Category Archives: Business Attire

Eight Tips to Help Business Travelers Pack Light (While Still Looking Like a Boss)

Even for seasoned road warriors, suitcase packing tends to be a dreaded chore. Is there really a foolproof method for fitting suits, business casual, and casual attire (not to mention shoes, toiletries, and other accessories) into a carry-on bag…without forgetting anything essential?

In most cases, the answer is yes!

I’ve found that many business travelers overpack in order to prepare for every eventuality. After all, no one wants to wear yesterday’s wrinkly button-down to a client dinner that cropped up unexpectedly. But too often, this strategy causes travelers to haul around bulky luggage full of pieces that are never worn. And while you may not have considered it, agonizing over what to pack (not to mention waiting in bag-check lines and potentially dealing with lost suitcases) can shake your confidence and cause your trip to start off on a frustrating and stressful note.

Fortunately, you can make packing for a business trip easier—without stuffing your whole closet into a large bag that needs to be checked. Here are eight tips to help you downsize with confidence before your next business flight:

Think quality over quantity. You may assume that it’s best not to pack expensive clothing that might get wrinkled, stained, or worn—but actually, the opposite is true. Purchase and learn how to pack the highest-quality items you can afford. They will travel well, boost your image, and can often be worn multiple times before needing a trip to the dry cleaner’s.

Suits, trousers, skirts, and blazers in lightweight wool are always a great choice. This durable material is easy to maintain and is appropriate for a variety of climates. You should be able to wear the same pieces two or three times on the same trip, if necessary—just tweak your look by adding different accessories each day. I’d also recommend purchasing anti-wrinkle shirts and blouses, if you haven’t already.

Choose your colors carefully. You may pride yourself on the variety of interesting, fashion-forward pieces you wear to the office—but travel is not the time to show off the extent of your professional wardrobe. Whether it’s beige, gray, black, or blue, choose one base tone for all of your outfits and stick with it.

If you’re going to a warmer climate and won’t be attending any strictly formal events, you might select beige or light gray. Otherwise, choose black, navy, charcoal, or chocolate. As long as you don’t mind wearing the same pair of pants a few times (again, this is where quality comes in!), this strategy can really decrease the amount of clothes you need to bring along. And being able to mix and match items will broaden the amount of outfits you can put together.

Focus on leaving a small footprint. Footwear is definitely the heaviest and bulkiest item most business travelers need to pack, so make sure that each pair of shoes you choose is unique in terms of color and style—you don’t have room for overlap.

Men can often get away with one pair of professional shoes and a workout tennis shoe. A dress loafer is appropriate for most business meetings. If you need a lace-up shoe for serious meetings or more formal events, wear the dress loafer on the plane.

For women, a great pump and/or boot can work for a week of meetings. If you need two pairs, bring a neutral (such as black) that works with a dress and a pant, and either a dressier shoe or a nude pump that blends with the clothing you’ve packed. If there’s room in your suitcase, add a pair of more comfortable walking shoes—either tennis shoes if you intend to work out or a pair of flats with plenty of support.

Add your accents. Once you have your foundation in place, it’s time to choose one or two accent colors. A few key pieces—scarves, a tie and pocket square, or a statement necklace, to name a few examples—can add a surprising amount of spice to your outfits. You’ll probably also have room for a few “wild card” pieces—say, a bright polo shirt or patterned sundress—to wear to more casual events. As long as they blend with your chosen color theme, you can add a couple of these items without guilt.

Use plastic bags. All shapes and sizes of plastic bags come in handy while you’re packing and traveling. In addition to zip-top bags in a variety of sizes, I recommend saving and utilizing long plastic bags from the dry cleaner’s. As I’m packing, I lay a long bag down in the bottom of the suitcase. Then as I put my clothes in the bag, I weave the plastic back and forth through each layer. It helps everything stay neat and organized, and cuts down on wrinkles. If you’re staying at a hotel, the plastic bag can double as a drawer liner. And on the way home, I can use one of the bags for my worn clothes so they can go into the laundry or to the dry cleaner’s.

Utilize all extra space. When you’re trying to get by with a carry-on, it’s worth sacrificing just a little organization for the sake of using every inch of space. For example, stuff socks, hose, and underwear into your shoes instead of keeping all of these items together. Fill any awkward gaps with rolled up sleepwear or exercise clothing that can get wrinkled.

