Stylist Monica Rose on the New Way to Dress For the Office

Courtesy of Foot Locker
Courtesy of Foot Locker

The last two years have upended office culture as we know it, which means our ideas around workplace style have also been forever changed. Gone are the days of stomping the hallways in heels and in their place is a penchant for all-around comfort, including the age-old sneaker.

Monica Rose is well-versed in sneaker culture as a stylist who has put some of her famous clients like Shay Mitchell and Lauren London in the comfortable yet chic shoe silhouette. Now, she's helping everyday businesswomen figure out how to incorporate sneakers into their work-centric looks through a partnership with Foot Locker for Women's History Month.

In a video highlighting their collaboration, Rose styles creatives and entrepreneurs including Jessica Wu, Scottie Beam, Vic Jacobi, and Jenn Barthole in sneaker-anchored outfits for heading back to the office or traveling to a job interview.

Rose herself pairs her Air Jordan 1s with a classic white button-front shirt and high-waist belted trousers for the ultimate in cool yet professional office attire.

She believes it's time "to rewrite the rules to show that a businesswoman doesn't have to wear heels and a suit because she can pair that suit with cool sneakers," Rose tells POPSUGAR. "It's always been cool to wear sneakers, but it's even cooler now. And you can tailor the pants you're wearing with them or you can crop the pants to really show the sneakers off."

Read on for our interview with Rose about who inspires her, the shift to dressing her clients in sneakers instead of heels, why she launched her own e-commerce business, and more.

Courtesy of Foot Locker

On who inspires her and how she chooses her clients:

POPSUGAR: You've worked with some incredible women over the course of your career. What's your process of deciding who to style and who is inspiring you at the moment?

Monica Rose: My clients inspire me because I work with some really powerful women. Styling is really intimate so you have to get to know the person you're working with, their needs, body type, likes, and dislikes, and you have to introduce them to new things.

You need to have trust which requires a special relationship. If you don't have that, it shows. These women have so much going on that the last thing they want to think about is what they're going to wear and any potential discomfort. My job is to relieve their stress in that department so they can focus on their work.

I believe in taking it to another level of 'I got you'. I was doing that back when I was working retail with my clients. I would be honest about how things looked on them and my colleagues would be shocked because the client was sometimes in the process of buying something. But if a piece looks bad on someone, I'm not going to sell it to them or put them in it now.

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On the shift to her celebrity clients wearing sneakers over heels:

PS: Even before the pandemic, there was a shit among women who were opting for sneakers and comfort over sky-high heels. And now two years in, many have no desire to return to the days of 5-inch pumps. As someone who regularly styles not only her clients but also herself in kicks, what has that transition been like for you?

MR: I always tell my clients that once we enter the sneaker zone, there's no turning back. Because from there, we're building their sneaker game. From 2014 to 2016, when I was styling a lot of models who were on the go during Fashion Month, they couldn't wear heels everywhere as they were spending a lot of time jetting through airports. Heels are not practical when you're traveling, so we opted for flats instead. But flats aren't always comfortable, so I would try a pair of Stan Smiths on them or a pair of Air Force 1's.

Now, women are so busy and we don't want to be in heels all the time. There have been times when I've worn the same heel [my celebrity client was] wearing to dinner and I've been in pain thinking 'Oh my gosh, I tortured my client by putting them in these uncomfortable shoes for an entire night!' Sneakers can look chic, polished, and put together. And I'm styling my clients outside of the red carpet, for everyday looks and on vacations with their families. So, sneakers have really been working for them lately.

It's also the sneaker culture at large that has been on a whole new level. It's always been cool to wear sneakers, but it's even cooler now. And you can tailor the pants you're wearing with them or you can crop them to show the sneakers off.

I love that Foot Locker is helping to rewrite the rules to show us that a business woman doesn't have to wear heels and a suit because she can pair that suit with cool sneakers. Athleisure has been my go-to for years and I remember throwing a blazer over Nike leggings in the past on my clients. A big part of my job is figuring out how to make these looks work for women who are being photographed every day.

Courtesy of Foot Locker

On why she chose to partner with Foot Locker:

POPSUGAR: Tell us how your partnership with Foot Locker came about and your personal history with the brand.

Monica Rose: Foot Locker is so iconic and I remember always being happy when I shopped there as a kid and got my fresh sneakers. Now as a mother, it's a full circle moment getting to go there with my son. I have had a relationship with the brand and I helped them open their 602 flagship store back in 2016. So, it was great to reconnect with them — especially during Women's History Month with this campaign being so meaningful. Everything about this was so inspiring with a focus on empowering women and figuring out how we can incorporate our personal style into our workplace looks every day.

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On creating her own e-commerce space, Shop Monica Rose:

PS: In the fall of 2020 when we were all settling into the mundanity of working from home and figuring out how to continue looking good on camera for another season, you gave so many of us a reason to get excited about fashion again with your eponymous e-commerce platform, Shop Monica Rose. What motivated you to create and how is it going so far?

MR: I always wanted to have my own creative space because as stylists we are often working project to project with mood boards that are sent to us ahead of time. I started Shop Monica Rose during the pandemic because I have so many amazing pieces that I've bought over the years in my archive and I didn't want to just sell them to resale. I wanted to showcase how you can style these designs as well, with complete creative freedom to produce the shoot and creative direct, including hair and makeup. I tried it out at first and it did really well with all of the pieces selling out. So then I started to rework a lot of the vintage I had with athleisure and those were the designs that sell the most surprisingly.

On her proudest career moment:

PS: You've had an incredible career full of styling some of the biggest stars and models and amazing editorial work. When you look back, is there any one moment that stands out to you as your proudest?

MR: Looking back, I'm so proud of how I started my career because I don't know if I'd have the strength to do that again. I didn't even know what a stylist was and I had always worked retail. There was no social media and I didn't assist anyone. When I moved to Los Angeles, I got more knowledge around styling and I realized that was my dream job. I did everything I could to get there and worked my way from the bottom up.

Thinking back on how far I've come, my younger self was so ambitious. I didn't give up, I worked hard, and I fought through the hardest times. And now I'm a mother as well. As women, we always think about how we'll juggle raising our children with having a fulfilling career. I'm so proud of myself for being able to make this career for myself, taking small steps to get it done, and having three children along the way. Sometimes, it's very challenging, but I've found the balance between motherhood and being a businesswoman.