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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Does shouting work for you?

A New York Times (NYT) Sunday article featured Mario Batalli, chef, cookbook author, television personality talking about working in his kitchen. His philosophy and communication style as leader is that you do not have to shout to work with each other.

The culture in the kitchens of many restaurants is to yell to communicate. The high pressure, time sensitive, noisy environment lends itself to this.

On Tuesday, August 28, acclaimed chef, Charlie Trotter, was featured in the Chicago Tribune because his restaurant is closing on Friday. He discussed what he did to change the atmosphere and talked about chefs who became famous but may have paid a high price for that fame.

So, here we have two celebrated chefs, successful leaders in their own field and businesses, with two different styles. One style was forged twenty some years ago and the other is relatively current.

The questions to answer are what works best for you, does it benefit you and do you learn from it?

Getting to know you

In a recent New York Times article, the CEO of Four Square stressed the importance of allowing others to know you. I firmly believe it is critical to network inside your organization—to reach across the aisle and functions to touch base with others. This can be done via a quick cup of coffee, breakfast or lunch.

Besides the inherent value of building relationships, it also adds to your knowledge of their group – technologies, current business and people events. Folks move up in the organization because of people who know them. In today’s rapidly changing work environment (with flexible hours and virtual teams), we often don’t have the luxury of reaching across the lunch table to say hello.

Nonetheless, commit to having lunch with a co-worker at least once a week. Doing this will broaden your exposure and at the same time educate you about the organization from another viewpoint.

The well organized closet

The main thing about organizing a closet is that it must work for the owner. However, I have seen many closets over a period of twenty years and am still surprised how disorganized they can be. Once in a while, though, I will come across one that is perfectly organized for the owner.

Here are some tips on how to organize your closet so it works for you.

If you love to mix and match your clothing:

• Arrange all the like items together: slacks, shirts, jackets etc.
• Arrange the like items by color, so all your black slacks are first, then brown, blue, etc.

This way, all the like items start with the same color arrangements.

If you tend to wear your clothes by outfit:

• Arrange your closet by outfits.
• Cluster your suits together with a top and accessories (tie or jewelry).
• Arrange your sweaters with the appropriate bottom.

The main thing about your closet is to arrange it so you can dress easily. You want to be able to look picture perfect without too much drama.

For Men Only: Suit Pants- Pleats or No Pleats?

Non-pleated front slacks have become very popular. The question that arises is who should wear these slacks? And should they be cuffed?

Non–pleated front slacks have always been the usual look for jeans and casual twill slacks. Recently, they became vogue in suits for the younger man. For example, with a black suit, the no pleat style slack works with an athletically cut jacket.

Over the last five years the non-pleat slack has been tailored with a fuller leg. This allows a cuff. In the traditional no-pleat slack, the leg was slimmer with a no cuff hem.

So, should the younger man wear them and the older man not? Not necessarily. It depends how the pants fit. The no-pleat front slack is best worn by someone who has a flat stomach and slender legs. Age doesn’t matter.

The slender bodied older man may look quite sharp with non-pleat front slacks worn with a sport jacket.

The well proportioned younger man may end up wearing a pleated slack and look just as smart. Also, designers have become savvy by pairing the pleated slack with an athletically cut jacket.

So the bottom line – men wear what best fits your body type.

When does a good hug become a bad hug?

In a professional setting is a hug appropriate? Or is just appropriate at holiday parties?

Generally speaking, the only time you can to touch someone in a business setting is when you shake hands. However, what happens if someone wants to hug you or the urge to hug strikes you?

Female to female or male to male is not usually a problem. Even then, hug with caution. To be on the safe side, don’t initiate a hug unless you have a long term relationship with the “huggee”, and it’s been a custom for the two of you.

In a male/female situation, as a male I do not recommend initiating a hug. If a woman hugs you it’s fine to reciprocate. Remember, in a business setting it’s one hug—gentle and brief.

If you’re at a holiday party where alcohol is served, hug with caution. Many a career has been ruined because of a hug that became more of a hugggggg.

No tight squeezing, please!

How does positive body language impact you and those around you?

Recent research by Dr. Richard Perry of Ohio State University and a team of psychologists has suggested that an upright posture affects how others see you and how you see yourself. The study consisted of two groups. The ones who sat up straight experienced more confidence than those who sat in a slumped position.

Studies have also shown that when you smile, even if you are not particularly happy, good feelings begin to flow.

So, the next time you are walking down the hall, walk straight with a smile on your face. Those around you will perceive you as being more confident.

Half the battle is having those around you feel more confident about you. When they are, it gives you more opportunities to showcase yourself and to possibly expand the horizons of your professional life.

How do you sparkle?

In watching Michael Jackson’s “This is it”, I was especially fascinated by his stylists and designers use of Swarovski crystals and sequins. I loved Michael’s gold crystal pants.

This brings to mind the growing use of jewels to accessorize day wear such as tee shirts, jackets and pants.

Glittery adornments have traditionally been worn in the evening or by performers. Not any more. So, the question arises—when is sparkle appropriate?

The general rule for a professional environment still holds. Save your sparkles for the evening and holiday events. The one exception would be those who work in creative or entertainment fields. To them, I say go for it!

Color also makes a difference – neutral colors like black, white and topaz create an elegant look for sparkles and sequins. The jewel colors- red, gold and purple- will always have a festive look to them.

Finally, if you want to have some flair but you’re uncertain as to how much, you can wear a scarf with a bit of sparkle.

What do our nails say about us?

Hand grooming is critical to projecting a professional image. Torn cuticles and ragged nails are unacceptable. Does this mean that your nails always have to look manicured? This question comes up time and time again.

Some people never have cuticles that grow. These folks just need to be sure their nails are clean and filed. They can manage this grooming themselves.

Whether your cuticles tend to be dry and unsightly or you want to prevent any nail issues, a bi-monthly manicure is a good way to ensure your hands look their best.

Men should keep the nails short and filed semi round.

Women can finish their nails rounded or semi square.

Nail polish also reflects personal taste. If men choose to polish they need to go for a non shiny look. For women a neutral color is best.

However, if you’re in the arts or a creative field, you can add some flair.

Your nails speak louder than you think when they are not well groomed.

When is it too much plaid?

I remember when plaid could only be seen in flannel shirts. It seemed to be worn only by those who wanted to hike in the woods or hunt. (Or as your grandfather’s favorite piece of clothing!)

But now, multicolored plaid is everywhere. It shows up in coats, shirts, skirts and shoes in many color variations. In fact, when you see some of the color combinations, it makes you ask— what are they thinking?

And the only plaid that continues to be cool (and expensive) is the Burberry plaid in black and red. You see this exclusive plaid in coat linings, scarves or umbrellas.

So, if you want to be in the fashion savvy group, you can add some plaid to your wardrobe. But make sure it doesn’t look like you raided your grandfather’s closet.

Don’t Burn a Bridge – You may have to cross it again

It is so easy today to be upset with work challenges. Especially when you know jobs are tough to come by or when you have a co-worker or client that is continuing to give you a hard time or is treating you poorly.

How about the person who doesn’t return a phone call? Or the person who says negative things about you. It may be a one time incident or a constant problem.

You always want to take the high road unless it is a life threatening situation. Once you’ve said or done something, it’s tough to take it back.

You may have to work with that person, department or organization again. We have seen this happen these last few weeks with Obama and Fox news. Instead of it going away it has gotten larger than life. I know these parties have quite a bit of clout so you might think they can get away with it.

I still that say that some day these folks will need each other and they may regret what has been said.