Wear your heaviest clothes on the plane. Instead of trying to stuff your outerwear into your suitcase, wear it on the plane. If you get too warm, you can always put these items in the overhead compartment or hold them on your lap. Also, while it may not be the most comfortable option, wear a suit or blazer on the plane if you can—this will save a surprising amount of space in your bag. If you do pick up a few wrinkles along the way, they should disappear after hanging the garments up overnight or giving them a good steam in the bathroom.

Keep a packing list for reference. Even the most experienced travelers can save time by creating and referencing a packing list. Yours might include a general list of what you’ll need (e.g., two suits and four dress shirts) or, if you tend to fill your suitcase with the same pieces trip after trip, a list of specific items. And don’t forget miscellaneous items (like phone chargers) and toiletries. We all know what it’s like to realize you didn’t pack your toothbrush or reading glasses—not fun! Keep your packing list on your computer or smartphone so that you can easily edit and improve it on the go.

 

By learning to make some tough choices during the packing process, it is possible to zip professional style into a carry-on. And in a worst-case scenario, I’m sure there will be stores where you’re going!

10 Fashion Tips for Men Who Aren’t Into Fashion

By and large, women spend a lot of time studying style trends and determining which looks do and don’t work for them. They read fashion magazines, observe other women, and ask friends for image advice and feedback. Men? Not so much. In general, guys don’t put nearly as much time and energy into figuring out what works for them. And unless a style-savvy woman in their lives takes on the role of image advisor, their “look” often comes together by happenstance.

Now, don’t get your feathers ruffled, guys. (You know it’s true!) While most men look presentable most of the time, paying more attention to your look can pay off in ways large and small. I always tell my clients—female and male—that you begin to communicate with others before you ever open your mouth to speak. This is true for life in general, and especially in a professional setting.

So, what does this mean for men who are used to giving the mirror only a cursory glance before heading out the door? Just this: Spending a few more seconds really looking at and interpreting your reflection each day can boost your self-image and your professional stature.

Ask yourself, Does everything look well kept and congruent? Does anything stand out or look out of place? What would I assume about someone wearing this outfit? When you’re interacting with others, you want the focus to be on you—your face, your eyes, and your words—not your clothing. And remember that when you’re confident in your look, you feel good about yourself too.

For the man who (let’s face it) will never buy and read a fashion magazine cover to cover, here’s a quick hit list of my best practices for polishing your image:

Spring for quality. Frugality may be in style (and more power to the money savers!), but filling your wardrobe with the cheapest price tags you can find won’t do much for your image. Always buy the highest quality fabrics you can afford—even if it means owning fewer clothing items. Quality garments tend to travel well. They last for a long time and don’t need to be dry cleaned as often. And, of course, quality looks great. In particular, I recommend looking for lightweight wool suits, trousers, and sport coats, as well as fine cotton shirts.

Make sure it matches up. Your clothing doesn’t need to be “matchy-matchy,” but each outfit should have balance. When you choose a shirt, tie, and blazer combo, everything should blend. (So leave the “loud” statement ties in the closet.) If one element stands out in contrast to the rest of the clothing and draws the eye, it can be a distraction that keeps other people from really engaging with you. And don’t forget about “hidden” elements of your outfit, like socks. Make sure your socks match either your pants or your shoes, and ensure that they are long enough so that your leg never shows if you cross it.

Join the navy. The ranks of men who wear navy, that is. Every man should own a tailored navy suit and navy sport coat. Navy works well with virtually every skin tone and is very versatile when pairing with other colors. In particular, a navy blazer can take you from casual Fridays to a date night look, depending on whether it’s paired with jeans, khakis, or wool trousers.

Work from the feet up. If you don’t already own a pair, invest in a good dress shoe. I like a long toe box—it makes the wearer look taller and leaner. When clients are skeptical, I ask them to wear their old shoe on one foot and the new shoe on the other. Without fail, they see a difference. And one more thing: Make sure your shoes are always polished and properly heeled and soled. No scuffs allowed!

Belt it out. For a modern look, I recommend quality leather belts that are between 1 ¼ and 1 ½ inches wide in brown or black—depending on the color of your shoes! Look for a matte finish on the buckle—preferably in a silver or pewter tone—and avoid buckles with logos.

