The advertising agency style guide

Jennifer Kubes

Advertising agencies are a rare breed when it comes to fashion and style. Take Mad Men for example. Not only was the character development within the agency spot on, but the individual style for each character in their respective department was always flawlessly executed. And the unique styles you saw on screen actually translate pretty darn accurately in real life.

It goes without saying that the world of advertising is a stylish one, given the insane amounts of creativity, intelligence and plain old good looks floating around one spectacularly designed office space. It’s a style that is highly coveted and closely watched by fashion elites around the globe and rightfully so. Agency style is always at the forefront of trends, which makes sense because after all, we are the ones who have to sell the trends to the general public — whether it’s a new cashmere tie or an elaborate mohair couch.

Now, depending on the size of the agency and its areas of expertise, you could see just about everything from one end of the fashion spectrum to the other, and it’s pretty easy to spot what department someone works in just by what they’re wearing. So, as a fashion lover who has literally grown up inside an advertising agency since the age of 1, I’m here to break it down for you … you know, should you ever stumble inside one and get confused.

Account Service

Very put together. Usually wearing some classic shade of black, gray or navy blue. Nothing too loud or too attention grabbing that could take away from a client meeting. Their carry-ons are spot on — whether it’s a cherry nubuck leather briefcase or a black Alexander McQueen satchel.


Typically outdated. A lot of khaki pants, crisp white button ups, shoulder pads, the occasional hilarious tie, and the complete and utter absence of heels (unless we’re including kitten heels in this category). The area surrounding said employees will tend to smell like mothballs and Polo Ralph Lauren.

Creative Directors

Always on trend and 100 percent fearless. Can be found wearing a new hip shade of color from head to toe — hair sometimes included. Male or female, they will always be wearing jewelry, especially rings. Always have good shoes and a big cup of coffee.


Casual with little regard for fashion. Stay within the black/white/gray color palette but pull out more color on special occasions/when clients are in town. Can normally be found in comfortable denim and a simple top. Never any jewelry because it gets in the way of the keyboard.


Quintessentially eclectic. A mix of vintage Ninja Turtle shirts, short-sleeve button-up tops from 1994, old black PF Flyers and light stonewashed denim. Some will be covered in tattoos, and some will be completely against them. Typically shy but have the best personalities and humor.

Executive Staff

See: Account Service. But with more designer labels.


Stylishly agile. Usually wearing cargo shorts or pants (because of the abundance of pockets), athletic shoes or an old pair of Merrell hiking shoes, and a basic crewneck tee. They also love hats and don’t really care what they look like as long as they can see their screens in the sun.