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’s 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.

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.

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.

Why is presence so important?

targetOften, I observe technically competent folks with reasonable communications skills rise up the ladder pretty quickly and then hit a wall. The C-Suite does not see them as the face of the organization. This usually is first impressions garnered on connecting with an audience. It is the way they carry themselves meaning posture, pace and how they look any audience in its collective eye.

Also, it’s putting together clothing choices, grooming and the key ingredient of style and confidently navigating situations. They can be cut some slack if it is noticed that confidence and communication skills promote steadiness. Can some develop the critical factor of presence to move into the C suite?  Yes, with the right coach, mentors and champions, the C-Suite is a possibility!

Workout clothes

nike-esquire-sneakers-white
Many companies have gyms in their buildings for employees to conveniently work out during lunch or before / after work. While this is your private time, it does not mean that you should wear clothes that look like you are ready to clean your garage. You never know who you will bump into!

In fact, you can use working out as an informal way to network. You don’t have to wear the latest matching workout clothes and shoes (which I find a bit contrived but I do like the fun shoes men are wearing!).  Just look clean and smart. Also, make sure the clothing is not too small. I recently saw women wearing leggings that left nothing to the imagination – not an appealing sight.

Look the part

24Looking the part is the first step and a very important one. It is a combination of what and how something is worn. When an outfit does not fit properly or the color does not flatter you then the choice of the clothing is not appropriate for the occasion.

Look at the leaders in the organization to see what makes their look resonate. This will help you discover what creates the right look for the role.

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.

Runway material

Key to LeadershipRecently, I heard a comment about an executive that leadership-wise, he was not runway material. What exactly is runway material? It is someone who enters the room with confidence, poise and an understanding of the audience.

This person intuitively understands the emotional intelligence necessary to make a connection. Once a leader shows senior management s/he are runway material, the path to the C Suite opens wide!