Nora Gardner was inspired to create timeless, flattering work apparel after years of working on Wall Street and struggling to find a brand that met the demands she asked of her clothing. So it's no surprise that women in finance like Lina Sam rely on Nora dresses to meet their work needs. We got a chance to talk to her about balancing practicality with personal style.
How would you describe your personal style?
Here are a few words that come to mind for personal style: practical, feminine, confident, "means business", clean lines, flattering yet professional, timeless yet undeniably contemporary, refined but not afraid to experiment.
Lina wears the Olympia Dress in Bright Red
How does your work life inform your fashion choices?
My work requires that my fashion choices by professional, somewhat toned-down, and appropriate for an environment that mixes both business casual and business formal approaches. These requirements have led me to my current work fashion choices - I gravitate towards styles that are classical yet flattering, colors that are vibrant yet appropriate for a formal work environment, shapes that can speak for themselves yet allow you to dress them up with accessories.
From the feedback that I have received from my colleagues and others women in my industry, I know that these requirements and sense of aesthetic resonates well with modern professional women that want to look workplace-appropriate while retaining the personal sense of style.
What is most the rewarding part of your work?
I am in the finance industry, specifically in the business that advises individuals and families on their finance and wealth planning needs. The most rewarding part of this work is the realization that my work ends up informing and guiding people's decisions on the wealth that they have worked to accumulate over the years, or even several generations. Ensuring a sound financial future is something that all of us seek and can relate to, and it's great knowing that the work I do enables our clients to make well-informed decisions for themselves and their families.
What are the kind of demands you ask of your clothing?
My work day starts pretty early in the morning - I am usually in the office by 7:45am. In addition, my job in finance requires that I look put together and professional from the moment I get in. I therefore need my work clothing to be practical - made of fabrics that don't need much steaming or ironing, shapes that are classical yet modern, and styles that can be dressed up easily with accessories or blazers. Aside from being practical, I need my work clothing to be an extension of who I am today and a representation of who I want to be in the future: confident and ambitious, always learning, and comfortable with expressing my personality through my style.
l find that Nora's fashion line is the perfect choice for my professional fashion needs - best evidence of that being my hardly-awake / half-conscious self always reaching into that place in my closet where I keep her dresses!
Which elements of ethical fashion are important to you?
With most clothing being a mass-produced commodity these days, I will admit that it's a challenge for me to come up with ethical fashion guidelines for myself.
Being able to personally connect with the team behind the fashion is something that I value immensely - how often can we say that we know the story behind the clothes? In addition, supporting local NYC talent has been an important aspect of my shopping choices for the past few years. I love that our city is home to so many talented individuals across a multitude of industries! When people ask me where my work clothes are from, I am proud to say that they are made by a New York-based designer. That invariably turns into a longer conversation, with people wanting to know the story behind the brand!
What does "work hard, dress smart" mean to you?
To me, "work hard, dress smart" means using your work setting to inform your fashion choices without compromising your personal style. With the right foundation pieces, this becomes easy! One of my favorite ways to "work hard, dress smart" is wearing my red Olympia dress with a classic pearl necklace, layered with a black blazer and matched with pumps. The outfit says that I mean business in the workplace, and once evening comes I can leave the blazer behind for an evening out with friends or a date night
Another variation with the Olympia dress that I've been loving lately is layering it with a long-sleeve black tee underneath, a chunky necklace on top, high heels, and perhaps a bracelet. Warm, stylish, and I can keep wearing one of my favorite dresses in chilly weather!