You'll Definitely Be Seeing Red (and liking it) This Season! 3 Ways to Wear Fall's Hottest Color

As avid fashion followers, we love seeing all the looks and trends that come down the runways each season. It’s always so exciting and inspiring. That said, we’re also real women with real bodies and pretty typical lives, so it’s not always easy to translate what’s shown on the runways into our everyday wardrobes, not to mention our professional wardrobes. An easy exception to this is when an ‘it’ color seems to magically appear across so many collections.

This season we’re so excited to start incorporating everything red. Red is a fabulous hue for a professional - this goes for all you guys out there too. It's such a powerful and passionate color that is sure to get you noticed (in a good way). It's nearly impossible to not be bursting with confidence when you’re wearing red!

There are so many ways to wear red this season. We loved some of the monochromatic, head-to-toe looks many designers sent down the runway.  It's fresh and wearable, even for die-hard New Yorkers, who typically favor head-to-toe black.

Getty

Getty

If head-to-toe red is a bit much for you, scroll down for three more subtle, but stylish ways to incorporate this season's color into your work wardrobe.

  • Accessories:  If you like the idea of red, but want to take it slowly, you can’t go wrong with a few red accessories. We love a red shoe. There’s something about a fabulous red pump that just puts an extra spring in your step. A red tote or satchel is a great investment that will go along way in updating your fall wardrobe as well.

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  • Outerwear:  There’s nothing more depressing than a monotonous sea of black coats swimming slowly down the sidewalk on a gray winter's day.  Stand out from the crowd and choose a vibrant red coat (or even a hat and scarf).  We guarantee you’ll get tons of compliments, and you’ll smile every time you catch your reflection in a store window.
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  • Pant or Skirt: Many women are intimidated by the thought of wearing red near the face. If you fall into this group, don’t despair, you can still wear this trend in the form of a pant or a skirt. We’re loving a wide-leg pant or even a slim velvet pant in a rich shade of red. If you choose a skirt, we recommend keeping the silhouette simple and classic, especially for the office.  
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Guys, you can (and should) wear red too - and there are lots of options for you. Similar to the ladies, you can’t go wrong with a red accessory like a pocket square, tie or sock. We also love a plaid suit or sport coat with hints of the hue. Very chic!

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Now, after all this, many of you may be thinking, but red looks awful on me, I can’t wear red. We beg to differ! Everyone can wear red- it’s just a matter of finding the right shade and tone that will be most flattering on you. ‘Red’ incorporates a wide range of colors, everything from a true red, to a rich scarlet and burgundy, to a soft reddish pink.

When determining what colors will be most flattering on you, undertone, is what matters. Your undertone will either be cool, warm or neutral and figuring this out is simple. First, flip your hand over, palm up and take a look at your veins. If they appear to be blue or purple, you’re most likely cool and if they look green or yellow, you’re probably warm. If you are having a difficult time seeing either color, you would be a neutral.  Another, less scientific, way to determine your undertone would be to think about your jewelry.  Are you typically drawn to silver, gold or both? If you answer silver, you’re more likely to have cool undertones, where people with warm undertones seem to be more naturally drawn to gold. 

If you’ve determined that you have a warm undertone, you look best in everything from a true red, to warm reds like peach, coral, amber and goldish red.  

If your skin hosts a cool undertone, that does not mean you can’t rock red this season. You’ll want to avoid a true, Coca-Cola red, but any cool shade will work. Cool-reds would be a pink or rosy red and rich maroon or ruby colors.

If you looked at your wrist and thought, huh? As a neutral, you pretty much have your pick of the color wheel - warm and cool colors will look good on you. When it comes to red, go all out! This is a color that will look amazing on you.

Now that you know your perfect shade of red, how are you going to wear it this season?

Summer Favorites You Should Keep Wearing This Fall (and how to style them)

It happens every year, but it always takes us by surprise. One day in mid-September we walk out the door into a muggy, summer-like haze (like today in NYC!).  The next day it’s completely different. You walk out the door and all of a sudden it just feels like fall.  The air is crisp, leaves crunch under your feet as you walk down the sidewalk and you find yourself reaching for a jacket, and everything pumpkin spice.


Dressing for these transition periods can be tough.  We’re not at the point where we want to start pulling out our chunky knits and puffy jackets. In fact, we’re actually hoping to get a couple more wears out of our favorite summer dresses.  The good news is, you CAN keep wearing many of your summer favorites well into autumn and beyond.  Some simple styling shifts can help ease you through to winter.  

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Here are some of our favorite summer pieces and how we plan to keep wearing them for months to come:

  • Floral dresses:  Florals seem to be big every season (we think that’s a good thing!), and this fall is no exception. Keep those floral dresses in rotation - especially ones in a darker print. Pair them with a bootie and a denim or leather jacket and you’re good to go. Speaking of leather jackets, colored leather is really modern. If you already have a black leather jacket consider a burgundy or a rich plum.  One of these hues will add depth to your wardrobe and pair perfectly with your floral dresses. Add tights or go bare, it's all about personal preference and comfort.

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  • Off the shoulder / cold shoulder tops and dresses:  If you went pretty deep in this trend over the past few season, it would be a shame to pack them up come fall.  A chic way to extend the life of these piece is to layer a paper thin turtleneck or long sleeve tee under the top or dress.  Make sure the color you choose for the layering piece makes sense.  Trust us, this works!
Image Source:  Getty / Christian Vierig

Image Source:  Getty / Christian Vierig

  • Cropped wide leg pants looked great this summer when paired with everything from a fashion sneaker to a sandal.  No need to retire them just yet.  Wear them now with a bootie (purposefully showing some skin between the top of the boot and the bottom of the pant) or a tall boot.  The key to pulling off this look is to think about the fabrication of the pant.  If your pant is sear sucker or a light linen, this wouldn’t work.
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  • If you’re like us, you’ve been wearing your white jeans all summer long.  We don’t subscribe to the antiquated ‘no white after Labor Day’ rule.  We love winter white and believe it can be worn all year long.  In the Fall, pair your white denim with a textured blazer, thin knit or a lightweight trench.
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While we love a good shopping spree to celebrate the change of seasons, it’s really not necessary.  A few smart purchases and these styling tips should leave you with plenty of options to get you through the fall, and beyond.

