Interview Style

Interview with Jane

This Wednesday’s interview is with the very chic Jane – a New Yorker working in finance. Jane has a beautiful working and off duty wardrobe, and is gorgeous, well traveled, and successful. She’s clearly a woman who takes her career seriously and has worked hard to where she is today – just one of the reasons I admire her. I hope you like meeting Jane, and enjoy her gorgeous photographs!

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Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?

I’m one of the few non-hipsters living in Williamsburg, NYC. I work in a bank, am married, have no kids, and I’m in my 30’s.

You work in finance and have a pretty demanding job. What are some pieces of career advice that you’ve learned along the way that have helped you land where you are today?

1. Even if you are the most junior person in a company, think as if you own the business, rather than as a worker bee who is paid to do what the job description says.
2. Think big picture and always ask yourself: do the results/findings make intuitive sense?
3. As a female professional, do not be emotional at work. Do not ever cry in public. Do not ever act on impulse.

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What is your take on wearing “obvious” or clearly identifiable luxury brand items at work?

I think that it really depends on the work environment. I’ve worked in companies that are dressier, and companies that are very low key. I think that we need to respect the environment. I can probably carry a Birkin comfortably at Vogue, but I will never carry a Birkin to a low key office where most men wear Brooks Brothers shirts (I have nothing against Brooks Brothers!). Learn from men: understated luxury is the way to go.

Generally speaking, you have more flexibility once you are more senior, but fashion statements should never distract people from what you do. By the way, have you noticed that some very powerful men wear Casio watches to even formal occasions? It’s the other extreme and I find it pretentious.

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You have fabulous style. How would you describe it, and what are some of your “go to” components of your outfits – for work and play?

Thank you. It’s difficult for me to describe my own style, but I think that the key words include downtown (I could never pull off a classic Williamsburg look), androgynous, minimal, and sometimes, elegant. I believe in “form follows function”.

There are a few categories of “go to” looks in my wardrobe: work, comfortable leisure, and dressier events.

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Work:  My current work environment is very low key, so my work outfits are understated accordingly. I wear Seize Sur Vingt made to measure shirts and J.Crew or Balenciaga pants. I sometimes wear skirts, but our office is always too cold. I wear J.Crew sweaters to work, mostly in merino wool. They are comfortable, look crisp, and they are inexpensive to replace: I wear out a few each season and it’s pretty easy to go to J.Crew to replenish. I often accessorize with Hermes scarves. Mostly 90cm (I have two dozen or so) but I have two 70cm. I wear either oxfords or heels at work, depending on my mood.

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Comfortable leisure: Jeans + oxfords or heels or riding boots + a top or a crew neck sweater + a jacket or a coat + a Birkin or a retourne Kelly.

Dressier occasions: Dress + heels + jacket + Louis Vuitton epi leather evening clutch. I’m eyeing a Kelly Pochette.

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What are a few of your favorite, cherished items in your closet?

1. Two Balenciaga jackets from the S/S 2006 collection. I pre-ordered a blue one and I believe that it was the only combination the store got. I liked it so much that I bought a grey one from eBay a year after. Also, a schoolboy Balenciaga jacket from the F/W 2007 collection – I also pre-ordered it from the store. It’s a great service Balenciaga provides.

By the way, I’m not a huge fan of Nicholas Ghesquiere’s latest collections, but I’m very upset that he was replaced (reason number 1) by Alexander Wang (reason number 2). Alexander Wang is too commercial and Balenciaga should never be a commercial brand. Perhaps commercial is what they need, but it shouldn’t be Balenciaga.

2. An Alexander McQueen jacket. I went nuts in F/W 2006. I got one jacket, two pairs of boots, two pairs of pumps, and two skirts from the same collection. The jacket is the most worn. I believe that Victoria Beckham owns the same skirts and I believe that both she and I would agree that they are not very comfortable (but look good!)

I learned about McQueen’s suicide at work (from my Bloomberg). I remember that I was very upset. I walked to the bathroom as calm as I could be and then I cried. I felt that I could understand him…and no one could design like he did.

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3.  My Chanel sweater jacket – it instantly makes any outfits more elegant. I think that I will buy more Chanel jackets in the future.

