Robert Redford wardrobe angst

Most of the time I try to be a VERY SERIOUS JOURNALIST, blah, blah, blah, but then I catch myself spending an hour figuring out what to wear to interview Robert Redford. It made me wonder if the business women (and men) in  Thursday's audience for the Robert Redford-led seminar "Cultivating a Creative Workforce" went through similar wardrobe angst.

The answer was yes! So here's what I wrote about it. We had room in our serious Friday newspaper for the Redford story. Click here to read it, but there wasn't room on Friday to publish this, so I'll put it here in honor of Monday. 

Given that Thursday’s event at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre was partly sponsored by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, chamber account representative Annemarie Jaskel tried her best to toe the party line.
Valiantly, she described the importance of the cultivating a creative workforce topic and how valuable she would find featured speaker Robert Redford’s insight on art in the business world.

But then, Jaskel just gave up.

“I’m here because Robert Redford is Robert Redford,” she said, laughing and waving her hands in defeat, her nails freshly manicured in pink.

Jaskel, who traded in her standard pants outfit for a dress, said she gave extra thought to her appearance on the off chance she might get to meet Redford.

“I usually don’t wear much makeup, but I thought, ‘I think I’ll put on some lipstick and extra makeup because he’s Robert Redford,’” she said, describing her look as “business feminine.”

She wasn’t the only one who thought long and hard about what to wear “because he’s Robert Redford.”

Denise Portner: Senior vice president, Tierney Communications. Wardrobe: Simple, casual, skirt, blouse, and jacket, but not a suit. Modest jewelry. “I was careful not to overdress, because Robert Redford always looks very relaxed and I wanted to be in that vibe.”

Denise Kaminsky: Branch manager, Royal Bank America. Wardrobe: Beige jacket over a beige dress, but the dress bodice was somewhat lacey and trimmed with green sequins. The shoes were arty — a colorful tapestry pattern. “I did put something special together. I wanted to be more friendly and more casual.”

Matthew Cabrey: Corporate communications, Shire P.L.C., a pharmaceutical firm. Wardrobe: Sport coat, pink shirt, no tie — glimpse of T-shirt. “At Shire, our dress code is dress as you please, so I’m normally wearing jeans. But this is a business function, so I wore a sport coat. I consciously chose not to wear a tie, because it’s a theater and more casual. I would be surprised if Mr. Redford wears a tie. Pink is one of my favorite colors. I get compliments.”
Susan Manning: Laid-off administrative assistant, former painter, potter, and interfaith minister. Wardrobe: Black patterned skirt, black V-neck top with sequins. Peace-sign earrings. “I’ve always worked in theater, so I wanted to wear black to blend in.”

William Marrazzo: Chief executive, WHYY. Wardrobe: Standard suit, shirt, and tie, although the yellow tie had little palm trees. The cuff links were Marrazzo’s way of bonding with Redford — they’re inscribed with the words over the hill. “He’s over the hill and so am I.”

Rebecca Weidensaul: Drexel University adjunct professor teaches creativity in the workforce. Wardrobe: Entirely linen, “pistachio” culottes topped with a “jade” shell (her description of the colors). “You know when it’s 90 degrees, there’s nothing quite like linen in Philadelphia on a hot day.”

Moi: So what did I wear? I rejected the Mexican print skirt and black top I’m wearing today as too casual, too panderingly “artsy.” I rejected everything sleeveless (no comment, Michele Obama!) I rejected my new black pants because they have no pockets. I rejected my standby suit because it is too hot. I rejected my blue print dress because I wore it earlier in the week.  In the end, I wore the same black pants I wear constantly; a tweedy, somewhat artsy-looking, shirt; and earrings made from manual-typewriter keys.  I was trying for casual, efficient, professional. The pants have pockets, which are good for carrying my notebook, pens, phone, wallet, and tape recorder. And the earrings, handmade by a local artist, are defacto “artsy” and signify who I am, a reporter.

The event was sponsored by the Arts and Business Council of Greater Philadelphia and Towers Watson, a human resources consulting firm.