Kat’s “Made For” Moment + $250 Giftcard Giveaway!

Kat - Behind The Scenes: American Living for JCPenney Video ShootEeeek! I had not seen this until this very morning — we filmed it a few weeks ago, super early one Saturday morning — the sun was shining, skies were blue, it was a comfortable temperature — oh so long ago! Many thanks to the talented director Yuli Ziv of Style Coalition, to Tara Drake for make-up and Jen Paelmo for hair, and to Jennine Jacob of The Coveted for photos!  (Photo credit:  Jennine Jacob.)

The really cool part about this collaboration is that I have a $250 JCPenney gift card to give away to one lucky reader!  And, of the ten sites who participated in this project, one comment will be randomly selected to win a $1500 gift card.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m wearing a great dress from American Living by JCPenney, as well as my own pearls (Mikimoto), watch (Cartier), bag (Dooney & Bourke), and heels (Sacco).  I think I got my earrings from Kaufmann’s in Cleveland (which is now Macy’s) — I’ve had them for years and wear them all the time.

In the video I talk about how my native-to-Kat style was a bit wacky/creative. Let’s put it this way: I was that kid in college who either dressed in all black or red pants with jewelry I’d made myself or found in one of Chicago’s thrift stores. So for me, adapting to Wall Street dressing was a challenge when I started working there back in 2003 or so. So: in order to enter the giveaway, PLEASE either a) tell us how your style has changed over the years — how you’ve adapted as you’ve gone from college to grad school to a professional job or b) tell us what your “made for” moment is, or c) which JCPenney outfit you’d like to wear to the office.

A winner will be drawn randomly on July 31, and I’ll announce here on the blog who was the winner on August 2.  UPDATE: I’ll announce the winner on my blog, but PLEASE give me your e-mail address in your comment — I promise to keep ’em private, not sell your information, all that good stuff. Here are the official sweepstakes rules.

And, without further ado, my “Made For” moment!

The video series is sponsored by JCPenney and produced by Style Coalition.

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  1. I used to dress very rough-and-tumble in college – women’s cargo jeans, ribbed tank tops, usually with a denim jacket or my uncle’s green wool army jacket from Vietnam, and sneakers or sandals. I don’t think I owned any pumps or high-heeled shoes.

    My style became a little closer to normal “casual” clothes in law school – jeans and a t-shirt or oversized button-down – in part because I spent most of my 2L year pregnant or nursing a baby. I liked a lot of my maternity tops and continued to wear them over jeans throughout the rest of law school. The pregnancy also made me move away from sneakers and towards loafers.

    When I first began to work professionally I had a lot of trouble affording new clothes, but I tended to gravitate towards very conservative, plain, dark-colored suits. I’m petite, so it’s sometimes hard for me to pull off accessories without them overwhelming my appearance, so for a long time I just tried to play it safe.

    The longer I work, though, the more of my personal style I tend to show. Today, for instance, I’m wearing black suit pants and a long black vest, and underneath wearing a multi-colored, lace, ruffled shirt that always reminds me of David Bowie from Labyrinth.

    Thanks for this post, Kat. It’s kind of fun to think about style history.

  2. I’m a t-shirt, jeans and flip flops kind of girl. I was in college, and I still slip into my “uniform” on the nights I attend grad school. Unfortunately, my style is not particularly welcomed in the office, so it’s been a challenge for me to find my personal corporate style. I tend to wear a lot of black and gray dress pants with plain button downs – I’m boring! But I’m excited about enhancing my wardrobe and my corporate style since I just found this website. Thanks for the opportunity, Kat!

  3. The sweepstakes rules link doesn’t work so I’ll post my story here.

    My style has changed drastically between my last two jobs. In my prior job, I was on active duty in the military. After many years of wearing camouflage and boots, polyester suits, and wearing my hair really short or up in a ponytail, my personal style was on life support. When I switched to my current job where I spend a lot of time in court, I saw many women unnecessarily dressed in frumpy or boring clothing. It amazed me how many women who were free to express their style, chose to wear non-imaginative and ill-fitting clothing. In building my new wardrobe, I developed a style that is professional yet feminine. Properly fitting clothing, pops of color, an occasional ruffle, and proper accessories make me feel more confident. To make up for all those years of wearing uniforms, I almost always now wear skirts and heels. The only problem with the new style is that it’s much more expensive to shop at Nordstrom’s than the military clothing store!

