Yesterday, I had my first big meeting with Target to review our company’s performance after the first year, and the biggest question on my mind wasn’t what to say, but what to wear! I hope guys aren’t reading this, because they’ll probably be thinking women are fighting to be on boards and CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies, and you’re worried about fashion choices, when you should be focused on spsw (sales per store week) and earnings growth. Look, I’ve got spsw covered, but as a woman, literally the day before any big meeting, you shift into prom mode, and it’s always: outfit, makeup, mani, pedi, brows, the works. Plus, I’ve given similar presentations a million times, so I’ve got the whole business piece covered. Thank you very much.
It’s funny, because this was my first time traveling to Minneapolis. I’m currently based in Chicago, but when I think Minneapolis, MN, I think Midwest, like Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Generally, I try to keep things simple and usually opt for a black sheath dress, but I keep running into this gorgeous thirty something dark skin girl at my black business/executive meetings and she’s always rocking color and looks fantastic in. So for this meeting, I decide to run an experiment and ditch the little black dress and opt for something different.
To my surprise, I couldn’t believe how many of my friends disagreed with my decision to be bold and springy, and told me I was going to Minneapolis, stay conservative and rock black or navy, and ABSOLUTELY no designer purses, and no designer shoes.
We went back and forth several times and after our conversation, I had been beat into submission and agreed that the only place where you could pull off “Gone with the Wind Fabulous” and not offend anyone was NY, LA, Miami, Chicago and maybe Houston or Dallas, Texas (where bigger is always better). DC please don’t even insert yourself into this conversation, because everyone is wearing the same khaki skirt and button down blue shirt and black cardigan from Ann Taylor in 2016 that they were when I was working in the White House twenty years ago. Although the ladies on the Real Housewives of Potomac may disagree with my DMV’s reputation or lack therof for fabulous, I can’t spend too much time explaining what is an obvious lack of fashion sense in the nation’s capital. Needless to say I digress.
The inner circle almost had me for a moment there, until I talked to my consultant, who preps me for big meetings, and one of my best friends from college. My consultant was like now is not the time to be anything, but YOU. Target would be meeting with maybe 8-9 brown/black girls that day selling similar products as me, and not only did I want them to remember me for my presentation, but I wanted to stand out from the pack at least in a fashion sense. I didn’t want to be another black suit with a silk shawl hawking argan oil and shea butter.
My best friend echoed this sentiment.
She asked me:
“If they asked you perm your natural hair for this meeting, would you?”
“If they asked you to change the name of your product and drop the God, would you?”
Of course my answers to both of these questions was no, to which she replied, “I thought your company kind of stood for being true to who you really are. If you want to wear the coral dress, wear the coral dress. It’s that simple.”
So that’s what I did. I channeled my inner Tory Burch, rocked the coral dress (accessorized with a hobo bag from Targéy (Sorry Tory, even if I had one of your bags, I would have never brought you to this meeting), and it felt great to be bold, beautiful and daring in doing so.
Although I’m in love with the coral, I’m definitely ordering the navy from Banana as a back up. I also plan on playing more with color in the future, but that requires effort and currently my every day outfit is black yoga pants and a black tank top. LBD is always on standby, but as a CEO it’s time to step my game up! Sheryl does it. Marissa does it. Oprah does it.
A little Prosecco to wind down from a long day. BTW, peep how this glass is filled to the brim in MInneapolis. This wold be three drinks in Chicago.
So ladies, when headed to a business meeting, do you rock black or are you willing to take fashion risks?
Read more about our journey with Target here: