How much do you value your professional image? It takes 7 seconds to form a first impression and 55% of that impression is visual. What does that mean? Before you begin speaking at an important interview or client presentation, you have already communicated over half your message to your audience. Investing in your professional image is equal parts investing the time it takes to put together finished looks investing in pieces that ensure your work wardrobe is modern and up to date.
I always challenge my clients to understand that is not that you can’t be successful without putting in the effort, the question is how much more successful could you be if you do?
How long has it been since you updated your look for work? Men – if you have suits with jackets but so long they cover your bottom and ladies – if you have suits in outdated chocolate brown, the answer is too long!
The good news is there is a new kind of power dressing that is in vogue. For men it’s all about updated, modern fits for every classification of your staple pieces. For women it means femininity, expressed in statement pieces and accessories. And for both the key is finishing your looks.
For men, the days of oversize, long jackets and pleated voluminous pants are long gone. Selecting a European cut, with fitted suits with shorter jackets and flat front pants with straight legs is a more modern approach. Rich fabrications in light-weight wool or cotton in navy’s, greys, and stone are perfect for spring. Button downs should coordinate, and finish with tie and pocket square combinations. Layering cardigans over button downs to finish outfits instead of jackets or to take the place of vests under suits is a great option to help navigate the weather as we transition into spring. Finally make sure your watchband, suit, and belt match – this is an easy rule that will prevent one element from being a distraction to your audience.
Though it can be tempting to experiment with color and print – this is not any easy task. You have to consider the values of the colors, scales of the prints, and of course appropriateness of mixing multiple patterns and prints for your work environment. This is a great reason to develop relationships with a trusted advisor at your favorite store to help you coordinate killer combinations.
For ladies, the days of subverting your feminine side to be taken seriously are thankfully behind us. You can communicate competence and instantly build trust by choosing deep jewel tones and prints, incorporating statement jackets, dresses, and skirts, finishing looks with jewelry and scarves, and most importantly spending time on your hair, nails, and skin care.
Women do have more choices, and with this comes more room for error. Here are my top three tips to make sure that you are pulled together. First, start with neutral pieces as a base – invest in a combination of dresses, underpinnings, and skirts. Second, you can never go wrong finishing your looks with a statement jacket. Choose either an asymmetrical twist on a basic blazer, a mixed media piece with lace and leather, or a sharp moto style. And third, make sure your looks are always finished by incorporating 3 styling elements – a scarf tied in a French knot or a statement necklace, a great pair or studs, and your signature watch or stack of bracelets.
There are many different ways to get inspired – why not make friends with a style leader at your office? They can share resources, for example great sales associates and tailors that they personally work with, that can help take your look to the next level.
If you keep the tips above in mind, you will build a versatile work wardrobe and easily be able to mix and match your staple pieces. There is nothing better than confidently stepping out of your door, knowing you look prepared to handle anything that might come your way during the workday.
President Rachel Levin Style LLC