Shop Fall Fashion Inspired by 14 Real Working Women


Hardworking women aren’t difficult to find—especially in a city as big, diverse, and career-centric as New York. We pulled together an eclectic group of 14 women, ranging from a marine biologist to a city councilwoman. These women are making strides and leaving their marks in their respective industries—and each has her own unique (and extremely shoppable) style. Learn more about these movers and shakers, below.

Casey Legler
Switching careers can be terrifying, but 41-year-old Casey Legler, who has gone from Olympic swimmer to accomplished restaurateur over the last two decades, will make you want to step out of your comfort zone. Read all about her career shifts—and other adventures—in her just-out book, Godspeed: A Memoir. Is there anything this girl can’t do?

Occupation: Writer, restaurateur, and Olympian
Hometown: Fréjus, France
Career advice: Write like no one’s watching—or ever will. Be kind.
Working-girl style muse: Can I say Johnny Cash?
Career bucket list: Winning the James Beard Award, or a few Michelin stars. I like goals. Who knows if you ever reach them, but it’s great to shoot for somewhere near them—you’re bound to end up with something excellent (or at least a couple of comets in your pocket) if you do.
Fall must-have: My leather jacket and cold weather (that’s two, but I feel like they’re one).
Favorite thing to splurge on: Anything for my wife.

Corinna and Theresa Williams
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that doing laundry is not a chic chore. But sisters Corinna and Theresa Williams have seemingly done the impossible and created a design-friendly alternative to the wash-and-dry doldrums with their Brooklyn laundromat, Celsious. Because of them, you might actually look forward to your next laundry day.

Occupation: Co-owners of Celsious
Hometown: Brooklyn
Career challenge: We work in an industry that is dominated by males who have oftentimes never done their own laundry. —Corinna
Career advice: Don’t take “no” for an answer! —Corinna
Where to decompress: A mat at Modo Yoga. —Corinna
Career bucket list: Turning Celsious into a global brand. —Theresa
Fall must-have: I’ve been obsessed with the recycled-denim yarn knitting kits by Wool and the Gang lately—my goal is to knit my own sweater before sweater weather hits. —Theresa

Zaro Alexandra Bates
Because farms are few and far between in New York City, Zaro Alexandra Bates and her business-partner husband took things into their own hands and launched a 5,000-square-foot rooftop farm in Staten Island last year. Working the land (and owning a business) means wearing many hats: Bates, 28, has served as nursery manager, chief of microgreens, workshop leader, and marketer.

Occupation: Social entrepreneur and founder of Empress Green
Hometown: Brooklyn
Key to work-life balance: Time in nature is key. Also: Cook one nourishing meal daily for yourself and others—make it a ritual.
Career advice: Stay nimble! I don’t believe we are fundamentally designed to do one job for our entire lives.
Best part of the job: Creating impact through growing food—and being part of a movement for social change.
Fall must-have: Impeccable vintage chunky-knit cream culottes.
Biggest professional motivator: Understanding that the current system is broken—and knowing that I can play a small part in creating a new one.
Favorite thing to splurge on: Food.

Megan Twohey
As an investigative reporter for The New York Times, Megan Twohey has spent her career writing stories about the treatment of women and children. This year, she helped bring Harvey Weinstein to justice. The 41-year-old working mother says the best parts of her job are “the brave sources who want to bring the truth to light.”

Occupation: Investigative journalist, The New York Times
Hometown: Evanston, Illinois
On work-life balance: When Jodi Kantor and I did our investigation of Harvey Weinstein last year, we both had infant daughters at home. It was a constant struggle balancing the demands of reporting with the demands of parenting. As exhausting as it was, I always chose to get up at 5:30 a.m. with my daughter. While the rest of the world (and my husband) slept, I was able to put work aside and enjoy an hour of uninterrupted time with her.
Career advice: If it comes with grueling hours, make sure the job also comes with a strong sense of purpose.
On being a woman in her field: The Weinstein investigation delivered something I’d never experienced in journalism before: a female trio. I think the combination—two female reporters and a female editor—was well suited for a story that was all about women’s voices.
Fall must-have: Leather pants, leather jackets. This fall, I’d also love to get my hands on a perfect leather skirt.
Favorite spot to decompress: Prospect Park
Favorite thing to splurge on: Fifteen-minute massages. When I’m at my busiest, I’ve found that massages, even quick ones, go a long way in keeping me healthy and sane.

Carlina Rivera
For New York City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, it’s all about impacting lives for the better. (She’s dedicated much of her time to improving the accessibility of lower-cost housing on the Lower East Side, for example.) The 34-year-old especially loves the chance to meet and speak with like-minded young women. “I honestly think that young people today have done more to change the political discourse in our nation than any other generation has before,” she says.

