What I Wear to Work: Melinda Robertson

As owner and co-CEO of workwear fashion house Scanlan Theodore Americas, Robertson prioritizes function and a monochromatic approach to dressing.

Melinda Robertson in her Scanlan Theodore boutique
(Image credit: Grace Ann Leadbeater)

In our bi-weekly series, we highlight dynamic women—from entrepreneurs and small business founders to CEOs and celebrities—discussing their style ethos, the pieces that empower them, and how they balance life alongside whirlwind careers.

"Women were coming up to me every single day asking me where my suits were from," says Melinda Robertson, who now owns Scanlan Theodore's Americas division (where she is also co-CEO). As financiers in New York City by way of Australia, Robertson and her friend Sarah Blank couldn't believe the attention their Scanlan Theodore work wardrobes were commanding. Like many Australian professionals, Robertson and Blank would stock up on their Scanlan pieces while visiting the Eastern Hemisphere—where the brand is a household name.

Duly noting the New York market gap for affordable, high-quality workwear, Robertson and Blake approached Scanlan Theodore's founder, Gary Theodore, with a proposition: partner up and take the iconic Australian brand stateside. With some convincing, Theodore accepted, leading Roberston and Blank to leave their finance jobs and gamble at opening the first Scanlan Theodore U.S. outpost in 2017.

The "soft launch" strategy to introduce New York to Scanlan Theodore was grassroots. Robertson sold clothes from her New York City apartment, where she hosted trunk shows for women and former co-workers. The collection—comprised of classically tailored designs with simple, clean lines—was a huge hit, especially for women adhering to business casual dress codes.

Five years later, with boutiques in the Flatiron district and Hudson Yards neighborhood and three more stores slated to open over the next year in Manhattan alone, Scanlan Theodore has become a go-to amongst professionals and lovers of quality basics. 

We sat down with Robertson to chat about her style as a co-CEO and mom of three boys, her favorite everyday pieces, and her mission to help women curate their perfect work wardrobe.

Robertson at one of Scanlan Theodore's NYC boutiques

Robertson at one of Scanlan Theodore's New York City boutiques.

(Image credit: Grace Ann Leadbeater)

On Pivoting:

During the Pandemic, we sold luxury clothing to women who weren't allowed to leave home. So, it was hard. But, we came at it from a less-is-more perspective. We focused on promoting beautiful everyday pieces that feel comfortable and look presentable on a Zoom call—but also pieces that you would happily wear to go out again. We leaned into our basics, which we do best, and cashmere sets. We weren't selling sequin tops, but women got to a point where they wanted to get dressed in the morning. I know I certainly did.

On Her Morning Routine:

I try to get up at 6:30 am and have half an hour to myself. I have a shower. I get dressed. I love makeup, so I always try and use that time to pop on a few products—even when I'm half asleep, a slick of red lipstick makes me feel presentable. It's fairly chaotic because I have three little boys under the age of 6. Getting them off to school, or whatever they're doing that day, is the focus when they wake up. 

Robertson outside of the Scanlan Theodore boutique in her elevated basics workwear uniform.

Robertson outside of a Scanlan Theodore boutique in her elevated basics uniform.

(Image credit: Grace Ann Leadbeater)

On Getting Dressed:

You need a uniform. I always go for a set, like a matching top or a dress—pieces that I don't have to put a lot of thought into but look elevated and are still functional without being too casual. I wear a sneaker in the morning because I ride an electric scooter around New York City. I like to be a monochrome dresser. I generally don't mix and match colors very much because I'm in such a rush.

My approach to workwear has always been to invest in everyday pieces that are beautifully crafted and have high-quality stitching and fabrics because I wear my clothes really hard. My hero piece is a high-waisted long leather skirt and a crepe knit jacket. They're both durable. I can ride my scooter around the city and have my children touching my clothes without getting marked up. I'm not sitting in an office— I'm racing around.

On Accessorizing:

I love Ulla Johnson's accessories. Her boutique experience is beautiful, which I enjoy and appreciate. I just purchased a pair of sunglasses from them. I also like Mifland for leather pieces—they're doing cool stuff in the space, and their website is unique; they have a great online shopping experience. 

I also own about five pairs of Sarah Flint's shoes that I always wear. She was a big help as we were starting and gave us a lot of advice. If I'm not in a sneaker, I ride my scooter wearing these white Sarah Flint heels—they're so comfortable.

Shop Melinda's Favorite Pieces

Sara Holzman
Style Director

Sara Holzman is the Style Director for Marie Claire, where she's worked alongside the publication for eight years in various roles, ensuring the brand's fashion content continues to inform, inspire, and shape the conversation about fashion's ever-evolving landscape. With a degree from the Missouri School of Journalism, Sara is responsible for overseeing a diverse fashion content mix, from emerging and legacy designer profiles to reported features on the influence of social media on style and seasonal and micro trends across the world's fashion epicenters in New York, Milan, and Paris. Before joining Marie Claire, Sara held fashion roles at Conde Nast's Lucky Magazine and Self Magazine and was a style and travel contributor to Equinox's Furthermore website. Over her decade of experience in the fashion industry, Sara has helped guide each brand's style point of view, working alongside veteran photographers and stylists to bring editorial and celebrity photo shoots to fruition from start to finish. Sara currently lives in New York City. When she's not penning about fashion or travel, she’s at the farmer’s market, on a run, working to perfect her roasted chicken recipe, or spending time with her husband, dog, and cat. Follow her along at @sarajonewyork