professional image consulting

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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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! 

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!

Vacation: Take it, don't lose it!

As a culture, Americans take pride in working hard, getting things done and basically being ‘on’ 24/7, via technology and the ability to work remotely. Americans are very good at a lot of things, but taking vacations is not one of them! Consider these facts:

  • Nearly 54% of Americans do not take all the vacation days they’ve earned

  • 662 million (yes, million) earned vacation days went unused in 2017

  • By forfeiting vacation days, Americans are leaving $66.4B worth of benefits on the table

  • An astounding 42% of Americans report they don’t take any vacation time at all.  Never use your vacation days? This is why you should  Maurie Backman, USA Today)

Studies show that taking vacations benefit both the employee and the employer. Without taking some time away from work, individuals can lose the capability to relax. When this happens, stress becomes a constant and productivity (not to mention health) can suffer. All employers want their employees to be dedicated hard workers, but they also want them to be energized and able to focus. In order to be at our best, we must step away and recharge!

Have we convinced you to plan your getaway yet? We hope so!

Do you know one of our favorite things about vacation? You guessed it, shopping for a few new pieces that make you smile, and get you in the vacation mood. A new sundress, sandals or beach hat will usually do the trick for a warm-weather destination. For all you spring skiers, a cozy sweater or après ski boot are smart purchases to make right now.

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Shop some of our favorites, and enjoy your vacation!

The Ultimate Date Night

We spend most of our time here on the blog and at FirstSeven HQ thinking about image and personal branding as it relates to the professional environment and how it can impact your career. While that is truly our passion, we don’t want you to think we’re all work and no play!

We were thrilled to be tapped by Harrison & Shriftman (a public relations, special events and marketing firm) to work with Booking.com on a very cool experiential promotion. They created the ultimate date night - an evening in a private suite in the Empire State Building. There was even a five star dinner for the lucky couple (complete with champagne and chocolates) on the observation deck. Obviously, this calls for some serious style . . . and that’s where we came in.

We were on hand to help the couple (April & Shawn) choose their date night looks. We pulled several classic, but glamorous dresses and jumpsuits for April and suave ‘Bond-like’ pieces for Shawn, including a velvet sport coat and an array of pocket squares.

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It was so much fun watching them browse the pieces we had chosen for them and guiding them through shoes and accessories. They looked fabulous and were ready for a night on the town! We hope they enjoyed the experience as much as we did.

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Did Someone Say Sample Sale?

At FirstSeven we love partnering with brands and companies that share a common vision. We especially love working with and supporting other woman founded/run businesses. That’s why we recently jumped at the chance to collaborate with ShopDrop.  

ShopDrop is an app that takes the guesswork out of Sample Saling (yes, we turned sample sales into a verb!). Sample sales were originally held by brands and designers to sell pieces that were literally used as, well, samples. However, the term has become more general and now samples sales typically feature extra inventory that the company needs to liquidate. This means that you can often walk away with fabulous designer pieces at a fraction of the original retail price.

Samples sales...either you love them or you hate them. If you love them, or are just interested in checking out a few of them, definitely download the ShopDrop app. The app announces all the sales happening in the city, as well as the hours and location. There can be hundreds of sales happening each week and the app makes sure you’re in the know.

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FirstSeven partnered with ShopDrop at an event they recently held at a NYC WeWork. Instead of going to several brand specific sample sales, ShopDrop brought the sample sale to the busy professional WeWork members. Who wouldn’t want to snatch up a ½ price Catherine Maladrino blouse during your lunch hour? FirstSeven was on hand to help the attendees navigate the available merchandise (sample sales can be a bit overwhelming sometimes) and choose pieces to help them elevate their professional style. We were available to answer any styling or fit questions that members had as they shopped the sale.

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Don’t forget to download the app. If you had it you’d know about these upcoming sales...La Perla ,Tracy Reese, Cynthia Steffe, Vince Camuto, J. Mendel and Schutz, just to name a few!

The Power of Color

Color is powerful. It can elicit a range of emotions, messages and feelings. If used correctly color can help to reinforce a message you’re trying to convey or it can simply give you an added confidence boost. The power of color has long been harnessed by brands establishing their identity, and by interior designers to create the mood of a room. Have you thought about what color might do for your image?

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There are two ways to think about color as it relates to your wardrobe:

  • Individual coloring & preference:  Everyone has their unique coloring. Your coloring can be altered to some degree, via make-up, hair dyes, even colored contacts, sun/self tanners. Your skin tone, hair color and eye color will all play a role in what colors look best on you.

