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Inappropriate workplace dress: should you just be more open?

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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.”

Usually, when this comes up, 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.

Side note: If you’re reading this wondering how you can dress better for work…this is my best advice: start with basics that are work friendly. When your basics are appropriate for work, everything else will fall into place. Not sure what basics I’m talking about? See my top 20 basics every woman needs here. 

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.



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: empowerme@leslie-friedman.com to start the conversation.

To your success,

Leslie

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13 Ways to look like a million for under $10

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13 ways to look like a million

 

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.

 

1, Wear clothes that fit. You wouldn’t believe how much of a difference this makes- and how many people wear ill fitting clothing. Wearing clothing that fits your body shape is incredibly important and sometimes that means getting clothing altered. (Not sure what your body shape is? Take the quiz here) Many men’s stores will hem pants for free and do other alterations for minimal cost. Nice department store might also offer this service. Going to a tailor to bring in a button down shirt will cost around $15 while changing hemlines averages around $10. If you know someone who sews, they might be willing to do it for free or for an exchange (did anyone say wine?) Cost= $0+ depending on the alteration. 

 

2. Be picky when you’re buying second hand. You can save a lot of dough by buying clothing and accessories second hand, but beware of purchasing items that look too rough. Make sure that you actually love the items you are about to purchase and that you aren’t just buying them because ‘they are so cheap!’ Garments still need to fit and be a flattering shape and color. (Hint: here are the top 20 basic garments every woman needs in her wardrobe- plus the perfect fit for your body shape) They should also be in good condition. Pretend like you’re in a high end store where everything is $500 plus. Would you buy the same thing in that situation? This will prevent you from having a closet full (cha-ching!) of mediocre clothes that look okay on you. Cost= $10 or less for second hand clothes. 

 

3. Fill in your eyebrows. As we women get older, we often lose our hair (sorry guys, who didn’t know this), which is why thick locks are a sign of youth. Filling in your eyebrows is one of those changes that can make you look younger without being blatantly obvious. Make sure you choose the right pencil for your hair color and, if you are in a beauty store like Ulta, ask one of the salespeople to teach you how to use it. Cost= Eyebrow pencils on Ulta.com ranged from $1.99-$24. Want more tips on how to dress your age? Here’s how to dress in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s (coming soon!)

 

4. Improve your sleeping habits. Sleep looks good on everyone, and it’s free (Win-win? I think so) The biggest enemy of good sleep is your cell phone. Avoid looking at your phone (or any other screen) one hour prior to sleeping. I also use the ‘do not disturb (silence except for emergency numbers that I dictate) until my next alarm’ feature. Even if you don’t realize that your phone is glowing and beeping all night long, your REM cycle might. Getting a couple of extra Z’s will improve your complexion and save you money on cucumbers (or all those costly cremes and cover-ups). Cost= FREE!

 

5. Tuck in your shirt. My husband works in a factory setting and this tip works just as perfectly for factory workers as it does for top level executives. Why? Well, tucking in a shirt creates a waist (or any body definition) where there was none which looks better on any body shape. It also looks more pulled together and generally less sloppy. You didn’t just throw on a pair of pants and a shirt, you carefully manipulated your clothing to look more professional. Watch how much of a difference it makes here. Cost= 10 seconds. 

 

6. Take care of your shoes and/or handbags. I have a friend who cleans her shoes off after every wear. It doesn’t matter if they were $300 or $3, she simply takes a clean cloth and wipes them down before putting them in back into her closet. The result is that she always looks polished and sharp, not to mention her shoes last forever. We may be able to fake a million dollar look, but shoes and handbags usually rat us out by looking slightly tattered. If you’re like me and don’t have time to daily clean your shoes, try doing it once a week while you watch tv or talk to a friend. Cost= FREE!

 

how to dress like you have money

 

 

7. Exercise. Another freebie that makes a big difference. When you look at people in upper class society, you’ll see that they look more healthy than their lower socio-economic counterparts. Additionally, clothes look and fit their best when the wearer is at a healthy weight for their body type. You can blame cheap fast food, expensive gym membership access, or a multitude of other things on why this rich/poor healthy/unhealthy paradox exists…or you could do something about your own body. Planning out your meals will save you money, calories, and time. Parking further from your destination, getting off the bus a stop early, or going on an evening after dinner stroll in your neighborhood are all simple ways to start living a healthier life. Cost= FREE + a little time.

 

8. Learn how to barter. You may not have the financial resources it takes to buy the best clothes and purchase the best haircuts, but you might have something else. Think about what talents or services you provide and then use those to barter for what you want. Maybe you are great at social media. Ask a local salon who’s struggling with their online presence whether you can help them with their social media in exchange for haircuts/colors. This usually works best with friends and acquaintances. Just make sure that you are good at the service you’re offering and that you follow through on your end of the deal. Cost= FREE (or the cost of your services). Here are some quick tips on bartering from RealSimple.com

 

9. Straighten up. Standing up straight can visually make you look 5 lbs lighter and years younger! There’s nothing more aging than a hunching posture. Look at any wealthy business person and you will see someone who carries himself or herself (upright!) with confidence. Practice sitting up straight while at your desk, typing, or even browsing your phone. Cost= FREE

 

10. Break out the blush. Our cheeks naturally flush when we are excited or aroused. This almost always reads positively by the person viewing you, because they subconsciously connect your excitability to being with them. Luckily, all it takes to fake this effect is to throw on some blush. A little bit of blush will immediately make you look fresh, vibrant, and youthful. Cost= $2.99+ from your local drugstore. 

 

11. Choose colors that flatter your skin tone. Everyone has a certain color or set of colors that really bring out their best features. Work on identifying your colors (I dedicated a whole lesson to this in my e-course: The Ultimate #STYLE Guide!) and then start wearing them! Cost= nothing if you have clothing in your ‘good’ colors. If you don’t? Try buying a scarf. It’s a lot cheaper than buying a whole new shirt and you can pair it with items you already have.

 

12. Smile. I know it sounds cheesy, but have you ever hung out with someone who has a resting bitch face? Even if they’re saying nice, friendly things it’s hard to not think that they are constantly judging you, or are unhappy about hanging out with you, or are just plain uninterested. Cost = some face exercises.

 

13. Discover the many uses of coconut oil. Coconut oil is incredible. It will make your hair shiny and strong, your skin smooth as a baby’s butt, and your teeth several shades whiter…to name a few. Beauty gurus have been touting the positive beauty affects of coconut oil for years! Check out a whole list of things you can do with the magical stuff here. Cost = $7.99 usually for a jar.

 

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.

Cheers,

Leslie

 

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4 Easy Ways to Dress Young…without looking like teenager

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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 four easy ways to strike a balance between frumptastic and teenager.

 

How to dress young without looking like a teen

 

 

  1. Stay out of the juniors department (and stores specifically geared at teens).

This one sounds easy, but it can be challenging. Have you ever wandered into the juniors department thinking, “oh, that’s cute” without even realizing where you were? This happens all the time to me at Target. (Speaking of Target, did you read about what happened when I picked out plaid outfits for every age there?) One minute you’re looking at work attire and then you’ve crossed the invisible line to juniors clothing. Additionally, try to avoid stores that are geared directly at teens like Abercrombie and Fitch, American Eagle, Forever 21, etc. While you can find suitable items in these places, it’s much easier to pick out age-appropriate items in a place like Banana Republic than H&M.

 

70 c clothes

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.

 

Did you know? Every brand has someone called a ‘fit model’ who works for them. The fit model is a woman (or in the case of menswear- a man) who is the exact measurement of that brand’s average size (usually a medium or 6/8). All of the clothes for that brand are based on the body shape of the fit model- and they aren’t always perfect hourglasses. That is why J. Crew fits better on rectangle shaped women and Talbots looks better on apple shaped ladies. Not sure what shape you are? Take the quiz here!

 

 

3. Look 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’. Contemporary clothing is trendy clothing designed for adults rather than teens (that would be the juniors dept.) 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 offbeat 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. That may sound hard, but intuitively you know the difference between a black suit from the 80’s and one from today. The silhouette of today’s black suit is going to be more modern. This is especially important if you are super petite and have to shop in Juniors or Children sections! 

 

When you look through magazines or are window shopping, try focusing on the shape of garments rather than colors and prints. Are boxy jackets everywhere? What about pleated skirts? This will clue you into what is currently in style and allow you to choose colors that may be more age appropriate. With that being said- never buy anything you don’t love or love the way it looks on you! Not all trends and ‘modern silhouettes’ will look good on you and that’s okay. The basic garments that make up your wardrobe should all work well with your body type. Update those garments as they come into style and add trendy pieces only when they work with your wardrobe (and your body!).

 

Lastly-

 

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.

Cheers!

Leslie

 

Check out these blog posts (60’s+ is coming soon!):

what to wear after 50 3 tips to dressing in your 40's How to dress in your 30's

 

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How to dress in your 50’s

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How to dress in your 50's

Careers have stabilized, nests are emptied, and the body is doing whatever it feels like (goodbye, eyesight). Welcome to your 50’s.

 

If you didn’t take time to yourself in your 40’s, then you might find yourself in a style rut, looking frumpy and out of date. Not to worry- it’s never too late to show yourself some love. Start with choosing wardrobe basics that look great on your body type. Set time aside to improve your health and your appearance (this could include anything from walking with friends to doing hair masks). You’ve spent most of your adult life taking care of someone or something else- now it’s time for you.

 

If you were nice to yourself in your 40’s (good for you!) then you are well set up to confront the many changes your lifestyle and body has in store for you during this decade.

 

Here are my top 3 tips for dressing in your 50’s:

 

  1. Decide how you’re going to age

There’s no denying it, a lot of changes in your appearance will start happening in your 50’s. Whether it’s graying hair, a widening middle (thanks, Menopause!), or extra lines on your face, you are really starting to look different than previous years. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, though! It really all comes down to attitude. Do you want to fall down the proverbial hill or enjoy the view?

