Dressed to Impress
Businesswoman, mother and blogger Vanessa Zambo showcases her love for pops of color and a confident stride with a vibrant walk-in closet.
Not all fashionistas develop their style as fashion students, stylists or consultants; in fact, some learn from their environments. For Vanessa Zambo, 42, her edgy and eclectic work style came from 22 years of dressing up every day for work and loving it.
By day, Zambo commands the room as the senior principal and vice president of marketing and communications at Terracon, a national engineering consulting firm headquartered in Olathe.
After hours, the fierce mother of two lends her workwear savvy to her 3-month-old website STOMP (stompatwork.com), a fabulous and fun insider’s guide to fashion at the workplace that showcases seasonal trends and encourages businesswomen to use their unique styles to forge their own version of “power dressing.”
In between takes, Zambo showed 435 Magazine how her wardrobe stands out with a peek into her fantastic his-and-her walk-in closet in Shawnee, complete with metallic and gold accents, framed art, a romantic Victorian-inspired crystal table lamp from Pier 1 Imports and a rainbow collection of shoes from Vince Camuto to Christian Louboutin.
Describe your fashion style.
My style in workwear is very eclectic and edgy and even ironic and rebellious sometimes. I like to go rogue and challenge the traditional workplace wear, but in a sophisticated way. A dress code would never work for me.
Who are your favorite style icons past or present?
My fashion celebrities are businesswomen. I admire those who are successful and look great at the same time. I think Sheryl Sandberg [COO of Facebook] has a really clean and classy style, and she proves that the C-level doesn’t have to wear suits to look like they’re in command. Tory Burch is the CEO of her own company and is very put together. Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, has a penchant for designer clothing and wears it well.
What labels do you prefer?
I love Christian Louboutin; his shoes are little works of art. I also love shopping the high-end designers on Net-a-Porter, although I can’t afford most of them. BCBG pants are the best if you’re tall. J.Crew is a go-to for me as well with their clean and classic looks in tall. Just recently I’ve been buying Zara and find they really do workwear right — trendy, sophisticated and affordable.
What is your favorite dress-up look?
A dress or a pencil skirt to the knee. It helps me manage my less attractive parts — my stomach and my thighs (I had two kids!). I wear pencil skirts in all different colors with a fitted tee and always a pair of colorful contrasting pump and statement jewelry.
Favorite piece of statement jewelry?
I have a solid gold quarter-inch choker necklace that gets more attention than any expensive piece of jewelry I wear. Other than that, anything Stella & Dot. I love the selection of jewelry that company sells. They just do it right.
How is your closet arranged?
My closet is set up for efficiency. I’ve got long-sleeved and short-sleeved shirts hung from light to dark; pants and skirts are the same way. Shoes are organized according to the rainbow. With work, travel, kids’ activities and school (just finished an MBA), I had to reevaluate my entire closet setup, and this helps me see quickly what I do and don’t have. I’ve probably sped up my get-ready time by 10 minutes.
What fashion item should every stylish woman own?
Shoes are the ultimate in fashion apparel, so it would have to be red pumps. Stylish and powerful! They make you look like a million bucks.
What fashion item should every stylish man own?
A nice watch is very telling. I could better answer what a man shouldn’t own — dress shoes with buckles on top. Please, no! I don’t know much about men’s fashion, but I have been asked to cover those topics in STOMP. I just need to find a good male business partner for that!
What is your personal shoe fetish?
Christian Louboutin — He’s a huge part of my branding for STOMP. And to prove that I’ve been a fan for years, you can look in my closet to see that I purchased the original black pump in New York when I was pregnant with my 8-year-old, Stone. I’ve resoled them twice at specialty shoe repair shops and even have a painting in my office at Terracon of the red-soled shoe.
Best fashion sources in KC?
Since workwear is my mission and time is of the essence for a working mom, I typically shop online, and I never buy a complete outfit anywhere. That would be way too contrived. For last-minute meetings, I will race into Nordstrom, White House Black Market and the BCBG section within Dillard’s. For boutique shopping I really like Anaphora at Prairiefire and Standard Style and Anthropologie on the Plaza.
What do you consider a fashion faux pas?
Complacency, which leads to all sorts of gaffes and no-nos. Business casual might have been the worst thing to ever happen to the workplace because it lulled women into not caring about how they look and being OK with wearing anything that’s not denim.
Best fashion advice?
Know yourself. Dressing for your body type is a big absolute for me. The longer the skirt, the more slimming the look, and shorter does not necessarily equal younger. The pencil skirt to the knee wins every time for every height.