by Mindy Obenhaus
This week, we’re going to focus on you. More to the point, your presentation of yourself. I can hear the moans now. But cliche as it might sound, we really do have only one chance to make a first impression. Sure, there are times we get to redeem ourselves, but just imagine how much better you’d feel if you put your best foot forward the first time.
First, let’s talk about wardrobe. Now before you move on to the next blog, hear me out. Wardrobe does not mean you have to dress like a fashionista. But it does mean that you put some effort into choosing your clothes. I spent years wearing baggy jeans and over-sized t-shirts because I was overweight. I played this nasty little game, telling myself that since I was not the size I wanted to be I did not deserve to have nice-looking clothes. Then there was that whole torture of actually trying on clothes to purchase. Ugh! Sign me up for a root canal instead.
Then I lost forty pounds. Suddenly buying clothes and dressing the way I wanted to dress wasn’t such torture. Gradually, I gained thirty of those dreadful pounds back. Much more enjoyable than losing them, I might add. I had to buy new clothes again. Only this time, a bigger size. Ouch. But if there’s one thing I learned, it was that when I dressed nice, I felt better about myself. I presented myself better. No matter how much weight I put back on, I refused to go back to the way I once dressed. Okay, maybe to clean the house or hang out at the ranch, but not in public.
In the past year and a half, I’ve not only re-lost those thirty pounds, but ten more as well. That however, is a post for another time. My point is that I know the excuses and I’m not buying them. You are in control of how you look. You are in control of presenting yourself in a pleasing, professional manner. And you don’t have to be Cindy Crawford to do it.
Start by evaluating what’s in your closet. If it has holes, don’t bring it to conference. Unless, of course, you can mend them so no one will know they were ever there. Check to make sure the seams and hems aren’t worn on your slacks. Make sure there are no stains on your shirts/blouses. Now think of the events you’ll be attending. Business casual is appropriate most of the time. The key word being “business.” Would you wear said outfit to a job interview? The interview for your dream job? If not, then you might want to rethink it.
Jeans can be appropriate, but go for a dark wash with a good fit and a bit of a flared leg. Believe it or not, those elements will actually slim you. Pair them with a nice top, maybe a jacket, and a nice pair of shoes.
Ah yes, shoes. I’ll admit to having a bit of a shoe habit. Unfortunately, my pocketbook won’t let me have much of one. Drat! And I confess to loving heels, though I also understand that not everyone can wear them. However–and I’ll probably step on some toes here (no pun intended)–that doesn’t mean tennis shoes are your only option. There are plenty of comfortable, nice-looking shoes that do not double as workout attire. Invest in an attractive, comfortable pair of shoes in a color that’ll coordinate nicely with all your outfits.
Now that you’ve inventoried what you have, make a list of what you may need to purchase to fill in the gaps. It’s definitely better to go through these steps weeks, if not months, before conference. That way you can space purchases. And let’s face it, we’re all feeling the pinch these days. Shop wisely. Thrift stores and resale shops are a fantastic option. I often see clothes still sporting their tags, selling for a mere fraction of their original price. Discount stores (ie. Walmart and Target) are also a good buy. My favorite jeans come from Walmart and cost me less than $20. Way less. They also have some very nice slacks in basic colors like black, brown, and gray.
Dressing nice doesn’t have to cost a lot.
Whew! I’ve taken up a lot of space here. Needless to say, I’m a bit passionate about this topic. But you are worth it. You’ve written a book(s). Not everyone can say that. Now it’s time to promote, promote, promote. And that starts with Y-O-U.