Fashion is the Career Passion

What is it about fashion that excites and engages us? People have such visceral responses to fashion trends, either loving or hating them. We also cling stubbornly to our favorite outfits or wardrobe pieces long after their trends have faded and they have started falling apart. Just ask someone who has tried to “borrow” a sibling’s favorite piece of clothing. They know the passion that these articles inspire.

That passion carries over into fashion careers as well. There is something about these careers akin to those in music and art that allow people in the industry to immerse their personalities into their day-to-day jobs, to tap into who these people really are. And a fun part of these careers is literally being able to wear your personality on your sleeve. Just looking at what designers wear whether they are on the street or at an awards show is a visual feast.

The beauty of fashion careers is that it does not take just one type of person to bring trends to the public. Introverts and extroverts need to apply. Numbers people, artists, supply chain managers, writers, marketers, retailers, distributors, graphics designers, web designers, colorists, tailors, shoe makers, textile crafters, CAD-types and automotive designers all are welcome and needed in the fashion industry. Automotive designers? Really? Yup. It is a little-known fact that the CAD or computer-assisted design software that automotive designers use is also used, with some modifications, to design footwear. You will see shoe design and automotive design influencing each other in the “bumped out” front ends of SUVs and the sleek, stream-lined silhouettes of running shoes.

Think that the fashion industry is too shallow or narcissistic for you do-gooder, public service types out there? Well, not true. Beyond all the industry charity galas, fashion needs you too. Fashion designers and manufacturers have solved some of the most stubborn medical problems, including footwear to prevent diabetic ulcers and clothing with special pockets to hold and protect insulin pumps. Fashion does contribute to the greater good. Just ask the Bolivian women who have found a way to knit heart parts for children with defective hearts.

And fashion influences can be seen in myriad other careers as well. Check out Fashion and Architecture Meet in a Night at the Opera to continue exploring these interesting influences. Enjoy!

10 Reasons Why This Job Isn’t For You

You have been looking online for that perfect job and now you think you finally found it. You have the education and skills required. It looks like there is enough meat to the job to make it interesting, and there’s room to learn new skills. What’s not to like? You may just find that out if you are invited into the company for an interview. Here are 10 signs telling you when to pass on a job:

1. When the interviewer is late for the interview. Sometimes it just can’t be helped. However, the demeanor of the interviewer can tell you a lot. Does he apologize profusely or act like lateness is par for the course? If you as the candidate are not allowed to be late, then neither is the interviewer.

2. Your potential supervisor is not at the interview or you are only allowed a short time with her. Another red flag is an interview on your itinerary with only the supervisor and then showing up to the interview to find the supervisor’s supervisor is there as well. Are they afraid she will say something wrong?

3. Try for an interview in the supervisor’s office. One time I interviewed with a supervisor whose desk was piled an impressive foot high with papers and books (it was – I measured it while waiting for him). The mess might have been impressive, but the hairy chest the guy sported because he had left his shirt buttons undone from his collar to his belt was not. There’s creative messy and then there’s I’m-blaming-you-when-I-can’t-find-your-report messy. And the hairy chest thing was just icky.

4. Group interviews where members interrupt each other and cannot agree on priorities are always a fun bet. If they cannot agree on goals and objectives in an interview, you can bet they cannot agree in department meetings either. You are not going to be able to do this so-called perfect job if all members cannot arrive at group consensus.

5. The interviewer complains about companies or experiences on your resume. I have had these interesting interview experiences: higher education interviewers complain about industry recruiting experience because recruiters are too “mercenary” and don’t have the students’ best interest at heart. Recruiters complain about higher education experience because it is “too ivory tower,” not real world enough, and the work pace in higher ed is too slow. If this happens, you can elaborate how these experiences will help you do the new job. However, it is bad form for the interviewer to complain instead of inquiring how these experiences relate to the job at hand.

6. Keep a close eye on your interviewer’s behavior. Does he go from calm to red-faced rage in .2 seconds? Do employees avoid eye contact with him and quake in his presence? If the interviewer is comfortable showing this behavior in front of you in an interview, you may be his next emotional punching bag. Definitely take a pass on this one.

