It’s that time of year. The Nordstrom sale is about to start and you’re invited.
If you have the Nordstrom card, you can start shopping now during the presale. If not, the sale will open to the public on July 20th.
It’s that time of year. The Nordstrom sale is about to start and you’re invited.
If you have the Nordstrom card, you can start shopping now during the presale. If not, the sale will open to the public on July 20th.
Have no clue what personal branding is? You’re not alone.
When you work around something day in and day out, it’s easy to forget that not everyone understands what you’re talking about. This is something I’m reminded of on a daily basis, specifically, every time I introduce myself.
My standard introduction used to be: “Hi, my name is Leslie Friedman and I’m an image consultant who specializes in personal branding”.
Forget knowing what personal branding means, most people couldn’t make it past image consultant. “What exactly IS an image consultant?” is a question I began to answer so many times that I added a little extra phrase to my introduction.
“Hi, my name is Leslie Friedman and I’m an image consultant that specializes in personal branding. Which basically means that I help people leverage their appearance to be more successful.”
This not only happens when I throw out the term ‘image consultant’ but when I talk about personal branding. I incorrectly assume that most everyone knows what personal branding is, when actually, the exact opposite is true. If you’re one of those people, this article is for you.
I’m staying away from any industry jargon or other confusing terms to simply explain what personal branding is, and of course, why you should give a damn.
So, let’s get started shall we?
The concept of personal branding has been around for less than 20 years. It all started when this guy, Tom Peters, wrote an article in 1997 for the magazine Fast Company about this radical new idea- if companies can have brands, then so should people.
A brand is what makes a company distinctive and recognizable. Just think of Starbucks or McDonald’s. Not only do you immediately think of the products these places sell, but you also see the golden arches and green medallion symbols from the logos. All of these special little things that go into making a company recognizable, help create its brand.
Peters proposed that people could have similar brands. They too could have all those ‘special little things’ that go into making them recognizable as a person. Famous people are pros at this. Think of Beyonce, Steve Jobs, or even President Trump. My guess, is that most of you could recognize these people instantly if you were given a verbal description of who the person is/what they’ve done, or if you saw them. You could do that for the same reason that you could identify Starbucks or McDonald’s if you heard someone describe them or if they showed you a picture. These celebrities and companies have done the same thing- created brands around themselves. They decided what they wanted to be known for and then made sure their actions, words, and appearance all reflect those attributes.
I know what you’re thinking, “I’m not a celebrity, and I don’t want to be one..so why should I care? Why should I go through the effort of developing a personal brand? What’s in it for me?”
Here’s the thing; you don’t have to be a celebrity (or even like the person) to learn from what they’re doing and use it to help you.
Essentially, celebrities are using personal branding techniques for job security. The longer that person is in the spotlight and people know about them, the higher the chance they’ll be able to sell products, etc. Far less people would buy Beyonce albums if she wasn’t popular and people didn’t know who she was.
In the same manner, we can use personal branding to make us more successful. What do you want? Job security? Money? The ability to travel? A family? You can get pretty much anything you want by adjusting your personal brand.
Here’s a side by side example with an actual brand, a celebrity, and a ‘normal’ person, to help you make the connection.
|Company/Person||Goal||Ways to achieve goal|
|Beyonce||To sell albums||Works to become nationally recognized and remains in the spotlight|
|Walmart||To sell low price goods||Spends lots of time sourcing goods that are less expensive for its stores|
|A 5th Grade Teacher||To help students learn||Shows up to work on time and is focused on doing their job|
Your brand (personal or corporate), is the set of characteristics you/your company is uniquely known for and exhibits through their actions, words, and appearance.
Keeping their end goals in mind, look at the chart below and see how each company/person from above uses specific actions, words, and appearances to achieve their goals.
|Beyonce||Makes music and goes on tours||Talks about herself as a celebrity||Wears ‘news worthy’ ensembles|
|Walmart||Sells low cost items at its stores||Advertises to specific target markets about their deals||No frills stores are clean but not fancy|
|A 5th Grade Teacher||Help students one on one to learn material||Builds up students with her/his words||Dresses appropriately to teach students|
It seems really simple, right? If Walmart wanted to sell expensive products to the ultra-rich they wouldn’t sell low cost items, advertise to everyday people like moms, and have a basic store. Likewise, if a teacher didn’t really want to help students they wouldn’t care about showing up on time, actually teaching, and wearing clothes that don’t distract students.
Our reputation, or how we want to be known, needs to make sense with our end goals and needs to be supported by our personal brand. We all have a personal brand. We all have traits that make us uniquely who we are. What we don’t always do, is focus on developing and nurturing that brand.
We go through the motions and do what we’re supposed to because that’s what our boss and HR want us to do, but we don’t often think about how we could be using everyday things like actions, words, and our appearance to get ahead.
If our desire is to travel, maybe culture awareness is a strong characteristic that we embody.
If our desire is to make a lot of money, maybe a strong work ethic and go-getter attitude are what we are known for.
If our desire is to find a spouse, maybe dressing a way that shows your value will attract the right person.
Essentially, your personal brand is the process of creating and managing your reputation.
Personal branding isn’t a difficult concept, but it does take a decent amount of self-awareness. What do you want? (even if it’s just for the next 5 years) How are you being perceived right now? How do you want people to think of you? Once you start exploring these questions, you’ll be on your way to cultivating an incredible personal brand.
I know creating a personal brand isn’t easy. You may want to start, but have no idea how. That’s perfectly normal. So, normal in fact, that I created an entire e-course (including a 20+ page workbook) that walks you through creating your unique brand step by step. This is for anyone who wants a helping hand through the process, and is serious about really developing a brand that will help reach your goals. Sounds good? Click the button below to get instant access to the beginning of the course (for FREE!).
Questions about personal branding? I’d love to hear them! Comment below.
Obsessed with your success,
Part 2 to the 6-Part Series: Beauty from the Inside Out
Featuring Becky Lauren and Leslie Friedman
Beauty from the Inside Out is a 6-part series exploring the struggle women have every day, from looking nice and staying healthy to taking jobs and choosing friends, because we want to or because society expects it from us. Each week we’ll discuss a new topic, culminating in how we can break the mold as strong, confident, beautiful women.
Prepare yourself for this one, ladies, it’s going to be a long one. It’s something that really affects me in every way every single day and it’s very important to me…
In today’s age we’re still living in a world where most career women struggle working in ‘a man’s world’.
I still laugh every time I watch Kristen Bell’s video ‘Pinksourcing’ . In the video she makes fun of everything that is unfair about being a women in the workforce.
I’ve known what I wanted to be since I was 8 years old. I was going to be “in the special forces”. I of course didn’t really know what that meant other than wearing a uniform and carrying a gun and beating up bad guys. At 8 years old I had no idea this dream wasn’t actually a possibility for me.
It wasn’t until I started growing up that there limitations on what I could dream and achieve. Some of these limitations were real and some were conditioned. “Oh a pretty little girl like you can’t be a Soldier, that’s for boys!”
Can women be in the special forces? At the time – no. In today’s age – kinda. But were there really cool jobs similar to that women could do? Absolutely!
As I started to grow into my professional career in the corporate world sitting at the large mahogany conference room tables of ‘old white men’ the reality of working in a man’s world began to sink in.
If you were an attractive woman, you obviously got the job because of your looks. If you were unattractive you obviously got the job because nobody wanted you so you had nothing to do but to work. (This is actually something that’s been told to me by numerous people over the years)
As a woman working in a field dominated by men, I am confronted by the double standard every single day. The struggle for me has always been where the line is, when to give into it, and when to fight it.
Where does ‘Pretty Girl Problems” come from? It’s from years of being told that my problems weren’t important. When I would give a presentation to someone much higher up in the company than I and they couldn’t stop staring at my legs (I’m 5’10) I was told it’s a ‘pretty girl problem’. When I had people from the company texting me slightly questionable things when they were drinking it was a ‘pretty girl problem’. When people assume I got my job because I’m a woman and they needed to make a ‘quota’, that’s a ‘pretty girl problem’.
“Oh it must be SO HARD getting all that attention from men all the time.” My male co-workers would joke. Yes. It is, and no, I don’t like it.
I once had a mentor, she was mid 50s, sit me down when I was an intern and give me some of the best advice I still look at today. She took me for coffee and as we sat down said “You, my dear, are going to have some trouble in this world.” The piece of advice she gave me which I still use is this: “There is a double standard that you aren’t going to get rid of in your lifetime, so you might as well take advantage. Your looks will open doors to you that it won’t for men. Don’t be afraid to use that, but you better make sure that when you open your mouth you are smarter than anyone else in the room. You better floor them!”
Leslie and I talked a lot about how to dress as a woman in the workplace. I’ve always joked that I have a pendulum that swings from ‘I don’t give a fuck to lesbian pant suit’. I’ve been told that if I don’t want men to stare at me I shouldn’t wear dresses and skirts, form fitting clothing, or low tops. I don’t disagree that if I avoided wearing those things I might not get as many looks. My issue lies in who’s side society is taking.
By saying “she’s asking for it. She’s wearing a pencil skirt with a shirt tucked in, you can see her shape” what we’re really saying is that we’re choosing men. We are choosing that their opinions and actions mean more than a woman’s. THEY can’t handle themselves so we need to change how we exist in the world. No. I just won’t.
Except I do. I think we all do. I’ll have an inappropriate comment made to me or someone stare just too much and the next day I’m practically wearing a mumu with my hair in a bun and no makeup. And I’ll do that for a few days so I don’t get the attention. And in that moment, in that decision, I’ve let them win.
The crazy thing is, that these same problems happen to women regardless of what industry they’re in. As an image consultant, Leslie works with women across all different fields look their best especially when they are going to work. She’s noticed that a ‘pretty girl’ double standard is present in almost all workplaces, but does vary from industry to industry. For example, a woman who wears heels in a more casual teaching environment is judged as being sexy and trying too hard while a woman who wears flats in a high power ad agency might be seen as lazy and unprofessional. Likewise, it is deemed equally inappropriate (by the men who have always set the standards, of course!) for a woman engineer to wear a skirt at a manufacturing conference as it is for a woman lawyer to wear a pant suit in the courtroom.
So, what’s Leslie advice to these women? Dress in a way that makes you feel comfortable, reflects the way you want to be perceived to your client (ex. Professional, capable, etc.), and is appropriate for your workplace (I don’t want to see tight pants, short shorts, or unbuttoned tops on men either). If you feel comfortable in a skirt, wear an office appropriate skirt. If you feel incredible in a power suit, wear your power suit. Your appearance certainly has an affect on others, but it also affects YOU! The way you look should empower you, while setting the stage for your actions- which is the real secret to breaking barriers.
Pretty Girl Problems affect all of us. I have a million stories of this and I’m sure each and every one of you do as well. We know women who exacerbate the issue and we know women who hide from it. I’ve always tried to live my professional life and professional friendships with integrity – in a way where I had fun, I dressed fashionably but appropriately, and acted in a way that nobody would question my intentions. “Live your life in a way that if someone spoke bad about you, nobody would believe it”
Becky and Leslie
P.S. Don’t miss out on past or future videos and posts in this series! Sign up HERE to get access to everything!
Part 1 to the 6-Part Series: Beauty from the Inside Out
Featuring Becky Lauren and Leslie Friedman
Beauty from the Inside Out is a 6-part series exploring the struggle women have every day, from looking nice and staying healthy to taking jobs and choosing friends, because we want to or because society expects it from us. Each week we’ll discuss a new topic, culminating in how we can break the mold as strong, confident, beautiful women.
Jealousy doesn’t always get the best rap.
Think about it. If you were describing your best attributes during a job interview, you probably wouldn’t throw out, “Oh, and one of my all time greatest character traits is my jealous nature”.
No, of course not. But jealousy isn’t all bad, and it can actually help you decide where priorities and values lie. For that reason, it’s the perfect place to start this 6 part series.
Jealousy is really like alcohol in a lot of ways. It can lead you to hurt yourself, or to help yourself. The choice is yours. We’ll talk about how it’s hurtful, first, because that’s the aspect we’re most familiar with.
We’ve all watched our girlfriend get drunk and start saying something stupid or pouring out her inner most feelings. It’s a painful thing to watch, especially if you’re sober. It’s obvious that she is saying something hurtful or acting stupid, but she totally doesn’t see it. It’s similar with jealousy. As women we’ve somehow been ingrained to minimize what we are jealous of. Just like the drunk girl spilling her guts, you can spot the jealous girl a mile away. “Oh well she has an easy job and can work out whenever she wants” or “she’s just showing off because she’s trying to get a man”.
Has another woman ever made a snide comment to you about your hair, weight, or appearance in general? It’s hurtful and probably the result of jealousy. You have something they don’t, and in order to satiate the jealousy they bring you down.
“Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter. And ruining Regina George’s life definitely didn’t make me any happier. All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you.” – Mean Girls
Women deal with jealousy in two main ways: motivation or negativity. Some will see their co-workers new car and think ‘that car is awesome, I need to work harder to get one’ while others will say ‘I’ll never be able to afford a car like that’. Which one are you? When other people have something you want does it motivate you to work towards it? Or retreat and hide from it? If you’re the latter then it’s time to change your approach! It’s time to start using jealousy in your favor!
A lot of introverts or people with social anxiety like to drink when they’re at social functions. The ‘liquid courage’ makes them feel less stressed about talking with others.
These people understand how alcohol affects them (and knows exactly where their limit is) and how they can use it to make themselves better at a specific task.
You can take the same jealous (that can be equally bad if not controlled) and use it to your advantage. No matter how jealousy affects you, in three easy steps you can start putting it to use for your personal benefit.
Step 1: Identify what triggers jealousy for you. Whenever you have a jealous thought (I want.., I wish…, She has the best…,) stop and think about what they have that you want. You don’t even have to do anything about it at this point, just write it down or remember mentally. Eventually, you will see a pattern. Maybe, it’s other women’s bodies that you are jealous of. Maybe, it’s their clothes, cars, homes, or how they seem to raise their kids. Whatever it is, find your main triggers. Remember to separate the person of jealousy from the attribute you are jealous of. You aren’t jealous of Staci, you’re jealous of her jet-set lifestyle.
Step 2: With each trigger, really ask yourself- is this something I actually want? It sounds stupid, but you’d be surprised. I used to envy every single post someone I follow put on Instagram. “She has the life! It’s so wonderful!” However, one day I really thought about if I would want that life and the answer surprised me- it was no. She travels constantly and is never at home with her family. She has a stressful job and works for months at a time without breaks. It may have looked great (and I hope it’s really great for her!) but it wasn’t what I wanted. I only really liked the idea of it.
Step 3: Once you find out the triggers that point to something you actually want, set some goals and use the things you want as an incentive to do better and be better. Remember- don’t compare yourself to the person you envy. They are at a different place in their life as you. Instead focus on the aspect of their person/life that you like, whether that’s their relaxed attitude or dedication to working out.
It’s most important to keep your priorities straight. Just like one too many drinks takes you from comfortable and cool to sloppy drunk, the wrong motivations behind jealousy will just make things worse. You need to turn your jealousy into motivation to be better. If you’re jealous of how good of shape your frenemy is in, don’t COMPETE with her, set a new workout and nutrition schedule for yourself and start working out so you look at your own body and say “damn, I look great!”. That mentality turns into putting others down instead of building everyone up together
What do you think? Tell us about a time when jealousy has helped or hurt you. What struggles do you have finding that line between healthy and harmful amounts of jealousy? Comment below!
Leslie & Becky
Did you miss the intro post or video? Don’t worry! Click here to get access to all past and future parts to the series!
Communicating with someone else doesn’t seem like a hard concept…until something goes wrong and a ‘misunderstanding’ happens.
“Did you get more milk?”
“Uh, no. Was I supposed to? I thought you were picking it up”
“No, I asked you to get it!”
I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves in a situation like the one above at least once, if not more.
When a misunderstanding happens, it’s easy to point the finger and blame the other person for not listening. However, we need to understand that WE could be partially to blame for the mix up. If we’re not communicating effectively, then it’s easy for things to go south quickly.
Intuitively, we know we need to be strong communicators to get what we want. Ironically though, we don’t usually do what we need to do to strengthen those skills.
This article is designed to help you start thinking about your own communication level and what you can do to be more effective.
If you have no idea where you’re starting from, then it’s going to be hard to know where you need to improve. That’s why we’re going to start laying the groundwork for discovering who you are and what your message is.
Sound good? Great! Let’s get started.
We’ll start really simple and then build our way up to the complex stuff.
For starters, communicating is simply interacting with others.
However, just because you are physically communicating with someone/something else doesn’t mean you’re doing a good job at it. I communicate with my dog on a daily basis, but when she fails to sit when I say ‘sit’, I’m obviously not doing it well. I also communicate with my husband on a daily basis, and when I’m too tired to really pay attention to what he’s saying, I’m also not doing it well.
Just because you’re speaking the same language and physically ‘hearing’ one another, doesn’t mean you’re communicating well. You’re just communicating.
In order for communication to happen (good or bad), there needs to be at least two parties. Although technically, I guess talking to yourself or self-reflection time could be considered communication- but we’re not going to go there today. For the sake of staying focused, we’re going to say communication happens when at least two parties are present.
The two parties are (obviously): YOU and THEM.
‘You’ are, well, you, and ‘them’ is whomever you’re trying to communicate with. Since you have the most power over yourself, we’ll start with you.
The great news is that you have pretty much full control over yourself. What you say. What messages you send. How you act. Most of us realize this, yet we never do anything to harness that power.
A lot of what I’m about to say may sound really obvious. That’s because it is. However, before you write me off, ask yourself if you are doing these simple things every time you communicate. The kicker here is that they are SIMPLE, but not always EASY. Keep that in mind.
In order to be an effective communicator, you need to know who you are and what you want. Simple, right?…but definitely not easy. Here’s why each matters:
So, who are you and what do you want? Imagine you just walked into a tv show and have no idea who the characters are or what’s happening. You ask your friend to explain and they say, “Jerry is trying to break up with Shannon because she cheated on him”. Just from that, we know that Jerry is a guy in a relationship who wants to break up with his girlfriend. Now, imagine instead of a tv show, it’s your life. If you write a note or speak to someone, how could that be summarized? Here are some examples:
Every time you communicate, you are saying something about yourself and what you want. If you have no idea who you are (or how you wish to be perceived) and/or what you want, then it’s very likely that you’ll fail communicating.
