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Here’s How Our Stylists Helped Young Former Refugees Prepare for Their First Job Interviews

In partnership with the International Rescue Committee and Ministry of Supply, M.M.LaFleur styled high-school-age former refugees for their first big interviews.

By Caitlin Abber

Over the last eight years, the stylists at M.M. have worked with thousands of women who were preparing for big job interviews. Some of those women were hoping to level up in their careers, while others were looking to make a major transition into a totally different field or industry. And some of those women were just starting out—it may have even been their first interview ever, and they came to us looking for an outfit that would give them Jen Psaki-level confidence. Regardless of their backgrounds or situations, they are always some of our favorite people to style, because they understand, on a deep level, the power of presentation. “Usually, when a woman comes to me for help with an interview outfit, she knows how she wants to look or what she needs to wear to get to that next place,” says Chris, a Senior Stylist at M.M. “And sometimes, she just needs a little bit of confirmation from an expert.”

Chris was one of the M.M. stylists who recently helped outfit members of the International Rescue Committee’s Leaders in Training (LIT) program in preparation for their upcoming college and job interviews. While these clients were much younger and came from very different backgrounds than his typical M.M. clients, he found himself giving them much of the same advice. “I always tell my styling clients that choosing an interview outfit is an opportunity to showcase your strengths and your personality without having to say anything at all. So be careful, but go for something that makes you feel comfortable.”

The IRC LIT program participants are all high-school-aged former refugees who have resettled in New York or New Jersey. Along with their own unique backgrounds, stories, goals, and aspirations, each participant came with his or her own unique clothing preference. “A few of them said, ‘This is how I want to look. I want to wear this outfit. I want a suit,’” says Kate, another M.M. stylist who worked with the LIT participants. “But a good handful said, ‘Well, I was told I need to wear something formal, probably black or navy, but otherwise, I don’t really know what I want to wear.’ But they weren’t just letting me choose [their outfits]. They really had strong opinions and sound ideas, and it wasn’t an easy choice for them.”

M.M.LaFleur has a long relationship with the IRC. Immigration and refugee issues are close to M.M. CEO Sarah LaFleur’s heart, and she sits on the board of the organization’s Airbel Impact Lab. In November 2019, along with profiling several of the refugees the IRC was working with in the M Dash, M.M. made a donation for each of our ten most popular black dresses to their New York and New Jersey resettlement efforts, donating a total of $20,000 to the IRC.

To outfit the LIT program participants, M.M.LaFleur partnered with the Boston-based clothing company Ministry of Supply. While M.M.LaFleur was focused on “suiting up” the participants who identify as women, Ministry of Supply was in charge of the guys. “For us, it’s this idea that if you’re dressed for that next step in your career or life, your confidence will flow with it,” says Ministry of Supply’s co-founder and CEO, Aman Advani.

“I always tell my styling clients that choosing an interview outfit is an opportunity to showcase your strengths and your personality without having to say anything at all.”

Aman is a first-generation American himself, and he feels an emotional bond with the LIT program participants. “I connected with this idea of supporting people who came here looking for the American dream, and the IRC plays such a critical role in perpetuating the American dream as well, and I loved that we could play some small part in lifting up the LIT participants.”

“The ‘Suited Up for Success Initiative’ (as this component of the LIT program is called) is really instrumental in ensuring that the students who graduate the LIT program are ready for an interview,” says Rosalie Arndt, the International Rescue Committee’s Youth Education Coordinator of US Programs in New York and New Jersey. “We know that the interview outfit is really a niche in all of our wardrobes, and that’s particularly true for an 18-year-old.”

As M.M. stylists Chris and Kate worked with each of the participants, they focused on suggesting pieces that were classic enough to last, but specific enough that they felt true to each person’s individual identity. “The participants ended up going with a lot of M.M. favorites—the Rowling top, the Foster pant, the Woolf jardigan, and the Moreland blazer and Colby jogger paired together as a suit,” says Chris. “They were really excited about being able to wear the Colby jogger with a simple T-shirt or the Moreland with jeans for the weekend.”

The young refugees might be just starting out their career journeys, but they have a lot in common with the thousands of women who are currently preparing for job interviews and long-awaited returns to the workforce. They’re taking the time to really think about how they want to represent themselves as they enter this new chapter in their lives, and clothes are a big part of that. “The clothes [from M.M.LaFleur] will help me connect cross-culturally in a professional setting,” said one LIT participant “I can’t wait to wear them to a job interview.”

Written By

Caitlin Abber

Caitlin Abber is the Brand Editor at M.M. LaFleur, and an award-winning writer and content creator. Over the last decade she has held senior editorial positions at MTV, Women's Health, Public Radio International, and Bustle, and has bylines at InStyle and

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