When Lisa Sun was 22 years old, her boss at the global consultant agency McKinsey & Company told her during an evaluation that she lacked “gravitas.”
“I didn’t know what the word meant,” Sun told Know Your Value founder Mika Brzezinski in a recent interview, “I had to go look it up.”
Her boss, a woman, also told her that she needed to get a good dress.
“She said: ‘when you wake up in the morning, you’re the first person you’re gonna have to look at, and you have to like yourself,’” Sun recounted.
That was a tall order for Sun at the time. She was making $42,000 a year and didn’t feel confident in her own skin.
“I was a size 18, 20,” said Sun. “Girls are born fully self-confident. And then at some point in adolescence, we start to have self-image [issues], we start to have self-doubt, we question ourselves.”
Sun took the advice however, and even earned a ranking among the “Best-Dressed Women” in Washingtonian Magazine in 2006.
Now, her former boss is an investor in her fashion company, appropriately called Gravitas, which she founded six years ago.
Through Gravitas, Sun offers clothes for every body type, as well as a confidence-boosting consultation.
“I started the company with the mission to catalyze confidence,” Sun said. “So that in the morning, women would wake up and look at themselves in the mirror and see something really positive, which is hard to do. Women have a hard time liking themselves in the morning.”
Sun shared tips on building body and fashion confidence at any size:
Not all clothes are going to look good on you, and that’s okay.
Clothing design and body diversity is so vast that nobody can possibly look good in everything, according to Sun.
“I always say, ‘only two dresses are going to look good on you’,” Sun said, referring to Gravitas’ collection. “Not all 37 are going to look good.”
However, there are great outfits for every woman at every size. When Gravitas designs a product, for example, they take a step that most retailers don’t: they work with sizes zero through 24, according to Sun, and there are six body types within each size.
Confidence comes from within.
There’s no such thing as a magical dress, said Sun. Feeling good has to come from inside and radiate outside.
During consultations, Sun tells her customers to give themselves a compliment.
“One of the hardest things for women to do is to pay themselves a compliment,” she said. “Even when they pay themselves a compliment, they slump their shoulders. I tell them to put their shoulders back and tell me what they’re the best at in the world. And when they put on one of our dresses, they throw their shoulders back, and they say ‘I can’t believe you made me look like this.’”
Stop waiting “until.”
Sun fondly remembers being named among “Best Dressed Women” by Washingtonian Magazine.
“I was a size 20 ... and I think I look pretty fabulous,” said Sun. “One of the things I learned is that women should stop waiting until. We’re all waiting to lose 10 pounds. Why delay that happiness? Be happy where you are in the present, and whatever happens next you can deal with that.”