TL;DR version: Make sure you know how you want to be perceived and what you want out of every exchange you make.
There are two main ways that we communicate: tangible and intangible.
We’ve all received that email or talked to that person and then thought, “what are they trying to say?” or “what do they want?” When time is precious, there’s nothing more annoying than reading a super long email to only reach the end and not be sure what they author was trying to say. Additionally, it’s important for your intangible forms of communication to be aligned with your tangible forms (this will happen naturally if you know who you are what you want). If you wear really promiscuous clothing to a networking event, yet want to gain to new clients for your law practice- you’re going to fail at communicating. Likewise, if you act really sweet to your son and then leave a harsh note about his grades, your bad communication will confuse him.
**A brief note about why consistency in tangible and intangible forms of communication is important: because it builds trust. Consistency builds trust while inconsistency breaks trust. If you want someone to trust you, you need to be consistent.**
TL;DR version: Understand how you communicate both in tangible and intangible forms and make sure the two are consistent!
Like I said before, this is really great because you have so much power!! You can wake up in the morning and decide who you are and how you want others to see you. You can decide exactly what you want from someone else and then change your approach to raise your chances of achieving your goal!
Here’s the side you can’t control…as much.
Why do I say as much? Because you do have some control over how the recipient of your communication reacts. It’s just not complete control (for the record- that would be weird and if you do have complete control you’re probably in a cult).
The way you present yourself and your message has a direct effect on whomever is on the receiving side.
Example: I have a great new idea for a company. I want to pitch this idea to someone I know has the capital to back it at the next networking meeting. Here are several ways I could do that:
Here are the likely effects of each:
These were extreme examples, but it illustrates that we really do have more power than we think over other people. While ultimately, the end choice is theirs, we can influence their decision of us.
Influential people (whether that’s a celebrity or the mover and shaker of your local town) all have something in common: they are great communicators. They know exactly who they are, what they want, and how they can use different channels of communication to get a desired outcome. You can think of it as a trifecta of effective communication, and (the best part) it works pretty much every where. Here is a range of examples. See if you can guess the person each is describing.
|Who they are:||What they want:||Methods:|
|Celebrity entertainer||Empower women to ‘slay’||Singing and songwriting|
|Technology entrepreneur||Elite technology for the masses||Creating solar cars and exploring space travel for everyday people|
|Mom-blogger of 3 kids||To raise well-behaved children that positively influence the world||Lots of daily love, encouragement, and family volunteering|
If you guessed: Beyonce, Elon Musk, and….(if you weren’t sure about the last one, that’s okay because I made it up)- then you’d be correct. I wasn’t thinking about anyone in particular, but it could be almost any mom. The point is that you don’t have to do something on a huge grand scale to be an effective communicator. A mom who nurtures her kids to be good people is just as effective as a communicator as Beyonce is- as long as they are fulfilling their goals and getting what they want.
Remember the milk misunderstanding from the beginning of the article? It didn’t have anything to do with providing technology for the masses or empowering a certain sex. It was literally a matter of keeping the household running smoothly.
Everyone is different and leads different lives. Because of that, we will all be different people who want different things and employ different methods to achieve them.
So, here’s my question to you: Who are you, what do you want, and what methods are you using to reach your goals? Please share in the comments below!
If you’re a special size (like tall, petite, or plus), finding clothing that fits can be downright agonizing. Luckily, I’ve come up with the complete guide to shopping for special sizes. I’ve broken down each special size into several sub categories like: casual, work (business clothing), wedding, shoes, etc. so you can easily find exactly what you’re looking for!
My goal was to make this list digestible, not exhaustible, so if I left out your favorite place to shop- leave a comment and tell me where you love to shop and for what size range (tall/petite/plus/etc.)
Note: each brand name is a direct link to the website where the described type of item can be found (therefore, ASOS under tall casual will go directly to tall clothes on the ASOS website).
Price indicator: Average cost of items from each retailer
Shoes (see wide shoes below)
*Wide shoe hunting tip*: think outside the box. You might not think of shopping for shoes at a plus size store if you aren’t plus size, but these types of stores usually carry a good selection of wide shoes!
Here are some great places to find wide shoes:
Whew, that was a lot of information! Be sure to book mark this page (and download the cheat sheets for your preferred size) so that you know where to turn next time you need to go shopping.
Tell me…what’s your favorite place to shop for hard to fit clothes?
“I don’t have a style”
You have no idea how many times I’ve heard that phrase from either clients or random people (once they find out I’m an image consultant, of course).
The funny thing, though, is that all these people really do have a style.
They have a style that feels old and boring to them because it’s what they’ve always worn, but that’s exactly what style is: a consistent way of dressing in a certain manner.
We often don’t consider our daily uniforms (you know, your go to outfits and accessories) as a style because it doesn’t fit into our perception of ‘style’.
Culture and society tells us that style is ever changing and it’s whatever is vogue right now. It’s avant garde and artsy. We think of style as something only a select few can obtain and that there’s some secret one style per person limit.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. While, style can be avant garde or artsy, it most certainly is not restricted to one person or a specific group of people. Many people can have the same style and that’s perfectly okay.
All you have to do to find your style is simply look in your closet. What outfits do you gravitate towards? What are the common patterns?
THAT IS YOUR STYLE!
If your closet is filled with jeans and t-shirts, you have a casual, all-American style.
If your closet is filled with tailored clothing, you have a more professional, pulled together style.
If your closet is filled with a mix match of colors and patterns, you have an eclectic style.
The question you should be asking is not, “what is my style?” but “does my style (clothing) say what I want it to about me?”
Do the clothes you wear most often (which make up your style), lead others to perceive you the way you want to be perceived?
Don’t miss this, because it’s the biggest secret to mastering your own style: your outward appearance must accurately reflect your strongest character traits.
If you’re a young professional that wants to be seen as experienced, professional, and dedicated- a jeans and t-shirt style is not going to work for you.
Likewise, if you want to seem laid back and fun, a closet full of super tailored clothing and business suits is not going to achieve that.
So, before you get down and out about your style, ask yourself if it makes sense for your lifestyle and how you want to be perceived. If the answer is YES, embrace it. Just because you don’t look like the pages of a fashion magazine doesn’t mean you don’t have a style and can’t own it.
This is something that you need to realize BEFORE you even start thinking about what style you are most drawn to.
Why? Because your personal appearance does two things: 1) it affects other people and 2) it affects you.
First, your image sends a message about yourself. Before you think about how to construct that message, you need to decide what you want to say.
Second, your clothing affects the way you feel. A single piece of clothing has the power to make you feel bold and confident or uncomfortable and self-conscious. Fit, color, and feel all contribute to the way we feel in an outfit, but so does one other thing: the actual style of the garment. Just like we’re drawn to certain cars and feel awkward in others, different styles of clothing can change the way we feel while wearing them. For that reason (among others), it’s important to have at least an idea of what types of clothing you like.
While you could separate different styles into multiple categories, I use a basic 6: minimalist, bohemian, traditional, eclectic, modern, and feminine. This quiz will help you decide which style you like the most.
Each style says something different about the wearer. We all make similar snap judgements when someone dressed ‘goth’ or ‘preppy’ walks by, right? Well, it’s the same with ANY style.
To help you decode what your style may be saying about you (both good and bad), I created this nifty PDF that you can download for no cost. Enjoy!
We can theorize about personal branding and mission statements all day, but unless we put any of it to practice in an applicable way, it doesn’t do any good. Unless you understand what your personal brand is, the rest of this book will just be entertaining fluff. Here’s the thing. I didn’t sit down and write a book about how to make you look pretty. Yes, I am all about you looking fabulous, but my intent is to help you create a look and then use it to be successful. There are plenty of books out there on how to get dressed. There are even more on how to do it with style. I want to tell you how to alter your appearance to get what you want. Whether it’s a better job, happier home life, or improved self-esteem, I want you to be living to your fullest potential. And that’s something that needs to start from the inside, from your personal branding, and then move its way outward.
So, let’s talk about your brand. I promise it will be easier than you think. Remember, we are trying to figure out what makes you, uniquely you. This includes personality traits, general characteristics, and accomplishments. It’s everything that sets you apart from others in your home, office, town, state, and even country. Everyone has a personal brand, but most people’s brands aren’t realized or well developed. Using the following secrets, you can create a strong personal brand that will serve as a solid foundation for your future success!
Side note: the following is an excerpt from my book: Dressing Your Personal Brand. To download the entire book, click here.
This is something a lot of people either forget, or disregard. Your personal brand isn’t just about who you are, but what you’ve done, and how you’ve accomplished it. It’s not just what you’ve done (e.g. Where you’ve gone to school, awards you’ve won, accounts you’ve landed…). It’s not just about your personality (e.g. Extrovert, leader, intuitive…) or about how you your personality manifests itself (E.g. Outgoing, team player, problem solver…). Rather, a strong personal brand includes traits from all of these areas. There are several reasons why this is.
For one, it shows that there are multiple facets to you other than how you were born or what you’ve accomplished. Think about it. Any of the above characteristic sets can be entirely independent of another when creating a personal brand. One whole set of traits without any of the other sets leads the recipient to believe that you have certain qualities, but don’t know how to use them. For example, if I say I am a Harvard graduate with a PhD in Biology and a successful career in research- that only describes my accomplishments. Alternatively, if that same person said, “I am an extrovert with a positive attitude and upbeat personality”, they’re really only talking about their intrinsic traits. The best personal brands show a blend of intrinsic and extrinsic traits. They declare, ‘this is who I am and what I’ve achieved with what I’ve been given!’ For example, it would be best if the above person said, ‘I am an extroverted, ivy league graduate who is passionate about finding cures to common diseases in order to help everyday people.” See how much more powerful it is when you combine the qualities you are born with and what you’ve accomplished?
Remember those good old combination locks you were assigned in gym class during middle and high school? Every lock contained the same numbers, but each lock had their own special combination of those numbers that caused it to open up. Personal brands are very similar. The human population as a whole contains all the same characteristics, traits, and accomplishments. However, it’s the way in which these are combined that make your personal brand special to you and unlock your full potential! Many people believe that they have to reinvent the wheel or discover a whole new personality trait in order to have a successful brand. This isn’t true at all. The key isn’t to make up characteristics that nobody else has, but rather to find the right combination of traits that you possess to create a new (or at least new to your desired audience) sequence. If you want to add some novelty into your combination, you do that by altering what you do or accomplish. For example, there are lots of philanthropic, anthropology graduates. However, there are much fewer philanthropic, anthropology graduates that have devoted significant amounts of time to studying a specific species of animal just as Jane Goodall studied apes.
There is no one size fits all method to identifying your personal brand. However, I usually recommend that people narrow down their five strongest descriptors and use that as their personal brand. Just as a combination lock may be 12 + 4 + 7 + 22 + 35 = open, your personal brand can do the same with this simple formula: intrinsic personality trait + accomplishment + general characteristic + goal + passion = winning personal brand! In a sentence it would look like, ‘My name is Kathy and I am an extroverted, award winning research scientist who uses my compassionate nature to pursue the cure for cancer and help everyone I come in contact with.’ Each of the individual parts of this sentence are true for hundreds of people, but when you pull together the parts that are uniquely yours, then you can accurately describe your own personal brand.
Just think of your personal brand statement as a ‘cut to the chase’ elevator speech. In a few seconds or less, what do you want the other person to know about you? With a successful elevator speech or personal brand statement you lay down your most important cards, and in doing so, will attract others who share the same passions and goals as you. Here’s a personal example of how a strong personal brand statement can help you. A few months ago, I was attending a small entrepreneurial networking session and we had the opportunity to introduce ourselves. Some of the attendees seemed caught off guard and stuttered a short line of thoughts like, “well, I’m Jake and my wife and I are thinking about possibly starting a fishing business, maybe”. Other people, like myself, confidently threw out their personal brand statements along with an invitation to talk afterwards. I think I used some version of, “Hi, My name is Leslie Friedman. I’m an author, speaker and image consultant who is passionate about helping people leverage their personal brands and their appearances to be more successful. I really enjoy collaborating with other entrepreneurs, so don’t be shy to come say hi after the program; I’d love to talk to you.” It is simple and to the point. Not every person in the room found me after the program to say hi, but the ones that did were also aligned with my goals and came with opportunities. A solid personal brand statement not only helps you keep focused, but it is a key component to opening doors.
I’m sure you have a lot of characteristics, goals, passions, accomplishments, and traits that define you. The key to picking the right ones for a strong personal brand depend on what you want to accomplish with your brand. Remember when we talked about your end goal and having a mission statement? If you don’t know what your end goal is, then it will be very difficult to pull together a personal brand that will lead you there. Just as you need to pick the right paint when painting different parts of a house, you need to find the right combination of attributes that will help you accomplish your end goal best. If the aforementioned, bio-scientist Kathy wants to help elementary aged children by having a long career as a second grade teacher, then her personal branding statement is way off. If her goal is to be a notable, bio-researcher with a significant influence in the realm of disease prevention, then she is right on track. Nabisco probably had a clear end goal in mind when they created Oreo, and they made sure that the branding around the Oreo cookie ensured the success of reaching that goal. In this same way, we need to make sure our brand is properly setting us up for our end goals.
Your personal brand is 100% you and there’s no one who has a clearer view of you than those around you. So, if you’re stumped about what your brand is, sit back and let the people around you throw in their input. Simply ask any objective, third party person who spends time around you (a coworker is a great option) to describe who you are. Better yet, have them describe you to another coworker. The more people you sample, the better picture you will be able to make about yourself. It is also worthwhile to ask the people that know you the best (spouses, family members, friends) how they would describe you. Most likely, your personal brand is going to be a combination of the two opinions. While this is one of the most effective ways to find out what your personal brand is, it can also be the most painful- especially if you’re not branding yourself to your fullest potential.
If other’s responses are way off base compared to how you would describe yourself, your brand is having an identity crisis. Look into inconsistencies and ask yourself 1) which way you would like to be seen and 2) what you’re doing to elicit an undesired response. Maybe you think working through your lunch hour every day brands you as hardworking and dedicated, but really it comes off as aloof and as a bad team player.
Even if you have your personal brand down pat (these are the traits I want to be known for!) it’s important to consistently ask for feedback to make sure your branding is accurate. Large companies are constantly soliciting feedback on their products and their brand image to ensure that the image they are presenting to the consumer is exactly the branding they desire. Find the combination of attributes that is most accurate for you and most effective to reaching your end goal and then double check it over year after year to make sure you are always on track for success.
The personal brand you develop during the length of this book may not be the same brand you have in twenty years. It may not even be the brand you have in five or ten years, and to be completely honest, it shouldn’t be. Hopefully, you are constantly in the process of developing and growing into a bigger and better person. Throughout your life you will have different accomplishments, experiences, and encounters that affect your goals, missions, and values. You will also have different priorities today than ten years from now. If you’re a young, professional making their mark in the workplace, you may place more value on being seen as knowledgeable and experienced. Ten or fifteen years down the road, however, you may place more value on being known as a leader and a great communicator. The key is to constantly reassess your mission statement and your personal brand statement to ensure that it aligns up with who you want to be today and the short term future. When you are younger, your brand statement may change as much as every year to every five years, while at the peak of your career, it will probably change every ten to fifteen years.
Coming up with a personal brand that is reflective of your true self shouldn’t be difficult. If you’re forcing a certain goal or character trait on yourself that doesn’t come naturally or that you aren’t passionate about, you’ll have a hard time living out your brand. It’s much easier and less energy consuming to actively develop and pursue a brand that feels like second nature.
To your branding success!
PS> Like what you read? This is only a small portion of my book: Dressing your Personal Brand. Read the rest of the book here.
When we think about work, personal branding isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind. After all, personal branding is personal and most of us make a decent effort to keep our personal and professional lives somewhat separated. The truth is, however, that our personal brands (and, therefore, our personal branding strategies) are vital components of the workplace. Each person in a company is important to the success of the company as a whole. That means, of course, that each personal brand plays an important role in helping the company reach its goals.
Think of the company Procter & Gamble. P&G is a huge company, and a brand within itself, but it’s made up of smaller companies- each with their own brand. Crest, Tampax, and Downy are all brands that create relatively unrelated products. However, they are all home and hygiene brands, which fall under the larger brand of P&G. Without the smaller brands that reflect the objectives of the P&G brand as a whole, P&G wouldn’t even be a brand. Personal brands work the same way in the workplace. Your company has its own objectives, goals, and brand. As part of the company, you are one of the smaller brands that helps the parent company reach its goals.
If your company or organization is the big parent company (like P&G, Nestle, Mars, etc) then there are four different types of smaller brands that make up that company. These ‘smaller brands’ are the personal brands of four different groups of people:
Each one of these groups, is filled with their own brands. A successful company should understand what brand each group represents and how it relates to the company as a whole.
Your main objective as an employer, is to find employees whose personal brands fill your company’s needs, and then effectively lead them to build a successful company. Think about the people directly under your supervision. Can you name their strengths? If you had to describe each person in one sentence, what would that sentence say? Would it be hard to do? If you don’t know what your employees bring to the table, then you are probably missing out on utilizing their greatest strengths. This is bad, obviously for the company, but also for the employee, who probably feels unsatisfied in their position. When employees are living out their brands and doing what they do best, then they are more likely to report job satisfaction. As the employer, you know that happy workers create a better workplace, more productivity, and less turnover (hint: all of these things leads to more profit!)
Employer personal branding strategies:
Take some time to sit down and think about every employee you have. (If you are in charge of a large number of people, maybe just choose your direct reports.) Pretend that someone has asked you to describe who they are in a few phrases. What would you say? Write down each employee’s name and their greatest strengths. Now, think about your company. What are the biggest needs or challenges facing your company right now? Compare the two lists. Do you currently have people’s strengths matched up properly to help fulfill your company’s goals? What could you do differently? Keep your employee strength/brand list handy for when a new project pops up. Use the list to help you find the right person for the job. Here’s a nifty worksheet to help you get started.
