I'm very lucky to have the opportunity to hold monthly styling sessions for youth experiencing or at risk of homelessness. The Poplin styling sessions are limited to the youth in the Barista Training Program, who are in this eight week program to learn everything you need to know to be a Barista including customer service, job skills and life skills. You can learn more about the program here.
Over the last few years, I've noticed the population changing. And, I'm doing my best to change with them. Last year we saw more young women who were pregnant. So, we offered assistance with clothes that are appropriate for job interviews but also practical as your body changes. This year, I've been really amazed at how the younger generation sees gender in such a fluid way. I've tweaked the sessions to included an opportunity for attendees to identify their pronouns (she/her, he/him or they/them). I've learned a lot.
I've also had the extraordinary experience of repeatedly helping trans youth transitioning from male to female. This one has really had an impact on me. Nationally, LGBTQ youth are estimated to be about 40% of the homeless population. I'm especially proud of ISIS House, a transitional living house designed to meet the unique needs of LGBTQ youth and their straight allies. It's the only one in Washington state and one of the few programs like it in the nation. YouthCare never disappoints.
During these sessions, I'm struck by the lessons that trans youth have to teach the rest of us. So, as your very own personal stylist, I'm passing these learnings along.
Valuable Reminders From Trans Youth.
1. Respect the bra.
It can't be said enough, your bra is everything. It needs to fit properly and give you the support you need. The lesson here goes well beyond the proper physical support. Your bra needs to support you, your inner voice, the way you talk to yourself about your body. Indulging in a bra that feels just like you is essential. Does it make you feel feminine, powerful, glorious? It should. If not, get back to the lingerie store and try again.
2. Women's Clothes are Complicated.
Seriously. I was talking to a friend about this yesterday and she said, "menswear just doesn't have as much gear." Indeed. As a personal stylist for women, I have very intimate conversations with women about clothes. That includes the proper undergarments for various situations, among other things. It's TOTALLY okay not to know every answer when it comes to makeup, hair, skin, clothes. That's what I'm here for.
3. Happiness is Seeing Your Authentic Self in your Clothes.
You knew I was going to include this, didn't you? You are SO good. When working with homeless youth, there's a very present fear that I'm going to put each person into a conservative suit that is in no way authentic to his/her/their style. If you could only see the elation when the youth discover that we are in search of clothes that are authentic to them but still appropriate for job interviews and work. That look is magnified a hundred times when we discover the right style for a trans youth. It is so important for us all to feel that we've been seen, really seen. When it happens, you know it. And, trans or not, I can assure you, it changes everything.
Want to learn more style tips and be invited to exclusive Poplin events? Sign up for the email list. You also walk away with an inventory of my Essential Style Tools.
Want to learn more about YouthCare's work with homeless youth locally? Check out the website or come join the Poplin table at the YouthCare Luncheon on Tuesday, March 15th from 12-1PM at the Westin Downtown.