Anna Soo Wildermuth

Welcome to Personal Images, Inc.!

Here I'll give you up to date tips on developing your personal and professional image to ensure your first impression will be your best impression. Also I will blog about current image and communication blunders. Feel free to join the discussion by leaving comments, and stay updated by subscribing to the RSS feed. Thanks for visiting my blog. – Anna

Change One Thing is a superb book that gives excellent advice to help jumpstart your engine." Stephen R. Covey, author, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

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Archive: Appearance

When is Casual Too Casual?

haircut disasterNot long ago, a major US airline stopped two young girls from boarding their plane because their attire did not conform to airline policy. The problem was their leggings.   There was some back and forth on social media, but libertarian impulses tended to dominate and the airline took the brunt of the social verdict. But every once in a while we should use an incident like this to reflect a bit more broadly on how far we have come, and where we are heading in the realm of casual dress. My answer to the first question is that we have come a bit too far and a bit too fast. For example, the time-worn rule of thumb, “No shirt, no shoes, no service” has been up for grabs for many years.   What qualifies as a shirt or blouse these days is not much more than a couple of square feet of strategically stitched fabric. What qualifies as shoes would be called a thong on any other part of the body. It will be difficult or impossible to reverse the trends we have experienced over the 30 to 40 years that casual dress has taken hold in the professional environment. But each of us can do our part to hold the line against future erosion of dignity and good taste.

Sleeveless shirts- business casual

wedding-1Business casual has become mainstream for women in the office. Most senior executives do not go sleeveless without a jacket. If the work population has more men than women, associated must wear sleeveless shirts with a jacket or sweater. This is understandable because sleeveless shirts have a wide range of styles and can be too casual. Sleeveless shirts with collars are an option. They have more polish and in very warm climates can look professional without a jacket.

Nails – What do they say?

Nails 2Women: Nails are a major element to grooming and come in on different shapes including pointed and square contours. Colors range from dark purple to multicolored to different colors for each nail! Nail shapes and colors should complement your hair and add a polished look to the rest of your image.

Men: Nails should be cut short and stay clean under the nail. However, I am seeing more men get lax by letting nails grow too long with jagged cuticles and dirt underneath the nail itself. Keep nails short (cut at least once a week). I recommend a manicure for a guideline on length and to keep cuticles neat. Nails too long and with rough cuticles are not acceptable if you want a polished elegant image.

Men and their shoes

brogues-and-jeans-730x500Polished leather shoes are becoming more commonplace with jeans for business casual. The rock stars and actors still favor the white or colorful athletic shoe. However, professionals have found that high gloss leather finished shoes gives elegance to their look.

Recently Marc Marion, a stand up comedian and podcast host, was featured in a well-known publication wearing very casual clothes with polished leather shoes. He looked very smart.

Being on time – a rare professional quality

alice-wonderland-rabbit-clockI often hear complaints about those who are never on time. They arrive late, run overtime in meetings causing extended sessions that nobody wants. Everyone is busy and it shows a lack of respect for those waiting. Here are some tips to stay on time:

• Plan to arrive 15 minutes early
• Plan a 60-minute meeting agenda for 50 minutes
• If you need more time as a presenter, ask for it in the beginning of the talk
• Always assume everyone’s schedules are busier than yours

Handshake Etiquette

conflict_resolution250WA handshake is a personal touch to establish a relationship. The dictionary states that a handshake is “a gripping and shaking of right hands by two individuals, as to symbolize greeting, congratulation, agreement, or farewell.”

I am continually surprised at the greeting handshakes that are either only finger tips touching or the grip is so strong it hurts. If you cannot shake hands for health reasons, just say I would love to shake your hand but I have a terrible cold or ___. It is better to speak up than to ignore shaking hands.
The five-star handshake is palm to palm, nice and firm with one or two pumps made while you look each other directly in the eye. This handshake says I want to get to know you.

Hugging

coaching 2Hugging in professional setting is really only acceptable when folks have a long term relationship and hugging has been established early on. If you want to hug someone, ask for permission to do so.

If you are not a hugger and have been asked if you can be hugged, it is your right to say no. However, do so in a way that lets the person know you want to have a relationship with them.

Hugging can be tricky when it involves men and women so proceed with caution. I personally like hugging a long term friend and client. It says to them I enjoy working with you.

Do shoes make the man?

nike-esquire-sneakers-whiteA recent Tribune article asked if a man can wear gym shoes with a suit. In celebrity magazines, we see actor’s wearing funky shoes with suits and tuxedos. If you are in the fashion or marketing industry or a billionaire why not? For everyone else, if you want to be taken seriously and not be the focus of conversations about your shoes, stick with traditional footwear. For pizazz, mix it up with a different color leather (not red!).

Hose etiquette

blue pattern leggingsI was surprised to see a Diane von Furstenberg model wearing dark hose with a light color sandal promoting a skirt dress. Wearing hose with open toe sandals is becoming more mainstream. These are a few guidelines to ensure you will look smart and not frumpy:

• Wear dark sheer hose with a dark sandal
• Pattern hose will look best with a sandal in the color same family
• Hose must be toeless – no seams at the toes
• Tights can be the exception in coordinating color with the shoe when the tights match the outfit

If in doubt, chose a color close to the sandal rather than the dress or skirt.

The Bad Boss

noRecently, I read a Chicago Tribune Business Section article about what makes a boss bad. Here are some of key findings:

• They do not recognize your achievements.
• They verbally abuse you in public.
• They pit you against your peers.
• They offer no support or tools to help you achieve results.
• They have no interest in you as a person only as a tool to achieve their goals.

How do you survive with a bad boss (And, I had more than one before starting out on my own!) The best way is to treat their unfortunate appearance as a learning experience. Also, keep in mind that these bad bosses treat everyone the same way so it is not personal.

Working through bad boss experiences helped me work with clients to make them better leaders.