8 Badass Bosses & How They Made It

It wasn’t all that long ago that a woman had to wear a suit to be taken seriously in the workplace, much less to be viewed and respected as the boss. We certainly wouldn't turn down a Bianca Jagger-esque set or a borrowed-from-the-boys silhouette, but the old stereotype that a blazer and tie is the mark of a professional is one that's limiting, boring, and simply no longer true. We've seen a huge transformation of workwear uniforms, the most exciting of which is happening right now. The eight ladies ahead are some of our favorite examples of what that evolution looks like.
These leaders are not only dominating their respective fields, they're doing it while dressed in cutting-edge designs. These women are donning leather jackets instead of blazers and clashing their socks and Birkenstocks. Their sartorial choices — to style themselves in ways that are personal, cool, and inspiring — are only a small part of what makes these career mavens so compelling.
The #Girlbosses you're about to meet are the authorities behind brands you love. They're the creative thinkers who make advertising feel empowering, not exploitative. They're growing businesses by forging their own paths, not following anyone else's. And, they're succeeding. Big time. Click on to get acquainted with — and motivated by! — women who don't need a suit to prove their power.
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Stella Bugbee, editorial director of The Cut

When New York magazine's The Cut relaunched in 2012, Stella Bugbee stepped into a defining position at the fashion, culture, and women's lifestyle site. "I came on as a consultant," she explained. "It just bloomed into a great situation for everything, and I ended up taking the helm right at relaunch."

Several years later, Bugbee is still leading the site — a challenging task she takes on, and talks about, with enthusiasm. One part of her unique philosophy is having a clear understanding that, in a professional atmosphere that makes demands around-the-clock, one of the most important skills is knowing when to take a break.

Walk us through what a typical day looks for you.
“I wake up and try to do home stuff: yoga, be with my kids, make breakfast and lunch. Then we [at The Cut] have a chat room that we get on, and I do a lot of work on my phone. We look at what we write about for the day, and we have a lot of things pre-scheduled. We pass links around and get the day going. I try to have a meeting with either an up-and-coming photographer or designer, or some kind of fashion breakfast, every morning, and then I get to the office around 11 and make sure I check what’s going on on the site and with everyone.

"My day is largely spent in meetings of various kinds or editing pieces, and I also do the pages in the magazine. My day is a lot of brainstorming and looking forward to stories we are going to be doing…and, like every 10 seconds, hopping back to look at the site.”

That's a lot. How do you keep yourself going throughout the day?
“Well, I eat a lot, and I stay hydrated. I think I have a high threshold for brainstorming, and I love coming up with ideas. It sounds corny. But, the more you do it, the more fun and collaborative it is, and the easier it becomes. Everyone who works here is smart and funny, so it’s really not that hard.”

What’s the first thing you do in the morning and the last you do at night?
“My 4-year-old wakes me up every morning, so the first thing I do is hug and kiss him and snuggle with him. Then we go upstairs, and I do yoga with him. Then I make smoothies for everyone in my family. At night, I get home and cook dinner for my family usually, and we do a pretty standard bedtime routine. I read stories and I put the kids to bed. I will probably work for a while if I’m not out at an event, but lately I’ve been trying to do something creative every night.”

Your job allows you to be incredibly creative. How does that translate to your personal style?
“I feel like I have a pretty diverse personal style, though I’m fairly tomboyish. My personal style tends to be pretty simple on a day-to-day basis. I like sneakers and pants and blazers, mainly because I don’t have time to get as elaborate as I would love to. I love people with great, crazy personal style, and if I had more time, I would absolutely indulge in that. But, on a day-to-day basis, I’m really busy, so I have to buy things that are very well-cut and well-made, so I can just throw them on and leave.”

Are you a daily uniform kind of person?
“I’m trying to get to a daily uniform place, because I actually think it’s really empowering. But, I still think that uniform needs to be chic and not of the Mark Zuckerberg, gray-T-Shirt-everyday mentality. I want to find a place where I feel really good, and my clothes suit me. But, they are secondary to everything I’m doing.”

Zara skirt, Band of Outsiders top, Tibi jacket, model's own shoes and jewelry.
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What's the biggest challenge you face as the editorial director for a major fashion site?
“It’s difficult to manage people. It’s hard to be a strong leader and make quick decisions, but it’s very valuable. I think people really appreciate clarity and consistency and presence, so those are the things that I try to emphasize, and also staying flexible. It’s hard to remember to tell everybody they’re doing a great job, but that’s something I try to remember to do. Creatively, you have to constantly be trying to push forward. That can be hard, and you have to give yourself time to take a step back. It’s hard to remember to just say, 'I’m gonna take the night off.' Sometimes the best thing to do is to actually not think for one night. Go to a movie and turn your brain off for 24 hours, so you can recharge it a little bit.”

Which of your fellow career woman — real or fictional — possess the coolest uniform?
“I love [Vogue Paris editor-in-chief] Emmanuelle Alt’s uniform. I think she’s great. And, what I truly love is that it’s instantly recognizable, and she always wears it. Like, she doesn’t change it for events she has to go to at night. She doesn’t change it for Fashion Week. It can be very tempting when you work in fashion to be like, 'Oh, I’m going to this event, so I gotta look like this brand.' It’s so fun when you meet someone who’s like, 'I’m always 100% my style at everything I do.' It’s fun to see people who refuse to give in.”