  4. Hi Kat, just wanna say, too cute in the vid. Your make up was flawless. Love the purse (and dress! and pumps!). You smile alot naturally when you speak, which makes me instinctively smile back. Have a great day!

  5. In college, I was into mismatched earrings and two colors of nail polish on each nail. Just wore jeans and t-shirts. T-shirts were oversized. I always believed I had a myriad of flaws to hide.

    After college, my style was skirts and blouses as a paralegal. But, the skirts were long. No jewelry, no makeup.

    In law school, it was back to the oversized shirts and jeans. No jewelry except a watch.

    Now, as a lawyer, I wear suits. I prefer skirt suits. They are knee length, not beyond. I am wearing colors other than black and blue. Often with a fun color — purple, rose, yellow for the shirt. All my shirts are the proper size. Appropriate small jewelry and makeup.

    Oooh, the big one. When I graduated law school, I had six pairs of heels. 4 of them were black, and one pair was black with white polka dots. Even my flats were black. I now have several pair of heels that are various colors.

  6. I hate being underdressed. In college, I never wore pajamas or flip-flops to class. I was raised to believe that was disrespectfulto the people around you. I wasn’t very fashionable (read: plain and boring), and I was fine with that. Fast forward to starting out as a professional – plain and boring again. I wore plain suits with blouses underneath everyday. I’m just now starting to experiment and have fun with color and shoes (shoes!) while still never being underdressed. I’m young and need clients to take me seriously. However, thanks to this website, I realize I had been focusing on that to the exclusion of including the “me” in how I dress. It’s getting better all the time. Thanks to Kat and commenters!

  7. I grew up in a pretty small town, where fashion was not cutting edge by any means. Everyone dressed pretty conservatively, and most of the students wore some version of jeans/t-shirt/flip flops/sneakers. When I went to college my look got a little more experimental. I dyed my hair red in celebration of striking out on my own and dressed a little more adventurously but still on the boring side, without much personal style and with very few accessories. During college and in the few years that I worked before going back to law school, I began to develop my own personal style, which blends my conservative roots with some more quirky fashion touches (especially when it comes to shoes). My casual uniform is no longer faded bootcut jeans and flip flops, instead it is skinny, pencil jeans and brightly colored ballet flats. I draw inspiration from Hollywood stars like Audrey Hepburn (for weekends and dressy events–cardigans, skinny cropped pants, and little black dresses), Diane Keaton, and Katharine Hepburn (my dream style for work clothes is a feminine version of menswear inspired looks full of wide-legged trousers and a few pencil skirts). I am very happy with the evolution of my personal style and cannot wait to see where it will take me next as I finish law school and re-enter the working world.

    • I forgot to include my email for the drawing, so I am replying to add my email. Thanks.

  8. I too was a t-shirt, jeans and trainers girl during college. And after my first year of law school my style hasn’t changed that drastically. My style ,however, was not welcome at my summer internship meaning it was time to buy more than the 4 pieces of work appropriate clothing I had in my closet. I wish I had found your website before my pre-intern shopping spree but I can’t wait to use it for next summer as I try to figure out how to stop dressing like a college student and start dressing like a “real adult”.

  9. Let’s see:
    College – black, Doc Martens, complete with asymmetrical haircut.
    2 years in non-profit in NYC – about the same, throw in the occasional black blazer, white t-shirt, long black skirt, Doc Marten high-tops (I ROCKED that look!)
    Law school (and yes – I was public interest bound…) no money = jeans and t-shirts almost exclusively
    Directly into – Army JAG Corps – ’nuff said.
    4 years later into 1 1/2 year of staying at home with maternity clothes
    Back to work into state government litigating – Nordstrom Rack suits (still no money), nice shoes under my desk, Merrills to and from the train
    Now – in-house managing litigation. Still hit the weekends in jeans and t-shirts, but can now finally start to splurge on more lasting work clothes, some very nice suits for occasional travel to deps and such, and HEELS, SKIRTS, JEWELRY and well-fitting clothes that make me feel confident and happy (it helps that I also finally lost the baby weight.)
    Wow – that was cathartic! Thanks!

