Senior Executive Women – what do they wear?

posted in: Style advice | 4

This is what an Auditor looks like. Chris Wilson is our Internal Audit Partner from KPMG. Here, with his corporate backdrop, he wears Auditorwear – charcoal suit, white shirt, slightly patterned blue tie. It’s an effective formula that certainly looks professional and inspires confidence.  KPMG provides a good service to Notting Hill and recently invited me to a Breakfast event (we are so busy and serious that we have to attend events that start at 7.30 and finish before 9.30am) for senior women. I was interested to see how the ladies dressed and took my camera with me.

Chris Wilson
Chris Wilson

I was also lured to such an early start, in Blackfriars, by the high-powered speaker Dame Alison Carnworth,  Chairman of Land Securities Group PLC. She was great – very impressive and most interesting.

Alison Carnworth
Dame Alison Carnworth

Melanie Richards, the KPMG Board member who sponsors and chairs these events, is a bundle of energy and a very compelling advocate for diverse boards and leadership teams. She is very petite with lots of long thick hair, and I felt this slim blue dress looked stunning. It’s a sober colour but not traditional navy, the shorter sleeves are pushed up, and the deep V elongates her look very nicely. Melanie wears a delicate necklace and a narrow black watch strap, all of which complement her slim build. The shoes are ultra-simple, in black and help create a streamlined look.

Melanie x in Blue Dress
Melanie Richards from KPMG

I got talking to fellow guest Elizabeth Holden, who is an NED on the Board of Great Portland Estates.  She is also a Committee member of Circle Housing, a major housing association. I thought she might be an architect with her flared black dress and acid yellow jacket, teamed with chunky silver beads, and nice silver earrings. She told me she was actually a lawyer and made a strong the case for creative, strategic lawyers on Boards. She is wearing flat squared toed pumps, nearly black tights and quite a large black watch. Elizabeth’s accessories and distinctive glasses complement her face and body shape.

Elizabeth Holden
Elizabeth Holden

I also met Kathryn Britten, another KPMG Partner. She looked really nice in an orange dress from Hobbs. She had gone shopping, planning to buy yet another black dress, spotted the orange and bought that instead. A good decision. This colour is flattering on her warm colouring, it fits well and emphasises her shape. The length is conservative but shows off her nice legs and the shoes, with a little bit of shine, are just a touch special. She has chosen a gold watch which again suits her colouring. She clearly feels really confident in this dress.

photo 3

In general I was struck that this audience of senior women has all thought about what they would wear and the image they created. Many of the other guests were wearing black suits so these three shone out. Each one had chosen an outfit which flattered their differing body shapes, in colours that suited them.  All three had chosen dresses rather than the traditional suit and this makes sense if you want a pulled together, formal look which is also comfortable and smart. I was a little bit disappointed by their reliance on black for accessories, and I feel they could all have added a further item to their outfits, say a jacket, scarf, brooch, earrings or a belt to create a more distinctive, individual look. But KPMG – good on you for providing these excellent events and flying the flag for well dressed advisors!

4 Responses

  1. Jaclyn

    I love all three of those outfits, particularly the dresses. It’s so nice to see colour rather than drab conservative black and grey. I have some gorgeous bright dresses but shamefully admit they are out-of-work attire. Thanks for the inspiration ladies!

  2. fleurdecarotte

    I like the lady in the yellow jacket. I’d love corporate dress code to be a bit more colourful and original. I am now working in a corporate environment and I am finding ways round to wear fabrics which are not horrible grey suiting or black polyester.

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