In a bi-weekly series, we're interviewing female executives, founders, CEOs—basically, boss ladies—on their "power suit" a.k.a. the outfit they wear every day for easy dressing to conquer whatever the job throws at them.
I'm a big believer that the right shoe can change a whole outfit. (That's part of the reason why it takes me so long to get ready in the mornings.) The "right shoe," however, requires several important qualities, including a comfortable fit and a fashionable design, appropriate for the office or weekends out with your girlfriends. Enter Tamara Mellon, a former British Vogue accessories editor-turned-world-renowned footwear designer, whose shoes check off all those boxes.
Mellon co-founded Jimmy Choo in 1996 and was the first designer to test the direct-to-consumer model when she launched her own namesake brand in 2013. "After 16 years or so of building Jimmy Choo, I realized the world was changing, that every business was going to get eaten up by digital. I wanted to build another luxury brand with an entirely different business idea, that still offered beautiful, well-made shoes," she says.
Ahead of her time with the DTC model, Mellon's company went through some growing pains before finally finding its footing (pun intended) in 2016. Since then, Mellon's luxury shoes have been spotted on the heels of Meghan Markle, Jenna Dewan, and Katie Holmes. (When I ask how it felt to see the Duchess in her designs, Mellon modestly answers: "I was so thrilled, more so than the fact she wore the shoes, but that her values align with our brand's values. She's out there as a working woman, as a self-proclaimed feminist, and she works for women's rights.")
Mellon and her co-founder and CEO, Jill Layfield, continue to be trailblazers in modern-day luxury footwear. Recently, the company launched its most ambitious offering yet: boots in extended calf sizes. Tamara Mellon is the first company to offer this kind of measurement, ensuring all women really getting what they're paying for in terms of fit and comfort. (Mellon's pieces run from $395 to $1,095.)
"I work hard to make the shoes comfortable," she tells me. "One advantage [I have in the business] is that I am a woman designing for women. Most shoe brands are all mens names and they don't know what it feels like wearing heels. They'll put the shoe on a fit model and she has it on her foot for a minute, so they don't get a read for how the shoe really feels. The shoe might have amazing shelf appeal but when you put it on, it's painful. There are some technical things I do to make the shoe more comfortable—but I can't give away my secrets."
As someone who lives and breaths footwear, I had to ask the legend about her own collection. "If I need something, I will make it," she says. Touché. Her shoe game is, expectedly, on point, and the same can be said of her clothes. She reveals that there are two sides to her fashion personality: a masculine/clean aesthetic and a more boho-paisley-floral-print-loving side. Intrigued? Read more about her personal style, especially what she wears to work, below.
Her Morning Routine
"I usually wake up at 6:45 a.m. and do a mediation, even if it's only for 10 minutes, to center myself. I then workout for 45 minutes, shower, and always have to have a cup of black coffee from this Italian coffee maker that I have. I'll then drive to the office, which is about 15 minutes way."
Her Getting Dressed Strategy
"I am very [meticulous] with my closet, so I will have a section for blouses, day dresses, cocktail dresses, and within those sections my clothes are color coded so all the creams are together; all the blacks are together. I have a huge section of jeans, with different colored denim, and below that are my T-shirt drawers. Usually, because I am in such a hurry to run to something, I will grab some jeans, open the T-shirt drawer, throw a tee on, then, my shoes are all on shelves behind that, so I grab some shoes and I am off."
Her Work Uniform
"Frame or Re/Done jeans, a T-shirt, and a fabulous pair of shoes to elevate the look. My denim varies in shades of blue or black, but the color I wear most often is black. Black jean, black t-shirt, and a Cartier necklace if I want to elevate my look.
Depending on who is coming into the office though—for example, investors—I will throw on a dress or blazer. I, especially, love Givenchy dresses right now. I think what Clare Waight Keller is doing is amazing. Usually though, getting 'dressed' in Los Angeles [means] putting on jeans. It's very different than living in New York City or London. How you elevate your outfits here is with your accessories. Sometimes I'll stack bracelets or rings with my watch. I am a choker girl, I love a good choker with a T-shirt.
Bag wise, I carry our Kiss Bag. It's my go-to everyday accessory because I can throw everything in it. You can wear it three different ways, too: as a crossbody, a shoulder bag, or you can take off the strap and carry it as a hand-held. My other go-to bag is my Hermès Birkin. Lately, I [have been wearing] our sneakers. I wanted a sneaker that was the highest quality of leather for a chic statement."
The Three Words That Describe Her Power Outfit
"Tailored, clean, and casual."
"One of the things I always tell designers is you have to know who you are and what your aesthetic is and stick to it. On the business side: start small, get proof of concept, and then you can get angel investors (like family and friends) that will back your idea."
If you love Mellon's laidback work style, check out the below.
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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.
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