Corporate Training

Style Challenge

We’re just finishing up our first ever Style Challenge. For the month of January, we challenged you (and ourselves) to incorporate a piece of statement jewelry (or some sort of statement accessory) into your look.  January can be a tough month style wise. We’re a little burnt out from the holidays, most of the country is in a deep freeze and our jeans may not be fitting the same way they were a couple months ago. That’s why we thought focusing on statement accessories would be such a great challenge! It's an easy and fun way to add some interest and depth to a basic look. Here are a couple of our favorite images from this style challenge!

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So what’s up for February? In some ways February can be an even tougher month to get through than January. We’re in the heart of winter and there’s still a good month or so before we can even start thinking about spring. So, let’s keep it upbeat and try to fight the winter doldrums by incorporating some color into to our February looks. You can start small - a colorful scarf, shoe or a brighter manicure or lip color. You can go all out with a statement coat in a rich hue or a beautiful sheath dress or cashmere sweater. Whatever works for you! Use #firstsevenstylechallege to show us how you’re going to wear color this February and follow us on Instagram @firstsevenconsulting to see how we make it though this month, colorfully!

To get you started, we pulled some gorgeous piese for you to shop!

5 Must-Have Dresses to Get You Through the Season

We love dresses, especially for the office. There is simply no easier way to look professional and put together than by throwing on a fabulous, office appropriate dress. We’ve scoured this season's racks and sites to bring you a list of our top five dresses. These five types of dresses will ensure you make it to spring in style and comfort. Remember, you can shop all of our picks!

  • Ruffle details:  A dress with a ruffle detail will instantly update your wardrobe. This feminine design will be everywhere this season and can take a dress from simple, to statement-making. In a creative environment, really go for it and choose a dress with dramatic ruffle detail. In a more conservative environment, it's best to tone it down a bit.  A ruffle at the hemline or sleeve is a sophisticated way to incorporate this trend.

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  • Color:  On a dreary January day, a dress in a rich or vibrant color may be all you need to lift your spirits and beat the winter doldrums. We love a classic black dress, but try to have at least one color option that makes you smile. We guarantee you’ll feel more energized and you’ll be sure to garner compliments from your co-workers. Last month we wrote about the power of red, which we still love, but choose a color that works best for you and you can’t go wrong.

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  • Knit:  There is nothing cozier than a knit dress.  We love a chunky oversize knit with a slouch boot, ankle bootie or over the knee boot. Keep this one neutral - black, gray, navy, even cream, are all great choices.   

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  • Day-to-Night:  The holidays are right around the corner.  That means lots of parties, happy hours and events. Many of these events are likely to take place after work and most of us won’t have time (or energy!) to go home and change.  With a great day-to-night dress, a simple change of shoes, earrings and handbag are all you need to transform your look from office to party.  Oh, and a fabulous red lip.
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  • Wrap:  Speaking of the holidays…. with all the parties and festivities might come a couple extra pounds. When we’ve been a bit too indulgent, we reach for our wrap dresses. They fit so comfortably, no matter what the scale says! Plus, the waist defining wrap detail really flatters.

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Stock up on these dress and you’ll be ready for whatever the next few months have in store!

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!

 

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!