An Investment in Your Career

Have you ever been in the city and needed a comfortable place to work?  Have you ever had to meet with a client or colleague, but didn’t want to do it in your office or at a coffee shop?  What if there was a place you where you could meet, connect and do so much more? What if you could take a barre class and shower, grab healthy meal, host an event, have real conversations and be inspired by other professional women?  Well, a place like this will soon exist, and it's called Luminary. Oh, and there will be wine on tap…

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We had the opportunity to meet with Cate Luzio, the founder of Luminary (talk about an inspirational woman!) a few weeks ago.  She told us her story and we shared our stories and the mission behind FirstSeven. It was one of those meetings that just felt right, and there are such natural synergies with FristSeven and Luminary, that we couldn’t help but get excited.

One of Luminary’s main points of differentiation is around the programing and content that Luminary will offer its members, while cultivating a sense of community, empowerment and inclusivity.

Based in Nomad, Luminary has over 15,000 square feet of carefully designed communal work and social space with an emphasis on investing in self-development, wellness, flexibility and giving back. It’s a sanctuary of productivity, offering women flexible memberships that meet their economic and lifestyle needs. Combining innovative and accessible workspaces with tailored learning experiences, content and programming, Luminary seeks to enhance the greatest strengths of its members.
— https://ifundwomen.com/projects/luminary

Last week we celebrated the pre-launch of Luminary.  It was a fabulous party and we can’t wait for the launch.  Check it out, there are special pre launch memberships available for a limited time.  Maybe we’ll see you there!

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Simple Strategies to Transition Your Favorite Summer Pieces into Fall

We love crisp fall days and the new fashions that come with it, but there’s still a part of us that isn’t quite ready to fully embrace the changing seasons. We want to hold on to summer for just a little while longer. The good news is, we can!  There are some simple styling strategies you can use to transition some of your favorite summer pieces into fall and score a few more usage occasions!

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White Jeans:  White jeans are such a summer staple, but there’s no reason to pack them up once Labor Day rolls around. They can look totally chic in fall (and beyond) when you pair them with a light weight knit and a bootie.

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Chambray Dress:  Denim’s lighter cousin is everywhere during the summer months; breathable, versatile and modern. We had our chambray shirt dresses on heavy rotation all summer, we loved pairing them with espadrilles or slides for a laid back look. This fall, wear them with a fashion sneaker (casual) or bootie. We also like to layer a faux leather or suede jacket in a pale blush or olive green to complete the seasonal transition!

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Spaghetti Strap & Tank Dresses:  Ahh the summer dress, easy, breezy and and oh so pretty.  You can just throw one on and be out the door. Add in one more step and you can keep wearing your favorites all season!  We love to layer a thin long sleeve tissue tee or turtleneck under the dress to extend the life our summer dresses.

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Some simple changes in footwear and the addition of a layer or two are key. Shop some of our transitional must haves and tell us what favorite summer pieces you’re going to keep in heavy rotation this fall.

Back-To-School Season (its not just about the kids!)

It’s time to face the facts, summer is slowly winding down. In the New York area, schools are back up and running the week after Labor Day, so we’re talking just two more weeks. While back to school is mainly focused on kids, we’re here to tell you that it's also the perfect time to think about yourself and your professional goals.

There’s something about the idea of ‘back to school’ that permeates our culture.  It's become a season in and of itself, and you take notice whether you have kids or not.  Most of us (hopefully) enjoyed some downtime this summer and were able to dial back the hectic schedules that typically run us ragged from September until June.  Hopefully you were able to enjoy a vacation or two, or at least a long weekend at the shore. Once Labor Day rolls around, the ‘summer attitudes’ shift and we a become a bit more serious and structured as we sadly wave goodbye to summer Fridays... but with this shift comes a renewed sense of purpose, energy and the idea of a fresh start.

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This is a perfect time to reevaluate your work wardrobe. Does how you present yourself at the office reflect who you are as a professional? Does it reflect not only where you are now in your career but where you aspire to be? Do your clothes help boost your confidence?  Do you have at least one go-to outfit that you can count on for those big meetings?

Think about your closet and your morning routine.  Is getting yourself out the door in the morning easy and stress-free?  Do the clothes in your closet bring you joy? Is your closet easy to navigate and filled with pieces you know fit and flatter you?

If you answered no to any of these questions, you could benefit from working with one of our professional stylists.  Choose to invest in yourself this back-to-school season, you’ll be glad you did!

Fall Trends That Are Actually Office Appropriate!

When the season changes each year, most of us look forward to reading about all the new trends. It's one thing to read about them, but it's another thing entirely to actually wear them.  Even more challenging is how to wear them to work, and still look professional.

