It was 1990 when Andre Agassi uttered his famous tagline in a commercial for Canon saying, “Image is Everything”. It was a powerful statement back then, and even now it is widely agreed that image carries significant weight in what is believed about us in business. Skills and credentials cannot be discounted, but the most powerful message comes from how those variables are packaged through how we dress and our body language.
Christie Ressel, image consultant and owner of Personal Power Image Consulting, advises women everyday on how to dress for success. A family tragedy seemed to channel her into that professional direction. Christie lost her mother – her good friend – to cancer years ago and as a result she felt very lost and disconnected with herself. Rather than let it drag her down, this tragic event transformed her outlook on life, wanting more than ever to live a life she felt passionate about. Now as an international image consultant, Christie is helping women everywhere! She is Editor of Beauty and Style for ChicGalleria.com and an image consulting instructor at George Brown College. Christie is living her dream by giving style and image advice to women to help them feel chic and confident! She writes for over twelve publications about style, etiquette and communication and travels across Canada to speak at shows and events for women. In our interview with Christie, she shares some “must-know” business fashion tips for women.
“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous”– Coco Chanel
What are some of the business fashion faux pas women should steer clear from?
I think trying to be too sexy and fashion forward at work. While I’m all for expressing who you are, and having fun with your attire – when in a place of business, the key is subtly with fashion (unless you are in a very creative environment, in which case you’d have more leniency). If you dress too fashionable you’ll lose credibility with those around you. I recommend using more classic pieces in business that you can dress up while still looking professional. You can use statement pieces of jewellery to make your outfit current and have a pop (max of 2 per outfit) or use things like colourful pumps, and scarves with great prints.
And equally important – make sure that your shoes, clothing, and hair are up to date. This is s must!
How can choosing the right colours for a particular individual affect your professional image?
What most people don’t realize is that black doesn’t make most people look good (no matter what you think the slimming affects are). Choosing and knowing which colours suit you personally is the new edge in fashion and business right now. It really makes you stand out as an individual and gives you your own “it” factor. For example, if you’ve ever looked at a loved one, or someone you know and think to yourself, “Wow, they look great today” and you can’t figure out what the difference is because nothing has changed in their style – it’s usually because they are wearing their colours. It really enhances who you are. It makes your face lift and look brighter, you skin glows, the white of your teeth and eyes become more clear (goodbye whitening strips!), and it smoothes out skin tones so women don’t have to wear to much makeup! Not to mention, knowing your colours will save you time and money shopping because you’ll only invest in pieces that you know will make you shine! The best part? We’re naturally attracted to the colours we should be wearing (as opposed to what we’re socialized into thinking we need to wear) – so our closets will be full of things we can’t wait to put on that will make us feel and look stunning.
Just make sure you see a trained image consultant like myself to do your colours – sadly, many people do it incorrectly.
Is it possible to dress well without breaking the bank? What are some tips?
Absolutely! There is an endless supply of fashionable stores that cater to our personal and business lives. H&M is a prime example of that – they have a huge selection of current pieces that will fit anyone’s style, personality and lifestyle requirements.
What I recommend for women to do is invest in classic pieces – so clothing that has simple, clean lines – usually in a solid colour or neutral. This will give you a fabulous foundation for your wardrobe that will give you extra mileage. From there, purchase more inexpensive “trend” items that will only last a couple of months to make your attire current! You’ll end up with hundreds of ways to mix and match your outfits for your many different moods and occasions!
What wardrobe and accessory advice do you have for women who are going to a job interview?
I cannot stress enough how important it is to research the company you are interviewing for. Know whether you are walking into a company that is conservative, formal, creative, or fun. From there you’ll be able to pick the best outfit for the occasion. But generally speaking, a fabulous pencil skirt, medium pumps and blouse (in your colour of course) with your favourite accessories are best. If the occasion is more formal – add a blazer into the mix.
Make sure that you don’t go accessory overload either – 2 statement pieces at a time. Otherwise, you’ll look over the top and inappropriate.
What is one “must have” item a woman should have in her business wardrobe?
A stunning blazer or pencil skirt – either of these pieces can transition to evening looks as well for when you’re out with friends or a loved one!
What can a woman, who is interested in enhancing her professional image, expect in a consultation with you?
Well the first thing we’ll do is find out – you! I’m looking to learn about how you spend your time, how you feel about yourself, your image, and what your goals are. From there, I make recommendations on what I think would work best for you. It’s a really personalized experience for everyone. I’m not someone that will point to an outfit and say, “you need to wear this” as they do in makeover shows. I want women to embrace themselves, their bodies, and their signature style (which we help you create). You learn what works for YOU – your body, your life, and your personality – no more frustrating guessing games. From there, we’ll rummage through your closet and create new outfits, things to toss, and things to transition with. I can teach you about makeup techniques for your face, and take you personal shopping – it’s such a fun experience! A real treat because you’re taking time to invest in yourself. Something most women forget about or put on the back burner.
Books: “Style from A to Zoe” by Rachel Zoe and “The Little Dictionary of Fashion: A Guide to Dress Sense for Every Woman” by Christian Dior
Websites: www.wwd.com if you’re looking for up to the minute fashion industry news. www.personalpowerimage.com for blogs, articles, and newsletters on style tips, business tips, and image news for women!