our big windows. The way we all sit together, I really feel like I’m working on a team, and that our culture is collaborative, open.”

Foundation Garments
Michelle: “I love something that's a little different, something that's eye-catching. Now that I have my own lingerie company, that sense of style extends to my outfit underneath. I wear a lot of bras in cool patterns or colors. I never match my bras and panties — it's all about the mix and match.”

Aarthi: “Yeah, wearing a black bra is so basic and boring, but when I put on something like the Marielle bra, I know I’m going to have a great outfit underneath. Other than that, I wear anything I want as long as it’s comfortable. My style revolves mostly around basics like jeans, T-shirts, and leather jackets, but I love my high heels and will occasionally wear dresses from Rachel Roy and Vena Cava. It’s all about confidence and being comfortable with who I am.”

Writing The Code
Michelle: “I've completely changed the way I dress for work over the past year. When I was a venture capitalist, I had a uniform — black, black, and more black. Now, as a female founder and entrepreneur, anything goes. It's very freeing to define your own ‘dress code.’ I've become a big fan of playful prints and colors. Actually, my mother and her three sisters taught me to love dresses and graceful, feminine details. Because of them, I try to make every day interesting.”

Aarthi: “At a start-up, we have a chance to set our own culture. When I moved to San Francisco and saw women in tech that dressed so well in clothes that fit, I realized you could have different styles and still look confident and put-together — that you could make yourself your own style icon.”

Michelle:
Levi's Drop Waist Dress, $80, at Levi.com

Aarthi:
Levi's Bootcut Skinny Jeans, $78, available at Levi.com.
Levi's Front Pocket Shirt, $54, available at Levi.com.

Photographed by Maia Harms, Hair by Kendall Shira, Makeup by Katie Nash.
4 of 10
Sure, they sell a centuries-old product, but Warby Parker couldn’t have existed any time but now. Founded by Wharton Business School classmates Neil Blumenthal, David Gilboa, Jeffrey Raider, and Andrew Hunt, the two-year-old eyewear brand is a true of-the-moment mix of philanthropy, fashion, e-commerce, and social-media marketing. Without much in the way of brick-and-mortar placement, they've managed to get its specs on the noses of hipsters and squares alike by leveraging low prices, solid quality, and a promise to donate a pair of eyeglasses to someone in need for every pair sold. That, and its sunnies look totally cute on us, too.

We went over to Warby Parker's nearby offices and had Blumenthal and Gilboa show us their wares, discuss how the bold brand came to be, explain the dress code for a business unlike any other, and offer some recommendations for those who want to follow in their stylish footsteps.

Vision Quest
Neil Blumenthal: “Before Warby Parker, I was the director of VisionSpring, a non-profit dedicated to reducing poverty by training entrepreneurs in developing countries to sell high-quality, low-cost eyewear. It was a true education in design, sourcing, and distribution, as well as the importance of distributing eyewear to those in need. It also affected my perspective on retail. It seemed completely crazy to me that a nice pair of glasses cost more than an iPhone! Eyewear is a form of personal expression that should be accessible to all. Griping about it to a couple of friends over beers actually planted the seeds for Warby Parker.”

David Gilboa: “Both of my parents are doctors. Growing up, I always thought I’d be one, too, so I majored in Bioengineering, did pre-med classes, even took the MCAT — but then changed my mind. I still wanted to help people, but thought I could do it through an organization instead. So, I did consulting and finance, then went back to school at Wharton, where I met my co-founders. We all thought the price of eyeglasses was insane and that we could create an organization that had a positive impact on that.”

Glass House
Neil: “Our offices are on the fifth floor of the Puck Building (where, incidentally, I had my Bar Mitzvah!). It has this terrific Romanesque Revival façade with funny, golden statues of Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream on it (they kind of look like leprechauns from a distance). It’s a landmark building with a lot of history behind it — a great match for us.”