We're here to tell you that not every trend works for every body type and personality.  When thinking about trends, we always recommend that you choose one or two each season that really excite you, and incorporate them into your existing wardrobe.  You don’t want to over do it with trends, but at the same time, you don’t want to ignore them completely. An injection of a couple of trend pieces keeps your wardrobe looking modern and up to date.

We scoured the runways and fashion press to choose our favorite fall trends - bonus, ALL of these trends can be work appropriate!

Animal Print:  Animal prints can be pretty polarizing - either you love them or you hate them.  We happen to love them, but a little can go a long way! For the office opt for a leopard print blouse layered under a structured blazer.  If you just want to dip your toe into animal prints (so to speak), a pump or a flat can definitely add interest to an otherwise safe work look!

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Tweed, herringbone, houndstooth…:  These traditional textures started making a comeback last fall and you’ll see them everywhere this season.  This is a trend that is just made for the office! Invest in a modern blazer and up your casual Friday game by pairing it with your favorite jeans.

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Leather:  OK, so leather may not be the first thing you think of when you’re pondering your professional wardrobe, but hear us out!  Leather, worn the right way, can add polish and just the right amount of edge to a look. For the office choose a traditional silhouette (pencil skirt, sheath dress) or opt for a garment with leather details (piping, pockets, etc).

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The 80’s:  Everything old is new again, right?  This season designers were really channeling the 80’s - arguably the least fashionable decade (IMO!).  This might be one of those trends that we don’t fully embrace, but that doesn’t mean you can’t! If you’re a triangle shape, and this trend is calling to you, you’re in luck!  Shop for a jacket or blazer with a strong shoulder line. You’ll be on trend while visually balancing your body!

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Rouching:  This is a trend most people can get behind.  Rouching is a design detail that features subtle scrunching of material, typically in way that really flatters most body shapes. This trend would look fabulous on a pencil skirt or any type of work dress.

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Shop all these trend now, and you'll be all set for fall!

A Strategic Guide to Summer Sales

This is a crazy time of year. We’re deep into summer, but the idea of fall is slowly inching its way into our subconscious. If you’re a parent, it's definitely back-to-school season (and even if you’re not, the idea of ‘back-to-school’ still permeates our culture - more on that in a later post!).  

Even though the current weather reports read hazy hot and humid (add wet to that list, if you’re in the northeast!), retailers are busy highlighting their pre-fall and fall styles. That means they really need to clear out the summer pieces to make room for everything new! That also means that right now is the perfect time to assess your summer wardrobe (both work and weekend) and see what’s missing, and what needs to be refreshed.  Be smart about it though! Now really isn’t the time to buy super trendy pieces (unless you absolutely love them and know the CPW will be worth it). You don’t want to stock up on trends that have been going strong for a couple seasons, because they will most definitely look dated when you pull them out again in 10 months.

Shop these sales strategically and load up on classic, timeless summer pieces that will really never go out of style.  Below is our recommendation for the top 5 pieces to pick up (deeply discounted) over the next week or so (and of course we have a shoppable lookbook for you!).

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White Denim:  Talk about a summer staple.  Pick up a pair or two in your favorite classic cut and get rid of any pairs that are stained or just not as white as they used to be!

Simple Espadrilles:  Espadrilles were huge this summer.  We saw them everywhere! When picking up a pair for next season, skip styles with whimsical (trendy) details and choose a classic striped or lace up style that you’ll wear for summers to come.

Gauzy White Button Down:  Nothing is as timeless as the white button down.  For summer, choose a light gauzy fabrication. We really liked all the tie front styles we saw this season, and I’m pretty sure they’ll still be around next summer so if you like that look, now's a great time to pick it up!

Striped Dress (or top!):  Stripes will always look modern.  Choose a cute striped shirt or tee style dress and you’ll have it at the ready next spring!

Sunglasses: You can never have too many pairs of sunglasses. Treat yourself to a whatever classic style you generally lean towards; aviators, cat eye and oversized sunglasses will always be in style.

Shop our Smart Summer Sale lookbook!  Let us know what summer pieces you’re hunting for!

 

Navigating Your Career, In Style

Navigating Your Career, In Style, was the title of a session we held on Tuesday at Vayner Media, specifically for their summer interns. This group is just finishing up their 10 week internship at the company and most of them will be heading back to their colleges and universities to start their senior year. What a fabulous group of young adults!  They were polite, engaged, interested and inquisitive!

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During this session we talked about research that shows how your wardrobe choices affect how others perceive you, and how you perceive yourself.  We showcased some powerful data that proves the important role that image can play in your career success. We also talked a bit about the changing corporate landscape and and how to interpret different dress codes. We felt this was an important conversation to have since this group spent a summer at Vayner which is very much in the ‘almost anything goes’ space. These interns could end up working at Vayner right out of college, but many of them will be exploring and considering other industries and companies who may not have such a liberal approach to dress.