  10. Kat, you look wonderful in this video! Really put together and polished.

    I used to spend very, very little money on clothes, maybe something like $300 for the entire year. I would scour the racks at Ross and Marshalls and buy cheap, polyester prints that did my figure no favors. Going to Banana or Ann Taylor was real splurge for me. When I got married, my husband begged me to buy more expensive and trendy clothes to suit my shape (do I have a great husband or what?).

    Once I graduated from law school and joined BigLaw, I realized that I needed to invest in a professional and classy wardrobe. Through the help of this site, the wonders of Nordstrom, and my husband’s good eye for what looks good on me, my style has completely changed. I now buy timeless pieces that are of high quality and last a long time. At work, I gravitate to pencil skirts, blazers, feminine blouses, and bold jewelry. I love color and continue to wear it with abandon, but I’m always careful to pair a bright color with a netural.

    I balked at the first time I bought a skirt for $150, but you know what? I wear it twice a week and it has become a staple in my wardrobe. I now get complimented often on my clothes (which never really happened before) and am now known among my girlfriends as being the really stylish and put together one. Who knew?

  11. As a kid I was a tomboy, so it wasn’t until late in high school/early in college I started finding a bit of a mod/indie aesthetic–lots of trousers, sweaters over button downs, and the occasional men’s tie a la Annie Hall–which all worked well for college in New York–because all the clothes were in blacks, greys, and forest greens.

    When I moved to DC to work in the nonprofit sector, things got much more conservative. I started wearing pastels, the occasional pearls (I said they were ironic–but it would be hard to tell), and suits, suits, suits and high high heels.

    Eventhough I’m only 30, I’m more senior in my organization, and based out of Philadelphia. I’ve tried to find the middle ground between professional, but with personality. Not as many suits, not as many pastels–more bright colors mixed with neutral hues, more tailored dresses with cool statement jewelry, shoes that aren’t quite as high, but are much more comfortable. I’ve definitely traded up to higher quality pieces, and become incredibly loyal to the brands that work well for me.

  12. Great job, Kat! You look beautiful in the video – it’s great to see what you really look like, my image of you has been based on the self-made videos you post from time to time, usually showing you from the shoulders up.

    My style has changed a lot over the years. I grew up with not a lot of money and wore uniforms to school, and like many of us who were teenagers in the 90s, my weekend wear included a lot of flannel, and then evolved to include a lot of black, including black eyeliner and (yikes) black hair. In college I was completely a jeans and t-shirt girl, and I recall living for over two years with only one pair of shoes – Sketchers sneakers. When they wore out I’d buy a new pair. I can’t even fathom that now. I also used to have my parents cut my long, long hair straight across the bottom every six months or so to get rid of split ends.

    During my senior year of college and in law school I grew up a lot, and became more conscious of what I wore but at the same time also became conscious of how others judged me based on what I wore. I was constantly scared to wear the wrong thing, and my go-to interview look was your typical black suit with white shell, itchy cheap hose, and pumps I could hardly walk in. I also became bulimic, a condition that I struggled with for years and will probably never be completely free of. Once I started working, I gained more and more confidence in myself as a professional and as I realized that people respected me based on my work and not my clothes, I started trying to have more fun with what I wore. Unfortunately, I became more concerned with quantity than quality, and had a closet full of cheap stuff that fell apart.

    In 2007 I worked as a consultant and didn’t have health insurance, and was unable to manage a chronic medical condition. I unfortunately gained nearly 50lbs, and my fitness level was not helped by a stay in the hospital and a back injury. Once I had insurance again in late 2008, I was able to manage my health, and eventually start losing weight. I went from an 18-20 to a 12-14, which is the size that I’d been since high school so I’m not looking to lose any more. I took advantage of my new size to begin replacing my wardrobe with better quality, more adult and less trendy pieces.

