Tattoos: Taboo or cool at company events?


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.


When Fashion Options Are Limited, Call on the Classics


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


Personal Budgeting Takes a Backseat to Industry Dress Codes


Question: How do I dress to be taken seriously and to gain credibility while on a budget?

Two pieces of information are needed for guidance.

First, read the company dress code.  Every company needs to clarify their expectations to 
employees on how they are expected to communicate the brand of the company.

Next, know your industry. Every industry has a dress code. There are four established levels of business dress formality, and your industry, whatever it is, fits into one of them.

Traditional businesses, such as law and banking, call for the traditional business suit or a slight variation thereof.

Creative businesses, such as advertising and design, call for a creative twist to the traditional uniform, like unusual colors or fabrication.

People-oriented businesses, like teaching and real estate, call for less formal professional pieces that convey expertise yet are seen as approachable.

Physically demanding jobs, such as child care or fitness instruction, call for attire that’s comfortable, flexible, and easy to clean.

Regardless of your industry or budget, how your clothes fit your body, the colors you choose, and grooming will always be what others will use to determine your credibility, seriousness, and professionalism.


Develop a Signature Look to Reach 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, give thought as to what you want to visually express. Research proves that 65 percent of all communication is visual. What are your clothes saying about your personal brand?

Developing your signature style is knowing who you are and what you want others to note about you before you have opened your mouth.

Here are some tips for women and men:

Fit of your clothes will always be No. 1 in my book, regardless of the cost of the item. It is vital to have the clothing tailored to your body, sleeves perfectly hemmed, the break in your trouser just so, and 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.

Cut of 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

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. Know the company culture you are walking into. Grooming must be top notch, and watch out for overly aggressive scents. Manners and etiquette always have room for improvement. Brush up on yours and avoid pointing out others’ faux paus.

Body Language: If you have ever received mixed messages when meeting someone new, many times it’s the visual mismatched to the 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, as 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, as your clothes will always hang better if you don’t slouch, and it communicates confidence.

Be thoughtful about how to make others comfortable with you so that they respond in the way you want them to, yet set yourself apart in the crowd — as a leader and not one of the sheep. How do you do that? By having an unexpected mix of the classics with color and layering that shows you are not a rookie but an experienced problem solver. Be mindful of texture, print, and shine as you build your wardrobe. Most do not go the extra mile to achieve their signature style. Instead they play it safe, dressing exactly like everyone else. I also know most men and women need support and direction in pulling 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 thought to how your clothing choices can visually communicate your style words. It is about using the tools of color, fabric, cuts, layering, mix, and matching to create just that image. This isn’t for the faint of heart, and not everyone can be successful at everything, so getting help and support as you invest wisely in your wardrobe is the key. Your image is your brand. Nurture and protect it, and it will pay dividends in personal confidence, opportunities, deeper relationship building, and reaching more satisfying goals.


Fashion Isn’t a Numbers Game

by Traci McBride

Q: A boutique owner asks: How do you recommend helping customers with the “size trap” issue — what a size label says vs. how it looks on their bodies?

A: This can be as frustrating to the client as it is the salesperson! This issue has become more prevalent the last 20 years since the U.S. government got out of the business of standardizing sizes. No longer do we have a standard sizing system across the board — so each manufacturer has developed their own specifications and measurements of sizing. Mass production has played into what shows up in stores.

My message is — It’s NOT you, its never you, it’s the clothes!

When I work with clients, pre-pulling clothes and stocking dressing rooms with the styles, cuts, colors, and sizes that they need to build on the wardrobes they have at home, I always bring several sizes to best gauge their sizes “at that store or by that Brand.” Many times a person will be one size at New York & Co. and then another size at White House/Black Market or Talbot’s. I keep notes of the sizes that best meet their needs at each store as well for future shopping trips. My goal is to act as an advocate for my clients so they won’t be “talked” into anything that does not honor their body — no matter what. Women need to stop beating themselves up with the numbers! Regardless of your size — from 00 to 3X — the number on the tag doesn’t determine your value as a person.

My advice is to avoid all garments that bunch, pull or sag and bring unwanted attention to an area of your body that you don’t want to focus on. Many times it’s necessary to up-size and then tailor the item to perfection. Off the rack garments need professional tailoring 90 percent of the time. It isn’t only about the size its about your personal and unique shape. Instead of thinking of it as a “bigger” size, look at it as a flattering size vs. unflattering size. Take the numbers out it.