What’s your favorite summer piece that you’d love to keep wearing?

First Day At a New Job? Make sure you dress to impress

This week we've seen our fill of social media posts showcasing kids in their adorable first day of shcool outfits.  All this talk about the first day of school got us thinking about the  first day at a new job - the importance of that first day outfit doesn’t lessen as you get older! Day one of a new job is critical for so many reasons. You're going to be meeting colleagues and clients for the first time and the impression you make on them will last, so you better make sure it's a good one. What you wear and how you present yourself are key components of that first impression.

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If you've been through a couple rounds of interviews at your new company, you have a distinct advantage because you've been exposed to the company and their culture. You've also observed what other people have been wearing. Take this knowledge and let it influence your wardrobe choice. If your interview has been virtual, then you should do a bit of research and see if you can get a sense of what would be appropriate.  

These general tips are relevant for all office environments, from super casual to business formal:

  1. Make sure you're physically comfortable and confident in whatever you choose. If you're uncomfortable with your outfit choice, for whatever reason, that will show. If you're not confident in what you're wearing, that will come across too, and you won't be presenting your best self.

  2. It should go without saying that each piece must be in impeccable shape (no pulls, scuffs, stains, etc) and that everything must fit properly.  

  3. Keep your day one outfit relatively simple. You'll have time to push the envelope and showcase more of your personal style later.  

In a business casual office, lean more towards the 'business' end of the spectrum than the 'causal' end, for day one. Avoid denim and anything overly trendy (again, there's time for that later). For women, you can't go wrong with a well fitting sheath dress in a solid neutral (gray, navy, black) and a classic heel. If you're not a dress person, opt for a straight leg trouser and a well fitting blazer. Gentleman, a sport coat and button down is always a good choice (just pay attention to  rule #2, especially fit!)

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If your office is casual, then denim is probably OK. Avoid distressed styles, and again, you can't go wrong with a great blazer and heel.

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In all cases, avoid anything distracting; jangling jewelry and anything that's ill-fitting. You want your new colleagues to focus on and remember you, not your outfit.  

A new job is a great excuse to go shopping, but do it purposefully. Assess what you already have in your wardrobe, and eliminate any pieces that are dated, in poor shape, or just don’t make you happy. Start with a clean slate and build up from there. Think about the company you're joining, the image you want to project, and your personal brand. Ask about our Private Coaching services to help you with all of this!

Day one is the first of many to come. The interactions you have and the impressions you make on this first day will set the stage for what's to come. Dress purposefully, appropriately and knock 'em dead!

 

Back to School Shopping, It's Not Just for the Kids!

Ahh, the excitement and anticipation of the back to school season... We absolutely love summer and all the fabulous dresses and breezy fabrics, not to mention the plethora of gorgeous sandals to be had, but there's no denying this time of year always feels like an opportunity for a fresh start. It's that back to school feeling. It's real, and it's not just for the kids!  

There is something about the change of season, especially the summer/fall transition, that triggers the desire for a  visit to the hair salon, a new outfit and a never-been-written-in notebook. Celebrate your fresh start by treating yourself to an investment piece (or two) that you’ll love all season long, and beyond.

 

Bag

All the kids are getting new backpacks, don’t you deserve a new work bag too? We think the answer is a definite yes. A bag is such an important part of any professional look. It must be functional, meaning large enough to comfortably carry your laptop, a couple folders and maybe even a change of shoes and your lunch. Function is key, but the look is also important. A fabulous work bag is something that you’ll use pretty much every day, so invest in the highest quality you can afford. For women, we love a classic tote or a large satchel. For men, depending on how formal the rest of your look is, you can choose a sleek backpack, a canvas messenger bag or a leather briefcase.

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Outerwear

While it's not quite time to start thinking about winter coats (thankfully!), it is a great time to consider a lightweight topper, one that’s perfect for the shoulder seasons. Before we know it, the mornings are going to start to feel crisp, and having a new trench coat, soft leather jacket, or tailored blazer (or sportcoat for you gentlemen out there) to reach for will make the season change something to look forward to.

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Shoes

Do you remember going shopping for new ‘school shoes’ every year? We do, and it’s one of our favorite childhood traditions! In our opinion, any time is a great time to buy new shoes. Why not relive those back to school shopping memories and refresh your shoe wardrobe for the upcoming season? Ladies, now is the perfect time to think about a new pair of boots or booties - we love a chunkier heel version in suede. A classic pump or flat will always come in handy too. Men, start thinking about a chelsea boot, wingtip brogue or simple plain-toe derby.

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Don’t let the kids have all the fun, make sure you do your back to school shopping too, and get ready to enjoy your fresh start!

Real Life Client Stories: Emily

In earlier posts we’ve talked a bit about why we do what do. We’ve shared statistics and studies and discussed the importance of helping professionals improve their image and performance in the workplace, and why that is so important. We thought it might be a good idea to bring these concepts to life and share some true stories, and outcomes, from real clients we've worked with throughout our careers.   

Let’s start with Emily. Emily was a young professional, straight out of an ivy league school. She worked in a fairly creative, business casual work place in New York City. Emily was smart and ambitious and stylish. She started working the summer after graduation and didn’t give too much thought to building a work wardrobe. She attended some workshops at her university's career center. They touched on what new employees should wear to work, but she didn’t feel it was geared towards her (she was never going to wear a navy pant suit). She had a couple rounds of interviews at her new company so she was pretty confident she had a good grasp of the office culture.

