An Interview with Silvia Tcherassi, Latin America’s Queen of Glam
(Escribi esta entrevista originalmente para la revista Personal Branding. Gracias Dan Schawbel por darme permiso para publicarla ahora en mi blog.)
Dressing for work need not be a stale affair – as Silvia Tcherassi, Latin America’s leading fashion designer, teaches. Chosen by Swarovski as one of the top 100 designers worldwide as well as being the face of Audi Latin America, it’s refreshing to see that after 15 years working in haute couture, Silvia’s approach to fashion is grounded and practical.
As she shared with me, glamorous and professional match – in fact they can match nicely, and can even be affordable. With her advice she makes glamour accessible to us all – even inside a cubicle.
SR – Just as product brand managers have a clear vision when it comes to a product’s package design, being that a person’s clothing is their personal packaging – what do you think should be their guiding philosophy when putting together a wardrobe for work?
ST – I believe that just as with a product’s package, the image a person projects needs to be original. It should reflect their own style and personality. That’s why I’m against people imitating fashion icons and celebrities. Albeit, most work environments call for a degree of conservatism – within that framework it is possible to stand out and be authentic.
SR – How important is the role of a person’s image on their path to success? Can a glamorous image make up for lack of talent or skills?
This is such an important topic in our careers, that I dedicated an entire chapter to addressing it in my book Elegancia Sin Esfuerzo (Effortless Elegance – published by Random House, 2010). I emphasize that our look is not only what we are but what we want to be. Through our image and how we dress, we tell the world about our personality, our likes and dislikes and how we act. It is true that first impressions matter. However, if we “conquer” people with our image – yet there is nothing of substance to back it up – then it’s just that – an impression.
SR – What tips would you give people entering the world of work?
To them I would say that this new time in their personal and work lives is a unique opportunity of self-discovery – to create and project their personal image.
Creating and projecting a glamorous image need not be expensive. It is mostly about selecting versatile pieces that may be easily mixed and matched. And that instead of being too trendy are classic. That way they have a longer shelf life. Classic pieces can easily be livened up with the season’s “it’ bag or garments with fashionable colors. Quality is also more important than quantity. And keep in mind that there’s more than a pantsuit when it comes to projecting a professional image.
SR – Which are the worse fashion faux-paus in the world of work?
Clothing that’s too tight-fitting, too short or too revealing.
SR – Which are the main “Good Fashion Practices” in the world of work?
Comfortable pieces that are versatile and that fit in to the work environment you’re in. For example, a manager in the financial sector will not dress the same as an account manager at an ad agency. The former should project trust and security to her clients – whereas the latter creativity and an ability to take risks.
A straight-cut pant, a white shirt, a trenchcoat and a bag that’s big enough to fit a laptop are a good starting point for any person, regardless of the environment they work in or the season. From that point it’s possible to build a glamorous wardrobe.