Without customers or clients, you can’t have a business. Because of this very obvious fact, it’s important to think about who your customer is and how they would describe their own personal brand. What is important to them? What traits do they value? This is why market research is an essential aspect of any company. Here’s something really cool: if our company brand (or the brand of someone associated with the company) is able to resonate with a customer’s personal brand, then an immediate emotional connection is made- whether the customer needs our products or not. This emotional connection is KEY to creating loyal customers.
Customer personal branding strategies:
Why do your customers like your brand? Why do they buy your products? If you don’t know, ASK THEM! If you hear repetitive answers, you’re onto something. Be sure to continually assess your marketing strategy. Are you marketing to the right group? Are you forming an emotional bond? Does the personal brand of your customer make sense with your company’s brand?
As an employee, you want to set yourself apart from everyone else (and, therefore, set yourself up for success) by cultivating a strong personal brand. Imagine that your boss is sitting in a conference room right now and is asked by his supervisor to pick one person from his department to fire and one to promote. You certainly don’t want to lose your job, but you also don’t want him to hem and haw about who he should promote. You want him to not waste a second before announcing, “[your name] is the first and only person that is perfect for the promotion job!” A strong personal brand has the power to produce those kinds of results. If you haven’t started thinking about your brand, then consider the following strategy…
Employee personal branding strategies:
Write down your job title and ask yourself, “what makes me different from everyone else with this job title?” Make a list of accomplishments, character traits, and experiences that help set you apart from everyone else. Now ask yourself, “Do my actions, words, and appearance consistently reflect the attributes on the list I just made?” (Ex. if you wrote: professional, outgoing, excellent writing skills… then evaluate if you are displaying those traits the best you can in the workplace). Think about what you want to be known for within the workplace. It might just be one word: Dedication. Integrity. Leadership. Choose a word or short phrase and write it down somewhere. Do your best to live out that word or phrase through your actions, words, and appearance every day. When a new project comes up and your boss needs someone with outstanding leadership, (s)he won’t have to think twice about giving the project to you. Download a FREE worksheet to get started.
If you’re not in a company, then you’re probably looking for somewhere to work (unless you’re retired, of course). Knowing your own personal brand and finding a company that holds similar values, makes the job search process more difficult, but also more rewarding in the end. Think of the first job you had out of college. If you’re like the majority of people, you did not enjoy the job, but you had to make money and pay off student loans. Very few people I know actually loved their first job. You know why? Because when you’re inexperienced, you have less options and, therefore, you are less picky about what job you choose. If they want you and they will pay you, then you sign up. The downside of this mentality to job seeking, however, is that you end up working for companies that don’t reflect your personal values. Your personal brand doesn’t align with their company brand…but you need a job, so you overlook that. Sometimes we just need to pay the bills, but if you’re looking for a fulfilling career, try the job seekers strategy below.
Job seeker personal branding strategies:
Before you even apply to a company: research, research, research! What is the company’s mission statement? What is their brand? What about the work culture? Do these things support your personal brand or are they totally different? Remember when we talked about P&G? P&G is a company comprised mostly of home and hygiene brands for personal use. It makes sense that P&G owns Head & Shoulders. It wouldn’t make sense if they owned Avis car rental. It doesn’t matter if you’re Head & Shoulders or Avis, just make sure the company you’re applying to makes sense with your brand! After you find a company or list of companies, identify their greatest needs. Compare those needs with your brand and your strengths and come up with concrete examples showing how you can bridge the gap. Tailor your resume to mostly show your ‘bridge’ skills and experiences (the ones that show you are capable of bridging the gap and solving their problems!) Make sure your interview answers also bridge the gap and show how you, in your truest form, can help fulfill the company’s needs. Use this FREE worksheet to help you get started.
Whether we know it or not, all of us have a personal brand. It might not be intentionally developed, but it’s there. Both personal and corporate success is possible by understanding personal brands and putting them to work to achieve your goals (no matter what workplace group you’re in!)
To your success!
Your personal brand is your unique combination of characteristics, accomplishments, and experiences that set you apart from everyone else. It’s how you want to be known to the world.
But what if you decide that your current brand isn’t working for you anymore? What if a career/priority/goal shift happens and you realize that you want to head a new direction? Is it possible to change a brand once it’s established, and if so, how do you actually go about doing it?
The good news is that changing up your brand isn’t only possible, it’s necessary! Notice how the title of this article is ‘what happens WHEN you need to change your personal brand’ not ‘what happens IF you need to change your personal brand’. As we continue to grow and develop both in a personal sense and with our careers, it is vital that our brands grow with us.
A great example of a product brand that has grown and evolved is Starbucks. Below, you’ll see the original Starbucks logo from 1971 and the current logo.
Not only has Starbucks changed their logo over the past 45 years, but their business concept has changed as well. Instead of simply selling whole coffee beans like they did in the beginning, Starbucks has grown to sell everything from coffee, to mugs, to music.
Over the course of time, Starbucks realized that they had to change their brand to stay relevant to their market, achieve new business goals, and stay competitive. Your personal brand is also like a business. You are constantly in the business of selling yourself and your talents. Over time, your goals will change, as will your priorities and values. You may find that the talents you’re currently marketing (I’m a kind, career oriented, go-getter) are not the same talents you want to be marketing 10 years from now (I’m a kind, family oriented, volunteer). The first step to changing your personal brand is understanding that it is OKAY to make that change.
Second, you need to do some thinking about what you want to change. Maybe you were a career man who, over the course of a decade, has gotten married and had children. You still love your career, but you want your personal brand to reflect that you are also a loving father. Small changes, like this, are easier to navigate. The aforementioned man may decide to set a goal to leave work at a reasonable time each day and might occasionally turn down after work drinks to spend time with his family. By understanding what change you wish to make in your brand (in this case, a shift from workaholic to family man), you can start taking active steps to start being perceived differently.
Some changes are easier to manage than others. Often times, big branding changes happen as a result of a significant career move or a radical belief transformation. Stepping down from a corporate career in New York City in order to become a yoga instructor in Hawaii is a drastic example of a career change that would affect your personal brand. Likewise, subscribing to a new belief system, whether it’s converting to a religion or choosing a eco-friendly lifestyle, will also result in a personal branding change.
There are two main ways to pull off a major change in your personal brand:
1 ) Ease into it. The person who leaves their corporate job in New York, may use their vacation time to get yoga certification while teaching classes in the city. Slowly, becoming a yogi becomes part of their brand and when they decide to leave the corporate world for Hawaii, it’s a bold move, but not shocking.
2) Do it quick. If easing into something isn’t your style, a more dramatic switch may be fitting. In this case, the person from the above example simply packs up their stuff one day, quits work, and heads to Hawaii. Everyone is shocked for about a month, but soon the old brand fades away and the new one is quickly adapted.
No matter how small or big the change, it’s important to think through the shift you want to make and how you will execute it, before you make any moves. While altering your brand is normal and expected, doing it too many times within a short time period will make you look confused, indecisive, and rash. Instead, be thoughtful about your change and then start taking action to improve your brand!
There’s always that one person at a party, networking event, or social function that hits it off with everyone and makes a stellar first impression. It’s the same person that you talk about on the way home (“Did you meet Derek? What a cool guy.”) and, often times, the person you remember weeks later. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to become that person; with only a few easy tips and tricks, you too can start becoming the most memorable person in a room.
Tip #1: Memorable doesn’t mean being in the limelight
Introverts breathe a sigh of relief. Being a ‘success’ at a social event doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be the center of attention. In fact, some of the most memorable people (in a good way) are far from being in the limelight. You’ll see why this is, in the following tips.
Tip #2: Have a clear idea about how you want to be perceived and what you want from the event
If twenty people all leave a networking session and say something about you to someone who wasn’t at the party, what would you want them to say? “She was so kind”, “She was really passionate”, “She is very dedicated to her work”…. Decide how you want to be perceived BEFOREHAND, and then make sure your actions and speech follow up your brand. You also need to set goals for what you want out of each event. I know it sounds stupid, but trust me, it works. Maybe it’s a social party with friends and your goal is to have a good time and make new friends. Maybe it’s a business networking event and your goal is to target three potential customers for your business. Whatever it is, making goals will ensure that your night isn’t a total waste of time (because when you make a goal, you often follow through to achieve it!)
Tip #3: Focus on others
It sounds counter-intuitive, but spending more time focusing on the other people at the event will make you more memorable. Check out the following tricks to make sure you are focusing your time and energy on others:
Trick #1: Have a loose knowledge of a wide breadth of subjects. This will allow you to talk to almost anyone about their favorite subjects (ps. You don’t have to be know-it-all about every topic. You just need to know enough to hold a conversation and make them feel like they are interesting and intelligent.)
Trick #2: Be a people connector. Standing in the corner talking to one person the whole night might make you memorable to that one person, but not to everyone else. Think of any networking or social event as a game of memory. Instead of flipping over cards to reveal matches, you want to identify people that have similar interests. This accomplishes two things: 1) it allows you to work the room without getting stuck with just one person all night, and 2) it makes you seem more caring when you seem to know small details about someone that others might have forgotten. (example: when you introduce Sally to Steve because they both have a weird love of Jenga.)
Trick #3: Remember names. It’s not always easy, but it works. Remember people’s names and use them as often as possible without sounding weird.
Tip #4: Master the follow-up
It doesn’t matter if you’re networking at a business event or working the room at a party, follow-up is key. I personally love sending a handwritten letter to the host thanking them for a wonderful time. An email, text message, or LinkedIn invite are also good ways to connect after the event. A successful follow-up (once again) focuses on the other person and makes them feel special. It also may include an ask. Here’s a great example of a brief, but effective follow-up:
Hi Sam, I really enjoyed meeting you last night at the xyz networking event. It was so fascinating to hear about your experience in business and how you started ABC consulting company. If you don’t mind, I’d love to get together for coffee sometime and hear more about the marketing strategies you’ve used when getting ABC off the ground. Best Regards, Taylor
The key is to sound interested, without sounding like a total suck up. If you’ve done your job well, then they will have enjoyed their time with you during the event and will gladly make room in their schedule for you in the future.
IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: Everyone is selling something, especially at a networking event. Successful salespeople know to make relationships first, and then offer their product. The networking event and even some follow-up events (like the coffee mentioned above) should be primarily for relationship building and not for selling. Selling your product will come naturally when the other person trusts you enough to tell you their personal or their business problems (which you would provide a solution for). Ps. Generally (though not always) the bigger the price tag of the item you’re selling, the more time and energy you will need to put into the relationship.
Networking events, mixers, and parties all take up your precious time, so you might as well get something out of it! Making yourself memorable is not only easy (bonus: it gets easier the more you do it), but it makes your goals more achievable in the long run. When you’re memorable, people will start reaching out to you, rather than you spending tons of time and energy reaching out to them. Now, get out there and start standing out!
If you like what you just read, you’ll probably enjoy my best-selling ebook: Dressing Your Personal Brand. Go ahead and check out the (totally free!) first chapter below –>
Welcome to *insert music here* “the most wonderful time of the year* and the “happiest season of all”. Let’s face it, though, no matter how jolly and happy this season is, it comes with its fare share of stress. Holiday shopping (or perhaps dealing with other holiday shoppers), fattening foods, horrible traffic, way too much family time (“you voted for who?!!?””you’re STILL not dating anyone??”)…the list could go on. By the time the second week of January rolls around we are more tired, broke, and stressed than we ever were before. Here are 5 easy tips you can do to combat the January blues. I’ve broken them down into 5 categories that usually leave us the most stressed.
#5 Biggest Holiday Stressor: Parties
It’s officially party season and you have a dozen invites on the table. If you’re an extrovert- the thought of a million parties sounds exhilarating. If you’re an introvert- multiple parties seem like a good way to kill yourself. No matter who you are though, a bunch of holiday parties can drain your bank account (if you’re bringing a bottle or two of wine to each), sabotage your health (helllooo sugar overload), and leave you exhausted. The key is to set boundaries and learn to say no. Go with a friend and help them keep you responsible (I will leave by 9pm, I will not eat all the cookies…). Or get a jump start on your New Years resolution to say no more often and send your regrets. This will save your time, money, and energy for the parties you care most about.
#4 Biggest Holiday Stressor: Traffic
If you are someone who gets easily angered by traffic, get prepared…this time of year is no driving cakewalk. Opt to visit stores during their off-peak hours (if you search any local store in Google, a nifty chart comes up showing you when that particular store is least and most busy) or purchase online. If you’re hitting the road to visit friends or family, try to get off work early or leave after everyone else. You won’t avoid traffic completely, but it may help you keep some of your sanity. With that said, be careful driving late at night as there is in an increase in drunk driving around this time of year.
#3 Biggest Holiday Stressor: Health
It’s too late to take back what you ate for Thanksgiving, but it isn’t too late to make sure you don’t add a few more pounds before New Years. If you’re going to a party, bring a healthy dish (note: healthy doesn’t mean that you’re stuck with carrot sticks, this black bean salsa is healthy and delicious) and decide what you’re going to consume beforehand. Ask a friend or spouse to keep you in check. The items with the biggest calorie count aren’t necessarily cookies or cake (although, those don’t help) but alcohol. A single glass of wine can have up to 100 calories or more in it. If you’re friends are party animals and love to drink, volunteer to be the DD. It’s a great out for you (let them kill themselves at the gym come January…you’ll still be looking great) and ensures everyone is safe during the holidays.
#2 Biggest Holiday Stressor: Family
Family is great. But often times, too much family can be…well, too much. You don’t have to spend every waking moment with your relatives to prove you love them. Allowing downtime and limiting the length of your stay are two ways to show that you respect the other person’s personal space and generosity to host you. If you need some alone time (and no one is getting the hint) this may be a great time to do something active. Go for a walk or take a jog. It will help re-energize you and work off any wine you might need later that day.
#1 Biggest Holiday Stressor: Money
How many times do you get your January credit card statement and solemnly vow never to spend that much again…only to have severe amnesia around Thanksgiving and repeat the whole process? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Luckily, a little planning and preparation (and some self control) can help get your finances back in order and keep them that way. For starters, assess everything you purchase. Yes, everything. And ask yourself, “do I (or whoever it’s for) really need this?” If the answer is yes, follow up with this question, “do I need it right now?” Instead of buying a new outfit for every party, borrow something from a friend, rent a dress, or get creative by mixing and matching pieces in your own closet. Instead of bringing a pricy dessert that you picked up from the bakery, make it yourself and save some money. Instead of buying an endless amount of gifts, decide on a gift budget beforehand and then stick to it. Every year my husband and I decide on how much money we will spend on each other. I also decide what my max amount is to spend on family members. That way, there’s never a surprise bill in January.
If you’re already too far gone this year, try something different next year. Set your budgets and then divide that total amount by 12. That’s how much money you need to put into savings each month to afford your holiday spending…without the hangover.
Not everyone gets stressed out about the same things during the holiday season. Whether it’s weight gain, money woes, or traffic issues, know what pushes your buttons and make an active plan (NOW!) to better avoid the stress later. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did.
There are two camps: people who will check their bags, and people who will do anything in their power NOT to check bags when flying. I’m the latter. The strong desire to never check a bag isn’t a matter of money so much as it is convenience. For example, this past summer, my husband and I went to Thailand for ten days and I packed us both a small backpack. There was nothing better than landing, grabbing our bags from under our seats, and walking right off the airplane and straight to our resort (no lost luggage or long luggage pick up lines to deal with!)
Unless you travel with bulky medical equipment or lots of kids, I truly believe that most people can pack whatever they need in just a carry-on…especially during the holidays. Here are a couple of tips to beat the holiday chaos around baggage claim and get your carry(on)!
Tip 1: Pick the right bag.
A good carry on bag will have a firm bottom and flexible sides. This allows the bag to keep its structure while you are allowed to pack more. I prefer duffels and back packs over roller bags because they are easier to navigate large crowds with.
Tip 2: Don’t pack anything with only one purpose (except a bathing suit and/or coat)
Sequin jacket? Body con dress? Sweater that only goes with one pair of pants and nothing else. Those items are great, but they don’t belong on this trip. If you can’t pair an item with everything else you’re bringing, then it needs to stay at home. I don’t even pack real pajamas when I go home because they really only have one purpose. Instead, I wear my lounge clothes to bed. Be realistic about what you’ll be doing at home. If you’re going to be sitting around with your immediate family, leave the fancy stuff at home.
Tip 3: Choose a color scheme.
Either go all browns/blues or all blacks. This means you only have to pack one (or two…max!!) pairs of shoes. Everything should coordinate with your color scheme including your purse.
Tip 4: Wear your bulkiest outfit while traveling
When you have everything laid out on your bed before you actually start packing (something I highly recommend, so that you can see what outfits you can create with what you have) remove the bulkiest items. This is what you’re going to wear on travel day. Ex: Set aside your boots, jeans, sweater, and coat….while you pack flats, leggings, and t-shirts.
Tip 5: Remember where you are going
Are you going to a family member’s house who has every hair device you could possibly need (blow dryer, flat iron, etc)? Don’t bring your own! My little sister never packs pajamas when visiting my parents because she knows my mom owns, at minimum, 35 pairs of flannel pajamas. If you’re meeting up with siblings at your final destination, divvy up any items that you can share while you’re at home. Are you going somewhere with a washing machine? Perfect! Now you can pack even less. There’s no need for 28 pairs of panties when you have a washing machine.
Tip 6: You need to plan ahead
Packing with just a carry-on does take a little planning. If you’re rushing around the morning before a flight, you’re not going to make great packing decisions. Instead, make it into a fun activity or (if you have kids) a game. If you’re by yourself, put on some great music and pour yourself a glass of wine. If you’re helping your kids pack light, turn it into a fun game of matching or a critical thinking challenge (how many outfits can you make and put in this backpack?)
You can’t beat all the airport chaos this year, but you can make it a little bit easier on yourself- by only packing a carry-on! It never hurts to try.
What’s your biggest deterrent to only packing a carry-on? Not sure how to pack the bag? Shoe addict? Chronic over packer? I want to hear your reasons!
