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: Women Business Casual

How often does an image need updating?

question_makrs_cutie_mark_by_rildraw-d4byewlIt is important to keep updated and fresh. Anna’s rule is at least once every two to three years to take a look at your hair style, eye wear and clothing choices. When was the last time you refreshed your hairstyle? As women age, makeup can either go lighter or need more color.

Men’s hairstyles change. A young man’s hair style can look foolish on a man over 50 unless he is updating his clothing choices appropriately. Jewelry styles change but good classic lines never become dated. Men’s pant styles rules get broken everyday based on the age, figure shape and industry.

We always want to stay contemporary, especially in a professional environment.

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.

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.

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.

Outerwear – First Impression

IFun-Fur-Credit-Sandra-Semburg-Vogue_fr_ recently noticed a professional woman wearing an oversized mock faux coat walking toward her car. I love faux fur coats when they look either real faux or real in-between. A faux fur looks best when styled to look that way. There are colors and fur types that shout: I am not real! Even so, they make a fashion statement. A faux fur that tries to look real without having a contemporary style appears cheap and matronly.

My late mother had a mink coat that she stopped wearing because it became too big and heavy. We brought her a faux fur in deep forest green in the traditional style. It looked sharp, fun and she loved it!

 

Leggings or slim pants

skinny pantsLeggings hug the legs almost like a second skin. There are some leggings made in a heavier weigh knit but they are still leggings. Instead of the skin tight look, opt for a pair of pants that have slim legs. The real good ones on the market are comfortable and will add a polished look to your business casual appearance especially when worn with polished boots. Also, the new shorter boots are becoming more of a traditional look than a trend.

How much is too much skin?

reject-stamp-showing-rejection-denied-or-refusalI understand the trend is sleeveless tops and dresses have become more acceptable for business and social occasions even in zero temperatures. Low cut tops are now on the forefront especially with actresses and some news anchors.

However, be careful not to get carried away. Recently at a 4-star, high visibility dining establishment, a patron was wearing a top that barely covered her breasts. It was unflattering because of way too much skin showing and because of the fact that her breasts kept sliding out of the top causing her to constantly try and adjust it! Cleavage can be attractive but only if there is a hint of it.

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.

 

Jewelry

petrified_woodRecently, when working with a client in refreshing her wardrobe, we realized that the jewelry that worked a few years ago needed to be replaced with more statement pieces for a couple of reasons. She was recently promoted to a senior vice president role and the office went to a more casual environment.

So now, for her, professional casual is more fitting. She also travels internationally. In upgrading necklaces and earrings choosing the right proportion of each is critical. Increasing the size of the stones by one half and wearing a more intense color will add the impact needed to create the elegant, smart, professional casual look.