We had a robust conversation about the power of color, and how to think strategically about color when choosing your look for different situations. Lastly we talked about how to budget and to start building a work appropriate wardrobe (and where to save and where to splurge). I only wish we had more time, we can talk about this stuff forever!

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A huge thank you to Vayner for having us and to the interns for being such a great group!

We really enjoyed this session and received some great feedback from the attendees.  This reinforces our belief that we have content that is tailor-made for soon to be grads (and obviously interns).  We're excited to be working with more colleges and universities this year and impacting the careers and lives of these rockstar students! Want us to work with your school, too? Just reach out!

Wanderlust

One of the best things about being a kid is summer vacation. The summer seemed to stretch on and on, forever. I remember the anticipation and excitement building up though the end of August as the first day of school approached. Yes, I know all about the summer slide and the rationale arguments to keep kids engaged in learning all year long, but I do think there’s something to be said for summer vacation. As adults, we eagerly anticipate our Summer Fridays and if we’re lucky our one or 2 week vacations, but rarely do we have the opportunity to fully recharge like we had as kids.

I had dinner last week with a friend who was about to leave for sabbatical.  He works for a very well know company that offers six week paid sabbatical for all employees after they’ve been at the company for 5 years. What a fantastic benefit! He’s headed off for much deserved down time with his family.  I’m sure he’ll come back at the end of the summer with a fresh perspective and ready to hit the ground running.

This got us thinking, what would we do if we were lucky enough to enjoy a sabbatical?

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Stacy:  There are so many amazing ways to spend this time. I would love to rent a large villa in Italy or the South of France (my happy place) and invite lots friends and family to visit. I could also use this time to be a bit more adventurous. A cross country road trip spending time in the national parks (glamping, not camping!) would be something my daughter would always remember. An African Safari is also on my bucket list.

Wait, I may have the perfect itinerary! A week long African Safari, followed by a month in Europe eating amazing food and drinking some fabulous wine (with my family) followed by a week all to myself at a health and wellness spa (to counter some of the negative effects of my indulgent month in Europe!).  Now, what to pack…?

Faith:   I think I would break up my sabbatical into six different weekly excursions. I would start traveling East and visit the beautiful country of Spain and take as many siesta’s that we’re allowed in a week while enjoying their food and culture. From there I would travel to France for another week and consume as many croissants as I could while visiting all the amazing fashion boutiques. When the croissants ran out I would pack up my bags and head to the country of my grandparents, Italy. That week would include a visit to the amazing countryside of Firenze and the beaches of the Amalfi Coast. Ok, 3 weeks to go!

Back on the plane - it’s a long ride to the beautiful island of Hawaii. Maui is home for a week of rest and relaxation. Then it’s a short trip up to Cali and the PCH. After all that relaxing I would need do some serious hiking, fishing and horseback-riding in beautiful Lake Tahoe. The west coast week would conclude with a peaceful night in La Jolla overlooking that beautiful sunset. And then finally, this amazing sabbatical would conclude and crescendo with one final week on the pink sands of Bermuda with a farewell meal (the best of my life) at the Waterlot Inn. That’s my 6 week journey... I feel more relaxed just writing this! :)

OK, we’ll see you in six weeks!  :-)

Whatever your plans are for the rest of the summer, get out there an enjoy them. What would you do on your dream sabbatical?

Rain, Rain Go Away: How to Dress During Monsoon Season

I’m looking out my office window and it's absolutely pouring. Rain is rushing down the street and I see commuters doing their best to stay dry as they hurry to the train.

I love a good rainstorm, but I don’t love wet feet and soaking hems! So, that begs the question, what are the best things to wear on a rainy work day?  Not only are we going to share some of our favorite tips, but we also pulled some fabulous pieces you can add to your wardrobe now, to make sure you’re prepared for the next rainstorm!

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  • I mentioned soaking hems (above). There’s nothing worse! Avoid this by choosing a shorter pant length. We love a wider leg capri!

  • Skin dries more quickly than any type of fabric, so choose a skirt or dress. This is an especially great approach for a drenching summer rain (like today!) when it’s warm and humid. Yes, your legs will probably get wet, but they’ll dry in minutes as soon as you get inside.

  • Speaking of keeping your skirt or dress dry, make sure you have a functional (and fashionable) summer weight raincoat. We love a classic trench. For a more fashion-forward look, choose a clear style.

  • When its raining, leave your sandals and open toe shoes at home (or in your bag to change into at the office).  Instead, commute in a bootie, fashion sneaker or a low profile rain boot in a light neutral.  Avoid suede!

