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.
Sali Christeson's story of how she started her women's workwear label, Argent, is a familiar one to anyone who has struggled with dressing for the corporate world. After years in the finance and tech industries, Christeson grew frustrated with the lack of stylish and functional clothing offered to women who work in more conservative environments. She set out to fill this gap by creating workwear that wasn't stuffy—think pantsuits in bright, bold colors and prints—but would enable any wearer to feel comfortable and confident.
What sets Argent apart from other workwear brands is the fact each piece is designed with fashion at the forefront. "I have seen a number of women who used to work in consulting or finance and would quit to start their own workwear lines," she says. "But no one was really bringing in that fashion expertise and I knew that was a massive gap for me going into this." Christeson doesn't have a fashion background; she immediately hired a design team to create the garments and build out its supply chain. Meanwhile, Christeson as CEO deals with operations, strategy, and marketing.
The brand initially launched with a collection ranging from pantsuit silhouettes to jumpsuits in color and were heavy in the buys for blacks, navy, and neutrals. "One of the biggest learnings for us after the first season was how much of an appetite there was for color, which very much aligns with who we are as a brand," Christeson says. "We sold out of our red suits, olive suits, and cobalt suits very quickly."
These days, you can find Argent suits in many fun and contemporary styles, like a linen two-piece set in pastel pink and a two-toned houndstooth printed blazer. Aside from looking sophisticated and cool, Argent's blazers are highly functional. Sleeves contain hidden bands that keep your cuff up and jumpsuits are convertible for easy use in the restroom. "I want to inspire women to be bold and have a bit of a 'fuck it' attitude at work and just go for it in their careers," Christeson says.
The message clearly resonates. Argent's pieces have been worn by powerful women across a variety of industries, including politicians like Kamala Harris and Hillary Clinton and entertainers like Amy Poehlher and Awkwafina.
Christeson leads a team of 12 people split between both coasts. Manufacturing is all done in New York City's garment district, though the COVID-19 crisis has made that process a tad more difficult. "I think it's a tough time for everyone honestly," she says. "We had to shut all four of our retail locations and our corporate team is working remotely. We definitely saw less appetite [for workwear] the first couple of weeks, but now we're starting to see a little bit of bounce back in that."
So, if you're tired of your sweatpants and want a cute blazer for that interview or big Zoom presentation, Argent has you covered. Ahead, I chatted with Christeson on her personal work style (she still makes trips into the office; she lives within walking distance) and how you can steal her polished, work wardrobe for yourself.
Her Morning Routine
"My son usually wakes us up between 4 and 6 a.m. He is our alarm clock. We spend time with him, do breakfast, etc. It kind of varies morning to morning, but usually I'll trade off getting ready with my husband, who also works at Argent. I'm pretty quick and streamlined in my routine because I have to be so. I shower, lots of days I won't do makeup, and I'm straightforward in how I dress. I have mostly adopted a denim-and-blazer style. And then I walk to work, which is only a few blocks away [from our house], so it's very convenient. My husband and I are the only ones in [the office right now]."
Her Getting Dressed Strategy
"I wish I was the person that laid everything out [the night before], but I'm not. I look the morning of and then just kind of go for it based on how I'm feeling. I play around with blazers, tops, and shoes. And then mix in different types of denim. I love doing a full suit, so I'll definitely rock a full suit even when I don't really have a reason for it."
Her Work Uniform
"I wear a blazer pretty much every day with either a t-shirt or a turtleneck and then my Current Elliott patch jeans. I also really like B Sides denim. For the most part, I wear a lot of Argent. In terms of jewelry, I am Southern so I have a ton of go-to pieces that are classics, and love the brand Jenny Bird. I like subtle gold jewelry, so I have on a necklace that I've worn every day since I was 15 because of my mom. I wear that with my stud earrings. I wear a lot of sneakers, especially my pair from Adidas. I also have a pair of Native sneakers that I like a lot and love the [footwear] brand Mari Giudicelli."
The Three Words That Describe Her Power Outfit
"Bold, practical, and classic."
"Only focus on the things you can control and don't let the rest stress you out."
Get Christeson's effortlessly tailored work aesthetic, below:
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