4. My Hermes bags. When it comes to bags, no other brand provides better quality. I am very lucky that I have a great sales associate who I trust and love. He has such a good heart.

What about the items that you wear the most – that you get the best “cost per wear” from?

I wear the above jackets the most often, mostly on weekends. They are all expensive but I thought them through before I made the purchases, so I got a lot of use out of them.

Another workhorse item is my work bag – I carry an Hermes Whitebus bag. I bought it from eBay and I carry it every day to work. It’s very low key yet it’s very well made. I love how my finger tips feel when touching Chèvre de Coromandel leather.

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If you could go back in time to when you first starting buying pricier wardrobe items like Hermes – what would be some advice that you would tell yourself?

Luckily, when I started buying Hermes, I had learned my lessons via previous purchases. I now have the habit of doing lots of research and thinking before I make a major purchase. One thing I learned very early on was to always pay close attention to material, construction, and fit. And never buy any clothing just because it’s a bargain.

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You have an amazing collection of accessories.  Can you share some of your favorite items? What was the first bag you ever bought?

My first true designer bag was a Balenciaga City bag. It’s was the Bordeaux color from the Pre-fall 2005 collection. I wore it so much that certain parts of the leather are almost worn through. I learned that a bag with distressed lamb leather will not last long.

I also purchased a Chanel reissue in late 2007. I actually wore it quite a lot, but I’m very careful with my belongings, so by the time I sold it, it was still nearly perfect. I sold it at a very small discount compared to the price I paid. Why did I sell it? Because by then I almost used my Hermes bags exclusively. Another reason is that Chanel’s retail price had risen to such an absurd level that I just wanted to have a little fun to see how much I could fetch.

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What’s a piece of advice about style and building the perfect wardrobe that you’ve learned over the years?

As a young professional who pays for clothes with her hard-earned salary, I’d advise not to buy luxury items early on. Spend a year or two to experiment and understand your body type and style (or play with your mum or sister’s wardrobe), and then buy staple pieces with patience and a critical eye. At all times, buy clothes with good material.

About budgeting – I do believe that each individual has the right to live the way he/she wants, but as a young professional, balancing saving and splurging is key. Try to find a balance so that you can save a little, yet enjoy life a little.

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What are some of your other passions and hobbies?

Food (eating and cooking), fashion, photography, and travel.

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Finally, please share something surprising about yourself!

I don’t like jewelry and I don’t have my ears pierced!

I was a tomboy when I grew up. I remember that when I was 3 or 4, I wasn’t interested in any girly things and I only played with boys. My mum was worried! I grew interested in fashion when I was in college, but even to this day, I still can’t deal with all the “fuss” jewelry brings (and they even have any function). My mum, whose hobbies are extremely feminine and the complete opposite of mine, has been disappointed through the years!

 

I love Jane’s style –  the perfect mix of cool, chic and professional. I especially appreciated her advice as a young working woman to take one’s time when buying luxury items. I remember when I got my first paychecks, how tempting it was to spend it all (and how often I indulged on that urge!). I wish I had someone like Jane to listen to back then. Thank you Jane for sharing some of your advice and closet with us all today!

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  • Groupthink7
    January 30, 2013 at 8:32 am

    I enjoyed the interview. One thing I don’t understand is not wearing what you want to work (i.e. a Birkin in a low key environment). I believe as a grown woman, you wear what you want to wear. I think people are too consumed with how people will think of them because of what the wear. My sister was the same way. I tell people quit counting my money. However, on the flipside, I know people will pass you over for a promotion if they feel that you have too much.

    • Katherine
      January 30, 2013 at 11:31 am

      I feel the same way too but it can be hard in a workplace – I always turn my Birkin around to face me when I scurry into work, it’s just what makes me feel comfortable.

    • Shan
      January 30, 2013 at 6:39 pm

      While in an ideal situation we should be able to wear what we want to wear, the fact of the matter is, people, especially women, are constantly judged by what they wear, unless she is senior enough. Unless the woman in question is comfortable with the potential of being by-passed for promotion/large projects/pay-raises because of what she wears, otherwise it is better to be safe than sorry.