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She told us that the first week she wore denim and flats and a button down pretty much every day. She felt fine, but kind of boring. As she got more comfortable in the office, her clothes became much more casual and trendy. In fact, she even told us that if she had a big date or happy hour scheduled for after work, she would plan her outfit around that event, rather than what was going on at the office. She admitted, that after a couple of months on the job, there was really no distinction between what she was wearing to work and what she would wear out at night or on the weekends.

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One particularly hot summer day, she decided to wear a pair of shorts and a crop top. She didn’t think twice about it, until she walked past her boss’s office and was called in. Emily told us her boss took one look at her and sent her home to change. She told her it was completely inappropriate and unacceptable. She mentioned she had been meaning to talk to her for awhile about how she was dressing for work, but never felt completely comfortable doing it - but this outfit was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Emily told us that at first she was angry, then embarrassed, then slowly she accepted that her boss was right and she needed some help. That was when she reached out to us, and we’re so glad she did!


Emily gave us the full rundown of the situation and we asked lots of questions to get a better idea of who she was and what elements of her personal style should come through in her work style. We researched the company to learn what would be appropriate. We put together several custom looks for her, and she was thrilled. We knew she was on a budget so we pulled fairly inexpensive pieces that were really versatile, but we also showed her some investment items that she could save up for, or request as gifts (she told us she had a birthday coming up).

She ending up purchasing much of what we recommended. We checked back a couple weeks later and Emily was ecstatic. She told us that her boss and colleagues had noticed a change in her, but more importantly she had noticed a change in herself. Emily said she was more focused at work. She was confident and more likely to speak up in meetings. She called us a week later and said her boss had actually invited her to a client meeting.  That typically didn’t happen for employees at her level.  She said she knew for a fact if she was dressed like ‘the old Emily’, her boss never would have considered it.

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We kept in touch and she requested new looks and pieces from time to time. About six months after we started working with her she was excited to report that she’d been promoted. Years later she's very successful (and still stylish) working in the digital department of a major fashion brand.

Now, we don’t want to take all the credit for her success. Clearly Emily had everything it took to succeed; she was smart, dedicated, passionate and driven. That said, even Emily will agree that how she originally dressed definitely would have held her back.  Her ‘revised’ work style gave her the confidence to speak up and get noticed (in all the right ways) and it absolutely opened doors for her!

We have several stories like this one, and they all spoke to us and stuck with us. We love guiding and training people on an individual level, but what if we could do it on a larger scale? What if we could work with companies and be the outside expert that helps guide employees in this really important (and often overlooked) area?  So that’s what we did, and we’re so happy we did it!  More real life client stores to come in future posts!

Working From Home...Sweats or Suits?

As technology and connectivity continue to advance, working from home is is growing more and more popular. A recent Gallup Poll indicates 43 percent of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely, that’s up 4% points since 2012.

Flexible schedules provide tons of benefits for both employees and companies. Employees report feeling more engaged, energized and productive. Companies that allow flexibility and support employees working from home (at least some of the time) have better retention rates and higher morale

One of the major benefits employees experience is more TIME.  Time that was once spent commuting can now be used towards more productive tasks (finishing up that big project, walking the kids to school, laundry, yoga).  On top of not having to commute, one can also save on time spent getting ready for work.  No need to spend an hour creating the perfect blowout and flawless makeup...bonus!

Now, that brings us to the million dollar question. What should you wear when you’re working from home? This is a tricky one. You can definitely be more casual (I mean, that’s part of what makes it such an attractive option), but you don’t want to go too casual.

GETTY/THINKSTOCK

GETTY/THINKSTOCK

I’m going to speak from personal experience here and I can tell you that I’ve struggled a bit in this area. I spent years working full-time in corporate offices in Manhattan.  I was always buttoned up and polished. A great sheath dress and fabulous heels were my signature. When I switched careers, I was offered the life changing flexibility of working from home 2-3 days a week.

One problem, the sheath dresses and heels from my old life no longer made sense. I’ll admit that there were times early on when I stayed in yoga pants or leggings all day.  Looking back, I can clearly see how dressing (or not dressing!) this way affected my productivity.  I didn’t feel my best and definitely didn’t feel professional. Slowly, I started to upgrade my work at home style and I found what works best for me.

I’m most comfortable in dresses, so I moved my sheaths to the back of my closet and stocked up on a great selection of easy-to-wear day dresses - knit and sweater dresses for the fall/winter and cute floral or striped maxi and shift dresses for the nicer weather.  My cashmere made way for chambray and denim definitely played a big role in this transition. I still love my fabulous heels, and I’ll wear them at home (sometimes), especially if I have an important call. A great shoe will always give me that extra boost of confidence!

Your work-from-home-wardrobe is all about balance.  Find that right balance of comfort and polish and you’ll be all set!

The Stylish Man: 4 Ways to Enhance Your Office Style and Common Mistakes to Avoid

At FirstSeven, we’re equal opportunity stylists and trainers, and it’s come to our attention that we’ve been focusing all our efforts (at least here on the blog), on women.  We definitely want to be inclusive, so this week, it’s all about the guys. Appearance in the workplace matters for everyone, regardless of gender. We’ve talked at length about the science behind dressing for success, and all of that is relevant for men too. In fact, many of the studies we reference featured male participants.

We’re going to start by addressing five common mistakes men tend to make. These mistakes are easily fixed and by simply eliminating them (starting today!), you'll make huge strides in your office wardrobe game.

  1. Wrinkles:  This is simple, don’t wear anything that’s wrinkled. If you show up to the office in a wrinkled shirt, you’re basically saying you don’t care. You’ll looked frazzled and definitely won’t project an air of confidence. We don’t like to iron, so we opt for a great steamer. It works wonderfully and there’s actually something cathartic about watching the wrinkles fall out of a garment…but I digress...