7. Group interviews where the group acts very bored, tired or disinterested are a sign that these people do not work well as a team. Granted, group interviews can be time consuming and boring, but they should not only be interviewing you, but conveying that this is a great place in which to work.

8. The interviewer purposely asks an illegal question and carefully watches you as you respond. As novice interviewer, I occasionally asked the wrong question. However, questions about protected status such as religion, veteran status or parent status are illegal, and an interviewer should not be asking these questions. If you get asked an illegal question, you do have the right to refuse to answer it.

9. Group interviews can be difficult to schedule, as everyone is busy and time to do them is in short supply. However, if the organizer repeatedly asks you, the candidate, to hold open dates because he cannot get the group together, take a pass. I’ve seen groups refuse to agree on meeting dates when they either do not support the organizer or do not have buy-in on the candidates. This type of passive-aggressive protest behavior is not something you want to get involved in.

10. Most interviewers will ask you if you have questions, and yes, you should have some as this shows your interest in the job and knowledge of the field. However, there are some interviewers who will evade answering your more pointed questions or have already decided you are not the right candidate and will barely answer your questions at all. If you ask questions about the company or local area, and the response is a brochure thrown across the desk, the interviewer isn’t doing either her company or you a service. You can find better.

The Confidentiality Fudge Factor

The confidentiality policy fudge factor? Guess what – there is none. Lazlo Bock, CEO of Google states that breaking confidentiality policies is one of the biggest mistakes he sees on resumes. If your supervisor is worth the big dollars he/she gets paid, you will be “educated” on your company’s confidentiality policy, and you will have no excuse for listing clients and other confidential information on your resume.

And once you get to the interview? Nope. You still cannot discuss clients or other confidential information even if the interviewer asks you. And they WILL ask you. Your potential employer wants to know how serious you are about protecting your company’s client lists, trade secrets, etc. You may lose the opportunity for a new job by trying to impress your next potential employer. However, you may ACTUALLY impress the employer by apologizing when they ask for confidential information and referring to your current company’s confidentiality policy.

Once you land that great new job, can you blab confidential information then? Nope. Make sure you read and understand any confidentiality policies for ANY company for which you work. You can be sued for disclosing protected information at any of the above stages: on the resume, at the interview and while working at the new job. It will also ruin your professional reputation. That said, there are still some unscrupulous companies out there who will press you for the information.

How will your employer find out? Please. This is the era of the online career profile and resume. You may think you are safe posting information on-line, but you will trip yourself up. One little mistake on a career profile or resume can get you fired and sued. For example, trying to hide Kodak as “an internationally known imaging company based in Western New York” on your resume and thinking you are safe is irresponsible. Any potential employer is going to know you are referring to Kodak, so don’t do it.

Want to know about other common resume mistakes? See Lazlo Bock’s article here.

The Active and Passive Candidate Mix

I saw an ad the other day for a recruiting position which stated “We want recruiters to find us passive candidates, no applicants from job boards.”  Granted, I get it. I put an ad out for a local attending physician recently, and I got a medical driver applying for it. However, now is the time to be looking for a mix of candidates. Active candidates are not always unemployed. The recent recession has seen companies getting by with fewer workers who do more. And workers are getting sick of it. They are impatient with being overworked and underpaid and are ready to move on. These candidates are motivated to find a better position and are more likely to go through the paces of recruitment and placement than a passive candidate. Managers in the medical field are getting the message: if you want passive candidates, you need to pony up on the $$$ and benefits – sign on and incentive bonuses are now reaching $150K to give  candidates a reason to move to a new position – that is in addition to salaries of $200K-$300K.

The key to recruiting and hiring active candidates is to ensure that their skills are fresh. A note for active candidates: realistically, you are a much more viable candidate if you can show a continuity of work on your resume, even if it is contracting. As a contractor, you know what it means to hit the ground running and produce results, skills for which budget conscious managers are looking.

