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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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