Do you ever feel pressure to dress a certain way because of the industry you work in?
“I think that when you work in fashion, there’s an expectation that you will purchase really high-end designer clothes, and that’s fine. I totally understand that, and my taste has definitely risen to accommodate that expectation. I want those designer clothes now because I’m around them all the time. So, to combat that, I try to buy just one or two things that will satisfy that itch without breaking my savings account.”

Do you have an item in your closet that best represents your career?
“No, but I would say that the one thing I wear every single day and have every single day since I bought it is my Cartier watch. I think I got it for my five-year wedding anniversary. It was just a moment where I felt like I had established myself, and I was going to purchase something that I knew I was going to have for years and years and years, maybe possibly for the rest of my life. I had never committed to any product in that way. And, every time I look at it, it reminds me that I committed to this thing and to a career and being a working mom and all those things. I don’t really put that much stock in it, but if there was anything in my wardrobe, it would be that.”

What’s the best thing someone can wear in an interview to get a job with you?
“I don’t care what you wear. I think that everyone, within reason, should be themselves. There is no one look that I think you need to communicate. I am only interested in your ideas and in your talent, and I think the thing I find most impressive is not any one thing that you could say, but it’s whether or not you communicate a level of ambition that I am looking for. I think that’s the most appealing quality in any person I'm going to hire.”

Edun coat and top, model's own pants and jewelry.
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Laila Gohar, founder of Sunday Supper

Laila Gohar creates culinary feats that keep our eyes glued to her food pics on Instagram. They're vibrant, fresh, and quirky — exactly how we'd describe Laila, too. Needless to say, the Egyptian chef is far from conventional.

What started with Laila hosting dinner parties for her friends turned into a full-fledged business a little over a year ago. The former food journalist's knack for creating menus and entertaining was clear from the get-go, but Sunday Supper is the result of following her gut. Today, her company is a go-to for fashion events, with clients including the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Barneys, and yes, Refinery29.

What's the most important step you've taken in your career path?
"When I was still working [at Food Republic], I was never a good employee, and I knew it. I was lucky to be hired, that they saw something in me or realized I bring something valuable to the table. But, I always felt like I needed to place myself in a setting where I create the agenda. So, at one point, this whole business kind of fell into my lap. I had this moment after that first event, where I was like, 'Wow, that went really well, and I can do this even if I don’t have professional training in this field.' So, I think its sort of a leap of faith."

Walk us through what a typical day looks like for you.
"I wake up around seven or eight in the morning, and I go the farmer's market while it's still early, usually two or three days a week. Basically, we stock up on what we need. I source all produce from the Union Square farmer's market, and I also work with farmers there to source protein. I like to go there and see for myself what we are going to be cooking. It’s sort of my meditative moment. Then, I go back to our office and meet with the team. On Monday, we plan out the week and create menus. Then, when it comes to actual events, our days are totally crazy. There are days where we don’t sleep. Fashion Week is the busiest time, so that tends to be really crazy.

"People think that my job is really glamorous because they happen to see a picture here or a write-up there, but it’s actually a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. It’s a lot of running around, carrying ovens, lifting pounds and pounds of food. I still like to be involved in every aspect of it myself. I’ve recently learned how to give up a little control. I have to, or I’d lose my mind."

Your job allows you to be creative and visual, how does that translate to your personal style?
"I always joke around with the team that we have the best job on earth, because we get to play with food all day long. It’s a lot of expression, and when it comes to my personal style, I feel like its really similar, but just a different medium. Instead of putting together different dishes, I put together different outfits. It comes from the same place in our brains. Its all about composition. If you can compose a good plate, you can compose a good outfit."

Are you a daily uniform kind of person?
"I wear my everyday clothes to work, and I wear a denim apron over that. That’s kind of my uniform. I basically work 24/7, so if I didn’t wear the stuff I like, then I would never wear [it]. The team always pokes fun at me because I have, like, oil stains on my Comme des Garçons pants."

Jennifer Chun top and skirt, model's own shoes, socks and jewelry.
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Do you remember what you wore on your first-ever job interview?
"My first job, I was working for a food magazine. The readership was mostly men, so they wrote a lot of things about tailgating and things like that. And, I’m not American; I moved here to go to college, so I had never heard of tailgating. I had a phone interview, and it went well. Eventually, they were like, 'Come down to our office!' I walk in there in head-to-toe Margiela, like the craziest fucking outfit. Most of the people working in that office were men — dudes that wrote about foods that you eat at the stadium. My former boss jokes about it to this day. He was the only one who saw me and kind of got it."

What’s one of the biggest challenges you face working in food service?
"This kind of work is very stressful by nature. Imagine standing behind the door, and you know that door is going to open in five minutes and there are going to be 150 people, and every single one of them is going to want a plate of food, a glass of wine, and a glass of water at the same exact moment. That’s basically what my life is like every day. I’ve learned there is a lot of adrenaline that comes with that, and I can get really anxious. But, that adrenaline is what keeps me excited and what I love about the job. I think you just have to breathe, relax, and remind yourself that no matter how stressful it is at that very moment, its going to be alright."

Have you ever marked an important career moment with a major sartorial splurge?
"After the first big job where I made a significant profit, I bought myself this baby blue Céline bag. I remember when I was buying it, I was like, 'I’m going to have this forever, and I’m going to give it to my daughter and tell her how I worked so hard for it.'"

