Victoria O. Garland began her career in solid waste as a temporary employee in Florida 24 years ago. Today, Garland, 44, is an executive in Solid Waste Services for the City of Charlotte. She manages 274 people, including laborers, sanitation equipment operators, and administrative staff. Garland was born in the Bahamas, graduated from Barry University in Miami and has two children. Her biggest work challenge? Keeping employees motivated, she says. And the best part of the job? Interacting with the guys in the field, Garland says without hesitation. They are gentlemen with me.
Q: How does your sense of style help you do your job?
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I think it throws people off. It is a little disconcerting, which actually works to my advantage. If you can catch people off their game, it helps me to move along my projects.
Q: What's the first piece of designer clothing you remember buying?
An Ann Taylor dress with a white collar and it had navy blue and mocha stripes with a white line. It was almost reminiscent of a 1950s style. For anything fancy I would put it on with my one good pair of shoes, because it took two paychecks to get that dress. It had to be in 1983.
Q: Who is your favorite designer, and why?
Ann Taylor and Anne Klein. Ann Taylor has anything from a romantic look to the quintessential business suit with a little something that still keeps it feminine. Anne Klein has a more tailored and crisper look, like the menswear style for women. It is straightforward and cutting-edge.
Q: Tell me what colors work well for you.
Gray, black, tan and brown, but my favorite is red and orange. I like bold colors, but I use them to accent my suits, not make them the main focus.
Q: How do your professional and after-hours wardrobe differ?
Professional dress is more timeless, casual dress is more trendy. Muted colors are for work, and more vibrant colors are for after hours.
Q: Where do you shop?
Nordstrom, Belk, Stein Mart, and J.C. Penney. I go from one extreme to the next.
Q: Describe your look in three words.
Eclectic, timeless, fierce.
Q: What piece of clothing can't you live without?
My spectator pump shoes. I have (an) assortment.
Q: What jeans fit you best?
Victoria's Secret. I buy them online.
Q: What are some of your favorite online stores?
Carlos Santana (carlosshoes.com), Spiegel (Spiegel.com), Zappos (zappos.com).
Q: What's your everyday uniform?
Pants suit with a little punch of color as far as the blouse goes. Pointy toe, four-inch heels.
Q: What's your lazy day outfit?
Old gray warm-ups that are faded and should probably be burned, with a baseball cap and Converse shoes.
Q: What's next on your list to buy?
I'm developing a style that is reminiscent of the 1940s, with dresses that are streamlined. I'm looking for things that are timeless. This style is actually coming back. Swing-type coats, and wide collars, and usually you have a streamlined dress or skirt set underneath it.
Q: Do you have any fashion quirks?
I cannot get into the mixing of the prints. I can't wrap my arms around it. I love color, but I love color in a more toned-down way.
Q: What watch do you wear?
Movado. It's the museum-class style with the black leather band and the gold casing. I've been wearing this style for 22 years.
Q: Do you have a favorite piece of jewelry?
Yes. My chocolate diamond and yellow sapphire ring. I never bought jewelry for myself, and this was the beginning of buying jewelry for myself.
Q: What fashion advice can you give to women?
Be true, and dress to your body's style. Any woman can be fashionable if you embrace your body type and style. From 2 to 32, you can still be gorgeous.
Q: What wouldn't you be caught dead wearing?
Crocs. I would die a slow death.
Q: What can't you believe you once wore?
A suit (with a) blue skirt with a red, white and blue jacket that was striped. All I needed was a flag. I wore it on the Fourth of July, with red shoes. I still have the skirt in my closet. My children did an intervention and burned the jacket.