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.

Personal Budgeting Takes a Backseat to Industry Dress Codes

BY TRACI MCBRIDE

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.

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 Look to Reach Your Goals

BY TRACI MCBRIDE

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.

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.

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.