What Draper James Designer, Kathryn Sukey, Wears to Work

Reese Witherspoon's design partner thinks about fashion before falling asleep.

what i wear to work
(Image credit: Kathryn Sukey)

Like many young, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed fashionistas, Kathryn Sukey had always dreamt of working in New York City's illustrious fashion industry. At just 8 years old, she was already sewing and refashioning vintage pieces to make them her own. So, it was only fitting that Sukey would later find her place in fashion design, eventually leading the charge as the head accessories designer for brands including Coach and Kate Spade.

When actress and entrepreneur Reese Witherspoon called from Tennessee, Sukey had a gut feeling that her years of fashion expertise would be the perfect match for Witherspoon's blossoming Draper James label. Sukey's personal style featured many of the same qualities as Draper's did: feminine and versatile with lots of color pops.

"The last thing I think about at night is what I'm going to wear the next day," Sukey laughs. Taking a mental scan of her closet, she usually settles on staple pieces, like her favorite knit dress, bumped up with edgy accessories like a motorcycle jacket or a combat boot.

Here, Sukey chats about designing for the "camera-on" woman, her closet staples, and how optimism has taken a leading role in her workwear wardrobe.

kathryn sukey

Sukey in her New York City office.

(Image credit: Kathryn Sukey)

Her Morning Routine:

I rarely start work first thing. Mornings are really the time for me to focus on an easy start to the day. My two kids, ages 10 and 11, are pretty self-sufficient, but they still need the 6:45 a.m. mommy and daddy wake up call. I'm making the coffee; I'm getting the breakfast out. Once the kids are off to school, I'll look at my calendar so that I can make sure that what I was planning on wearing still fits the bill.

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Sukey in Central Park with her son wearing a gingham Draper James top.

(Image credit: Kathryn Sukey)

Her Getting Dressed Process:

I love to get dressed. I look forward to it the way that people look forward to their coffee in the mornings. I'm always wearing something absolutely in season, and I do really wear Draper James all of the time–it's super high-functioning. Reese and I are of the camera-on Zoom culture, so I'm always dressing with that in mind. I love to mix Draper pieces with my existing wardrobe. I'll wear one of our feminine smocked tops with a leather pant to make it a little bit more "me."

Kathryn Sukey

Sukey dressing for fall in a Draper James cardigan. 

(Image credit: Kathryn Sukey)

Her Approach to Powerful Dressing:

Feeling feminine makes me feel the most powerful. For me, that's definitely a dress that compliments my figure. It has to be comfortable because I walk everywhere in the city. I also like a bit of drama—something that moves when I'm walking.

what i wear to work

Sukey wearing a printed dress and shearling motorcycle jacket.

(Image credit: Kathryn Sukey)

Her Feel Good Pieces:

Before I joined Draper James, I sort of shied away from prints. I'm a size eight or 10, and sometimes prints feel like they're wearing you and not the other way around. When I joined Draper, I found that their prints are so universal and easy to wear. I've also adopted an optimistic point of view through dressing with color. I'm all about the pieces that feel good to wear and you feel good wearing them.

Shop Some of Kathryn's Favorite Pieces:

Sara Holzman
Style Director

Sara Holzman is the Style Director at Marie Claire, covering runway trends and tracking down the latest finds to buy and wear. When she’s not writing about fashion, she pens about the best places to jet-off to. Over her six years with Marie Claire, Sara has reported on the ever-evolving world of fashion— covering both established and emerging designers within the industry. Sara has held fashion positions at Lucky and SELF Magazine and was a regular contributor to Equinox’s Furthermore website, where she wrote across their style, wellness, and travel verticals. She holds a degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri, Columbia, and currently resides in Manhattan. Follow her along at @sarajonewyork.