  • It's pretty much impossible to have a great hair day during a torrential downpour.  If you’re lucky enough to have chosen a raincoat with a hood, you’re a step ahead! Keep your look professional by sweeping your hair up into a sleek bun.  Use some gel to tame any flyaways.

Shop our favorite rainy day pieces and stay dry out there!

A Year In Review: What We Learned Our First Year in Business

It’s been just over a year since we launched FirstSeven Consulting.  We thought this would be a good time to take a look back and take note of what we’ve learned and how we’ve evolved.  

When we think of where we started, in some respects we feel like we’ve come really far in just a year.  That said, we can only chuckle when we look back at the original draft of our year one sales projections (boy were were naively optimistic!).

When we started we were so passionate (we still are!) about what we were going to offer.  We had the background and collectively, we had many (but certainly not all) of the skills we thought we needed to launch this company.  We identified a need in the market and believed we offered a solution to an existing problem. We were confident in our ability to craft and deliver our message to groups of professionals.  We truly believed that our training sessions would really make a difference in the careers of many men and women. We still believe this, in fact our belief has only been reinforced by the successful training sessions we’ve held this past year and the positive reviews we’ve received!

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What we didn’t anticipate was how challenging it would be to a) identify the decision makers and b) convince these decision makers of our value.  Every company has a different structure, so identifying the right department, and contact within that department, is key.  

Once we identified who we thought to be the best contact, our pitch was generally really well received and we left these initial meetings energized and pretty optimistic.  What we failed to take into account early on was the lengthy approval processes many companies require prior to signing off on a new “vendor’ or expenditure. We learned that when we could be involved in speaking to all of the individuals along the way, we had much more successful outcomes.

Another key challenge was actually raising awareness of the problem we solve.  In an earlier life, Stacy spent many years in advertising and media strategy and she often referenced her days launching pharmaceutical or luxury skincare and makeup products.  These new products filled a consumer need state or solved a problem (to put in simply). Companies invested lots of money raising awareness of the problem or need state, prior to launching the specific product.  To circle back to FirstSeven, we learned that setting up our conversation around the need for our service was a successful approach. We continue to try to raise awareness via our blog and social media (we definitely need to increase our reach and scale on these platforms though).  It's a priority for year two!

We also learned that our message could be misunderstood.  We were very close to finalizing a contract with a blue chip corporation here in New York. Our contacts at the company were looking forward to our presentation and were extremely supportive. Our contacts needed final approval from a senior leader (who had not been present at any of our initial meetings) and the senior leader would not approve the proposal and said it felt ‘frivolous’. It hurts me to write this, we took this comment so personally, but we also were able to learn from it and evolve our message accordingly. That experience caused us to take a hard look at our entire approach. We learned that talking about the benefit that investing in employee learning and development programs, in general, has for both companies and employees was something that really resonated with most people. From there we were able to show how working with FirstSeven fills in key gaps that most companies have in their career development programs.  Also weaving in research and data into our story is compelling as was talking about the role that appearance plays in executive presence.

Lastly, when we launched FirstSeven we were focusing on female professionals.  While we have experience styling men, we felt that women would be much more open to our content.  However, we have conducted a few training sessions with men and they were fantastic! The men were very engaged and they felt they learned something new that they could implement in their daily lives. This was a huge learning and it allow us to expand our target market!

We hope to be writing another ‘year in review’ post next year with lots of new updates (and hopefully lots of new readers too!).  Launching our own business isn’t easy but we’ve learned so much and cannot wait to see what next year brings!

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Our very first session!

Women's networking event for a finance company, in Brooklyn Heights

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Chicago offsite

Global law firm

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Women's Leadership Conference

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Sunscreen, Sparklers & Sales!

We hope everyone out there is enjoying a well deserved day off; celebrating with family and friends!  In order to be effective at work, it's imperative that we all take time off to recharge. Today is about beaches and barbecues, pool parties and pies - but don’t forget about all the sales out there.  

Even though it seems like summer has just started the season is actually winding down for most major retailers. Many are starting to clear out summer inventory to make way for pre-fall and fall merchandise. We don’t want to rush the season here (no one wants to think about back to school just yet!), but it is a great time to stock up on some summer essential and fun seasonal trends.  We’ve rounded up some of our favorite sales, and pulled them into one place for you to easily shop. You’re welcome!

Happy Independence Day, and Happy Shopping!

Work Your Whites!

While we don’t follow the old fashioned rule of no white before Memorial Day, we definitely suggest wearing white more often, as the temperatures climb. There’s something about a pure crisp white that makes you look fresh and full of energy.  It’s easy to throw on a pair of white shorts or a cute sundress on the weekends, but have you wondered how to wear more white at the office? Well, as always, we’re here to help!

