The Founder Of Prêt-à-Métier Wants To Encourage Corporate Women To Embrace Their Colorful Side

The founder of Prêt-à-Métier wants to encourage corporate women to embrace their colorful side

Diane Younes of Pret-a-Metier

The great Marilyn Monroe once said, “Give a girl the right pair of heels, and she can conquer the world” and she was right. For women navigating their careers, clothing serves as armor and when you find something that makes you feel powerful, like a red blazer, you embrace it.

In the last 10 years, we have really seen the definition of power dressing expand. In the 80s, we saw the birth of the power suit with those big shoulder pads and wide leg pants (watch Working Girl and you will so get it). But with offices becoming more casual and the influx of startup culture, power dressing has completely changed. Even Giorgio Armani said recently that “[Women] have edged out their standing in the world. Today, they don’t have to wear a suit jacket to prove their authority.” This is pretty extraordinary considering this is a man who made the power suit for women a fashion staple.

Armani did add that fashion can still be used to boost confidence and what woman doesn’t agree that having a great top or a great pair of heels can give you a little more oomph in your step (if you are good at walking in heels that is)? Studies have even shown that wearing high heels and (the right amount of makeup) can help women come off as more competent. And this is where Diane Younes comes in with her website Prêt-à-Métier.

Diane Younes of Pret-a-Metier

Diane Younes wants to give professional women a place where they can find the clothes that will help express themselves and also encourage them to do so, especially in corporate environments. The French-born Younes also wants to give women a platform to share their stories of triumph and struggle on to inspire others. We talked with Younes about why she decided to start this site (while working a full-time demanding job).

Tell us about how this site came to be?

When I started working as a lawyer I was surrounded by a sea of black, grey and navy suits but I love to wear color. I really love to wear red and didn’t understand why other women felt that they couldn’t wear color at work so I started thinking about creating a website that would ultimately be about women and their businesses in whatever field that they would be in. This would be their platform to share their voice.

Everything actually came together when I was on vacation in Hong Kong. I really loved all the fashion there and all the colors and it made me think I actually want to help women feel they can stand out in a corporate environment and learn from others. It just all came together at once and then I just started the website. It also really helped that I knew a lot of really inspiring women.

How are you managing working full time and running the site? 

I’m just enjoying the ride. I enjoy my job but it’s important for people to know that work doesn’t have to be your only hobby. I go to my job then I come home and work on Prêt-à-Métier. It’s really not tiring me out because I am so passionate about it. I really like that the site allows me to get to know different women and hear their stories. We recently had someone who is a singer and a UN woman ambassador. That is just amazing! I think you really have to look at all the women around us and see what they are doing and learn from them. I always ask about their mistakes so other women can learn from them.

Why is a woman’s professional wardrobe important? 

The wardrobe has to be an expression of yourself. Just because you’re at work doesn’t mean you can’t be yourself. There are certain standards you have to abide by, like you can’t wear a mini-skirt or boots, but it doesn’t mean you have to mute yourself. You can’t just be someone else for most of your life, because you will be at work for most of that time.

Do women who are older and farther along in their careers have more freedom dressing or does it not matter?

I know at work I want some color, I want to wear dresses, I want to wear big necklaces, wear my hair in a bun, etc. You do have options and you can present yourself in a certain way. It’s really across the board that I am seeing younger and older women take more chances with their professional wardrobes. I think women in startups can learn from women in corporate environments and vice versa. You can get inspired looking at other companies and then definitely incorporate those styles. Honestly, dressing in a corporate environment is so much fun. I love women in suits. I think it just emphasizes their power!

What do you wear to feel confident? 

My go-to is always red. When I have a presentation or I know I have an important meeting and I need that little push I wear a red jacket and then I pair it with black because you need to pull it in. And then I love a statement necklace. I like little, delicate accessories as well, but I love big accessories because they pull the eye in and show you have a personality.

Diane Younes on feeling confident at work

Who are your favorite designers?

I love Tory Burch. I also often go to J.Crew and C.Wonder. I think it is all about pulling pieces from different stores. It shows you don’t have to spend a lot of money. You just get their basics. You don’t have to shell out a ton of money for a shirt from Uniqlo or a good pair of heels from Nine West. It’s important if you don’t have the budget to stick within your means. 

What are six basics every woman must have in her professional wardrobe?

1. A crisp white oxford shirt

2. A suit jacket, whatever color, but at least one that’s black

3. A good pair of flats, not ballet flats but smart flats that are comfortable too!

4. A good handbag, not floppy, more structured. It goes better with the corporate environment

5. A statement necklace

6. Pearl studs.

What about more expensive items to invest in for your work wardrobe?

When you have enough money invest in a better handbag, good heels that are comfortable, though I prefer flats because you can actually get around in them. If you want to make a statement just put thought into what you’re wearing.

What would you wear to feel confident in a tense situation like a negotiation?

I would stick to the basics: black, white with maybe a colorful necklace and that’s it.

Why did you start Prêt-à-Métier? 

Your job is a job and you can make it your life if you want to, but with any other sort of hobby you have, you should explore. I like to talk about making yourself happier not only through work, but through other things whether it‘s taking up a sport or starting a project. For me it’s Prêt-à-Métier (and SoulCycle!)

Connect with Diane on twitter at @pretametier and instagram at @pretametier

Photo courtesy of: Jennifer Manzi

Meredith Lepore

Meredith is the former editor in chief of the women's career site, The Grindstone. Her work has appeared in Marie Claire @ Work, The Jane Dough, DailyWorth,, Business Insider and Learnvest. She earned her Masters in Magazine, Newspaper and Online journalism from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Meredith resides in New York full time and enjoys reading, jogging, SoulCycle and playing with her small dog, Otis.

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