 

You’ve heard the phrase ‘aging gracefully’, right? Well, it’s totally up to you as to HOW you age. Are you going to age gracefully (whatever that means for you)? Are you going to fight the aging process? Are you going to let time do its thing why you sit back and watch things unfold? The good news is: there is no wrong answer. Whether you let your hair go gray or load up on botox, the choice is yours.

 

Crossing the threshold of 50 is a great reason to take a step back and review your life. Are you happy with the person you’ve been for the last 50 years? What kind of person do you want to be for the next 50? This last question will dictate, not only how you decide to age, but also what you wear going forth. Maybe it means taking some risks, maybe it means prioritizing comfort, or maybe it means staying true to what you’ve done all along.

 

Your appearance isn’t just fun and games (although it should be fun! see tip #2), it’s a form of communication. The 50’s are a great time to think about what you’re communicating through your appearance and what you plan on communicating as you get older.

 

what to wear after 50

 

  1. Have some fun

No matter what kind of person you want to be for the next 50 years, there is one thing that I encourage everyone to embrace on some level: FUN.

 

At this point, you’re comfortable in your skin, you know what you like, and you know where you want to go. If there’s any time to try something new, it’s now. Is there something you’ve always wanted to try, but didn’t have the confidence (like wearing white booties)? Or maybe, you’re just bored of the clothes you already have and want to spice it up a little, while still staying true to you. Even if you’re totally happy with your current wardrobe, try doing something or wearing something you normally wouldn’t. Switching up your fashion or your appearance has the same effect as going to a different restaurant for your weekly date night dinner with your spouse. It makes things feel fresh, new, and exciting all of a sudden.

 

With that said, remember that is doesn’t have to be anything huge. Try a different shade of eyeshadow or lipstick. Pick up a pair of shoes from Target that you normally wouldn’t wear. Style your hair differently. Put a scarf around your handbag instead of your neck. Go to Charming Charlie and get some funky jewelry just for the heck of it (even if you only wear it out on girls’ night).

 

Your life is really just starting to get fun, don’t let your wardrobe fall behind.

 

  1. Keep learning

One of the many things I love about fashion is how it translates differently from person to person and even the same person throughout different periods of their life. Have you ever looked back at pictures of younger you and thought, “what was I wearing? I thought I was so cool.” I know I have. But that’s part of the beauty of fashion. When I was in college wearing a homemade dress from upholstery material (true story) I was engaging with fashion in an entirely different way than I do now when I buy a polka dot suit from Banana Republic and wear it to meetings (also true).

 

Experience teaches us how to engage with fashion, but so do conventional learning methods. For example, you may have learned throughout the years what kind of jeans look best on you, but you may also read a blog post on dressing your body shape and realize what tops look best you. As your body and lifestyle change and you age, new unlimited learning opportunities open up. You don’t get dressed as a young adult and then decide that’s how you’re going to look forever, do you? No! Your appearance changes throughout your life and it reflects where you are and what you find important. As you go through tip #1 and decide who you want to be post-50, take time to expand your horizons and learn something new.

 

Here’s a nifty list of resources I recommend based on what you might want to learn!:

 

Fashion resources for women over 50

 

I want to…

  1. Overhaul my whole wardrobe and re-organize my closet
  2. Update my hairstyle
  3. Know how my appearance affects how others view me
  4. Get inspiration for age-appropriate outfits
  5. Find a new way to tie a scarf
  6. Know what trends are in for this Fall
  7. Know more about reading glasses (and where to find fun ones!)
  8. Learn how to look sexy without looking sleazy
  9. Know what looks good on my body shape
  10. Find workout clothes that work for my age

 

Ps. You can stay on the top as the hill as long as you want. Enjoy it! Smile

 

Cheers!

Leslie

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How to Dress in your 40’s

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How to dress in your 40's

 

Several years ago, a movie came out called This is 40. Do you remember it? I made the weird choice of watching it (I was in my late 20’s at the time) and found it more depressing than comedic. In fact, I don’t think I laughed at all. ‘Watched in horror’ and ‘silently cried’ were probably more appropriate ways to describe my reaction to the movie.

 

With that said, I think it hit on a good point about your 40’s: they are this middle ground in your life that hit somewhat unexpectantly early (middle aged is after 50, isn’t it?) and can almost be a tipping point. This is the only age decade that is solely NOT about you.

 

Think about it. Your kids are in middle school or high school and you are a taxi service/therapist/referee/short order cook. Promotions in your job mean that you have more responsibility and more expected from you at work. Your spouse and friends still want your love and attention (because, you know, they’re normal human beings). You are being pulled in all directions at once and, most likely, none of them are towards you.

 

No other decade has SOLEY been about others until this point in your life, and to be honest, I see people start to move in one of two directions. They either put themselves on the back burner (never to be seen again) or they take time for a little self-care and love. Fashion speaking, this is the difference between women who ‘let themselves go’ and women who ‘look just as good as in high school’.