David: “The first thing we did when we moved here was knock down all the walls to create an open plan. We wanted a layout that fostered transparency and openness — an environment that encouraged collaboration and free-flowing ideation.”

Industry Standards
Neil: “Warby Parker exists within a couple of industries at the same time, and each one of those industries has a different dress code. I’m not really sure which industry I’m in, but, hopefully, I’ve found a uniform that works equally well in the eyewear, fashion, tech, and social-enterprise worlds.”

David: “Working in fashion, anything goes — people wear outrageous things just to stand out. I tend to keep things pretty clean and simple — unless a costume party is involved. In my previous jobs, everyone looked as though they’d strolled right out of the Banana Republic or a Brooks Brothers' catalog. You went with either business casual or business formal, depending on the occasion. Now, I have a lot more freedom to wear whatever I want. Most days, that means jeans, sneakers, and a button-down or T-shirt (and glasses, of course).”

Easy On The Eyes
Neil: “Having grown up in New York City, I always walked everywhere — so, a comfortable pair of sneakers is a top requirement. Other than that, I just try to follow the Holden Caulfield rule: 'Don’t be a phony.' It’s how I try to dress and how I try to run our company. Oh, and for big meetings, I sport my usual office getup, but with a ‘Blue Steel’ expression.”

David: “When it comes to personal presentation, I follow two guidelines: Be professional and don’t take yourself too seriously. Luckily, my mom still picks out my clothes (kidding...sort of). Actually, when I’m putting together a wardrobe, I like to think of James Dean and his simple, classic, understated style… oh, and Donald Duck, because he doesn't wear pants. But seriously, my off-duty and big-meeting looks are one and the same — I just make sure to shave for the latter. Hopefully, that won't ever have to change.”

Neil: “Well, if all goes well I’ll be rocking a three-piece suit made entirely of diamonds. Kidding! Honestly, the way I dress is a reflection of who I am and, no matter what happens career-wise, I’ll still be the same person — so I can’t see it changing.”

Business Prescriptions
Neil: “Buy clothes that fit well. Too many people wear pants or shirts that are overly tight, and it’s hard to be productive if you’re cutting off circulation to your limbs. The same principle goes for overly baggy clothes. Start with a foundation of classic, good-quality staples, and build from there.”

David: “Yes, and opt for simple, classic pieces, and use accessories to add a dose of individualism to your look.”

David:
Levi's Stock Workshirt, $58, available at Levi.com.
Levi's 520 Extreme Taper Pants, $58, available at Levi.com.

Neil:
Levi's Proper Workshirt, $58, available at Levi.com.
Levi's 511 Skinny Sta-Prest Pants, $78, available at Levi.com.

Photographed by Maia Harms, Hair by Bryan Feiss, Makeup by Tiffany Patton.
Advertisement
5 of 10
Okay, perhaps you know the company that made the chair you’re sitting on (IKEA?). Maybe you’re really savvy and also know who designed it (Eames?). But you’d really have to be quite clever to know who drafted, built, finished, and marketed it — or you're just a client of Jared Rusten.

The owner and operator of J. Rusten Furniture Studio, Rusten is not only a supreme talent at bringing utility and design out of natural beauty, he’s part of a larger movement trying to recapture American craftsmanship. Rooted in the tools and trades we almost abandoned a generation ago, these young woodworkers are conscious of the state of their craft, ready to take risks, and see their products not just as furniture, but as sculpture for living — experiments you can sit on.

We took a tour of Rusten's studio/woodworking shop/gallery/garage in San Francisco's Mission district and discovered an artist and artisan in love with his work and his jeans. Read on for his tips on perfectly constructed professional dressing.