Do you ever feel pressure to dress a certain way because of the industry you work in?
"I think the reason people hire me is because I approach this career from a different perspective. I’m not like a middle aged man in a white, chef coat. I’m a young woman, and I have a lot of different ideas. So, I think people come to me because of my style — whether that means the type of food that I cook or how I carry myself."

Kenzo dress, model's own jewelry.
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Virginia Elwood, artist at Saved Tattoo

Virginia Elwood is an artist in every sense of the word. It just so happens that her most common canvas is the human body. As she explains to us, it took the first eight to 10 years of her career as a tattoo artist to really build her skills, both technical and interpersonal. "It’s a very intimate, vulnerable thing that we do for people, and there’s a performance aspect of it that a lot of people don’t realize," she says.

Having formerly worked with New York Adorned, Virginia has now held a position at Saved Tattoo in Brooklyn since 2011, where her portfolio of work is filled with her signature colorful, bold, graphic creations. While it's easy to label Virginia a tattoo artist, she tells us it's body art that's allowed her to expand her work to develop a line of scarves and other small accessories for It's For Me. But, no matter where her career takes her, the ink-covered creative's work will continue to have one underlying theme: "Everything I do is rooted in tattooing."

What has been the most important step you've taken in forging your career?
“There were the steps I took, which were maybe a little more personal: exploring my past and my childhood and just learning about myself. Once I started — without sounding too hippy-dippy — speaking out some truths about myself and learning about myself, I think my art really matured. Working at New York Adorned for seven years helped me immensely. I’ve gotten the chance to work with some of the best tattoo artists in the entire world. I think that’s been huge. Since I’ve gone over to Saved Tattoo, and have joined forces with my wife, Stephanie Tamez, and also with Scott Campbell, I think that’s opened a lot of stuff for me, creatively and professionally.”

Walk us through what a typical day looks like for you.
“The interesting thing about tattooing is that — maybe this is a huge stereotype — for the most part, we’re not all necessarily people who wanted to do homework in high school, you know what I mean? But, my day consists of homework. As a tattooer, you are constantly drawing. So, usually my day consists of Stephanie and me waking up, walking our two Chihuahuas, getting some coffee, and having a little breakfast. We get home by nine, and we spend a good two hours or so working on our drawings for tattoos. I have another project — I make silk scarves and other accessories — so I will spend some time on that in the morning, and then we tattoo usually from noon to 8 p.m. and try to always go to bed at eleven. On days off, both Stephanie and I have our own painting studios. It’s nice being with another artist because she recognizes the need for autonomy and a lot of alone time.”

Your job allows you to be incredibly creative. How does that translate to your personal style?
“I feel like I’m wearing the same thing every day because I am so focused on other stuff. The great thing about Saved is that we have a lot of really stylish girls working there. As long as I can tattoo in it, I try to wear it. Like, I just bought a pair of pants from RRL that are off-white suede with fringe down the side. I still haven’t figured out how to wear them yet, but I’m definitely gonna try to wear them to tattoo in.”

Are you a daily uniform kind of person?
“I think the foundation for me always stays the same, as far as what shapes are flattering to me. I have to be able to work, so I can’t really wear anything that’s too constricting. I’d say I definitely have a classic and simple [aesthetic]. But, then I also have a huge collection of vintage rock-'n'-roll T-shirts, so I may end up wearing one of those one day with that pair of RRL jeans. ”

Kenzo top, turtleneck and skirt, LD TUTTLE x CREATURES OF COMFORT shoes, model's own jewelry.
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As an artist and tattooer, what’s one of the biggest challenges you find yourself up against?
“I’m at a point where I’m very selective with my clients because I’m sharing something with them that is very personal and intimate, and I definitely want to get along with them. I want to make sure that that energy exchange feels good for both of us. Generally, I just really try to listen to my instinct and go with my gut with what seems like the best fit, but I also try to keep an open mind because I love being surprised by people.”

What’s a personal mantra or piece of advice that’s helped you overcome challenges on the job?
“Don’t be afraid to take up space — with my body, my creativity, my ambition, my love, and my person. Don’t try to diminish yourself or make yourself small. I think a lot of women do that, unfortunately.”

Which fellow career woman — real or fictional — possess the coolest uniform?
“Like a mix between Jane Birkin and Mick Jagger. That would be my working, fashion-girl icon.”

What’s the best thing someone can wear to an interview with you to get a job?
“I think it would just be an overall feeling about them. When I was trying to learn to tattoo, I just kept coming back. You wouldn’t believe how many people just don’t come back. You tell them, ‘No,’ and they say, ‘Okay,’ and they accept that. So, I would say be persistent and keep showing up. I mean, that’s the best way to do anything, but do it with grace and humility. Don’t be an asshole.
"And — I don’t know if this is a coincidence or if it’s because I’m interested in fashion — like-minded people gravitate toward me. A lot of the people that I have helped or mentored do seem to have a pretty good sense of themselves, which I think often translates to a good sense of style. [It's] not necessarily what you’re wearing, who you’re wearing, or anything like that, but how you’re wearing it.”

