Anna Soo Wildermuth

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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: Men’s business casual

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.

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.

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!).

The tie speaks

tiesuntitledI am fascinated by ties worn by politicians, especially the color and widths while watching news channels and late night talk show hosts. It seems like every color of the rainbow and tie width is making an appearance! Folks who are in style, wear more narrow widths and venture into the lavender, purple and burgundy colors, rather than traditional tie colors that come in wider widths and in blues, reds and grays. The right tie with a complementary suit and jacket sets the tone needed to deliver their message. Smart, elegant or casual earthy tones should be consistent with a desired long term outcome.

Mix and match

3d human with a red question markClassic styling has dictated that shoes, belts and handbags match. Today’s trends are more in the mix and match category like wearing colors and patterns.
However, a man wearing a dark leather high gloss brown shoe would choose a dark brown leather belt in an high gloss finish like a lizard print. He would keep the same color scheme with different leather blend.

Women have gone in the opposite direction. A black shoe might be matched with a patterned purse in a totally different color. What makes it work is the clothing pieces worn to complement the black shoe. I still believe if you are more comfortable with matching then add a mixed pattern in the same color.
Whatever you choose to accessorize, make sure it is the best quality leather or fabric.

Tie or no tie

nmm04y0-holiday-tie_mxI went out with friends to a high-end Chicago restaurant for a New Year’s Eve celebration. Most of the men were wearing either a suit or a blazer with an oxford dress shirt and no tie. One out of 15 men might have worn a tie. Also, the men chose a shirt varying from light to dark colors. Ties can appear too worn when seen at official events and observed on television anchors and doctors.

Blue suits, brown shoes

brown-shoesAt a recent wedding I attended, all of the groomsmen wore brown shoes with blue suits. This is not new if you look at old movies, especially those starring my favorite, Cary Grant, who wore brown shoes with his blue suits. The brown shoes add a bit of casual flair and mitigate the seriousness of the suit. The darker the brown, the more serious. A lighter brown adds a relaxed look to the suit. Both shades of brown add elegance to the look.

Framing your face

Stripe Shirts with TiesA very important but frequently underestimated sartorial consideration is the framing of one’s face. After you are finished donning your ensemble, but before you present yourself to the world, take one last look at your face in the mirror to see if it is appropriately complemented by your choice of clothes and jewelry. For example, a closed collar strengthens formality and authority attributes whereas an open collar signals approachability and connectivity. The color of your shirt, blouse or jacket is a critical choice as it can lend a powerful but subliminal highlighted quality to your face. A necklace can also be chosen to enhance your preferred projection, but be careful not to let it be a distraction. A recent choice by Barbra Streisand was particularly interesting. Her face was well framed by her hair. She used a long necklace to accentuate her body length for this particular concert occasion.

 

Critical tools for a successful 24/7 presence

Clients who are on the road 24/7 and continue to look great usually use these tools along with one key strategy. The tools include:

• A full length mirror in their bedroom or dressing room
• Good lighting
• A portable clothing rack
• A suitcase packed with toiletries that are replaced regularly when supplies get low
• A portable umbrella
• Several zip lock plastic bags in several sizes and some rubber bands

The strategy is that on Sunday pull out the portable clothing rack and begin to assemble the wardrobe, including shoes and accessories, for the whole week…just like if you were going to pack a suitcase for travel. If you are getting ready to travel, pull items that you can coordinate around three colors. Also, pack one backup outfit for emergency or unplanned events. If you follow these guidelines, you will be prepared for all situations and for meetings in and outside of the office.

Flip Flops

flip flops.cn11037686It is interesting to see flip flops become somewhat of a main footwear choice on Main Street. Flip flops are designed now in every material from rubber to upscale leather. Recently, at a 5-Star restaurant for dinner, I was disappointed to see men wearing leather flip flops! It was a dinner not lunch. There are so many cool casual shoes that resorting to flip flops is not necessary.