In which I try to be fashionable, part 2

This summer, I interned at Nordstrom, a chain of clothing stores. Not just any clothing stores, but high-end, luxury department stores that sells the latest trends and finest designer goods.

So, despite being in tech, I still see some very fashionable people at work.

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This wouldn’t do. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not very fashionable. If I was to work at a company that hopes to be the fashion authority, I had to step up my game.

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There was only one problem.

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I don’t know how to match clothes. I don’t know what fits me. I have no idea how to put an outfit together. I’ve gotten away with it at work by wearing dresses, like, all the time. It’s just one item and I don’t have to think about it!

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There was only one thing to do.

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I’ve used Pinterest in the past to brainstorm art and photography ideas. Why couldn’t it work for fashion?

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All the outfits I found seemed designed for those gorgeous, long-legged models who you could dress in a garbage bag and still make it work. My body type is a little less forgiving.

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It was time for more research. 

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I started reading the female fashion advice subreddit.

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I got a headache trying to process all of it.

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It was time for the next step.

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I enlisted the help of my fashionable friend from LA. We ended up going to Nordstrom (intern discount, yay!) where she encouraged me to find my own personal style.

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It was a 180 from my previous shopping experiences with my family.

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So this was a totally new, self-empowered approach to shopping.

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And at the end of the night, I actually bought clothes. That I actually liked. And they were on sale!

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Emboldened by my success, I decided that it was time to step it up.

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This time, I enlisted the help of three friends to help me shop. Three times the people, three times the success, right?

And three times the volume, it seems.

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It kind of became a dress up game for my friends.

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But it worked! In the end, I found a bunch of clothes I liked and bought even more. (I had a gift card that I needed to spend, so I didn’t even feel bad about it!)

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I couldn’t believe it. My coworkers noticed my sudden change in clothes. Even my mom approved of my new look.

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Then, my quest for fashion peaked with one friend’s invite:

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A what?

So there’s this clothing line called Cabi that has an interesting business model. Basically, Cabi stylists host these “fashion experiences” where the stylist will walk you through that season’s Cabi clothes. Then, you can try on the clothes samples, get fit and style advice, and order any pieces you like. The idea is to have an intimate setting where you and your girlfriends can drink wine, eat snacks, and shop for trendy clothes with a professional stylist.

I didn’t even know something like that existed. It was, again, a totally new experience for me.


Yeah. I know nothing about fashion. I’m not girly. I don’t even like shopping. The whole affair was way outside my comfort zone.  Not to mention that I was probably the youngest person there– Cabi seems to be more popular with the middle-aged crowd.

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After the stylist presented all the clothes, we were given the chance to try them on.

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Might as well just go for it, right? I started picking random items from the rack and trying them on. Much to the delight of the middle-aged ladies around me.

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The stylist helped me out.

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Believe it or not, though, the stylist was super helpful! She gave honest advice and never pressured anyone into purchasing clothes– even telling people not to buy if she thought the piece didn’t fit. With her help, I ended up finding some clothes that I really liked! I asked the stylist if I could place an order.

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I felt bad for the stylist, but damn! I had paid for next semester’s tuition that morning. I did not have that money to spare.

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My friend rescued me.

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I ended up buying just a skirt. At a steep discount. Because I’m still in grad school, goddammit!

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In the end, though, I’d say this summer was a success! For the first time, I actually tried to learn how to dress myself. My coworkers have been very entertained by my quest for fashion.

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Deep down, though, I think my clothing preferences have remained the same.

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Sorry, mom– the sports shorts and tank tops aren’t going away anytime soon.

In which I try to be fashionable

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been at war with my mom.

It’s been going on for years. There has been blood. Sweat. Tears. Drama. And it’s always been about one thing:

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That’s right, everyone. I confess.

I am not a fashionable person.

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I guess I never cared as a kid. Or as a teenager. Or now. I wore sports sneakers every day until my senior year of high school, and didn’t start even attempting makeup until I graduated. Even in elementary school I thought fashion trends were stupid and that comfort trumped all. Just call me a 7-year-old hipster.

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I hated shopping. Back in the day, I’d bring my Gameboy while my mom and sis hunted for sales.

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To this day, I really only shop when I actually need something. Nothing brings me greater joy than to dress in shorts, a loose tank, and a comfortable hoodie.

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Fast forward to last winter, when I was searching desperately for an internship. My school managed to arrange a visit to Nordstrom, a chain of high-end department stores in the US and Canada. A group of students, including me, were able to meet current Nordstrom tech employees and even listen one of the VPs speak about the company.

I have to say, he sold it.

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So I applied. And lo and behold, I got an interview.

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So imagine my shock — and my family’s shock — when I got the internship.

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I was really nervous. What if everyone there dressed really nicely? Would I need to up my fashion game to work there?

Then, on my first day, I met some of my coworkers.

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I mean, I still try to dress properly for work. I’m an intern, not a full-time developer. Plus my mom would have a fit otherwise.

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Gotta dress to impress, especially if you like the job! Which I do. The work is interesting. Everyone’s been really nice and helpful. I’m learning a lot!

About both technology, and fashion.

And my knowledge is a little uneven.

The other day, the interns got to go on a tour of our flagship store in downtown Seattle. We were taken around the store before it opened and got to see all the brands and designers that we carry.

It was like… how I imagine a non-programmer feels when they hear software developers talk.

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Seriously. Like Jon Snow, I know nothing.

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After the tour, they set us loose for a half hour to shop around.

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Overwhelmed by the fancy clothes, I immediately headed for the electronics section.

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But hey, who knows? Maybe Nordstrom will have a positive influence on me and I’ll suddenly become fashionable. I did see some items that I would buy!

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Or maybe not.