What I Wear to Work: Olivia Ross-Wilson

The Chief Communications Officer of Volvo Cars is a master of sleek Scandinavian style.

Olivia-Ross Wilson, WIWTW
(Image credit: Olivia-Ross Wilson)

For Olivia Ross-Wilson, the Chief Communications Officer at Volvo, her career trajectory wasn’t always clearly defined. “I didn’t have a plan,” says Wilson. “I followed my instinct.” It turns out her instincts were pretty good. With an interest in brands that focused on social impact, Wilson cut her teeth in the communications department at New York-based organizations like Bloomberg Philanthropies and The Clinton Foundation and ten years ago made the jump to Ikea Group as the Head of Sustainability Communications, where she helped share the brand’s Scandinavian values with a global audience. In December 2021, Volvo tapped Wilson to amplify its sustainability efforts, including climate neutrality and responsible business practices. But for Wilson, sustainability is a lifestyle— with much of her daily routines and wardrobe adhering to the same philosophies. “Function always comes first, with good design not far behind,” she says. “And I always work with what I have,” she notes. Ahead, we chatted with Wilson about her streamlined morning routine, workwear uniform, and why a less-is-more attitude always wins the long game.

Olivia Ross-Wilson in a classic white dress

(Image credit: Olivia Ross-Wilson)

On Morning Routines:

I'm a terrible morning person, so I'm super organized the night before. I always consider the Scandinavian design philosophy emphasizing form follows function and apply that to my day. For instance, where do I need to be tomorrow? Am I in a factory? Am I in a design review? Am I on a long plane ride? What's the function, and how does my outfit need to work for whatever that is? Then, the form (or the design aesthetic) follows. I'm thinking about all of this the night before.

In the morning, I work out, I have breakfast with my eight-year-old son and my husband, and then I'm quickly out the door, and it's the day's hustle. 

Olivia Ross Wilson in a suit

(Image credit: Olivia Ross-Wilson)

On Scandi-Style

Only in my forties have I discovered how to hone that style and look, and I'm thinking about the different ways you can work with what you have. One of my philosophies is Vivienne Westwood's belief: buy less, choose well, and make it last. I think about that with the suits that I invest in, the brands I buy, and how those will work with maximum versatility across seasons. I choose classic colors and pieces with a minimalist design, clean lines, and sharp tailoring. 

Nine times out of ten, I'm wearing Malene Birger. She has a very strong perspective on the designs and materials she works with. Totême is another Scandinavian-based designer who has a very similar philosophy. When I'm feeling more experimental, I'll wear Acne Studios—it's more abstract. Róhe is also one of my favorite brands. They're based out of Amsterdam and do fantastic tailoring. If it's a casual day, I'm always in a pair of Citizens of Humanity jeans.

On Investment Pieces:

I like the idea of shopping seasonally and topping up the season with something fresh, but I might only invest in one beautiful antique piece of jewelry for an entire season and work that across sweaters, suits, and jackets— like my wool Max Mara coat—especially since we wear coats here in Sweden for a large part of the year. You have to prepare for the possibility of four seasons in one day, so all of my pieces hold that investment ethos and have versatility.

Olivia Ross Wilson at Volvo wearing a black dress

(Image credit: Olivia Ross-Wilson)

On Empowered Dressing:

If it's a big day— a board meeting, a big review, a financial decision— I feel comfortable in a suit or something with tailoring and probably a nice pair of heels. I think we sometimes try to become too masculine in these situations where we feel that we need to dial down our femininity. Over the last couple of years, I've found that my femininity is more of a superpower— something I'm conscious and confident about.

I love a bold red lip, especially as I've let my hair go more natural silver. I literally have five red lipsticks in my handbag right now. Aside from a red lip and a perfectly tailored suit— my vintage Rolex from 1973. It's a beautiful piece of design, and it's absolutely timeless.

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