It could be that green is a fabulous color for you. It makes your hair shine, your eyes pop and your skin glow...one problem though, you just don't like green. If this is the case, don’t wear it, or explore different shades and find one you do love. The point is, individual preference is as important as anything when it comes to deciding what to wear. We always talk about the role confidence plays in executive presence and If you’re not wearing something you love (no matter how great you may look in it), then you won’t be confident. Always choose something you love!

If you struggle with what colors are most flattering on you, definitely reach out to a professional (like your stylists at FirstSeven). We’re trained to help you identify what set of colors will best enhance, and work with, your current coloring.

  • Emotions/Meaning behind color:  Color evokes emotions and sends messages.  These emotions and messages can vary by culture and geography (so keep that in mind if you’re traveling globally on business).

For example, in Western culture:

Red is associated with energy, strength, power, passion and love.  It can actually raise your blood pressure and enhance metabolism. Think about incorporating red in your wardrobe if you want to command the room, need to be high energy or desire to be seen as passionate.

Yellow also evokes energy and is associated with happiness and joy. It can create a feeling of spontaneity and instability though. While yellow is a beautiful color, it may not be the best choice when you want to be taken seriously in an important board meeting, but it could be a great option for the company picnic!

On the other hand, blue is often associated with stability, loyalty, trust and wisdom.  Blue is a fabulous, low risk, color to incorporate into your professional wardrobe.  If you’re currently stuck in an all-black rut, consider swapping out a black blazer for a blue one, or reaching for a blue shift dress for that important client meeting.

Now that you know a little bit more about the power of color, join us in our February Style Challenge (#firstsevenstylechallenge) and make sure to follow us on Instagram. @FirstSevenConsulting

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!

Put Some Finesse into Your Fitness

Last week we talked about resolutions and the importance of focusing on how you present yourself. Spending some time and energy on your professional appearance can pay dividends in your career.

Staying with the theme of resolutions, another popular one this time of year is a focus on health and fitness.  Getting healthy and fit will give you confidence and energy - two things that will only help your career.  So, for all you readers who have resolved to start a new fitness routine, we’ve pulled some of our favorite workout gear for you to shop. There’s nothing like a new legging, sports bra or sneaker to get you motivated to hit them gym. There are so many flattering and fun options out there. Treat yourself to a couple new pieces and you’ll be extra inspired to work hard and achieve your goals (and you’ll look great doing it!).

Baby It's (getting to be) Cold Outside! 3 Must Have Toppers That are Warm AND Chic!

We’ve been a bit spoiled, temperature wise. We’re coming off of one of the warmest Novembers in history. In fact, several cities across the country set record highs this past month. Don’t let these above average temperatures lull you into a false sense of security...winter will come (for most of us), and when it does, make sure you’re prepared!

Let’s face it, most of us don’t love freezing cold weather, especially when we're forced to commute in it. That said, a great coat will help you weather the storm (pun intended). We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite winter coat styles that will have you looking great and feeling toasty. Don’t forget to shop the blog for these styles, and more. We’ve even added some great winter accessories, (they make fabulous gifts).

The Puffer

Could there be a less flattering name for a coat? The puffer has come along way in the past years. They went from being...well, pretty much how they sound, super bulky and Michelin man-esque. They weren't cute, but they were warm. Now, you don’t have to sacrifice one for other, you can can find cozy styles that are flattering. Choose one that has some sort of waist defining detail, like a belt or some gathering at the waist line. This will keep the coat from overwhelming your shape. We also recommend choosing one with a fur or faux fur lined hood - this comes in handy if you choose to wear your hair in a bun, top knot or pony. We also recommend going with a slightly longer length that will work well over skirts and dresses.

Source: Popsugar

Source: Popsugar

The Trench

A classic wool trench will never go out of style, and it's a perfect choice for the office as it works well with dresses, skirts and suits. Since this is such a classic style, consider purchasing one in a color. There’s really nothing like a bold winter coat to brighten your mood. If you really want to be on trend, consider one in a plaid or check print.

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Faux Fur

So soft, so cozy, it's like wearing a blanket, but much more elegant!  There’s no limit to the choices out there for faux fur coats. While we love a bomber style, those are best kept for the weekend. For the office a longer and looser fit works best. It's great for a desk-to-dinner kind of day!

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A winter coat is an investment piece. It's a coat you’ll wear day after day for several years, so buy the highest quality you can afford - you’ll be glad you did. Stay warm out there!