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Posts Tagged office clothes


Are You Demonstrating a Winning Image?

GoLocalProv
April 30, 2012

Tips for a winning image:

1. If you are going through the interviewing process you need to research the company to find out what their culture, environment and brand are like. Go online and see if you can find photos of executives and then dress accordingly. Your goal is to demonstrate the unspoken rules of professional dress and to mirror the culture.

2. Wear a suit or coordinating separates in high quality fabrics and dark colors that fit your body shape and size. You want to appear well dressed, genuine and comfortable. Remember, it is business first and fashion second. Of course if you are interviewing for a position in the fashion or magazine industry then you’ll want to demonstrate your fashion sense.

3. Not all clothes fit perfectly off the rack. You’ll need to make a minor investment to look your absolute best. Tailoring your clothes makes all the difference. You’d be surprised at how many people notice when your clothes don’t fit. Jacket sleeves, pant and skirt hems need to fall at the right place for you to look polished and professional. You want to be remembered for your work not your awful outfit.

4. Pay attention to key details like polished, updated and well kept shoes, manicured hands and accessories such as a quality tote, portfolio and pen. Investing in yourself tells others you are worth investing in.

5. Brush up on your business and dining etiquette. This speaks volumes especially if you are a newbie to the corporate world. Some interviews are conducted over lunch or dinner. You don’t want to be caught off guard.

6. Be courteous to everyone you meet during your visit to the company, especially the receptionist!

7. Watch your body language. It can sabotage your success without you even knowing it.

8. Leave your iphone or droid in the car. You won’t be taking calls during the interview.

9. Keep jewelry and watches understated. They should enhance your look, not detract from it.

10. For the interview and beyond. Look like you care! A professional hairstyle is essential for both men and women. Facial hair on men should be well groomed. Wear make up that complements your complexion and completes your look.

11. Dress a notch above your peers. You’re not expected to dress at the level of your manager or your manager’s boss but your are expected to look professional enough that they can put you in front of a client or senior executive.

More Articles on Dressing For Success

Professional Clothes for Women: What You Can Learn From Michelle Obama and Samantha Cameron
Sparkle and Shine: Dressing for the Office Holiday Party

Staying Business-Ready in Unpredictable Weather

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Mixing Textures and Patterns

Corporette
October 19 2011

Question
With all of the new tweed, boucle, flannel/textured skirts in my fall closet thanks to early sales…can one wear a textured or patterned jacket on top? In other words, are the skirts treated as solids or patterns? I see so much mixing of patterns on the runways and in ads, but for the office? If a solid jacket, could the jacket and the top/blouse/sweater underneath be an entirely different color or should the top portion be tonal?

Answer

What a great question, particularly since I’ve been wanting to talk about mixing patterns with patterns for a long time on Corporette and just haven’t had a chance. First, I think textures shouldn’t be thought of so much as a “pattern,” but thought of in terms of volume. For example — if you’re trying to pair a thick tweed skirt (let’s say, for now, in a solid color), your consideration for the top should probably be a much lighter knit — think a close-fitting silk sweater, or even a tucked-in or fitted blouse. Similarly, if you’re wearing a boucle sweater, you might want to pair it with a slender pant, or a pencil skirt. IMHO, it seems like it’s a very rare outfit where a voluminous top works with a voluminous bottom — or vice versa, where a close-fitting sweater truly looks great with a pencil skirt.

