When you feel polished and put together, you always step up your game in the office. Meet Natalie Suarez Cahill, a woman whose sleek style speaks volumes about her professional drive. Currently a Fragrance Marketing Manager for Dior in New York City, Natalie’s resume in beauty and fashion includes many of the blue-chip heavy-hitters, from Calvin Klein to Chanel.
Needless to say, her fashion sense must always be on-point: tailored, colorful and feminine.
I asked her to share some of her sartorial secrets — including what to wear when you’re seeking a career at a fashion powerhouse. (Start planning your wardrobe changes: Natalie had 6 rounds of interviews to score her position!)
Excerpts of our chat are below — as well as examples of Natalie’s signature office style.
TSP: First, how did you plan the outfits in advance of your Dior interview?
NSC: When I got the interview at Dior, my first question was, “Oh MY God, what will I WEAR?!” First, I asked my recruiter to get the scoop on the personal style of the interviewer. Based on that information, I made sure my outfit was appropriate, but also showed a hint of my personality. Everything I wore was mixed high-to-low. For one of my interviews, I wore a dress from REISS, a blazer from Zara and platform heels by Prada.
TSP: What outfits makes you feel most powerful at the office?
NSC: I love the color red. It makes me happy and is appropriate for any season. A great pair of heels is also essential to have on hand (or under your desk!) since you never know if you have to attend a last-minute meeting or visit from a VIP.
TSP: I think many people believe that working in fashion is just like the Devil Wears Prada. Is there any truth to that perception?
NSC: This industry is more focused on your professional impact than what you look like — but I think it’s important to look presentable and professional every day. I believe that employees of a fashion brand are expected to represent an extension of that brand. You should always dress like a boss, regardless of your title.
TSP: What are the biggest don’ts in the fashion work world?
NSC: Never flaunt an item from your competitor! If you’re a fashion aficionado, it is likely to own a few items from a competitor — just don’t bring it to your place of business. For example, if you work for Chanel and your direct competitor is Louis Vuitton, it’s unwise to waltz into the office with an LV monogram tote. (This is also why labels like Zara, H&M and Topshop are good for basic items with no loud labels or logos.)
TSP: Where do you stand on subway footwear: heels or flats?
NSC: I rarely wear heels on the subway. It’s not worth the discomfort, not to mention the subway is not kind to one’s shoes. Like a true NYC working girl on the go, I wear casual flats and switch to heels when I get to the office. But I make a conscious effort to ensure my commuting flats match what I’m wearing for the day, just in case I break a heel or stay in my flats after work.
TSP: Do you keep a emergency fashion stash in your desk?
NSC: An embarrassing amount of Dior nail polishes are hoarded next to my paper clips and pens! Also, if you dumped my purse upside down right now, you’d find 4 lipsticks, 1 chapstick, 2 mascaras, 1 eyelash curler and an eyeliner! There are also 2 pairs of black pointy pumps under my desk — they go with anything.
TSP: How do you take your work outfits from day to night?
NSC: An easy way to transform your look from day to night beauty-wise is with some red lipstick and black eyeliner. Also, a small clutch / wallet could be a good item to keep in a locked drawer for an impromptu happy hour or dinner date. (It stinks being stuck in a crowded bar with a 10-lb work bag attached to your arm.) A heel always makes me feel a little more dressed, especially at night. If I know I’ll be standing, I’ll opt for a lower, chunkier heel that goes with my outfit from the day.
TSP: And lastly: what’s your must-have item this season?
NSC: Wow there is SO much good fashion out there right but this red skirt from the Dior Fall/Winter RTW show is to die for! It is such a statement piece — plus it’s red!