professional dressing

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! 

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!

What to Wear to Your Company's Holiday Party?

Thanksgiving...done.  Black Friday & Cyber Monday...check.  Giving Tuesday...yes! Now we have officially entered party season. One party that can conjure up a myriad of feelings - from excitement, to anxiety to dread - is the annual company party. At FirstSeven, we love a good office party. It’s a chance to relax and to spend some time with colleagues. Regardless of how you feel about your company party, it is really important to attend, network and who knows, you might even have fun!

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We have many clients who come to us unsure of what to wear to this type of event. Office parties can be tricky, even for clients who have mastered their 9-5 style. Here are a few things to consider when planning this year's look.

  • When & Where?

Is the event happening in the office, during regular office hours? If yes, then start with what you would normally wear to work, then dial it up a notch. Incorporate a festive color and add a piece of statement jewelry. Swing by the ladies room on the way and add a bold lip color, an extra coat of mascara and you’re good to go.

If the event is at a special venue in the evening, then you have the opportunity to be more festive.  You also have a choice here - you can incorporate some simple switches to your day look or you may decide to change into a completely different look. This is entirely up to you and really depends on the feasibility of doing a complete outfit change (do you have time to go home before the event? Can you easily bring a change of clothes to the office?).

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  • What makes you comfortable?

If you’re always cold, choose a long sleeve dress or layer an interesting jacket or cardigan. You don’t want to stand around freezing all night. When you’re cold, you tend to fold inward and hunch over, that doesn’t project a very welcoming or open vibe.

If you think you’ll be dancing or standing for most of the night, take that into consideration when choosing your footwear. We adore heels and statement shoes, but your company’s party isn’t the time to be nursing your blisters. There are a ton of cute and festive flats out there (sparkle, glitter, ties ups), but a stacked/thicker heeled option is also a great choice.

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  • What is your office environment?

If you work at a traditional company, keep that in mind. Your party attire can still be festive, but lean towards more conservative choices (maybe save the glittery booties for another night). In this environment you can’t go wrong with a classic dark cocktail dress. It doesn't have to be boring, choose interesting design details that appeal to you (statement sleeves, lace, flattering necklines) and add accessories to complete your look and give it personality.

If your company tends to have a more casual, anything goes vibe, then you have a lot more liberty on what to wear to your party. We say, go all out! Bring on the sparkle and shine, amp up the fun factor.  

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Enjoy yourself, but remember these people will still be your co-workers, teammates and bosses come tomorrow, so don’t enjoy yourself too much.  

What We're Thankful For This Year...

For those of us at FirstSeven, 2017 has been of year of change, both professionally and personally. We lost the stability of working for a company we loved, doing what we loved (bringing the power of personal styling to clients all over the country). This wasn’t easy, trust us! But, instead of taking the safer and easier road, the three of us came together and conceptualized and launched our own company, FirstSeven.  As a company, we’re thankful we have this opportunity and for the support we’ve received.

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We asked each co-founder what they’re thankful for, read their answers below:

Faith Rim

“This year, in particular, has been filled with a lot of big changes for me and my family. Through the ups and downs I think I’ve learned to be grateful for all seasons. Seasons of loss, gain, disappointment and hope have all had their place this year. I’m grateful for perspective; to understand that there’s a lesson and a reason for every situation that we face in life. I’m blessed to experience it all with an amazingly supportive husband and three little jewels who love me unconditionally. Life is not always easy but living it with a grateful heart has certainly made it more beautiful!”

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Lili Morton

“This year I'm most thankful for my relationships. In good times and bad, over and over again, I'm shown how blessed I am to be surrounded by kind, supportive and amazing people. In addition to those I've known for years, this year introduced me generous, thoughtful, smart and good, quality people who have enriched my life.”

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Stacy Gatto
“I know this is so cliche, but every single day I’m thankful for my family, they’re everything to me.  I’m thankful that I have the privilege to walk my daughter school every morning and be the one to pick her up most days.  Not a lot of working moms get to do that, and I don’t take it for granted. Last, but not least, I’m thankful for the opportunity to pursue a career/business that I’m so passionate about. I wouldn’t have this opportunity without the support of my family.”

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We're in the Mood to Give!

The holiday season is just around the corner and we’re in the mood to give! We’re excited to offer a special content module and an amazing contest to our loyal readers and clients.   