Focus on fit. Many men tend to buy clothing that is too big for them, which can look sloppy. Be sure to look for pants, shirts, and coats that fit your frame—and take everything to a tailor! Proper alterations are so important. When a garment is too tight or too loose, when your sleeves are too long or your pants are puddling over your shoes, when your pants ride up and show your socks—all of these are red flags. I tell every client that good tailoring can make a $100 garment look like a $500 garment…and the reverse is true for a piece that doesn’t fit properly.

Give grooming some thought. Skincare and hairstyle make a difference in how you’re perceived. If your skin is dry, for instance, you can look older than you are—and you don’t want to be thought of as “not vital” or up to the job. Look for an unscented moisturizer and drink plenty of water, which lubricates the skin naturally. And if you’ve had the same haircut for years, ask friends, family members, and your stylist for an honest assessment. Does it need to be updated? Is it flattering? Should you go in for a trim more often?

Pay attention to posture, too. Posture is key. The way a man carries himself can make him look more successful and healthy—or not. I have instructed many male clients on their posture, and I know that slouching can be a difficult habit to change. Working out with a trainer to strengthen your back is a good place to start.

Make sure the eyes have it. If you wear glasses, you probably don’t think of them as a fashion accessory. But they are an important factor in your overall look. Glasses can age you, make you look tired, and/or be a distraction if they are not the right color and shape for your face. Choosing the right glasses will bring positive attention to your face and can even help others maintain eye contact with you during conversations. A pair of quality frames is worth investing in. And be sure your glasses are clean! Smudges on the lenses can look very sloppy.

Don’t leave out outerwear. A properly fitting overcoat, scarf, and gloves (and possibly also a briefcase or computer bag) complete the look for a well-dressed man. If you arrive to a meeting in an ill-fitting, beat-up old coat, that might be what people remember—not the beautiful new suit you were wearing underneath! And on some occasions, others may never see what you’re wearing under your outerwear, so think these details through. As with “regular” outfits, make sure that everything coordinates.

 

You don’t have to be a slave to fashion to look polished and put together. Paying attention to a handful of details can make a huge difference in your image and in how you’re perceived by others. It might just have a surprising impact on how comfortable and confident you feel, too!

 

 

Virtual Worth: High-Tech Shopping At Its Best

As you may know, I am a consultant for Worth New York, a luxury clothing line based in New York City. While I love helping my clients select pieces they love, I’ve often wished that there was a way for me to work with women for whom it isn’t convenient to come to Worth’s showroom.

That’s why I’m pleased to share that I’m now able to book virtual consultations. This is a great option for women who might not have time to go to the showroom, or who don’t live close by.

When you choose to shop Worth’s collections virtually, I’ll curate a presentation just for you, based on your preferences and the image you want to create. Then we’ll “meet” virtually whenever it’s convenient for you. On your iPad or desktop screen, I’ll show you pieces in which you might be interested and give you the opportunity to browse Worth’s online “closets.” You can zoom in and see each piece up close before placing your order. And if you receive something that you don’t love, you can send it back free of charge.

So far, I’ve received very positive feedback from clients who have shopped virtually with me. Virtual consultations, they say, are easy and fun—high-tech shopping at its best. If you’d like to book a virtual consultation or have more questions, please get in touch with me. I would love to help you create the best possible look, no matter where you live!

WorthVirtual

The Second Interview Blues: Advice for Mature Job Seekers

Whether you want a greater challenge, a better fit, increased financial security, or a new start after surviving the economic turbulence of the past few years, there are many reasons why you might be looking for a new job. But unlike younger job seekers, you may be concerned about the effect your age might have on your chances of being hired. What if employers pass you up because they believe that you’ll retire soon, you’ll increase their health insurance costs, or your experience is based on outdated industry knowledge and tactics?

If you’re in your 60s, 50s, or even 40s, it’s tempting to blame your birth date for the fact that you aren’t getting called back for second interviews in spite of ample qualifications and what you thought was a good first interview. But the truth is, your birth date may have less to do with the situation than you think.

As I always tell my clients, you are communicating before you open your mouth to speak, so it’s important to make sure that every aspect of your look is saying what you want to be saying. You should put as much thought and consideration into your body language, clothing, and grooming as you do into prepping answers to interview questions.

Since it takes an average of a year for workers 55 and older to find work (longer than any other age group!), it’s especially important to consider in detail the impression you’re making on potential employers.

