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NYFW Shamelessly Reinvents The Modern Businesswoman

Culture

Last week's NYFW shows emphasized female empowerment, feminism, and a diversity that inspired and delighted us. There were transgender runway appearances, a gorgeous variety of plus sized models, and at every turn a political or social motivator for the show's themes. Defiance was a factor everywhere, and spurred an impressive and inspiringly creative week full of the wow factor synonymous with New York's ready-to-wear.


We were inspired by the collections' focus on strong women, as well as the evolution of the modern businesswoman. Clearly, we've moved from a Mad Men era secretary in a flouncy skirt to a futuristic iconoclast who bravely blends a bold fashion aesthetic with meticulous attention to detail. If her look is anything like her business-style, the woman of today is poised to take over the world (which of course, we already know). Here, in no particular order are 10 of the most noteworthy trends for the fashionable female founders of tomorrow.

1

Versatile Handbags at Cushnie et Ochs

Cushnie et Ochs

The release of Cushnie's first line of bags meant big things for this female-founded brand and they did not disappoint. The perfect size for your office materials - we'll be seeing a lot structural arm candy this fall.

2

Alexander Wang's Reworked Blazer

There's no such thing as a tired blazer in Wang's repertoire. Known for his worship of deconstructed, slightly flawed looks, we love that he takes the pressure of perfection off, while amplifying strength of self. This gender-bending power suit gave us a powerful feminine play on classic men's wear.

Alexander Wang RTW Fall 2017

Photo: WWD

3

Suffragette Era Silhouettes at Zimmermann

Zimmermann RTW Fall 2017

Driven by the stylistic, socially groundbreaking tendencies of our 1920s heroines, Zimmermann's show provided much to talk about and even more to be excited about. The modern suffragette silhouettes melded with the brand's trademark frills made for an assortment of edgy business-meets-statement pieces. “It was a bit of a Twenties influence for us," creative director Nicky Zimmermann said backstage to WWD. “We wanted to really mix up the masculine with the feminine this time."

4

Carolina Herrera's Redefinition of the Classic White Blouse

Herrera introduced us to a range of crisp, clean and very pretty white shirts throughout the show and indeed sported one herself when she came out at the show's finish. As any female entrepreneur will tell you, a simple white button-down is a must-have for your wardrobe, and Carolina's unique details--thin bolo tie-inspired bows, starchy capelets, and scalloped edges--took the closet staple to another level.

5

The "Every Skirt" at Mara Hoffman

Mara Hoffman RTW Fall 2017

Photo: WWD

Hoffman's introduction to the show read "This show is inspired by the women whose songs are not yet sung, the allies, the names and the nameless. I dedicate this to the women who are constantly creating in the names of change."

While Hoffman displayed rebellious and feminist overtures throughout the show, bringing out the Women's March organizers to begin, reading Maya Angelou during the show, her clothes did most of the talking. These skirts in particular are as diverse as they come, and a great piece for every busy woman's wardrobe. We love that you can be comfortable, look powerful, and be perfectly ready for a night out all thanks to one skirt. Bravo.

6

The Bob at Everywhere

It's the easiest hairdo to maintain, and it was splayed all over this week's runways. A marked evolution from the not-quite-short-not-quite-long lob that has been literally everywhere the past season, models at shows like Proenza Schouler to Michael Kors, rocked blunt, sharp dos, and no doubt the girlbosses of today will follow. Who has time to get a blow out when there's so much ass kicking to do?

7

Victoria Beckham's Long Gloves

Victoria Beckham RTW Fall 2017

Photo: WWD

Who doesn't like an elbow length sleeve in a coat? It's elegant, pretty, and can dress up any outfit. What we don't like, however, is how cold a forearm can become. Victoria Beckham is countering your Winter 2017 bare arm by re-introducing arm-legnth gloves - the long-heralded epitome of sophistication and class in leather for a dash of edge. “It was about offering my woman really beautiful clothes," says Beckham of her collection. "The truth is, there has never been a time when it's been more relevant to empower women."

8

Tory Burch's Shift Dress

Taking inspiration from Katharine Hepburn's outspoken character Tracy Lord, in The Philadelphia Story, the collection was meant to feel familiar yet push boundaries at the same time. Melding exquisite details with an ease of silhouette, Burch's ultra-feminine shift dress is idyllic and will work seamlessly into your office wardrobe.

9

This Statement Jacket at Diane Von Furstenburg

Photo: Vogue

An outspoken life-long advocate of women, Diane von Furstenberg just gets it. One of the designers who boldly declares women do not have to choose between feeling sexy and looking powerful, her wrap dress defined generations of business-minded women, offering them the chance to be both. This season her newest collection was an homage to color and shape, as chief creative offer Jonathan Saunders was inspired by Japanese and African culture. “It's about an eclectic mix of materials, clashing colors and a sense of ease," Saunders said about the collection. This cropped leather jacket stood out for its coolness; at once wearable and trendsetting in a camel hue that matches virtually everything.

"I wanted to be an empowered woman, and I became an empowered woman. And now I want to empower every woman. And I do it through my clothes."

-Diane von Furstenberg

10

Velour Pantsuits at Brooks Brothers by Zac Posen

If there was ever a time for a new type of suit, it's now. Posen's collection for Brooks Brothers was brimming with ensembles for the modern businesswoman, tailored beautifully, and all endowed with a unique sense of power. This forest green velvet suit was a particularly strong one for the designer as it echoed both softness and strength, classicism and a dash of the unexpected.

Brooks Brothers RTW Fall 2017

Photo: WWD

Career

Male Managers Afraid To Mentor Women In Wake Of #MeToo Movement

Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.


In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.

What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.

Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.

Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.

While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.

According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.

In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.


Source-Alex Brandon, AP

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.

Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.

The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.