Against The Grain
"I figured I'd land in a design-related creative field, but a year at an office workstation convinced me I needed a different work venue. I'd caught the bug for building a few years earlier while making a gift for a girlfriend and became determined to make a living at it. So, I paid my dues apprenticing, and, bolstered by a little ego and irrational optimism, I struck out on my own. It's not a proven or well-trod career path, I've found a field where I can really take ownership of what I do — conception, engineering, manufacturing, finishing, and, finally, marketing, and branding. My reward comes when I'm in the final stages of assembling a new design or popping the grain with a first coat of oil. It makes the hustle and the worn fingers worth it."

Bake Shop
"The raw, turn-of-the-century bakery I work in now had been on the rental market for a while. Potential renters passed it up because it was too rough or were denied because they wanted to use it for questionable agricultural operations. It's taken a lot of sweat, but we now have 3,000 square feet of space for a work studio, a gallery, and a garage to park my truck. It's also located in a great residential neighborhood — my neighbors keep me from working too late (a welcome restriction), kids play outside of the studio, and I have room to host events and art shows with my childhood friend Benjamin Fanger, who shares the space with me."

Utility Suit
"My work in the studio demands a comfortable, hearty wardrobe. I buy T-shirts by the dozens, and usually rock a single color for a couple years until I transition to a new batch. I have multiple pairs of the same jeans. One of my interns thought I was wearing the same dirty shirt and jeans every day until recently when she saw a pile of my laundry. It may be cliché, but I admire people like Steve Jobs for their dedication to a signature look. It's a great lesson in utility and marketing."

Carpenter Chic
"When I started woodworking, PBS master-craftsman Norm Abrams represented the prevailing aesthetic: beard, flannel shirt, jeans, Red Wings — lumberjack lite. Among my peers at that time, masculine work wear was decidedly uncool. But, I've always liked being a little contrarian, and I rocked my own version of 1940s shop teacher. The trend has cycled around, though, and you're now as likely to see a graphic designer or programmer in a full Norm Abrams rig-out as one of my fellow tradespeople. I personally still tend toward a vintage, masculine aesthetic (minus the flannel and beard)."

Antiques Roadshow
"Part of why I was drawn to woodworking was a passion for things that increase in value with age and use. For example, I use a finish on my furniture that might not be the most impervious to spills, but produces a gorgeous natural patina over the decades. My favorite clothes are like that — sturdy pieces that are well broken-in or vintage articles still going strong after 80 years."

Fine Cuts
"The good stuff is expensive, but it's worth it. You should support quality, local or legacy brands that are trying to do things the right way. Another lesson that took me way too long to figure out: Dress for your body type. Not everything is going to work for you, so take some time to figure out the cuts that flatter your proportions the best."

Levi's '50s Tee, $25, available at Levi.com.
Levi's 508 Regular Taper Line 8 Jeans, $78, available at Levi.com.

Photographed by Maia Harms, Hair by Kendall Shira, Makeup by Katie Nash.
6 of 10
Fancy a magazine with Rachel Antonoff on the cover instead of Kim Kardashian? Would you rather read about Josephine Baker than Kristen Stewart? Well, you’re probably a Matchbook girl.

Bravely launched in 2011, Matchbook is an adorably addictive, online periodical published by two friends with a yen for classic decor and timeless style. The self-proclaimed "field guide to a charmed life" is already beloved by a growing army of girls (some of whom work at Refinery29), thanks in large part to its co-founder and editorial director, Katie Armour, the pixie-cut physical representation of her title's aesthetic.

An open-eyed optimist with a killer design sense and a look to match, Armour invited us into her brand-new Manhattan home/office to show us how the new paperless magazine publisher lives and works, offering drops of style advice for the next generation of aspiring writers and editors — wherever they're going to be published.

Internet Explorer
“Growing up, I always loved glossy magazines, but I never foresaw a future in digital publishing (I mean, it didn’t really exist back then). When I was working in residential interior design, I was always blogging about pieces I loved. Eventually, I teamed up with Jane, my business partner and close friend from college, to create an online magazine about all the reinvented classics we admired. She would do the creative direction and would I head up the editorial — a dream job, really.”

