Style Counsel: Alma Bartos

Occupation: President and CEO, Fiducia TechneGroup LLC
Her style: Refined rule-breaker

Photograph by Annette Navarro

You’re an engineer. There’s still a lingering perception that women who like math and science don’t care about clothes. Did you run into that as a student? A friend told me “There are the pretty girls, there are the ugly girls, and there are the engineers.” And I thought, OK, I like a challenge. I decided I was never going to be a typical engineering student wearing sweatpants. You grew up in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Does your heritage influence the way you dress? No. I’m drawn to the West and like boots and belts, but I don’t follow rules. This morning, I thought of a Western-style, embroidered belt I bought at a market in Juarez. I haven’t worn it for years, so [I thought]: What if I put it with a St. John’s sweater from Mannequin? I start with one thing, build from there, and then edit. It’s like writing an important e-mail.

Do you do a lot of shopping when you travel? No. I have three places where I shop: Banana Republic for basics; Morrison & Me for shoes; and Mannequin for all of those individual, wonderful, unique pieces. Plus the money you spend is going to help someone. That’s a very manageable world. As we get older, we stop needing the whole universe and appreciate a few well-curated shops. We have our jobs, our kids, and everything else. We don’t have time to go shopping. We are old enough to know ourselves, know our bodies, and know our lives.

Last year you attended a gala honoring former Mexican President Vicente Fox. How did you decide what to wear? The challenge I gave myself was no black. Getting dressed for something is my playtime. My clothes are my toys. I have fun.

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