Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Plain Dealer College-to-Career Makeover

I approached PD style editor Kim Crow in the fall about doing a college to career transition makeover to coincide with college graduation in the spring. Last year they featured a makeover that was more traditional “dress for success” done by my friend Danielle Turcola. The idea I had was to use two students with nonstandard majors. Two people who had to show certain characteristics in their interview attire. A guy who wouldn’t necessarily get points for the traditional dark suit, white shirt, and red tie look, and a young lady who shouldn’t be dressed like a trial attorney going to court.

We ended up with two up-and-coming professionals – Jake Bailey and Deborah Rosenblum, both 22. Jake graduated in from Hiram College with a degree in sports marketing, and Deborah graduated from Baldwin-Wallace with a double major in psychology and French.

Jake’s plan is to get a job with the Cavaliers or Indians in marketing or P/R. Deb wants to be a social worker.

Roxanne Washington was tapped to write the article. Roxanne wrote an article about me back in December in the PD

Kim Crow had worked out a deal with the P/R company that represents Aurora Farms http://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlets/outlet.asp?id=8).

Originally I was only aware that they were donating $100 worth of clothing and accessories to the makeover candidates. I was so excited to speak with Lisa Kusner, the assistant manager of Aurora Farms who told me they would be picking up the entire tab! I knew what was possible because we had carte blanche to use whatever we wanted from the outlets.

I’m very glad that I decided to pre-shop before Roxanne and I met with Jake at Off 5th. I had originally planned to put him in a charcoal suit, and would see what stance looked better on him - two or three button. He has a very athletic body (he plays baseball), which means he needs quite a lot of alterations on a suit.

I wasn’t sure if he would be a 44 short or a 44 regular. It turns out he was a short, which limited our selection a bit. We did select a 3-button black-on-black stripe. It is a super 140s and cashmere blend. A beautiful suit. I would have had a problem putting him in black if he didn’t have deep coloring. But it worked out very well.

We chose a white spread collar shirt with a lavender and navy/black stripe. A burgundy, black, and lavender tie was then selected because we thought it looked like baseballs, without being too tacky.

He got a pair of split toe black shoes and a belt at Off 5th, and a watch from the jewelry store at Aurora Farms.

The next week, we went shopping for Deborah. Since she is planning to be a social worker, the goal for her was to look appropriate and professional, yet approachable. It would likely create a barrier for her if she were to interview in a traditional navy skirted suit and sensible pumps. Instead, I opted to put her in a pants outfit. If you want to read my manifesto on pant suits vs. skirt suits for an interview, check out my ClevelandWomen.com column (http://www.clevelandwomen.com/fashion/kristen5.htm). For Deborah, it just made more sense to put her in slacks.

It was a nasty, rainy day, and only Deb, Rox, me, and the Aurora Farms ducks were crazy enough to be walking around there that day. We didn’t find anything that worked for her at Off 5th, but we did find a find some great stuff at Jones New York.

We really lucked out with her outfit. I didn’t do a color analysis on Deborah, but if I were to guess, she is probably a summer – most likely a light summer like me. She is very fair, so I wanted to put her in something that harminized with her coloring yet made an impact.

The slacks we chose are a brownish green silk (much prettier than they sound!)and the bouclĂ© jacket is cream, tan, lavender, and lime green. It’s very soft, but the vertical piping ties it to the pants and gives it structure. It also creates height and helps her drop 15-20 visual pounds. The shell we added is lavender and I encouraged her to go back and buy the matching cardigan when she’s ready so she’ll have a business casual outfit for her day-to-day work life.

We then went back to Off 5th for the shoes and accessories. We had a lucky find with the shoes. We happened to find a pair of green suede and brown leather trim spectator slingbacks with a kitten heel. I always forget that many people aren’t used to walking in the highest of heels like I am, so I was putting all kinds of heels on her and the poor thing looked like a newborn colt struggling to walk. The shoe we ended up with was exactly the right finishing point for the outfit.

(I told Deb that I know where she lives so she better watch out for those shoes – I want ‘em!)

Both days, we left Aurora Farms and drove right to the tailor shop that had agreed to do the tailoring for the shoot. Jake’s suit required more work than I had anticipated. Tanya from Fast Needle-Milton’s in Mayfield (www.fastneedle.com) shortened sleeves, took in the sides, and shortened the jacket slightly. She also tapered the shirt and shortened it as well.

Deborah’s outfit was a challenge for Tanya because of taking in the sides with the piping. I knew she was up to the challenge. This is a very good tailor. In fact, I took some of my clothing there for her to work on. She has a fan for life here.

The pants needed to be shortened, the cuff on the sleeves was tacked, and the sides were taken in to create a tapered fit and gave her a defined waist.

I picked up Deborah to get her hair done at 8:30am on Tuesday, May 23rd. We went to Europa International Salon & Spa at Eton Collection in Woodmere. I had never been into that salon. It’s very impressive. We were greeted by stylist Scott Metzger’s personal assistant Ginny. We were so spoiled by everyone at the salon. Deb got a precision $200 haircut from Scott and Melanie the colorist punched up her color a bit. It was slightly ashy and a little faded. It turned out to be just a better version of what she already had – a subtle, but noticeable difference.

Then my good friend Wendy Fitos arrived to do her makeup. I had mentioned to Roxanne that Wendy would be doing the makeup, but she didn’t connect the name with the face. So she was like, “Oh! It’s YOU!” Wendy has done makeup on several shoots for the PD. In fact we met for the first time a couple of years ago at an event to meet the previous style editor of the Plain Dealer. We both had the same objective in mind – meet our fellow fashionistas in town. We’ve been great buds ever since.

Lisa from Aurora Farms was supposed to bring the Coach bags I had selected for them to use as props for the shoot. She wasn’t sure if they would actually be able to give them the bags. Imagine our excitement when we found out that the Coach bags were theirs to keep! Jake got a black attachĂ© and Deb got a small shoulder bag and a tan portfolio. I always stress that it’s important to go to an interview prepared. Have somewhere that they can carry an extra resume or two, because you never know how prepared the person interviewing you will be. I’ve been interviewed before where the person doing the interviewing was completely in the dark as to who I was and why I was there. Good thing I was ready.

Jake also got a haircut and he and Deb also got manicures – they were so spoiled that day! I was jealous :P

Then we did the shoot. We were able to use the conference room at the Cleveland Financial Group, which is also at Eton – in the office part of the building. It was a perfect businesslike setting.

Jake and Deb both looked spectacular! They grew up that day right before our eyes! I’m so excited to see the finished product in the paper!! I took pics for my own use, but I can’t wait to see it all together.

I’m hopeful that their makeovers will lead to the ultimate outcome for them – to get jobs that they will enjoy and find fulfilling.

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