Office Space
“I work from home on the Upper East Side. Actually, I just moved to New York 48 hours ago! My husband and I drove cross-country from San Francisco in a truck with our two pugs — such an adventure. I’m all about surrounding myself with inspiring art, books, and decoration, and love that my work and home life are all rolled into one. As an entrepreneur, I’m always on — from when I write emails on the sofa with my morning coffee to when I’m tweeting while watching Girls in bed. Above my desk, I have art of inspiring women like Frida Kahlo and Diana Vreeland. They remind me to dream big.”

An Editor’s Closet
“As a lifestyle editor I float between several industries — fashion, shelter, art, and so forth. My outfits need to transition from a photo shoot to a cocktail party, so I keep things practical yet chic. Thankfully, my traditional-with-a-twist style transitions well. I’m not one to chase trends; I’m more about forever pieces. In true Matchbook fashion, I wear lots of classics — A-line dresses, cigarette pants, and ballet flats. I want to feel polished but relaxed, and I love nothing more than a black pencil skirt with a chambray shirt or a soft, boyfriend cardigan with a silk statement scarf.”

Business Models
“I was lucky to work for some very stylish decorators on both coasts early in my career and tried to take lots of notes! Whether they were on a job site or meeting with clients, they always looked professional yet stylish — lots of tailored pieces with panache. Also, my grandmother in California has a fabulous sense of style. Watching her over the years influenced me immensely. She wore a giraffe-print wrap dress to my wedding with these enormous pearls...so chic. She’s in her 70s and still turning heads.”

Collect The Classics
"If you want to make a lasting impression, be polished, but still reflect your own, personal style. Try to remember that dressing is a way of honoring the occasion and showing respect for those you meet. You don’t have to wear a suit to look professional, confident, and stylish. Go for the classics, but always with a hint of flair.”

Levi's Gingham Check Dress, $88, available at Levi.com.

Photographed by Maia Harms, Hair by Bryan Feiss, Makeup by Tiffany Patton.
7 of 10
Cutting catchphrases and print ads don’t do the trick anymore (Don Draper would be very mad, indeed). No, today's consumer is so wary and sharp; some brands are almost required to hire software developers with design sense and visual strategists with coding skills to help convey its brand message. “Creative technologists,” some call these new multidisciplinary Mad Men, and Emmett Shine is one of the best.

Co-founder and president of Gin Lane Media — as well as the owner of LOLA New York clothing and a professional photographer — Shine has partnered with labels you love (Saturdays NYC, Adidas, Everlane, Opening Ceremony, etc.) to develop visual languages and tech strategies. You may covet these companies' chic clothes, but Shine and his digitally savvy Gin Lane co-workers are part of why you know those brands.

We met up with the clever, and rather cute Shine at his sharp, stylish offices (just down the street from Refinery29's HQ) to discuss how he wound up a leader in this new, bold field, his design suggestions for proper professional dressing, and why a T-shirt and jeans make up his perfect business suit.

Digital Development
“Moving into the digital design space has been a natural progression for me. As a teenager, I co-founded a clothing company, LOLA New York, with my childhood friends. In college, I did freelance graphic design and photography to supplement my income. With the economic downturn in 2008, brands’ budgets shifted toward digital design and photography, and I had the experience. Working with them, I realized I could help these brands, artists, and companies I cared for help solve problems, build innovative solutions, and better promote themselves. Right now, we're doing a fair amount of multi-touch, gesture-based, interactive installations — really exciting work.”

Home Office
“I hate how typical offices feel — they don’t stimulate creativity or originality. We’ve worked to foster those needs with our office. It’s a full-floor space in a newer building on Bowery with a private elevator and outdoor patio. Actually, it was a residential apartment (there’s even a shower in the office). It's very relaxing and sunny — way more comfortable and creative than a typical office. We’ve got a constant flow of new art by people we know, water, plants, dogs, and salvaged wood. It’s a great way to counter a very digital, tech-focused job. If you’re spending a lot of hours in your place of work, you'd better love it, right?”