Based on advice I give my clients (male and female!) who want to refine their images during a job search, here are four reasons why you might not be getting that second interview:

Your body language and manners aren’t saying what you want them to. It’s smart to evaluate how your body language and manners might look to someone else and to make a conscious effort to speak the physical language of confidence and capability during job interviews. I recommend that you:

  • Have good posture when walking in and sitting at the interview. Also, keep your arms at your sides and not crossed in front while standing, and keep your hands in your lap when sitting. Keeping your chest open sends the message that you are open and receptive.
  • Show confidence, interest, and alacrity as you engage in the interview. Have a pleasant, relaxed look on your face and focus on meeting your interviewer with a firm handshake. During the interview, meet the interviewer’s eyes and try to refrain from mannerisms that might connote nervousness or insecurity, such as wringing your hands, picking at the material of your pants or skirt, biting your lip, etc. And don’t forget to smile—you want the interviewer to know you’re enthusiastic about the job opportunity!
  • Be mannerly—but not overly so. Specifically, make sure that the way you treat other people doesn’t make you seem disinterested or diffident. You shouldn’t dispense with courtesy, but be aware that being too polite, laid-back, soft-spoken, and self-effacing can be misinterpreted as a lack of confidence.

You are dressed inappropriately. While many of my clients understand the basics of interview attire and etiquette, I often find that there are small details they aren’t aware of or are overlooking. Here are some “hazards” you should avoid:

  • Trying to appear too youthful. Try to convey youthfulness with your attitude and ideas, not your wardrobe. Women, stay away from “sexy” pieces and/or those that show too much skin. Men, avoid overly trendy suits, such as those with matchstick trousers.
  • Ill-fitting clothing. Clothing that doesn’t fit well (too tight, too short, or too large) not only detracts from your look; it can also make you feel uncomfortable. You don’t want to be pulling at the hem of your skirt throughout the interview or be distracted by the fact that your shoes pinch! And you don’t want your interviewer to remember you because your pants were too short, for instance, or because they puddled over your shoes.
  • Dressing for the wrong time or place. Dated suits and shoes can work against you by conveying that you’re stuck in the past. And remember that fashions, as well as ideas of what’s in good taste, do vary from place to place. For instance, an office in Boston might expect different attire from an office in Los Angeles. And if you’ve ever lived abroad, the differences might be even more pronounced.

Your look is distracting. At an interview, you always want the person with whom you are interacting to be looking at your face and eyes—not your clothes—and listening to what you are saying. Above all, your look should be congruent. You don’t want your interviewer to be looking at your statement tie, your patterned stockings, your jewelry, your elaborate hairstyle, or your cleavage while you’re talking. Before your interview, look at yourself in the mirror to make sure that one element of your outfit doesn’t stand out compared to the others. While every job applicant wants to stand out from the crowd, at the interview stage it’s best not to do so via your look. Instead, focus on setting yourself apart by how you present yourself, your experience, and your potential.

You aren’t well groomed. When it comes to personal grooming, nothing is too small to overlook. As applicable, make sure that:

  • Your hair is in place and that you’re not touching it nervously.
  • Your facial hair is well groomed.
  • Your nose hair is not showing.
  • Your body odor is not noticeable and/or you’re not sweating through your clothing.
  • Your fragrance isn’t overly strong—your perfume or cologne shouldn’t enter the room before you do!
  • Your teeth aren’t yellow. Yellow teeth say, “I’m old!” while white teeth convey vitality. (Crest Whitestrips are quite effective if you don’t want to go to your dentist for whitening.)
  • Your nails and cuticles are groomed.
  • Your nail polish isn’t chipped or flashy. Play it safe and wear a nude or pale polish.
  • Your shoes are polished and your heels aren’t worn down.
  • Your clothing isn’t faded, worn, or pilled.

Above all, remember that the best thing you can add to your interview look is confidence. If you’re feeling pessimistic or defeated (which may be the case if you have been unemployed for a while), an impeccable outfit won’t be able to mask your attitude. Before going into your interview, do whatever you need to do in order to revive yourself and boost your energy. Listen to an upbeat song, read a motivational quote, or call your spouse or a friend for a pep talk. Even the simple act of hydrating with a glass of water can help!

When you walk into an interview feeling comfortable and confident, you’ll be setting yourself up for success. And you’ll also be one step closer to getting that coveted job offer.

Interview Attire 101: Seven Suggestions to Help You Make an Impression…and Hopefully Get an Offer!