    I’ve been a big fan of style blogs for a few years, and I decided to start blogging as a way to publicly challenge myself to maintain my current level of style, nutrition and health. I started this month after writing a lot of draft posts over the past few months. I’ve posted here a few times under another username, but this is the first time I’ve felt comfortable sharing my blog (linked above). I’m doing it more for me than for an audience, but it seems like the culmination of my personal style evolution.

  13. I am (still) a jeans, tanktop and fleece girl. Hard to break out of since it’s so comfy. I’m still balancing college student – grown up wardrobe (hey, I’m only two months out) and it doesn’t help that my office is super casual, even in the summer. I’m trying to work with a lot more sweaters, since the office is always cold!

  14. I was lucky in college and as I started a career in the tech industry that I was able to wear my jeans, t-shirts, and Chucks interchangeably between work and grad school after work. Once I decided to go into more of a conservative finance field, I had to change and “grow up” my closet. It has been a challenge but I decided to stick with tried and true basics all in complementary colors so I can roll out of bed and everything for the most part matches. The key for me to not get frustrated with my wardrobe is easy to choose and use pieces in the early morning. That means for me more dresses in my closet than I ever would have thought I would own. And heels…where as I didn’t own a pair in my old life I am now addicted to wearing them!

    I still break out the jeans and Chucks on the weekends to hang out with friends but more and more I find my week day wardrobe creeping into my weekend life.

  15. I am absolutely a tshirt, jeans and flip flops person, but for an unknown reason decided to become an attorney. Therefore during the work week, I have to button up my style, but still keep it somewhat comfortable. I’m most often found in flowing skirts or comfortable but nice looking black pants and a cardigan set (unless, of course, I have to go to court, in which case its just a classic black suit!)

  16. Not a whole lot changed between college and my first job–the department was very relaxed. My new department, though, required purchases of more dress pants (as opposed to jeans) and some closed-toe shoes! Not that I dressed down all the time before, but definitely more so than I can here. Now it feels wrong to wear jeans, unless it’s Friday. And even then, not everyone does.

  17. My school attire was ultra-casual. I wore jeans and a college sweatshirt for most of the school year. When I started working, I had these awkwardly long skirts (only 3 of them, all a little too distinctive to be worn so often) that I wore all the time with August silk tops. I was terribly frumpy. Since then I’ve improved my look and significantly increased the size of my wardrobe. I’d describe my look now as crisp and professional with tons of appropriately-lengthed pencil skirts.

    Kat, how will winners be notified given that most posts are anonymous?

    • excellent question. I’ll announce the winners on the blog — although it will be easier if folks actually give me their email address. I’ll revise the rules to say that…

  18. I was such an alterna/punk girl when I was young, and I took a lot more trendy style risks as I got a little older. Then I started working… And these days I’m as boring as can be, same outfits from the same stores we all shop in! I still try to put in a little of my own style when I can though.

  19. Oh jeez, in high school I was acid-washed jeans, permed hair, and white fringe leather boots. In college I adopted the earth girl/feminist woodswoman look with hiking boots, natural flowy fabrics, fleece, and hair that reached all the way down my back. Since grad school I’ve worn more professional clothing although no suits. At my current position, it’s super casual and I wear jeans, casual blouses, capris, flip flops, and the occasional t-shirt. I could dress up more if I wanted, but I’ve found I cannot fight the law of entropy, and end up wearing the easiest thing I can find.

    I still love reading this blog though, and if I switch jobs, I’ll definitely have to step up the professional content of my wardrobe.

  20. Love the video!!! Great pumps and bag, and watch!!!! Have you featured those items yet? :)

    My style in college – mostly casual, but not all jeans (I didn’t like jeans for a long time). I did rock the little flannel minidress with tights and mary janes for a while (90s!!!). I bought a lot of fun dresses and my first suit my junior year of college. Then I went to law school in NYC, so we did a lot of dressing up for class – but still lots of jeans etc.

