Dressing Well Advice

Dressing Well Advice

Dressing Up in a Down Economy

Dressing Up in a Down Economy By Mary Lou Andre President and Founder Organization By Design, Inc. Professional image is a powerful yet often overlooked tool for getting results for yourself and your company. While it may seem counterintuitive, spending money on the way you look and present yourself in tough economic times is actually a sound investment. The confidence you gain helps you become more secure, calm, confident and prepared for things outside of your control. It also inspires trust and confidence. Hiring someone to coach you through the process of developing an authentic executive presence that supports your leadership style is not frivolous. As in most things, a seasoned professional cuts through the clutter, uses years of experience to make the process go quickly and has an intuitive sense of what will be right for you. A coach specifically trained in professional image consulting can make necessary edits to your closet and then help you select the correct colors, styles, brands and cuts of clothes and accessories to help you effectively communicate, connect and build relationships with colleagues, customers and business partners. Here are some of the principals that an experienced professional image coach brings to the table when guiding executives at all levels to package themselves for success: Appropriateness, Boundaries and Respect. Whether shopping in the store or shopping in your closet, adopt these three words as your personal litmus test. Ask yourself, is this outfit appropriate for my business environment, position in the company and the industries I serve? Do my clothing and accessory choices create good business boundaries or am I overexposed and therefore going to come across as vulnerable, insecure or, worse, lacking judgment? Does my attention to detail show respect for myself, which instantly shows respect for others? View your professional image as communications tool. An appropriate and effective professional image enhances communication and allows you to present ideas and information in a highly effective way. Eliminating distractions commonly caused by ill fitting clothes, poor grooming and a lack of attention to how clothing and accessories are coordinated together is one sure way to come across as credible and confident, even if you are nervous on the inside. Best part — the more effectively you communicate the more confident you become. Ground your look for business. Think like a professional contractor and start with a solid foundation. While not the only choice for business today, dark base neutrals are a cost-effective way to build a functional and versatile wardrobe. Black, brown, and gray suits, pants, skirts, and shoes are price neutral, hide wear and tear and can slim pounds off your frame. If you crave color, add it strategically with a tie, shirt, blouse, tote, coat or scarf. Worn this way, color is more apt to add interest to your overall look instead of being overwhelming or distracting. Business first, fashion second. Fashion is fun, exciting, and seductive. After all, the fashion industry is big business and the thought of wearing your favorite trends to the office in new and innovative ways can be intriguing. However, think about your environment before you go outside the boundaries of what’s acceptable. Remember business is about dollars and sense and people may have reactions to inappropriate attire that can undermine your credibility. You don’t have to be a corporate drone by any means — just be smart with your wardrobe choices and how they will impact your goals and objectives on the job. The economy may be down but don’t underestimate the power of dressing up. When you feel good about yourself, it’s contagious and everyone around you benefits from your good choices and confidence. It’s really that simple. Mary Lou Andre, founder and president of dressingwell.com and Organization By Design, Inc. is a nationally recognized wardrobe consultant, speaker and author. In addition to television appearances, Mary Lou has been featured in such national publications as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, Real Simple and Esquire. She is also the author of “Ready to Wear: An Expert’s Guide to Choosing and Using Your Wardrobe.” Her firm provides services to both individuals and corporations, including American Express, the Estee Lauder Companies, Fidelity, Frito Lay and Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare. To learn more about her firm and philosophy, visit dressingwell.com.

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5 Practical Dressing Well Style Tips for Men

5 Practical Dressing Well Style Tips for Men By Mary Lou Andre President and Founder Organization By Design, Inc. Here are five popular style strategies we frequently implement with our male customers. While many of them come to us just wanting a basic upgrade, they emerge more confident and stylish just by paying attention to these few ideas: #1 Be Prepared with a Suit. Even if you work in a business casual environment, you still have room in your wardrobe for at least one good dark neutral suit that fits you well at your current weight and makes you feel your personal best. Life happens – weddings, funerals, job interviews and the like. Don’t compromise the power of being properly attired when it might matter most for you and the people you love. #2 In Praise of Sports Coats. With or without a tie, an updated sports coat can up your style quotient like no other garment. While a navy blue blazer is a staple in many men’s wardrobes and can come in handy when dining in a jacket-required establishment or attending a graduation or other family obligation, there are so many other blazer choices available today that offer a more sophisticated approach to style. Subtle textures, unexpected colors woven into the fabrication and interesting button and pocket placements can all go a long way to increasing your personal and professional presence. #3 Get Measured. Dress shirts are often called the centerpieces of a man’s professional wardrobe. When they fit well, are properly pressed and paired with the right ties, trousers and jackets, the wearer stands out in all the right ways. Interestingly, over half the men we work with have either have never been properly measured to determine their correct dress shirt size or are relying on old measurements that are no longer accurate. They settle for less than perfect fitting shirts that can undermine an otherwise impeccable approach to style. Once you establish your “real” shirt size (yes, that means getting measured!), search for brands that fit you well and become loyal to them. This will cut your shopping time in half. Your fashion confidence will also soar! #4 Move Beyond White. Speaking of dress shirts, most male closets contain a large variety of white dress shirts; while some are new and fresh, others are over 20 years old with an equal amount of mileage showing all over of them! Vow to ditch the dress shirts that no longer fit, are stained and/or you don’t have a need for if your dress code has become more business casual over the years. When you stock up on new dress shirts, move beyond white. Blues in a variety of shades are a great first choice when adding color. But don’t stop there. There are so many different colors available today (lavender, peach and yellow to name a few) that add a fresh and appropriate amount of color to dark neutral suiting, even for men working in conservative industries. #5 Be Bold with Beige. Many men stick to dark neutral suits, jackets and pants for good reason — they hide wear and tear better than lighter choices, are more slimming and can be easier to mix and match. However, a beige suit in warm weather can be a real stand out fashion choice as long as it is well coordinated and works with your complexion. Try it with a peach dress shirt, brown shoes and a brown belt. Add a tie that pulls in the brown and beige while complimenting the peach and you’ll have a winning look! Last word Finally, our message for men would not be complete without a word about shoes and socks. For many men, shoes are an afterthought, but cheap or unkempt shoes can ruin an otherwise polished look. Dark socks such as navy, black or brown are best. Over-the-calf socks are much better than shorter styles. Coordinating your belt with your shoe instantly pulls your look together. And — going without socks is never appropriate in a business setting, ever! © 2013 Organization By Design, Inc. / Wardrobe Management & Fashion Consulting No portion of this article can be used without permission. Contact info@dressingwell.com if you would like to discuss our dressingwell.com syndication program.

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Professional Image Guidelines for Men

Sample Professional Image Guidelines for Men Shirts — The centerpiece of formal male attire The shirt sleeve cuff should be loose and extend to the end of your wrist. If your shirt has a button on the sleeve above the cuff, button it. Having shirts professionally laundered is a sound investment. Collars — Most formal to least formal Contrast collars Tab collars — should be worn with a tie. Straight collars — ideal for interviews Spread collars — ideal for interviews Button-down collars Ties — Add signature style The smaller the pattern and the darker the tie, the more authoritative the look. The point of your tie should lay over your belt buckle. Suits — dark neutrals are the most traditional and versatile When buttoning the jacket of a three button suit, fasten the top two buttons. A double breasted suit should always be buttoned when standing. Trousers — ground your look for business Fit is everything. Too big or too tight throws off the balance of your overall image. Pant hems should clear the shoe heel, but rest on the front of the shoe, creating a slight break. Socks — it is never a good idea to go sockless in a business setting Dark socks such as navy, black or brown are best. Over-the-calf socks are much better than shorter styles. Shoes — putting your best foot forward makes sense Best shoes for business are wing-tips, oxfords and dress loafers. Wear wing-tips with traditional suits — oxfords and dress loafers with more casual looks. For many men, shoes are an afterthought, but cheap or uncared for shoes can ruin an otherwise polished appearance. Wing-tips  Loafers Outerwear An all-weather (i.e.trench) coat and a well-maintained briefcase/tote are essential finishing pieces for most business outfits. Select a good quality trench coat with a zip-out liner so you can wear it year ‘round. You are often wearing a coat when you meet someone for the first time. Make sure this is one of the best items in your wardrobe.

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The Summer Shoe Pledge: Dressing Well

The Summer Shoe Pledge It’s time once again to post the annual “Summer Shoe Pledge.” This humorous message was originally sent to me via e-mail in 1999 and continues to be a hit every year. Please raise your big toes and repeat this pledge for yourself. Remember, no matter how high the temperature soars, putting your best foot forward is always in style: As a member of the “Toe-Exposing Cute Girl Sisterhood,” I pledge to follow these rules when wearing sandals and other open-toe shoes: I promise to always wear sandals that fit. My toes will not hang over and touch the ground, nor will my heels spill over the backs. And the sides and top of my feet will not “pudge-out” between the straps. I will go polish-free or vow to keep the polish fresh, intact and chip-free. I will not cheat and just touch up my big toe. I will sand down any mounds of skin before they turn hard and yellow. I will shave the hairs off my big toe. I won’t wear pantyhose even if my misinformed girlfriend, co-worker, mother or sister tells me the toe seam really will stay under my toes if I tuck it there. If a strap breaks, I won’t duct-tape, pin, glue or tuck it back into place hoping it will stay put. I will get my shoe fixed or toss it. I will not live in corn denial. Rather, I will lean on my good friend, Dr. Scholl’s, if my feet need him. I will resist the urge to buy jelly shoes for the low, low price of $4.99 even if my feet are small enough to fit into the kids’ sizes. This is out of concern for my safety and the safety of others. No one can walk properly when standing in a pool of sweat, and I would hate to take someone down with me as I fall and break my ankle. I will take my toe ring off toward the end of the day if my toe swells and begins to look like Vienna sausages. I will be brutally honest with my girlfriend, sister and co-worker when she asks me if her feet are too ugly to wear sandals. Someone has to tell her that her toes are as long as my fingers and no sandal makes creepy feet look good! — Anonymous

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Just for Men: Dressing Well

Just for Men With more and more men regularly visiting dressingwell.com for help with their professional and personal style needs, we have added this section to our website to help you navigate it with more ease. Please email us at info@dressingwell.com if you have additional questions about how we work with our male customers or would like to speak to someone about your specific needs. We welcome the opportunity to be of service to you. Corporate Services Our corporate seminars are available for both single sex and coed audiences. Private Coaching Services Our professional image consultants are available to meet with you one-on-one in your home, office or in a store for personal shopping support — a particularly convenient meeting place if you travel from outside of New England to work with us. We are located in Needham, MA — a suburb west of Boston — and we have consultants who cover greater Boston and all of Rhode Island within our standard consulting rates. We also travel to work with clients throughout the United States and Canada. Click here for more in-depth information about how we work with private clients.  Watch Fox 25’s Gene Lavanchy get a closet makeover:   Virtual Consulting Our virtual consulting program gives you the opportunity to interact privately with one of our consultants via your computer and/or phone no matter where you live — here in the United States or internationally. You determine the focus, and we’ll provide the coaching to help you meet your goals. Follow this link to view a before and after of our virtual client Fred Graichen of Neenah, Wisconsin. Give a Gift that Always Fits! Birthday, Father’s Day, graduations, anniversaries and holiday gift giving for special guys in your life is made easy with these gift certificate packages. Professional Dress Articles and Guidelines for Men Here are some handy reference materials for you to read, download and print: The Skinny on Men’s Suit Shopping Dressing Up in a Down Economy — Making the Case for Why it is Important Professional Image Guidelines for Men 5 Practical Dressing Well Style Tips for Men How to Wear a Tux  Q&A Archives Our all time most popular questions (and answers!) from male site visitors are organized here. Have a question you want answered? Ask away! We aim to get back to everyone who writes and we post the answer to one question per month on the monthly Q&A section of our site: What Color Socks do I Wear with Khaki Pants? What to a Wear to a Business Casual Off-site Meeting? What is Your Professional Opinion about Wearing Jeans to Work? Should Guys go Sockless in the Summer? Shopping for Dress Shirts Sport Jackets and Jeans

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