The Most Telling Opinions About Ourselves Are Our Own

Q: Can you explain the difference between self-esteem, self-image, and body image? I hear these terms used a lot.

 

 

A: Good question and one that helps us really look at and understand more about ourselves. The more we look inside ourselves, the better self-awareness we have, which influences us in very positive ways.

Self-image is how you see yourself in your mind’s eye, and how you believe others see you. It is the image you have when you compare yourself to others and make judgments about your physical looks, your intelligence, and your personality based on how you believe others see you. Your self-image influences every relationship you have, both in your behavior and in how you feel about yourself.

Give some thought to how you both talk to and treat yourself. Do you always put others’ needs above your own? Do you have negative statements about yourself that you repeat over and over?

Self-esteem is all about how you feel about yourself. Self-esteem is dictated by your internal feelings and evaluation of yourself based on your “perceived” self-image. If you are constantly comparing yourself to others and feel like you don’t measure up, your self-esteem suffers.

Body image is:

  • How you think and what you believe about your appearance.
  • How you feel about your body, including height, shape and weight.
  • How you sense and control your body as you move.
  • How you feel in your body, not just about your body.

Body image is how you feel about your body when you look in the mirror or visualize yourself. Do you think your body image is positive, negative or a little of each? What do you think your body language is saying about you right now?

Our self-esteem, self-image, and body image are very closely interrelated and are developed primarily in childhood. All the feedback we received while growing up, both positive and negative, from our parents, teachers and other authority figures, helped create our perspective and beliefs about ourselves. As we walk through our life, we have the ability to change any negative self-images we’ve picked up. Most people never question if the negative beliefs they have picked up are their own or someone else’s, such as a parent or other adult. Many times it is the adult with poor self-esteem that has passed on negative beliefs to children.

With my clients, I work on these personal images — the focus is on loving yourself and coming to terms with your body image.

Ten Tips to Improve Your Self-Image and Self-Esteem:

  1. Journal the things you like about yourself and things others have acknowledged about you.
  2. Further develop your strongest skills, knowledge, and education.
  3. Focus on the present moment and not on your past.
  4. Practice looking into your eyes in a mirror and saying “I love you.”
  5. Replace negative “tapes” in your head with positive, supportive self-talk.
  6. Never compare yourself to others. Accept who you are or make some changes.
  7. Spend time with people who value and respect you.
  8. Make changes in your appearance, wardrobe, hair, body language or behaviors that will improve your self-image.
  9. Dress to emphasize what you like about yourself and your best assets.
  10. Learn to genuinely accept compliments.
ABOUT TRACI MCBRIDE: TRACI IS THE WARDROBE STYLIST AT TEEMCBEE IMAGE CONSULTING. SUBSCRIBE TO HER NEWSLETTER, SCHEDULE A STYLE STRATEGY CALL, OR REQUEST TEE SPEAKS TO INFUSE YOUR ORGANIZATION WITH PASSION AND STYLE.

Bury the Hoodies and Bling at Funerals

Q: I have been to several funerals recently that leave me confused about the best way to dress for such events. Can you share some suggestions?

 

 

A: Funerals are one of the significant and emotional life moments. I have to share that during this past year, I attended four wakes and was really shocked at the flip-flops, jeans, hoodies, graphic t-shirts, rhinestone bling on jeans and tops, and athletic shoes. All of these garments are too casual and communicate that you don’t really know any better. The purpose of these events is to honor the deceased and show respect and support to the loved ones left behind. Dress with decorum and ensure that your demeanor shows respect for the event and for yourself.

When it comes to clothing, this is the one situation in which I would consider blending in and being unobtrusive. Keep your clothes simple and avoid too much jewelry, especially if it is jiggling and distracting.

There is no need to only wear black, although from my experience most people have an abundance of black in their closets. Not all black is appropriate; avoid wearing a black cocktail dress or something that is strappy, very short, backless or revealing. Be sure that the fabric isn’t shiny and wedding-like. You might think these are obvious details, but I saw many of these faux pas at recent funerals. Another option in lieu of black would be jewel tones teamed up with the neutrals navy, brown, and grey.

