Get More Creative With Your Work Style

Between her color-splashed Instagram feed, vibrant apartment, and kaleidoscopic closet that would make even Yayoi Kusama envious, R29's executive creative director Piera Gelardi lives in what can best be described as a 24/7 Pantone party. No color is too bright, no print is too crazy. In fact, the peachy-coiffed exec would lean towards mixing the two together — and not just for extra pizazz on a Saturday night. This New Yorker goes big every day. That's what makes her style a constant source of inspiration. So, you can imagine the vigorous notes we take when Piera arrives at the R29 HQ: With silhouettes as funky as her cheery palette, she unwittingly raises the bar for the black-moto addicts among us. We chatted with Piera about how she developed her quirky look (a kimono bathrobe and blue wig might have played a part) and the style tricks she keeps up her floral sleeve, for the office and beyond. Whether you're a corporate gal or have never obeyed a dress code, you'll glean fresh ideas to make your morning outfit inception something to skip snoozing for. Get her tips below, and then head over to Gap's blog for more musings from our fearless leader. How does your creative job play into your personal style and vice versa?
"My job as creative director impacts my style in myriad ways. In my work and in my wardrobe, I'm drawn to pattern and color, mixing influences, and experimenting. I'm super inspired by all the amazing style in our office every day, and I get a lot of styling tips from scoping out office looks!" Describe your style in three words.
"Color. Pattern. Party." What is your thought process when putting together an outfit — what do you start with?
"Sometimes it starts with shoes. I'll think about, Am I walking anywhere far today? Do I have any important meetings? Do I need to look extra special? So, I'll start with shoes because they're a practical concern. But, other times I’ll look at my closet and see what speaks to me and then build an outfit from that one piece." At what point in your style experimentation did you know you had landed on your look?
"My mom dressed me until I was 12, and then I became who I am now. When I was 12 or 13, my favorite outfit was wearing my dad’s vintage motorcycle jacket with a kimono bathrobe underneath as a layering piece and a flamenco skirt that I think was part of a costume. I was really into vintage shopping and my other favorite outfit included an Amish bonnet, a tailored '60s coat, and '70s platforms — and I would wear it with a blue wig. I think I toned it down since then, but it’s gone in waves. There have been times where I’ve been more conservative and dressed more simply and then times when I’ve been more exuberant and balls to the wall." What helps you create out-of-the-box work outfits?
"First of all, I would say not working in an environment where I have to wear traditional workwear. I don't think I've ever had a sense of what traditional workwear is. I remember going on my first job interview wearing a beaded fringe ensemble that I DIY'd and thinking it was so great, but realizing in later years it was a little cray-cray for a work environment, although I did get the job at CITY magazine. I don’t really have rules for the office. I work in a creative environment and have the luxury of having built this city — there’s no real dress code. People express their personal style, and there's a very strong style game in the office. I get a lot of inspiration here; there isn’t an hour that goes by without me complimenting how someone puts their outfit together."
Since you're often traveling for work, whether it's to R29's new office in L.A. or abroad, how do you maintain your trademark style on the road?
"I usually think about bringing a jacket. For me, a motorcycle jacket ties a look together, or some jacket with razzmatazz that pulls different things together. I also bring a white shirt, which I can layer under things to lend a more polished look, and a fun pair of comfortable heels that can go with different outfits. I'm big on mixing and matching, so it's fine if they clash." What items do you always have in your carry-on?
"I have my system worked out [for my carry-on bag], and my key now is pouches. I have a bag that fits my laptop, and I have a pouch for all of my tech items, like my headphones and portable battery chargers. Then, there's a pouch for in-flight cosmetics — I always carry Caudalie face spray for a quick hydration blast. I bring my Kindle loaded with a location-specific novel or biography, and then I have a pouch for my passport and travel documents."

What's your advice for people who work in more traditional, corporate work environments? How can they play with their style, too?
"In a more traditional environment, it’s often about an element of modesty and tailoring. In those things you can incorporate color, pattern, texture — so, it's really like coloring inside the lines. You can play with silhouettes: A pencil skirt is traditional office attire, but within a pencil skirt there are a lot of fun variations. You can wear a pencil skirt with a blouse tucked in, but that pencil skirt could be crazy and patterned. Or, you could wear a peplum over it. There are a lot of things that are modest and covered up but still expressive."

What's your style motto?
"Onwards and upwards. What I love about style is that it’s an evolution — I'm very hopeful that my style game is going to be better tomorrow than it is today. If I have outfit fails, I'll move on and keep on keeping on."

More from Styling Tips

R29 Original Series