That’s right – creating balance and proportion matters so much more than a number on a clothing label (they’re so infuriatingly inconsistent anyway!). Looking great doesn’t depend on your size, it’s what you do with it.
The first step to creating balance and proportion is to understand our body shape and our natural proportions. From there you can work out where you’d like to add width (yes you read that correctly) and where to keep things streamlined. It’s all about tricking the eye.
Here are the four most common body shapes for women. Which one best reflects your shape? Click on the pictures/links below to get more details on each body shape and suggestions on what to wear to create balance and proportion.
Still unsure or would you like more detail on how to dress for your body shape, style personality and lifestyle? Then join us for one of our upcoming Group Style Sessions in Canberra or Brisbane. We also run individual sessions if you’d rather do it in the comfort of your own home and let us have a sneak peak in your wardrobe.
It’s the perfect role and you want it. You’ve prepared by researching the organisation, practiced interview questions, you’ve even worked out the commute time and where you’ll be able to get your morning coffee. You want to make a great impression but have you decided what to wear yet?
Think it doesn’t matter? Wrong. In those first few moments of meeting someone the interviewer or panel are immediately forming opinions on you based on what they see (your appearance and body language), what they hear (the tone of your voice) and finally what you say. Based on these factors they are judging whether you are suitable for the role, assessing if you can do the job and will you fit into the organisation.
With so much riding on those first few moments it is important to nail your personal presentation – so how do you get it right?
1. Understand the dress code
The dress code – there is one. Written or unwritten there are guidelines as to what is acceptable and what is not for each industry, organisation, position and client group.
No wonder it can be tricky to navigate the dos and don’ts. If in doubt, it is always better to dress up than down.
Here are some handy hints:
- Look at your industry, if you work in one such as finance, law, or medicine accepted dress standards are more conservative. There is an expectation of smart tailored attire and a polished finish, usually a suit. At a minimum – smart business is required.
- If you work in a creative industry it is expected that you will dress with some flair, incorporate current trends and use interesting colours, textures and patterns.
- If you work in a people focussed industry such as health, education or not for profit it is expected that your clothing is practical, comfortable and modest.
You may be looking at roles in various sectors so remember that you may need to modify your look to ensure that you mirror the organisations dress code. For example if you work in PR and apply for a position with a financial institution your interview outfit would be quite conservative compared to what you would wear to an interview with a fashion retailer.
2. Eliminate the image breakers
An image breaker is something that in your eyes diminishes a person’s character. Sounds harsh doesn’t it? Image breakers impact on the impression that we make on others, especially the first impression. Unfortunately, we are wired to judge others based on their appearance, body language and tone of voice.
The aim in eliminating image breakers is to take away those superficial distractions. So that others see the image that you wish to project and focus on what you have to offer.
It is important to point out that image breakers don’t have anything to do with personal attractiveness, but rather attention to detail, grooming and behaviours. The list is endless (remember we are aiming to be the least offensive to the most number of people) and includes things like poor posture, ill fitting clothes, or underwear on show. For more see Top 10 Image Breakers.
3. Remember the finishing touches
I have seen many a great outfit let down by scruffy shoes, untidy hair or poor personal hygiene. It’s not enough to have a great outfit you need to look at the whole picture from head to toe, front and back. Invest in good quality accessories such as shoes and bags and ensure that you are well groomed.
A great first impression is important but so are continuing and lasting impressions. Always present the best version of yourself.
Has the suit had its day? Even though trends have moved to a more ‘mix and match’ approach there are still many industries and professions where you are required to be suited and booted.
So here are some of the things to bear in mind when buying a suit and making sure you get the right fit.
For work the darker the colour the more authoritative you appear. For example, on a scale of 1 to 10 (where 1 is white and 10 is black) you want to wear a colour that is 5+. The obvious choice would be investing in a black suit because ‘it goes with everything’ but I feel that black can often (not always) be too harsh with colour. It’s best to combine black with white, cream or grey.
Instead opt for a (still conservative) charcoal or navy suit. Not only will they go with so many other colours but also means that you don’t look like you have played it completely safe. If your industry and confidence allows – embrace colour.
2. The Cut
I often hear from clients that they find it difficult to find a suit that works for their body shape. This makes sense given that suits were originally designed for men. Suiting has evolved and are available in a number of styles including boxy, fitted, semi fitted or draped.If you understand your body shape (Hourglass, Rectangle, Triangle and Inverted Triangle) and know the shapes that flatter your figure it will be much easier to identify the silhouettes that will work for you.
Check out next week’s post – Top 10 Suits, which will be categorised by colour, shape and style. There will be lots of detail so that you can work out the best match for you.
3. The Fit
An ill-fitting suit can undermine your look. When buying off the rack, alterations are the key to getting the perfect fit.
What you should look for:
- Jackets that fit well across the shoulders and bust area with no creasing or excess fabric.
- Jackets that can be done up.
- Skirts that finish no higher than 5cm above the knee.
- Skirts and trousers that you are able to fit two fingers between the waist band and you, any more and the it’s too big, any less and it’s probably too tight.
- Traditionally for trousers, the line of the fabric should fall straight from your bottom to the floor rather than contour around your bottom. However, as fashion evolves we are seeing more contoured styles (this does not include leggings!) in the workplace. If your work is more conservative then opt for a straighter style.
- Trousers that finish where the heel and the sole of the shoe meet.
Remember stay tuned for next week when I’ll post the Top 10 Suits categorised by colour, shape and style.
Do you need help to discover your best colours, styles and shapes? Join me at the Hub – Canberra Centre on Sunday 31st August for Group Colour and Group Style Sessions. Find out more.
Ok, so I’m putting myself out there and sharing an old photo of myself. Oh yes, that’s me! Circa 2000/2001, before I learned what worked for me and what didn’t. You see, you don’t have to be born with an innate sense of style, I definitely wasn’t! You can learn the tricks and tools to create looks that suits your personality and lifestyle.
So why do we get it wrong?
1. Does this suit me?
Do you know what suits you? Understanding the colours, styles and shapes that flatter you means that you’ll make less mistakes. You’ll end up with a wardrobe you love, full of pieces that mix and match as well as the confidence to try new things.
2. The dress code – there is one
Written or unwritten there is a dress code for every occasion. Understanding the code and adapting your style to suit it ensures that you are always dressed appropriately. If in doubt, it’s better to be dressed up rather than dressed down.
3. Ignore your lifestyle and personality at your peril
I am addicted to party dresses! Anything with sequins or sparkles and I make a bee line. That was fine when I was out 4 nights a week but hardly appropriate now. I’d be better off investing in garbage bags as they are much easier to wipe off food stains and other unmentionables from – I have two young boys. If most of your week is spent at work then invest in good quality work pieces that will last a number of seasons. Don’t spend a great deal on fad or trend pieces as you won’t get the wear out of them.
4. The impulse buy
Let’s set the scene. It’s Thursday, you have an event on Friday evening and just one hour to find an outfit. You end up buying something because it will do rather than because you love it. You wear it once and it ends up languishing in your wardrobe unloved and unworn. Planning ahead each season and undertaking a six monthly wardrobe review will identify any gaps so that you can add pieces that you love and have something for every occasion.
5. Influenced by friends and family
I know I’ve mentioned this before in ‘How to Avoid Feeling Like an Alien’ but it is really important to trust your judgment. If it doesn’t feel right then it’s not right. Yes, it may fit perfectly, the colour may be great and you may be met by oohs and has when you alight from the change room but if you feel like an alien you’ll never wear it.
6. Alteration alert
If you can buy clothes off the rack without requiring any alterations give yourself a high five. For the rest of us before you head home from your shopping trip stop by your friendly tailor and get your alterations done. I find if you don’t do it within a week they never get done.
Would you like to discover your best colours, styles and shapes? Join me at the Hub – Canberra Centre on Sunday 31st August for Group Colour and Group Style Consultations. Find out more.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of presenting a Professional Dressing Workshop to a fabulous group of women. One of the topics we discussed was creating a great impression and eliminating the image breakers.
An image breaker is something that in your eyes diminishes a person’s character. Sounds harsh doesn’t it? Image breakers impact on the impression that we make on others (especially the first impression) and unfortunately, we are wired to form judgements on others based on their appearance, body language and tone of voice.
The aim in eliminating image breakers is to take away those superficial distractions so that others see the image that you wish to project and focus on you.
I asked each member of the group to come up with their top 3 image breakers in relation to personal presentation at work. It is important to point out that none of the image breakers identified relate to personal attractiveness but rather attention to detail, grooming and behaviours.
So here are the top 10 (in order):
1. Ill fitting clothes
Clothes that are too tight or too baggy may indicate that you lack self-awareness. In most instances for work it is most appropriate to wear garments that are semi-fitted rather than fitted. If you find that you are in between sizes, it may be worth getting the larger size and having it altered.
2. Ripped, worn or soiled clothing
Always check your clothes for stains, rips and general wear and tear before returning them to your wardrobe. That way if you’re in a rush you won’t find yourself in a position of putting something on that needs attention but you don’t have the time to deal with it.
3. Underwear on show or poorly fitted
Well fitted underwear is the key to looking great. Ensure that you have a professional fitting at least every 12 months and invest in the right pieces to complement your wardrobe.
4. Showing too much skin – in particular short skirts
A couple of rules for work attire: skirts should finish no shorter than 5cm above the knee; and tops should be no lower than 2.5cm above the cleavage. Outside of work it’s all about personal preference (and a whole lot of confidence!).
5. Heavy make up
Keep it simple. If you like wearing make up I recommend having a make up lesson every 2 – 3 years to update your look to ensure that it is current.
6. Untidy appearance
It may lead others to assume that you are overwhelmed or do not take appropriate care – not only in your appearance but also your work.
7. Wearing casual clothing that is inappropriate for the occasion (i.e. track pants, ugg boots and leggings as pants)
Others may feel that you don’t care enough to dress appropriately which in turn shows a lack of respect for your clients and colleagues.
8. Chipped nail polish
I understand that it can be tricky to fit in a regular manicure (either at home or a salon) so it may be better to go au-natural. At a minimum keep nails short, filed and clean.
9. Chewing gum
I highly recommend chewing gum after a meal laden with onions or other such odours, but best to be discreet about it. Chewing gum in a meeting is an absolute no – no but amazing the number of people who do it.
10. Large tattoos on display
This is a hot topic given tattoos are a growing trend and more widely accepted. Just be aware that they are not everyone’s cup of tea.
Are they what you expected? What would you add? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Summer is here and so many of my clients are crying out about their skin woe’s during this time of year. Canberra’s climate goes from dry and cold to hot and sunny in no time and the dramatic change in climate can stress your skin. So its time to ditch the winter skin care and change your regime to achieve that summer glow we are all after!
Step 1: Exfoliate!
Nothing like a good scrub to rejuvenate a dull complexion. Doing this once or twice a week you will be helping to keep your pores clear of dirt and dead skin that can cause breakouts and blackheads. It also makes the treatment and hydration steps of your regime more effective because it is being applied directly to fresh skin.
These are the perfect summer exfoliator! An anti-aging self tanner that contains Active Vitamin D will help to tighten pores, eliminate black heads and fade existing sun spots while giving you that beautiful summer glow!
Step 2: Treatment!
So now that we are fresh faced, its time to apply a treatment mask. If you find that you have lots of black heads or break outs then a mud mask will really help to extract the impurities or if you find that you suffer from redness and uncomfortable skin then a soothing hydrating mask will work wonders. Most of us though will be looking for something to make us soft, smooth and replace all the nutrients our skin is missing, then you must try an Algae mask!
Nutrient rich Algae nurtures and balances the skin leaving it soft and smooth! – Myer $40
Step 3: Hydrate!