 

Because you’re in such an in-between zone, choosing what to wear in your 40’s can be really hard. You still feel sexy, but you are the mom of a 13-year-old daughter and don’t want to look too sexy. You need the versatility of workout clothes (and the comfort of yoga pants) on the weekends, but you also miss looking like a decent human being. How do you find a happy medium?

 

While I don’t have all the answers, I have a few that I think are incredibly important.

 

Here are my top 3 tips to dressing in your 40’s

 

1. Don’t forget to show yourself some love

 

It’s much easier said than done, but TAKE TIME FOR YOU! I know a man who wakes up at 4 am just to have an hour to himself every morning. It’s his way of grounding and refreshing himself before his two teenagers and wife wake up. You may not have an extra hour in your day, but 5 minutes of meditation or journaling in the carpool line can do leaps and bounds for your emotional health.

 

Likewise, doing small things for your fashion life can also make a big difference. Maybe resolve to wear one cute outfit (aka not yoga pants) when running errands this week. Maybe take an hour to go through your closet and remove anything that is damaged or stained. Take a weekend to go shopping with girlfriends and refresh your spirit (and closet!). Or if you don’t have any sort of rhyme or reason behind your wardrobe- make your life easier (and more stylish) by building up the basics in your wardrobe (here are 20 basics every woman needs in her wardrobe).

 

This is often the time women start falling into a fashion rut. Usually caused by pushing their appearance to a low priority, a style rut can (and will!) last until you decide to do something for yourself (fashion speaking). While your appearance doesn’t need to be your top priority all the time (that would be considered vanity) it should ideally stay around some sort of happy medium. Some days are yoga pant days while some days you put on makeup and steal the show. (Psst. Already in a rut? Here’s how to get out)

 

Case in point: don’t ‘let yourself go’! Find ways to show you, you care. Decide to do one thing for yourself this week (it can be big or small!) that will help keep your appearance at that ‘happy medium’.

 

how to respect yourself with your clothing

 

2. Mastering the balance between sexy and sleazy

 

This is something I get so many questions about, I literally just did a whole blog post on the topic. Essentially, you feel (relatively) young still, but you don’t want to look like your teenage daughter. How do you find a happy medium between sexy and too sexy? How do you look like you’re not trying too hard?

 

The key is an easy formula that I call the rule of alternating zones. Read the whole post and see examples here.

 

3. Dress Respectfully

 

As I mentioned in the first tip, your appearance is your message to the world- and it’s a message you get to choose! My big question for you is: does that message say you respect yourself? Does it say you respect others?

 

Does it say you care enough about yourself to buy quality jeans that fit your body shape?

 

Does it say you respect your kids enough to show them an example of a well-dressed adult?

 

Does it say you respect yourself enough to take the time to find clothes that make you feel happy?

 

Does it say you respect your significant other to the point of looking good so they can look even better? (This goes both ways, btw. I dress well because I know that the way I look reflects upon my husband. He dresses well because he knows the way he looks reflects upon me. It’s important to note that we don’t dress well just for other people’s comments. We take care of our personal appearances out of respect for ourselves and for the other spouse- who has to be seen with us!)

 

I know that all sounds really intense, but the big lesson to be learned in your 40’s (if you haven’t learned prior) is that: Your appearance shows how much you value yourself and others. People who stop valuing and respecting themselves are the ones that ‘let go’. People who learn to take time to love themselves and dress respectfully appear to look great for a longer time (even if they gain some weight, get wrinkles, and have to start dying their hair!) It isn’t about fitting a certain size or wearing the right brands…it’s about dressing in a way that shows you understand how powerful and incredible you actually are. 

Keep scrolling to see 3 ways you can easily upgrade your appearance.

 

3 tips to dressing in your 40's

 

If you’re looking to improve your appearance, here are 3 ways to do that (depending on how much time you have available):

 

If you have 30 minutes to an hour:

Look through a Style E-book like Building a Classic Wardrobe- the Basics and see which styles of the 20 basics highlighted work best for your body shape and lifestyle. Filled with pictures, like a magazine, this is both a fun read and informative. It’s great for waiting at doctor’s offices, carpool lines, and football practices.

 

If you have a free night:

If you enjoy reading, pick up a copy (available on Kindle or paperback) of Dressing Your Personal Brand. This book talks all about the message your sending and how to make it your own. It also discusses dressing at work and at home. This easy read is entertaining but also very informative and can easily be knocked out in a night on the couch with a good glass of wine.

 

 

If you have a weekend or more:

If you’re more a video person than a book person, you’ll really like The Ultimate #STYLE Guide E-course. It has separate videos on everything from ‘Dressing for your Body Shape’ to ‘Wearing Scarves’ and ‘Finding the right glasses for your face shape’. There’s also a whole section on making your life easier (ie: organizing your closet and stylist approved shopping tips). You don’t have to do the whole course at once- each section is made up of 15-20 minute videos discussing different topics.