If you had to pick one item in your closet to represent your career what would it be?
"I’ve had a search set on eBay for like four years for this one jacket, the Perfecto by Schott. And, about two years ago, I get an email from eBay saying they found a jacket matching my inquiry, and I bid on it, and I won it for like $70. It was in perfect condition from the mid-'70s, still has the tag, made in the USA. I mean, I don’t wear it while I’m tattooing, but I wear the shit out of that jacket. I wear that all the time. I would sleep in it if I could because I sought it out for years, and I turned down other leather jackets in my pursuit of this one leather jacket. That is definitely my power piece. I wear it with everything. Persistence, I’m telling you; it’s the persistence!”

Tibi dress.
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Shannon Washington, creative director at GREY

You don't have to get too far into Mad Men season one to figure out that the advertising industry has come a long way. Besides the lack of midday libations, there are also people like Shannon Washington now leading the way. Forget fictitious office "girls," Washington's a real-life example of women who are killing it in the business. Shannon has worked with brands like Maybelline, Rimell London, and, now as a creative director for GREY over the last year and a half, Pantene. That "Not sorry" video? Yep, she's on that team.

Perhaps the biggest secret to her success, however, isn't just the work she does with major beauty brands; it's that she takes it personally. "I’m a big believer in having a bit of myself show up in the work in some way and creating things that I’m absolutely proud to say that I did." From speaking with Shannon, we learned this philosophy expands far beyond the GREY offices to her personal projects, including Feminist Enough, Parlour Magazine, and even to her beloved Land Rover named Castro.

Walk us through what a typical day looks like for you.
“It changes depending on where we are. On some days, I can be getting briefed on a new project from our account team, and then other days I’m working alongside creatives to create campaigns and figure out solutions to problems. Every day is pretty much a problem-solving day. They’re good problems to have. It’s really [about] using your creativity to figure out the best way to communicate something in ways that are authentic, that are different. It's a lot more than coming up with the headline or figuring out a piece of artwork. It takes a lot of very critical thinking. It’s not easy whatsoever, but when we get in our groove, that’s when it gets really fun."

What’s the first thing you do every morning?
“Is it really bad that I reach for my phone? I want to know what happened when I was sleeping. The first thing I actually do is I have to sit and not think for about 30 minutes. I’m looking at pictures, or I’m looking at Facebook, or I’m playing with my dog. I give myself a little bit of a break in the morning just to not really think about anything, and then I can go."

What did you wear on your first-ever job interview?
“I was 14. I was in high school or middle school. It was a visual art supply company, and I wanted to work and do styling after school. I wore a red pantsuit that my mom got me from some $10 store. It had gold buttons. It was so horrible, but it was amazing. It had wide-leg pants and was double-breasted, and I had my hair up in a ponytail. I thought I was so grown.

Opening Ceremony coat, Crippen dress, Ann Taylor shoes, model's own leggings.
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Your job requires being creative at all times. How does that translate to your personal style?
"For me, true style isn't so much what I'm wearing, but more so the impression of me that lingers when I leave the room. On Mondays, I'll be super mod-glam, and by Wednesday I'm two steps away from sweats. And, that's okay for me. At work, it's about the work. The one thing I guess I'm known for is my hair. Lately, I've developed a habit of wearing scarves tied Rosie the Riveter–style because I don't have time to fight my curls. Personally, it's my ode to women who work. Women throughout history who looked like me that cleaned floors, worked in factories, picked fields, and did all other types of labor that was seen by society as blue collar... I'm proud I come from a culture of hard-working women. I have a choice title at the leading agency in the world, but at heart I'm a blue-collar girl, and when it's time to work, that's it. My work is what wins. That will be my legacy."

Working in advertising, what’s one of the biggest challenges you find yourself up against?
“My one daily challenge is convincing myself that I’m in the right place. GREY is an amazing agency. We have some of the best talent in the world here. And, when you’re called to work alongside them and you're treated as their equal, from the inside you’re like, 'Whaaaaaat!?' When you’re given the opportunity to rise up to the occasion, [you're] convincing yourself that you should be there. I think that everyone’s biggest enemy is always going to be themselves. And, self-doubt can completely kill you. Luckily, I’m a lot better at it than when I was younger, but my number-one daily challenge really is being like, 'Yeah, I deserve to be here.'
"Secondly, it’s important as a creative to allow your ideas to be challenged because that’s the only way that they actually get better. You have to be open to allowing your ideas to be molded; we work better together. That’s why we have teams and why we tackle things in groups. Or, if you’re gonna own it, you better own it to the top of your ability. When your daily job is telling people how you feel and what you think about something and then responding to that, a lot of people can’t do it. Things aren’t always going to work out the way you want them to, especially creatively, but you learn something from it every day, which is really cool.”

What’s the best thing someone can wear in an interview with you to get a job?
"I’m a sucker for rings. I love midi-rings. I think that they’re cool. But, to be honest, I hate to see women wearing things that they are obviously uncomfortable in. I know what it’s like to have to search for clothes and to try to make things work for you. But, when you’re interviewing, I’m more interested if you’re comfortable. If you’ve never worn heels before, don’t wear heels in an interview. I have more respect for a girl who wears a suit and Converse. So, whatever helps you shine through the best, you have to do it. But, a good midi-ring is always gonna be your friend.”

Have you ever rewarded yourself or marked an important career moment with a major splurge?
“I bought a car! I bought a Land Rover when I joined GREY. It’s Buckingham blue. It’s a Land Rover LR3, and I love it. His name is Castro, and he’s mine.”