The Blazer:  There’s nothing like a great white blazer to update your summer wardrobe.  You can go with a fitted blazer that nips in at the waist, or go for a more relaxed boyfriend fit.  Layer these over sleeveless dresses and blouses for an instantly put together and office appropriate look.

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The Trouser:  Give your black work pants a break for a few months and choose some white trousers instead.  If you work in a casual office, a pair of white denim is a smart investment. We’re also loving a great pair of wide leg linen blend pants.  Linen is such a great fabric for the hot weather, the only problem is wrinkling. That's why we recommend a blend that’s more wrinkle resistant.  We love these pants paired with a bright top, printed blouse or more casually, a graphic tee.

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The Shirt Dress:  A white dress can easily come off as too ‘vacationy’, (I’m not sure that’s a word, but you know what we mean!).  If you’re worried about this, a great option is a belted shirt dress. It’s a classic silhouette and there’s really nothing more professional than a traditional button down. Avoid anything too flowy, and chose a more structured style.

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The White Button Down:  Speaking of a traditional button down….keep wearing yours all summer long. If you work in a more casual or creative environment, roll up the sleeve (or choose a short sleeve style) and tie a front knot (just make sure you’re not showing any skin).

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The Pencil Skirt:  A tailored pencil skirt in white is a brilliant choice.  Pair it with a matching blazer for the perfect summer suit.

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The Pump:  We love a white pump.  If you’re wearing a white trouser or denim, pairing it with a white pump will elongate your leg line, and who doesn’t want that? 

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Wearing white can be tricky, especially at the office.  Before you head out the door, do a full body check to:

  • Make sure your whites are impeccable.  No stains, no yellowing or dinginess. Throw a Tide Stick in your bag for unexpected accidents and use The Whites Detergent from our friends at The Laundress to keep your whites looking pristine!

  • Ensure nothing is see-through!  Stand in sunlight to make sure you won’t be giving your co-workers a show!

Shop our favorite whites here! 

Meet Faith Rim, One of FirstSeven's Co-founders!

This week's blog post is all about one of our co-founders, Faith Rim.  We love getting to know our clients, so we figured you might like to know a little bit more about us; how we got here, what motivates and inspires us, and even our own fashion missteps (we've all had them!). Find out how Faith balances work and family, the best career advice she's received and what she thinks is the most important piece in any professional woman's closet. You can even shop her style in the lookbook below!

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Faith, tell us about yourself and your career path. I am a busy mom of three energetic little people and have been married to my amazing husband for 13 years. Before changing careers and diving into image consulting/styling I was at a corporate company for about 12 years and focused on strategy and planning. A weekend “fun” job at Ann Taylor caused me to start thinking more seriously about styling. I realized, “wow, I really love this and I don’t even feel like I’m at work!” That was my first indication that my day job could actually be something that I was really and truly passionate about.

As you mentioned, you're a mom of 3 adorable kids - what’s the biggest challenge you face when getting yourself AND all the kids ready in the morning?   I am NOT a morning person so I have learned over the years that I have to prep as much as I possibly can the night before to avoid morning meltdowns (my meltdowns, of course!) As part of my nightly routine I lay out everyone’s entire outfit and always place it in the same spot. That way, in the morning, the kids know precisely what they’re wearing even if their still half asleep!

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Who’s your #MondayMuse? I’ve always deeply admired Carolina Herrera and felt a strong connection to her collections. Her designs are elegant, sophisticated and not too fussy - she truly understands a women’s body and I appreciate that. When I wear a white button-down with anything I imagine that she is proud!

Just to prove you're not perfect :-) can you tell us about one of your biggest fashion faux pas? One of my first dates with my husband was one of his friends’ wedding. The day of the wedding came and I couldn’t find my strapless bra ANYWHERE. The dress had spaghetti straps so this was a must...I tore my room apart and then came up with the genius idea to just wear a regular bra and tuck the straps down into the sides of the cups. Yeah, not so genius. I was tugging and pulling at them all night and was SO uncomfortable and distracted! Needless to say, that is not the impression I wanted to make! I went out the next day and bought a new strapless bra!

Describe your style in 3 words? Classic and feminine with a touch of prep

What’s one piece every career woman should have in her wardrobe? Hand’s down, every woman should own a crisp, white button-down blouse. They are classic, timeless and you can get so much wear out of them. Pair them with all types of skirts and trousers for elevated office looks. Style them with jeans and heels for gorgeous casual looks. These fabulous layering pieces are also quite malleable - you can roll up the sleeves, tie up the front in a knot or pop up the collar for totally different looks. I don’t know what I would do without them! 

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” Changing careers was a big deal for me. I said over and over, “it’s too late to do this. I should stay where I am. I’m too old for big changes like this!” But I was so wrong! I’ve realized that it’s really never too late to do something that you love. Take the plunge!