Several retailers, such as Chico’s and Torrid, have changed the traditional numbers and instead use 00 to 4. Which only makes it all the more confusing for shoppers.

For the sales people out there, be mindful of how you approach giving support in the dressing room. Your words have a big impact on the fragile half-naked person in that tiny dressing room standing in front of a mirror! Treat others as you would want to be treated.

Really, the only way to find the right fit is to try on the clothes. Bring your best advocate to do your running for right-sizing and all the details that make up a supportive and effortless wardrobe that will show you at your very best every day.

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.

Uniform Decisions — Why Organizations Dress as They Do

by Traci McBride

Q: What is the role of uniforms in a place like a casino?

A: When any organization invests in uniforms, much thought needs to go into the process, such as:

  • Role that the employee is playing within the organization
  • Colors of the uniform – how you want the client to respond
  • Body types of each individual
  • Tasks the employees are responsible for in their roles
  • Comfort level of employee
  • Personal grooming
  • Branding of organization/business
  • Message to the general public

The role of uniforms in any setting is to communicate to the audience what can be expected. In the case of the casino, it is how its customers recognize and respond instantly to the role each employee is responsible to perform. Hostess, waiter, chef, dealer, etc. — you wouldn’t want a customer to walk up to a dealer to order a drink, for example.

Here are tips to choosing the right uniform for the job, regardless of the type of business:

  • Role of employee: Most business have different expectations for the role of each employee. Management skills are unique and need to have a flexible personality in dealing with so many different personalities while communicating respect to the employee yet lead effectively. Usually each level has uniform differences.
  • Colors: Standing out in the crowds, proving unity with overall branding, creating reaction
  • Body types: One style and cut doesn’t flatter every body type, but good tailoring can elevate the brand while flattering the employee which creates confidence
  • Tasks: Taking into consideration what the employees are doing in their jobs. Lots of bending, lifting, walking, carrying. The uniform needs to be mindful of the tasks needing to be performed.
  • Comfort: Providing options should the A/C be too high for the bare-shouldered cocktail waitress, heel height as well as shape of the shoe — marrying comfort with mood and flattery is a skill and needs to be taken seriously by management. This communicates a respect of talent and loyalty.
  • Personal Grooming: This is extremely important, and a written policy is necessary. Addressing cosmetics, hair, nails, scents, teeth, hosiery, facial hair, posture, breath are all key to spelling out the expectations.
  • Branding: Having an overall flow of tone and color while convening a clear message directed to every single customer that walk into the door.
  • Message to general public: We care about your comfort level and that you feel relaxed and valued.

Should you need specific advice on uniforms in your place of business, I am available for confidential consultations.

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.

Panty Hose Goes … as long as it looks natural

by Traci McBride

Question: Bare leg vs. panty hose? I am often asked this question. Women that despise hose actually get mad at me for not saying bare leg only! But there is a place for panty hose.

Answer: Think of hosiery as you would foundation for your face. The better the skin looks, the less concealer you need. Use these steps to determine what is best for you.

  • First, look to your company’s dress code — some require hosiery.
  • Second, look at your legs and the fit of your clothes. Now some of us just get a better, leaner, smoother line with control-top pantyhose.
  • Third, consider the color of your skin. Avoid wearing “suntan” if you aren’t. If you are pasty white, wear the sheerest, most natural shade to your skin tone.
  • Fourth, consider your preference and comfort.

The goal is to wear pantyhose so close to your natural skin tone and so sheer that no one notices your pantyhose.
Opaque black (or other dark-colored) tights will be trendy going into fall. This is easiest to wear if the shoes match the tights (black or other dark colors). If you are more daring, you can make a statement with contrasting colors. Don’t be afraid to try something fun like a small fishnet pattern, which is great for letting a bit of skin show through while having a dressier look than basic hose.

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 to Resist the Drab Look While Trying to Appear Relaxed

by Traci McBride

This month’s question comes from Facebook: How is it possible to be casual and comfortable this summer without being frumpy?

I don’t believe anyone purposely gets dressed thinking, “I want to be frumpy,” but sometime it’s easier to not care or to fool yourself into thinking it doesn’t matter. Looking your best every day, which I highly recommend, will pay off in aces, but it takes some thought to get your system down pat so it can support you.