Having your body jiggling in everyone’s face is never a good idea. I’m referring to cleavage, tummies or upper arms. Even in the summer, avoid showing up in a sundress and sandals as if you were on your way to an outdoor concert. All funeral homes are air conditioned, so slip on a summer cardigan to cover your arms, and button up your overexposed skin. Gentlemen can wear a sport coat.

Keep your hair and make-up simple, ladies.

Avoid wearing large patterns. Again, it’s not about you; this event is about honoring someone else. The traditional blazer or jacket with trousers or a skirt and heels will always convey a classic, respectful message. As in every day of your life, having a wardrobe that fits you properly and honors your now body is key. It will take you everywhere you want to go in life.

ABOUT TRACI MCBRIDE: TRACI IS THE WARDROBE STYLIST AT TEEMCBEE IMAGE CONSULTING. SUBSCRIBE TO HER NEWSLETTER, SCHEDULE A STYLE STRATEGY CALL, OR REQUEST TEE SPEAKS TO INFUSE YOUR ORGANIZATION WITH PASSION AND STYLE.

The Stone-cold Truth About Winter Coats

Q: Working downtown and having to walk a few blocks after parking, I need a winter coat that keeps me warm but looks good too. What tips should I keep in mind when shopping for a new coat for my professional wardrobe?

 

 

A: Outerwear is a very important investment when living in climates like northeast Ohio. Preparation is key for this season. We need different coats for each level of dress.

As an example, the coat you wear to play in the snow with the kids and shovel the drive would not be the same coat you wear over your professional wardrobe. Right? When I do a Closet Detox with a client, I have them model each coat and tell me when and where they wear it. I look for fit, flattery, purpose, and color.

Yes, a coat needs to fit you properly. I can’t tell you how many times someone has said, “I know you are going to tell me this coat is too big, but it’s warm.” To me, this is an opportunity to donate that coat and find a warm coat with a flattering fit in your power color. If you just can’t let go of the coat, then invest in having it tailored to fit. Another client had a coat that was her mother’s. She really liked the vintage details, so she wasn’t ready to get rid of it. It was expensive to tailor it and reset the shoulders, but now it looks like her coat.

TIPS for being Stylishly Warm and Cozy:

  •  Materials Matter: A wool coat is more versatile and chic than one of a synthetic material, but there are some pluses to manmade materials, like machine washing.
  • Make a Statement with the Details like unique color, trim, belt or welting, buttons or cut, but avoid making more than one statement.
  • Flattery will get you everywhere: Celebrate your now body and avoid an oversized baggy fit. Accent your waist.
  • Buy for more than one reason: for instance, warmth, style, and price. Make the coats work for the real estate space they will consume in your closet by investing the time it takes to get all of those areas covered. If you will be sitting at a bus stop, be mindful of finding a coat that covers your bottom. Consider if you need a hood or a high collar to break the wind. These are details that matter.
ABOUT TRACI MCBRIDE: TRACI IS THE WARDROBE STYLIST AT TEEMCBEE IMAGE CONSULTING. SUBSCRIBE TO HER NEWSLETTER, SCHEDULE A STYLE STRATEGY CALL, OR REQUEST TEE SPEAKS TO INFUSE YOUR ORGANIZATION WITH PASSION AND STYLE.

How Can a Man Mask a Big Belly?

Q: What is the best way to handle a large waistline? A lot of men want to know.

 

 

A: I’m so glad to hear from men! Women are always asking these types of questions, so this month I’d like to indulge the men that read this Q&A.

Regardless of your body shape or size — skinny or heavy, tall or short — I highly recommend avoiding baggy clothes to disguise body challenges. The flipside of that coin is to avoid wearing very tight clothes. The better choice is to invest the extra time and expense to buy the right clothes with appropriate tailoring. The best way to complement your body in the most flattering way is to find a tailor that you trust. A talented tailor can tweak suits and jackets to flatter your body type, regardless of your size.

