For alumni and friends
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The New Power Suit

Sali Christenson ’07 / Deitch + Pham.

Argent founder Sali Christeson ’07 has cracked the dress code.

By Kelley Bruss

Christeson and Hillary Clinton at a Work Friends event.

Christeson and former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at a Work Friends event. / Deitch + Pham

Everyone talks about the pockets.

In fact, they have their own subsection, with detailed photos, on Argent’s website.

But any woman who’s ever tried to wedge a phone into a tiny pretender of a pocket – or discovered her jacket doesn’t even have one – will understand why.

Sali Christeson ’07 was one of those women, with a great job in Silicon Valley and underperforming options in her closet.

She launched Argent in 2016. Today, the company’s boldly colored, thoroughly pocketed suits and separates are being worn in meetings from Washington, D.C., to Hollywood and around conference tables everywhere in between.

The vision is more than fashion. And it doesn’t even stop at function. It’s about elevating the profiles of women in every field and giving them versatile, expressive, comfortable clothing in which they, and their work, can shine. “Radical equality when it comes to paychecks, pockets and everything in between” is the immodest goal on the company’s website.

To that end, Christeson hosted a Furman Women’s Impact Network (FurmanWIN) event in New York in fall 2023. Linking and supporting Furman women was a priority. “We’re facilitating relationships and connections beyond the brand,” Christeson says. But “at all of our events, people do gravitate toward the fitting room at some point,” she adds, laughing.

Jill Biden with Christeson

U.S. first lady Jill Biden with Christeson at the event. / Courtesy Photo

It’s much more than work for Christeson, Argent’s founder and CEO, who earned a degree in business administration from Furman and received the university’s Tom A. Triplitt Outstanding Young Alumni Award in spring 2022.

“What we create is really strong and confidence-inducing,” says Dave Christeson, Sali’s husband and Argent’s marketing director. “She genuinely wants women to succeed.”

Within a year of launch, Hillary Clinton was a client.

“We not only dress her – we know her and have a very good relationship with her,” Sali Christeson says of the nation’s first major-party female presidential nominee.

Clinton is not the only familiar name on the company’s customer list: Others include Vice President Kamala Harris, journalist Katie Couric, actor Kristen Stewart, comedian Amy Schumer, and Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex. And first lady Jill Biden wore a seafoam blue Argent suit to UNICEF’s 2023 Champions for Children event, for which she was the keynote speaker.


Christeson has always been on the prowl for a business idea that needed her attention. She grew up in Hardeeville, South Carolina, and often went to work with her dad, who ran a Turkish rug shop in neighboring Hilton Head Island.

“My dream was to just have a desk,” she says, laughing.

She started with the classic lemonade stand and advanced quickly to handmade horseshoe picture frames.

 “I was just always hustling,” she says. At Furman, she heard talk about how tough it was to take a class with Kailash Khandke, the Frederick W. Symmes Professor of Economics.

Elizabeth Davis and Christeson

Furman President Elizabeth Davis and Christeson visit during the September event. / Deitch + Pham

“He challenged me in a way that was good for me,” she says. “He pushed me and always believed in me.”

Khandke wasn’t surprised when Christeson pinpointed a problem and found a way to solve it. And he doesn’t expect this to be her last.

“Anybody who knows her knows that she’s going to have many more successes,” he says.

After college, Christeson moved to Chicago for big-city life and to take a first step into the banking world. She and Dave, who had met through mutual friends in Oregon, reconnected in Chicago and were married in 2012. Sali earned an MBA at the University of South Carolina and held jobs with Daimler Financial Services, Johnson & Johnson and Cisco.

It was in the tech world that she first began to deeply understand the weight a woman’s clothing has on perceptions about her. The Mark Zuckerbergs of the world showed up to news conferences in hoodies and jeans. “No one was really defining what workwear looked like” for women, she says.


In June 2016, Argent launched online and at a women’s conference in San Jose, California. The name Argent honors the legacy and entrepreneurial spirit of Christeson’s great- grandfather, who founded a lumber mill in South Carolina in 1916 called Argent Lumber Company.

Mary De Bonis had worked with Christeson at Cisco and cheered from the sidelines as Argent was in development. At the launch, she watched potential customers trying on the clothes for the first time and realized Christeson was on to something special.

De Bonis was one of the brand’s biggest customers before joining the company as chief operating officer in 2017.

Argent is purposeful about inviting customers’ input. Repeat customers, in particular, may talk with designers who want to know about their typical day, their travels, their challenges.

These are powerful, ambitious women, who also say, “Oftentimes I’ll step into a high-profile meeting and think how much I hate my outfit,” Christeson says.

One customer wished her blazer pocket could be lined with microfiber to keep her glasses fresh.

“Genius,” Christeson says. “It was genius.” You can now find a microfiber-lined pocket in an Argent blazer.


Everyone talks about the pockets, but they’re only one way Argent focuses on function. De Bonis says one of her favorite features is hidden elastic bands that keep sleeves in place when you push them up to dig in.

Argent also is known for the vibrant colors and patterns it offers alongside traditional black and navy. A bright pink Argent combo was the focus of #Ambitionsuitsyou, a fall 2020 campaign tied to voting and female empowerment. The eye- popping pink suits were all over celebrity social media accounts. There’s no point in pretending women aren’t judged by their clothes, “which is total BS, but it happens,” Sali Christeson says. “We can leverage it as a tool to our advantage. … We do derive confidence from what we wear.”

It’s a unique corner to be in – keenly aware of the fashion world and its trends but determined to meet customers’ needs. “We might make decisions that favor our customers more than the fashion elite,” Christeson says.


In its early years, Argent sold online and in pop-up shops before opening retail spaces in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C.

Then March 2020 – and the global pandemic – arrived. The next two years were “like one long day,” De Bonis says. Argent chose not to pivot into loungewear and instead moved quickly to back out of leases and close the four physical stores. Then everyone’s energy was directed toward the moment that arrived in spring 2022: “Women were coming back for a full wardrobe reset,” Christeson says.

Some had lost weight in the last few years. Others gained. Everyone was tired of seeing herself in the same round of shirts on Zoom, day after day.

The company’s new flagship store opened in SoHo in fall 2022, followed quickly by two more New York locations and another in Washington in early 2024. Christeson anticipates expanding into as many as six more cities this year, plus adding more wholesale partnerships like the one Argent has formed with Nordstrom.

“It feels like we met the moment perfectly,” she says. Now it’s a matter of keeping pace with the pent-up demand for all the fabrics, colors and pockets women want.

 “I just really believe this consumer deserves this,” Christeson says.