Like what you read? You’ll probably love Chapter 4 of my new book. Check out a free sample below!
Have you ever seen someone well dressed and think, “I could look like that if I just had some more time to get ready.” Or maybe your reasons are more along the lines of, “I’m too busy“, ‘there are more important things I need to worry about”, or simply “I don’t care”. While I can’t help you with the last reason, I can fully sympathize with you on all the others.
My life has been more stressful than usual lately. Combine an impending cross country move with home buying, home selling, and a sinus infection and ‘looking my best’ isn’t exactly at the forefront of my priorities. Some days I’m lucky just to get out of workout clothes and into jeans. Unfortunately however, your appearance still matters even when it’s the last thing on your mind.
Future clients are still seeing you in the grocery store.
Your employer is remembering you by that last impression you’re leaving.
People are still making judgements about your character, work ethic, etc. even if you aren’t willing and ready for it.
It sucks, but you still need to make some sort of an effort to pull yourself together, even if you’re busy and stressed out…and that’s where the uniform comes in. If you remember nothing else about this post, remember that:
A uniform is essential to getting you through those particularly rough patches in life, because quite honestly, we often have better things to spend our time on than picking out clothes. At it’s purest form, a uniform is a tried and true outfit that is easy and foolproof. It’s the jeans and t-shirt combo you pull out because you know you look good in it and you know you’ll be comfortable.
The secret to looking great when you don’t have time, or simply don’t feel great, is to plan ahead. Have one or more uniforms waiting in the wings for those times that you don’t have the time or effort to plan an ensemble. I have two uniforms. One is for casual errand running and the other is for business.
My casual outfit is a pair of tailored, dark wash J.Crew jeans, button down Ralph Lauren oxford, and a cute pair of flats. On really unfortunate days, a hat or sunglasses may get added to the mix. It’s streamlined, it’s pulled together, and (most importantly) it isn’t fussy. I can throw it on to run to the grocery store or go to the dog park. If I run into someone important during my errands, I don’t have to hide behind aisles of cereal at the store because I still look professional and appropriate. In fact, several great client relationships have blossomed while I’ve been waiting in a checkout line or hanging out at the dog park. You’re always making a first impression, so make sure you are making a good one!
An example of my classic oxford and jeans uniform (pic from Vineyard Vines).
My business uniform consists of a black dress, pearls, and black heels. No matter how short on time you are, there’s literally no way to mess that up. A quick up-do like a french twist solves any bad hair situations. If you choose a dress (especially a dark colored one) for your uniform, make sure you have one that you can step into (as opposed to pull over your head) to steer clear of any deodorant disasters. If I have a last minute speaking gig or have to meet a client on short notice, I know exactly what I can wear and still make that great impression. There’s no time wasted in front of my closet stressing out (more than I already am) about what to wear.
This classic black number from J.Crew doesn’t even need jewelry…just a great pair of shoes and you’re ready to go!
Figuring out your uniform is pretty easy. Simply go through your closet and pick out a couple outfits that always make you feel confident and powerful and that fit consistently well (as opposed to fitting only when you are in top physical condition). If it helps you to remember, take pictures of these outfits so that you can easily refer to them when time gets crunched or more important things pop up. Apps like Closet can help you keep track of your uniform and even record when you’ve worn it previously (so you don’t end up wearing the same outfit to every client meeting). I actually have several different variations of my uniforms: oxford button downs in several colors and multiple black dresses. This way I’m never without a uniform to wear.
Taking the extra thirty minutes to craft a couple of great uniforms is absolutely worth it. You’ll never be caught hiding behind random stuff at the grocery store again (wait a minute…are these adult diapers?!?) and you’ll never have to sacrifice your reputation or professionalism to time and stress.
If you’re having trouble figuring out your style, or finding the right uniform for your body type, you have to check out The Ultimate #STYLE E-Course.
How do you still look your best with your pressed for time or stressed out? Do you have a favorite uniform that you always turn to? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
The most common woe clients come to me with goes like this: “I don’t want to look frumpy because I feel young, but I also don’t want to look like my 16 year old daughter.” These middle aged women are often vibrant, active, and far from looking like how their mothers did at the same age. But, it’s one thing to feel young and another thing to dress young. Here are three easy ways to strike a balance between frumptastic and teenager.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell where Junior’s ends and everything else begins…especially during sale season.
2. Let quality and fit be your guide. Clothes designed for teenagers are made poorly. Companies know that teens and young adults rotate through clothing more rapidly than other age groups, so they don’t spend as much time and money on quality. If you can’t tell whether you’re in the juniors department or not, just ask yourself, “how well is this made?” Choosing well made clothing is going to make you look more age appropriate because it will actually fit you well. Designers go through lots of measures to make sure their clothing fits their target market properly. That’s why Aeropostale fits one way while Talbots fits another. If an item is too tight, too short, and generally ill-fitting you will look like you stole clothes from your daughter’s closet. On the other hand, if the fit is baggy and ill-fitting in the too big direction, you will look older.
3.Watch for the word Contemporary. Many nice department stores like Saks, Barneys, Bergdorfs, etc. divide their products by floor. As a result, you’re likely to step into an elevator and be given options like ‘beauty, shoes, contemporary, designer…” If you don’t understand what defines and differentiates floors like contemporary and designer then you’re already fighting an uphill battle before you’ve begun. Essentially, contemporary is the way to say ‘current’ without saying ‘trendy’. In a department store like Saks, contemporary clothing is less expensive (though certainly not cheap) and more current and mainstream. It’s not just big department stores that use the word contemporary. Forever 21 uses it to describe their more modern, looser fit collection (which fits more like…forever 31). Current but not trendy is exactly what will make you look your age and these pieces are often categories as ‘contemporary’.
4. Stay current with silhouettes, not patterns. Loud patterns, bright colors, and off beat prints will all make you look younger, but not necessarily in a good way. Instead of dressing younger through patterns, do it by keeping your silhouettes in style. For example, two trends for the fall include feline motifs and layering dresses over shirts. Unless you’re in a creative field or the fashion industry, anything with a cat on it is not age appropriate for anyone over 19. Instead, choose another trend and try layering a white button down shirt under a shift dress. Interpreting trends in a classic way will help you look current without giving off the impression that you are ‘trying too hard’.
If you’re still in doubt whether an item or an outfit is ‘too old’ or ‘too young’ for you, I always recommend erring on the side of caution; don’t purchase or wear the item/outfit until you can get a second opinion from someone you trust!
Dressing appropriately for your age can be tricky. In fact, I created a whole lesson in The Ultimate #STYLE E-Course that addresses just that issue because it’s so commonly asked about! For the complete guide of style tips, including how to dress for your body type, how to wear jewelry, and how to style scarves, click on The Ultimate #STYLE Course link above.
If you like what you just read, you’ll probably enjoy my best-selling ebook: Dressing Your Personal Brand. Go ahead and check out the (totally free!) first chapter below –>
I was sitting at lunch yesterday when my dining partner said something I’ve heard several times: “I feel like young employees have no idea what is appropriate and what isn’t in terms of workplace dress.” Friends and acquaintances will then go on to recount their own personal experiences of fashion faux pas, ranging from barefoot interns to visible tramp stamps on new hires. And lastly, this is the part I found most interesting, they always follow it up with self-blame. “Maybe I’m not being open enough, but I don’t think it’s appropriate”. “Maybe I’m just old fashioned and these things are acceptable now.” It wasn’t just my polished and very professional lunch buddy the other day who has relayed these thoughts to me. I hear it all the time, usually from middle aged or older women who hold very good positions within their companies. So what’s going on here?
Appropriate work dress in the 1940’s. If not much has changed in the last 75 years, then I guarantee things like tattoos, piercings, and athletic wear are not making an office debut anytime soon.
For one, it has nothing to do with you not being ‘open enough’ so stop blaming yourself. Period. Appropriate workplace attire hasn’t changed that much in the past several decades and it’s probably not going to change that much in the near future. Sure, trends and silhouettes change, but shoulder pads are not the same as neck tattoos. If you work in a corporate setting, the biggest sartorial change in the last 50 years is that it is more acceptable to not wear panty hose. That’s pretty much it. Even though miniskirts were big in the 60’s or tube tops ruled the 90’s, you still didn’t see these trends infiltrating the corporate workplace. Likewise, tattoos, sneakers, and multiple piercings may be acceptable in society, but that doesn’t mean they belong in a board room. We need to learn to segregate and compartmentalize what is acceptable in the workplace and what is acceptable in public in general. Should you scowl and shake your finger at every neck tattoo you see? No, that would be rude. Should you say something if you see that same neck tattoo in your corporate office? Yes, because the reputation of the company, and not just the individual, is now on the line. Which leads us to the next point- how to deal with inappropriate dress at work.
First of all, your workplace should have an up to date dress code. No matter how small your business is, having a policy in place when it comes to dress will help make confrontations smoother and more objective. Without a dress code, you will look like you are picking on people and critiquing them for their personal style. With a policy, you simply need to state what the company has defined as appropriate and ask the employee to stay within those bounds. Another key part, is to make sure your dress code is up to date. It may have been utterly unfathomable that anyone would come to work in a halter top fifty years ago when your dress code was first written. If you don’t make changes to update your policy, then you run the risk of having interns who think it’s okay to trod around the office barefoot. There are plenty of sample dress codes you can find online and make you own. If you’re business is bigger, you can always call upon an Image Consulting professional to help you draft an effective dress code for your company.
When you see inappropriate dress in the workplace, do something! If the person in question is not your direct report, contact their supervisor or human resources about your concerns. As I mentioned before, each employee not only represents themselves, but the company as a whole. In the most basic sense, when you are hired on with a company, they are paying you to carry out their values and beliefs. If you get hired as a barista at Starbucks, you are being paid to carry out their values of great coffee to the masses. If you are hired as the CEO of Google, you are being paid to advance the mission of Google at the top most level. It’s easy to forget that we are here for the employer rather than the employer being here for us. If our appearance doesn’t line up with the values we’re supposed to be representing, then something needs to change. If you don’t stand up against improper image in the workplace, the reputation of your organization might be at stake.
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If reading this makes you upset, don’t get all huffy and start ranting about stifling creativity and identity. Instead, find a company whose culture matches your values. If you feel taking your nose ring out compromises who you are, then don’t apply for a job at a large business consulting firm. Find a more boutique consulting firm that values individuality. You’ll be a better employee, a better representative of the company, and won’t get any judgmental looks from co-workers.
If you are a business struggling with inappropriately dressed employees, a new employee trying to make a good impression, or a company that needs a new dress code, I can help! Whether you’re the employer or employee, I’d love to hear the problems you or your company is facing and help you work towards a solution. Just send an email to: email@example.com to start the conversation.
To your success,
Being lied to is bad. Not knowing you’re being lied to (and believing the fib) is even worse. Luckily, there are a couple easy ways to know someone is lying by simply reading the person’s body language. The trick is to focus on three parts of the body: eyes, hands, and feet.
A professional liar, such as a pro poker player or con man, usually has a lot of control over their facial expressions, including their eyes. Pro liars won’t glance nervously around the room or only make eye contact in short spurts. Instead, these people usually overcompensate, resulting in prolonged eye contact with very few breaks. Fortunately, most of us don’t deal with professional liars on a day to day basis. We deal with people who are trying to flatter us, get us to buy products, and do favors for them. The eyes of these amateur liars often deny their innocent sounding sweet talk. If they are fabricating a story rather than giving a truthful account, they will most likely break eye contact by looking up and to the right. They will also avoid direct eye contact and will fleetingly scan the room during the conversation. Instead of listening to you, their eyes will be moving around while they think of their next excuse.
Despite our best intentions, hands often move on their own accord when it comes to small involuntary motions. Picking at nails, cuticles, or fidgeting the fingers in general shows nervousness and anxiety- a sign the person is about to or is in the process of lying. A liar will also use their hands to touch their nose, tug on their earlobes, pull their collar, or scratch their neck. These are all subconscious movements made while people are in the process of telling lies. A liar may also rub his eyes or the area under his eyes. Usually the longer the rub, the longer the lie.
Look at the direction the feet are pointing. If the liar has a chance to position themselves, they will most likely point their feet in the direction of the door– indicating their desire to leave the situation. Liars will also tend to fidget with their feet. A foot may be ticking back and forth during a fabricated story or rubbing against the other foot. If the person is standing, they may nervously shift their weight from one foot to another.
While a seasoned liar can control one or two of these body parts, it’s often quite difficult to control all three while spouting out a convincing dialogue. Different people tend to display their own personal combination of the above lying indicators. If you are worried someone like a coworker or family member is lying to you, then I recommend you learn what combination of signals that person uses subconsciously, by doing the following:
During a relaxed conversation ask the person to relay a set of facts or recount a true event that happened recently. This could be as mundane as asking them directions from point A to point B. Or you could say you were having a debate about the wall color and ask them to describe what color they think it is. Essentially, pick something that a person wouldn’t need to lie about. As they give you directions or describe the ecru walls, watch their body language and specifically their eyes, hands, and feet. Now ask them a more ridiculous question where they would have to make something up. Show them an ugly shirt and ask them what they think. Describe a bad decision and ask them what their opinion is. If you are a higher status than them, they will most likely always lie. If you are the same status or lower, ask a question like, “What would you say to [insert badly dressed superior’s name] if he/she asked you what you thought of their outfit?” Watch their body language again as they answer. Notice how it chances and what patterns emerge. Do their feet stay still but their hands always rub their eyes while they glance around the room? Once you identify the subconscious movements that person makes while lying, all you will have to do in the future is watch their hands and eyes for the tell tale signs.
Note: It is particularly helpful to know a person’s body language when they aren’t lying because some people may be naturally more high strung and thus display fidgety mannerisms or have low self-confidence and make poor eye contact. Understanding what is normal for a person will help you better detect when that person is displaying abnormal lying body language.
If you like what you just read, you’ll probably enjoy my best-selling ebook: Dressing Your Personal Brand. Go ahead and check out the (totally free!) first chapter below –>
You don’t have to have a million dollars to look like you do! Here are 10 quick tips to have you looking your best…for just $10 or less!
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Above all, remember to take control of the things you can, and don’t worry about the things you can’t! Money can’t buy attitude, manners, kindness, or presence.
Want to learn more about improving your appearance? Check out a free sample below of my latest ebook: Dressing Your Personal Brand!
Most of the time, June is a pretty uneventful month in my household. This June, however, was anything but…especially when it comes to my husband, Andrew.
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It started with a surprise two week vacation to Thailand and ended with intensive physical therapy and work restrictions including ‘no walking’ and ‘no standing’. In between, there were lots of beaches, a five hour surgery, and one motorbike ride gone terribly awry. While we learned lots from our experience (stay at the beach, don’t ride motorbikes), one of the most interested things I learned had to do with the hospital uniforms. But, I’ll work my way around to that in a minute.
Just an hour before leaving for the airport, I announced to Andrew that we would be heading to Thailand for a two week long stay at an eco-luxury beach resort. We were celebrating our 5 year wedding anniversary and our 10 year together anniversary, so I had arranged a surprise trip that fulfilled Andrew’s two biggest wishes: somewhere warm, with a beach. Everything was sunshine and fresh coconuts until we decided to get adventurous and rent motorbikes to ride around the island.
Sunset views at our resort
Needless to say, the whole motorbike thing didn’t end well and Andrew ended up with a dislocated knee, fractured patella, and downright broken tibia. He was strapped to a body board and, two ambulance rides and one 30 minute boat ride later, was emitted to the ER at Bangkok Hospital Phuket. At the hospital, x-rays were taken, a surgery was declared necessary, and within 12 hours Andrew was in a deep slumber for 5 hours dreaming about the resort he was ironically not at. The surgery was followed by a week stay in the hospital and a jump start at physical therapy before catching a flight home.
A rare moment where everyone (including the kids) are wearing helmets. Motorbikes are a common form of transportation in Thailand, and I took this picture en route to the hospital one day.
It was during my long hours at the hospital post-surgery and pre-flight home, that I had plenty of time to observe the nurses and hospital staff. I don’t spend a lot (or really any) time in American hospitals, but I was really struck with how professional everyone in this particular Thai hospital dressed. I think I saw a total of 5 people in scrubs during our entire week stay. Doctors wore business clothing with lab coats (unless, I’m assuming, they were in the OR). Nurses wore either white or lilac suits with the cutest hats. Staff members (or what I called: patient ambassadors) wore blue suits that coordinated with the hospital’s logo. Even the first responders in the ambulance had on suits or, at the very minimum, a sharp polo with the hospital’s logo and dress pants.
Doctors from Bangkok Hospital Phuket
Maybe it was because we were no longer in a small rural clinic (where the doctor wore baggy khakis and an oversized polo), but I just felt like everything was going to be okay and that Andrew was going to be well cared for in this hospital. It turns out my intuition was correct. Although the break was ‘quite bad’ and the surgery was ‘risky’ (to quote our orthopedic surgeon), Andrew’s surgery was a declared a success by local doctors and our American physician. It wasn’t until a few days post surgery that I wondered if the professionalism of the hospital uniforms didn’t help subconsciously put my mind at ease. I perhaps felt like Andrew was in good hands because the hospital staff looked like they had everything pulled together and under control. Clean and crisp uniforms implied that their wearers took themselves, and their patients, seriously.
A group of nurses and doctors
Not only do I think the uniforms created an unspoken air of authority, credibility, and professionalism, but they also made it very easy to identify different roles within the hospital- an important thing in an international hospital where many languages are spoken. Based on what the person entering our hospital room was wearing, I knew exactly what we would be discussing. A blue and red suit meant bills and insurance. White or purple suits meant bath time and pain meds. White lab coats meant a check up on the wound. Dark blue polos with a prominent third party logo meant mealtime.
Nurse surrounded by patient ambassadors (who are wearing blouses with a blue and red cross pattern- the hospital’s logo)
A very sketchily taken photo of some of our amazing night nurses in their lilac outfits.