Tips for large waistline or big belly: To camouflage a fuller stomach or waist, invest in lightweight fabrics in darker colors. Avoid tweed, flannel, and other heavy fabrics. Go with light, natural fabrics and dress in darker, muted shades of one color. I’m not suggesting all black all the time either; this isn’t punishment! It’s a flattering way to honor your current body, right now today.

Business casual wear: Opt for an undershirt and tuck it in (remember it’s only a layering piece), then slip on a pullover or sweater. Avoid clothes with texture or large print; think cashmere, half-zipped. The opening of the neckline in a V is slimming and draws the eye up to frame your face. The undershirt will keep your belly in place, and if it’s a “slimmer” type fabric, even better (google “smoother undershirt”). The pullover, along with well-fitting trousers, creates that slimming vertical line. Depending on your coloring, consider charcoal, navy or chocolate in both trousers and cashmere sweater. Long sleeves help create a proportional and pulled together look. Wear your belt at belly button level; wearing it under your belly will only draw attention to it.

Social, casual, or weekend wear: Don’t add bulk. Avoid cargo pants with their big pockets and hoodies with front pouches that add to the visual girth. Do I really need to mention fanny packs? I actually still see people wearing them! Wear sweaters and jackets that hang below your waist , but NOT below your crotch. Find that perfect proportional point for your body. Try wearing jeans and trousers at your hips, not your waist. It feels funny if you are not used to it but give it a chance. Don’t tuck in; wear pullovers instead of button downs to trick the eye. Match the color tone of your top with your belt. The illusion is a longer torso.

Suits: Create a streamlined look by matching the color tones of jacket, pants, and dress shirt. Avoid breaking the look by wearing black trousers with a yellow shirt for example — too much contrast. Avoid cuffed or pleated trousers. Ask your tailor to add an inch to your waist and subtract an inch from your inseam, then your trousers can sit comfortably on your hips, without touching the ground. Refrain from carrying bulky items in your pockets; that is what leather brief cases are for. Stick to a wider tie, never a skinny one, and always be sure it touches your belt. I advise to avoid crew necks and absolutely no turtlenecks. Stick to v-necks and flattering shirt collars with detail and interest like contrasting fabric in your power colors. These draw attention up to your communication center — your face.

One of the best slimming tricks is to wear suits or sports coats. The extra layer is a great camouflage, but more importantly, it’s more elegant and sophisticated. It communicates you are a man of detail and class. By doing so, you will always look better than most men of any size. The goal isn’t to look tall and skinny, instead it is to honor your body and yourself regardless of your size — and that speaks volumes.

ABOUT TRACI MCBRIDE: TRACI IS THE WARDROBE STYLIST AT TEEMCBEE IMAGE CONSULTING. SUBSCRIBE TO HER NEWSLETTER, SCHEDULE A STYLE STRATEGY CALL, OR REQUEST TEE SPEAKS TO INFUSE YOUR ORGANIZATION WITH PASSION AND STYLE.

Develop a Signature Style to Meet Your Goals

Q: Would you share some tips for men who want to express what you call “your brand at a glance?”

 

 

A: I’m so glad you asked. First, think about what you want your appearance to express. Research proves that 65 percent of all communication is visual. What are your clothes saying about your personal brand? Developing your signature style requires knowing who you are and what you want others to note about you before you open your mouth.

Here are some tips for women and men: the fit of your clothes will always be No. 1 in my book—regardless of the cost of the item. It is vital that the clothing be tailored to your body, sleeves perfectly hemmed, and the break in your trousers just so. There should be no pulling and tugging at your waist or buttons. Pay attention to proportion – know your body shape and what length of jacket flatters your unique shape.

The cut of each garment should flatter your body shape. For example, wide hips give you the opportunity to put more emphasis on your upper body. Men can widen the lapels; women can add button detailing on jackets or punch up and visually add width with a scarf.

