The Business Of Fashion: What To Wear To Work

The Business Of Fashion: What To Wear To Work

Style and Substance

Four accomplished women from the world of fashion share their well-researched views on business, life, clothes and more in these fascinating reads.

Style and Substance: A Guide for Women Who Want to Win at Work

Who

Fund manager Helena Morrissey is Chair-designate at FTSE 250 company AJ Bell and a member of the House of Lords. She was previously CEO of Newton Investment Management and in 2010, founded the 30% Club to campaign for better gender balance on company boards. Helena and her husband, Richard, have nine children. Helena shares her thoughts on clothes and life through her Instagram account.

What’s it about?

This is a meticulously researched and incredibly detailed review of how a woman’s appearance can affect her career for good and ill. Drawing on her own experiences and those of other women, Morrissey covers a large number of topics, including how to find your voice, hair and make-up for work, accessories, succeeding in the Zoom age and women’s health issues.

Memorable messages

Morrissey is honest about her own challenges, including bouts of anorexia and how she once found her career stalling, prompting her to give herself a career makeover and to start dressing to match her personality, rather than in an adapted version of the male uniform of dark suits.

She provides research findings to back up bold statements, such as: “Too often, talented, capable women are overlooked because they’re simply not perceived as such.”

Is it worth a read?

For any woman who has ever wondered if her appearance is holding her back or who feels doubtful about what to wear to work, this is a must-read. All that’s missing are photographs of Morrissey and the women she writes about.

·      Style and Substance is published by Piatkus


Fearless

Fearless: The New Rules for Unlocking Creativity, Courage and Success by Rebecca Minkoff

Who

Although not a household name in the UK, the New York-based designer is known for her modern bohemian designs of bags, accessories and clothes. In 2018 she established the Female Founder Collective, a 9,000-strong network of businesses led by women who support other women.

What’s it about?

A whistle-stop autobiography, Minkoff quickly moves on to how she founded her business. Each chapter is themed around a rule, such as Communicate Your Heart Out, Get Friendly With Failure and Collab Over Compete. She makes her point through illustrations from her own business life.

Memorable messages

The chapter Don’t Ask For Help is subtitled Ask for What You Need and is packed with relatable advice about how to approach a potential mentor or business partner. Instead of sending a loose request for someone’s time and advice, Minkoff suggests a very specific approach: “When you ask a better question, you get a better answer. So don’t ask for help. Ask for what you need.”

Is it worth a read?

Put aside the American self-help language and lap up the practical business tips.

·      Fearless is published by HarperCollins Leadership


If in Doubt, Wash Your Hair: A Manual for Life by Anya Hindmarch

Who

Having launched her business as a teenager, Hindmarch is known for her humorous and beautifully crafted handbags and accessories. She became famous worldwide for her ‘I’m Not A Plastic Bag’ campaign. She was appointed a Prime Minister’s Business Ambassador in 2011.

What’s it about?

Hindmarch really has tried to produce the promised manual for life, covering her blended family – she married a widower with three small children and they went on to have two more of their own – to the highs and lows of her business life and how she keeps the show on the road.

Memorable messages

Anya’s practical tips for running a company and family are captivating. A business needs ‘tight ropes’, to provide solid links between parts of the organisation. She instigated a system so her shop managers all over the world would email her every day with an update, keeping her in the loop.

Is it worth a read?

From advice on overcoming a fear of public speaking, hiring and keeping the best staff, making tough choices and how to organise your drawers at home, this is great stuff.

·      If in Doubt, Wash Your Hair is published by Bloomsbury


Who

Shulman was editor-in-chief of British Vogue from 1992 to 2007. During her tenure, the magazine achieved new heights of commercial success. Now a writer and newspaper columnist, she has written two novels.

What’s it about?

Each chapter is an essay, themed around an item of clothing, such as The Bra, Red Shoes, The Beaded Skirt and Trench Coats. Shulman draws on stories from her life and career for each chapter, coming to a thoughtful conclusion each time.

Memorable messages

For Forward Ladies members, the chapters of most interest will be those that focus on Shulman’s career. In The Chanel Jacket chapter, she recalls being gifted two of the precious items by the label’s London press office soon after her arrival at the magazine. She still owns a few of the standout pieces: “I regard them as an insurance policy,” she writes. “I feel safer in the knowledge that they are there for me to wear should I need to impress a prospective employer of some kind.”

Is it worth a read?

The least business oriented of the four books, there are golden nuggets covering how we feel about clothes and how they affect our business lives. Shulman remembers buying a suit for her first day at the magazine – one of only four she bought in her entire time at Vogue – because she needed something to carry her “from one life to another”.

·      Clothes… and other things that matter is published by Cassell


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