I honestly can’t think of a child who never played dress up at some point.  I, myself, wore anything from princess dresses to vintage chic to Wonder Woman costumes…taking on the role of each starlet or heroine as I did.  My boys donned Power Rangers, Captain Jack Sparrow and more (with Tbone STILL embracing cosplay and costumes from time to time–along with mom). This process is important to build a child’s imagination, but also lets them “try on” who they might want to be someday.

At what point, then, do we give it up and why?  Are we afraid of exposing our dreams by dressing a certain way?

OK, so maybe not Wonder Woman

We can’t be COMPLETELY literal in the concept, but for anyone who has seen the new Wonder Woman movie, I think you’ll agree–I walked out wanting giant gold cuffs, a golden lasso, and a rocking bod for that badass costume.  

There’s a reason the quote exists, though: HOW we look matters.  We can all say it doesn’t, or at least that it shouldn’t, but it does.  To me, it is less about the outward perception and more about how it makes ME feel.

I still get excited to put on an outfit that makes me stand taller, feel more powerful.  When I speak to a group, meet a new client, or take a meeting for an event I try to dress in something that makes me feel confident and strong.  It’s like armor.

Inspiration in the media and movies

If you’re at all like me, you’ve seen some newscaster, celebrity, or character from TV or film whose style you’ve coveted.  That’s why fashion magazines and red carpet coverage exist, after all!

One of my all-time favorite movies is “The Thomas Crown Affair” (the reboot from the late 1990’s).  Pierce Brosnan is divine, the art world is fascinating, and Renee Russo’s character is smart, savvy, and unbelievably sexy.  Her style is NOT revealing at all, but bold and strong without sacrificing her femininity.  My preferred look from the movie is suiting, nothing special, but she wears a corset OVER her crisp white blouse:




This season with W by Worth, I had the opportunity to recreate this badass style for myself.  The collection has strong suiting pieces reminiscent of Jackie Kennedy, the world’s BEST white blouse, and….a LEATHER BUSTIER.


Against an antique tapestry in the living room at the Hartwood Mansion.

This is the ultimate pencil skirt (super grosgrain detail on the pocket) in a fabulous tweed.  Our ULTIMATE blouse is crisp shirting in the front, collar and cuffs, while the sleeves and back are a comfortable modal (business up front, yoga pants in the back).  It packs well, stays crisp where it should, and doesn’t wrinkle after a day’s wear.  This leather bustier  actually skims the hip and looks just as fabulous with nothing but a pair of jeans and heels! (click photos to direct to my personal W by Worth Website to order!

Art EVERYWHERE in the Hartwood Mansion–made me feel even more like “The Thomas Crown Affair.”

Adding glasses gives a librarian-chic vibe. 😉

The modal back of the blouse keeps it from bunching under the corset, and the faux french cuffs are a great detail. Love the zipper, too.

Luckily, I’ve also been introduced to a local Pittsburgh company recently that happened to create the ULTIMATE power bag.  “Giuliana” by Sandra Cadavid has joined (and now leads) my arsenal of bags big enough for my laptop.  She can carry your computer, wallet, makeup bag, umbrella AND a swap of shoes! (PS Contact Lisa Brandtly of the company directly for a special discount!  HERE

Literally the BEST bag for work–Giuliana bag from Sandra Cadavid.

Fine leather, details and hardware make this practical bag elegant and special.


I haven’t worked in a formal office for many, many years–but THIS look made me want to go to court, take over a company, negotiate new strategy for a corporation.  I felt so strong and so confident, I could have accomplished ANYTHING.

So why wouldn’t YOU want to put on that armor?  What’s wrong with a little dress-up and “pretend” if it helps us be badass and feel more confident?

I can’t emphasize this enough–ANYONE can try on a new style.  Not confident enough or don’t know where to start? Contact me for a style session!



Special thanks to Hartwood Acres Mansion and Parks (part of the Allegheny County Parks organization) for our exclusive access.  I am honored to be partnering with you and Family House for a series this summer.

While I will be writing more about what the park has to offer, please click the photo below for more information.


Photos by Julieanne Kahlbaugh