Know how color interacts with your skin tone, especially near your face. Men should pay attention to the color of their shirts, ties, and pocket squares. Women should do the same with collars, jewelry, and scarves. Know what certain colors communicate to others:

  • Red: Action/Angry/Passionate
  • Purple: Creative/Imaginative
  • Blue: Trust/Loyalty/Integrity
  • Green: Balanced/Self-Reliant

Don’t forget the details:

  • Polished and cared-for shoes, leather purse or briefcase.
  • Updated and flattering eye wear.
  • Watches or jewelry that go with the mood of your outfit.
  • Grooming must be top notch, and watch out for overly aggressive scents.
  • Manners and etiquette often have room for improvement; brush up on yours and avoid pointing out others’ faux pas.

Body Language: If you have ever received mixed messages when meeting someone new, it was likely because of a visual mismatch between their body language and facial expressions. Are you dressed confidently, but your stance, handshake, and eye contact are weak? Are you a friendly, open person, but your body language is turning people off before you can share who you are? Do you stand or sit with your arms crossed over your chest? OK, maybe you are always cold, but break that habit. Others may be reading it as either you don’t believe what they are saying, you are judging them, or you are not open-minded. Check your posture too because your clothes will always hang better if you don’t slouch. Good posture communicates confidence. Be thoughtful about how to make others comfortable with you so that they respond as you want them to. Appropriate body language will set you apart from the crowd — as a leader and not one of the sheep. How do you do that?

Utilize an unexpected mix of the classics; use color and layering to show that you are not a rookie but an experienced problem solver. Be mindful of texture, print, and shine as you build your wardrobe. Most people do not go that extra mile to achieve their signature style. Instead, they play it safe, dressing exactly like everyone else. Of course, most men and women need support and direction to pull it off successfully. That is why an image consultant needs to be on your speed dial. Don’t lose an opportunity by blending in with the crowd. Jot down three to five “style words” that you want others to know about you at a glance. For example — polished, knowledgeable, fun, detail-oriented, outgoing, chic, eclectic, classic, sharp, risk-taker, etc. Give some thought to how your clothing choices can visually communicate those style words. Communicating your signature style is about using the tools of color, fabric, cuts, layering, mixing, and matching to create your unique image. This isn’t easy. Since few people are successful at everything, getting help and support will ensure that you invest wisely in your wardrobe. Your image is your brand; nurture and protect it. You will find that it will pay dividends in personal confidence, increased opportunities, deeper relationships, and goals met or exceeded.

ABOUT TRACI MCBRIDE: TRACI IS THE WARDROBE STYLIST AT TEEMCBEE IMAGE CONSULTING. SUBSCRIBE TO HER NEWSLETTER, SCHEDULE A STYLE STRATEGY CALL, OR REQUEST TEE SPEAKS TO INFUSE YOUR ORGANIZATION WITH PASSION AND STYLE.

What’s Age Got to Do with It?

BY TRACI MCBRIDE

Q: How can I avoid looking old as I approach my 50th while competing for opportunities against much younger individuals?

A: Ahh, yes, an age-old question (excuse my pun). First, realize that your beliefs and thoughts on any subject will predict the outcome for you. If you believe that 50 is old, then that is what you will communicate visually, verbally, and in your body language. Have you caught yourself saying things like, “I’m feeling old,” “I can’t keep up with these kids,” “it’s a whole new ball game” or perhaps complaining about your aches and pains to colleagues.

First, consider changing your attitude of what old is or what old looks or feels like; then follow these steps.