    • Anonymous
      February 4, 2013 at 5:42 am

      There is a Chinese saying that says “树大招风” which literally means “Tree Big Attracts Wind”. In other words, one will attract (sometimes unnecessary and un-beneficial) attention when one gets too big (or capable or successful or beautiful). That is life

  • Aesthetic Alterations
    January 30, 2013 at 10:03 am

    I adore Jane! I think it’s partly the fact that she rocks her style even in Williamsburg. A woman after my own heart; I know how that stands out over there!

    • Jane
      January 30, 2013 at 6:37 pm

      Thank you Dear. I have a lot to learn. I just had an inspirational shopping experience at Barneys and learned a few things from a stylist…looking forward to warmer weather to have fun with the new pieces 😉

  • pink horrorshow
    January 30, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    That turq and red skirt is amazing! Is it Balenciaga?

    • Katherine
      January 30, 2013 at 2:58 pm

      I love it too – I will ask her and let you know 🙂

      • Jane
        January 30, 2013 at 6:35 pm

        Thank you! Yes the shorts are from Balenciaga. Glad that you liked it. Thank you Katherine 🙂

  • Anonymous
    January 30, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Does this woman have a blog? I like her style!

    • Katherine
      January 31, 2013 at 9:43 am

      I wish she did! I will let you know if she starts one in the future!

  • Navi
    January 30, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    I usually love it when you do these segments, but something about your latest guest just rubs me the wrong way. She comes off as pretty snooty and pretentious.

    • Katherine
      January 31, 2013 at 9:43 am

      Hi Navi, that is probably my error in how the interview was edited – Jane is very sweet and down to earth. I think she is confident in her job and position and as a woman in finance you have to be quite strong. Thank you for sharing your honest feedback however!

  • Makeup Morsels
    January 30, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Those Balenciaga shorts are amazing, probably tied with that Chanel jacket as my favorite item from this interview (and there are a lot of gorgeous ones). Lovely interview, and she gives good advice about not splurging on staples until you have a good understanding of your style and what works on your body.

  • adele
    January 30, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    Love the colourful scarves. Great interview!
    Have a fab Thursday Hun xoxo
    http://www.intotheblonde.com/

  • Atiqa
    January 31, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Great interview. I feel like I can relate to her. Although style + fashion is important to her, she is really into her career – especially one that is not ‘artistic”.
    Thanks for your great interview…as always!
    -A

    • Katherine
      January 31, 2013 at 2:14 pm

      Yes I agree! Love that she’s focused on her career.

  • Reader
    January 31, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    I was thinking to myself that Jane doesn’t wear any jewelry? Where are her jewelry? Then, at the end of the interview Jane mentioned that she doesn’t like jewelry. haha…

    If I have her disposable income, I’d give up one or two pieces of Hermes bags and a few of her Hermes scarves for a couple pieces of classic ( clean & simple), earrings, necklaces, and earrings. But each to her own.

    • Katherine
      January 31, 2013 at 8:24 pm

      I’m a jewelry lover too – but appreciate Jane’s very clean aesthetic 🙂

  • Marlene @ chocolatecookiesandcandies
    January 31, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    I love her understated and sophisticated looks. I couldn’t agree more about striking a balance between saving and splurging. I have a weakness for expensive jackets too. I only wish I’d kept some of the Chanel jackets which I’d gotten rid of 🙁

  • Chiara
    January 31, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    I like her style: it’s elegant and polished but still fun.

  • Annabelle
    February 1, 2013 at 7:47 am

    Good sensible advice for young professionals on shopping there! Although I must say, I would have been astonished if anyone had recognized a Birkin bag at my last conservative, male-dominated office. I doubt any of the men would have noticed anything but a logo.

  • Chic 'n Cheap Living
    February 2, 2013 at 12:40 am

    Jane has such great style and as a New Yorker who knows a few people in finance, I can totally appreciate her work hard, shop hard philosophy (with the right brands of course).

    Her career tips are so true! I am an emotional person and learned early on that an emotional response does not belong in the workplace because the other party will only perceive emotion, and not the actual content of the matter at hand.

    Oh and I visited a non-hipster friend in Williamsburg and they have beautiful apartments there!

    xoxo,
    Chic ‘n Cheap Living

  • Amy
    February 4, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    I liked this interview a lot; Jane’s Balenciaga jackets are really some kind of beautiful! I suppose it goes to show that quality will always transcend trends.