Brand Management
“Both the design and digital industries have an independent streak to them. It allows for a lot of creative and personal expression in what you wear. If you’re designing or architecting a visual language for a brand, they like to see you put thought into all aspects of your visual communication. Also, people, like us, have to be able to talk through our work with clients, using a simple visual language. Our designs highlight the content of those we work with, not overwhelm it, so I think dressing for me is the same.”

Basic Tendencies
“Personally, I grew up in the skateboarding, art, and photography worlds — all emphasize simplicity. Consequently, I tend toward simple, good, sustainable, American looks. Vans, blue jeans, and a white T-shirt will get me through all the situations a day can present — though, I've developed an appreciation for outerwear and nice button-down dress shirts. Honestly, I’ll go to a downtown studio, a midtown global headquarters, or an overseas videoconference dressed the same way. I may not dress up, but I always dress well.”

Simplicity Sells
“Don't overcomplicate things. Try to know where your products come from and the backstory of the brand. You’re a walking billboard, so it’s important to understand what you’re presenting and how that reflects on you. Make or wear your own stuff, too. Remember, good design should be hard to date. It should have worked 40 years ago and should still work 40 years from now.”

Levi's 511 Skinny Commuter Jeans, $88, available at Levi.com.

Photographed by Maia Harms, Hair by Bryan Feiss, Makeup by Tiffany Patton.
8 of 10
Read the papers lately? From bargain-bin stores to high-end boutiques, fashion retailers are learning that slashing prices or dumping millions into marketing isn't always the answer. To break ground in this biz, you have to be nimble, knowledgeable, and sell what consumers actually want — in the way they want it. Tall order.

With a constant flow of new picks, enticing package deals, and impulse-purchase prices, BaubleBar co-founders (and BFFs) Amy Jain and Daniella Yacobovsky have figured out the formula to modern retail. Driven by consumer research and a love of bling, this duo keeps at least a full step in front of some of the world’s biggest retailers and keeps us coming back to their corner of the Internet every single day.

We took a visit to their new, accessories-strewn offices to chat about how they put their mini-empire together, how to dress for unpredictable days, and, of course, jewelry! Frankly, we’d switch places with them in a hot minute.

Parallel Paths
“We met nine years ago as analysts at an investment bank when someone suggested we throw a party together (we have the same birthday). We’ve been close ever since! We worked in finance for four years before leaving to get MBAs and wound up at the same school! There, we realized we both felt our needs were unmet as jewelry consumers. Turns out, not only did a lot of other women feel the same, but designers were equally unhappy. So, we created a retail destination designed around the needs of consumers and designers — BaubleBar!”

Behind Bars
“We’re actually in the middle of building an open, colorful, fun space — something that will lend itself to our collaborative brainstorming sessions. We’re building lots of fun extras for our team to enjoy, other “bar” concepts: a candy bar with individual jars filled with each team member’s favorite sweets, a nail-polish bar with rows and rows of colors, and, of course, a cocktail bar well stocked with our team beverage — Patrón.”

Quick Changes
“Last-minute investor meetings or unexpected interviews aren’t uncommon, so being able to switch up what we’re wearing is important. In addition to keeping virtual closets stashed at our desks, we’ve become experts at accessorizing the basics. Jeans and a pretty top or a printed dress can go from casual to fashion forward depending on what accessories you pair with them.”

Pushing The Product
“Obviously, the focus has to be on the jewelry, so we tend to select outfits that lend themselves to that. We also want to be able to point to the latest products on our site, so we're always updating what we’re wearing — it’s definitely not a bad gig!”

Power Suit
“We love Katharine Hepburn! She didn’t stick to convention — she just wore what made her comfortable. Her appearance was a reflection of how she wanted people to perceive her — she communicated strength through her wardrobe.”