I was also amazed at how easily the uniform accommodated Muslim staff members. In the Western world, I feel like there is always a debate over whether it’s appropriate or not for a Muslim to wear a headscarf at work. It seemed like adding a coordinating headscarf to the uniform options wasn’t even second thought in our hospital. With 20% of Thailand’s Phuket province being Muslim, providing a headscarf option to the uniform seems obvious. If Western companies are struggling to accommodate the headscarf to their uniform, they should look to Bangkok Hospital Phuket as a prime example of how to do it respectfully and professionally.
I wanted to get a picture with all the wonderful nurses from our ward to show you exactly what I’m talking about. However, when it came time to leave, a waiting taxi and a ward of busy nurses (with plenty of other people to deal with) prevented a photo-op. Instead, you’ll have to look at the above photos that I plucked off the hospital website in order to see exactly what I mean. (And enjoy that one winner that I snapped while they were changing the sheets)
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All in all, it was a crazy month and we still have a long journey ahead of us (or more so, Andrew has a long journey of healing ahead of him). And while I wish I had never needed to check out the hospital uniforms in the first place, I enjoyed seeing how another culture uses dress to influence both the staff and the patients. It would be interesting to see what would happen in terms of provider/patient relationships if American hospitals adopted more professional dress in their health care institutions.
The concept of personal branding isn’t a hard one, yet you almost never see it defined in one or two sentences. It’s usually dragged out into a five page article, or in the case of when I’m giving a presentation, a 30-60 minute engaging explanation complete with analogies and helpful pictures. In reality, all you need are a few words:
Personal branding is your unique set of characteristics that set you apart from everyone else.
There you go. That’s it. That’s the thin and thick of it- short enough for a tweet and then some. Yes, it matters what you do with those characteristics, but it’s their presence in general that is the foundation of your personal brand.
My sister accurately pointed out the other day, that many people get hung up on the actual term ‘personal branding’ and have trouble making it past that to the definition. “Afterall,” they reason, “Starbucks is a brand, not me.” If you’re one of those people, take a minute and think about how you would describe the Starbucks brand to someone who had never heard of it (crazy assumption, I know, but work with me here). Chances are that you would list of a string of descriptors about Starbucks. It’s a coffee chain that sells gourmet coffee products to the average person in a friendly atmosphere. I just made that up off the top of my head, but you get the idea. It’s a series of characteristics that define Starbucks. Likewise, your brand is a series of characteristics that describe you. Leslie is a fun, energetic public speaker that is passionate about personal branding. That is an example of what my personal brand might sound like. Simply, a unique set of characteristics that set me apart from other people. See? It’s really not as complicated as it sounds.
Your personal brand is a phrase that tells the world who you are and what you bring to the table.
To your success,
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Whether you are a Realtor, business owner, investment banker, event planner, or lawyer your clients are the number one priority. You make every effort to gain their trust and satisfy their needs while (obviously) trying to make a decent profit. And, while you put great amounts of thought into everything from your marketing materials to the emails you send, how much thought are you putting into your appearance? The very clothes on our backs send the first and strongest message, so make sure it’s a good one! The following are five ways that you can win over new clients (and keep old clients in your favor) simply by changing your clothes.
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To your success!
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In case you missed it, the Queen turned 90 and there was a huge party in her honor last Saturday. Even if you aren’t an Anglo-maniac, the news of Queen Elizabeth’s celebration parade and activities have probably found their way into your daily life. I have reason to believe this, because I am literally half way around the globe in Southern Thailand and have still managed to see it in newspapers and online. People seem to love a good parade regardless of their native culture. You know what else people love? Who wore what. And this is especially true when it comes to the Royal family. Don’t believe me? Just visit the site WhatKateWore.com to see basically every outfit the Duchess of Cambridge has ever worn in public.
While most people are usually crooning to see what the Duchess is donning, this past Saturday’s event had all fashion eyes on the Queen. This may have been because she was sporting her typical coat and hat ensemble in a very atypical color (or should I say, colour): neon green. The article I was reading from Thailand’s Newspaper The Nation described it ever so hilariously by saying, “But it was the queen’s unusually bold dress and hat combination in a green so bright as to be almost fluorescent which caught the eye of many.”
(image from People.com)
You wouldn’t pick out just anything from your closet for your big 90th birthday celebration, and neither would the Queen. She picks out every ensemble with Anna Wintour-esque pre-meditation and this bright number is no different. Here are a few theories as to why stop light green made the final cut.
Or, maybe I’m over analyzing it all and green just happens to be the Queen’s favorite color. Either way, she looked great.
Don’t let winter have all the fun. Scarves are just as useful and beautiful in the summer as they are in the winter months. Don’t believe me? These new summer scarf trends may change your mind!
How it’s being worn –>
(Rebecca Minkoff, Helena Bordon, NYFW attendees)
(click on picture for more details about each scarf)
2. Neck Scarves. I love a good neck scarf…especially when I’m feeling too lazy to put on a necklace (which, I know, is quite the low point). Any square scarf can be used as a neck scarf. Simply fold the square in half to form a triangle and then tie the two furthest points of the triangle together behind your neck. If you have a really big square, you can cross over those two triangle points in the back (with the big point in front) and then bring them around to tie in front.
How it’s being worn –>
(Wes Gordon, Instagrammer @lookdepernille, NYFW blogger)
(click on picture for more details about each scarf)
3. Large and Loose. You don’t have go small and dainty. In fact, the bigger built you are, the bigger your accessories need to be. The key to wearing larger scarves in the summer months is to focus on lightweight fabrics that are light colored. Look for scarves made from silk, chiffon, and gauze cottons. I bring a huge scarf with me on every beach vacation and use it as a scarf, wrap, beach cover-up, and barrier against unreasonable airplane temperatures.
How it’s being worn –>
(left: Can you find the scarves? Each girl is wearing one! right: street style photo)
Shop the look –>
(click on picture for more details about each scarf)
Scarves are one of the easiest ways to brighten up an outfit without having to totally commit to a crazy color or trend. Take advantage of it and let scarves take you right in to summer!
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I’m that super nerdy person that really loves packing for trips. The further the destination and more moody the weather the better. Packing strategically probably appeals to me because it combines two of my favorite things: travel (including the wonderful anticipation beforehand) and problem solving.
In the videos below, I let you in on my three step packing process while I get ready for a 10 day excursion half way around the world. Check out below the videos for a full step by step checklist to packing.
Step 1: Pull
Essentially, pull everything that you would pack, but don’t actually pack the items (because, let’s be real, there’s probably waaay too many).
___ Choose any clothing/accessories you feel you’ll need for your trip
___ Group all items in categories (ie: underwear, tops, bottoms, jackets/cardigans, jewelry)
Step 2: Edit
Time to get rid of everything you don’t really need!
___ Choose a color family to adhere to (blacks or browns)
___ Eliminate anything that doesn’t fit into that color family
___ Eliminate anything that doesn’t go with almost every other piece (ex. take out that shirt that only goes with one bottom)
___ Eliminate any ‘solitary use’ items. If they are only used for one purpose, (with the exception of undergarments and swimwear) they don’t belong in your bag.
___ Choose 1 or 2 (at max!!) jewelry accessories for your trip. Chosen accessory should work with every outfit. I am bringing two long necklaces (not shown in videos).
___ Choose 2 pairs of shoes (max!) to wear while on your trip. One pair you will pack, the other (the bulkiest) you will wear for travel.
___ Think creatively. I packed a skirt that could also be worn as a dress. I also packed a rash guard that can be layered under tees or just worn like a normal long sleeve shirt. The more versatile each piece is, the more outfits you end up with.
Step 3: Pack
Most people assume that packing light has to do entirely with HOW you pack rather than what you pack. This isn’t true. If you haven’t done the Edit step well, there’s no amount of packing knowledge that can fit too many clothes into a suitcase.
___ Take out your bulkiest outfit. This is what you’ll wear to travel in.
___ Shoes always go on the bottom. If you have closed toe shoes, fill the cavities with rolled socks/underwear/etc.
___ Roll tops and bottoms by category (as shown in video 3)
___ Roll socks, panties, other undergarments individually and stuff into the free space around the larger (tops, bottoms, etc) rolled clothing.
___ Put items you’ll need on the plane or immediately upon arriving (phone chargers, eye mask, earplugs, etc) in a separate bag at the very top of the backpack for easy accessibility.
___ Always leave room so that you could take things in and out easily!! Your bag shouldn’t be bursting full. Packing your bag should be more like solving an easy Sudoku puzzle than a rubix cube. Traveling is stressful, and the last thing you need while having to roll through airport security is to have to figure out how exactly you stuffed everything into your bag in the first place.
___ Enjoy your vacation!!
Ps. For more videos, check out my YouTube channel!
Get all four sent to you today: Scarves, Necklaces, Closet Cleanouts, and Packing tips
So, maybe the last blog post hit you a little deep and you decided it’s time for a real, professional headshot. Doing some research and finding the right photographer is the easy part. It starts getting hard, and quite frankly- overwhelming, when we start thinking about everything else required like picking out an outfit, doing your hair, choosing makeup, etc.
I’m going to use the full body photo I just had taken last week (maybe you saw my live video, if not, watch it here and like my Facebook page so you don’t miss out on the next one!) to walk you through, step by step, how to choose an appropriate outfit for your business picture/headshot.
(Huge kuddos to Stephen at Giraffe Photography for the above picture)
As you can see in the above picture, I broke the decision process into four steps:
2. Color. Once I decided to wear a dress, and before I even started thinking about what dress I wanted to wear, I picked a color. Color is the easiest way to instantly send a message to your viewer and it’s also the easiest way to make you look younger and more vibrant or old and worn out. This goes without saying, but choose a color that looks good on you. Red looks good on me and it is also a strong, memorable color.
3. Fit. Now that I’ve decided on my garment type (dress) and color (red), I need to figure out what kind of dress I want. Once again, I wanted something feminine and sexy, but still business appropriate. I genetically have thin legs (thanks, mom!), so I always try to accentuate my waist, hips, and legs. I chose something that was most blousey on top to even out the fitted nature of the bottom of the dress (this keeps me from looking like a skank) and give me a more hourglass shape. Like most women, I am a pear shape with a bigger bottom half than top half (read: I have no boobs whatsoever). Just like choosing a color, the key is to find a fit that flatters. If you don’t have that perfect dress in your closet, don’t worry. Between friends, siblings, and rental companies, you can find exactly what you’re looking for at minimum cost (more on that later).
4. Accessories. Leaving out accessories is like walking away from a painting before you’ve finished painting. I like to keep accessories to minimum so that don’t distract, but I also make sure that the ones that I do wear are impactful. I am particularly a huge fan of pearls. Pearls can brighten up the face and are traditional enough that people don’t get distracted by them. After all, you want the viewer to focus on your face rather than your jewelry. Be sure to also think of your hair, nails, and makeup as an accessory. How can you alter each of these items to enhance your natural look without making yourself look fake or contrived?
Let’s talk money. Some people can hire an Image Consultant like myself to tell them exactly what to wear, go shopping with them, and recommend hair salons for hair and makeup the day of. However, the majority of us don’t have a pretty penny budgeted in for professional headshots. You’ve probably already taken the leap to hire a professional photographer and you’re dealing with the sticker shock (compared to those subpar free photo sessions your company provides occasionally) and thinking, ‘I can’t afford to go out and buy all new clothes!!’ These next few tips are for you:
I spent under $75 on the outfit you see above. The shoes I already owned, but those are basic black pumps that I could have easily borrowed from a friend. The dress ($55) and necklace ($10) came from Rent the Runway and since it was my first rental, I got an extra 20% off. I did a lot of online research to figure out what makeup would be the best and I did my own (pro tip: don’t use anything with SPF! It will reflect camera light and make you look greasy). I also did a lot of trial and error at home to make sure I knew how to create the hairstyle I wanted. All in all, the most expensive part was the clothing, but as the key component that makes this photo really stand out, I think it was worth it.
Good luck with your next photoshoot!!
If you liked what you read, you’ll probably enjoy my best-selling book: Dressing Your Personal Brand! Check out the first chapter below for free!
Thanks to the internet, headshots are more important now than ever. Way back before the age of the web, you used to get one headshot (usually only if you were somebody) in a blue moon and this picture was then put on your business cards and company pamphlets. Not everyone got headshots taken, and there was simply not the outlet to display them like there is now. Those times are far gone, though! As I type this, I can see my face in three different spots– and that’s just on my internet browser that has one page pulled up!
It’s important to note that I’m not some crazy egotistical person that feels the need to see my face everywhere. Rather, as an Image Consultant and Public Speaker I am (literally) the face of my brand and my headshot serves as a logo. That same headshot is on my website, facebook page, twitter, and business cards because I want my clients to instantly associate me with my brand.
No matter what business you are in, your face (or most commonly, your headshot) serves as a logo for your personal brand. Take a minute and look at your profile picture for LinkedIn, Facebook, and your business/company. What messages are these pictures sending? Is it all the same message, or several different ones? Now, ask yourself the big question- How much more could you benefit by sending the right message?
Creating the perfect headshot is a whole book within itself, but today I’m going to touch on a few of the most common mistakes when it comes to headshots.
Remember, every profile picture is a chance to show off your personal brand. Different headshots may make sense in different outlets (my Instagram headshot is much more relaxed than my more serious business card headshot) but they all need to convey the same message! So, stop wasting precious advertising space- figure out what you want to tell the world and start using headshots that relay your message loud and clear!
Questions about your headshot and what message it’s sending? Send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org), tweet (@friedmantalks), gram (@leslie_friedman), or message (Leslie Friedman) and I’d be happy to give you my opinion and some free advice.
Looking for more great career advice? You’ll love Chapter 3 of my best-selling ebook: Dressing Your Personal Brand. Go ahead and check out the (totally free!) first chapter below –>
Instagram envy. It starts off harmless enough. You might be scrolling through your favorite social media app (be it Instagram, Facebook, Twitter…) casually looking at friends’ pictures and posts when you find yourself sighing and thinking any number of negative thoughts.
Why don’t I eat beautiful food like that? Why isn’t my closet that clean? I wish my kids looked that pulled together. I wish I could be in Paris right now. Why do I have to be so fat/short/tall/pale/dark/[insert insecurity here]?
I feel that women are especially prone to insta-envy. Maybe it’s our unparalleled ability to compare ourselves to any and everything. Maybe it’s the fact that we tend to downplay our own lives, achievements, and self worth. Whatever the reason, it happens. The following are 5 helpful tips to getting through the envy and embracing it to make you a better person.
Number 1: Not only does it exist, but it affects you.
This is for people who aren’t sure if they have social media fueled envy. This is for the women that are painfully aware that they do have it. This if for everyone who thinks that Insta-envy exists for everyone else except themselves.
Despite where you fall on the spectrum, there are two common truths: Social media envy exists and it affects you.
Even my Chinchilla, Pierre, can’t hide from social media!
Our surroundings and experiences are constantly shaping our current and future actions. You may be very aware that you feel sad when you look at her (you know, that frienemy whose jet setting, gourmet foodie lifestyle you constantly lust after) grams or read her Facebook posts. Alternatively, you may feel nothing at all save from basic observations (‘that’s a pretty flower!’ ‘That restaurant looks like fun’ ‘That’s a cute child’), but even at this point, your mind is identifying what is ‘good’ (well dressed children) and filling away assumptions as to what is ‘bad’ (kids in mismatched clothes). We are always in the process of reacting to what we’ve been exposed to (ex: you are more cognizant about the pictures you take because you like seeing the beautiful pictures on your feed) and Instagram is no save haven. Which leads us to the following…
Number 2. It can make you a sad, miserable person…
…if you let it. See that second part? It’s really important. While you can’t control what your mind takes in (not completely, that is) you can control what you do with the information. When you see a friend dressed to the nines in high end designer clothing, you have a choice. You could ignore it. You could get jealous and hold a pity party (whyyy can’t I have beautiful things like that?) Or, you could react positively (that blouse really brings out the color in her eyes. I’m lucky to have such beautiful friends!) I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure which option I would choose.
Number 3: It can make you a mindful, appreciative person…
…if you let it. There it is again. Remember what I said above? The choice between positive and negative is totally up to you.
Start by targeting the cause of your envy. When you find yourself feeling jealous from a certain picture or post, ask yourself: what about this picture/post is causing the envy? Would I actually want that [insert cause of envy] even if I had it? What in my life would someone else be envious of? For the sake of example, let’s say the said envy inducing picture was a young lady in (probably skimpy) workout clothes who has a very fit body with the caption, ‘can’t wait to workout today!’ You see the picture, get jealous, and then ask yourself the above questions.
Maybe the thing causing jealousy is her fit body (that you assume you don’t have), her enthusiasm to workout, or even the fact that she looks great going to the gym (presumably…we’ll discuss that in point 5). Now, really ask yourself- would you want that fit body knowing what you have to do (workout…a lot) to get it? Would you feel comfortable showing off your body in those revealing clothes (if not, does that make a difference? Do you care more about what other people would think than about you being healthy?) Do you really wish you were super enthusiastic about working out? Or do you actually want to look like a made up model on the way to the gym? Often times, I feel like we really wouldn’t even like the point of envy if we had it. Having a super fit body may mean spending time at the gym instead of with your family. It may involve forgoing your favorite foods or restricting alcohol intake. You’d be surprised at how often we get envious over things that we really don’t care about at all.
Here’s an alternative. Instead of getting jealous, simply think about the awesome things in your life. What would other people be jealous of? Believe me, there’s always something. That roof over your head (not to mention everything under it!) would be a luxury for far too many people. What you need to do is retrain your brain. You love looking at beautiful Pinterest and Instagram pictures, right? Well, go through each day with mindfulness and really try to see the beauty around you. Often times, great grams are because the person responsible has an eye for seeing beauty in everyday things.
This was just your average Sunday at the local minor league ball park. Beautiful things (like this sky…and Coco) are all around you if you take the time to look.
If you notice a pattern in what you find envious, maybe it’s time for a change. If travel pictures make you insanely jealous, start considering what sorts of trips you can take with your time and budget (even short, weekend trips count!) If you are constantly coveting a fitter figure, get thee-self to a gym (or see a therapist if your body image concerns are extreme) and make an action plan to start eating better. When you are actively working towards a goal, you will start seeing those same posts and pics as inspiration towards said goal rather than silent shaming reminders that you aren’t working towards your dreams!
