Her Three Favorite Outfits to Show She is Fashionable and Professional
Because it was very hard to live with such an erratic money flow, she went to a financial adviser and asked for help in managing her money and investing it to smooth things out.
“I was uncomfortable with finance,” says Seema, 31. “I had great parents, but they didn’t really teach me to manage my own money. I knew I should spend less than I earned, but when I got my first apartment, I didn’t know how much I could afford for rent.”
Her search led to discovering her passion for finance. “I met with a couple of different financial advisers. I told them, ‘I have this big bucket of cash, and I don’t know when I’m going to get paid again.’ I asked them, ‘What can I do with this money, how do I budget it?’ ”
She didn’t like their responses. “They told me to invest it, but I wasn’t given the opportunity to be educated. I was talked down to instead of them explaining to me how to budget my money, and what investing was all about.” Seema wanted them to tell her “why investing money in this way is the right thing to do.” But the advisors acted like she should have known this information already.
Seema took that experience and decided to go back to school and get an MBA in finance and entrepreneurship from the University of California, Irvine.
Now a financial representative with Northwestern Mutual, Seema runs an all-female practice with three other women. “I wanted to work in a space where I could have an impact,” she says. “I wanted to help people. We want to educate women and men about what their money on a spreadsheet is like and to find out what their emotional relationship is with money.”
While Seema has clients all over the country, she meets regularly with her Louisville clients and her appearance is very important to her. “My style motto is a quote from Coco Chanel. She said, ‘Dress shabbily and people will remember the dress, dress impeccably and they will remember the woman.’ ”
“If you were to look at my closet, you’d be surprised at how monochromatic it is,” she says. “I wear white, black, navy, or cream, and a splash of color. The majority of my color scheme is neutral. It allows me to mix and match almost every item. It’s so much more frugal to do it that way.
“I also have a rule that I don’t buy anything that doesn’t go with something I already have, like I won’t buy a blouse that I don’t have a bottom to go with. I don’t have orphan clothes. Also, I get things out of my closet that I am no longer wearing. I got that advice from RuPaul. He said if you haven’t worn it in a year, toss it because it’s not part of your life anymore.
“I don’t shop as much. When I buy something, it will replace another item in my closet because I love it.”
When she first started her career in finance, she used to try to wear three-piece suits like the men in her field. “It didn’t look good on a five-foot-eight brown woman (her mother is from Sudan, her father from India). “We live in a world where, as a woman of color, you have to prove that you are as qualified as you say you are. So maintaining an immaculate appearance is important. I also want my clothes to say I am an individual and have a sense of style, and that I have my stuff together, so you can put your faith in me.”
For one outfit, she wears “a black high-waisted pencil skirt and over that I will wear a white collared long sleeved shirt, or a white shirt with a ruffle at the neck. I add a tight black sweater vest, a heeled shoe and a bright red lipstick. It gives you the look of high polish and professionalism, like Janelle Monae.”
For a second look, “I often wear a solid color dress that is high-necked and sleeveless and comes to the knee. I have this dress in black, blue, and navy, but the silhouette is the same. I pair it with a statement necklace that is big, chunky, and fun; complementary solid color sweater; and heels.”
For a third option, I love cigarette pants (high-waisted, of course), with shiny patent leather oxfords that lace up, and any number of high-necked shirts. I tuck them in so you can see the high waist. Again, I will wear a sweater (I don’t like blazers). I get my sweaters from Brooks Brothers; they are very fine woven sweaters.” If she wears a colored shirt, she doesn’t wear a necklace because “I feel like it’s too busy.”
She adds, “If I wasn’t working in finance, I would be the editor of a fashion magazine.”