One of the most stressful rites of passage in an adult’s life is the dreaded job interview. There’s so much to worry about: how to make a good impression on your interviewer(s); how to present yourself as the absolute best candidate for the position; and, of course, what the heck you should wear!

The clothes you wear to a job interview are a big deal, because the image you present to your interviewer can sometimes make the difference between getting and not getting a job offer. Whether you want to admit it or not, your appearance speaks volumes about the kind of employee you might be. Are you sloppy or put-together? Are you flamboyant or appropriate? Do you pay attention to details or not? Remember, in this situation the wrong kind of attention is worse than no attention at all.

Whether you’re a soon-to-be graduate looking for a first job or a seasoned professional who’s eyeing a new position, read on for seven of my tried-and-true interview attire tips:

Focus on quality, not quantity. Always, always choose interview clothing in the best fabric you can afford, even if it means starting out with only two suits or outfits. (You can build on that base later once you’re receiving your new paycheck!) Quality clothing looks best, holds up longest, travels well, and doesn’t need to be dry cleaned as often. I recommend investing in wool suits and skirts specifically, since wool is durable and easy to maintain, and can be worn at least 10 months out of the year in most climates.

Make sure your clothes match you. In addition to choosing high-quality pieces, it’s also important to make sure that your interview clothes are the right color and shape for your age, coloration, body type, and career. Ask a friend, sales associate, or image consultant for advice if you’re not sure what works best for you. Specifically, avoid pieces that are too short, too tight, or (for more mature applicants) too young. Remember, a flattering, well-tailored outfit shows attention to detail and makes a good first impression about you and how you will do business.

Be classy and memorable. Every job applicant wants to stand out from the crowd. But during the interview stage, it’s probably best not to distinguish yourself sartorially. Above all, you don’t want to make a lasting negative impression with wobbly too-high heels or an in-your-face tie. If you don’t want to be forgotten because of your “boring” beige suit, focus on setting yourself apart by how you present yourself, your experience, and your potential. Remember, people are making decisions about you from the moment you first meet, whether you realize it or not. So when in doubt, err on the side of dressing conservatively. You can think about moving closer to the cutting edge of fashion after you’ve been hired.

Find a balance between fit and comfort. Another reason to make sure that your interview clothes fit is simple: comfort. Think about it: If your jacket is a little too tight under the arms, for example, you’ll be distracted when it’s most important for you to be on your game. And if your skirt allows for only a narrow range of movement, you’ll be that much more ill at ease. Make sure that your interview clothes are comfortable so that you can focus on the meeting and on letting yourself shine through, not on what you’re wearing.

Tap into the power of the column. Column dressing is a sure-fire way to make sure that you dress successfully for your interview, as long as the color is flattering. Whether it’s a dress, a top and a skirt, or a top and pants, you can’t go wrong. Your jacket can be the same color as your column or an accent color. I promise that you’ll look pulled-together—which will please your interviewer—as well as taller, thinner, more successful, and smarter. What’s not to love?

Don’t forget the details. The details of any outfit are crucially important! Here are some things you should consider before heading out the door to your interview:

  • Your shoes should be polished and in great shape. No scuffed or kicked-in toes! Replace or repair them when necessary.
  • Your hair should be groomed and styled conservatively. If possible, schedule a trim a few days before your interview.
  • For ladies specifically: Invest in closed-toed pumps with a moderate heel height, and wear stockings (it’s best to stick with solids). Also, it’s a good idea to manicure your nails. Go with a neutral color that is easy to repair if chipped while traveling.

Top it off with a tote. Chances are, you’re not going into your interview empty-handed. At the very least, you’ll probably have copies of your résumé, a notepad and pen, and maybe even a portfolio of some sort. If you’re traveling, you might also be carrying your iPad, laptop, and/or other work files. Clearly, you’re not going to look very professional if you’re hand-carrying all of those things! I suggest that you look for a tote—preferably leather—that keeps you organized, looks great, and allows you to have all of your files and accessories at your fingertips. (Just make sure to turn off your phone’s ringer before going into a meeting or interview so you aren’t left digging around in your bag to turn it off!) Remember, a durable, professional bag is an investment, so if at all possible buy one that will serve you well for years.

When you walk into an interview feeling comfortable and confident because you know you’re dressed for the occasion, you’ll be setting yourself up for success. And you’ll also be one step closer to getting that coveted job offer.