Back in college and my early career, I purchased most of my clothes from the Gap. If you didn’t live it, Gap style was pretty much the preppy uniform of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. I filled my closet with their wardrobe basics and cute, colorful sweaters. (Let’s be totally honest, I was hooked by the West Side Story khakis vs. jeans ads. There’s nothing like snapping my fingers and humming Leonard Bernstein in my pleated front trousers!)
When I first moved to St. Louis, I took on a part-time gig working for the Gap at Mid Rivers Mall. The job gave me something to do over summer vacation. Plus, the generous 50% employee discount was a pretty awesome way to supplement my work wardrobe. For ten years, I spent my June, July, and a couple of Saturdays each month drowning in denim, tees, and button down shirts. I absolutely LOVED working there. Not only did I make an awesome group of friends working there, but I gained a lot of confidence speaking with others about fashion and style.
My job at the Gap prepared me with an arsenal of skills that I use to this day in creating my personal style… that, and a love for indie musicians from the store’s Muzak channel.
I learned how to create a capsule wardrobe from quality basics and a few trendy statement pieces. I learned that denim is a fabric that wants to be loved, and that you shouldn’t wash your jeans very often if you want them to maintain their shape and last longer. I learned that every good wardrobe, male or female, needs a denim jacket. It is a versatile piece of clothing that can completely change an outfit.
From years of dressing mannequins and windows, I learned how to tell a color story with a collection of seasonal pieces. I learned how to swap out pieces from my own closet to create a look inspired by a photograph. I learned how to take an outfit from day to night in a few easy steps.
From helping customers on the sales floor and in the fitting room, I learned how to really listen to people and help them create style solutions to feel confident. I learned how to suggest simple changes that could help rejuvenate a tired wardrobe, and encourage people to step out and try something new.
Most of all, through my job at the Gap, I learned how to tell my own story through what I wear. Even in starting with the same basic pieces as everyone else, I learned how to create a look that is uniquely me.