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FirstSeven in a new company that you co-founded. What has the experience been like?  Scary but exciting! I have never owned my own business before so it’s like learning something new every day. There are certainly bumps in the road and problems to solve but I am really enjoying creating a service that people really see a value in! It makes me proud to be a part of this company.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? I see the wheels of our consulting firm really churning, becoming the leader and standout in the image consulting field. Various trips and adventures will definitely be on the horizon. I will also have 3 teenagers at the same time so please remember me in your nightly prayers!

Shop Faith's favorite pieces and incorporate a touch of her classic/feminine/preppy style into your wardrobe!

Fab Florals

Yes, we know, floral prints for summer is not a new a new idea, but that doesn’t make us love them any less! May’s instagram was all about this flirty, and very wearable print. Incorporate florals into your work look by choosing a classic silhouette, think floral pencils skirts, sheath dresses or blouses. Guys can get on on this too with floral ties and pocket squares.

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Let us know how you’re incorporating florals into your wardrobe and check out the lookbook to shop some of our faves!

Our Summer Wish Lists

With summer right around the corner, we’ve been thinking about our own summer wardrobes.  As you can imagine, when the three of us get together, the conversation almost always turns to fashion. Sometimes we talk about food, sometimes we talk about our families, but mostly we talk about fashion. In fact, we often serve as each other's stylists, editing one another's shopping carts and commenting on different outfit choices.

We spent quite a bit of time in airports on our way home from ICAN last week. We spent most of this time talking about (you guessed it)....what we have on our summer wish lists! We figured, why not share it with you! You can shop everything on our wishlists, in the lookbook at the end of this post.

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Faith is all about florals & polka dots!

I can't get away from florals right now! I know, I know, to quote Miranda Priestly, "Florals? For spring? Ground-breaking." But, I still love them! I've had my eyes on these floral sneakers that are perfect for spring/summer. Sneakers are a great way to try a trend that adds interest/texture without going overboard. This hightop pair by converse are also so fun and colorful - just looking at them makes me smile!

I'm also trying to incorporate more polka-dotted prints into my wardrobe this season. When choosing the right dot size I try and remember that smaller patterns minimize an area while larger patterns maximize an object. So depending on what you're trying to accomplish, choose wisely!

Lili is searching for the perfect going out bag and is loving matched sets!

I'm looking for a sleek, white bag I can wear to brunch or a night out. I don't like to carry a clutch (always afraid I'm going to lose it), so my nighttime bag must have a strap. I love the sophisticated and modern feel of Neely & Chloe. The Lady Bag No.19 is my absolute favorite. Hopefully it comes back in stock! That's what I get for waiting.

I'm typically a jeans and t-shirt type of girl, but in the summer, especially in New York City, jeans are the worst. They are hot, sticky and just a mess. I'm making a point to incorporate more breathable and summery pieces into my wardrobe. I've had my eye on a number of matching sets. I love them because you can wear the top/bottom combo together or mix and match with other pieces you already own. Faithful the Brand has a ton of great options, with the Sloane top and Linnie skirt being my favorites.

Stacy is loving whimsical espadrilles and is on the hunt for a hold-everything white tote.

I’m planning on giving my feet a break from heels this summer.  Luckily I have so many cute flats to choose from. I already have a decent selection of fashion sneakers and I’m looking for something that feels more summery.  This season’s vast array of whimsical espadrilles are just the thing my summer wardrobe needs. The only problem I’m having is choosing which pair, there are so many cute options!

When I’m out and about for the day, I often have my laptop, a comfy flat (see above), a water bottle, notebook, and a lunch or some snacks along for the ride - all of this stuff calls for a large handbag. I have some great totes that I’ve been using the past few months, but I want something that feels lighter (literally and figuratively) and summerier. I had my eye on this fab tote by Everlane (in white), but like Lili, I waited too long and its sold out.  I’m going to keep searching for the perfect summer tote, and when I see it, I’m not going to hesitate!

Shop all our wish list faves, and let us know what's on your list!

Authentic Leadership

Earlier this week we had the pleasure of spending 24 hours in Omaha for the ICAN 2018 Women's Leadership Conference. The theme was all about the importance of being an authentic leader. At ICAN, they believe that “to understand leadership, you must first understand people, and to understand people, you must first understand yourself. Research on Authentic Leadership stresses the importance of understanding yourself and your core values, and having the ability to disclose that self-knowledge in the most effective way, using insight into the people you lead. Successful leaders have a stable, rooted foundation with an open mind and heart for new ideas and perspectives.”

