Fashion and the Non-Traditional Job

“Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have.”


Working in the corporate world full time, I often hear this phrase. In fact, I am one of the people who utilizes it for inspiration. I often dress up, probably more than I need to, because I hope to one day have that lakeview office I’ve always dreamed of. However, what if the job you want has nothing to do with becoming a CEO? How do you dress if you want to be an artist, an athlete, or maybe even a performer?

Lily Molina is a Floridian who was raised in Orlando for most of her life. From the time she was five years old, she knew she wanted to be a dancer and choreographer. Coming from a family that didn’t necessarily support those types of careers, she had to find other ways to stand out and make sure her dreams came true.

Lily Molina, photo by Tony Cortez Photography

Lily Molina, photo by Tony Cortez Photography

“I was not your typical kid dancer whose parents put her in ballet classes since she was three years old. Dance was not something they approved of, so all the way until I was 18 years old, I was self-taught.” Watching DVDs and MTV videos—think back before YouTube—helped Molina learn the latest moves and eventually encouraged her to keep dreaming. In the meantime, she had to find other ways to stand out and use fashion to help her define her career.

“Whenever I would go to free dancing classes or networking events where I knew dancers and choreographers would be, I made sure I dressed like a dancer. I’m not talking about ballerina shoes and tights; I’m referring to unique hairstyles, interesting patterns in my clothes, and shoes—always interesting shoes.”

There was a point where Molina had over 100 pairs of sneakers. She slowly started being known in the Orlando dance world for her fierce moves, unique style, and, of course, her collection of shoes.

Once she turned 18, she started taking classes and her dancing improved more and more. With time, she began teaching, choreographing, and eventually moved to Los Angeles for opportunities she never could have imagined. But how was life once she was in the land of entertainment?  Did fashion still matter, or was her talent enough?

“I definitely have booked gigs because of my dancing abilities, but I also attribute that to my style. Imagine being in a room full of girls all auditioning for a Justin Timberlake video. They all looked similar—same color hair, similar type of bodies. I learned early on that I had to stand out. I have tattoos, I have changed my hairstyle at least eight times in one year, and I always look for interesting outfits to audition in at thrift stores and flea markets.  I enjoy evolving and changing, but I also know part of my job is to be a chameleon and adapt. If I book a gig and they want to dye my hair, shave my eyebrows, or do extreme makeup, I am all in. I know it comes with the territory and I love it.”

Some of the gigs Molina has booked are national dancing commercials for Target and other major retailers, as well as videos with Justin Timberlake, Jordin Sparks, Enrique Iglesias. She has also appeared in the critically acclaimed movie, Straight Outta Compton.

photo provided by Emmy Freevele

photo provided by Emmy Freevele

Most recently, she got to choreograph and style the country hit “How Not To” by Dan + Shay. “How Not To” has close to half a million views on YouTube and will be featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live this month.

“For me, this was my biggest accomplishment yet. They believed in my concept, from the choreography to the clothing, and it all came together. You can also see that my style has evolved into a more mature feel.”

Molina knows her career would not be as successful if it weren’t for her attention to fashion. So, what are her thoughts on my earlier phrase, “Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have”?

“I really feel that phrase is one-sided. If your goal is to work from home and own your own business, I would not recommend you wear pajamas all day. I think it’s all about wearing clothes that motivate you, make you feel good about yourself, and help you figure out your path in life—whatever that is.”


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