Power Outfit: Francesca Armstrong, Chief Operations Officer at Connoco Group
Francesca Armstrong – former model turned successful business woman – spends her time travelling, therefore she has to adapt her fashion to the constantly changing climates.
We speak to Fran to find out how she keeps her wardrobe stylish whilst running a business from across the world.
Name: Francesca Armstrong
Location: London and SE Asia
Current Job/Company: Chief Operations Officer at Connoco Group
Educational Background: Foundation degree at Central Saint Martins, followed by a degree in Fashion Design at Kingston, followed by a lot of self education!
Career to Date: As a teenager I was signed up to Models 1, Europe’s leading model agency, where I worked on campaigns for the likes of French Connection and Marriot Hotels. After studying Fashion Design at Central Saint Martins and Kingston in London, I founded Connoco Group with my partner, Tim Connor, financing our first business ventures with my student loan. Since then we have expanded globally and now have bases in the UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the US and SE Asia.
My power outfit:
What are you wearing?
Watch: Michael Kors
Bracelets: vintage pieces I have picked up along the way
What occasion are you dressed for?
This week I have been travelling between our offices in SE Asia. Working with our different team leaders and meeting with clients requires an outfit that I can dress up and down for the day. This also means bearing in mind the more conservative local culture – and the heat!
Why did you choose this particular outfit?
I chose this outfit because the dress is suitably modest for the local culture whilst also retaining my own personal style.
I have always loved and collected heels – as a teenager I would save up to buy a special pair and always imagined I would wear heels everyday as a “grown up”. Of course, now I am a “grown up”, I realise just how impractical this would be! Although I always have a pair ready in the office or in my bag should I need to dress up my day’s look, my typical uniform will involve trainers or Converse and I keep my heels for special occasions.
Complete this statement: I feel most powerful when wearing a strong heeled shoe or boot.
My weekday wardrobe consists of: a lot of layers and also midi-dresses or jeans, shirts, and trainers.
My weekend wardrobe consists of: much the same as for the week – except perhaps a little less conservative.
How do clothes boost your confidence?
Clothes are a like an interchangeable canvas to express ourselves. You can tell a lot about someone by their clothes as they are a reflection of how we feel, what we do, and how we see ourselves. If you feel good in what you’re wearing you naturally exude more confidence. A great day begins with a great outfit!
Do you think it’s important to dress well at work?
Dressing well for work plays a huge part in not only your own confidence but also how you represent yourself.
By ‘well’ I mean taking into account the work you are doing and what clothes make sense. There’s no point looking fantastic but being so uncomfortable all day that you can’t wait to get home and put on that tracksuit – you will never get the most out of the day if you’re not feeling your best.
However, it’s important not to dress sloppy either as first impressions count. If I know I’m going to be out meeting new people I tend to make more of an effort than if the day will be spent in the office.
What are some of your top tips for dressing for success?
Dress for the job you want and the person you want to be. If by dressing well you demonstrate belief in yourself, others will believe in you too!
Are you an outfit pre-planner?
I’m forced to be a pre-planner these days as I am travelling as much as three weeks out of every month. The luxury of being able to pick from an entire wardrobe is pretty rare – I’m often restricted to just what I can fit in my suitcase.
Does your day-to-day style change depending on your schedule?
It very much depends on my schedule and the country I’m in at the time. Having offices in such contrasting climates sometimes means very different outfit choices. As my career has developed I think my sense of style has developed with it; travelling a lot means having much more of a capsule wardrobe and items that will create more than one look as well as layers that can take an outfit from the office to the boardroom, and the boardroom to the bar!
Which woman’s style do you most admire and why?
Victoria Beckham for her evolving yet continually current style, and Poppy Delevinge for how she combines ‘dressed up’ with ‘laidback casual’ to create her own individual style.
What are your style rules?
For day-to-day, my rules are if the outfit is dressy the shoes are casual, and if the shoes are dressy the outfit should be more casual.
What fashion and life advice would you give to your twenty-year-old self with the benefit of hindsight?
From a fashion perspective: less is more. You don’t need to try and wear everything you have at once – there are always more days in the week!
From a life perspective: don’t worry so much about what other people will think – this will enable you to be yourself.
If you could go shopping with any woman in the world, who would it be (and what would you buy)?
I would love to go shopping with Patricia Field (costume designer and stylist for the likes of Sex and the City) – we would buy great shoes and she would find me perfectly fitting vintage Dior!
When we’re feeling down about work, we often turn to a shopping spree as a way to make ourselves feel better. But is success and self-love about more than just splurging?
Success and self-love is not just about splurging but more about making the right choices.
Self love is about getting to the root of an issue and overcoming it. The same ethos can be applied to success – work out the cause of a problem and then you can overcome any hurdle.
If in a down moment you turn to shopping to make yourself feel good, it might work for a few minutes but evenutally the crash will come and inevitably you feel worse when you realise what you’ve spent and what on. It’s a bit like going to the supermarket when you’re hungry – you end up making the wrong choices!