My goal is guide and teach my clients how to build an “effortless dressing” system that is as individual as they are. To make changes, use the following criteria each day when dressing:

  • FIT, FIT, FIT — I can’t say this enough: Avoid big, baggy, oversized clothing. It only makes you look bigger and hides your shape. Fit, focus, and flow — fit the smallest area (under your bust or waist), focus the attention to your best asset (bust, face, legs, tone arms, etc), and let your clothes then flow over everything else. Those of you that think you are hiding your muffin tops or extra padding, beware. Baggy clothes only make them appear larger. Instead, instantly smooth them with a shaper camisole and shapely clothes. Another no-no is getting stuck on numbers. Don’t decide that, since you are a size 10, you won’t for any reason even try on a 12 even though it will fit and flatter you. You end up wearing your clothes too tight and practically bursting out of them — also unflattering. Most women at any size can wear a number smaller or larger, depending on the designer, cut, style, and fabric — so don’t get stuck on a number.
  • MAINTENANCE — Presenting yourself in a crumpled t-shirt with old stains on it communicates something very different than a pressed, clean t-shirt punched up with a colorful gauze scarf or bandanna tied at your neck. This extends to every garment, but please don’t forget your shoes! Be brave. Pitch those “broken in” shoes that have seen better days. I know they are so comfortable, but they are ruining every single outfit you wear them with. If they are not leather and can’t be spruced up by a talented cobbler, release them.
  • PROPORTION — Find the best dress/skirt length for you. Too long and you end-up in the frump zone, which is usually mid-calf, depending on your proportions, legs, and preference. Staying in the knee zone — just above, on or just below — is usually the best length. I will mention here also one of my pet peeves — cropped pants. I hate to be sharing bad news, but cropped pants are not everyone’s friend, even though just about everyone wears them. Finding just the right cut is the secret, but most don’t bother to do that, as it can be daunting. So just because every single store sells them doesn’t mean every single person should wear them. They cut you off in the just the wrong place to visually make your legs look shorter and heavier. Plus not every social situation warrants crops. Nonetheless, they are showing up everywhere, much to the disappointment of HR professionals. I get more business owners and managers calling about this one garment than anything else. I hear, “But, Traci, it’s summer, and I don’t want to wear shorts.” I then recommend they look for an ankle pant that is cut like their best, most flattering pants in a nice summer weight fabric. Those of you that carry your weight in your legs and thighs — go for maxi dresses and skirts, way more flattering, fresh, on-trend, and feminine.
  • DETAILS, DETAILS — Have you been slipping on a top and bottom and walking out the door? It’s all in the details of adding a scarf, earrings, and a bracelet … you know another detail that communicates style and confidence. It doesn’t have to be fussy or heavy, but accessories in your power color can brighten your face and tell the world, “I like and respect myself, so you better too.” Don’t forget the shoes. They are not only functional but can be flattering and fashionable. Stylish flats will always trump an athletic shoe (which is only for working out or power walking). Add a third layer to up the style factor: a vest, cardigan, unlined cotton blazer, etc. Show how you know what you are doing and took time to honor your look.

If your entire grooming routine and wardrobe honors your body shape, your personality, your lifestyle, your power colors, your goals, your business, your passions — you will ALWAYS look AMAZING.

For a casual summer weekend, here are my suggestions on how to look comfy not frumpy:

  • Color-blocked Tee, with a simple, solid skirt (knee-length or maxi), with tapered-toe, mixed-material flats or metallic sandals.
  • Layer a simple Tee or cotton tank with a summer-weight cardigan, khakis, and plaid or floral Keds.

For a casual summer look at work (based on a casual place of employment):

  • Cotton classic white button-down blouse with a great collar, polished vest; trouser jeans in a dark wash and kitten heels in a fun print; finish with a statement necklace in your power color.
  • Layer two-colored cotton tanks so both colors show, with a summer weight print cardigan and a pencil skirt in a neutral with peep toe espadrilles. Finish with a fun earring and bracelet.

For a more tailored summer look at work (based on more traditional place of employment):

  • The third layer rules in this category, as it lends an elevated image.
  • Colorful printed sleeveless blouse with a cotton unlined white or khaki blazer and pencil skirt or trouser slacks, with animal textured pumps, necklace or earrings.
  • Shirt dress is always fresh and classic with a self belt or a fun colorful leather belt and nude patent leather pump.

It goes without saying that all of the above pays off in huge dividends when your haircut and style is fresh, with no roots or rough, dried ends, and your skin tone is evened out, and your lips and eyes are kissed with a bit of make-up polish.

