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The Best Thing About Pursuing The Wrong Career

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    ILLUSTRATED BY ALEX MARINO.

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    We don't just appreciate an inspired ensemble. We want to know the whole making-of story behind it. But in Style Roots, we're going one better. In partnership with Nordstrom Rack, this series will deep-dive into the real sartorial evolutions of seven city dwellers who all came from very different starts. Be it a streetwear OG or newbie vintage collector, we'll examine how past and present cultural, social, and career influences mold one's unique style persona.

    As pop ballads, films, and novels repeatedly remind us, NYC is a hub where dreamers go to follow their passions. What do these odes to the city often leave out? Sometimes relocating to a metropolis filled with opportunities causes us to swap our old dreams for unexpected new ones. Case met point when the aspiring (and admittedly self-conscious) singer Michelle Berkowitz moved from Fort Lauderdale, FL to NYC to chase a career in the spotlight...only to discover that she much preferred the view from behind the scenes.

    When she arrived in 2012, Berkowitz got her first taste of what the lifestyle of a singer entailed and promptly took a detour. Through a family member, she landed an internship that led to what she now calls her dream gig in event production for an interior design company. And, with it, came a newfound sense of boldness — both professional and personal. "I was never really confident in my body until I moved to New York," she says, looking back.

    Now four years later, Berkowitz claims that she's more self-assured than she ever was on a stage, and she's settled into a personal style that mirrors her growth: namely, a less overly trendy and oversized wardrobe and more of a sleek, form-fitting one that feels authentic to her. Read on for more about how relocating to NYC and ditching childhood goals has instilled a boss-lady attitude in this Florida native — and sparked a MAJOR style epiphany.

    Be sure to check out Nordstrom Rack's new store, opening October 21
    at 1600 Commons in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Get the details here.

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    I moved to New York because...
    "I went to a music conservatory for singing, but I started having doubts in college. When I moved to NYC to find a job in 2012, I really saw what my life would be like [as a singer], and it was not what I wanted. It was probably one of the hardest decisions of my life, especially when it came to telling my parents, who had put all of this money and time into singing lessons."

    If I hadn't followed my dream to work in event production...
    "I think my wardrobe would be nowhere near as sophisticated as it is now. If I didn’t make the decision to follow my heart then I would still be pursuing a career that comes with a lot of uncertainty and unhealthy competition. I’m not sure my confidence would have matured as it has."

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    When I think back on my past style...
    "Growing up, I went to private school from elementary through middle school, and I was always taller than everybody else — even the boys. I was so self-conscious, so I'd wear whatever was 'cool' and a lot of oversized clothes, even up until high school."

    The biggest difference in how I shop now is...
    "I'm finally buying clothes that are actually my size, finding some self-confidence, and really loving my body. I think once you embrace your figure, almost everything looks great on you. When I was growing up, I remember going into fitting rooms and sometimes coming out in tears because I just hated everything. So, [learning to love my body] was a huge lesson for me."

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    As soon as I moved to New York...
    "I noticed myself evolving instantly. [I saw] the seemingly endless variety of styles and the fearless New Yorkers that put their personal spin on every one of them. You must be bold, confident, and quick to achieve success in Manhattan."

    The turning-point for my style was...
    "I used to hate wearing heels because I was already tall. But during my first autumn in the city, I put on a pair of high-waisted, wine-colored skinny jeans; a form-fitting black leather peplum top (which I still own!); and suede boots with a four-inch heel. Then I strolled through Central Park. That rockstar moment was also an accumulation of growing in my job, living my dream, and being an independent woman in this city."

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    I appreciate my Florida upbringing because…
    "I'm very thankful for having lived in a smaller city before coming here. I think it's very important to know what the outside is like because, when you leave Manhattan, it can feel like you're falling off the edge of the earth."

    My hometown still shines through in my style today because…
    "I still love the beach. I think that it influences my style because I'm not as buttoned-up as a lot of New Yorkers are. On the weekends, you can definitely find me wearing boyfriend jeans, sandals, and a T-shirt. I like being comfortable."

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