Confidence. That is a trait that would be worth millions if we could sell it. Unfortunately, confidence is oftentimes elusive to those who need it most. While we hear the mantra “clothes don’t make the woman” and that only what’s on the inside counts, we all know too well that when we are presenting our best self for whatever job or role we are seeking, clothes do help give us confidence. It might be that special “knock’em dead” dress or that “I mean business” suit. It could be the heels that make you feel 10 feet tall. Whatever it is, when you slip it on, you feel like nothing can stop you. That is why we support Dress for Success. We want every woman to feel confident and powerful on job interviews or even when they start on their newfound careers. Dress for Success Worldwide has served over 850,000 women in 20 countries (!!!) by not only making clothing available to disadvantaged women, but also by providing support and career development tools. Reading through the inspirational stories of how Dress for Success has brightened the lives of countless women made me think about the women who have helped me succeed.
Obviously, my sister and I garnered our confidence from our mother who daily told us how smart and special we were (and of course from our superstar Dad, but this post is about our circle of women). We had a team of women in our family and extended friends of our parents, teachers, and coaches in our small town who allowed us to feel supported while growing up and beyond. I was never told I could not — only that if I worked hard, I could. When I started my teaching career right out of college, I had a group of moms of the girls I coached who took me under their wings. Later, when I started my legal career, I was fortunate enough to work for and with some of the best female trial lawyers in the state. There are too many to list, but I distinctly remember Judge Alice Oliver-Parrot telling me that I did not have to change who I was to be successful in our male-dominated field. She said that a jury will know immediately if you are playing a role so be true to who you are and to what makes you unique. I now use that same advice with the young lawyers I mentor. My Class of 2014 Women on the Move sisters instilled in me a desire to do more charitable work and more mentoring. My friends inspire me every day, and so much of what I am able to do is because of the support they give me. So many women through the years have empowered me to stand up and do what is right, to take risks, and to make changes, and all have contributed to any success or accomplishment of mine.
When I want to feel confident or powerful, I typically wear black. In my field it is a go-to color for court (although I am not afraid to try color — I wear it often) and when I know I am going to be in the trenches negotiating or working out tough issues with opposing counsel. With black suits or business attire I can also add pops of color with my accessories when I feel the need. The dress I am wearing in the photo is sleeveless so once I am done working, I can take off the jacket and have another look. However, my go to superpower would be heels! I just feel like I can accomplish anything when I am taller and wearing these pumps. I also adore this Stella and Dot bag! It is perfect for travel and my files fit so well. The sides unzip if you need more room (the animal print accent on the side is a bonus).
While I am so grateful to all the women who have come before me, who mentored me, who supported me, and who loved me, I’d be remiss in not saying that my children are the ones who empower me daily to be a better person. I have two precious little boys and an amazing little girl. Through their eyes is now how I measure my success. I hope that my daughter never wonders if she is good enough or smart enough or bold enough to fulfill her dreams. I hope her ideas are never dismissed because she is a girl. I hope she has no idea what a glass ceiling is. I hope she doesn’t have to lean in because she is already front and center. I hope I give her the confidence she needs. I hope that in turn, she will empower girls and women to strive for their dreams and lift them and help them when they cannot do it alone. So thank you to Dress for Success for being there for the women who need confidence and a reason to shine. Please consider donating your new or gently used business attire, shoes and handbags and, more importantly, your time to Dress for Success — you will be empowering someone in your community and beyond!
Dress: Leifsdottir (old), here and here for similar | Jacket: Pink Tartan (old), here for similar | Pumps: Christian Louboutin, less expensive options by French Connection and Sam Edelman | Tote: Stella and Dot (no longer available), here for similar