Now — can you mix patterns with patterns? For my $.02, this is something that every fashionista should aspire to. If you think about it, men do it all the time — how many pinstriped suits paired with printed ties do you see on a daily basis? For women it can be trickier, and I’ve kind of been compiling examples of times I thought it worked well –for example, The Sartorialist shot a woman (detail shot above) wearing a plaid jacket, a dotted sweater, and a ribbed sweater, and I thought overall it looked amazing.  Similarly, here’s another Sartorialist link to a woman wearing two graphic prints together.  Similarly, here’s a shot Perez Hilton posted of Victoria Beckham wearing a plaid with pinstripes…  While it can be tricky, I think these are some helpful guidelines…

  • Stay in the same color family.  For example, try pairing a black and gray houndstooth skirt with black tights with a vertical ribbing.
  • Have the second pattern be only a small component, proportionally, of your outfit — try layering a floral blouse beneath a solid-colored sweater vest, topped with a pinstriped blazer.
  • Balance the size of the prints — this comes back to volume.  Two huge prints, worn together, are going to be a dramatic look — if one print is bigger (a wider floral, or a large swoopy abstract) it may be better paired with a smaller, tighter pattern (a houndstooth, a windowpane, even some animal prints).
  • Ask yourself if it would work in a tie/suit combo for a man.  This works particularly well with preppier patterns — try pairing a patterned grosgrain belt with a skirt or dress in a suiting material.


More Articles on Dressing For Success

Professional Clothes for Women: What You Can Learn From Michelle Obama and Samantha Cameron
Sparkle and Shine: Dressing for the Office Holiday Party

Staying Business-Ready in Unpredictable Weather

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How do you start wearing prints?

Corporette
April 10 2012

Question
I’m wondering if you can do a post on incorporating prints into one’s wardrobe. I looked at my closet the other day and realized that about 90% of the clothes I wear are solid colors. I seem to always gravitate toward very saturated bold colors, but never to prints. I guess I sometimes feel that wearing prints looks loud” or will make me stand out too much at work. I know how to use prints with accessories (shoes, scarves) but I’d like to specifically see a post on buying clothes with prints.

 

Answer

1) Start with the stuff men wear — small, even, repeating patterns in pastel colors.  Look at a site like Brooks Brothers or Thomas Pink and you’ll see that it is absolutely filled with patterns and prints.  Windowpanes, houndstooth, check, stripes, gingham… men wear those to conservative offices all the time.  So, step one: buy a blouse with an even, repeating pattern on it (probably in a pastel color), and start wearing that with one of your solid suits. As you get more confident and comfortable wearing those small patterns, add color to your outfits.  Start with complimentary colors first — if you’re wearing a light blue checkered blouse, pair it with a dark blue cardigan.

2) Start to have fun with smaller, bolder punches of pattern.  Back to men’s clothes — look at ties and you’ll see things like paisley, polka dots, more stripes, and even small embroidered animals.  Proportionally, the tie is a really small component of the man’s outfit — but remember that it’s up front and center where you can see it, so it certainly isn’t hidden.  For women, I think the corollary is scarves, belts, and even entire blouses layered beneath sweaters or blazers so not a lot is sticking out.  Again I’d start with small patterns, but be bold — look again to prints that men wear, and see what strikes your fancy.  As you start to get more confident wearing these small punches of pattern, pick a color in the pattern to highlight — e.g., the light blue in this paisley would be complimented by a blue cardigan.

3) Move to more feminine prints.  There are some prints that are primarily worn by women such as florals, animal prints, and more.  Even though women’s prints go through more of a trend cycle than the other prints we’ve mentioned above, these are still classic prints, and you shouldn’t be shy about investing in some of the pieces of you like them — a leopard blouse or belt will certainly be worn numerous times over the course of your career.  Depending on your confidence level here, I’d start small — leave the print a small proportion of your outfit, and look for smaller, tighter patterns as opposed to very large patterns.  (For example, your blouse could have 3 flowers on it, or 300.)

4) Get bolder, proportionally, with prints.  If you’ve successfully experimented with all of the above, it’s time to get even bolder still. If you’ve been hiding your patterns beneath blazers or cardigans to keep them proportionally small, go big — wear the blouse on its own.  Then, look for a bigger piece to purchase that will make pattern an even bigger part of your outfit, such as a patterned dress, skirt, or blazer.  If a striped blazer feels too crazy and loud, consider buying a piece where stripes are created by texture (e.g., corduroy) rather than the printed fabric. If a leaf-printed blouse seems too crazy, try wearing a blouse with a burnout pattern so it’s color-on-color.  As your better determine what prints you like, which are flattering on you, and how you like to wear them, branch into larger prints.

