Occupation: Senior Vice President & Managing Director of the Foundation Office, Fifth Third Bank
Style: Dressing for herself
How does being expressive with clothing play in a corporate environment? When I applied at Fifth Third, there were many who told me I wouldn’t fit in. I remember wearing a bright red bouclé wool suit to the interview to make sure they knew who I was. Once I wore a black leather skirt with fishnets and some wild heels. I think some clients like that I dress more like they do.
Do you follow any fashion rules? I don’t dress for others. I probably take more chances now that I’m over 50. If I think it looks good, I wear it. My only other rule is I don’t really do pants. The first time I wore pants to the office, people were coming around to see. I even wear dresses at home.
How did your style develop? I grew up on a farm in South Dakota, and I was blessed to have a mother who was obsessed with fashion. My first fashion-forward experience was going to kindergarten wearing a lime green sleeveless jumper with orange knee-highs and lime green suede clogs. My mother always told me, _You need to be true to yourself. If this is how you want to dress, then you will fit in. When I have to look like everybody else, the best part of me can’t come out.
Have you passed on your mother’s wisdom? I tell my daughter, who’s 11, that it’s really hard to be happy if you’re not comfortable in your own skin. She has her own fashion sense. She loves black clothing. I also love to talk to women coming up through the ranks, and I’ve noticed that having a higher-level exec who dresses in a way that expresses herself has really allowed other women to do the same. I think that’s really cool.