 

The Style E-book, Book, and E-course mentioned above are all made by yours truly because I am so over the top passionate about the subject of looking great (and sending the specific message you want to send!). I want this message to be available to everyone no matter how much (or little!) money and time they have. If you have any questions about any of the books or e-courses, I’d love to answer them. I never want anyone to buy a product that isn’t right for you, so I love it when people ask me before they purchase! Just send an email to empowerme(at)leslie-friedman.com or leave a comment below and I’ll back to you ASAP.

 

TLDR: Your appearance is sending a message about who and what you respect. Make sure to take time for yourself and show YOURSELF a little respect. 

 

Cheers,

Leslie

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How to Dress in your 30’s

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How to dress in your 30's for women

 

In my humble (30-something-year-old) opinion, I think your 30’s are the most underrated decade of your life.

 

A bold statement? Yes, but hear me out.

 

During the years between 29 and 40, you have an exciting mix of life events, available opportunities, and deeper self-awareness. You’re probably making more money than you have in the past and are starting to get to the part of your career that is more than an entry level job that you sludge through to pay the bills. Your body is still in decent shape, and you might be able to continue pulling off fashions from college. On top of all that, you are really starting to figure out who you are and you are doing lots of fun exciting things like getting married and having families.

 

Maybe I’m an optimist, (okay, no maybe’s here. I’m definitely an optimist) but I think the third decade on earth is pretty good. However, like every other decade, the 30’s bring their whole new slew of dressing woes and questions.

 

Here are my top 3 tips to dressing in your 30’s.

 

1. Reassess your priorities

 

During this decade, it is highly likely that your priorities will shift. The person you wanted to be in your 20’s may not be the same person you want to be now.

 

That’s okay.

 

This is a great time to take a step back and think about how your identity is changing (wife, mom, aunt, boss, etc.) and how you want to approach your new titles.

 

In your 20’s we talked about sending the right message. What do you want to tell the world? Guess what? Just because you are in a better position in your career or you’re married or you have a family, doesn’t mean you stop sending a message to the world. This is a great time to reevaluate the message you’re sending and, if necessary, re-construct it to fit your current aspirations and identity.

 

You may be reading this thinking…” okay, Leslie, that’s great…but what does it have to do with how I dress?”

 

The answer? It has everything to do with how you dress! Your appearance is the first big broadcast of your message to anyone you meet. Everything from how you do your hair, to your makeup, and your outfits come together to send a message in that broadcast.

 

Look in the mirror. What is your current appearance telling the world? Is it what you want to say?

 

Want to learn more about constructing the message you send to the world (aka: your personal brand)? Check out this entire e-course I created for newbies who are interested in finding and sending the right message- but aren’t really sure where or how to start.

 

How to dress in your 30's for women

Don’t forget to Pin me!

 

2. Keep upgrading your basics.

 

In my previous blog post on how to dress in your 20’s, we talked about starting to upgrade your basics from college to career. This is no easy task, and depending on your budget, could take a decent amount of time.

 

Budget isn’t the only thing that can hinder your wardrobe upgrade- not knowing your style can also be a culprit.

 

Maybe it’s because I love fashion, but I experimented a lot with different trends and looks throughout high school and college. Some looks were really good, but most were quite unfortunate (see: sage green pleated mini skirt with homemade tube top). These looks not only made for some great laughs (in hindsight, of course) but they helped me figure out my sense of style. Over the years I figured out what I like and what actually looks good on me. If your style is all over the place (or you just have no idea what it is) check out this blog post on finding your personal style and be sure to take the quiz that’s halfway down the page!

 

Because of experimenting with fashion in my teens and twenties, I was able to figure out what style was best for me (and the message I want to send the world)! Now, I can really bolster the basics in my wardrobe because I am choosing garments that I will love and actually wear a lot. This adds a layer of confidence when spending more money on clothing.

 

Knowing what works for your shape and choosing clothes that fit you make A HUGE difference. I made the drawing above by tracing the same pear-shaped woman. Look at what a difference it makes when she’s wearing basics (like pants and a blazer) that actually fit! If you’re not sure what shape you are, read this blog post and be sure to take the quiz! 

 

If you’re not sure what wardrobe basics I’m talking about, you’re not alone. Most women can’t really pinpoint the essential items they need to create a killer wardrobe. To help you make better purchasing decisions, I created a style e-book that focuses on the 20 items every woman (no matter the age!) needs and what versions of those items will work best for each body type. Check it out and get a peek inside the book here.

 

3. Don’t forget to have fun

 

You may have a big girl job, a husband (or wife), and even a child (or a chinchilla and too many plants in my case), but that doesn’t mean you have to graduate straight to the frumpy clothes train. In fact, there is no reason for anyone of any age to be on the frumpy clothes train…but that’s a different rant.

 

Remember, you are still young- so have fun with your outfits! Once you have your basic wardrobe figured out and you know your style (these are game changers- I promise!) you’ll be able to experiment with your clothes in a way that will yield more results that you love.

