People often tell me that they want to update their look, upgrade their wardrobe or get themselves organized – but don’t know where to begin. Getting started can often be the scariest part of making significant changes in your life; but once you understand what steps to take, you’ll be on your way.
How you project yourself in public matters a great deal and, like with most things in life, what goes on behind the scenes has a big impact on what everyone else sees. Here are six quick tips I give to all my clients to help get them on the path to better managing their image and life. Most importantly, take the time to do it right. This is a process, not an afternoon project.
Polish your shoes and re-sole if needed. Scuffed up, worn out shoes are one of the first things people notice – especially women. Buy the best you can afford; well-made footwear is an investment, will last years and is worth every penny. Make sure they are well fitting and of a current or classic style. Just as trendy clothing can make you look dated or silly, so can outdated footwear.
When it comes to suits or sport coats, know your size and get proper tailoring. That means the jacket’s shoulders should sit on your shoulders, some shirt cuff should show at your wrists, and you should be able to comfortably button it up. Find a good tailor and make him your best friend. Shorter or stockier men should avoid three-button jackets in favor of two-button models which offer longer visual lines and appear less bulky and constricting. Always choose natural fabrics like superfine wools and cashmere. Linen and cotton are excellent choices for warm weather.
Know what colors work for you. You already have preferences based on the colors to which you’re naturally drawn. If nothing else, ask a friend to honestly assess what does and does not look good on you. You can also have a professional colorist do an analysis of what colors work best with your complexion, hair, and eye color.
Invest in a good bag. This makes a real difference both in both your appearance and confidence. Focus on a more formal bag for work, preferably leather, and then a casual one for running errands and general use. Recently I posted an article on the blog about finding the right bag for you; it’s worth a read.
Cuff links are a wonderful place to express your class and creativity – just don’t go for anything too tacky or cartoonish, it will backfire. Leather goods like portfolios, planners, wallets and card holders should also meet a high standard of quality and craftsmanship.
Clear out the old clothes. Go through your closet and donate anything that you have not worn in more than a year. If your closet or dresser is cluttered with clothes that you simply don’t wear anymore, or items that you purchased on sale with the honest-to-goodness intention of wearing but never actually did; get rid of them. You can’t even see what you have and are just making your life more difficult than need be. Be brutally honest with yourself and in the end you will be happier for the effort.
It’s actually not that hard; when you take a few minutes and look at your dressing patterns you will start to recognize the self-selected wardrobe you actually use every day. There are plenty of organizations that can put your underused clothing to good use. It’s a simple truth, so just do it.