Topshop top, Zara skirt, model’s own jewelry.
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Danielle McGrory, senior digital director at KCD Worldwide

You may not be on a first-name basis with Danielle McGrory, but surely her clients sound familiar: Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, Phillip Lim, Victoria's Secret. Each of those mega-watt brands is handled by KCD Worldwide, a behemoth of a PR agency in the fashion industry. McGrory oversees the digital division, which she says entails "creating content for clients or coming up with hashtag marketing campaigns."

With teams placed in London and Paris, Danielle is also the international liaison for all things digital. Her job exists at the point where the non-stop paces of digital and fashion meet. In order to keep up and maintain the utmost quality, this leader says it's all about being practical, prepared, thorough, and confident in knowing "that everything will eventually get done.”

Walk us through what a typical day looks like for you.
"The crux of our job in any sort of PR and marketing is communications. So, I’m communicating constantly. Whether it's with my team and having meetings, or I’m communicating for our clients via their social media channels or KCD’s social media channels, or just answering emails, we are constantly moving information back and forth all day. I’m always answering emails, getting press requests, writing quotes, drafting social media copy — it’s a lot of writing. Now, I’m at the point where I get to oversee all of that, so I check in with my team on what everyone’s projects are looking like, give my comments, and we figure out how to go forward. I’m always running around, going to different meetings throughout the city, walk throughs, seeing clients, looking and seeing new products, going and meeting with editors, and whatever other things may be needed. So, I’m not necessarily chained to my desk all day long."

What’s the first thing you do in the morning and the last you do at night?
"My husband is very good to me, and he is sort of the chef in the family, so a lot of times he will make me a fresh juice in the morning, or he’ll make me breakfast. I’m kind of rushing around like a crazy person in the morning, and he is the calm one. Then, I take the subway in, and I like to read on the train. I’m a big reader, so whether I’m reading a book or a magazine, that sort of calms me down. And, I kind of do the same thing at night. The last thing I usually do before I go to bed is read."

Your job allows you to be incredibly creative, but it's also super fast-paced. How does that translate to your personal style?
"I love the simplicity of nice, key pieces — whether it’s a cashmere sweater, silk blouse, or pencil jean. I kind of tend to wear the same thing over and over again, but I think my work definitely dictates what I wear because we have a lot of long days. On days where we’re working in the office and then have an event at night, we like to be comfortable. And, you have to be ready — there might be a client meeting I didn’t know was happening, and I need to jump into it. I think I do it in a pared-down simplicity kind of way — outfits that can be worn with flats during the day and then if I have an event I can throw on heels and a blazer over it and be ready to go. My style is very practical."

Do you remember what you wore on your first-ever job interview?
"After I graduated college, my mom thought I needed really professional clothing, like a pantsuit or something. So, I bought this Tahari, brown-corduroy blazer with a matching pencil skirt. I wore that to a job interview, and I never wore it again. My interview at KCD, I remember it was like 100 degrees out; it was one of the hottest days, and I didn’t know what to wear. I wore a button-down and this Helmut Lang blazer and shorts with a heel because I couldn’t wear pants."

Chloé coat and shirt.
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Which fellow career woman — real or fictional — possesses the coolest uniform?
"Murphy Brown. When I was little, I thought she was like the ultimate. I would sit at home and watch reruns, and I thought she was the coolest working woman ever."

What’s the best thing someone can wear in an interview with you to get a job?
"I think someone’s demeanor in an interview is very important, so if someone is super nervous, that’s a bad thing. In our role, you’re in front of different people all the time, and we work with some icons in the industry, so you definitely want to be able to play it cool.

"I like to see someone who is dressed professionally, but you get a sense of their personal style at the same time. It's my personal taste to keep it simple. I like to see when people don’t look too busy, and they’re not trying to mask anything or add anything on. Keep your work attire pretty simple, and let what you have to say speak for itself."

Working in PR, what’s one of the biggest challenges you find yourself up against?
"One of the biggest challenges that we face is sort of work pulled in many directions. As an agency you have many clients, and all are important and have different things to work on. So, managing your workload and getting everything done in the time you need it to get done is challenging. And, it does get overwhelming at times. What I like to tell myself is that I just need to work at the pace I can work at. I can't go any faster because I don’t want to mess anything up, and we have a very high standard for quality. If I have to stay here late to do it, I will. Everything will eventually get done. That calms me from being too overwhelmed."

Have you ever marked an important career moment with a major sartorial splurge?
"I bought a Proenza Schouler dress a couple of years ago. It’s a black, knee-length, simple, chic cocktail dress. I was just feeling like I needed something in my wardrobe like that for my career, so I did it."

Derek Lam dress and Chloé shoes.
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Jeanine Celeste Pang, managing editor of Opening Ceremony

For some shoppers, Opening Ceremony is a store with exciting, up-and-coming brands. For true fashion fanatics — ones who peruse its site for hours, digging into designers' stories, endlessly clicking on pretty pictures, and tuning into OCTV — it's a whole lot more. Managing editor Jeanine Celeste Pang plays a large role in keeping us coming back.

Pang's career as a fashion and culture journalist is a long and inspired one, with former gigs at CNN, Vogue, and W. In fact, it was working under Stefano Tonchi at W that Pang helped connect one of the OC founders, Humberto Leon, with a cameo on a certain little primetime TV show. (You remember Gossip Girls' W-internship season, of course.)