Seeing half marathon posts from my friends gave me the (unintended and very indirect) encouragement I needed to run my first half marathon. This picture is now a reminder to me what I’m capable of. (Btw- the term ‘run’ is used very loosely here. Think of it as more of a quick walk. Also- thank goodness for great filters and well placed hat shadows!)
Number 4: It can help elevate your personal brand.
You know I can’t have a post without talking about the all important personal brand! Your personal brand is what sets you apart from every other person in your office, town, state, and world. It’s what makes you, you and social media is simply an extension of your ‘you-ness’. When you feel jealousy over someone’s post, that means they have done something to elicit emotion in you. Now, turn the tables and ask yourself- ‘what kind of emotion do I elicit in other people?’ Is it joy? A hunger for knowledge? Happiness? I personally, would like for people to feel relaxed, inspired, and empowered to positive change when they are around me. For that reason, I choose to share and post positive, relate-able, and helpful (or just happy) items on social media. So, stop being jealous, start figuring out what you want people to think when they see your posts, and act accordingly. Coworkers, future bosses, clients, and your network will all be watching eagerly.
Something as simple as a to go coffee mug can help tell the world what you’re all about.
Number 5: Not everything you see is real.
This seems obvious, but a little reminder here and there is nice. A lot of grammers literally retake their pictures dozens of times to make sure everything is perfect. They Photoshop and filter their pictures far past the point of reality. While these pictures may be beautiful, they have deviated greatly from the original shot, and should probably be viewed more as art than ‘I woke up like this’ (which, you probably didn’t). Do you remember that gram from the half marathon above? While it’s not Photoshopped, I did look straight up rough in non-insta filter light…so believe me when I say not to believe everything you see. Oh, and that girl who is going to gym in full makeup? Yeah…she probably never made it there.
The big takeaway here? Use the power of Insta-envy to formulate goals (and action plans!!), become more mindful, and build your personal brand! Sure, you can delete Instagram or turn your phone off, but why do that when you could turn the tables and use it to your benefit? Now, go gett’m girl!
All Instagrams pictures are from my personal account: @leslie_friedman. The picture directly above was used on this blog with absolutely no consent from the subject. But she looks fabulous, no? I’m lucky to have such beautiful friends. 😉
*****Side Note****If you have major jealousy problems that affect your life significantly in a negative manner, you may benefit greatly from seeing a therapist or mental health professional. Likewise, seek out guidance if you have a self image that is drastically inconsistent with your peers (e.g. You think you’re fat and no one else does, you have an unhealthy obsession with traveling and wish to constantly escape your life, etc.) Additionally, if you feel that your self worth is based on the amount of positive feedback (likes, loves, etc) you receive on social media…talk it through with someone. There are trained professionals in every town who can help you retrain your brain and get the most out of life; use their expertise to start living a better, fuller life!*****************
There are a lot of beauty items that I can’t go without. My tweezers, because I’m pretty sure there are wooly mammoth genes running strong in my family. Moisturizers, because nothing is worse than being hairy and dry. And my razor, because…did I mention that my body generates hair faster than vines grow in a rain forest?
Then there’s the item that I never realized I couldn’t go without until I had it: my shower cap.
I know. I know. I sound like an 80 year old. But hear me out; shower caps are ahhhmazing. I didn’t realize how much stress I had in my life until I bought one (and successfully eliminated said stress).
There are two ways that I use my shower cap most often: in the shower (shocker, I know) and on my face (we’ll get to that in a moment).
The first seems pretty basic. When I’m showering and don’t want to get my hair wet, I pull out the trusty shower cap. Hair stylists and experts alike will tell you that washing your hair every day is not the best path to take. Daily lathering and rinsing can strip your hair of the very oils it needs to stay silky, shiny, and strong. This is great news to me because I’m not the kind of person who likes to carve an hour out of my day to style my hair. An hour every two or three days? Now that is something I can handle. I may only be a few steps removed from your grandmother (you know, the one who goes to the ‘beauty parlor’ to get her hair done once a week, every week), but as long as my hair is looking fabulous, you can hold your judgements.
When my shower cap isn’t hanging out covering my hair, it’s covering my face. In fact, I bought my cap for the sole purpose of wearing it over my face. Stay with me here. Have you ever spent forever getting ready and making sure your makeup is just right? Then, you pull on that cute white blouse in ultra slow motion to make sure that your face gets nowhere near the fabric only to realize after this painful process that foundation SOMEHOW got on the neckline. You then spend the next five minutes angrily analyzing your dressing technique, the next 10 removing the blouse (hellooo more makeup), and then 20 more minutes laundering it with special soap to make sure it doesn’t stain.
I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me.
Enough times, apparently, to go shopping for shower caps to wear on my face. (In case you’re wondering, I picked this jazzy polyester one up in the clearance section of my local walmart for just under $2.) Two little dollars and my life changed forever. I can now pull on clothes with reckless abandon. I can try on as many clothes as I want post makeup without having to worry about time. I haven’t bought a bottle of stain remover in years. Okay, that last one isn’t quite true, but that’s just because I am messy not because of makeup issues.
If you haven’t already, you should try it. After seeing me use the full face shower cap to get dressed several times, my husband marveled, “you should sell those”. My somewhat bewildered response was, “what? Why?” (As someone who always thinks in terms of profit margin, marketability, and market share, selling a product you could free at most hotels seems a little far fetched to me). He then proceded to say that I should make them and sell them because it was so cool how I never got make up on my clothes now. “You made that one, didn’t you?” was his reasoning. Oooh. Now this made sense. I had to break the news to him that it was really just a shower cap. Intrigue and fascination = immediately smothered (along with the business idea).
You know what isn’t smothered, though? My hair. Because my shower cap is roomy enough for even the biggest bouffant. Which works out great when I have my hair done and I’m working on my makeup, but need my ‘do’ to ‘don’t’ interfere. If you’ve ever gotten an wisp of hair in your eyelashes while you’re applying mascara you know the importance of this. If you don’t, just wait until you mindlessly move that hair out of the way and watch the mascara trail it leaves across your face. #winning. Unless you like that sort of getting ready fun, might I suggest a shower cap? It is after all, a much more fashionable option than the hair net.
Regardless of where I am or who I am talking to, that inevitable question comes up: what do you do? Except, unlike most people, I am usually asked that question twice. Once at the beginning of a conversation and then again after I say what I do. It goes something like this:
Person at dog park/networking event/meeting: What do you do?
Me: I am an Image Consultant and Public Speaker.
Them: So…what exactly does that mean?
I’ve heard it so many times that I have a tactic for dealing with this issue. For starters, I make sure that I ask them what they do before they ask me. Then, I elaborate on my title in a way that makes sense to them. For example: If they work in the school system I may say, ‘I am an Image Consultant and Public Speaker. I often talk to college students about the importance of personal branding and their appearance when they go to career fairs, etc’. It may not clear all the confusion, but it helps to draw a connection between their career and my own.
I think it’s the C-word that throws everyone off. Consultant? How do you consultant images? Do you just go around telling people they look bad? For the record, the answer to that last question is ‘no’. Everyone has attributes that they love about themselves. I help them identify and showcase these attributes in a way that builds confidence and self esteem. My goal as an image consultant is to help individuals look the way they wish to be perceived. For example, if a client wishes to be seen as professional, hard working, creative, and globally versed, I help them adjust their image to be seen as those characteristics. I also help clients find their personal style, clean out their closets, and dress appropriately for their careers.
And then there’s the speaking thing. The vast majority of people do not speak for a living, so when you meet someone who does, it seems strange. But just think about it. Every time you go to a conference, club meeting, organization (even Rotary or Kiwanis), or Chamber of Commerce special event there are individuals who deliver presentations. I am that individual. There’s a reason why you are getting charged $35 to enjoy a $12 salad during your lunch hour. The rest of the money goes to the hosting organization and to the guest speaker. Often times these individuals are people who have some interesting outlook or perspective and seek to share that with others. I am passionate about personal branding as it relates to a person’s appearance. I truly feel that you can leverage your appearance and personal brand to help you achieve your goals. Each time I speak, I seek to deliver applicable, interesting information in a way that is entertaining and easy to understand. The main point of the message is always the same (the importance of your appearance in personal branding!!) but the overall topic may vary based on the audience. One week I may give advice to college students about their personal brand while the next I am coaching salespeople in a major corporation as to how their appearance can help, or hurt, sales.
If a decent amount of people ask me the ‘so, what exactly is it that you do?’ question to my face, I am willing to bet there are dozens more out there who wonder the same thing. Hopefully this short post will satiate your curiosity, although it doesn’t go so far as to answer the question I’ve been asked once or twice: what exactly do you do all day? That will just have to wait for another time.
ps. If you’re interesting in learning more about my speaking topics or image consulting services for individuals, click on the link above titled ’empower my…’ and then choose the option most applicable to you. 🙂
It’s a Sunday afternoon and you are strolling through the grocery store focused on remembering which cereal your 8 year old wants (this week) when all of sudden you turn a corner and spot your boss. You immediately look for a place to hide. It’s not that you don’t want to talk about work (which you don’t) but rather that you don’t want to run into the person who pays you to be a professional, while wearing a ratty t-shirt and sweatpants. It’s a Sunday, and you aren’t at work, but you still don’t want to leave that image in their mind.
As awkward as this situation is, especially when you are recognized despite your avid attempts to hide behind the first product available (great. now your boss also thinks you are incredibly interested in the children’s game on the back of the Fruit Loops box), at least you recognize something very important- It matters what you wear outside work.
It’s not fair, but it is true: you are constantly being observed, and judged.
You don’t want your boss to see you because they (hopefully) have a professional image of you that you’d rather not have shattered. They know it’s the weekend, but that doesn’t keep them from thinking, ‘wow, Leslie sure looked rough the other day.’ Most of us want to look somewhat respectable in front of our employers, and we realize that not doing so could potentially hurt our careers. This especially true if you work in a professional services based field. (Think about it- would you want a lawyer from your firm walking around Walmart in an offensive t-shirt? Probably not.)
What we don’t often realize, though, is that sartorially slacking off could hurt our careers- even if the boss is no where in sight.
Nobody understands better than someone working in a client driven field that customers are everywhere. Whether you are a realtor, sales representative, or entrepreneur, future clients are everywhere that we are. I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve been able to tell about my consulting services while hanging out at the dog park, in line at the grocery store, or even in the gym locker room. It is, after all, the logical thing to talk about after that first oh so typical ‘so, what do you do?’ question. As an image consultant I have to be very particular about how I look most of the time (it’s very difficult to make someone believe you are an image consulting professional while you are wearing gross paint covered workout clothes while taking the dog on a walk. Trust me, I’ve tried.) And, I would argue that if you are in a field that offers professional services, that you should too. All it takes is one pulled together outfit for the conversation to move from “oh, that’s an interesting job” to “oh, how fascinating. I could really use your services with my business”. Your appearance can produce strong psychological effects like that. Embrace it.
Side Note- This also works the other way around: if you’re the boss. Employees who see their supervisor looking rough or inappropriate (think mini dress at a bar) are likely to let those observations affect their opinions of you.
If you aren’t in a professional service job, don’t think I’m going to let you off the hook scotch free. Your appearance matters too. Instead of running into potential clients, everyday you are running into potential employees and employers. No job is safe (sorry) and there’s no guarantee that you will be gainfully employed in six months or searching for something bigger and better. Every time your appearance makes others think something of you that is not in line with your personal brand- you run the risk or hurting your career. The last thing you want is to realize that the person you were chatting it up with at the dog park is actually the perfect person to help you get your dream job a few months down the road (when all they can remember was ‘she didn’t strike me as being very pulled together’).
So, am I encouraging you to wear a suit every time you go to CVS? Of course not. That’s just stupid. What I am saying, however, is to figure out how you want to be perceived (ie: your personal brand) and then follow the 90/10 rule. 90% of the time, look the way you want to be perceived. 10% of the time, life happens. I would lie if I said I’ve never been in the grocery store at 2am in pajamas buying all the Pepto-Bismol I can get my hands on (while googling if it’s safe for the animals too).
Say you want to be perceived as a professional who is organized and good at time management. You can still dress casual while portraying these characteristics. Simply make sure your clothes are ironed before going into (and thus coming out) of your closet and that your garments are clean and fit well.
Here’s a good example of someone (who wants to be seen as a professional) dressing casually:
And here’s a bad example:
Okay, that’s probably a little extreme for a bad example, but you get the point. Avoid sloppy and aim for clothes that actually fit. My secret is to have a go-to outfit ready any time I need to leave the house in a hurry. This is generally a nice pair of jeans (I like J.Crew) and a pressed oxford button down paired with cute flats. If I don’t have an ironed shirt, I have several semi-fitted lightweight sweaters that also work well.
Looking like you care, no matter where you are headed will make a difference. I promise! The more consistent you keep your personal brand (including what you’re wearing!!) the stronger your brand (and as a result, your networks, your career, your sphere of influence) will become.
Maybe I’m aging myself, but when I was applying for college the big hot topic for essays was always something related to diversity. How have you encountered diversity? How have you encouraged diversity? Etc, etc. While diversity is still important, it seems to have been replaced as a college essay forerunner by something else: personal branding.
I work with a decent amount of high school upperclassmen on a daily basis and the issue of personal branding seems to keep rearing its ugly head no matter what college or university is involved. Why the ugly head? Personal branding is a tricky subject. It’s really tricky if you are a teenager and don’t have a clue what you plan on doing tomorrow, let alone how you plan on marketing yourself for some indefinite span of time. So, how do you find, let alone try to describe, what your personal brand is when you are still in the process of figuring out who you are? Read on for 3 things to consider.
Think of yourself at the beginning of a marketing stage. When Nabisco first thought up the concept of Oreos, they didn’t have all the fine details of the brand hammered out. They simply wanted to make a cookie that was yummy, chocolatey, and creme filled. They started with the absolute basics of the product. Likewise, you have to start with the absolute basics of what makes you uniquely you. Maybe it’s your positive attitude, your intelligence, or your competitive nature. Instead of trying to pull together a whole brand for an incomplete product (we are all in the process of discovering ourselves), work on understanding the fundamental attributes that make you, you.
Still confused? Feel free to leave a comment below or email me at email@example.com.
Want to learn more about personal branding? Check out my best-selling ebook: Dressing Your Personal Brand. Go ahead and check out the (totally free!) first chapter below –>
I’m not usually an awards show kind of person, but I did tune into the Oscars last weekend if only to watch Chris Rock hate on Hollywood. Even if you didn’t watch his opening monologue (or anything else) you know that Rock came down hard on Hollywood for being racist and really drove the #OscarsSoWhite stake into the coffin. He also addressed, albeit briefly, another -ism in Hollywood: Sexism.
For several years now, Hollywood has been shamed for asking women different questions on the red carpet (namely, what are you wearing?) than men (who get questions such as, ‘what did you enjoy most about your role?’) Actresses such as Reese Witherspoon have taken a stand and asked journalists to ask them more than superficial things like how long it took them to get ready for the red carpet. Not surprisingly, there’s a catchy little hashtag that goes along with this effort that is appropriately titled- #askhermore.
Cate Blanchett calls out the E! camera crew in this famous GIF
While I agree with the fact that Hollywood is far from the point of gender equality, there are 3 important things to consider when approaching this topic:
1. It hasn’t always been this way.
In 2015, Hollywood Reporter wrote: “Ryan Seacrest tried eliminating the “Who are you wearing” question in 2010, and was criticized heavily for it. “Hey Ryan, Talk to the Dress” read a New York Times style column headline that detailed the backlash from fashion bloggers. ‘It was almost like he wasn’t that interested in the designers,’ designer Nicole Miller said. ‘He seemed more interested in the celebrities and their careers.'” The article goes on to say, “Joan Rivers once said that when she first asked “who are you wearing,” the New York Times criticized her for “improper grammar” and said nobody cared about what designers people wore. In 1999, the mother-daughter team were bumped off the carpet 30 minutes early and was replaced by Geena Davis. “And she gave all of these interviews beforehand and a press conference and guaranteed everyone that she would not ask actresses who they are wearing. ‘It is about the actors,’ ” Melissa Rivers told VF. “And then, literally, 10 seconds into her first interview with Helen Hunt, which I still remember, and [Geena] was clearly out of questions, she asked, ‘And … who are you wearing?’ ” (Read the whole article here.) To be clear, I’m not saying that because it’s been tried before with low rates of success we should abandon the #askhermore movement. Rather, we should try to figure out what is really happening here and dig a little deeper.
2. It’s not just “Hollywood”
‘Hollywood’ is an easy term to throw around (and under a bus) because it is an abstract idea that combines several different industries and lots of different people. Hollywood isn’t just famous people, but it’s the machines that give their fame a stage. It’s the movie industry (and the millions involved), the theatre industry, the music industry, etc. It’s also the people that help make the famous who they are. They are the stylists, the makeup artists, the public relations wizards. And then there’s the media. All of these people play into what we refer to as ‘Hollywood’ (and I didn’t even mention award show judges). It’s easy to place blame on something far away and abstract. Why do you think so many people blame the government for anything and everything? In order for racism, sexism, or any other -ism to disappear, each industry and individual needs to start thinking differently. They need to ask questions like, “why can’t an Asian play this role?”, “why can’t we ask everyone deeper questions on the runway?”, “why not write/nominate a film told from a woman’s point of view?” But here’s the thing. This isn’t just ‘Hollywood’s’ fault; it’s also our own. Why do you think the whole red carpet extravaganza exists anyhow? It’s not for the actresses and actors being honored. Hell, they’d probably rather have a private cocktail party with each other then peacock around answering questions. But, that’s not what we want. We, the general public, want to see the stars in all their glory. We want to hear snippets of their lives (even if it’s just what they are wearing). We are the force driving the ratings that decide the event. If no one tuned into the red carpet part of any awards show, do you think it would still exist? I guarantee it would get nixed as quickly as Joan and Melissa Rivers in 1999.
