Small business owners have a lot to think about when it comes to branding—logos, slogans, business cards, press releases, Twitter, Facebook, blogs … and about 103 other things! So it's not surprising we're often too busy doing what we're passionate about to think about what we wear and how it is a part of our brand. And what is it exactly that we do? Oh, yes … everything!
What we put on when we're working can be important. So I asked NOTCOT friend, fashion experts and fellow small business REVOLVE Clothing for some practical advice about fashion. One look at their site and shop and it's obvious they understand what looks good! Michael Mente and Mike Karanikolas founded REVOLVEclothing.com in 2003 and then added Forward-Forward.com in 2008. The company's Creative Director Cristy Turner shared her wisdom about what to wear!
Q: What would you say to someone who said they didn't need to
Q: What would you say to someone who said they didn't need tothink about fashion because it didn't matter in their type of business?
A: There's so much truth to the idea that first impressions last a
A: There's so much truth to the idea that first impressions last alifetime. I meet so many people through industry meetings and job interviews and that first snapshot really shapes perceptions. Showing up to an interview in flip-flops or a college hoodie really doesn't communicate, "I'm an ambitious go-getter, ready to manage important projects." Likewise, dressing up a little for the office on a daily basis (or at least putting some effort beyond pajamas and Uggs) can also help with motivation. Our office is really casual but dressing as if I have a meeting already puts me in the mindset of productivity and professionalism. As a manager, that's important too.
Q: What would you say are universal pieces that every businessperson
Q: What would you say are universal pieces that every businesspersonshould own, no matter what gender or what kind of business they're in?
A: Everyone needs a great blazer! I'm not talking about a stodgy, ill-fitting blazer but a sleek, tailored piece that fits the shoulders and can last you years. A good blazer is great because you can pair it with a skirt or a trouser pant and be very "professional" in a more traditional sense. But you can also push up or roll the sleeves and pair it with jeans or a playful dress and be more playful or fashion-forward.
Q: What are some accessories or other tricks to transforming outfits that are a little off the dress code -- for example, showing up to a cocktail event in business casual?
A: I always bring a versatile jacket or sweater with me to throw on (or take off) any outfit I am wearing for just this scenario. If you're too dressy, a more casual jacket/blazer or sweater can tone down the pizzazz. If you're too casual, that very same blazer or sweater (especially if it is black), can give a more formal, night-time feel. For men, I think it's hard to go wrong with a great button-up in black or white. It can be read as both classy and casual. And if you need to up the ante, throw on a tie or bowtie in a snap. For the ladies, a little sparkle goes a long way. Any basic dress, even if it's jersey, is instantly dressed up with an oversized necklace or a really cool cuff or bangle. And heels -- whether chunky and funky or sleek and sexy -- can go day or night with a change of tights.
Q: In this economy, fashion isn't every business person's priority. So what do you recommend they spend on and where can they skimp or improvise?
A: Skip overly trendy items (hello, shredded denim and tie-dye!) and stick to cool classics in quality fabrics. A great blazer, versatile leather boots or cool dress shoes for men, and an everyday bag or satchel that can tote all of your necessities are always excellent investments and can be mixed and matched with so many looks, over and over again.
Q: What does what we wear have to do with how we brand ourselves?
A: I think a lot of people get dressed with the idea that whatever works is most "comfortable" -- whether that means sweatpants and an old t-shirt or your favorite worn-in jeans and flip-flops or sneakers. Style is about self-expression and interpretation. Whether you like it or acknowledge it, everyone you meet makes a snap judgment of who you are and what you're all about based partly on the style you put out there. So, for me, style can be really expressive and empowering and subtly (or pretty literally) present you and your identity to the world. What does that Che Guevara tee say about you? How about that three-piece suit? The antique heirloom broach on your sweater? Or the turquoise socks peeking out from your dress pants? These are all little clues into who you are so think beyond comfort to expression!