You know you’ve graduated when you’re wondering how to mix prints!

More Articles on Dressing For Success

Professional Clothes for Women: What You Can Learn From Michelle Obama and Samantha Cameron
Sparkle and Shine: Dressing for the Office Holiday Party

Staying Business-Ready in Unpredictable Weather

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The New Rules on Dressing for Success

CBS News
Tom Searcy, November 8 2011

 

I have a number of super-successful Silicon Valley clients who dress in ripped denim, Vans shoes and t-shirts. They are worth hundreds of millions, even more, but it’s a status symbol to dress like you’re homeless to attend board meetings.Conversely, I have worked with trash-hauling company executives who dress in suits and ties every day of the week. And this contrast shows the dramatic shift that has occurred in business attire in recent years, as each industry has developed its own rules.

So how do you learn the rules? Back in the early 1990s, as a young exec, I read Dress for Success by John T. Molloy. It gave me a clear understanding of how to dress to impress. But the “business casual” dress movement has turned all of that book’s ideas into quaint nostalgia. But fair or not, dress still has an impact on how you’re seen. For sales people, especially, first impressions matter.

My daughters will confirm that I am not a fashion plate, but I do have some simple rules for successful dressing if you are in sales.

Know your prospect’s uniform.

Before you meet with a prospect, you should know that company’s dress code. “Business casual” has a lot of meanings. Call the front desk at the company and ask what the company’s dress code is and what the men and women wear. Or ask your contact. The point is, part of your responsibility is to understand that company’s culture, including its dress code. Ask for examples, especially of the senior most person who will be in your meeting.

Dress one step up.

If your prospect is in denim, you wear khaki. They wear sport coats without ties; you are in suits without ties. The point is that you always dress one step further up the clothing ladder than your prospect, but not two. One step says that you respect and value them. Two steps can send a loaded message.

It’s not just what you wear–but how you wear it.

Polished shoes, pressed shirts and well-fitted pants always.  At this point, some of you are thinking, “Does he really have to say this to people?” while others are saying, “Why do I have to tuck in my shirt?” But when your clothes are pressed, buttoned down and well-fitted, you convey that you are a person who pays attention to the details and are professional

Grooming trumps style.

Even if you’re wearing a great suit, if you’ve got a terrible haircut, you’ll give a bad impression. As crazy as it sounds, everything on the grooming punch lists – fingernails, facial hair, haircuts and oral hygiene–matter.

Know your company’s uniform.

One of my clients makes sure that when his sales reps are making their sales calls, they wear a very specific uniform. (His company’s clients accept this because they see it as an extension of the brand; the company sells safety products.) It doesn’t matter if the reps are presenting in a board room or on a manufacturing plant floor, they wear the sample simple uniform. Obviously, if you work at this company, you follow this dress code in order to fit in.

Remember, you can dress in a way where your attire is the only message people remember, or you can dress in a way that takes nothing away from the message of value your company brings to them.

 

More Articles on Dressing For Success

Professional Clothes for Women: What You Can Learn From Michelle Obama and Samantha Cameron
Sparkle and Shine: Dressing for the Office Holiday Party

Staying Business-Ready in Unpredictable Weather

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I love high heels – but my feet don’t. Should I give them up?

Globe & Mail
Dr. Sheila Wijayasinghe, July 19 2011

The question

I love my pretty shoes, but my feet hurt more and more often now that I’ve hit 35. Should I never wear heels again?

The answer

We all have shoes that look great but leave our feet sore and uncomfortable after wearing them.

Your concern is important: high heels and any improperly fitted shoes can cause real health problems such as deformed toes, heel pain, bunions, ingrown nails and corns. A specific concern with high heels is that with prolonged use, they can lead to a shortening of the Achilles tendon (the tendon that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone).