  2. Short sleeve shirts & a tie:  We know it can get hot out there, and we feel for all you guys in long sleeves on the subway platform (especially when we’re in a sleeveless dress), but trust us, don’t go there. Simply choose a long sleeve shirt and roll up the sleeves. There are tons of great tutorials on YouTube that will show you the polished way to get those sleeves off your forearms, if that’s your goal.

  3. Ties that are too short:  Speaking of ties, make sure they’re the right length.  It should hit right at, or above the belt.

  4. Exposed undershirts:  If you’re going 'tie-less' and plan on unbuttoning your shirt, don’t let your undershirt peak out. Choose a v-neck option and keep the neckline clean.

  5. Ill-fitting items:  We saved this one for last, but it's probably the MOST common mistake we see (women often make this mistake too!). We’ll go into a bit more detail below, but fit is everything, and a great tailor can be your best friend.

Eliminate these mistakes from your wardrobe and you’ll be well on your way to achieving a polished, professional look. If you want to take it a step further and up your style game, start to think about a few of these areas:

Fit Comes First:

We’ll do a post focusing on fit in the next month or so, it's that’s important. Most men who fall into the trap of wearing ill-fitting garments choose pieces that are too large. Not many men can buy off-the-rack and have it fit perfectly, but that’s where a good tailor comes in handy. Also, many retailers offer complimentary on-site alterations - definitely take them up on it.

Once you put on a suit that fits you like a glove, you’ll never want to wear anything else. In a casual office, a great fitting pair of denim will be an instant upgrade. Try a slim fitted button down and you’ll wonder why you ever chose those baggy ones. A sport coat that lies flat at the shoulders, buttons perfectly and shows just the right amount of cuff will make a world of difference. You’ll stand up a little straighter, speak with more confidence and your colleagues and clients will be sure to take notice too.

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Think in Color

With mens workwear, many guys tend to err on the side of safe. We get it, it’s easier to be safe. But let's face it, it’s also boring. Safe has turned into its own uniform; white or blue dress shirt (or polo or tee in a casual office) and black, navy or tan dress pants (or khakis or jeans in a casual office). If this ‘uniform’ sounds familiar to you, we urge you to incorporate some color and maybe step outside your comfort zone just a bit. Pink (soft, not sweet) is a great color on men, specifically in professional wear. Trade in your blue dress shirt for a pink one and see how you feel. Yellows, reds, purples and greens are also great additions. 

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Play With Prints:

Once you’ve mastered fit and color, it’s time to move on to prints. It can seem daunting to some, to mix prints, but it’s actually pretty easy. Once you’ve got it down, it opens up a whole new world of styling options.   

There are 2 main things to think about when you start mixing prints; scale & color. With scale, opposites attract. If one print is a large scale, choose a smaller sale for your second print. When thinking about color, there should be some commonality across the prints, something that ties them together.

The Devil is in the Details

The details of an outfit are what will really set it apart and establish you as the style guy in your office. We talked about ties a bit, they’re a great place to start if you wear ties to the office. We also love a pocket square. A pocket square for a guy is equivalent to statement jewelry for a woman. It has the power to elevate an otherwise basic look. It can also be the cherry on top of a really stylish ensemble. Socks are another thing to think about. If you play it safe, you probably match your socks to your pants and your shoes. There’s nothing wrong with that, per say, but a colorful, even whimsical sock (we know a guy who rocks pink flamingos) can go along way in showcasing your personality and injecting some life into your work look.  

Experiment, have fun and follow us for more specific styling tips for men in the months to come!

The Denim Days of Summer

If your office embraces denim, the summer is a great time to make sure you have a few undated pieces to put into rotation. Even in offices where denim is generally frowned upon, you may find a couple ways to incorporate this highly comfortable and functional fabric into your work wardrobe. Here is a summary of our favorite denim trends that can be very office appropriate.

The Cropped Jean:

The cropped jean looks fresh and modern. We like them flared and paired with a great ankle strap sandal or pump. If your office is more on the creative side, opt for a pair with a frayed or decorated hem.

The High Waisted, Straight or Flare Jean:  

This is also known as the mom jean, but don’t let that that scare you off. This modern mom jean is so flattering and easy to wear. The high waist should hit above your natural waistline, closer to your lower ribs. This does great things for the body, it smooths out any ‘muffin top’ and creates a really tiny waist. It also elongates the leg line. What’s not to love?  Wear these with a blouse that can be tucked in and a gorgeous heel. We also like wearing this style with a bodysuit (so sleek) and a blazer.

The Denim Dress:  

Take a traditional work appropriate dress silhouette that you know is flattering on you and find it in denim!  A softer chambray is great for a wrap style dress, but choose a slightly stiffer fabrication for a structured shirt dress or even a sheath style.  

The Pencil Skirt:   

We've seen so many chic denim pencils skirts lately.  Totally loving them for summer (and beyond) with a great heel and a crisp button down.  Its simple, classic and so flattering.

White Denim:  

While white denim isn’t really a trend, it is a summer must have.  It's light and fresh and you can wear it with anything. Stylist tip:  Don’t be afraid of staining your white denim. We love The Laundress Stain Solution, it seriously gets out every stain!  

The key to wearing all of these denim pieces to the office is to make sure the rest of the look is elevated and professional. Think blazers, cardigans, crisp button downs, heels and gorgeous work totes to complete the looks.

5 Simple Summer Swaps

In our last post we mentioned some easy ‘Summer Swaps’.  These are simple changes that you could make right now to immediately update your wardrobe for what’s left of summer.
 

Swap #1: Black Blazer for a White Blazer

99% of you probably have a black blazer in your closet that you love. You wear it to work layered over a dress and you wear it on the weekend with a tee and denim. That’s great, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a classic black blazer. We love them. However, for summer, why not lighten it up and choose a white blazer instead? It's crisp and fresh and just as versatile.