First, let us explain the contest. We’re offering a complimentary one-hour styling session for one lucky winner and up to 30 of their co-workers. To enter, all you have to do is comment on this blog post or any of our social media posts. Sharing and/or tagging others where mentioned will earn you an additional entry. The winner (randomly selected) is sure to be the most popular person in their office. After the session, you and your co-workers will leave knowing more about the importance of dressing for success, and more importantly, feeling confident and empowered in your wardrobe choices. On top of that, every attendee will be offered discounts on individual styling services.  

Our sessions are informative, engaging, interactive and fun!

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Here's what one happy client had to say after one of our sessions:

The event attendees were a diverse group of professional women, and the team did a fantastic job of addressing the audience across age and stage of career, while also keeping the crowd engaged at all times. Lili, Stacy, and Faith delivered helpful tips on getting the most out of our wardrobe with effervescent energy and serious level of expertise. The event has received overwhelming accord amongst attendees, and many colleagues came to work the following day having executed some of the key points and looking flawless and confident. We would highly recommend their services and insights, and are going to look for ways to bring them back in other contexts.
— Robin, Managing Director

We’re also very excited to offer some shorter/lighter content for your company's holiday party or gathering. We’ve create a special 20-minute session that can be delivered in a festive setting (it pairs perfectly with champagne!). We’ll showcase our favorite holiday trends as well as some unique and beautiful gifting ideas. As with all of our content, this will be interactive and offer a fun backdrop for socializing with colleagues and celebrating the season.

Both of these opportunities will have you and your colleagues ending the year in style. We looking forward to celebrating the season with you!

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!

Introducing #MondayMuse!

What’s a Monday Muse you might ask? #MondayMuse is a term we use to refer to all the successful, accomplished women we look up to. They are the women who inspire us to get out of bed every Monday and start the week full of energy and optimism. Some of our Monday Muses have overcome enormous set backs, but came out the other side stronger than ever. And, because we’re stylists at heart, all of our Muses are polished, professional and exude their very own enviable, personal style.

Today we’re going to highlight a couple of our favorite Monday Muses. The best part is, you can shop their style right from the blog! Another fun twist is our #MondayMuse quiz. Take the quiz below and find out which Monday Muse you’re most like (and of course, shop her style).

Jenna Lyons

While Jenna might not be a household name, she should be. Jenna’s story is a modern day fairy tale, with a real life heroine. If you’re not familiar with Jenna, she was (until very recently) the president and creative director of J.Crew, where she became the face of the brand. She spent her entire career at J.Crew, moving up the ranks after starting as an assistant designer straight out of Parsons School of Design.

She has been pretty open in various interviews about her tough childhood. She suffered from a genetic disorder which affected her skin, caused her hair to fall out in patches and impacted the look and functionality of her teeth. A disorder like this is hard on anyone, but it must have been particularly heartbreaking for a little girl. She reports being bullied and as a result, became shy and introverted. Her childhood experiences led her to fashion. She told Sarah Harris from The Guardian, "it was the reason I loved fashion, because it can change who you are and how you feel, and that can be magical." 

At J.Crew, Jenna was a key player in turning the company around in the early 2000s. From 2003-2011, J.Crew tripled its revenues from under $700MM to almost $2B. Now that’s impressive!  

Jenna is also known for her personal style, which has been described as geek-chic. It’s a playful mix of high and low. She loves a great print or two (or three), and her signature red lip and black frame glasses typically complete her look

Jenna left J.Crew earlier this year, and we can’t wait to see what she does next!

 

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Amal Clooney

Amal Clooney is another notable Monday Muse. And no, it has nothing to do with the fact that she married one of the world’s most eligible bachelors. It has everything to do with how accomplished she is in both her professional and personal life; and her style is simply swoon worthy.

She’s a practicing international law and human rights lawyer. She’s an active philanthropist; acting as president and co-founder of the Clooney Foundation for Justice and partnering with the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative to award the Amal Clooney Scholarship each year. She’s also an activist, author, and new mother.

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We’d love to hear from you?  Who are some of your #MondayMuses?

Don’t forget to take the quiz and share your results on your social.

4 Things to Consider When Investing in a New Work Bag

You’ll notice the word ‘investing’ in the title of this post. . . that’s not by accident. A great work bag is an investment. We’re not saying you have to spend thousands of dollars, but this is an item where we encourage you to choose the highest quality you can afford. You’ll be glad you did!