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This thought process is very much aligned with our core beliefs at FirstSeven.  We guide professionals to enhance their image, and strengthen their executive presence. When we talk about enhancing image, its about making sure the outside - what you project to others - matches what’s on the inside.  In other words, bringing out your authentic self.

 Personal Branding for Career Success 'pop-up' presentation.

Personal Branding for Career Success 'pop-up' presentation.

Over 3,000 women leaders attended this year's conference.  While we couldn’t possibly chat with all of them, we did meet many amazing women and had meaningful conversations about the effects that image can have on career potential. It's always validating when your message resonates and you feel like you’re making a difference! Thank you for having us, ICAN!

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Celebrate Mom!

This weekend we celebrate all the mothers in our lives.  At FirstSeven we work with a lot of professional moms and the companies that support them.  Working moms are unique and so inspiring. They also have their own set of challenges.

A working mom with young kids can’t even remember what it was like to only be responsible for herself in the morning.  Long gone are the days of a semi-leisurely shower and the luxury of time to decide what to wear for that important meeting. They’re often struggling to get multiple people looking presentable and out the door, and end up sprinting to catch the train.  Somehow they make it work!

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We recognize these challenges and know that for working moms, a simple, flattering and functional wardrobe is key to easing the morning routine.  When a woman knows that everything in her closet fits properly (and she looks and feels great in it), is appropriate and works together - getting ready in the morning becomes so much less stressful.

We can’t promise to take away all the stress, but we can promise to make it a whole lot better.

Still looking for the perfect Mother’s Day gift?  Check out our Private Coaching Packages, the mom in your life will definitely appreciate it!

If you work for a company that values working moms, we also have Corporate Training sessions geared specifically to them.

Become a Print Mix Master

In April, our instagram (@firstsevenconsulting) was all about mixing prints. Our followers thought the images were beautiful and inspiring, but also kind of intimidating.

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For some people mixing prints comes naturally, they have an innate sense of what works and what doesn't, and they can put together effortlessly amazing looks on autopilot.  However, the vast majority of us need some guidance, or a least a few ‘rules’ to get started. So, if you want to be a print mix master, look no further! These basic guidelines will have you mixing prints like a pro in no time! As with anything new, start small and get more adventurous as your confidence grows.

Size Matters:

Size and scale are really important when mixing prints.  A safe bet is to choose one larger print to be the primary print, then a smaller print to compliment. You don’t want the prints to be competing with each other. You can also choose the same print in different sizes for a chic put together look.

 @oliviapalmero

@oliviapalmero

Color Play

Color is key to creating a cohesive, but mixed, look. Make sure there is at least one color in common across all prints. If you’re just dipping your toe into the world of prints, start by picking one color scheme:  black, white and gray is always a safe choice. You can choose two different prints in this color scheme for an instant update. Or, if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous and working with two or more prints, make sure there is at least one color in common across the pieces.

 @obsessions_now

@obsessions_now

Know your Neutrals:

A neutral can ground two prints or provide the link between multiple patterns. Also, are you ready for this?  In the world of print mixing, you can actually consider stripes and leopard print neutrals!

 @valerie_dittner

@valerie_dittner

The best thing about prints is that you can have fun with them. While we did provide some ‘rules’, don’t overthink it. If you think it works...go for it.   

Make sure to follow us on Instagram.  This month we’re celebrating May Flowers with gorgeous pics of our favorite prints, and we'll be sharing our tips on how to wear them.

Shop this lookbook for some amazing printed pieces you can wear now!

 

Personal Branding for Career Success

We had a great time in Chicago last weekend - weather aside! As I mentioned in last week’s post, we were very excited (and a little nervous) for an upcoming event. This event was exactly what we envisioned when we founded FirstSeven! We were hired by a leading global law firm to conduct a session around Personal Branding. The session was part of a three weekend-long offsite (at the chic Soho House in Chicago) and was attended by about 35 six-year associates, a pretty equal mix of men and women.

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We knew our content was good and relevant, but we were anxious to see how it would be received by this room full of extremely successful professionals. Well, we’re happy to report it was received very enthusiastically.

We kicked off the session by talking about the role personal branding plays in executive presence, and the power of a first impression. We showcased some compelling statistics and research studies that support our premise that image can play a role in professional success. Then, we split into gender-specific breakout sessions (the men headed downstairs to the cinema room, or ‘man cave’ as we affectionately referred to it). In these break out sessions, we moved beyond the ‘why’ and into the ‘how’.  Here we walked through how to build a functional and flattering professional wardrobe. Both the men and women engaged in some interactive exercises and a robust Q&A session.

 The Man Cave.

The Man Cave.

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It's always a good day when you’re able to do something you love, with people you like, in a cool space, where you feel you’re really making an impact!

 Night before prep!

Night before prep!

