How to dress like a boss: 7 movies and TV shows that did career wear right
If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that to make it, you have to boss up. And while attitude-wise I’m sure you have that down (hello: you’re here, we’re hanging out, and we’re all very much in charge), your wardrobe can also play a part.
I’m talking suits.
But fortunately, the trademark boss-lady aesthetic of 2015 is way more interesting than a standard Brooks Brothers catalogue. Thanks to designers like Hugo Boss, Hermes, Giorgio Armani, Jil Sander, Blumarine, and The Row (to name a few), collections have proven that suits can signal power without representing conformity; that they can be just as commanding in bright tones as they can be in white. (And that they look good on anybody willing to wear one.)
Of course, we’re all going to need more motivation than that. Bosses lead by example, so that’s why if you’re resolving to be one yourself over the upcoming year (and beyond), we’ve rounded up the most iconic “corporate” looks of TV and film you can aspire to. Consider this the real Businesswoman Special.
Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997)
We might as well just get it out of the way: Romy (Mira Sorvino) and Michele (Lisa Kudrow) were sophisticated, educated, and successful career woman who dressed the part. Also, we still want to know: Is there a businesswoman special yet? Because I tried to order one as a grade 11 dare once, and it was still unavailable.
Nine to Five (1980)
We probably should’ve mentioned that this entire piece should be read while blaring Dolly Parton, but now you know, so here’s your chance. Of course, business-wear doesn’t have to abide by the suit code of 2014: Dolly and friends (Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, specifically) overthrew their sexist, egotistical boss in everything from polyester A-line dresses to plaid skirts and button-up blouses. And frankly, no one has meant business as much as they have, ever.
House of Cards (2013-present)
Look, we can talk about Frank Underwood all we want, but we all know the true force behind the most terrifying fictional government leader is his wife, Claire Underwood (Robin Wright), master manipulator. And surprise, surprise (just kidding: nobody here is surprised at all), her wardrobe is as slick as her power plays: monochromatic, well-tailored, and all business, Claire’s pieces evoke professionalism and command. This is probably why Burberry, Theory, and Narciso Rodriguez were so happy to dress her.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977)
From her first day at WJM, Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore) punched her way through the seventies-era glass ceiling (shockingly similar to the one today – surprise!) to ensure she really was going to make it after all. She also boasted a closet so rich with business attire that you’d think she would’ve created the Businesswoman Special herself – or at least earned some royalties from Gucci F/W 2014 and pals. (Especially since the last scene of the last episode sees her leaving WJM wearing a jumpsuit that could easily hail from this season’s suit-oriented collections.)
Working Girl (1988)
With great shoulder pads come great responsibility. Fortunately, characters Tess McGill and Katharine Parker (played by Melanie Griffith and Joan Cusack, respectively) were up to challenge both not-so-great boss Katharine Parker (Sigourney Weaver), and also their strict 1980s office dress code. Knee-length skirts paired with structured – and I mean structured – blazers created an inverted pyramid silhouette perfect for painting oneself as a true professional, which is a shame that some of us (hello) can’t wear that style to save our lives. (My shoulders will eclipse the sun.)
If you Google “businesswoman” you will probably find this piece (let’s hope), a Romy and Michele clip, and then thousands of photos of Olivia Pope. (Don’t try it: just trust me.) That’s because costume designer Lyn Paolo has created a wardrobe for Kerry Washington’s character that rivals that of Carrie Bradshaw’s – but instead of shoes and tutus, Pope’s affinity for white, lack of collars, and absence of frill has helped establish the professional fixer as a fashion force as well as a political one.
We’ve already said the Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) set the standard for normcore, but she also deserves credit for her affinity for pantsuits and other business-centric pieces – which she especially embraced as the series progressed into its later seasons. You have a problem with that? Well in the words of Ms. Benes: GET OUT.