Sound like you need support developing or refreshing your personalized “Effortless Dressing System?” Give me a call — I can make it easy for you.

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.

Summer’s Here and the Time is Right … for a Black-out

by Traci McBride

Instead of the usual Q & A this month, I’d like to present a spring/summer challenge to readers:

WOMEN — Banish the black shoes. You might wonder if I’m off my rocker! The most common situation I find in closets all over Northeast Ohio is either all black shoes or mostly black shoes with a navy or brown thrown in there. I understand why women do this. They are thinking black is a basic; a staple that goes with everything since it is a neutral. We have heard this our whole life. Well, I always want to get you to stand out and look fresh, modern, and ageless every day, not just on special occasions.

So how do you avoid black shoes?

When wearing dark or black pants, instead use a pop of color that is part of your power color palette.

Use the season’s favorites of emerald green, sunshine yellow or poppy. Or stick with another neutral, nude (closet match to your skin tone), or metallic. Skirts or dresses in any color (even black if you must) will look fresher with nude, and it elongates your leg line.

MEN — Pop some color in unexpected ways. Men have so much less opportunity to add color since they don’t wear lipstick, earrings or statement necklaces. That doesn’t doom them to navy, brown, black, and grey for life. Splash that suit or sport coat with a eye catching pocket square that doesn’t match your tie.

Casually, an easy, fun, modern approach is to wear a shirt with a contrasting collar and cuff either the whole thing or just the inside area of the cuff and collar. That is an elegant touch. How about a colorful shirt with a vest and jeans? Step out of your usual and be daring.




Traci McBride is the wardrobe stylist of TeeMcBee Image Consulting and is a longtime supporter of nonprofit Dress for Success-Cleveland. She encourages readers to subscribe to her timely newsletter, schedule a style strategy call, or request Tee Speaks to infuse your staff or organization with a passionate professional punch of style to elevate and benefit everyone. Visit to connect and be inspired.

Create a streamlined daily routine that is joyful and celebrates you

by Traci McBride

Imagine this: You walk into your organized closet that contains only items that make you look your very best, in colors that make you look healthy, energized and ready for anything. With a glance in your personalized “look book,” you effortlessly choose a complete outfit based on the weather, your goals, and your audience.

Obviously, each of us needs to be dressed each day before we leave our homes. Regardless of how you spend your day, getting dressed is universal. Over the years I’ve been told how frustrating it can be to decide what to wear and get all the items needed prepped and ready. I’ve been in closets that have awkward organization, which causes the owner to dig through bins or shelving piled high with clothes to find the “other shoe.” Having the tools you need at your fingertips will completely change how you begin each and every day of your life. Regardless of whether you have a tiny closet or a huge walk-in that you share with your partner, having a system is the key to joy in the closet.

I talk and write about “closet detoxes” all the time, yet most people don’t take the time for this. I find when you have a professional come to your closet and sort through everything with you, it’s an eye-opening experience. Even if you are organized to begin with, I just know you have some items that you are not getting enough out of (or possibly none at all).

The system I’ve created has served so many over the years. While each person is unique with diverse needs, the system still works. We always need to begin in the closet.

Body shape I.D. and power color analysis are two of the tools we use to make the most of our detox. So with a few measurements, some natural light, and my handy color analysis system, we see the best colors to keep and the ones we want to pass along. These very powerful tools serve you daily.

Closet detox: We go through all your clothes, shoes, and accessories for the current season. You put on each item so together we can evaluate the fit, cut, fabric and color in the mirror, as I explain why each item does or doesn’t work on your shape. Then we move to shoes, accessories and coats, taking detailed notes of items we need to build on and colors we need more of, as we rebuild what you have.

Power shopping: Using only the targeted list we created, I shop for all your needs and prepare for your arrival at a dressing room at whatever stores we determined would work best for your needs.



Master the “mixx” and look book session: You take center stage as each complete outfit is styled just for you as we snap pictures of you in each for your look book. This step is the “secret sauce” to effortless dressing each day.


Traci McBride is the wardrobe stylist of TeeMcBee Image Consulting and is a longtime supporter of nonprofit Dress for Success-Cleveland. She encourages readers to subscribe to her timely newsletter, schedule a style strategy call, or request Tee Speaks to infuse your staff or organization with a passionate professional punch of style to elevate and benefit everyone. Visit to connect and be inspired.