    Now my style is pretty preppy with a twist – like that professor look posted a few days ago, but I have a lot of printed skirts that I wear with blazers to work, and colored jackets to pair with neutral tops and bottoms. Lots of ballet flats (I have bunions, so no heels).

  21. I was hired as in house counsel to a law enforcement agency right after the Bar Exam. My personal style went from jeans and cute tees to pencil skirts and blouses. I prefer to buy suits in basic black, and shades of grey and play with colored tops that make me feel girly. It’s a challenge to stay withing my government job budget for clothes. I am surrounded by uniforms, so I stand out anyway – but it’s nice to be able to show some personality and this site has helped me with the boundaries.

  22. Growing up in California I got used to wearing flip flops and t-shirts year around. I owned one winter jacket – a classic black pea coat – that lasted me seven years because I only had to wear it occasionally. I moved to the Midwest for law school and found that my wardrobe left me drastically under prepared for the winter months (who knew flats with no-show socks in the winter could lead to a minor case of frostbite). Throughout my time in law school I have slowly built up my winter wardrobe. The biggest challenge has been being able to afford major winter pieces like winter coats – I needed one for work and one for more casual/outdoor settings. As it turns out, sales for seasonal clothes are very predictable and I made a conscious effort to keep an eye out for special discounts on full priced pieces from retailers. Moving to the Midwest has allowed me to diversify and mature my wardrobe.

  23. I was a jeans, sneakers, and sweatshirt girl in college. I would only dress up if going out at night. Once I got to law school, my outfits remained the same. Comfort over style always won out unless I had to wear a suit. To combat that, I had a rotation of four suits: Black, Brown, Grey, and Black Pinstripe. I realized, that once graduating, I needed to look more professional and since I never felt comfortable in the suits I already owned, I needed to make a change.

    I am now a public interest attorney. It is rare that I have to wear a suit, but I still need to dress professionally. My go to basics are fitted dress pants in an assortment of colors and work appropriate dresses. I can get away with being a bit more funky with patterns if I so choose, and I usually play up my style with a fun pump. I also layer a lot, weather it be sweaters or jackets. My jewelry changes on a day to day basis as well.

    I like to have fun with my looks, but still keep it appropriate for work. I have grown into my style, and hardly ever wear jeans, sneakers, and sweatshirts. I have learned you can still be comfortable while being stylish.

  24. Ugh, can we skip the 90s? In my case that was junior high, high school, and much of college. Fashion wise, it was pretty painful. Casual clothes were very boyish and boxy. I don’t think I knew what to do with a tall, size 10, hourglass shape. Dressy events were fine, in part because dresses work well on me. Post college got much better. Preppy but with fun tweaks. Mama was a lawyer and had very conservative ideas re clothing, which I think helped me stay professional. Even today, I never wear closed toe shoes to work and do wear pantyhose to court, depos, etc. I now like working the hourglass shape, and lean towards vintage, feminine silhouettes using clothes that have structure. Almost always skirts and dresses. Pants are still hard for me to figure out. Using more blazers and statement jewelry these days, thanks to Corporette’s influence!

    Cute video, Kat!

  25. Sometimes I cringe when I see the photos of me from high school and college… partly because I was fat, partly because I wore some pretty horrible stuff! In 2003 I went to college, and it was when pale pink was popular… unfortunately it makes me look fairly dead (and not in a sexy True Blood vampire way!) – In college I wore a lot of GAP outlet clothing – basic jeans, plain long sleeve t-shirts in winter, cargo pant capris in summer (even when they weren’t popular I wore ’em), short sleeve plain t-shirts… When I started working in accounting in 2006 I stepped it up – I bought my first suit – a Jones New York pinstriped number, I wore a variety of black pants and ____ sweater/shirt combos – and in the past few years that has not changed much.

    I did lose a significant amount of weight, so in the last year my style as shifted – mostly b/c I can wear high heels, and I like how my legs look in skirts. I still dress fairly preppy, but I like unusual details – I have Kenar skirt w/ zippers on the outside that’s a littl funky, and I threw out any shoe that seemd “orthopedic” in a celebration of feet that are no longer wide!

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