training

'Made to Measure March'

At FirstSeven, we made it through the dreary month of February by focusing on color. Honestly, it was really fun! Making an effort to try new colors and move away from head-to-toe black definitely energized us. We’d love to hear how you played around with color this month. How did it make you feel?  Did you find a new favorite color?  Did you notice you were receiving more compliments than usual?  

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Now that we’re moving into March, we’re going to focus on fit. We’re calling it ‘Made to Measure March’ (isn’t that cute?!). We’re so passionate about fit and how important it is to find the right fit that we will bring this to life for you on our Instagram (@firstsevenconsulting.com) feed.

Follow along with us this month to learn all about the perfect fit and the effect it can have on you!

About 80% of our clients wear the wrong size.  The majority of them are actually wearing pieces that are TOO BIG!

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.  

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?

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

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


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

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

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

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

Image Source:  Getty / Christian Vierig

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Bag

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

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Outerwear

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

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Shoes

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

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

Real Life Client Stories: Emily

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Working From Home...Sweats or Suits?

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

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

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

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

GETTY/THINKSTOCK

GETTY/THINKSTOCK

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

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

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

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

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!