 

What do I mean by that?

 

Think about this scenario. You are putting together a scrapbook. In scenario A, you have a collection of scrapbooking supplies that you’ve collected over the years along with more paper/stickers/etc from your Aunt and Mom. In scenario B, you go to the craft store and choose exactly the right color papers, stickers, and accessories that you know will look great in your scrapbook. Now, which scenario will lead to an outcome you love with the least effort and most joy? You got it right, scenario B. That is essentially what you’re doing when you start building a classic wardrobe.

 

Once you have classics you love, adding the small accessories that turn an outfit from basic to fabulous is easy and actually enjoyable (for those of you who don’t like the whole process of putting together outfits).

 

Case in point? Have great basics, but don’t stop there. Be sure to still have fun with your accessories- this will keep your outfits age appropriate and keep you from looking frumpy. Because no one wants to look like they wandered out of a frat house party or an AARP meeting when they’re 30 (something).

 

 

 

TLDR: You’re finally hitting your stride in life- make sure your wardrobe is keeping up. Keep upgrading your classic wardrobe to your lifestyle but don’t be afraid to have fun! 

 

Enjoy your 30’s! Hopefully, as I age, I will prove myself wrong and every decade will be more underrated than the one before it. 🙂

 

Your fellow 30-something,

Leslie

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How to dress in your 20’s

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How to dress in your 20's

“Ahhh, to be in my 20’s again.”

 

I know you’ve heard people say it. Come to think of it, I think I’ve said it before!

 

But being in your 20’s isn’t easy for a multitude of reasons- not the least of which being fashion related.

 

You’re in this weird transition point in your life between college and ‘real life’ (aka: working). You have the body to dress however you want, but you need to look respectable at some point (like…when you’re going to work). Striking that balance isn’t easy. Oh, and bonus points: you probably have no money.

 

Given all that, how do you dress in your 20’s? How do you look professional without looking frumpy? How do you buy career clothes? How tight is too tight?

 

No worries 20-somethings! I have you covered. Here are the top 3 things you should focus on when it comes to clothes in your 20’s.

 

1. Focus on the basics

Think about what you wore in college. Sweatpants and baggy t-shirts to class? Skin tight dresses to clubs? Those clothes might have been comfy and convenient, but were they really you, or just what everyone else was wearing? Did they actually look good on you, or was it just the current trend? I can’t even tell you how many outfits I wore that were ‘the cool thing to wear’ which looked absolutely horrible on me.

 

It’s time to start thinking about what actually looks good on you, works for your lifestyle, and sends the message you want to send (see #3). Depending on the job you have after college, you may feel like your wardrobe is starting over from scratch. That’s okay. This is the perfect time for you to get back to the basics.

 

Here’s how to start upgrading your basics without spending an arm and a leg:

1. Think of your current lifestyle (your job or future job, daily activities, etc.) As you go through your closet, put everything that works with your lifestyle in one area. Put everything else to the side. (Example: Let’s say you are an entry level employee at an ad agency. The clothes you would wear for work are the ones that ‘work with your lifestyle’. The clothes you never really wear anymore are the ones that get put aside.)

2. Go through the clothes that work for your lifestyle/job. What pieces do you dislike? Does that button down shirt pull at the chest? Do your dress pants fit horribly (because you needed something for the interview…TODAY!)? Do your jeans all have holes in them? Make a list of the items that are in the ‘okay for my lifestyle’ pile, but that you aren’t really wild about.

3. Reorder your list so the items you wear most often are at the top. When you have extra money, only shop for things on your list, from top to bottom! This allows you to efficiently upgrade your basics and start building a foundation for an amazing wardrobe (not just a weird mish-mash of all the trends from the last 4 years).

 

Not sure what basics you need? This e-book has the top 20 basics everyone needs (and it even tells you what styles will look best for you body type) no matter what sort of ‘lifestyle’ you find yourself in!

 

2. Play up your youth!

You may be dipping your toes into the professional world, or spending your 9 to 5 acting like you’re older than you are…but don’t forget your youth! You’re still in your 20’s which means you can get away with a lot more than other age groups. The key is knowing how far to go, and WHEN. You can still wear those skin tight dresses out to clubs, but be sure to put them away before heading to the office. You can wear the newest leopard trend to work, but choose a leopard button down shirt under a black suit for a refined look. (Want to see all the new Fall 2018 trends plus great outfit ideas?? Click here)

 

You don’t want to look back at your 20’s and think: “Man, I looked like I was a stripper at work” OR (equally as bad, IMO) “Man, I looked like a 60 year old at work. I wish I had been a little more adventurous with my style.”

 

If you’re a little unsure about what items in your closet are appropriate in what situation, see the handy chart below:

Can I wear this (in my 20's)

 

3. What message are you sending?

For many of you, your 20’s are the first decade of your life that you get to make all your decisions about who you are. During high school and college you probably tried different lifestyles, trends, and even jobs, but as you get older, you start getting more comfortable with who you are as a person. You start understanding what you like regardless of what those around you like.