Bar Tricks
“Don’t overthink it and don’t be afraid to step outside the box a little (but be mindful of your work environment). Looking to be taken seriously? Save the cropped top for another time. And always remember the power of accessories.”

Amy:
Levi's Lace Inset Dress, $78, available at Levi.com.

Daniella:
Levi's Front Pocket Shirt, $54, available at Levi.com.
Levi's Bootcut Skinny Jeans, $78, available at Levi.com.

Photographed by Maia Harms, Hair by Bryan Feiss, Makeup by Tiffany Patton.
9 of 10
A generation ago, millions of dudes ditched their barbers and booked appointments at women's salons (shameful, we know). Maybe they felt they deserved the same careful attention, personalized service, and pampering as their lady friends. Maybe they felt out of place surrounded by men about the same age as their grandfathers. Whatever the case, the hairstylist replaced the barber (and the barbershop) for many, many warm-blooded American men.

But in these (all too) digital times, some classic rites of manhood are actually returning to popularity — the brotherly bonhomie of the barbershop being the obvious example. It seems for all its wonders, modern technology has yet to develop a replacement for the face-to-face talk, a sharply crafted haircut, and a good, stiff drink. It's forward-thinking entrepreneurs like The Blind Barber co-founder, Jeff Laub, that have tapped into this distinctly masculine need for community and style guidance to produce places with an old-school feel and a particularly modern value.

We stepped into the New York branch of Laub's hip enterprise to shoot some bull about addressing the needs of the modern male, discovering your own simple style, and what women really want to see their men wear. Watch out, ladies — you're in guy country.

Men’s Room
"When I came home one year from college, my mother hired me as a front-desk coordinator at her salon (my pizza-delivery job wasn’t available). At first, I was reluctant, but, hey, there’s nothing wrong with being surrounded by women all day. Later, while working at another salon, Ted Gibson, I noticed there wasn’t anything similar for men — a place where we could hang with friends and toss around ideas or a football. That’s where the concept of the Blind Barber came from. I figured, if women can enjoy a glass of wine with their haircuts, why can't guys have a shop that serves beer?"

"After I graduated college, I shelved the idea for a bit and started working at a law firm. Three months in, I was miserable. So, I returned to the idea, typed up a business plan, and started telling people about it. I had no idea how I was going to do it, but I knew I had to. God bless all that positive thinking, because I was fortunate enough to meet Josh Boyd and Adam Kirsch, my current business partners. They knew the nightlife business, and I knew the barber world. The partnership was perfect."

Community Center
"Both our shops in L.A. and New York have their own individual charm, yet the feeling you get from them is the same. The stark, white-tiled floors, the black-and-white porcelain barber chairs, and the white walls with rotating art create a space that lends itself to great conversations and creativity. Through that, we’ve created more than just a cool barbershop and bar — we have a community of people interacting and creating together."

Clean Cut
"Our industry is about making people feel great about themselves, whether it’s through a stiff cocktail or a sick hair cut. We try to make simple things special with our personalities and detailed services. In order to achieve that, you have to start with yourself and dress in a way that makes you feel like you. Personally, I want to communicate subtle confidence, so it’s jeans, pocket T-shirts, and a pair of oxfords. To me, as long as the pants are tailored and the shirt fits just right, there’s nothing that looks better on a guy than that. You don’t need all the frills — just a few key, perfected ingredients. It’s always about the subtle details. I mean, what girl doesn’t love a guy in a pair of pants that fit and a clean, white T-shirt (although, sometimes you can catch me in a vintage pink-and-aqua Bugle Boy button-down)?"

Just A Trim
"Get a trim in between full haircuts — I don’t think you should ever look like you got a haircut, unless you are changing your whole style. Tailor your pants and shirts. Men don’t come in small, medium, and large, so why stick with what you bought? Get the closest one to your size, but then have it made to fit you properly — makes a world of a difference. Dress to feel confident, not to be noticed. The second part will come naturally if you start out feeling great about yourself."