Swap #2: Sheath for a Shift

The terms sheath and shift are often used interchangeably, although they actually refer to two distinct styles and silhouettes.

A sheath dress is one that fits closer to the body. It’s not necessarily tight, but it does very closely follow the lines and form of the body. It has a very streamlined silhouette and typically hits at, or slightly above, the knee.

A shift dress hangs from the shoulders with a column effect that skims the body offering more room through the bust, waist and hips.

These are both flattering and work appropriate. I personally love a sheath dress, they're usually my ‘go to’ silhouette for the office. However, when the temps and humidity rise, I find myself swapping out some of my sheaths for a looser fitting shift that allows for more air circulation around the body. It also feels slightly more relaxed, aligning with a summer vibe.

Swap #3:  Skinny Pant for a Wide Leg Pant

For many of the same reasons why we recommend swapping your sheath for a shift, we recommend putting your skinny pant aside, and reaching for a wider leg silhouette. A skinny pant is a classic, it’s flattering, easy to wear and versatile.  The wide leg pant is breezy and flowy and has a modern feel to it.  

Swap #4:  White Button Down for a Chambray Button Down

Most people have a least one trusty white button down that they reach for pretty frequently. That’s smart, you should have one or two, however, consider switching it up this summer and  swapping your white button down for a soft chambray. A chambray comes in many different shades (light wash to very dark washes) and styles (clean lines, buttons, snaps). Find one that matches your office culture and personality. We love this swap because the chambray offers just as much versatility as the button-down classic. You can still wear it under blazers with your favorite skirt or with denim.

Swap #5:  Fashion Sneaker for a Mule or Slide

If you’re like most women, you’ve definitely embraced the fashion sneaker. It's a great option for a commuting shoe - comfortable and modern and there are so many different styles and colors to choose from. Definitely keep your fashion sneakers around, you'll want to pull them back out this fall. However, you might think about taking a break from them this summer.

A flat slide or mule is a great alternative - both styles seem to be having a moment. A slide is a backless shoe that is open toe. A mule is similar, but typically closed toe. These are functional - easy to take on and off - and comfortable. They’re perfect for all your summer commuting.

Make one or all of these swaps and you’ll be one step closer to updating your work wardrobe for the rest of the summer (it’s not over yet!).  We’d love to hear some of your favorite summer swaps!

An Evening of Style in Brooklyn Heights

Last week we were invited to speak at a women’s networking event for the fabulous ladies at Bernstein Partners. The event was held in a beautiful garden that’s juts up against the promenade in Brooklyn Heights, offering amazing downtown NYC views. The weather was hot and steamy, but at least the rain held off!

This event was slightly different from our usual corporate training sessions. It was held after hours and the rosé was flowing! We customized our content and delivery to the audience (a diverse group of professional women) and environment (no powerpoint slides here!).  

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The ladies at this Wall Street firm must dress professionally, but they’re also a stylish bunch. We worked with the event organizer and developed a presentation specifically for this group. We started by talking about five, easy ‘Summer Swaps’ that can instantly update your work wardrobe for the season. We made this interactive and relevant to everyone by incorporating a ‘splurge’ vs ‘steal’ element to the presentation. For each of our recommendations, we showcased an item that was a higher price point and one at a more budget friendly price, and had the attendees guess which was which. The group had a lot of fun and they often surprised us with their answers!

We then moved on to a discussion around trends. We highlighted some our favorites and discussed how to wear these them to work and then again on the weekend. This was great because it opened up dialogue around what individuals felt comfortable wearing in their specific office and role.

Please put one of the last 2 pics that Robyn sent (just not the one with the ugly background)

When the presentation was over, we were able to engage in one-on-one and smaller group conversations with these women.  We had a blast! Most of them came up to check out our rack of items and even try some on some pieces.  We introduced them to new brands and new ways to put things together. We actually heard that a day or two after the event one attendee showed up to work looking confident and professional in a crisp white blazer and silk joggers.

We wanted to write about this event a) because it was really fun b) it was a bit outside the box and c) to give you some more insight into what we do!

Results in a post-event survey indicated that all the respondents felt they learned something new and that the content was interesting, informative and relevant to them.  They also noted that it was delivered in a fun and engaging way.  We were thrilled with this type of feedback.  It's exactly what we strive to do with every presentation.  We want employees to leaving feeling empowered in their ability to create a professional, polished and stylish work wardrobe, just like these women did! 

It got us thinking of other venues and opportunities to deliver this content that we’re so passionate about. Going into companies and educating professionals is still at the forefront of what we do, but it's also nice to get out of the office, sip a glass of wine and talk styling in a less formal setting - and while we’re at it, let’s play some fashion games too!

All About Moms: More Style and Less Stress!

More style and less stress..that sounds pretty good, right? And if you’re a busy working mom it may sound almost impossible, but trust us, it isn’t.

At FirstSeven, we’ve developed training content specifically for professional moms.  Two-thirds of the company's co-founders are Moms. Faith has three adorable kiddos and I have a pretty cute (if I do say so myself) four year old.  

Faith with her 3 cutie pies (in coordinating looks, of course)

Faith with her 3 cutie pies (in coordinating looks, of course)

My daughter, she's all about sparkles and pink!

My daughter, she's all about sparkles and pink!

I clearly remember the day I went back to work, after being fortunate enough to stay home with my baby for four months. Yes, I remember the emotions that every new mom feels the day she finally has to (gets to?) walk out the door and leave for a whole day: guilt, sadness, excitement.  But even more that, I remember what I wore and the preparation that went into my first day back.  I also remember the stress that accompanied that morning, and pretty much every morning since.

Me and my daughter on my first day back at work after maternity leave.

Me and my daughter on my first day back at work after maternity leave.