The Bay Area native landed her gig with OC last April and currently oversees all content on the site, including the blog schedule, producing OCTV, and writing features. She's also working on releasing her first collection of short stories. Pang’s work philosophy is all about having “all your i’s dotted and your t’s crossed.”

Walk us through what a typical day looks like for you.
“It looks like nothing from the day before. Opening Ceremony, and I think the fashion industry in general, thrives on change and newness. So, the typical day is constantly evolving. One hour might have me covering the MICA event, another might have me producing a blog story with a downtown chef, or an OCTV segment with Eva Chen. [I'm also bringing] new writers to the blog — fresh voices like Alex Vadukul, Alexis Wilkinson, Maggie Lange, Fiona Duncan, and even Mickey Boardman for a special upcoming guest series! It’s very different by the hour, but it does entail a lot of meeting, and a lot of editing and writing. I’m managing a bunch of different teams — mainly the blog, social media, and the production team — so it’s always sort of wrangling a lot of projects at once.”

What’s the first thing you do in the morning and the last you do at night?
“First thing in the morning, I go onto GoodReads.com, and there are three people that I look to for inspirational quotes: One is Lorrie Moore, the second is Alice Munro, and the third is Joan Didion. But, at night, I actually take baths with the LUSH Bath Bombs. I choose the ones that are uber-pink and smell like jasmine. They’re like $7; it’s a little indulgent, and it makes me feel like I’m taking care of myself.”

Your job allows you to be incredibly creative. How does that translate to your personal style?
“My personal style just depends on my mood. One day I’ll be really into dressing like a career woman, and I’ll put on a matching skirt and blazer, for a Cher Horowitz look, and then the next day I’m in a sweater and jeans. I do tend to stick to a really feminine cut, and a really comfortable bootie because I’m always running around and going from meeting to meeting. And, I always love a black-and-white gingham — like classic YSL stuff.”

What do you think has been the most important step you've taken in your career?
“I think that it was leaving the Bay Area, as bittersweet as it was. My heart will always be there, but trying to make it as a fashion and culture journalist is still a challenge. The second would be getting my Master's degree at Columbia Journalism School. There's still something to be said about learning how to write a good nut graph and kicker, and at school you’re afforded the time to make those mistakes and to really cultivate your skills.”

Opening Ceremony top and skirt, model's own jewelry.
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Do you ever feel pressure to dress a certain way because of the industry you work in?
“People say this all the time, because it’s a really simple truth: It’s all about your confidence, and confidence in where your style is informed. It really helps when you sort of have a sense of style that is engrained in something that’s a little bit deeper than a trend. Also, I’m actually a really big believer in smart shopping, so not buying two of the same style and really thinking about what you’re adding to your wardrobe. I love Opening Ceremony’s clothes, and a lot of them can become staples and punctuations in your wardrobe. I also shop at a lot of consignment and thrift stores."

Have you ever marked an important career moment with a major sartorial splurge?
"I celebrate achievements more with food. I'll head to Patsy's for a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs, a glass of Montepulciano, and wash it all down with house-made cheesecake."

What's one of the biggest challenges you face working in fashion journalism?
"You know, I’m not curing cancer. This is fashion and culture. That’s what I think about sometimes when people in the industry become a little bit dramatic or the pressure gets a little bit high."

What’s the best thing someone can wear in an interview with you to get a job?
“Sartorially, whatever you’re wearing, wear it with confidence and have a sense of style. I do — and I probably learned this at Vogue — look at manicures, actually. Especially if you’re going into a job interview, I think it’s really important to have a clean bare nail or a fresh manicure.

But, what I look for is just a young hunger and eagerness to be a part of [the industry], no matter what assignment they’re thrown. Perseverance is really important, especially when you’re young and green. I love people who have fun ideas and have really great follow through. There are so many people in this industry, and a lot of people are chomping at the bit to become the next writer or the next journalist, and to really have all your i's dotted and your t's crossed is essentially what it is.”

If you had to pick one item in your closet to represent your career, what would it be?
“It’s probably a vintage, linen, shift dress that I wore to my Vogue interview. It has this chiffon, black inlay, and it’s a tie-back. It’s sort of my lucky dress, and a classic piece. And, I’ve had it for like a decade.”

Calvin Klein Collection dress, Tabio socks, model's own shoes and jewelry.
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Rachel Sklar, founder of Change The Ratio and TheLi.st

Rachel Sklar is not only the founder of two groundbreaking organizations — Change The Ratio and TheLi.st — she also happens to be one of the least complacent people we've ever met. The law school grad and former journalist broke into the media big leagues when Arianna Huffington invited her to join the then-year-old namesake news site in 2005. As Sklar tells it, she recited a bit of Greek to Huffington at a party, a move the young journalist prepared in order to impress the soon-to-be media mogul. And, it worked.

While Sklar went on to help launch Mediaite in 2009, it was a New York magazine cover story in 2010 that set her down a whole new path. "It was on the burgeoning New York tech scene and it was 99% guys, like out of 53 featured in the photo shoot there were six women. So, I sent out an email to 20 women that were in media tech that could’ve easily been portrayed in some form." From there, the discussion of changing the ratio eventually lead to Change The Ratio, the site that celebrates and increases visibility for women in tech. Soon after, Sklar launched TheLi.st, a membership network that holds events and helps create opportunities for these women. While her attitude toward style is laid back, Sklar's proving time and again that she won't just accept the status quo in her professional or personal life, especially where women are concerned.

