The designer spoke to InStyle about her definition of "dressing for success."

By Samantha Sutton
Jul 30, 2019 @ 4:00 pm
Mike Pont

Some mornings, we roll out of bed, do a quick scan of our closet, and groan. Do we really have to put on stiff, structured clothing and head to work? Can't we wear something cozy and comfy — perhaps even a pair of leggings — instead? Well, according to designer Vera Wang, that's definitely an option.

While Wang is well-known for creating dreamy, celeb-worthy wedding gowns, she also sells a collection of suits and tuxedos at Men's Wearhouse under her BLACK label. As the store nears the end of its July suit drive, collecting gently used professional attire for those hoping to re-enter the workforce, she spoke with InStyle and shared her thoughts about "dressing for success."

"Dressing for success is, first of all, honoring who you are as an individual, but also, the nature of what your career path is," she tells us over the phone. "I mean, you're not going to dress the same in a law firm as you're going to dress for Google."

According to the designer, the most successful people are authentic to themselves in all aspects of their lives, and especially so when it comes to style.

"If you're constantly trying to be somebody you're not, I don't think any of that feels valid on any level — morally, work-wise, success-wise. Now, more than ever, with the Internet, it's an opportunity and an obligation for people be honest about who they are and what they want to do with their lives. So, how that affects fashion will be obvious. I don't think you're going to WeWork in a Saint Laurent suit, you know what I mean? I think it really depends on what your career path is."

verawang/Instagram

Wang adds that, for her, dressing for success involves wearing an item that many women love: leggings.

"I am the mother of wearing leggings," she swears. "I started that a long time ago, because I was a ballet dancer and figure skater, and anything that stretched, anything that's very body conscious, is a part of that experience of being a dancer or a skater. So I really like to say I take credit for leggings. Long before there was athleisure, I was doing it because of how I lived my life. I could mix a couture coat from Paris with leggings. To me, it's that high-low, and it's also about fashion and how you put things together."

The same, she says, goes for how to wear a suit.

"When you buy a suit, you can put it together any way you want to put it together. It can be a baseball jacket over the pants or it can be jeans under your beautifully cut, tailored jacket."

When it comes to fashion "rules," the designer doesn't have many — and that goes for weddings as well as work. In both cases, Wang advises to just be aware of the environment and also how you feel.

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"Fashion today, for both women and men, is about encouraging people to be who they are, to be an individual, and to express themselves. And if not on your wedding day, then what day would you choose to express yourself?" she asks. "That has been my mantra for 30 years and why I went into weddings. I didn't believe it was about rules; it’s more about who you are and your own identity —  as a couple and as individuals — and to embrace that."

So, the short answer? Wear those leggings to work if you really want to...just proceed with caution.

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