I was still nursing, so I had to think about the functionality of my outfit.  I was also struggling to find something that fit the same way it used to! As the years go on and my daughter continues to grow and change, my morning routine also changes and evolves - but the one consistent piece is that I will never again have my mornings to myself (not complaining at all - I wouldn't have it any other way, I’m just stating a fact!).  My morning routine now centers around my daughter which means I have less time to focus on myself.  My mornings need to be streamlined.  My closet has to work for me.  I have to know that everything fits and is flattering (on my body as it is now, not how I hope it will be eventually).  

And I'm not alone:

Everyone performs better when they’re feeling confident - and moms are no exception. With this in mind, we have a few recommendations for professional moms that will get them out the door every morning stress free, and have them walking into the office full of confidence.

Streamline your closet:

Sometimes less really is more. We recommend doing a very thorough closet edit. You can do it yourself, invite a good friend over to help, or hire a professional.  FirstSeven offers Closet Edits as part of our Private Coaching.  A good closet edit leaves you feeling lighter & cleansed. It results in a closet consisting of pieces that are modern, flattering and that fit you really well. It also helps you identify any gaps, that when filled, result in a really functional wardrobe.  This means that you can literally go in your closet and grab pretty much anything and know it will work.  How’s that for stress free living?

Maximize Accessories:

Take an audit of your shoes and bags and make sure they’re all in good condition.  A bag or shoe is always something we recommend investing in, if you can. The cost per wear will always be good, and there’s something about a fabulous shoe or a great new bag that will put a spring in your step.

You can also use accessories like jewelry and scarves as a more budget friendly way to update your look and maximize the wearability of your staples. A neutral sheath would look classic and professional with a nude heel and delicate layered necklace. It would take on a very different (but still chic) look with a pointed toe flat and a statement necklace.

Another key benefit to accessories is (drumroll please…) they always fit!  Also necklaces, earrings and shoes can be used to draw the eye up, or down, and away from any problem areas.

Build a Capsule Wardrobe:

Start by identifying the dress silhouettes that work best for your body type, then start building your dress wardrobe.  Dresses are ‘insta outfits’ and we love them! Throw one on in seconds, add a shoe and accessory and you’re good to go.  Make sure you have a few dresses that you love and reach for them on your busiest mornings.

Next, think about your separates; start with blouses, trousers and skirts. Customize by going deeper in one category and lighter in another based on your personal preferences. That said, a good rule of thumb is five blouses/tops, three trousers and two skirts. If you chose these items strategically so that everything can be mixed and matched, you’ll have 25+ easy work outfits. Add on a couple blazers and denim (if your office allows denim) and your options will grow even more.

With all of these categories, focus on classic pieces, but always include at least one trendier piece to keep your look modern.

Moms are such a valuable part of the workforce.  Anything we can do to help support them is a win for everyone. The team at FirstSeven was so excited when we learned of ‘re-launch’ and ‘re-entry’ programs.  Many of these program support all people who have had to leave the workforce for an extended length of time, but many of them focus on moms who are coming back to paid work after taking time to raise their family.  It's wonderful that so many companies are recognizing and fostering the development of this segment!

I may be starting to sound like a broken record, but what you wear matters. Moms in particular may be struggling with their confidence, especially if they’re re-entering. We believe these strategies will go far in helping to ease their transition and building their confidence.

Please reach out to us if your company has a re-entry program, we’d love to talk about how our training could enhance the program.

I’d also love to hear from all you amazing working moms out there. What are your go-to strategies for getting out the door looking and feeling great?

Because we didn't want Lili to be left out..Lili and my daughter clearly making important phone calls.

Because we didn't want Lili to be left out..Lili and my daughter clearly making important phone calls.

Keeping it Casual: A Few 'Dos' and 'Don'ts' for Mastering Your Style in a Casual Work Environment

Business casual is a very common term, but when you think about it, it's actually a bit of an oxymoron, right? It can be a challenge for many people to master a polished and professional look in a work environment that leans more to the casual end of the spectrum. While it's fantastic that people are allowed more freedom these days in choosing what they want to wear, sometimes this freedom can be overwhelming and a bit daunting.  

What started out as a movement a decade or so ago, with the ever popular Casual Friday has really grown and evolved. Today whole industries and geographies are (ie Silicon Valley) becoming very casual, every day. Even typically conservative industries like finance and law are slowly loosening up their dress codes, and there’s a whole range in between. This can make it tough for anyone to figure out what to wear on a daily basis.   

Consider this interesting data from Euromonitor. In the last 10 years, the US market for women’s suits shrank by about 77%, while the market for leggings more than quadrupled. That’s a dramatic shift,  and pretty telling about trends and formality.

While every company has its own unique culture and vibe, there are a few universal dos and don'ts that will help you navigate the confusing world of business casual.  Don’t forget you can shop our favorite pieces related to each of these tips on our ‘Shop the Blog’ page.

Trends:

Trends are fun and fresh. Who doesn’t love trends? Our advice on trends is to go for it. Pick one or two each season that excite you and incorporate them into your work wardrobe, in small doses. A couple of our favorite trends this summer, ruffles and wider leg pants, can be great in the office. That said, don’t over do it. Avoid going head to toe trend, make sure to feature a couple classic pieces as well. 

Do incorporate a couple of your favorite season trends.

Don’t wear trend pieces head to toe.

 

Dresses:

A dress is a great option for a casual work environment, when done right. Some of our favorite casual dress styles are absolutely office appropriate: a shirt dress, wrap, chambray.  However, some casual dresses can cross that line and be too casual. Here’s a good rule of thumb, if you’d wear it to the beach or a pool, save it for the weekend. 

Do wear dresses to the office.

Don’t mistake a cover up for a dress.

Denim:

We love denim for a casual office. What’s not to love? It's easy to wear and care for and so comfy, not to mention there are so many amazing denim styles to choose from. When choosing denim for the office, remember darker denim is always a bit less casual than a lighter wash. Not to say you can’t wear a lighter wash, but just putting it in perspective. With denim at work, fit is key. Make sure your denim doesn’t have a low rise or gaps at the waist. A skinny style is fine, but too tight isn’t. We’d also avoid overly distressed denim at work. If you want to incorporate a trendier denim this season a high rise wide leg is a fabulous option!