What do you think has been the most important step you've taken on your career path?
"I’m definitely not the five-year-plan sort of girl, and if I were, I don’t know how I would describe my life...because it definitely hasn’t stuck to any plan. In a lot of ways, the things that I have done has been linked to what’s done before. But, I do think a common thread is saying "yes" to a lot of things. I said "yes" to going on TV [for The Huffington Post] even when I wasn’t so confident or thought there had to be someone else that was more of an expert.

"I got a really great piece of advice from Ben Wikler; he’s now the Washington Director of the MoveOn.org podcast and founder of The Good Fight podcast. He heard me turn down TV early on, by saying, 'I don’t think I know enough about that, thanks.' When I put down the phone, he said 'You know, a guy would never say that.' He gave me stats of women declining professional opportunities versus men, and the fact that women will wait until they feel qualified before speaking on something, but men will assume that they are qualified. That was a huge lesson for me. And, for the things I wish I did and didn’t end up doing because I thought I wasn’t qualified, I almost always regretted it.

"But, learning the Greek thing to say to Arianna Huffington was a huge turning point for me — meeting her and being able to talk to her and form a relationship with her. What got me in the door was that she invited me to a party in L.A., and I went. It's stuff like that. I show up. That’s where opportunities come from."

Walk us through what a typical day looks like for you.
"The one thing I do every day is look at my emails. I keep on top of TheLi.st email, the threads that are developing, and what the issues are. It's rare that a day goes by that I don’t get in touch with Glynnis [MacNicol, cofounder of TheLi.st]; usually, we’re in touch throughout the day. But, other than that, who knows? Lots of meetings and events. There are days I wake up with a computer on my lap and don’t move for hours. The constant is always being aware of what’s going on in the larger conversation of women and diversity on the macro level, and always being aware of specific needs of the List membership and trying hard to be helpful and useful."

Your job keeps you constantly on the move. How does that translate to your personal style?
"I’m probably wearing sneakers every day, and if I have to go somewhere, carrying heels in my purse. That is my norm. I like to move fast and comfortably; I like to walk. And, I have the Wendy Davis sneakers. I bought them after the filibuster, and they’re awesome. That’s my signature. If I don’t have anywhere to go, I'm pretty basic. Actually, I don’t mind that term! I use it to describe myself. I'm usually found in a v-neck T-shirt, skinny jeans, or sweatshirt. If I have an event, the odds are good I will be in a solid sheath dress."

A.L.C. dress, Zara coat, model’s own jewelry.
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Are you a daily uniform kind of person?
"I'm definitely a daily uniform kind of person. I'm actually doing a lot better at diversifying my wardrobe and straying from my usual long-sleeve T-shirt or sweater. I think they’re flattering and feel fine wearing them to the office. But, I keep dresses and shoes in the office when I have somewhere to go. I probably won't be going out in my uniform."

You're someone who doles out a lot of advice. Has there been any piece of wisdom you've given out, but didn't have an easy time internalizing?
"One of the most important things women need [is] to have someone to be there for them the way they are there for other people. I can be a cheerleader for lots of people, and it's genuine. But, it's so different to say that to yourself. It's really helpful to have a friend that knows you and knows your limitations and will give it to you straight and in a way that reminds you that you would be encouraging yourself, if you weren’t you."

Which working girl — real or fictional — possesses the coolest uniform?
"When I saw The Devil Wears Prada, that drove me out to shop. That was the first time I ever spent more than one month's rent on clothes. I watched the opening credits over and over again, and then went shopping. But, I'm thinking of something from Amy Poehler: Her uniform is bright, smiley, confident, and funny. I girl-crushed on Amy Poehler before it was cool because I used to go to the Upright Citizens Brigade and would sit on the floor of the stage, right in front. And, what would Poehler be wearing nine out of 10 times? Jeans and a V-neck T-shirt."

What’s the best thing someone can wear in an interview with you to get a job?
"Just look neat. And, be prepared. If you want something, throw time at it, so you know what you are talking about. You have to know the basics before figuring out what you have to add, what you can bring to the table. If you really want the job, be a total nerd about it. Love it the way you're obsessed with whatever you're obsessed with. My go-to is musical theater. Like, when you know the difference between Into The Woods cast recordings. Bring that level of nerdiness to the table. If you really know what you are talking about, the rest is easy."

Have you ever marked an important career moment with a major sartorial splurge?
"It's kind of the opposite. When I quit law, I put a bunch of my business suits on eBay — half because I could and half because I realized I should probably figure out money. But, one of the reasons I may not be able to pinpoint a specific splurge is because I guess I splurge when I need to. When my cousin was in town in August 2010, we ended up going shopping around the Meatpacking District. We went into DVF and that was my first experience with the wrap dress. I bought three wrap dresses and one sheath. I couldn’t decide, and I didn’t want to. At that moment, I felt that these dresses were part of the grown-up, professional woman I was becoming and wanted to be. And, I happened to have money at the time. It didn’t feel that scary, so I just did it. It wasn’t a specific moving from A to B externally [in my career], but it felt like moving from A to B internally."