 

AND, here’s the biggie: you start thinking about how you want the world to perceive you.

 

Do you want people to think you’re professional? What about fun, intelligent, or carefree?

 

In our 20’s we start thinking about our reputation beyond the walls of our hometown or our college campus. What do we want our boss to think about us? What about our customers? What about future friends? What message do you want to send to these people?

 

You know how you only get 30 characters or something to write a description on your Instagram profile? That’s pretty much what it’s like getting dressed every day in your 20’s. You have a message about yourself, a description, that you want to tell the world. How you do your hair, makeup, the clothes you choose, and even your body language act as that 30 character description. It’s the first thing people see and it’s how they decide what kind of person you are…before they even look through your Instagram page.

 

So, when you go shopping or get dressed, think about what message you are sending. Is it the message you really want to be sending?

 

I know that’s a lot to think about, but don’t worry- you’re young and have plenty of time to mull this one over.

 

Like this post? Pin it!

 

TLDR: Start building a wardrobe of clothes that look great on your body type and send the message you want to send! Oh yeah, and don’t forget to have some fun. Smile

 

Cheers,

Leslie 

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3 Steps to Becoming a Personal Stylist

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Today I want to take a hot second and address the #1 question I get asked via email from wonderful readers just like you: How do you become a personal stylist (or image consultant)? 

Side note: I’m going to use the term personal stylist because it is more widely known, even though I go by ‘Image Consultant’. There are many other names for similar services including: wardrobe stylist, fashion consultant, personal shopper, etc. For our purposes here, I are going to use the word personal stylist as blanket term for someone who provides fashion and style services.

Do you remember having to shadow people in middle and high school? The whole idea was that you followed a professional around for the day to see what they did, and gain insight into whether you would enjoy that career or not.

I’m not going to lie, I don’t remember who I shadowed during those times. But I sure know it wasn’t a personal stylist.

In fact, I didn’t even know that was a career option until I was in my twenties…post college. Despite having constant walking proof around me daily, I didn’t realize that most people couldn’t (or didn’t enjoy) dressing themselves.

It sounds really stupid now, but I didn’t realize that this was a career option until people starting stopping me in public places to ask things like…

“Would you go through my closet for me and tell me what looks good and what doesn’t?”

I thought it was a joke (I was a fashion designer at the time, not a wardrobe consultant!) until I realized people were serious.

Since then, I’ve gone on to build a successful personal stylist business all over the country. And here’s the cool thing. If I can do it, so can you. And it doesn’t have to be super scary.

I made a lot of mistakes and also did a lot right during my early days of personal styling, but I was pretty much on my own. No one showed me the ropes. No one gave me advice. I was just winging it.

Here’s my thing. I don’t want you to be in the same position as me.

I don’t want you to just ‘wing it’.

If you want to be a personal stylist, then I want you to walk into this new adventure informed and empowered and ready to kick some booty.

Which brings us to the next part. How do you actually BECOME a personal stylist?

Becoming a personal stylist isn’t like becoming a heart surgeon. There is no exact path to follow in order to become a stylist. With that said, I’ve looked back on my years as a stylist and have boiled down a no-nonsense list of the main 3 steps you need to follow.

Step 1: Get Informed

 

Before you just go bounding into a new job/side hustle/whatever you want to call it…ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I know what it entails?
  2. Would I actually like performing the services that are most needed in my community?
  3. How much time do I have? Or, Do I have enough time?
  4. What have I done in the past that sets me up to be a good personal stylist?

 

Seriously think about each of the these questions and if you don’t have the answer, find it out!

Here’s something I learned from working all over the country. Different services are more requested in different regions of the US. When I lived in the Midwest, most of my clients were middle aged mothers who still felt young but didn’t want to dress like their teenage daughters. In Flagstaff, Arizona, most of my clients were consultants that traveled a lot and knew they couldn’t wear hiking boots to meetings on the East Coast but had no idea what to wear. I know these sound really specific, but it is true that the bulk of my clients in different places had very specific needs that almost seemed regional (or town based).

Do some research. The easiest way to find out what services people need is by asking them questions like this: What’s your biggest fashion problem? If you could change one thing about your style or clothing, what would it be? What do you hate most about shopping or getting ready in the morning? These questions will lead you directly to the need and allow you to figure out what personal styling in your town would actually entail. Then, you need to decide if it’s something you’d actually enjoy doing. Maybe you don’t like the idea of going through people’s closets. If that’s the main need, you may want to reconsider being a personal stylist.

Before you just jump in, do some research. Ask around. Watch some free webinars. Read blog posts. And most importantly, talk to your future clients! I can’t stress how important the information gathering stage is!!! If you do it right (like, talking to your future clients about the services they might need), you’ll set yourself up for success.