Occupation: New York City councilwoman
Hometown: Lower East Side, Manhattan
Key to work-life balance: I make time to be with my friends and family, call my grandparents in Puerto Rico, or hang out with my pug, Yoshi.
Career advice: When you are moving up in your career, try to lift people up along the way—especially women—and recognize those who stood by you.
Professional style inspiration: Meghan Markle—she has always looked so put-together and polished without trying too hard.
Fall must-have: New boots and loafers. During my campaign, we knocked on thousands of doors getting the vote out, and I destroyed at least three pairs of shoes.
Greatest career motivator: Access to affordable housing is something that should really be a basic human right in our city and our country, but, unfortunately, it’s not, so my number one goal at the end of the day is to give as many working-class and low-income New Yorkers as possible a chance both to remain living here and to succeed.

Ashleah Gonzales
The 31-year-old model agent Ashleah Gonzales is always on the go—so much so that she’s nearing 1 million SkyMiles. Her position at the esteemed agency The Society Management has given her the unique position to advocate for the many young women in the fashion industry—an industry still reckoning with the hard truths around the exploitation of models.

Occupation: Executive manager, celebrities and talents, at The Society Management
Hometown: Lebanon, New Hampshire
Key to work-life balance: Airplane mode.
Career advice: “Check your blood sugar and check it often.” —Wilford Brimley
On being a woman in her field: Female models in our industry face a unique set of pressures, hopes, and challenges, and it can be a pretty cold business. I try my best to support, provide perspective and mentorship, and advocate on their behalf.
Fall must-have: The entire Miu Miu 2019 Resort collection counts as one!
Favorite spot in the city to decompress: Spa88 in the Financial District.
Favorite splurge: Extra Toasty Cheez-Its.

Alison Désir
By day, she’s a mental health counselor, but by night, Alison Désir, 33, is a running activist: She’s the founder of Harlem Run and Run 4 All Women—with the latter currently powering a national grassroots campaign to activate progressive power during the 2018 midterm elections.

Occupation: Athlete, entrepreneur, activist, and mental health counselor
Hometown: Harlem, New York City
Key to work-life balance: Compartmentalizing—and exercising. I do my best not to allow competing tasks to feed into each other and overwhelm me. I also try to remind myself that even the people I look up to look up to other people—we are all just doing the best we can.
Career advice: Don’t wait to do whatever you’ve been dreaming about. It’s okay to find your footing as you go along.
Best part of your job: Constantly meeting new people and being inspired by their energy and life experiences.
Favorite place to decompress: Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. There are beautiful trails there, and you almost forget that you’re in New York.
Biggest professional motivator: Running saved me from depression and connected me with the most inspiring community. I want as many people in the world to know what I know—that movement can change the world.
Favorite splurge: No big surprise here—athleisure and running sneakers!

Sarah Hoover
“I love playing with the conventions of femininity,” says Sarah Hoover, 32, the Gagosian gallery artist liaison—“especially in my male-dominated field, where often the opposite is expected.” It’s a balancing act she also exercises in her day to day—juggling discerning art collectors and artists alike.

Occupation: Art dealer
Hometown: Indianapolis
Key to work-life balance: What I’m aiming for is something that I call “blending”: always doing a little bit of both and not having a strong delineation between work and private life. It’s easy because I love my job.
Working-girl style muse: Cher Horowitz meets Beyoncé, meets Ariel, meets My Little Pony (but mostly just the first two).
Favorite spot in the city to decompress: Elizabeth Street Garden, with my baby, Guy, and my French bulldog, Napoleon.
Biggest professional motivator: I know that I’m not curing brain cancer every day, but I think artists have historically been incredibly important proponents for social change—and making the world a weirder, cooler, better, more accepting place. So I’m really proud to have found a job where I can support that effort.
Favorite splurge: Travel, especially to destinations off the beaten path.

Dr. Liz Burmester
Once upon a time, you could plunge your arm into the Hudson River and pull out an oyster—and with her work at the Billion Oyster Project, Dr. Liz Burmester, 30, hopes to revive the once-thriving bio-ecosystem in the New York Harbor.

Occupation: Restoration ecologist and marine biologist at the Billion Oyster Project
Hometown: Mineola, New York
Career advice: Don’t be afraid of your own success. You are capable of amazing things with some determination, hard work, and ingenuity.
Working-girl style muse: Marine biologist and explorer Sylvia Earle.
Best part of the job: The opportunity to think about New York as a marine ecosystem by working to restore an important ecosystem engineer—oysters. I also love being out in the field, learning about the marine life in New York Harbor, and being able to share that joy of discovery with other New Yorkers.
Fall must-have: A good pair of boots.
Favorite spot in the city to decompress: Sitting by the waterfront on Governors Island, looking out onto the city.
Biggest motivation: The desire to better understand our natural world and how we, as humans, interact with and impact it.