Band of Outsiders top, Express skirt, model’s own jewelry.
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Samantha Wasser, creative director of ESquared Hospitality

For Samatha Wasser, opening up a successful restaurant is pretty much in her DNA. And, it's not just because that also happens to be the family business. The creative director of ESquared Hospitality (which owns the BLT Steak franchise and was started by her father, Jim Haber) has always been passionate about the food industry. She admits that it was challenging to join the ranks with her relatives and prove her place in an incredibly competitive business. When she was given the task of opening a Mexican restaurant, "make it happen" was her only directive.

The result was Horchata, which opened in May. The Greenwich Village restaurant is a far cry from some of ESquared’s other successful spots and reflect her youthful vision. “I always try and incorporate something different than what everyone’s doing,” she says of her personal style — a mix of polished, practical, and modern — but the sentiment applies perfectly to her career, as well.

What do you think has been the most important step you've taken in your career?
“Just having the confidence to stand up for what I believe in. It’s sometimes difficult because it’s such a corporate atmosphere, and our way of thinking — younger professionals — is so different than the way of thinking for someone in their forties or sixties. I’m always trying to fight for what I would want to see in a place. Where would I go? What would be something that’s newer and cooler and a little bit edgier? Having the confidence to get my point across to people that have been in the industry for so long, is sometimes daunting. I’m just trying, as much as possible, to find my voice and fight for the things that make the most sense for our newer concepts, not just doing things the same way that we’ve been doing.”

Walk us through what a typical day looks like at your job.
“Every day is sort of different. It definitely depends on what stage I’m in with what project. Right now, I’m spearheading a new concept that we’re working on, which is a fast, casual, vegan restaurant. So, for instance, this morning I had a meeting with the designers, as well as a branding company. When I was opening Horchata, a lot of the time I was running around sourcing things. Now, I'm going to the restaurant to make sure things are running properly, meeting with the managers, making sure we have an inventory of all the branding, and coordinating with our different vendors to make sure that packages are coming in on time. I’ll spend some time in the office catching up on emails and doing different things, like working on the menu design, but also I find a lot of my time is running around in meetings and going by the space and making sure that it’s running up to my standards — which are sometimes high.”

What’s the first thing you do in the morning and the last you do at night?
“I have to snooze for a little bit, and I always have to shower in the morning; otherwise, I can’t fully wake up. Then, I get coffee. At night, I’m a big TV person, so I have to catch up on everything that’s gone on that night.”

Your job requires creativity and a lot of running around; how does that translate to your personal style?
“My work attire has definitely gotten a lot more casual than when I started out because, being in the restaurants all the time, I’m constantly running around. Sometimes, if I have a big meeting or event to go to after work, I get a little bit more dressed up, but I’m always running around in flats. When I have meetings, then it’s definitely a bit more tailored. A lot of the people in the industry that we work with are of an older mindset, and they’re also more dressed up. I do want to be taken seriously. I don’t want to be looked at as this young girl for my position, so I definitely try to dress the part.”

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As a creative director and restaurateur, what’s one of the biggest challenges you find yourself up against?
“Well, working for my dad, obviously. But, it’s always daunting or challenging to think about how to stay relevant in an industry that’s always changing. Something is always the new, cool kid on the block, so I think that it’s always a challenge to have original content. For something that’s been open for a year or two years, how do you make that relevant to grab that space back or share that space with something that’s newer and everyone’s dying to go to?

"It’s sometimes challenging to find your voice and define what’s this space’s personality versus another restaurant’s personality. Horchata is definitely very playful; it’s funny and kitschy, but in a good way. Whereas, that would never be the case with BLT Steaks."

What’s a personal mantra that’s helped you overcome challenges on the job?
“Whenever I got overwhelmed with the Horchata stuff, my dad would always say, 'I know you can handle it, and you just have to trust yourself and just go with it. You might be wrong, but that’s the only way you’re gonna learn.' So, I just had to tell myself all the time, 'It’s going to be okay. Just trust yourself and have faith in it because, if you’re not confident about something, it’s totally going to read in the space. Or, on you.'”

Do you ever feel pressure to dress a certain way because of the industry you work in?
“It’s a very male-driven industry, so everyone’s always wearing suits. I think that sometimes some women try to do that sort of style, but I always just try to still have my own personal style, but without sticking out too much. A lot of my closet is filled with vintage stuff. I always try and incorporate something different than what everyone’s doing, but still fitting in with the general sense of it."

What’s the best thing someone can wear in an interview with you to get a job? “It’s the feeling they give off. If they’re passionate and motivated, and they know about the industry — even just in the sense that they go to dinner with their friends. A lot of the things in this industry can be taught, but I find that you can’t teach someone to be passionate about the food industry. You have to be motivated, you have to be organized, and you have to want it."

If you had to pick one item in your closet to represent your career, what would it be?
"My black, Alaïa, lace-up booties. They're super comfortable, which is important when I'm running from restaurant to restaurant. Also, I'm short; I like that they give me some height."

Have you ever marked an important career moment with a major sartorial splurge?
"When we opened Horchata, I celebrated with a Victoria Beckham dress. It was perfect for our opening, Cinco de Mayo party."

Which fellow career woman — real or fictional — possesses the coolest uniform?
"Carmen Sandiego, for sure."

Topshop dress, A.L.C. jacket, Comptoir des Cotonniers boots, Campbell jewelry.

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