 We offered samples from  The Laundress , a female founded company that creates eco friendly detergent, fabric care and home cleaning products.  

We offered samples from The Laundress, a female founded company that creates eco friendly detergent, fabric care and home cleaning products.  

During lunch, after the breakout sessions, we overhead a man talking to group of other men (all who had participated in the session) saying ‘I mean, wearing a suit that doesn't fit, that’s career suicide!”. That statement may be a bit dramatic, but we were thrilled our content resonated!

Please contact us to discuss how we can create and deliver custom training content to meet your company’s needs!  We can participate in company off-sites, provide one-hour ‘lunch and learn’ sessions or even facilitate a happy hour or team event.

The Missing Piece in Many Corporate Training Programs

Each of us has probably experienced a moment when a leader enters a room and she instantly attracts the attention of everyone present. Heads turn, conversations halt and everyone just gravitates toward her. Perhaps you can recall a time listening to a CEO address the company or simply chatting with a successful team leader at a holiday party - you just want to listen and engage. You feel motivated and inspired, and led. These people have what some might call a wow factor, and in business it's usually referred to as Executive Presence. There’s quite a bit of research that’s been done on executive presence, and most of them come back to some version of what’s laid out below:

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Most people will agree that to be successful in many career paths, certainly those that involve high-level leadership and management, a certain level of executive presence is crucial.

Most people would also agree that companies should provide training to their employees to help guide them along in their career development and provide growth opportunities. In fact, 68% of workers said that training and development is the most important workplace policy for them. It’s particularly important to millennials, 87% say professional development opportunities are very important. (per a State of the Industry Report from ClearCompany).

According to the Association for Talent Development (ATD), “companies that offer comprehensive training programs have 218% higher income per employee than companies without formalized training. These companies also enjoy a 24% higher profit margin than those who spend less on training. It would seem that continuing to invest in training and development, even when there are economic downturns, is the smart play.”

So what does all this have to do with executive presence, you might ask?  Well, we’ve seen our share of really robust training programs and we’ve talked to many professionals who have been on the receiving end of these programs.  Between the three of us, we've spent decades at companies where they have truly invested in their learning & development programs; offering Presentation Skills, Conflict Management, Leadership Training, Writing & Business Communication Workshops, Negotiation Skills and Effective Brainstorming, just to name a few.  These courses are phenomenal. They help develop character, form behavior and they ensure there is substance and clear communication.  That said, we’ve yet to see any courses that focus specifically on those other key elements of executive presence - style and appearance.

That’s one of the reasons we founded FirstSeven!

According to a study done by LinkedIn, 27 percent of North American businesses are going to spend more on internal learning programs in 2018. Hopefully, some of this increased investment will fund programs to allow employees to explore the power that image has on improving their executive presence and enhancing their career!

Today we’re busy putting some final touches on a program for a top global law firm that has recognized the value of personal branding and executive presence.  We’re so excited to share it with a room full of very successful professionals. Check in next week and we'll tell you all about it!

The Best Spring Jackets for Work & Play!

From where we’re sitting, there are still a few random piles of snow on the ground, but we’re confident that spring will eventually make an appearance. I don’t know about you, but we are SO ready to pack up the puffers and the long wool coats and opt for something lighter. This time of year the temps and the weather are unpredictable, so it's nice to have a variety of coats and jackets from which to choose.  Here is a round-up of our top five spring jacket styles:

  • The Denim Jacket.  While this is definitely the most casual option on the list (maybe save it for a casual Friday) it’s such a classic, we had to include it. It's versatile and easy to wear. The traditional silhouette will never go out of style, but if you want a more modern look, invest in a trendy oversized style.

  • The Raincoat.  We all know April showers bring May flowers...so there’s no reason to be unprepared. A cute raincoat will make all the difference on those gray rainy mornings. Have fun with colors and prints, or keep it classic.  If you’re looking for a trendier update, clear raincoats were all over the spring/summer runways. We love this look because you get to show off your fabulous outfit too!
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  • The Trench.  Speaking of runways, the trench made several appearances at the shows.  Again, you can’t go wrong with a classic version, but there are some fun modern styles as well. In 2018, you’ll see fringe, corset details, exaggerated sleeves and extra length. For a conservative office, a classic trench is a smart investment. Wear it over your favorite sheath dress or pant suit.
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  • The Bomber.  The bomber jacket is still going strong. This spring opt for one in satin or silk and choose a pretty pastel or versatile olive green.
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  • The Leather Jacket.  After a few months of wearing our black leather jackets, they’re starting to feel a bit stale (but don't worry, we'll crave them again come fall!).  Our shopping list definitely includes a chic moto style in a pale blue, blush, light gray or white. This is the perfect topper for a flowy summer dress or printed skirt.
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Shop our favorites here!

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