3. This is a great opportunity
Women (and men) should see this as an opportunity to stand out. The actors and actresses that go to award shows are both beautiful and talented. If they weren’t somewhat attractive, they wouldn’t be on the screen (sorry if you weren’t aware of this American reality/tragedy) and if they weren’t talented, they wouldn’t be at the award shows. What differs you from your fellow actress/actor isn’t necessarily how beautiful/talented you are, but rather, who you are. And what better time is there than on national television to show the world who you are. You might say that the stars can’t show their true selves because they aren’t asked the right questions. That’s like saying you did poorly at a job interview because they didn’t ask the right questions. In a job interview, you know what you want to get across to the audience, and you find a way to do it. Maybe you change the questions in your favor, maybe you take control of the conversation and lead it to where you want it to go. If you want the audience (the employee) to know what you’re all about, you find a way to do it. Likewise, if you really want to tell the world what you’re all about, find a way to do it. Obviously not many people are doing this, but the ones that do (Cate Blanchett, Reese Witherspoon) are really setting themselves apart (in a good way). We have a lot of control over what our appearance tells people. Actresses and actors have full control over what they wear. Why not turn it into a statement? “I decided to wear Diane Von Furstenburg tonight because I admire her activism when it comes to women’s rights.” “No one should have to die for a piece of jewelry and that is why I am only wearing Brilliant Earth diamonds tonight.” “The only thing important about my skincare regime is my sunscreen. One great thing about xyz movie [I was nominated for] was that I had the opportunity to talk to people in [insert area of film] about the importance of skin cancer screening and prevention. Every hour, one person dies of melanoma, and that is one person too many.” Why isn’t anyone answering those superficial questions like this? Regardless of what the nature of the question is and whether it will ever change- we will always have the power to answer in any way we please. The women that answer the questions in a way that is different and true to themselves will be set apart.
We can cry, shout, and complain as much as want about sexism in Hollywood, but nothing will change without action on all fronts. If you want things to change, understand that you may be part of the problem, take action to make a difference, and support the celebrities that take a chance by being vulnerable and integrating their passion into their presence.
What do you think about sexism in Hollywood and/or the #askhermore campaign? I’d love to hear your comments.
At the risk of sounding really nerdy, I just want to throw this out there: sometimes I read research articles. Okay. Actually I may or may not have (but definitely did) get a library card with the sole intent of accessing databases like Ebscohost. So there’s that.
Usually the articles I read are clothing related (shocking, I know) and many of them present information that isn’t wholly revolutionary. However, in every research article, there is always a jewel. It might be a statistic that is fresh and undiscovered. It might be a quote that makes me think about the same old topic in a new way. Whatever it is, I savor those little moments.
Tonight I was reading, “Consumers’ clothing disposal behaviour – a synthesis of research results” by Kirsi Laitala. It was essentially a compilation of other studies dealing with why and how people dispose of clothing. Like I said before, nothing too radically new…but there was one sentence that struck me:
“Many consumers also reported on having inactive clothing in their wardrobes.”
Inactive clothing? We’ve all heard of active clothing…but never have I ever heard of clothing described as inactive. The author isn’t talking about clothing that is used for non-athletic purposes. Rather, she literally means clothing that isn’t getting any action (at least not on your body). These are the articles of clothing that just hang in our closets season after season waiting for us to lose 10 pounds, grow 5 inches, or suddenly start liking the color pink. We all have these ‘space wasters’ (as I like to call them) but how wonderful to call them inactive!
So here’s a question. How active are your clothes? Are you getting the most out of every piece? Or do you have pieces that haven’t seen the daylight for years? If you’re not sure…just start with the ones that still have tags. Those are the epitome of inactive.
A smart wardrobe, no matter how big or how small, should be filled with active clothing. (And, no, I’m still not talking yoga pants. Although, there is a time and place for those too.) As you being to pack away your winter wardrobe, I encourage you to ask yourself how much action each item has received over the past few months. If the numbers are lingering (or non-existent), it may be time to pass that garment on to a better place.
Having trouble letting go of those inactive clothes? Think of them this way. They’re like that good looking guy that isn’t ready for a relationship and isn’t anywhere near your #1 fan. He may be good looking, but why waste time on someone that isn’t going to give you want you need. Get rid of him (don’t worry, he’ll find someone else that fits him much better) and get on with your (well dressed) life.
Congratulations! You’ve survived years of rigorous academia complete with 8 am classes and 5 hour finals. The senioritis has kicked in and you’re officially on your last lap of your undergraduate career…when it hits you. You might need a job. Or an interview outfit. Or maybe just some clue as to what you’re expected to look like at your upcoming interview (you know, at that hipster startup that haaates suits). Here are solutions to three of the biggest issues you’ll probably encounter.
Problem #1: You graduate in a few months and you kind of need a job.
Solution: Hopefully this isn’t new news to you, but you are actually paying for a lot more than just the classes you take while at college. Every college and university has a career center of professionals who want to help you get a job- use it to your advantage (you are paying for it, afterall). The earlier you start the better you’ll be. Go to every possible workshop and event that fits into your schedule. Ask questions. Get your resumed revised (again and again). Practice interviews. If you are an undergrad and your school permits you, start going to career fairs just to get a feeling for what they are like. Watch people. See who is ‘doing it well’ and who isn’t. Write down the qualities you see in students that seem to be getting lots of positive feedback from employers and file it away. When you go to the career fair to actually look for a job you will be more laid back and experienced than anyone else there.
Problem #2: You just landed your first interview! However, you’ve been so busy working on your resume and writing cover letters that you realize you have nothing to wear. Cue: panic mode.
Solution: Take three deep breaths (a glass of wine may also be necessary) and go to your closet. You may not have a suit, but you might have some appropriate separates that look like a suit. Think of everything in your closet as individual pieces. Do you have a great pair of black slacks, or neutral pencil skirt? What about a white button down shirt? Maybe you have a fitted blazer. Identify the pieces that you already have. Now figure out what you still need. For example, let’s say you have a black pair of dress pants, nice shoes, and a blouse. In this case, all you really need to pull the look together is a blazer. Ask friends your size if they have something appropriate. If all cases fail, go buy the piece you need. Buying an entire suit is also a good idea, but it’s often not in the short term budget of many college students. When you do have the finances to buy a nice suit, be sure to go shopping when you aren’t under pressure (as in…the interview is tomorrow and I need something to wear now!) I’ve seen so many wardrobe mistakes (and financial mistakes) happen this way.
Problem #3: You have an interview, but you’re not sure what to wear.
Solution: Get your creep on. If anyone knows how to creep, it’s your generation. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, just ask yourself these questions: When was the last time you looked up a high school classmate on Facebook to see what they’re doing now. Or how about the last time you hunted down a possible connection (via 3 other connections) on linkedin? When did you last Google someone who works at a company that you’re eyeing? See where I’m going with this? Our generation creeps so much (although, ‘researching’ sounds much nicer) that it’s practically second nature. So, put those skills to work and do a little creeping in person. Sometime before the interview go stake out a spot at the local coffee shop across the street from your future place of employment. Then, just watch people as they come to or from work. Notice what they are wearing, how they are acting. Notice their body language and how conservative their dress is. You will need to remember that companies have all sorts of employees from janitors to upper management, but observing the general workforce will give you a great indicator of how to look. Side note: Always dress a notch more formal than whatever you observe.
Now, put away the xanax and put on your big kid pants and go conquer the world (of work)!
I was at a meeting last night when a friend asked, “how do you know what fashion blogs to follow? There are so many of them and I often find that the ‘above 40’ ones use clothes that are either really expensive or over the top.” It was an excellent question. How do you find that perfect blog that you will end up creepily following and referencing like you know the person personally? It’s actually easier than you think, and it’s all in how you search.
It all comes down to how you are looking.
As with anything else, you need to know what you are looking for. Do you want style inspiration that you can copy directly (ie: go out and buy the outfit and wear it to work the next day)? Do you want to entertain yourself by looking at outfits that you wouldn’t wear in everyday life? Are you looking for work appropriate inspiration or for more causal laid back looks? I would recommend that you make a list of what you are looking for in a blog. Like I said, there are lots of blogs out there, so finding the perfect match for you might not be as hard as you think!
My hypothetical list for my friend would probably read something like this:
While you may assume that searching for “fashion blogs” on google may lead you to the holy grail, you might end up disappointed (as my friend was). Instead, try these:
Top 3 Ways to Search for Blogs
3. Search for the entire blog. This is generally what we are doing when we search “fashion blogs + women over 40). If you want to search for the entire blog, but you aren’t having any success with your current keywords, try changing up your search criteria. Here are several words you can use to find blogs that cater to your wish list:
An example search of blog + style + teacher + casual = led me to this blog: https://thestyleteacher.wordpress.com/. Although the author is probably in her 30’s, her outfit ideas would still be applicable to my friend.
2. Search for individual posts. We don’t often think to search for individual posts, but it can be very handy in finding a good blog. Instead of searching for the concept of the whole blog, think about what you want in the posts. If you’re looking for something like daily inspiration try searching ‘blog’ and any combination of the following: ootd, style, daily, look, what I wore, etc. You may end up finding a great blog post and (of course) the fabulous blog that is attached.
1. Think outside the Google. Can I hear an amen for the person who created Pinterest? Often times, pins are taken from blogs, so it can be one of the easiest ways to find a great blog. I typed in ‘style over 40’ to the search bar on Pinterest and this is what popped up:
I didn’t even search for blogs and look what showed up! The nice thing about Pinterest is that you can see immediately if you like the style or not, instead of spending hours testing out different search words and browsing different blog posts. I’m a very visual person, so I actually use Pinterest as a search engine as much as I use Google or Bing (especially if I’m looking for something creative or fashion related).
Bonus points: Once you find a blog that really speaks to you, see who they follow. Many blogs will feature a list of other blogs that are similar to their own. You never know what kind of gem you might stumble upon.
Ah, January. The time of new beginnings. The time of the year that we decide to be someone else who lives better, eats better, and is just a better person in general. Yeah, there’s always the smart aleck that pledges to start smoking and gain weight, but even these sarcastic jokers would take some self improvement if it was offered to them.
What generally pops up on the top ten list for New Year’s Resolutions? Lose weight, stop smoking, be healthy, get out of debt…GET ORGANIZED. Yeah, that’s right, get organized. Sometimes we choose it because it’s the least daunting of the goals (I mean…who really wants to give up hot fudge sundaes for the indefinite future?!?!) and it still seems like we are doing something worthwhile. Which we are…if we actually ever take action on it.
If you’re that person that has decided to get organized this year (motives aside) I can make things really easy for you. Here’s what you need to do:
1: Enter the space you need to organize
2: Pick up each item in your space and ask yourself, “Do I love this item?” or (if it’s a bit more of a utilitarian item…read: stapler) “does this make my life better?” If the answer is yes, keep it. If the answer is no, throw it away, sell it, or donate it. Yes, it’s really that easy.
You know that feeling you get when you pull out your favorite dress? Or your favorite pair of jeans? (for a long time this was a pair of Gap jeans that were xtra-long and wrongly sized in my favor). That flutter of love and excitement because you feel incredible in what you wear? That’s the love I’m talking about. Life is too short for, “It does it’s job, I guess”. Unless you’re talking about paper clips, raise your standards a bit. Follow in the words of Williams Morris, “Have nothing in your house that you don’t know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
When you start really questioning whether you like (let alone love) your own belongings, you’ll be surprised with how much you’re willing to let go. So, let it go. Maybe even sell it and then use the money to buy things you actually love. It will be much easier than you think.
No matter what your age, or your style, one of these 5 holiday styles is waiting for you this season!
1) Black and White with Pearls All Over
2) Young and Wild
Thanksgiving is only a few short work days away and soon, airports and highways will be packed with friends and family members heading to see one another.
If you’re lucky, you might get Thursday and Friday off from work. This, however, means that you could be working late on Wednesday to try and finish any last minute items. So there you are. It’s midnight before your 5am flight and you’re staring into an empty suitcase hoping it might magically fill itself. And if that’s not enough, there’s the whole question of what to wear for Thanksgiving Dinner. It’s not exactly like you can just show up to your parent’s dining table in sweatpants…or can you?
While sweatpants may be your ultimate choice for comfort, resist the urge to don them to the dinner table. Think of it this way: your host has labored over making the perfect meal, setting the table, and preparing for guests. The least you can do to show your respect is to look like a proper human being at the dinner table. You wouldn’t wear jeans and t-shirt to a wedding, would you? Of course not. That would be horribly offensive to the bride and groom who have gone out of their way to make you part of a great event. The same applies for Thanksgiving, and I would argue- all dinner parties.
Even if the invite says ‘casual’, still make the effort to look presentable. Casual, for the record, is not the same as ‘I woke up like this’ #nofilter. Instead, take the time to do your hair and make sure your shirt is pressed. You might be wearing an oxford with jeans and flats, but you can still look respectful of your host. After all, she/he has spent all day dressing the turkey. The least you can do is dress yourself properly.
If you’re stumped about what to wear and aren’t getting any guidance from your host, try these easy solutions:
It doesn’t get much easier than a dress. If you’re traveling- choose a wrinkle free option like a knit or polyester. Picture from here.
You can’t go wrong with a white button down and black pants. Bonus points: every part of this outfit works well beyond the dining room. Photo from here.
If you want to go down a more formal path, a full midi skirt is a perfect option. The key is to make sure the skirt’s waistband hits just above the waist (this gives your stomach plenty of room to flex). A button down shirt or light wool sweater would look beautiful with this skirt also.
Everyone’s holiday gatherings are different and I’d love to hear about what you wear to yours.
Check out the poll on my Facebook and let me know what you’ll be wearing this Thursday! Click here to vote.
Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels!
The announcement of new trends always gives me mixed feelings.
On the one hand, it’s very exciting. I’m a fashionista at heart who thinks fashion is art and I don’t mind going out on a limb and wearing items that are a bit more out of the ordinary. I think the evolution of styles is incredibly intriguing and each new trend is just fuel to the fashion flame.
On the other hand, trends are aggravating. As an image consultant, I spend every day talking to clients about their appearance. Trends can be one of the most confusing things for clients (I am I too old to wear this? Should I invest in this, or is it going to become passé in a year?). A lot of times, I encourage people, especially those who get hung up on trends, to opt for a more classic route and even buck trends all together.
With that said, I am going to hash out some of the biggest trends of this Fall/Winter. If you’re a daring fashionista- this may not be the right article for you. If you live a life that calls for more mainstream fashion- tune in! I’ve researched several trends across websites like Vogue, POPSUGAR, Elle, etc. I will be using the trends POPSUGAR suggested due to their conciseness (they really focused in on the main trends instead of supplying a laundry list of items) For the full POPSUGAR article, click here. Pictures are from POPSUGAR.
Fall 2015 Trends
Leslie’s Take: A lot of these bohemian pieces are too long for the average person to wear (without looking squat). Many of the skirts also have flounces at the bottom that are not flattering. Over the top boho embellishment is hard to wear multiple times before people start to notice that you’ve worn the same dress 7 times in the past 2 weeks (you won’t get your money out of it). Unless you are 22, live in New York and work in fashion…avoid. If you do want to try this trend- choose something you would be happy wearing again in the spring…because that’s essentially what it looks like: spring fashion.
Leslie’s Take: Capes are wonderful! Don’t buy a cape if: 1. you will fidget with it or 2. you don’t know what to wear under it (unless you seek help, you will never wear it). Choose a cape that is 3/4 of your body in length (otherwise, you’ll like like a lampshade) and will coordinate with pieces you already own.
Leslie’s Take: Culottes work for tall, thin people who work in extremely fashion forward environments. In other words- Avoid. There aren’t many people that can wear culottes and make them look good. Their time in the spotlight will probably be brief.
Leslie’s Take: Fringe is a great trend because there is so much you can do (or not do) with it. While someone younger may choose to buy a fringed mini dress or suede fringed jacket from Forever 21, it can also manifest itself in more mature ways. The scarf pictured above is a more versatile option that would be a wise long term investment. Main point- anyone can do fringe. In general, the amount of fringe you wear should be a sliding scale based on your age (more fringe- younger, less fringe- older).
5. The Color Grey
Leslie’s Take: Anyone can wear grey. You can’t go wrong investing in grey pieces, so take this trend to town! Just to make sure you select the right color grey. Not to get all art school, color theory on you, but…some greys are more blue and some are more red. Be sure to choose ones that compliment your complexion and not wash you out.
6. Shiny Fabrics
Leslie’s Take: Remember what I said about the fringe? The same applies here. Anyone can wear shiny fabrics, however, the older you get the more you should tone it down. Think- blouse with metallic details paired with tailored pants rather than the back to the future mini dress above if you are older.
Leslie’s Take: Pastels are tricky. If you have a dark complexion, pastels are your bff. If you are like me (ahem, pasty as mayonnaise in the middle of the winter) pastels can make you look like you belong in a newborn’s nursery, not a chic event. Pastels are also very taste specific. Don’t buy anything pastel unless you truly love the color AND it looks good on you. If you can’t fulfill both of those requirements, skip it.
Leslie’s Take: I LOVE plaids. There are so many sophisticated plaids (like the one above) to choose from now days. Tip: pick out a plaid that has both browns and blacks in it. This will give you the versatility to wear it with both browns (and navy) and also blacks. There’s a reason the Burberry plaid has been around for so long. Embrace it!
Leslie’s Take: Maybe you’ve heard the expression- “If you wore it the first time around, don’t wear it again”? Yeah…that applies to shearling. If you’ve never owned anything shearling before and you’d like to have fun with this trend- by all means go for it! If you’re one of us who has worn it before, I would let this trend go by. If not, you’ll end up looking like you’re trying to rehash the 70’s.
As I pointed out, this is just a general guideline for the ‘average’ person who is considering what trends may or may not work for them. Remember, the best accessory is always confidence and with confidence you can wear anything.
Image Consultants get to have lots of fun discussions with their clients. We talk about shoes, handbags, the best way to style a blazer for the weekend. We chat over wine about which glasses will be the most flattering and which hairstyle best accentuates your face. We’ll dig into the inner psychology of body language and help you harness it to be more powerful, approachable, or polished.
However, there is one conversation that I don’t like engaging in as much, but it’s just as important to your image as body language, clothing, hair, and accessories. Yes, it’s your weight.