Over time, the shortening of the tendon can make it hard for the heel to fully touch the ground and can lead to heel pain and difficulty wearing flat shoes.

If your feet hurt, they’re telling you something. While you don’t need to get rid of all of your heels, change your shoe habits with a few of these tips:

1. Wear the right fit: While this may seem obvious, it can be tricky to find shoes that fit properly. When you’re trying on shoes, keep in mind that foot shape and size can change over years so your size 5 years ago may be different today. Also, purchase your shoes later in the day when your size may be larger due to normal swelling and fit your shoes while standing up as your feet lengthen slightly when standing. Don’t forget to fit both feet and choose your size based on your larger foot. When shoe stores tell you that the shoe will stretch to fit your foot, use caution as this is not always the case and tight-fitting shoes can lead to discomfort.

2. Higher is not always better: Heels that are higher than 2 inches can interfere with balance and posture which can trigger not only foot and heel pain but also knee, hip and back problems. According to the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, women should wear shoes with a height of no more than two and a quarter inches. They also recommend that shoes at these heights should be worn no more than two or three hours each day.

3. Find comfortable heels: There are newer styles of heels that have cushioned soles, which will help with shock absorption and arch support. Also, wedge heels are better than stilletos, as they help to spread out pressure points and give better support to the entire foot.

4. Stretch after wear: After wearing heels, even if for 2-3 hours, gently stretch your Achilles tendon to help decrease the risk of the tendon shortening.

 

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Do you have “CEO” Executive Presence?

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Do Long Pants Over Heels
Really Make Me Look Taller?

Globe & Mail
Russell Smith, April 7 2012

The question

When magazines give tips for how short, stocky women (like me) should dress, they often suggest wearing long trousers that go over and completely cover high heels or platforms. The idea is to create an illusion of longer legs. Does this ever look anything but silly?

The answer

The only way for this to work physically is for your trouser legs to be quite wide, so as to fit over the shoe and drop right to the sole. So, if you try it, you are, whether you feel funky or not, embracing a 1970s wide-leg aesthetic that is itself quite bold.

This association with the thrift store and the faded album cover might explain why wide-leg women’s trousers so frequently look cheap, even if they aren’t. That and the fact that if you wear them so long as to touch the ground, they are likely to get dusty. I always fear that they are going to make their wearers trip.

Furthermore, it’s a great waste of feminine power to cover your shoes. You’re going through all the discomfort of wearing tall heels but no one can see this dramatically sexy part of your ensemble. And you know, in general, all these tips for creating optical illusions – vertical stripes to make you thinner, wide collars for wide faces – don’t really work. A skirt or dress, even with flat shoes, will always get you more attention than the illusion of height will.

More Articles on Executive Image

3 Executive Presence Tips from Time and Harvard Business Review
Choosing the Right Image Consultant

Do you have “CEO” Executive Presence?

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Personal image does make a difference

Coloradoan
Katy Piotrowski, April 6 2012

Remember the last time you waltzed into work looking and feeling great, and how the rest of your day just seemed to go better, too? NoCo style expert Michelle Vos says you should make it a priority to project that panache nearly every day.

Here’s why: 93 percent of communication is nonverbal, so how you look is a huge part of how you convey your capabilities. While it’s typical for career-minded professionals to invest in an effective company image – snappy website, and business cards – most of us don’t carry that same style through in our personal appearance. “People want to know the real you, and for your message and your image to align with each other,” said Vos.

Chances are, if you have a closet full of “nothing to wear,” you’re a prime candidate for improving your professional image. Vos recommends these steps:

» Accept your body as it is today. Improve your belief in your body over time by writing a few notes daily in a journal about what you appreciate about your appearance. For example, I like being tall (by the way, most people say I don’t look as tall in my column photo).

» Try on every piece of clothing, and pack away what doesn’t fit. Tight or baggy clothes communicate that you don’t know yourself well. I ousted a suit with pants that haven’t fit me well in a long time.

