The Psychology of Fashion: Leadership and Influence

Becky Rasmussen

The Psychology of Fashion: Leadership and Influence

Date(s) - September 27, 2023
8:00 am - 9:30 am

4733 McPherson Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63108

Registration for this event is now closed. If you need to make changes to an existing reservation, please contact Kayla Dix at

Fashion and style have always played a role in how people present themselves, and it can also impact how individuals perceive their own leadership potential. This discussion will delve into the psychology behind clothing choices and how they can enhance or undermine one’s authority, credibility and charisma. Discover the subtle language of apparel, the history context of power dressing and the modern implications of style in a leadership role.

In this panel discussion, we will explore how fashion and personal style can influence leadership and career success. Our experts will share their insights on how fashion can be used to enhance confidence, build your personal brand and establish a professional presence, while remaining authentically you. This discussion promises to shed light on the unseen power of what we wear.


8:00-8:30 a.m. – Check-in and Networking
8:30-9:30 a.m. – Panel Discussion

  • Moderator: Laura K. Sawyier, Founder/CEO, LKS Styling & Consulting
  • Susan Barrett, President, Barrett Barrera Projects
  • Dwight Carter, Founder & Owner, Brainchild Next
  • Cedric Cobb, President & CEO, Best Wardrobe Solutions (as seen on Shark Tank), and Director of Development & Engagement, ITSMF – Information Technology Senior Management Forum
  • Mary Ruppert-Stroescu, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Fashion Design Area Coordinator, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis

This event is free to attend and open to all; advance registration is required.


Laura SawyierLaura K. Sawyier works with Fortune 500 companies, SMBs, non-profits, and individuals, using evidence-based research within the Applied Psychology of Fashion. She consults with individuals on their chosen style of dress, consults with for-profit and non-profit organizations and institutions on confidence, executive and authentic presence, personal and professional branding, and leads seminars, workshops and keynotes on the science behind what we wear every day and how it impacts performance, moods, behaviors, and  relationships. A style expert for various media outlets, her work has been featured in MSNBC, Fast Company, Travel + Leisure, Elle India, The Zoe Report, FOX 2, KSDK, among others.  She serves as President of the Friends Board at the Saint Louis Art Museum, is a member of the Advisory Board and Ignite Chair for Pink Ribbon Good Saint Louis, and on the Women’s Leadership Society Steering Committee at Rung for Women. Laura has been recognized professionally with the “Most Influential Business Women” honor by the St. Louis Business Journal.

Susan BarrettSusan Barrett’s company, Barrett Barrera Projects, and its subsidiary spaces—projects+gallery, projects+exhibitions, and Guest House—produce exhibitions and projects that create a dialogue on contemporary issues through art and design. She is a visionary with a background in painting, architecture and fashion design, which has influenced the projects she has spearheaded and championed. Notable among these, Susan conceptualized and developed the St. Louis Chess Club and served as the founding executive director of the World Chess Hall of Fame. She is a graduate of Washington University, where she holds a Master of Architecture, a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Arts and French, and a Bachelor of Fine Art. Susan is an active board member at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Laumeier Sculpture Park, Southside Day Nursery, Arts in Transit, Sheldon Art Galleries, the St. Louis Chess Club, Circus Flora, Mid America Arts Alliance, and the Saint Louis Fashion Fund. She is the recipient of the 2019 St. Louis Women’s Visionary Award, the Visitation Academy St. Jane de Chantal Distinguished Alumna Award and St. Louis Magazine Influencer in Art St. Louis award.

Dwight CarterDwight Carter is the Owner of Brainchild Next in St. Louis. For the past 20 years, Dwight has successfully planned, produced, and managed special events services for fashion shows, small business launches, charitable and corporate events. In addition to his annual Brainchild Signature Events, he also created and produced the highly-successful fashion events: Designer competitions “Pins and Needles”, “Fashion Anarchy” and “GENT Menswear Designer Series” and will be launching Gent Fashion Week in February. In addition, he is an adjunct professor and advisor for fashion promotion and production at Stevens – Institute of Business & Arts. A graduate of Fontbonne University, Dwight received a B.A. in music business and communications and public relations. Prior to Brainchild Productions, he worked for ALIVE Magazine and St. Louis Fashion Week from 2008-2014 and until then he had been a media buyer for the Fox Theatre as well as served in a management capacity for retailers such as Limited Express and BCBG. Dwight is a member of Fashion Group International, Lindenwood University Fashion Advisory Board, St. Louis Fashion Fund and STL Fashion Alliance.

Dedric CobbCedric Cobb lives a life of passion for fashion, business and technology. A native of St. Louis, Cedric developed a passion for business that started in his teens after his first visit to the flea market where his mother taught him how to properly greet people and negotiate prices. His extensive background in corporate sales, management and wardrobe consulting have given him a vast knowledge base. The one insight that stands out most for him is the fact that possessing the right image and personal brand are crucial to your individual success. After inventing the “Best Pocket Square Holder,” Cedric made the natural progression to start his international men’s fashion technology company, Best Wardrobe Solutions. His company pays very close attention to the detail of a man’s wardrobe with custom accessories, wardrobe consulting services and an innovative free mobile app.

Mary Ruppert-StroescuMary Ruppert-Stroescu earned her Ph.D. in Human Environmental Sciences from the University of Missouri. Her research focuses on the study and application of creativity, particularly through the exploration of sustainable fashion design and production, as well as interdisciplinary collaborations with engineers and medical scientists on wearable electronic textile-based sensing systems that address health and wellbeing. She has numerous peer-reviewed publications and has given research presentations and exhibited her creative scholarship at conferences internationally. She holds intellectual property protection for four inventions, including a patent for “Textile repurposing and sustainable garment design.” Her service-learning work has been recognized twice by Oklahoma State University. She was also recognized as the Spears School of Business Riata Entrepreneurship Fellow of the Year and received WashU’s 2022 Advisor of the Year Award.