In honor of First Lady Michelle Obama here’s a great article Beauty & The Business Suit from Publicist Angela O’Mara with The Professional Image, Inc. I’m certain you will find it enjoyable. In the mean time stay beautiful in/out of the business world!!!
Beauty and The Business Suit
Several years ago, a friend of mine who is a writer in New York was commissioned to write a “Dummies” series book on Dressing for Success. She had compiled a whole photo shoot of clothes selected from a variety of the black, brown and navy family of colors, the more “typical” business colors favored by most women and men, or so she thought.
She asked me what color suit I would wear to a business event. Black, brown or navy? My answer was red. “Red?” she questioned. “Even if you were giving a presentation? Wouldn’t you wear something more conservative?”
“If I was giving a presentation, I would definitely wear red,” I told her. “I want to stand out, not blend with the wallpaper.”
Just like I refuse to wear sneakers and nylons when walking to business meetings in Manhattan, I have always believed that to make it in the world of business, women must be seen in a positive way. We can still carry ourselves conservatively if we choose to, however, I prefer to be conservatively stylish and eye-catching. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean eye-catching as in lots of cleavage, big hair, make-up and gaudy jewelry. I mean being seen in a good way. The best way to accomplish that is to be seen as one of the best-dressed people in the room.
As women we have made huge strides in the work place, yet selecting what to wear to new client meetings, business meetings, business dinners and social “work oriented” mixers can be difficult. Over the course of my 20 years in business I have realized that what works best for me is to always be “over dressed”. In California that is not too difficult for the most part. In New York wearing black just makes you blend with the crowd. As women business entrepreneurs, the reason we start our own businesses is because “blending” is not something we like to do. We need to create for ourselves and be independent. That emotion should come across in our business attire too. A business suit does not have to be boring, frumpy or manly. It can be colorful, feminine and sexy if you know how to wear it well. I’m a business woman who wants to look like a business woman, not a business man.
Beauty can be found in a business suit, especially if it is well-tailored and paired with a great pair of heels, a vibrant scarf, bold jewelry or a stylish handbag. Follows are suggestions to WOW up your wardrobe just in time for your next business event.
1. Invest in a good black skirt or pant suit. It can easily go from day to night by simply adding a pair of shiny high heeled pumps or sandals, some gold or sparkly jewelry and a camisole.
2. Even a masculine pin-striped suit can look feminine if worn right. Look what Marlena Dietrich did for the Tuxedo!
3. Crocodile, alligator, leopard, snake and zebra prints are always IN. However, don’t overuse either and definitely don’t wear all of them at the same time. A leopard print scarf, crocodile (or a good imitation) shoes and purse, a faux snakeskin belt and zebra print bag can WOW up any neutral colored suit and make you look fabulous.
4. When speaking at an event be sure to select a suit that gets you noticed and one that you makes you feel at your very best. Also make sure it is comfortable, contrasts well with your choice of jewelry and that the shoes you select to wear that day are ones that you can wear all day. Generally when you are a guest speaker, you will find that you spend a lot of time on your feet. Good stylish and comfortable shoes are hard to find but are definitely worth the effort.
5. A basic black fitted or A-line dress is a “must have” for every woman’s classic business wardrobe. Think Audrey Hepburn. You can wear a basic black dress with flat pumps all day at the office, then tie your hair up, put on an oversized pearl necklace and gloves or bracelets, and you are ready for a night on the town!
6. You can wear white ANYTIME! I do! I love white suits. You can glam one up with a black shirt and black heels, wear it casual with a tan t-shirt and strappy sandals, or be sweet and wear it with pastels. A white suit is perfect for lunch or brunch meetings, although sometimes I even wear mine to dinner events.
7. Red, red, red. Another fave color of mine. Some people are even lucky and daring enough to wear red and team it with leopard print! This combination is only for the brave so make sure you are ready to make a statement.
8. Scarves are a perfect accessory to almost any business suit. Small scarves that tie around the neck look great when worn with a t-shirt under a jacket, or when wearing the jacket alone, especially with a pant suit. A navy pant suit with black heels and a colorful neck scarf can look very stylish on just about anyone. Try a scarf on for size. I would suggest picking up scarves in various sizes and colors that suit you. You never know when you might need one.
9. Jewelry doesn’t always have to match but keeping gold tones and silver tones together generally looks best. A grey suit dresses up well with silver, so does navy. Wherein browns and greens go better with gold jewelry. Often times, skin tone determines the color of jewelry that suits us most, as it does the color of a suit. Try a few colors and options on and see what looks best with your particular skin coloring before purchasing.
10. Don’t get trapped into buying your business suits from the same store or designer. There are many different designers that cover all price ranges. Shop around from everything such as The Limited or Express to Barneys and Nordstrom department stores where they offer many different designers. While suits are definitely getting harder to find, a good one is well worth the search! Enjoy!
Angela O’Mara has been in business for over 20 years as President of a national public relations and marketing firm, The Professional Image, Inc. As well as teaching MediaHotSeat courses, Angela works with business owners to strategize and implement effective public relations and marketing programs. Go to www.theprofessionalimage.com