Gwynnie Bee and Year Up are partnering to bridge the gap between personal style and great workwear for young women entering the workforce. We spoke to seven incredible women from Year Up in various stages in their careers on how workwear affects their careers, confidence, and personal style. Each of their personal stories has a piece of wisdom that even the most seasoned workwear lovers can learn from. Read on to hear how each woman has achieved her own Closet Confidence.
1. Make Them Curious
Bria, a graduate of Year Up, sees the way you dress as a foot in the door for professional opportunities. Looking like ‘a million bucks’ may just pique the interest of a potential professional connection. She believes your outfit can foster curiosity in what else you have to offer. “And then”, Bria says, “if you have the skills and what it takes, you’ll get past that initial conversation and seal the deal.”
Bria in the London Times Square Neck Zig Zag Shift Dress
2. Let Your Passions Influence You
Daniela, a staff member at Year Up BMCC, used to feel her professional attire needed to be conservative, filled with mainly muted or dark colors. “But I’m a Latina and I love color!”, she tells us. As someone who loves to infuse her culture into her work life, she took a leap and did the same for her work wardrobe. It was received well. “People were happy that I was bringing myself to work and not someone I thought I should be.”
Daniela in the Eva Rose Sleeveless Red Shirt Dress
3. Brand Yourself with Style
Diamond is a member of the current Year Up class and views her work wardrobe as a way to brand herself. In school, her go-to outfit consisted of sweatpants and a T-shirt, but has since embraced the philosophy that you dress for the way you want people to see you. Nowadays, she enjoys dressing in business casual, but on business professional days, it’s all about getting “glammed”.
Diamond in the Front Pocket Notched Neck Polka Dot Top
4. Dress For You and You Alone
For Fatima, a staff member at Year Up Wall Street, the expectations of women’s appearance in the workplace is problematic and the conversation around it distracts from what’s really important: her skills and personal performance. Her confidence lies in what she brings to any job, not what she wears each day. She tells us she did have a style realization in the workplace, but the change came from within, “A major shift was recognizing I wanted to dress better for me. I wanted to do that for myself and no one else”. She believes authenticity in the workplace is important–and that’s the role style plays for her.
Fatima in the Connected Apparel Layered Striped Dress
5. Get Inspired By Those You Admire
Kara, a Year Up grad, was inspired by the staff at Year Up looking great in their business casual attire to grow her own wardrobe. This continued into her internship when she saw how nice everyone looked in her office, encouraging her to “step [her] game up”. She’s of the mind that when you look great you feel great, which she says makes an impact considering “what you’re wearing is such a huge part of your day”.
6. Accessorize with Icebreakers
Barbara, who is interning after her time at Year Up, tells us about how style can be a conversation starter. She wears a handmade beaded bracelet from Ghana as part of her workwear quite often. Thanks to this special piece of jewelry, she was able to strike up a conversation with a woman in her office who asked about it “until her coffee went cold”. She tells us this story with such a grin, proving personal style can also be the icebreaker you needed in a new working environment.
Barbara in the Eva Rose Sleeveless Red Shirt Dress
7. Grow Your Wardrobe With Your Self-Perception
Zarafshan, a member of the current Year Up class, knows we don’t live in a judgment-free world and that her clothing is a big part of her first impression. She believes in natural beauty, so she prefers to go makeup free, but she wants her clothing to reflect she’s serious about her career. Since her time with Year Up, her wardrobe has elevated from living in jeans to “smart casual”, which she feels reflects her new, young professional personality.
Zarafshan in the Front Pocket Notched Neck Polka Dot Top
A big thank you to all the women who we interviewed from Year Up. You can watch highlights from these interviews in the video below and be sure to check back here on the blog for more on our exciting partnership with Year Up. You can find them at https://www.yearup.org/ to donate and get involved.