If you’ve decided you’re in the market for a new work bag, here are the four key things you should consider before you take the plunge:

Size:

Think about what you need your work bag to hold. Do you commute via public transportation or do you drive? Do you carry your laptop back and forth? What about your lunch and gym clothes? Answers to these questions will help you decide how big to go. We'll always recommend to size up. One large bag will always look more put together than carrying multiple small bags. Ever hear of the term bag lady? It's not a compliment!

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Organization/Functionality:  

After you’ve determined what you’ll carry in your work bag, think about how you like it organized. Do you like to have a pocket for everything, or do you feel more organized when you have items separated into a few groups? We had a client who was hyper organized and wanted to invest in a new work bag that had a specific space designated for basically everything she would ever carry. We found her a fabulous bag with more pockets (both interior and exterior) than we had ever imagined. She loved it and started using it right away. After about a week she called and said the bag just wasn’t working for her because there were too many pockets. She kept forgetting where she put things and the result was she couldn’t find anything. So, think this through and decide what would work best for you!

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Carrying Options:  

Think about what kind of straps and carrying options you want or need. Do you like to wear your bags crossbody? This is a good option if you have a walking commute and tend to carry a lot - it distributes the weight making it more comfortable to carry. Or maybe you you prefer to carry it in your hand or over your forearm? These are all great options, but we recommend looking for a bag that allows you to carry it different ways. Look for a bag with convertible handles and straps for increased versatility (and comfort!), your chiropractor will thank you!  

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  • Color:

If you’re investing a significant amount of money into what will be your primary work bag, we recommend going with a neutral color. A good place to start is by taking a look at your current work wardrobe, including shoes and outerwear. Do you find you wear mostly black or do you gravitate more towards tans and beiges? This should determine the direction you go. If you already have a great black or tan work bag, choose one in a fabulous color, such as plum, bright red or a deep navy.

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Your work bag says a lot about you. It will also help keep you organized and functional. There are so many gorgeous options out there.  We can’t wait to see what you choose!

Tips to Help You Master Business Travel

Business travel...some people embrace it; a  new city every week, people to meet and restaurants to try, not to mention having someone to make your bed every day.  Other people prefer to put their kids to bed and eat home cooked meals. Most of the clients we work with have some amount travel that’s required as part of their job. Whichever camp you fall into, simplifying your packing list should make for a more enjoyable experience!

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The number one thing that every seasoned business traveler will tell you is to only pack a carry on - never check a bag.  The reasons for this are twofold, first retrieving your checked luggage takes valuable time, which could leave you rushing to make it to that important meeting. Secondly, any time you check a bag, there’s a chance it may not make it to it's intended destination.  We’ve all been there. There’s nothing worse than having your power suit and heels end up in LA when you’re in London.  Sticking to a carry on is the way to go.  

When packing give some thought to each piece you choose; think about versatility (can I wear it more than once? Does it fill different roles?), bulk (how much space will it take up?) and feel (how does it make you feel?).

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  • Versatility: Try to avoid bringing too many items that only serve one purpose.  For example, a black wrap dress in jersey, not only travels well but can work well during the day when worn with a cami underneath and opaque tights.  Wear that same dress at night without a cami, bare legs and a statement necklace.   

Similarly, for men, a suit jacket can do double duty as a sport coat with denim for a more casual meeting.  

A fashion sneaker that you may wear to commute could also serve you in the hotel gym (assuming you’re going for a lighter workout, not 20 miles on the treadmill!).

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  • Bulk:  If you need to bring some bulkier, hard to pack items like a winter coat or a tall boot, incorporate those pieces into the outfit you wear on the plane, so you don’t have to struggle to stuff them into your carry on.  If you need a blazer or a suit jacket for your meeting, wear it on the plane and have the flight attendants hang it for you. That way you avoid packing it and it stays fresh and wrinkle free!
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  • Feel:  Business travel is not the time to experiment and try out new pieces.  We recommend choosing appropriate, modern outfits that you know make you feel comfortable and confident. It doesn’t matter if you’ve worn that outfit 3 times this season already, chances are people you’re traveling to meet with haven’t seen you in it yet!  

Also think about comfort.  Make sure you do have a comfortable pair of shoes that are easy to slip on and off at security.  A cozy cashmere wrap is also a great piece to have handy in your carry on.

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These tips should make traveling for business a bit easier!  So, pack up, get out there and kill it at your meetings.  Oh, one other tip...definitely reward yourself with a post meeting/pre-flight drink in the airport bar, you’ve earned it!

What are some of your favorite tips for business travel?

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!

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!