Lydia Yao – Start up attire / Former Consultant
Blouse: J. Crew, Natasha top
Cardiagn: J. Crew, Jackie cardigan
Jeans: AllSaints, Pipe Skinny Jeans
Shoes: Marc by Marc Jacobs
Bag: Michael Kors
Watch: Marc by Marc Jacobs
Necklace: Wendy Mink
Ring: Cam & Zooey
Lydia noted that both the shoes and bag were purchased at 50% off from Century 21! The necklace and ring were purchased also at a discount from Gilt. This pic is her ‘power outfit’ in her current role at Seamless.
Companies – Seamless.com / BCG
I met Lydia at a Duke Global Entrepreneurship networking event in NYC and immediately complemented her on her style and typical given the focus of her blog I asked her what she did. As soon as I explained the purpose of this blog, she and I continued to chat about her transition from consulting to start up world and even from college to consulting. Following up with drinks at Boqueria, I learned of her the many challenges that she encountered as she transitioned from each of the phases of her life and how resources were not plentiful to help guide her through each transition.
Lydia started her professional life as a consultant at BCG in Atlanta which she describes “small, suburban and conservative.” It was a great “starter city, and not overwhelming” although with a Mom who was an artist and no tips from Dad or older siblings she was at a loss of what to wear. She wanted to fit in and not stand out but shopping on a budget was difficult so she resorted to outlet shops for suits – Ann Taylor and Theory were the defaults but the key to her looking put together were not the labels it was tailoring. She said “I am a firm believer in tailoring my clothes… if you don’t get it tailored, there’s always going to be something off.” Some early rules that were bestowed upon her and still resonant with her even though she is in a much more relaxed environment now are no open toed shoes (something we’ve written about before here) and no sleeveless shirts (a bit of a new one.)
Through BCG, she was able to transition to New York City from Atlanta, which, definitely allowed for a little creativity but she generally still defaulted to slacks, a shell and a cardigan. When a recruiter reached out to her at Seamless.com, she was excited for a new challenge professionally, but the environment was going to be vastly different from her consulting world. The recruiter even warned her not to wear a suit to the interview! At a loss, she was still somewhat over dressed and on her first day of work was told “you don’t have to dress up” even though the slacks and chunky sweater she had on was already a huge departure from her consulting roots. That being said, she has now found a balance of style with a relaxed twist, she states that when you are given a wide range of options that people can take it in both directions but if you are a bit “more credible when you put in a little effort.” Lydia was wearing skinny jeans, a loose sweater and a long necklace that night and a theme that is becoming more and more present is that when you are dressed up you feel like you’re at work. It’s a change in attitude and shift to confidence.
One of the most interesting points Lydia made was that the focus in the workplace is often what ‘not to wear’ as opposed what ‘you should wear’. Hence, not really have real suggestions out of school on what to wear and having to very much figure it out on her own. Her current start up role has been a challenge and even in the end she was asking me if a sleeveless shirt was ok given some of the ‘rules’ that had been ingrained in her from her first work experience. New York and the start up world allow her a bit more latitude but still within a certain realm she deems ‘business shabby’. Even when she decided on a summer shift dress for her interview she felt overdressed and recognized that there would be a small learning curve to figure out her own workplace wear.