It’s time to ditch the rich and thick winter moisturisers and opt for a lighter hydrator, preferably with some spf. If you have large pores and are quite oily then go for an oil free moisturiser to keep those pores clean and clear. If you have a delicate, finer skin then go for a light weight moisturiser that contains a rose oil to keep you wonderfully hydrated. For most of us though, a general spf moisturiser that contains Hyaluronic Acid (an ingredient that binds water into your skin) will do the job!
This miracle skin saviour is a must at summer! Hydrating and filled with antioxidants, it also contains your daily dose of sunscreen! – Mecca Cosmetica $45
Having beautiful summer skin is easy with these threes steps. Do this routine once or twice a week and I promise you a glow greater than Jennifer Hawkins!
Lesley has been working with make-up since 2006, being predominantly involved in bridal and fashion but also dipping into freelance television and celebrity event make-up. ‘For me, it’s not just the creativity of make-up art, but the opportunity to work with a diverse range of people that keeps it interesting. Every woman is different in what she needs to feel beautiful and I enjoy finding out what that is and showing how to achieve that look.’
To find out more about Lesley visit www.lesleyjmakeup.com
Tis the season for after work events and the challenge of transitioning from work to play. You don’t actually need to be Wonder Woman and it’s not as tricky as you think – no spins or twirls required. It’s as simple as a little planning and playing with accessories.
Here are my top tips and a couple of examples of taking your look from day to night:
L-R: David Lawrence Sienna Notched Collar Crop Jacket $229.00, Veronika Maine Citrine Cocoon Dress $199.00, Trenery Clean Tip Tex Tote $329.00, Sussan Resin Weave Necklace $19.95, Joanne Mercer Snake Skin Heel $150.00, Veronika Maine Cocoon Dress $199.00, Peter Lang Circle/Teardrop Stud at David Jones $24.95, Sportsgirl Waterfall Necklace $29.95, Saba Jacey Snake Clutch in Blush $149.95, Marc Leather/Patent Wood Heel $149.95.
L – R: Sportscraft Peplum Jacket in Pink $299.00, David Lawrence Floral Print Gathered Neck Shell Top $104.00, Sportscraft Sateen Pencil Skirt in Navy $169.00, Sportsgirl Update Hoop Design Earrings $12.95, Kate Spade Flats Ring at David Jones $44.95, Marcs Leather Simone Satchel Bag $229.00, Mollini Nica Sandal $139.95, Sportscraft Peplum Jacket in Pink $299.00, David Lawrence Floral Print Gathered Neck Shell Top $104.00, Mavi Alexa Jeans $139.99 in Black Jeather, Peter Lang Double Circle Stone Stud $24.98, David Lawrence Leather Cuff $49.00, Karen Millen Textured Snake Leather Purse $125.00, Joanne Mercer Galactic in White $179.95.
Add or subtract
Swap a skirt for a pair of fabulous jeans or add/subtract a jacket to transform a dress or top into evening glam.
Pump up the shoes
Nothing says evening like heels but if they’re not your thing there are plenty of other options. The best party flats are metallic, embellished or patent leather. Mimco is a great place to find a pair as they often stock flat versions of their party heels.
Choose a piece of statement jewellery
This is where you can make the greatest impact – just add blingtastic. Choose a couple of accessories the night before and pop them in your clutch (see below) so you don’t forget.
Ditch the work bag
You don’t want to spend your evening lugging around a huge bag. Swap it for a small handbag or clutch.
Reapply (ok so this may take an additional 90 seconds)
Ramp up your day make-up by reapplying concealer, enhancing your eye make-up or adding a bold lip. Depending on the amount of make up that you like to wear you may need to allocate some additional time.
Enjoy the party season and remember dress responsibly!
Let me set the scene, you are shopping for a special occasion with a family member or close friend. You emerge from the change room to gasps and applause but you’re not feeling it. The fit is great, the colour perfect but you feel like an alien. You buy it anyway, and every time you pull it out of your wardrobe and try it on it never makes it out the door. The dress languishes guiltily in your wardrobe, reminding you of the money that you wasted on it.
It’s happened to me and I’m sure there are alien purchases hiding in your wardrobe too (perhaps even with tags on!). Forgive yourself, understand why it isn’t right for you and let it go.
