Dress For Success

Posted by admin on February 22, 2009 · Leave a Comment 

DSMag Editor, Genn Shaughnessy asked Julia Hampton, CEO of Nu-U Image Consulting to give some insight on overhauling your wardrobe and catering to a more professional image.

When dressing appropriately for professional & sales attire, can you give some basic things to always keep in mind when planning an outfit?

Something to always keep in mind to assure you are dressed appropriately for business are to pay attention to how others around you in your work environment are dressing and take it up a notch. If everyone else is wearing khakis, a button down and no tie- try throwing on a tie. You will be treated accordingly. If you dress smart and neatly, you are more likely to

Be treated in a professional fashion and be taken more seriously. For women, make sure to keep your hair and nails clean and well groomed. Keep make up to a minimum, think less is more. If you are going to be on your feet all day, choose a comfortable pair of shoes - not four-inch heels and last but not least.. if you have it, it’s probably not a good idea to flaunt it. You will not be taken seriously or respected as much by either sex if you are showing too much cleavage in the work place. Another thing to keep in mind when picking out an outfit is not to worry about trends at this point. You’ll impress your co- workers more in conservative, professional attire, and you’ll get more wear out of it. Stick to the basics. No one will notice if you wear a pair of black pants 3 times a week or a white button down but they will notice the trendier items or more outlandish pieces being worn more than once.

What is the right fit for shirts, pants, jackets?

Shirts: When deciding if a shirt fits, there are several things to look for. With a men’s dress shirt, once buttoned, there should be just enough room in the collar for you to slip a finger in and move it around the neck. The body of the shirt should have room that allows for movement and not come untucked when sitting or so long that it bunches underneath the trousers. For women, the bust line is key, make sure the shirt is not pulling and lays flat once buttoned. The shoulder seam should come just to the edge of the shoulder. Length of shirt depends on how you will be wearing it. If you are wearing a blouse that will not be tucked in, it should hit right below the waist band.

Pants: Pants should not be too tight around your waist that you have to lay down to be able to zipper them up, but they should stay put without a belt. As for the length, they should come

to 1/3 inch from the ground or about half way down the sole of the shoe. Your socks should remain mostly hidden unless sitting. As for women, when wearing heels, have your pants tailored to come 1/3 inch up the heel.

Jackets: When fitting a jacket, you should keep in mind what kind of layering you plan on doing underneath. Generally speaking, you should have it fitted with a dress shirt and a light sweater on to allow for enough room when the temperature drops. The shoulders should feel snug but you should be able to button all buttons without any pulling. As for sleeve length, you should see about a quarter to a half-inch of shirt cuff. You should have someone check out the fit from behind and raise your arms to make sure the rear vents are not pulling.

How does someone know if a suit jacket or pants is the right fit? Length for arms and legs, waist, etc.

For suits, the right fit discussed above stands true. The only difference would be for a suit jacket, you do not need to allow room for a lightweight sweater usually. The jacket shout be able to be buttoned without pulling across the chest, shoulder seam should hit just at the end of your shoulder, and the sleeve length should hit the top of you thumb knuckle. The pants should fit flat across the front with no horizontal pulling on the top of the thigh.

What are appropriate colors for winter /spring?

Some great color choices for winter are black, reds, greens (especially emerald which is hot right now) blues, purple and white. Think dark and crisp. As for spring, colors should include crisp colors like those in the winter, but is more closely with the colors found in the spring such light pink, a brighter red, peach, purple, lavender, kelly green, and aqua.

What colors should someone avoid during a job interview?

Black: Although it may seem like the classic way to go, black can also make someone feel that you are unapproachable. If black is all you have, try adding a punch of color with a colorful shirt and tie or for ladies, use separates in black. For example a black pencil skirt or dress pants and a light colored blouse to soften the look. Try gray instead, it portrays sophistication and confidence. Red, orange, yellow: while all beautiful colors and can be very flattering on some can also be very distracting if worn in large amounts. You want the interviewer to notice you and your abilities and not be overwhelmed by what you are wearing. Your attire should compliment your assets not overtake them.

What is considered age appropriate for … 20s 30s 40s 40s+?

Women in their 20’s and early 30’s - virtually anything goes at this age. There are some hard fast rules however, tight fitting clothing, mid-drift baring, cleavage showing tops and mini skirts are not appropriate in the work place. After work, if you have the body for it, then by all means go for it but please keep it to a minimum. If you are going tight on the bottom, wear a more conservative top and vice versa. Accessories to the 9’s are most acceptable at this age and can be played with in a fun youthful way. Mid 30’s and 40’s - this is the time when you need to re-assess your style and make some changes. A more tailored and sophisticated look is needed. Think classics. You can still have fun with your accessories though and play with scarfs, jewelry, bags and shoes. 40’s+! First of all, there is no need to ever dress like a grandmother and wear only pastels, florals and knitwear. Just think of this age as classic, timeless pieces that can be worn without all the accessories you might have once worn in your 30’s and early 40’s. Keep your style simple and elegant and you are sure to shine. As for men, 20’s and early 30’s, you can get away with distressed jeans, low top sneakers, and graphic tees. Approaching 40 however, a more subdued look should be attained. Look for more classic darker washes in denim, flat front trousers, button downs, plain tees and loafers are always a safe bet.

How does one know if it is considered to be in season or not? What fabrics are in / out for winter to spring?

Figuring out if items in your closet are still in season can be tough. If you stick to classic cuts and styles as a general rule you will safe. All you have to focus on is fabric and colors then and whether they are season appropriate. In winter, all types of wool like worsted, boiled, knit, and cashmere or any blends of such are appropriate. A heavy silk is also appropriate. Spring is more of a transitional period. You can get away with lighter wools such as gabardine, and Silk can be worn year round and you can go for a lighter weight fabric according to the temperature outside. Colors are tricky!! Traditionally winter colors are the darkest and most jewel-like (black, charcoal, grey, browns, olives, navy, burgundy, and so on ). While spring is roses, aquas, beige, light blues and so on. So my advice is to rely on the fabric type and weight to determine the season more than color because designers now use just about every color in every season.

Julia Hampton is the CEO and Founder of Nu-Image Consulting please visit her website for more info.

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