Do wear denim to the office. Focus on fit and style.

Don’t wear ill fitting or overly distressed styles.

Accessories:

Accessories can be really fun and they’re a great way to show off your personal style, at work and on the weekend. In the office you can definitely go bold with statement jewelry, if that’s your thing. One piece of advice though is to avoid any jewelry that can be distracting to you or your colleagues; think jangly bracelets or necklaces that bounce when you walk.

Do use accessories to showcase your personal style.

Don’t let them be a distraction.

 

Shoes:

In a casual workplace, your shoe options are practically limitless, especially in the summer months. Anything from a fashion sneaker to a great pair of sandals can be appropriate. That said, one of our biggest no-nos are flip flops. Not only are they distracting - who wants to hear FLIP FLOP, FLIP FLOP all day long as you’re walking around the office? - they’re also one of the worst choices for foot health.  If you must wear a flip flop, please save them for the beach!

Do wear fashion sneakers and fun sandals that show off your summer pedi.

Don’t sport a flip flop (because a flip is always a flop).

Enjoy the freedom that comes with a casual workplace. Show off your personal style and have fun dressing each and every day. Be creative, be comfortable but never compromise your professionalism!

Beating the Heat: Five Tips on How to Stay Polished and Professional This Summer

Now that summer is in full swing, it’s time to give some serious thought to your summer work wardrobe.  As the days get longer (actually they’re getting shorter now, aren't they?)...and hotter...and more humid… and our thoughts drift to barbeques, beaches and bikinis, that’s no excuse to let your professional image suffer!

It can be such a challenge to to keep your look fresh and polished when all you want to do is stay cool and comfortable. Well, we’re here to help!   

We have five easy tips that will take you through Labor Day and beyond, stylishly! We’ve also added a shoppable page to our website. It will feature some of our favorites pieces and will be updated with each blog post!

  1. Fabrics:  Try to stick with natural breathable fibers when you can. Fabrics like cotton and linen are always great choices because they wick moisture away and are breathable. A blend of natural fibers with some man made fibers is also a good option. Look for garments with a blend of cotton or linen, combined with a small percentage of nylon, rayon & spandex. Garments made with a blend will also detract moisture, plus they’re so easy to maintain - they’re machine washable and wrinkle resistant. What’s not lot love about that?

Now that you know the fabrics to look for, here are some tips on how to incorporate them into your work wardrobe. 

Cotton is typically a more casual fabric, but you can wear a high quality cotton tee to the office under a lightweight blazer for a professional look, and you can’t go wrong with a cotton button down and a pencil skirt. If you’re choosing linen, the obvious concern is wrinkling. We recommend a structured linen in the form of a shift dress or a blazer. A blend is a great choice for a new, easy to wear summer work dress.

2.  Fit:  On the hottest of hot days, loose is best! Take your sheath dresses and set them aside in favor of a looser fitting shift dress (try one in linen, as mentioned above), or an a-line dress in a blend.  Give your slim fitting trousers a break and incorporate a flowy wide leg pant.  A midi skirt in a breezy fabrication is also an item to consider. Looser fitting garments allow for air to circulate and flow over your body giving moisture the opportunity dry up and provide you with a cooling sensation. 

3.  Color:  We all know that light colors reflect the sun, while darker colors absorb those warming rays. Use the summer as an opportunity to explore lighter colors and prints. If you don’t already have one, it's time to invest in a great white or off white blazer.  You’ll find yourself reaching for it all season long. The same goes for dresses; if you’re in a business formal environment and your black sheath dress is a go-to, consider purchasing one in white or a pale shade.  It makes for a super sophisticated and fresh look.

4.  Hair:  Don’t let your hair weigh you down and heat you up. Use a dab of styling gel and pull your locks into a sleek ponytail or chic chignon. Keeping your hair off your neck and away from your face will go a long way in helping you keep your cool this summer. 

5. Layers:  This last tip may seem counterintuitive. You alway hear people talk about layering up to keep warm, not cool. Layers actually work really well in the heat too. Consider the fact that there can be a 40 plus degree temperature shift from outside on the street to in your office or on the train. You can go from sweaty to freezing in a matter of minutes. Choose layers that are lightweight and easy to take on and off. Incorporate some of the earlier tips when you choose your layers:  breathable fabrics, lighter colors and a looser fit. We love taking the layer and simply draping over our shoulders for coverage with a bit of a cool factor sprinkled in.

Enjoy the summer and embrace the heat...we only have it for a few short months. Use the change of seasons as an opportunity to refresh your work style by incorporating a few of these tips.  Don’t forget to shop our curated selection of summer must haves! 

 

What You Wear Matters: The science behind dressing for success

In our last post, we introduced the idea of science to support our belief that what you wear matters.  While I don’t think anyone would dispute this claim, it's nice to have some research to back it up.   

Who out there hasn’t experienced that feeling of putting on something that makes you stand up a bit taller, walk more purposefully, and speak more confidently?

Enclothed Cognition is a term that was introduced in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology in 2012 by a team of researchers from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.  They conducted a series of experiments that showcased the power of a lab coat.  This lab coat affected not only how others perceived the wearer, it actually increased the performance on attention related tasks for the group wearing the lab coat, compared to a group without a lab coat.   Now, I’m not suggesting that we all go around wearing lab coats, but this study does prove that what we choose to wear can impact our performance.

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Another interesting finding from this study involved the symbolic meaning of the item.  The team found that when subjects were told the white coat was a painter’s coat, there was no effect at all on the attention tests - the positive effect came only when subjects were told it was a doctor’s lab coat.  This may explain why a pair of Christian Louboutin heels make us feel powerful, while a similar looking pump from a less prestigious brand doesn’t have the same effect.  The researches concluded “Clothes can have a profound and systematic psychological and behavioural consequences for their wearers.”  