  • Self-evaluate: How are you communicating your strengths? At 50, that would be your wisdom, skill set, education, experience, and overall confidence.
  • Evolve: Look around and identify individuals that make 50 look good. Not only people you know but also acquaintances and strangers. Keep that visual in your head and not those that haven’t embraced the natural process.
  • Identify: Determine where you need an adjustment. Begin working that muscle by reading books, enewsletters, attending workshops, hiring a coach, etc.
  • Visually: How long has it been since you changed your hair, make-up, eyewear, clothing, colors? When you are dated in any of these categories, that is an indication to others that perhaps your skills or knowledge in your field are out-dated or stale. You will always look fresher and more energized when wearing your power colors near your face. Communicate that you are on top of your game and that you know better by tailoring your clothes to perfection. Invest in garments and fabrics that are the best you can afford. Regardless of your shape or size, if you are wearing the right silhouette for your shape with attention to detail, you will communicate a clear message that others will want to hear.
  • Verbally: What are you saying out loud? Are you using current words and terms? Are you mentoring someone younger or being mentored by someone that is maturing gracefully and that you admire? Be thoughtful of the words you choose. Avoid taking over the whole conversation and allow the other person to finish their thought without one-upping them with your experience with that same situation.
  • Body language: Are you portraying your confidence and expressing yourself openly and with enthusiasm and excitement? When you are passionate about your expertise, do others see that? Of course, being authentic is the key. Adjust your body language while being aware of others. Use the belly button rule: When two people are in a conversation (even briefly) and they stand belly button to belly button, this communicates they are truly interested in hearing each other. If you notice the other person is only slightly turned toward you with most of their body facing away from you, they aren’t truly interested in what you’re saying. Be a sport and let them go. Spend time chatting with those that value face time with you. Knowing when to end a conversation is a skill for you and a gift for others.
ABOUT TRACI MCBRIDE: TRACI IS THE WARDROBE STYLIST AT TEEMCBEE IMAGE CONSULTING. SUBSCRIBE TO HER NEWSLETTER, SCHEDULE A STYLE STRATEGY CALL, OR REQUEST TEE SPEAKS TO INFUSE YOUR ORGANIZATION WITH PASSION AND STYLE.

Roll with the Changes that Come with Entrepreneurship

BY TRACI MCBRIDE

Q: How can I shift my wardrobe and style from corporate-matched suits to becoming an entrepreneur while on a budget in 2017?

A: First, congratulations on taking the plunge as a local business owner. Secondly, since many new clients consult with me for exactly this reason, I’m happy to share some quick “Get Started Tips.”

Develop your signature-style recipe: Give thought as to what you want to communicate about your visual image. When you walk into a networking event, what do others decide about you in the first 30 seconds? Example — Relatable, Trustworthy, Polished, Detail-Oriented. When you look in the mirror, this is what you want to see and feel. Develop a wardrobe using color, texture, fit, fabric, and style that tells your signature style. Be authentic.

Break up the suits: Each jacket will create multiple new looks within your current wardrobe. Female example — that classic navy suit jacket will look fresh with grey-striped or glen-plaid pants with a few skinny metallic belts over the jacket to define your  waist. Male example — pull out the classic sports coats you didn’t wear at the office and layer over a cashmere-blend three-quarter zip-and-dress shirt and team up with slacks from a suit and add a dash of color in your breast pocket.

Add flattering color: Sometimes in corporate offices showing too much personality isn’t easy, and most play it safe. Now is the time to set yourself a part and really stand out by expressing your unique personality. Color demonstrates confidence and makes others notice you. The secret is wearing your Power Colors, which will make your skin tone look bright, energized, and ageless. Avoid anything that drains your face and dulls your skin while causing shadows.

ABOUT TRACI MCBRIDE: TRACI IS THE WARDROBE STYLIST AT TEEMCBEE IMAGE CONSULTING. SUBSCRIBE TO HER NEWSLETTER, SCHEDULE A STYLE STRATEGY CALL, OR REQUEST TEE SPEAKS TO INFUSE YOUR ORGANIZATION WITH PASSION AND STYLE.

Resist the Fashion Urge to Wind Up in the Red

 

BY TRACI MCBRIDE

Q: What should I consider while trying to make better decisions in shopping for clothes?