Batsheva Hay
“You do not need to have a full business plan,” says 37-year-old lawyer and designer Batsheva Hay, who made a name for herself creating Victoriana dolly dresses for grown-ups. “I made one dress because I loved the idea of making things for my own wardrobe, and then I became obsessed and couldn’t stop.” This fall, the fashion set unanimously put a Batsheva on their wishlist.

Occupation: Designer, lawyer
Hometown: Queens, New York City
Key to work-life balance: I think it’s important to have rituals with people you love. It’s the only way to feel human.
Career advice: I tried many other things that didn’t work—fine art, writing. You keep moving and see what sticks and grows.
Working-girl style muse: Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby.
Best part of your job: Playing with new shapes and fabrics—and rummaging around flea markets for inspiration.
Fall must-have: I need a good navy cashmere sweater and a coat. I never buy the basics.
Favorite splurges: Vintage clothing and jewelry—and dinners with friends.

Kimberly Drew
Kimberly Drew, 28, is responsible for the Instagram feed of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (more colloquially: @MetMuseum). At the Fifth Avenue institution, she sometimes documents her look for her own feed in a bathroom-mirror selfie—“I try to keep it comfy but chic,” she says, of her septum ring and pigtails–centric look—to great fanfare.

Occupation: Social media manager at the Met, writer, and independent curator
Hometown: Orange, New Jersey
Key to work-life balance: Making sure that you’re doing work that you love—in and out of your office space.
Best career advice: “Every job sucks.” It inspires me to eventually work for myself.
Working-girl style muse: Olivia Kim.
Must-have for fall: I’m on the hunt for an “I just voted” sticker. Midterms are just around the corner, and I’ll be ready to vote to earn one.
Biggest professional motivator: The young queer people of color who are dying to get into the art world: I do it for them.
Favorite splurge: I’m a Leo, and so I kind of love to splurge on everything.

Colleen Allen
Though this designing wunderkind, 22, is focused on menswear (sumptuously minimal jackets and repurposed secondhand knits imbued with the bygone), Colleen Allen’s own wardrobe ranges from power plays to sweeping romance. On any given day, you can find her in confident pantsuits—or a printed dress that flirts with modesty.

Occupation: Fashion designer, intern, student
Hometown: Chicago
Key to work-life balance: Getting to be creative every day, for me, is self-care in and of itself.
On being a woman in her field: I am lucky to be in an industry with so many incredible women in leadership roles, so I have a lot of people to look up to. As a woman specializing in menswear, it’s exciting to be part of a new generation of women working in jobs that were so recently dominated by men.
Fall must-have: The Calvin Klein 205W39NYC knitted balaclava.
Favorite spot to decompress: The New York Philharmonic is my new hiding spot.
Biggest motivation: I’m a compulsive creator, so I can’t help but work. It’s what gets me up in the morning.
Favorite splurge: Art books—inspiration is always a good investment.

Rachel Rossin
As evidenced by recent works from this painter, sculptor, coder, and VR artist—warped slivers of plexiglass printed with vibrant, naturalistic vignettes—Rachel Rossin, 31, is not afraid of color. “I choose things that feel special or strange, but never at the expense of them getting in the way of making work,” she says.

Occupation: Visual artist
Hometown: West Palm Beach, Florida
Career advice: For aspiring artists, invest time in knowing yourself and knowing where you came from—however odious it may be.
Working-girl style muse: American abolitionist, surgeon, and prisoner of war Mary Edwards Walker.
Best part of your job: How do I say “the incandescent joy it brings me” without sounding like I’m laying it on horribly thick?
Favorite spot to decompress: The Whale Room at the Museum of Natural History.
Biggest professional motivator: The ceaseless tug-of-war between will and representation.
Favorite splurge: Seamless.


Read More Fashion Stories:

  • Kendall Jenner in the Prada Flame Wedge, Adidas Racer Top, and Boyfriend-Fit Jeans—Read More

  • Angelina Jolie Makes Going Strapless Look Easy and Elegant—Read More

  • Katie Holmes Pulls Off the Season’s Trickiest Pant Length—Read More

  • How Having a Baby Ended My Fashion Obsession—Read More

  • The 30 Accessories You Should Own by Age 30—[Read More](/article/staple-accessories-to-own-by-30?

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