What I Wear to Work: Lauren Santo Domingo, Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Moda Operandi

Anna Wintour and Carolina Herrera are her style role models.

Street Style - Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2019/2020 : Day Eight
(Image credit: Courtesy of Lauren Santo Domingo)

In a bi-weekly series, we're interviewing female executives, founders, CEOs—basically, boss ladies—on their one "power suit" a.k.a. the outfit they wear every day for easy dressing to conquer whatever the job throws at them.

Lauren Santo Domingo, former Vogue contributor and co-founder of Moda Operandi (her partner Áslaug Magnúsdóttir left the company in 2013) is the person you pass on the street and think, "holy hell, I love her style." But to call her a street style star is simply not enough. She's an entrepreneur, a former publicist for Carolina Herrrera, and has that je ne sais quoi only select individuals in the fashion industry ever master. These days, her life is centered on Moda Operandi (which she says can be pronounced either as Moda Operan-dee or Moda Operan-die), a 300-plus person company that connects women with aspirational luxury retail. You can find fresh-off-the-runway collections, red carpet dresses that celebrities just wore the night before, and trunk shows featuring your favorite or emerging designers.

'Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology' Costume Institute Gala - Arrivals

Santo Domingo at the Met Gala Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology of Art on May 2, 2016.

(Image credit: Larry Busacca)

The a-ha moment that sparked Moda came when she was still working at Vogue, which gave her access to designers and special pieces for galas and events. Everyone would ask her where she got her outfits. "I’m like, 'you can’t buy it, it’s not being produced or wasn’t bought by enough buyers.' So, I just realized that there was this big disconnect between what went down the runway and what women were actually able to buy in their nearest department stores or boutiques."

The company launched in 2010, around the same time women were embracing the convenience of online shopping and street style stars rose to prominence. Women wanted access to high-fashion pieces they saw on the streets or runways and Santo Domingo streamlined that process with Moda.

"I still have that editor's spirit, where I like to share things and connect with people. I always think nothing is good until it is shared, so I am delighted to connect women with the runway," she says.

In the spirit of sharing, I asked Santo Domingo to describe her work life and office attire, knowing full-well this seasoned fashionista had plenty to divulge. After all, when you've worked alongside the esteemed connoisseur of style, Anna Wintour, you end up learning a thing or two about fashion.

Her Morning Routine

"My days are always very different because you have to keep in mind there are four fashion months a year, from the February/March shows to couture to resort and back to September fashion week. A good portion of the year, I am on the road attending fashion shows so you don’t have to.

Street Style : Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2019 : Day Nine

Santo Domingo outside the Chanel show during Paris Fashion Week, October 2, 2018.

(Image credit: Christian Vierig)

If I'm in New York, I love to pencil in a breakfast meeting or two with colleagues and interviewees. My thoughts are more focused after that first coffee. If I don't have any breakfast meetings, I'll take a Ballet Beautiful class, which is a low-impact routine. I either take a private lesson or, more often than not, my friends and I take a class together so it becomes a group lesson. Since the workout is low impact, it’s a great time to catch up. Today, for example, I started my day walking through The Plaza for a charity gala with an event designer, doing this interview with you, holding interviews for prospective employees, then [I'll be] ending the day at the Proenza Schouler showroom in SoHo, so there could not be a more varied assortment of people and events in my day."

Her Getting Dressed Strategy

"Because I work for a fashion company, I have great access to clothes and it’s important to look my best, but I sometimes find fashion trends to be intimidating. I try to be as relaxed as possible for myself and my team during the day.

Sitting, Leg, Shoulder, Furniture, Joint, Footwear, Long hair, Neck, Comfort, Leisure,

I'm updating items in my closet to be relevant and on trend, but my style and preference for certain silhouettes always stays very much consistent," says Santo Domingo.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Lauren Santo Domingo)

If I were in a pencil skirt, heels, and a perfect ladylike clutch, I can't run up to the studio and immediately start art directing or run to the warehouse. It’s dressing for everything that comes at you. On the other hand, my favorite time to dress for is night. That evening section of my closet is filled with short dresses, long dresses, sequin dresses, feathered dresses, custom jewelry, sparkly shoes–all the things I can wear that I might not normally be able to during the day."

Her Work Uniform

"I grew up on the east coast, then I went to boarding school, so I definitely revert back to an east coast/New England style in the winter time. I gravitate towards knit sweaters, tweed, button-down shirts. And then, while I have a specific style, I definitely update that look based on trends. A few years ago, skinny black pants and a shrunken blazer—that more fitted look—was my style and now I am wearing looser pants and oversized jackets. I’m buying my knits in medium as opposed to extra small. I’m also loving the gold jewelry trend so I always have on a chunky gold chain or hoop.

Clothing, Suit, Pantsuit, Formal wear, Fashion model, Outerwear, Khaki, Yellow, Fashion, Beige,

Santo Domingo in neutrals and a chunky gold chain necklace.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Lauren Santo Domingo)

I was lucky to work for two women, Anna Wintour and Carolina Herrera, who were both actually accessible and relatable in the way they dressed every day. They both relied on uniforms: Anna in her floral dresses and signature necklaces, while Carolina wore fabulous jewelry with a white button-down. They’re not wearing super strong fashion to throw you off. They were important role models in my life, so I, too, try to be as accessible and approachable as possible.

Two designers I rely heavily on are Khaite and Martin Grant. Khaite has amazing tailoring and a very tonal color palette that easily mixes with everything in your closet. MG is my go-to if I were to have an investor meeting and I had to look super polished. They make great leather and tweed pieces. I try in my everyday attire to not be too overwhelming or intimidating. I don’t want to start my meetings about what I am wearing, because I want quality time with who I'm with and to get to the business at hand."

The Three Words That Describe Her Power Outfit

"Tailored, feminine, and polished."

Her Motto

"I always ask myself why be boring? With everything we do it’s easy to fall into a rut, to do the same thing, so I challenge myself, my team, my friends, designers to always try something new. I think the crux of that is not to take yourself too seriously and not to take fashion so seriously. Have fun, try new things, enjoy yourself, and be confident."

If you love Lauren's #bosswoman work style, shop similar pieces from her favorite brands, below.

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Art, Visual arts, Modern art, Furniture, Room, Textile, Comfort, Interior design, World, Mural,

(Image credit: Daniela Spector)

Blue, Sitting, Furniture, Couch, Pink, Design, Room, Photography, Sofa bed, Jeans,

(Image credit: Courtesy of Sukhinder Singh Cassidy)

hair, face, facial expression, beauty, smile, hairstyle, blond, lip, long hair, eye,

(Image credit: Courtesy of Carly Leahy)
Marina Liao
Fashion Editor

Marina Liao is the former fashion news editor at MarieClaire.com, where she covered celebrity style (from Meghan Markle to Katie Holmes), fashion trends, and shopping advice, plus conducted original interviews with industry insiders. She's also had many opportunities to write content in other areas such as beauty, food, tech, and even home. Her previous fashion stints include POPSUGAR and Cosmopolitan.