Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Many things in life will get in your way. Don't be one of them.

A couple of years ago, I went on a trip with a guy I was dating. We got along quite well so I expected to have a great time. On the second night of our trip, he confessed, "Things don’t seem to be working.” Apparently I offended him earlier in the day when I suggested that wearing his policeman's badge to a party that night may be considered a “buzz kill”. I tried to imagine how he could not see my point. Still not seeing it, I could only apologize and explain that any offense was completely unintentional.

I take responsibility for my actions. I clearly did not put my best foot forward, and should be more careful about what I say and how I say it. In addition to social etiquette, putting your best foot forward also means looking and feeling your best. Studies show that people will form beliefs about your socioeconomic status, your education level, and your desirability within seconds of meeting you based solely on your appearance. And other people aren't the only ones judging you. Think about how YOU feel about yourself when you don't like your appearance. So it's pretty important, don't you think?

I compare dressing well to exercising. Exercise and you feel better. Therefore, you act better. Therefore, you are better. Dress well and you feel better. Therefore, you act better. Therefore, you are better. You can tell when someone feels good in his or her clothes – they act confident, open and friendly. A well-dressed person creates opportunities they would not have had otherwise. Dressing well means simply knowing how to dress your body shape and for your lifestyle.

15 practical tips for dressing your best:

1. Know your body shape. The key to dressing well is creating a look of balanced proportions. For example, if you lack curves, wear tops that broaden the shoulder to create a curvier silhouette.

2. Be mindful (and proud) of your stature. What you wear should be relative to the size of your frame. For example, if you’re a petite 4’11” and wear a full-length coat, you will only look shorter. If you’re a large woman, wearing tiny accessories will make you appear larger.

3. The number on the label does not matter. While there are general sizing guidelines, each designer uses a different fit model; therefore, your size will vary by designer. If it fits properly, it’s your size...period. Accept this and then smile to yourself when someone tells you how great you look.

4. Wear colors that make your skin glow.

5. Establish a relationship with a good tailor. Few people can wear garments straight off the rack. Fit the widest part of your body first and have it tailored to fit the rest of you. A simple alteration can make a world of difference.

6. Shop smart. Have a plan. Know what pieces you already own and build on them. Only buy something that has purpose in your life or completely inspires you. Try everything on and don’t wait until the last minute to shop. If you have a closet filled with clothes but nothing to wear, it is because you haven’t shopped smart.

7. Dress your body the way it is now. I hear this regularly: “I really need your help but I want to lose 15 pounds first.” I promise you will be amazed at how much weight you can “lose” simply by dressing your current body properly. Moreover, looking and feeling better will only motivate you to lose the weight faster.

8. Trust your gut. Friends and family often don’t know any better than you and will only tell you what you want to hear instead of what you should hear. If your gut says "No" while Mom and Sis are saying "Yes", then don't buy it. Hire a professional wardrobe coach for objectivity and expert guidance.

9. It is better to overdress than to under-dress. The act of dressing up shows self-respect as well as respect for those around you. Any person who negatively comments on how dressed up you are does so because they feel like a schmo.

10. Choose quality over quantity. Invest in the key pieces of your wardrobe. Shoes matter. You can be flexible with everything else.

11. Don’t buy into trends. Trends are rarely universal and by definition go out of style quickly. Think wisely before spending your money on them.

12. Less is more. The various parts of your outfit should complement each other, not compete for attention. You can mix and match patterns as long as one takes the lead and the other plays a supporting role.

13. Wear the right undergarments. The importance of wearing the right undergarments cannot be overemphasized. When “the girls” are in proper position, your tops will drape beautifully (and you’ll look thinner!)

14. Attitude helps. If you mistakenly wear something inappropriate, act like you meant it. In other words, “Fake it ‘til you make it.”

15. Believe you’re worth it. Others will notice and care how you present yourself. You should, too.

Follow these tips and you’ll be ready for the job interview or date of your dreams, or at least for whatever comes next in your life.

Best wishes for a smart and successful year ahead!