So why do we get it wrong? There are three main traps that we fall into:
- Taking advice from people who don’t recognise or understand your style personality especially if you are not sure about it either.
- Imitating someone else’s style. An outfit may look great on your sister, friend or colleague but it doesn’t mean it’s right for you. After all you need to own the look.
- Being a slave to fashion. It’s all well and good staying on trend but if that means you flit from one fad to the next, not only will your bank balance take a hit but your wardrobe will not be cohesive or meet your needs.
So how do you get it right?
1. Define your style
It is often the first stumbling block that I come across with my clients and the most important to resolve. Understanding your style personality is the first step to creating a fun and functional wardrobe. I suggest buying 2 to 3 magazines (preferably fashion or lifestyle) and tear out pictures that appeal to you. The pictures don’t necessarily have to be clothing – hair, make-up or accessories all help with defining your style. Look at the pictures that you have chosen and identify a theme. Are you drawn to classic shapes and colours? Or, perhaps you prefer feminine styles with soft fabrics and floral patterns. It’s ok if you are drawn to a number of styles, as we are usually a combination of two to three style depending on our lifestyle.
Now that you have this information you can spot a potential ‘alien’ purchase and avoid it before it becomes another useless wardrobe filler. It is useful to do this exercise every few years as style personality can change over time with changes in lifestyle, work and budget.
2. Choose the right colours.
Do you find wearing certain colours lift your mood and make your eyes sparkle? You probably find that when you wear colours that really suit you receive lots of compliments. It’s what I like to call the ‘foundation effect’, the right colours give you a healthy glow, make you appear more youthful and reduce the appearance of blemishes and lines. A simple way to determine if a colour is right for you is to hold it up to your face and see what it does for your skin tone. Does it reduce redness, dark circles or blemishes? If so, you are on the right track.
3. Understand the shapes and styles that flatter your body type.
This is not about size, the aim is to create great proportions. Many of us focus on horizontal proportions but vertical proportions, face shape and scale are just as important when it comes to choosing the best styles to flatter you. Understanding the best lengths, silhouettes and scale of accessories will not only give you the confidence to try new things but also ensure that you always look fantastic. To get started I suggest that you try on those items that don’t quite fit or don’t work and determine what’s not right. For some items a slight alteration will fix the issue. For the rest….. it’s time to say goodbye.
I was lucky to work with a fabulous client a few weeks ago to create a portfolio of professional profile shots. The shoot was effortless not only because my client was a natural in front of the camera, but because she was very clear about her style and the image that she wanted to project. So if you are due some new professional profile shots here are my tips for ensuring that they are exactly what you want.
1. Be true to yourself
Don’t try to create a look or image that does not reflect who you are. You will appear uncomfortable and it will show.
2. Know your audience
It is worth familiarising yourself with your industry dress code to ensure that the image that you project reflects that. If your shots are too formal for your audience you risk alienating them and if they are too casual it may appear that you do not take your career seriously.
3. Hair and make-up
I have been guilty of not having my hair and make up done professionally and I have regretted it. You do need more make-up for photos as the lighting/flash will drain the colour and features from your face. I hate to have to say it but for photos most of us require more ‘air’ in our hair. Don’t be a victim of ‘flat hair syndrome’.
4. Review the photos
Ensure that you look at the shots before you finish the session to make sure that you are happy with them. You may find that a different pose or making small changes to your outfit will ensure that you capture the look you are after.
5. Work with an experienced photographer
Ask for recommendations and work with a photographer that has experience in taking professional shots. It is a great idea to meet or talk with your photographer before the shoot so that you can discuss the look that you want to achieve. It is not appropriate to use a photo from Friday night drinks taken by a friend or colleague.
6. Outfit choices – at least 2, even 3
What looks great in person may not look so great in photos. Changing outfits also means that you can create looks that are more or less formal and can be used for a range of purposes and clients. For example, sometimes you may want more formal shots for corporate and client purposes and at other times you may want to create a more approachable look for community engagements.
Most importantly, RELAX and enjoy being pampered.