Although the saying goes that clothes do not make the man (or woman), our results suggest they do hold a strange power over their wearers.
— Hajo Adam & Adam Galinsky

Another paper published in Social Psychology and Personality Science “suggests that wearing relatively formal clothing is associated with increased abstract processing in everyday life, outside a laboratory context." Abstract processing is related to ‘big picture’ thinking - this is the kind of thinking necessary for executive and leadership roles. While I wouldn’t use this study to advocate eliminating casual fridays, it clearly supports ‘dressing up’ when you have some important work to do.  Even Michael Slepain, the first author of the paper referenced in this paragraph, has stepped up his own wardrobe a bit, ‘When I work at home, I maybe dress a little nicer now,’ he said.  (nymag.com, May 15 2015).  There you have it friends!

When you need to think creatively , about the bigger picture, that’s when dressing more formally will increase your productivity
— Michael L. Slepian

The last study I’ll reference, is perhaps the most concrete in terms of demonstrating an actual quantifiable benefit of dressing purposefully. This study came out of the Yale School of Management, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology in 2014.  The study divided men into groups, one group wore business suits another  group wore very casual clothing, and the third group was neutral, remaining in the clothes they arrived in.  He then had the groups participate in mock negotiations where the neutral group acted as the sellers, selling a hypothetical factory to the other 2 groups. “In the end, the suits proved much less willing to concede ground during the negotiations, moving off their initial offer by an average of only $830,000, compared with $2.81 million for those in sweatpants “(Wall Street Journal, Why Dressing for Success Leads to Success)

If these studies haven’t convinced you of the power your wardrobe choices have, consider this: 

  • 41% of employers said that people who dress better or more professionally tend to be promoted more often than others in their organization (Careerbuilder)

  • You can earn up to 5% more annually by simply upgrading your wardrobe (Newsweek)

  • Over 50% of U.S. Corporate hiring managers suggest professionals spend as much time on their image as on their resume (Newsweek)

 

Paying a bit more attention to what you wear just makes sense.  We’d love to hear your stories about how you ‘stepped it up’ a bit and felt the positive effects!

Introducing FIRST|SEVEN, because every second counts!

Did you know that employees who dress well are viewed as more reliable, successful and driven by their colleagues, clients and business partners?  It’s true, and there’s plenty of scientific research to back that up. We’ll delve into some of these fascinating studies in future posts, but first we want to introduce ourselves. 

FirstSeven is a Corporate Training firm that works directly with companies, typically through their Learning & Development departments. We create content and deliver training seminars to educate professionals on how to improve their performance, by upgrading their image.

FirstSeven was founded by three fashion industry veterans who have worked for years styling thousands of clients across the country.  Do you know what the biggest ‘need state’ was for these clients?  Yes, you guessed it...there was a huge demand for assistance with workwear.  Women reached out when they were headed back to work after taking time to raise their family, when they changed careers or when their company’s dress code went from business formal to business casual

Working with these clients was so rewarding! After incorporating our styling suggestions we’d hear how they felt more confident, which helped them to nail a big presentation.  They told us that they started to feel more professional, they stood a little taller, spoke up a little clearer, and this translated directly to their productivity.  We heard stories of how they felt they were getting more respect and were being taken more seriously by their clients and business partners.  Since there was such a need for this type of education, we decided to evolve from working only one on one, to reaching more people through informative, interactive and fun group training sessions.

We’ve created content on a wide range of topics, all of which are relevant to the workplace. I’ll touch on a few of our favorites, to give you an idea of what we’re about:

Keeping it Casual:  So many companies and industries are moving to be more casual.  While this is a welcome evolution for many employees, it can be challenging to navigate. From an employer perspective, it can be awkward and difficult to enforce a more casual dress code, especially in a more creative environment.  In this session we will teach employees how they can continue to showcase their personal style while still being professional and client ready.

All About Moms:  This is a module we created specifically to assist moms.  Women make up 57% of the workforce and 70% of moms with kids 18 or younger are working outside the home.  Working moms face their own unique challenges, especially those who are reentering the workplace. This time can be a big adjustment for many women, whether they’ve been home with a newborn for a few short months, or if they stayed home for an extended time to raise their family.  In our All About Moms training session, we’ll help women look and feel confident by sharing tips and tactics to ease their morning routine while ensuring they’re looking and feeling their best.  We were so excited to learn about ‘Re-Entry’ programs in which many companies are investing, this module would be a great complement to those, it also works wonderfully as a stand alone session. 

Fit Matters:  Fit is one of the most important aspects of style. It doesn't matter how expensive your shirt was or who designed your blazer, if the fit is bad, it will look bad. With the right fit, you'll look and feel secure, confident and happy. But, in order to achieve the proper fit, you need to know your body type and how to dress for it. We will show you various styling techniques to flatter your figure while educating on fit.

These are just a few of the sessions we’ve developed.  There are several more, and we also welcome the opportunity to customize content specific to your company and its unique challenges.   

If you’re involved in Learning & Development,  HR or simply want to learn more about FirstSeven, please connect with us, go to our website and/or comment on this post and we’ll reach out to you!

If you’re a professional woman (established, or just starting out) please follow us for proven tips on how to build a great work wardrobe on a budget and some strategies to get you from desk to dinner, flawlessly (among other topics). We’ll post at least once a week in the beginning, and we’ll ramp up from there.  In addition to styling tips and suggestions, we’ll share more about each of the co-founders, as well as some inspirational client stories, and scientific research that validates the importance of focusing some of your attention on your outward appearance.  

Please let us know if there are any specific challenges you’re facing in regards to your work wardrobe and we’ll make sure to address them!