Dear SOHO (small office/home office) business owner,
I know every day is casual day for the home-based business owner so don’t neglect your professional image when it comes time to leave the office for a meeting or networking event. Being fashion savvy can make an impact on that first impression for any business owner. Don’t feel you’re well SUITed to shop? I’ve invited Michelle LeDrew, Founder & President of High Maintenance Image and Fashion Consulting to share her image and fashion expertise for the business professional.
Fashion Tips for the Business Professional
First impressions go a long way. Period. As a small business owner myself, I understand the tendency to work from home in yoga pants and fuzzy socks. I get it. Afterall, it’s one of the major bennies of working from home. And, in full disclosure, I’m typing this in my red, polka-dotted robe, sweatpants & a long-sleeve tee, leftover from my morning outfit to the library. But, when it’s time to go out into the real world, make sure that you’re putting your best foot forward. Not only are you representing yourself, you’re also representing your business, your brand. You only get one chance to make a professional, “hire me” impression. So, make it count, and as I often say, “Dress like you mean it.” Here are a few tips to help you get out of your slippers and into your stilettos.
1. Unsuit your suits. Instead of organizing your suits with suits, separate the pieces and hang jackets with jackets, pants with pants, skirts with skirts. By doing this, you’re more likely to get double-duty out of your suit pieces. When a suit hangs with its mate, it’s too easy to think about wearing it only as a suit. When it’s hanging on its own, it’s much easier to think outside-the-box and wear it in an unexpected way. This is one of my favorite things to do! Some examples: wear a suit-pant or suit-skirt with a silk blouse layered under a cardigan; wear a suit-jacket over a crisp, white, long-sleeve button-down and a pair of dark denim jeans; wear a suit-vest with a colorful pair of cropped trousers. The options are unlimited. Have fun with it!
2. Splurge on classics; save on trends. Invest in timeless, seasonless pieces that you will wear for years to come. Examples include black, boot-cut trousers, an LBD, a fitted blazer, a cashmere cardigan, a power suit, a leather handbag, a classic pair of pumps. When it comes to trends…first, understand that not every trend will work for you. Decide what you like and what will flatter your shape. Then, shop wisely and frugally. If neon is too overwhelming for you, but on trend, try incorporating a bright scarf or bold-hued handbag into your wardrobe.
3. Shop smart. Usually, it is beneficial to enroll in your favorite store(s)’ membership/rewards programs. The more you shop, the more coupons and special offers you receive. Many times, these can be combined with current promotions. Additionally, every time you’re in a store (any store), browse the clearance racks! I have scored some of my best finds here! Who doesn’t love a bargain?
4. Finally, my tagline for my business is “details make the statement”. I firmly believe this. Basic, ordinary clothing can be transformed into fabulous, stylish outfits by the way in which they are pulled together and accessorized. Pay attention to the details: ensure items are clean and wrinkle-free; make sure pants aren’t too short (my biggest pet peeve) or too baggy (or vice versa); accessorize every outfit with carefully chosen pieces that compliment your look. By paying attention to the smallest details, you’re telling the world that you’re pulled together, sharp and polished.
Most importantly, remember that this isn’t rocket science. Have fun with it! Don’t worry about the prescribed fashion rules–I break them all the time. Style is personal…learn what works for you and what doesn’t. Until next time, dress like you mean it!
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Extending a special thank-you to Michelle for contributing to today’s Beeline for Business blog! – Melissa