I have a Pinterest vision board (don’t we all) that is dedicated to hot fire work outfit ideas, but all the photos on it consist of models in perfect lighting and expensive accessories my budget and reality don’t support. Who can actually wear culottes chicly to the office? When can I wear my cocktail dresses in the real world now that Wine & Cuisine club events are over? Does anyone truly know what “smart casual” is?
Christy Liu (EC, OH) and Jay Garg (EC, OH) are answering those questions and more about women’s professional attire via her Product Management 102 class project, skirttheceiling.com.
Skirt the Ceiling is a website that helps women discover their own personal style and confidence, in every industry and for every occasion. Via the website, you can shop curated styles from your favorite brands and find tips, pics, and recommendations all in one place.
Liu was inspired to start Skirt the Ceiling after reflecting on her undergrad speech team experience. When dressing for a speech, Liu says, “conversation around female competitor’s choice of skirt lengths went further than how much effort they put into their speeches.” The reality on the speech team then and the reality in the workplace today is that “most women have to invest disproportionate effort compared to their male counterparts to earn confidence.”
No one wants to wear a frumpy suit in order for their ideas to be heard, or conversely have their frumpy suit speak louder than their ideas. Just like Liu, women today are looking to succeed in the workplace based on the quality of their work, but don’t want to sacrifice looking professional and feeling good in order to do so. On the speech team, Liu “wanted to win based on the merit of what [she] said, but [she] also wanted to win wearing clothing that celebrated [her] femininity.”
With skirttheceiling.com’s easy navigation and clean design, women looking for new outfit ideas, style guidance or fashion inspiration can browse Who Wore What (real women wearing real, affordable fashion), style guides, an online store, and blog posts. This popular feature of the site shows real, unphotoshopped women wearing their actual, real world, hot fire work outfits. They reflect real diversity in women in terms of background, geography, industry, position, and have worked in industries including retail, tech, education, wine and cuisine, fashion, real estate, private equity and consulting. Many of them are from HBS! Each item in the women’s outfits is linked to that item on its brand’s online store, so it’s easy access to recreate the look on your own. Clicking on an item or a category will also take you to #STC online store, which puts the smart in smart-casual.
What makes the online store at #STC so great is the option to shop by occasion (interview, casual Friday, client meeting, first day, happy hour, big presentation, networking, panelist), or sort by dress code (business formal, business casual, smart casual, tech casual). You can also shop by brand and price (pricing ranges from less than $50 to $500 per item).
On the blog, readers can find articles ranging from style motivation, current trends, day-to-night style ideas, and my favorite, Saturday Steals. #STC’s Saturday Steals feature the best deal the team has found for the week. Featured this past week was a work dress for under $30 – um, YES PLZ. They even give you helpful tips when considering purchasing the featured item, such as “for a more formal occasion, pick the black dress instead of the nude, and pair with a blazer, simple necklace and pumps. For a more casual look, go with the nude and add some cute earrings or summer sandals.” There is also a list of occasions the item is appropriate for (interview, networking, etc.) so shopping for your professional life is literally fool-proof.
If you have a dynamite fashion role model (or yourself!) you’d like to submit to be featured on the Who Wore What page, please send three quality photos to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell the team about your nominee/yourself, and where the featured outfit is from. Of note: several STC Who Wore What photos have been featured on the social media pages of brands like Banana Republic and Ann Taylor!
Emily Dohse (Old D Partner) is a Harbus contributor and an Executive Assistant at Egon Zehnder. She enjoys reviewing HBS events, attending themed parties with her fiance Ed Kennedy, and is an avid fan of Dateline.
Established in 1937, The Harbus News Corporation is the independent student news publisher of Harvard Business School