What a Brand Strategist Wears to Work
by : Victoria DiPlacido- Nov 27th, 2019
Name and occupation?
Talya Macedo, and I’m a brand and image strategist and publicist.
Briefly, how would you describe what you do?
I strategically advise and position brands and people in the arts, culture and entertainment categories. I make sure they make an impact and that everybody hears about it. Working with creative minds means I spend every day putting inspiration into motion.
What does your day-to-day look like at work?
It changes every day, but it always involves a lot of communication, crisis management, ideation, travel, emotional labour and research. I take care of people’s needs all day long, so I like to make sure that I start my day by taking care of myself from the inside out. Putting together a look is a big part of this, and I like to encourage other ambitious women to honour themselves this way.
Does your company and/or industry have a dress code?
No, which is amazing. Unofficially, we all wear production black. I think creatives naturally tend to gravitate toward all black because it gives you this blank, powerful slate. I also wear it for a lot for spiritual reasons: It blocks the bad vibes! [Somewherelse] is actually the first place that I’ve worked where there is no dress code stated in any capacity. What I see from that is people being themselves from the moment they walk in the door. We dress up for client meetings, but even in that exchange, it’s important to still maintain your personality, especially in creative industries. [Clients] are looking for that.
Describe what you usually wear to work.
For years, my uniform has been a slim pant, a boot and an oversized top, whether that’s a t-shirt or hoodie. I typically wear an oversized top because I am heavy chested, and I find people get very distracted when you’re trying to work with them. Working in entertainment, I deal with a lot of men who often don’t know how to manage that exchange.
I wear a lot of stretchy pants because I run around a lot. I drive, I travel, I get on a plane quite a bit. I like a flowy silk blouse that makes you look more dressed up than you actually are. I wear sneakers – fresh ones always. Hats look fresh, too, but I often am wearing them because I just really can’t be bothered to do my hair that day.
Part of my uniform is gold jewellery. Wearing a lot of gold makes me feel a lot more connected to my South Indian culture. I’ve spent a lot of time in corporate entities and agencies – you know, settings where people have ideas about what’s presentable. And a lot of the time what’s ‘presentable’ is not inclusive of women of colour or what it entails to be an ethnic person with textured hair and jewellery and tribal tattoos.
“I wear big gold hoops in rebellion every day – it's been part of my resistance.”
I worked somewhere once where my boss told me, “It’s really just not professional to wear gold hoops.” So I wear big gold hoops in rebellion every day – it’s been part of my resistance. AOC [U.S. congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] wore gold hoops to be sworn in and said she wanted to wear them so that young women would know they could take up that space. I felt connected to that. There are a lot of cultural references in jewellery that are very apparent and important to me.
I always get my boots at L’Intervalle. I love all of their footwear. Super beautiful. A lot of my jewellery is either vintage, like my mom’s, or it’s from Cuchara. I love her stuff. A red lip is also pretty standard for me, and I think that that is actually something that’s generational. I remember my grandmother fixing her hair and her lips before she walked out the door, and the ritual feels like armour.
What challenges, if any, do you face when it comes to getting dressed/shopping for clothing?
I’m in my mid-30s, and my body has changed drastically. It’s basically like puberty part two. I felt like I had to just hit reset on things I wore. So there was some [relearning] how I could still embrace trends and make them work for me. I don’t really think about sizing; I think about fit. So much of what happens around body dysmorphia has to do with standards of measurement that we equate with “good” or “bad.”
Get to know your actual hip, bust and waist measurements. If you assume you’re always a size 10, you’re going to be disappointed because manufacturers vary, sizing standards from country to country vary. Part of happiness with your body is releasing sizing ideals and just being like, “This is what looks good on me.” It’s not about the size. I like oversized stuff. I always buy XXL. I don’t equate that with anything except for how it’s going to look on my body.
“I don't really think about sizing; I think about fit.”
How do you shop for clothes?
I don’t ever have success shopping online unless I’m just reordering something that I’ve already worn or buying a shoe. I like to try things on. I have the best luck with either streetwear brands or vintage pieces.
Because I’ve kind of created a uniform for myself, it’s just a matter of replacing pieces whenever I need to. Every fall I buy a new boot. Every summer I buy a new short. I was a lot more experimental in my 20s; I was a stylist, so that allowed for it. But in my 30s, I’m finding I need things to be easy.
Do you have any advice for people working in corporate environments about how they can maintain some personal style?
I found that playing with colour was helpful. If you’re entering a corporate space, then you already know you need to arm yourself. So whatever you need to do to feel armed, do that. Whether it’s a really great piece of jewellery, sick shoes…or if you wear makeup and you want a strong lip, all those kinds of things. That’s how you get to reclaim a little bit of your power in that exchange. It’s hard because you do have to play by the rules. I’m hopeful that we’re shifting into a more modern future.
“Don't be experimental for a first date. I don't think it ever works out.”
Any other advice when it comes to clothing?
When you find something really good, buy a few and wear them out. Then you’re happy with what you’re putting on every single day, and you don’t have an outfit crisis in the morning. Don’t be experimental for a first date. I don’t think it ever works out. I also don’t really believe in age-appropriate ideals. It’s a state of mind. Real, true style is resistance: doing what truly feels good and what works for your life. Get dressed in the morning and ask: How do I need to feel today? Who do I need to deal with? What do I need people to think about me? How do I reclaim my power through my clothing?
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