Norwich construction boss hopes to inspire women into industry with high-viz ballgown

  • Kelly Cartwright explained her fashion choices to ITV News Anglia's Natalie Gray

A construction company owner turned heads as she wore a dress made out of a high-vis jacket to an awards ceremony.

Kelly Cartwright said the idea to swap her evening dress for PPE started off as a joke but then turned into a way of challenging gender ideas around dress.

"There's always pressure on women to look a certain way," she said.

"Normally, I wear high heels, long dresses but I always get an anxiety rash when I do.

"Wearing PPE, I just feel at home. I feel like I belong. I don't feel like I have imposter syndrome, I feel like I'm bossing this."

Ms Cartwright, 31, owns Core Recruiter based in Norwich and has a wardrobe filled with creative high-vis dress designs made by her friend and seamstress Hannah Wilde.

Seamstress Hannah Wilde makes Ms Cartwright's dresses. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"To start with, it was a bit weird", said Ms Wilde.

"Kelly has her own style and thinking behind her dresses. However, this most recent dress allowed me to add my own style and creativity behind it, so I much prefer it.

"We've started something now, so watch this space."

Out of the more than two million people working in UK construction, fewer than 300,000 are women.

Only 13% of women aged 16-25 would consider a career in the industry, according to research.

Ms Cartwright says she hopes her style choice can help get bring about change in the industry.

"I always believe you can't be what you can't see," she said.

"Sometimes it takes someone to put their heads above the parapet to show other women out there that there's no reason why any girl can't do it."

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