Employers have to be realistic too. Gone are the days of admonishing recruiters to find candidates who have a 1000% above and beyond the job requirements. Candidates are now getting multiple job offers, indicating that the job market is starting to swing back in their favor. We will need a mix of active and passive candidates to fill the jobs that will be opening up even as the economy improves.


(Opera) Fashion Hard At Work





For those of us lucky enough to not have to wear the company logo to work, we have fashion decisions to make. Do we bring our fashion sense to work, dress conservatively or wear what reflects our interests, hobbies and passions?

Nowhere is fashion more hard at work than on the opera stage where the opera production dictates the costumes. Costumes indicate the time period, socioeconomics, who the leads are, where the action takes place and sometimes even what is going to happen. Opera fashion can also influence opera house architecture as well. And architecture returns the favor.

Take a look at some of these influences:

Albina Shagimuratova never performed on this Phantom of the Opera stage in this costume, but the colors, shapes and textures are a direct match, no?



This is Renata Tebaldi’s costume from Manon Lescaut paired with the coral tree garden of the Disney Concert Hall in LA, indicating that old world fashion can still influence modern architecture.



The design on Barbara Fritoli’s costume reflects a similar pattern on the curtain of the Odessa Opera House.


Modern diva, meet modern opera house: South Korean soprano Sumi Jo and the Chinese Guanzhou opera house. Similar lighting, similar color palette


The lenticular fabric of Renee Fleming’s gown reflects the orange, black and light lavender of the Royal Albert Hall in this picture.



Modern Block Color Throwback: Shirley Verrit 1973/The Queen’s Theatre at Trianon, Versailles, 1780, Architect: Richard Mique.


The ruff of Edita Gruberova’s Maria Stuarda costume mimicking the roofline of the Sydney Opera House.

I doubt that there was a direct design correlation between any of these pairings, yet it is as if there are some fantastically weird fashion/architecture archetypes out there that get repeated again and again.

Want to see more examples of fashion influencing architecture and vice versa? Visit me here on my Pinterest board, Fashion/Architecture Meet in a Night at the Opera. And take a look at the original pictures which inspired the board.


Social Media and Saying Goodbye

One of the best things about social media is that you get to meet and talk to people you otherwise would never get to know in a million years. And so I’ve let almost a week go by because it is hard to know what to say. So simply:

Thank you Maestro Lorin Maazel for making the intrepid foray into Facebook and educating us, and sharing your wonderful sense of humor and your musical adventures with us. Thank you for your dedication to young musicians as well. We will miss you, Maestro. Rest well…

Why It Does Not Pay to Be a Professional Flake

I was recently commiserating with a friend who had ordered customized work from someone who appeared to be professional and who had exceptional examples of her work to show. This particular artist ended up flaking out on the job: lying about the job being completed, procrastinating on delivery, asking for more more materials, more time, more money. This person was a really good artist, but compromised her reputation by her bad behavior. Don’t let this happen to you. Here are a few things to consider to keep your professional reputation intact:

*Do not promise what you KNOW you cannot deliver. Sometimes factors change and what you thought you could accomplish changes. Make your customer or supervisor aware from the get-go that what you want to deliver is contingent upon those very factors that might change. For example, material costs may go up during the project, or you may need more personnel hours to accomplish the job. Saying that you can do a job and hoping you can figure it out later just does not work either in a business or any other work setting.

*Get your facts straight. Plan your project from the beginning by projecting costs, personnel hours, delivery times, etc. In other words, have a plan to accomplish what you promised and be able to articulate it.

*Do your research. Make sure you have all the tools you need to deliver what you promised. Retrench and assess during the project to ensure you still have what you need to bring the project to completion.

*Stay in touch. Good communication skills, both oral and written, are essential to keeping your professional reputation intact. Do not surprise your customer or supervisor with doubled costs, delayed or missed deadlines. Being up front is the best way to keep your project on track and get the necessary materials and support you need as factors change.

*Evaluate your own performance and get the customer’s or supervisor’s assessment as well. Feedback gives you an opportunity to improve your services or work.


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