 

Step 2: Make a plan and get your first clients

 

I can’t tell you how many people get caught up on step 1 and never make it to step 2. They hem and haw and spend thirty years reading blog posts but never actually DO anything. Now’s the time for action. If you’ve decided that you have the time and you want to start a personal stylist business, don’t doddle. The world needs your fashion help.

The first thing you need to do is come up with an action plan. Look through your research notes. What services are most requested? Who is your target market (aka: the type of people requesting the services)? Who do you want your test subjects to be?

Test subjects?

Oh yes. This is very important. Most people think they need all their branding (website, business cards, etc.) done before they start actually working. That’s expensive and, truth be told, not completely necessary. Instead, use this nifty little formula below to start getting clients and making money right away. THEN, once you get money coming in, start investing in a website, business cards, brochures, etc.

Also, don’t forget to put tentative deadlines on your action plan! This will encourage you to keep pushing forward and not get stuck in the research phase. Here’s an example of what your action plan may look like:

I made this very simple action plan in Microsoft Excel (because I’m a giant nerd) but you can do yours on a piece of paper, word document, or anything else. Just so long as you keep yourself accountable!

Step 3: Evaluate, Strengthen, and Brand your business

 

The beauty of having friends and family as test subjects is that you can get honest feedback from them without wasting any money. I’m a big branding person, so I literally created a website, ordered business cards, made coupons, set up social media accounts, and did a million other (not so cheap things) before I even had my second client. This wasn’t a totally bad thing, but looking back, it wasn’t necessary. I wasted so much time changing the website and print materials when I decided to change up services. I also wasted a decent amount of money on business cards/advertising that ended up being outdated because my business had altered directions.

If I had done my research first and listened to what people wanted (instead of providing what I thought they needed) and started with several close friends and family members BEFORE branding, I would have saved so much time and money.

Learn from my mistakes. Get out and talk to people before you start all the branding stuff. This not only saves you time and money but it also does something very important: it primes your audience.

What?

Yeah, I said primes. You know how you prime an engine before you start it? Doing your research helps prime your future clients. It helps them get ready for the awesomeness you’re going to bring with your personal styling business.

Think about it. If you just walk up to your Aunt and announce yourself as a personal stylist (here’s my business card Aunt LouLou) and ask her if you can freshen up her wardrobe she’s going to have a lot of questions, and rightfully so, some hesitation. Compare that this scenario: You are thinking about becoming a personal stylist. You contact Aunt LouLou and explain that you are considering this and would like to ask her some questions. While talking to her about her fashion problems, you learn she feels like her wardrobe is in a rut. You then propose helping her ‘freshen up her wardrobe’ and get out of the rut in exchange for recommendations if she’s happy with your work. How much more likely is she to say yes? Like, 10 fold…because she’s been primed. You already made her understand her need and even talk about it out loud. Psychologically, this makes her acknowledge her own wardrobe shortcoming and much more likely to accept your solution (aka: services).

Priming your Test Subjects (I’ll refer to them as clients) can also have these benefits:

  1. Clients will associate personal styling with fashion help instead of having no idea what it means.
  2. Clients are very likely to talk with their friends before/during/after your services and thus priming the next round of people to be recommended to you.
  3. Clients are more likely to do more for you (whether that be paying more, recommending more, giving you networking advice, helping with your business, etc.) when they feel a problem of theirs is being solved.

(Side note: If you’re a marketing person, doing research and talking one on one with future clients- what I am calling priming here- can also be thought of as making hot leads out of warm leads)

Once you’ve primed your test subjects and performed services on them, it’s important to take a minute to evaluate. Evaluate what they thought about the service and their insight into making it better. Also, evaluate how YOU felt during the service. Did you like it? Did you hate it? Think of it as one big test run. If you don’t enjoy being a stylist it’s easy to back out now. You have pretty much nothing, except time, invested. If you hate it, leave it. If you love it, keep working through your action plan and start branding your new business!!

And that’s it. That’s the best way to start.

I know there’s so much more that goes into starting your own personal stylist business, but this really is it in a nutshell.

We tend to make things too complicated, but these three steps are the easiest and best way to start a personal stylist business today. (Literally!)

With that said, if you’re interested in learning more about the basics of starting your personal stylist business, check out this webinar I recorded for you.

It’s one of my most popular webinars and it’s totally free to watch.

In it, we discuss what a personal stylist IS, what services you can provide, how to figure out how much time you have, and a more in-depth discussion of getting clients using the model above.

 

Happy Styling,

Leslie

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why you should care about personal branding

What is personal branding (and why should you care?)

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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.

what is personal branding?

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.

personal branding secrets and checklist

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.

personal branding quote

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.

 

Company/Person Actions Words Appearance
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.

personal branding cheat sheets

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!).

personal branding e-course

Questions about personal branding? I’d love to hear them! Comment below.

 

Obsessed with your success,

Leslie

1
beauty from the inside out part 2: pretty girl problems

Pretty Girl Problems

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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.

Part 2: Pretty Girl Problems

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!”

Do you have pretty girl problems?

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.beauty quote

 

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”

Xoxo
Becky and Leslie

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