» Analyze why you love the clothes you enjoy wearing most. One of my favorite looks is a black skirt with a unique buckle, a white blouse, and an animal print scarf. In it, I feel fun, fashionable, and very “me.” I also feel as though I can tackle pretty tough challenges while wearing it.

» Aim to create a two-word label that describes your ideal style best, and use this label as a guide in clothing choices. Vos’ is “global chic”, and I settled on “fresh professional.”

Capitalizing on an effective personal image gives you a valuable advantage toward achieving your goals. Plus you’ll look marvelous, dahling!

More Articles on Executive Image

3 Executive Presence Tips from Time and Harvard Business Review
Choosing the Right Image Consultant

Do you have “CEO” Executive Presence?

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How does one wear a pocket square exactly?

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Reuters
Russell Smith, March 31

The question

I just inherited a bunch of lovely pocket squares. Is there anything I should know in terms of pairing them with my shirts, ties or blazers?

The answer

What a beautiful idea: pocket squares blooming in bunches. Sadly, we can only wear one at a time.

Here are some things to know: Don’t match the pocket square, either in colour or pattern, to the tie exactly – the square should contrast with the tie. So if your tie is striped, the square could be paisley or dotted; if the tie is dotted, the square could be plaid.

Don’t be afraid of mixing up lots of patterns and colours. If you want to echo shades, let the hankie match the shirt, not the tie.

There are two ways of pocketing them: crisp or puffy. That is, you can show a sharply ironed, folded edge – with the corners fanned out a little, if you want – or you can have it puff out loosely. Linen squares tend to be worn ironed, silk ones puffed. To get the perfect puff, just unfold the square, then stuff it into your breast pocket any which way. Then leave it alone. The way it lands – maybe with a corner showing, maybe without – is the way it will stay. Push it further in if it’s showing more than about five centimetres over the top of the pocket.

 

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Investing in your image can pay off

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The Gazette
Tina McFadden, March 24 2012

Professional appearance and presentation are important when you’re trying to advance your career.

Kim Lawrence began her career at a software company where she says colleagues wore pyjamas to work. A self-professed “fashion victim,” Lawrence never thought too much about outfits, she didn’t like shopping for clothes, and with two young children, she never had time to shop anyway.

So, when Lawrence landed a new role on the senior leadership team at the University of Calgary, she knew her image needed a makeover.

“It was about making an impression in a new role,” says Lawrence, 44. “This, for me, was an opportunity to intentionally take a look at the image I was presenting physically.”

Professional appearance and presentation are important, says Andrew Ward, director at Diversified Staffing Services, an employment agency.

“If you’re trying to advance in your career, first things first, would be to improve your grooming habits and style of dress,” Ward says, adding, for example, conservative professional dress is appropriate for most workplaces.

“You don’t have to wear expensive clothing, and it doesn’t have to be fashionable; it just has to be neat and well presented.”

Image is about more than clothes, says Adam Legge, president and CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s about attitude and perspective, and that all comprises someone’s image,” he says. An accounting firm is looking for a very different type of employee than an Internet company, he adds.

“A person’s image is a reflection of their own personal brand, and a company wants to hire someone who aligns with their own corporate brand.”

Lawrence updated her personal brand with the help of Calgary image consultant Camille Kim, owner of First Impressions Image.

Lawrence’s “image development” program began with a 90-minute consultation, which included a bodyshape analysis, a colour analysis and discussion of lifestyle-appropriate clothing. The program also included a complete closet inventory and two trips to the mall. At the end of the second trip, Lawrence had 10 new professional outfits.

The changes to Lawrence’s wardrobe have had an effect on her self-confidence in the workplace.

“It makes me feel much less self-conscious in a room full of people,” she says. “And for me, that gives me the confidence to be myself, as opposed to being so concerned about how people are viewing me.”

Like Lawrence, a number of Kim’s clients are in the process of changing jobs or looking for new jobs, though some believe they may have been passed over for promotion because of their appearance.