Levi's '50s Tee, $25, available at Levi.com.
Levi's 511 Skinny Sta-Prest Pants, $78, available at Levi.com.

Photographed by Maia Harms, Hair by Bryan Feiss, Makeup by Tiffany Patton.
10 of 10
It’s a true quantum leap: From your father’s greasy-spoon cup of joe to the double-shot vanilla latte you ordered at Starbucks this morning, in a generation, we’ve become a commercial coffee culture (heck, even McDonald's does cappuccinos, now). However, there is a downside — there’s not a lot of love in our daily brews.

But a vanguard of all-in-one buyers, roasters, brewers, and café owners like Four Barrel Coffee founder, Jeremy Tooker, are serving quite a bit of heart alongside their morning cups. A self-billed CEO, quality-control expert, creative director, mechanic, designer, builder, and janitor, Tooker puts a lot of soul into his coffee and the beautiful San Francisco site in which it's served. As he says, "We’re really just trying to make good folks happy with good coffee" — a somewhat daring goal considering how many of us opt for burnt lattes from corporate giants.

We followed Tooker into the roasting area of Four Barrel to talk style, his hipster clientele, and how he went from toiling at a coffee shop to owning one of America's best.

Barista To Boss
"My coffee career started at 17 as a barista at a small shop in a small town. I loved it and decided I wanted to work in coffee for the rest of my life (much to the initial chagrin of my parents). I worked my way into upper management for some corporate coffee companies, but they never let me get into sourcing or roasting. So, I decided to pursue it on my own terms. At 25, I co-founded Ritual Coffee Roasters — a great success. My knowledge and style evolved quickly, and, knowing that I could start over and learn from my mistakes, I sold my half two years later and founded Four Barrel Coffee."

Fine Tuning
"My personal passions lie in things that require an understanding, that can always deepen, and skills that can always be honed — surfing, motorcycles, tweaking vintage audio equipment, photography, taking care of my four-year-old son! So, even though other coffee professionals consider me an expert, I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface."

Coffee House
"When I first walked into our building, I was struck by how beautiful it was as an empty warehouse. I wanted to beautify and highlight that rather than covering it up. We designed as we built, reusing materials that we found for cheap (or even free) without faux-finishes or fake patinas. There’s an authenticity to it. It just feels like a second home — loud, bustling, and still creative."

Once A Hipster…
"Having a shop in the Mission, I’m constantly surrounded by the young and hip. 'Hipsters' folks call them — though, these days, I’m not sure what that means anymore. My staff and clientele are pretty stylish, but being a bit older, I try to dress more my age (no more super-tight jeans). If I had to describe my style, I’d say it was understated, casual, and comfortable, with a sprinkle of hipster. I am still a hipster, after all."

The Perfect Brew
"I’ve worked my way through many style phases — high-end Japanese designers, handmade local goods, etc. I still have a penchant for all that, but I’ve settled on an outfit I’ve honed to fit my life. See, I’m always getting dirty, so I choose clothes that coffee or grease stains can’t ruin — well-made things that look better as I break them in. My everyday outfit is a gray V-neck T-shirt, a pair of jeans (I often wear the same ones for months straight), black work boots, and a good jacket. Every once in a while, I’ll break out a heavy-gauge cotton, plaid, button-down shirt. But even when I dress up, I’m still in jeans. No muss, no fuss. I believe your style should come naturally, so wear things that make you comfortable in your own skin. If it doesn’t and it’s important to you or your job, hire a professional!"

Levi's 511 Skinny Trousers, $58, available at Levi.com.
Levi's Barstow Western Shirt, $68, available at Levi.com.

Photographed by Maia Harms, Hair by Kendall Shira, Makeup by Katie Nash.
Advertisement