To be clear, it’s not my job to tell you that you are too fat or too skinny. (The term ‘fat’ in and of itself is a ridiculous one because it is so relative…case in point: have you ever heard someone use the term ‘skinny fat’?) No, my job isn’t to assess your weight and condemn you; my job is to help you portray a certain set of qualities through your appearance. And let’s face it: It’s hard to convince someone that you are disciplined when you are morbidly obese (remember- chances are they aren’t aware of a surgical complication that may have caused the weight gain). It’s equally as difficult to convince someone that you are worthy of respect when your bones are protruding through your skin in an unnatural manner and you don’t look like you even respect yourself (once again- most people don’t automatically assume a medical complication).
Obviously, there’s a lot of middle ground between obese and underweight, but I’m not too concerned about those people. We’re not the ones having that conversation. If you are in-between the extremes (which most of us are) you are most likely, relatively healthy. The key is to keep your body in a condition that is healthy for your height and body type. I say ‘condition’ rather than weight because how you feel is much more important than what the scale says. When you feel healthy and fit, you know it; you don’t need a scale to confirm your emotions.
So what does this have to do with the Church? I want you to understand my full view on body image before we talk about it in a Christian context.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine started an exercise class combining stretching, aerobic fitness, and at the end- a short devotional. The class is open to women of all ages (chair routines are available for those who have joint issues and need a lower impact workout) and all denominations. You don’t even need to be a Christian to join or even go to church. She told me that the class was designed to reach people with the love of God in a non-traditional way. How fantastic! While the class was wonderfully refreshing, welcoming, and fun, it made we wonder (and not for the first, second, or third time in my life) why the Church so often glosses over the fields of health and fitness. Why is doing something healthy ‘non-traditional’ when it comes to the Church?
I mean, think about it. When was the last time your pastor preached about the sin of gluttony? Have you ever heard of a congregation rally together to do a 5k or even a mile walk? I was raised in the Methodist denomination, and if there’s one thing Methodists are great at, it’s a mean pot luck. I don’t think too many other denominations are that far off. If you count the number of food get togethers you have in your church compared to the number of health or fitness related activities, there’s absolutely no comparison.
So here’s the big question: WHY?
Here’s a few suggestions (with, of course, my devil’s advocate responses):
1. It’s a really touchy subject and we don’t want to offend anyone. As pointed out above, there is a big difference between healthy and unhealthy (whether that be too big or too small). It’s far more of a grey zone than say, being gay or cheating on your spouse, or not reading your Bible even. Although, you don’t find a lot of pastors who have a hard time sermonizing on the above issues. Plus, isn’t it much more fun (and non offensive) to just talk about Heaven?
2. It’s just not as fun. Like fat, fun is a relative term and similar to beauty- as it is in the eye of the beholder. Many people would argue that sitting around fellowshipping over a grand meal is much more fun than doing a walk with matching Church t-shirts. This is when the Church needs to get creative. A lot of churches have kitchens. Have someone do a cooking tutorial on preparing healthy meals for one or two people (many older people would love the social interaction while learning great tips) or for quick weeknight family dinners. Host an exercise class like my friend (who btw- teamed up with a dance teacher because she has no formal fitness training). There are ways to make healthy fun.
In a 2011 study, Northwestern University found that church goers are much more likely to be obese. In fact:
Even after controlling factors such as age, race, sex, education, income, and baseline body mass index, 32 percent of those who attended services the most became obese by middle age, while 22 percent of those who attended services the least became obese. Source here.
The study was conducted to target possible at risk groups to help better educate them about the dangers of obesity. Does anyone else see the irony here? The Church, who has been enlisted to teach others and who abides by a Holy Book warning against gluttony and instructing readers to “view their bodies as a temple” is in need of an education!
What we (as the Church) need are strong leaders who are willing to rise up and encourage new traditions of health and wellness. We need creative individuals who are willing to spend time loving others by helping them live healthy lifestyles. Does this mean that we should halt pot lucks all together? No, but it may mean raising awareness and consciously acting to better the community of believers as a whole. It is my hope that one day some University or College will run a study to try and figure out why Christians are healthier and respect their bodies more than the average populous. Wouldn’t that be great!
What are your thoughts? Should their be a separation of church and scale (figuratively of course…as I pointed out, numbers aren’t the issue) or not? I’d also love to hear about great health and wellness programs that your Church is doing. Sharing your ideas could inspire others.
Disclaimer: This essay is my personal opinion and does not reflect any stance taken by a specific denomination or religion.
It’s 1:30pm. Your interview/event/hot date is at 3pm and you are standing in front of your closet. freaking. out. Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
There is, after all, a reason that this someecard has been shared 58,700 times:
So let’s delve into the horrible sickness of IDHATWS (aka: I don’t have anything to wear syndrome. I’m pronouncing it I’d-hat-wiss). Luckily, IDHATWS is both preventable and curable. In honor of National Stress Awareness Day, I am going to give you my top 3 tips to preventing (and curing) even your worst cases of IDHATWS.
If you’re reading this post, you probably live in a 1st world country. With that in mind, let’s be real, it’s not that you don’t have anything to wear…it’s that you don’t have anything to wear that you want to wear. Huge difference. If you continue to treat IDHATWS as if you really have no clothing, you will do nothing but shop for more clothing that you will never wear. The real problem is that you have a closet full of clothes that don’t fit/are damaged/are not appropriate/are not ‘you’/whatever. So, you should be shopping for clothing that fits you/is in good condition/appropriate for work/true to you/whatever. Understanding the problem allows you to accurately address and fix the issue.
Chances are you have a closet full of clothes. Maybe too full. Your mind sees a hundred different options and then just shuts down (enter stressed out mode). Start by removing everything that is damaged or doesn’t fit (it’s not like you’re wearing any of these clothes anyway). Then take out anything you haven’t worn in the past two years. GIVE IT AWAY. All this extra visual overload in your closet is not helping you any.
If I had a dollar for every time I saw a piece of clothing in someone’s closet that still has the tags on it and heard, “but it was such a great deal” as a response… oooh Lawd, I’d be richer than Beyoncé. When you are standing in front of your closet and are whining ‘I have nothing to wear!’ get specific. What do you want to wear? Maybe you need a suit for an interview. Maybe you realize that you don’t have a white shirt, warm scarf, black pants, or whatever. As these stressful times pop up, us them to find out what your wardrobe is missing and write it down. Now, here’s the catch: when you’re out shopping, only buy the items on your list. If you always buy with a purpose you will soon have a closet full of clothes that you actually need/want to wear rather than a bunch of pieces that ‘were on sale!!’ but don’t fit or that you don’t really love.
You wouldn’t necessarily assume that taking away and then streamlining options would help give you more choices, but it really does work. Think about it this way. Say you are gluten intolerant and you walk into a restaurant. You sit down and look at the menu, which is 7 pages long and not really organized in any sort of manner AND has a lot of gluten dishes on it. At this point, you would probably say, ‘there’s nothing for me to eat here!’ The waiter would come over and apologize saying, ‘there are gluten free dishes here, here, here, and here”. Satisfied that you won’t have to go hungry, you wonder why they didn’t just put all the gluten free dishes on page, or on one menu. Your closet is like that menu. If there’s a lot of stuff on (or in) it that you don’t care about, you’re going to have a hard time finding what you want. The solution? trim down to that smaller menu (or selection of clothing) that is full of things that you actually like. Then, don’t put anything on the menu that you don’t absolutely love.
If you like what you just read, you’ll probably enjoy my best-selling ebook: Dressing Your Personal Brand. Go ahead and check out the (totally free!) first chapter below –>
Maybe you dropped by the other day when we talked about whether a capsule wardrobe is right for you or not. If you didn’t, or if you have no idea what a capsule wardrobe is, then rewind a bit back to here where I hash out the newest trend in wardrobing (yes, that is a word…now).
If you love the idea (or maybe just want to get your feet wet) and have no idea of where or how to start, have no fear! It’s really much easier than it sounds. The hard part is not actually removing items, it’s emotionally detaching with that shirt from 5 years ago that you’ve never actually worn. When I give closet cleanout workshops, I actually have a whole slide for ‘coping with the purge’. If you forgot that you live in a 1st world country– the necessity for that slide is always a nice little reminder.
With that said, here are two methods that will help edit down your wardrobe into a capsule collection.
Starting the Closet Cleanout
Method 1: The Airplane Method
This is the easiest method to attain a capsule wardrobe, but it’s also the most extreme. Here’s what you’re going to do: follow along with me during this scenario. You are going to be visiting another town for about 4 weeks. While you’re in this town, you’ll be working your normal job and doing other daily activities that you usually do. Although the weather is very similar to your home, you have to fly to reach your destination and you are allowed one suitcase (checked) and one carry on. Your carry on is for shoes, accessories, and bags while your suitcase will hold your clothing. What are you going to pack? Now, actually play out that scenario and pack a real suitcase and duffle as if this is really happening. The clothes and accessories that you chose as the ones you ‘can’t live without’ for a month are the only ones really worth keeping (exceptions are made for sentimental items like a wedding dress). Now, take everything that you didn’t pack and put it in a box and close it up. Put the box in a garage or attic or somewhere completely out of sight. Take your new wardrobe for a test run over the next couple weeks. Is there anything you wish you would have kept? Have you completely forgotten what’s in your box after a week or two? Wait a few weeks and then, give the box away. That’s it. You’re done.
If the Airplane Method is too much to handle, your next best option is the Traditional Method.
Method 2: The Traditional Method
With this method you’ll clean out your closet in waves.
Wave 1- Get rid of anything that is damaged. If you haven’t fixed it already you probably never will.
Wave 2- Get ride of everything that doesn’t fit. Spoiler alert: if you lose 10 pounds (like you’ve been meaning to for years…) you are not going to want to put on clothes that are a decade old. You are going to want to walk into a department store and proudly announce that you are looking for size ____ and are ready for a whole new wardrobe. Trust me.
Wave 3- Get rid of anything that you haven’t worn in the past year. If you didn’t wear it last year, you probably won’t wear it next year. A good way to see what you’ve worn and haven’t worn is to put all your hangers on the rack backwards at the beginning of a season. After you’ve worn an item, return it to its hanger facing the correct direction. Yes, it is a pain in the ass to turn all your hangers so they face out from the wall, but it’s worth it.
Wave 4- Get rid of duplicates. You probably don’t need 4 pairs of black pants that all have the same fit. Narrow it down to 1. An example from my own closet: I had two chambray shirts that were pretty similar. One was from J. Crew and the other was from Old Navy and was starting to wear down. I donated the cheaper one and now I have one nice chambray shirt.
Wave 5- Okay. If you’ve been truthful, you’ve probably whittled things down quite a bit. Here’s the last wave: get rid of anything that you don’t absolutely love. I mean it. If you don’t immediately think when you see an item one of the following: “I love that ______!”, “I love the way this looks on me”, “That’s the best _____ ever”, then get rid of it. Have some high standards people. When you love what you wear, it shows! You are happier, you are nicer, you are more confident. For real. You deserve more than a bunch of meh’s.
So, now that you’ve purged…how do you keep your closet that way?? How do you start building the wardrobe you’ve always wanted? Here’s a little picture I made up so you don’t have to look at more black and white writing:
I know what you’re thinking. You have a nice, clean, empty closet. That’s awesome! Except…how is that going to get me to a capsule wardrobe? Hidden somewhere in your mass of clothing you might have had all the perfect pieces to create your own perfect capsule wardrobe. Most likely, however, the harsh editing left your closet looking a little barren. Here’s a couple key pieces of advice to live by as you start buying garments for your capsule wardrobe:
1) Don’t buy it unless you need it (remember the list from above??)
2) Don’t buy it unless it can be paired with multiple, if not almost every other garment, in your closet.
3) Don’t buy it unless it is good quality and will last.
4) Don’t buy it unless you love it.
Here’s the thing; it’s pretty simple. Buy less and buy better. Buy items that you absolutely love and can easily mix and match with everything else in your closet (that you also absolutely love. duh). Fundamentally, that’s what a capsule wardrobe is all about.
You don’t have to be on Pinterest long to come across the newest thing in fashion: the Capsule Wardrobe. All of a sudden it’s not about how much you have…but how little.
This method of dressing isn’t entirely new. It’s essentially the ‘secret’ of looking French. It’s also how New Yorkers have been able to look so fashionable while dealing with miniature closet spaces. While the motives for having a smaller wardrobe can vary anywhere from money restrictions to efficiency, a capsule closet can work for almost anyone.
Before we really get started here, it’s probably a good idea to define what a capsule wardrobe is. Different people have ‘defined’ it in different ways, but it’s simply a wardrobe that consists of a limited number of pieces. Courtney from Project 333 says that it’s 33 items in your wardrobe not including sleepwear, workout gear, and lingerie. That number does, however, include shoes, jewelry, and accessories. Some minimalism advocates got really excited during their closet purges and practice a 10 item wardrobe. However, most stylists and fashion gurus will say that the number of items (usually between 10 and 40) is less important than finding clothes that are well made and flattering. Which brings me to the whole point of the capsule wardrobe: have less and have better. Instead of having 20 pairs of jeans that kind of fit, you have two pair that are fantastic. Same goes for shirts, skirts, etc. Everything can seamlessly mix and match with everything else and you’ll never be complaining of having ‘nothing to wear’.
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For many women, the idea of adopting a capsule wardrobe is much the same as telling your boss how terrible they are and leaving the company in triumph. It sounds fun and exciting in a daring, I-would-love-to-but-I-wouldn’t-actually-do-it sort of way. Like some far off rebellion that you may take part in one day when you feel like it…maybe once you don’t like clothes so much. If the thought of throwing out all of your clothes and accessories is liberating…a capsule wardrobe may be for you. If it’s absolutely terrifying and tear inducing…maybe not.
How to know if a capsule wardrobe will work for you:
1. You wear similar clothes to work as you do for leisure. Is your dress code business casual? Do you find yourself always dressing up on the weekends (just like during the work week?) You would benefit from a capsule wardrobe. If your life takes you totally polar opposite directions- think high profile attorney during the week and gardening/horse riding enthusiast during the weekend…this type of dressing may not work as well for you.
2. You often feel overwhelmed while getting dressed. We’ve all done it at some point or the other. You stand in the entrance of your closet with 15 minutes to get ready and you.have.no.idea.what.to.wear. None. And this happens a lot. If this is you, you definitely need to consider a capsule wardrobe.
3. You’re not in the public eye. If Michelle Obama wore the same 10 items all the time, we’d know it. And while I would think that was cool, I’m not sure anyone else would. The same goes for anyone on TV and any other sector where they get lots of facetime with the public. If you’re not in the public eye (I’m willing to bet that’s most of us) capsule wardrobes are a go.
4. On a scale of 1 (least enthusiastic about fashion) to 10 (most enthusiastic) you rank a 7 or below. To be clear, just because you aren’t super enthusiastic about fashion doesn’t mean that you don’t care about how you look. You simply don’t care about every new trend that surfaces and when fashion week happens you don’t lose sleep at night. Just like a gourmet chef likes to have every specific knife and gadget in his kitchen, a fashionista may like more options than 4o items. Likewise, someone who enjoys cooking, but isn’t a gourmet chef, needs that third oven and 8 burner stove just as much as a 5 on the above scale needs 20 pairs of shoes.
Anyone could have a capsule wardrobe, but it really does work better for some than others. The key is knowing what your lifestyle and habits are and forming a wardrobe that caters to them. Here are several capsule wardrobe examples (links to each blog under the pictures) that I pulled off Pinterest:
Try this: take out 10 things from your closet and sell them on Poshmark (or consign them) for $10 a piece. Take that $100 and buy one new, nice item. https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/lovely-laura-life-11664667/my-all-seasons-capsule-wardrobe-spring-2015-4297315421
This is just one of the many capsule collections I found that had some color. Depending on your level of ability matching patterns and colors- you don’t have to be limited to an oatmeal wardrobe! http://www.style-yourself-confident.com/capsule-wardrobe-on-a-budget.html#.VWUDDmBFCUk
I love how sophisticated this whole palette is. http://en.paperblog.com/how-to-create-capsule-wardrobes-747501/
Anne tells her story about why she decided to take the 333 challenge (in 3 months consolidate your wardrobe to only 33 items). I love how she does it on a budget and also takes into account crazy weather changes of Massachusetts. Read her story here: http://theproject333.com/project-333-style-stories-anne/
Starting new things is hard. That’s why, later this week, I’ll walk you through the whole closet cleanout process and show you exactly how to start moving towards a capsule collection (and, if you are not a capsule wardrobe type of person- you’ll at least pick up some good tips on cleaning out your closet.)
Until then, what’s your opinion on the capsule wardrobe? I’d love to hear!
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Y’all, we’re in the middle of an epidemic. It’s been going on since the late 2000’s and while I would love to say we might see the end soon, I’m afraid it isn’t so. Pant imposters are taking over the market left and right and as the consumer- we can’t seem to stop purchasing, or wearing, these spandexy numbers. It’s getting bad. Case in point: we have leggings, jeggings, and now…treggings.
Here’s an example of each:
Nothing new to the fashion scene (did we forget what happened in the 80’s??), leggings are essentially thick tights with less seams. The pair above is $3.90 from Forever 21. You can also have running leggings (made from athletic material).
A jegging is literally a legging made from denim (or denim like) material because…jeans weren’t comfy enough as it is? This pair is also from Forever 21.
A tregging is a legging with trouser details. It is technically a mix between a trouser and a leggings, although honestly, only a few small trouser details made it into the batter (like pockets and waistband). This pair is from h&m.
In my opinion, they’re all pretty much leggings. I feel like some very savvy marketers came up with the name ‘tregging’ to help Millennials justify that they are actually wearing real pants to work. Attaching real pockets is also a way that girls are cheating their way through this very famous buzzfeed chart:
While I’m not condemning leggings of any sort, I feel that they are very much reserved for weekend wear. I am a Millennial and during this horrible epidemic I have been guilty of wearing everything from tights as pants (yes, 2008 was not a good year) to treggings (before they were even called that). The important thing is that you know what works for your body and how to style it correctly for your shape (sounds like good potential blog post). And remember- if it ends in ‘–egging’ keep it out of the office!