“We all know that image plays a big role in how we’re perceived, and also how we’re treated in the world and especially in the workplace,” Kim says.

“So, if we present ourselves put-together, looking organized and confident and capable and credible, that can really open doors and bring us respect. It can also bring opportunity in the form of promotion or better pay or opportunities within the company to travel or train.”

If you want to be taken seriously, you have to look the part and look professional, says Larry Rosen, CEO and chairman of Harry Rosen Inc.

“I think that there’s a huge correlation between personal success and personal image,” he says.

“Great clothes aren’t going to make a dumb person smart, but great clothes are going to make a smart person more effective.”

In business, we want to stand out for the right reasons, says Sue Jacques, the Civility CEO, an image consultant and professional speaker in Calgary.

“A solid professional image is of value because it shows people, subliminally even, that you’re a leader, that you know about attention to detail and that you take care of yourself. When businesses, business leaders and even clients and colleagues . . . see that you take care of your own brand, they’ll be more likely to trust you with theirs.”

Professionalism and image don’t just apply to executives, Jacques adds.

“Anybody who goes to work – no matter what it is that we do – has an opportunity in every moment to show up representing yourself and your profession with pride.”

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Are You Polished and Prepared for Success?

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GoLocal Prov
Margaret Batting, March 29 2012

Last weekend I went house hunting with a friend who is looking to purchase a home. When I met him on Saturday afternoon he was prepared with a list of open houses to visit. He had done his homework on location, price and loan options. He also had his list of must-haves which would help streamline the decision making process. He was prepared and ready for the task at hand. On the flip side, the realtor we encountered at one of the showings was not as prepared. As we drove up to the house we saw no “for sale” or “open house” sign out in front. We walked up to the front door and knocked but there was no answer.

We looked around for a realtor and noticed that she was sitting in her car texting away. I knocked on her car window to get her attention and inadvertently frightened her. She had no idea we were there waiting. We had to enter the house through the side entrance because she did not have a key to the front door. I asked her if she had a fact sheet on the house and she replied that her assistant didn’t get them done in time. I asked for her card and she didn’t have that with her either. I can’t remember what excuse she gave for not having it. She couldn’t answer many questions about the house and did a terrible job actually “showing” the property. On top of it she looked like she just rolled out of bed. She was unprofessional from head to toe.

As we continued talking with her she told us she had been a realtor for twelve years and began pitching her services to my friend. As she continued talking, my friend and I looked at each other in disbelief. It takes about ten years to become an expert in most professions. She has been doing this for twelve years and this is the experience she provides her customers. We really couldn’t believe it. For her sake I am hoping she was having an “off’ day. We all have “off” days but this “off” day definitely cost her a potential client. Your complete professional image goes beyond the clothes you wear. It’s a combination of your appearance, non-verbal and verbal communication skills, your talents, values and value of promise you provide to your customers. It is the total experience your customers have with you or experience with you on job and it needs to be positive!

Follow my tips below and you will always be polished, poised and prepared for success.

1. Your appearance should reflect a polished, credible and pulled together, professional image. Take time to think about what your clothes, their quality, your hairstyle, body language and business tools say about you. Are you prepared for success or are you on the brink of disaster like the realtor described above?

2. Always be prepared with your business cards and marketing materials. Make sure they are printed on quality stock and up to date with contact information and current services.

3. A little planning goes a long way. Be prepared for your appointments. Not only with your business materials but with your content. Know your material inside and out whether you are selling a house or delivering a proposal. Your experience should be reflected in both your customer service and presentation skills.

4. Focus on the details. People do business with those they trust. Trust comes from focusing on every possible detail. Showing current and prospective clients you have everything under control makes them feel confident that you will do an excellent job.

Overlooking the important role a positive customer experience plays in business success is a mistake many people make. Just because you know you can get the job done doesn’t mean your prospective client knows you can do it. It might be time to take a look at how you really show up.

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