Cecily is a brand that I personally like very much and I own one of their business dresses myself. I particularly love to wear it to present in as it’s elegant, comfortable and has something that little bit different. I was keen to understand more about the origins and ethos of the brand so I interviewed Louise Knights & Sarah Symeou, founders of gorgeous business dress brand Cecily. Enjoy!
Tell us about Cecily?
Cecily is unique fashion label concerned with designing beautiful dresses for business that are sophisticated and office appropriate, yet incredibly feminine and elegant.
What was the inspiration/philosophy behind the company?
Childhood friends with similar interests, once our children got to school age we decided we wanted to do something we were both passionate about – ideally related to fashion. Having been part of the London rat race in our younger years, we had watched how society’s attitude towards women’s role in the workplace had changed. It struck us that although female contribution has become more valued, many women still feel the need to ‘power dress’ at work, that is wear often ill-fitting, complicated multi-piece outfits that try to emulate men’s suits. We decided that it was time for women to not shy away from their femininity, but instead consider it an inherent part of their success. A dress is adaptable and easy to wear whilst being a powerful expression of this femininity – perfect attire for the modern professional woman. The Business Dress was born.
Is there a blueprint for every dress you create and why have you focused on the dress as business attire?
Wearing a dress to the office shows that as a professional woman, you are confident enough in your ability at work not to have to try an emulate the masculine styles of the past. Because these outfits compose of multiple items of clothing, they take time to source and often not every component to the outfit quite fits properly. With a dress, you only need one piece that is comfortable, looks great and can be easily accessorized. It goes without saying that the purpose of our dresses will mean that certain things need to be considered during the design process. Appropriate length and depth of neckline are important factors to get right but we also believe that ‘arms’ is an issue for many women. All our styles come with sleeves of varying lengths, meaning our customers don’t have to find a jacket or cardigan to go over the top if just inside the office – essentially all you should need to add are the perfect shoes, bag and coat. Our ethos really is that the dresses fit to get the right interest, flattering the figure without showing too much skin; they are the right length so they can be worn with shoes or boots and are made with fabric with minimal creasing. These days, work outfits need to accommodate an easy transformation from the boardroom to the bar or client dinner. Each style is versatile and can be quickly restyled just by changing your shoes or adding a pair of earrings.
For £15 off your first purchase before the end of September, use the code INSIDEOUT15. To see their full range, visit their website.
Have you had any surprises with how people are wearing the dresses and the market you have attracted?
As a brand, Cecily has been created with highly professional, go-getting women in mind and there is no doubt that we design our dresses to make these ladies look great and feel at their most confident when conquering the corporate world. Having said that, we have also had many women come to us for occasion wear which for us is positive since it demonstrates adaptability of the designs and the quality of the tailoring. We have attracted a wide age range from late 20s up to over 60 and we believe this is because the price point is right – modest enough to be accessible whilst grown up enough to reflect quality of the dresses and the importance of their role.
Who is the Cecily woman, what are her interests, characteristics and style?
We believe the Cecily woman can be lots of different things to different people. At the office, she knows the value of hard work and the importance of working together in a team to make great things happen, but never neglects her friends and family, being able to switch off and let her hair down when the time’s right. In terms of her appearance, she cares about fashion without compromising her role in the workplace, understanding completely the importance of the image she portrays to her clients and colleagues. She would want to stand apart from the corporate uniform and maintain her own strong identity but always has respect for the role that clothes have at the office. We would say her style is mostly classic but always with an eye on contemporary accessories and modern trends.
Women like Karren Brady, Kate Garraway and Louise Minchin have all worn Cecily; in what ways do they embody the Cecily woman? How do you feel they’ve been able to dress femininely whilst ensuring they’re taken seriously by colleagues?
These women are highly regarded among their peers, men and women alike. We think they each embody the Cecily woman as a person who is proud of all that women can bring to the workplace, never shying away from expressing this in what they wear. However, they also have the added pressure of connecting with the public, whether it’s delivering the morning news to people’s sitting rooms or as an ambassador for British business. In order to be successful in these roles, they must earn the public’s trust, something for which being a woman (some might say) has its advantages. These women exploit these advantages in all the best possible ways, whilst always maintaining the respect they deserve.
To see their full range, visit their website. For £15 off your first purchase before the end of September, use the code INSIDEOUT15.
If you’d like advice on what would work for you, contact me.