A: Let me share six simple steps for wardrobe shopping with purpose and making every buck count:

  1. Being mindful of what you already have in your closet (take an inventory), enhance it by adding texture, shine, print or pattern.
  2. If you have an abundance of black, vow not to buy more.
  3. Avoid creating garment orphans, which is common when shopping without a plan.
  4. Color is confidence and your friend, especially your personal power colors near your face.
  5. Tailor for best fit, or you are wasting your $. Most people can’t score a perfect fit off-the-rack. Tailoring is key; budget for it.
  6. Honoring your personal proportions is absolutely the priority over trends or fads.
ABOUT TRACI MCBRIDE: TRACI IS THE WARDROBE STYLIST AT TEEMCBEE IMAGE CONSULTING. SUBSCRIBE TO HER NEWSLETTER, SCHEDULE A STYLE STRATEGY CALL, OR REQUEST TEE SPEAKS TO INFUSE YOUR ORGANIZATION WITH PASSION AND STYLE.

Tattoos: Taboo or cool at company events?

BY TRACI MCBRIDE

Q: I work in a conservative marketing firm. I get invited to several holiday events by our biggest clients and wondered if wearing something a little sexier that would show off a tattoo on my upper back would be appropriate.

A: Tattoos have become very common, and people of all ages are proud to show them off. Tattoos are a way of expressing your individuality — which I’m all about. Having said that, you did mention you work in a conservative company, so perhaps being mindful of that is the key here. What you didn’t mention is the size and subject of the body art. A little butterfly or flower on your shoulder is one thing, but a life-size skeleton head with blood oozing out of it is a whole other thing.
 
Since the tattoo isn’t considered “holiday tradition,” perhaps expressing your unique style could be wearing gold glittery pumps and a sparkly scarf or wrap, skipping the usual LBD (little black dress) and kicking it up with a flattering dress in your power color, 
and brushing on a little deeper eye shadow. This would work with the professional crowd while saving your tattoo for the weekend holiday festivities with your friends and loved ones.

ABOUT TRACI MCBRIDE: TRACI IS THE WARDROBE STYLIST AT TEEMCBEE IMAGE CONSULTING. SUBSCRIBE TO HER NEWSLETTER, SCHEDULE A STYLE STRATEGY CALL, OR REQUEST TEE SPEAKS TO INFUSE YOUR ORGANIZATION WITH PASSION AND STYLE.

When Fashion Options Are Limited, Call on the Classics

BY TRACI MCBRIDE

Q: If my budget determines only investing in one new look this season, how do I determine what it should be?

A: It is always best to invest in classics over trends and instead add an accessory that speaks of a trend you love.

I don’t suggest buying into a trend unless it fits certain criteria: It brings you joy, it flatters you, it’s in budget.

Women: An on-target perfectly tailored suit never goes out of style. Each piece mixes into many other business and polished casual looks.

Trusting you already have the basics this season, a men’s-inspired chalk-stripe suit paired with a rich, silky color punch with a bow blouse is an elegant look. Slip into an easy-to-wear trend with color-block pumps or suede-tassel pumps with a substantial stacked heel, no higher than 3 inches if wearing in a more traditional business setting. These pieces will give you more bang for your buck as each item works into endless other looks, business to evening to weekend.

Men: With a slower trend cycle than women’s fashion, two qualities dominate in modern suits. A perfectly tailored cut that empathizes and complements the male physique that women love. Tailored to broaden the shoulder and trim the waist in a single-breasted style. Now if you have the suit already, perhaps a velvet sport coat with the same tailoring mentioned above, but if that is too far out of your comfort zone than go for a sport coat with velvet peaked lapels and wear with confidence, you are the alpha male

ABOUT TRACI MCBRIDE: TRACI IS THE WARDROBE STYLIST AT TEEMCBEE IMAGE CONSULTING. SUBSCRIBE TO HER NEWSLETTER, SCHEDULE A STYLE STRATEGY CALL, OR REQUEST TEE SPEAKS TO INFUSE YOUR ORGANIZATION WITH PASSION AND STYLE.