We all have a style personality; however, have you discovered yours yet? Our style speaks volumes about who we are long before we have formally introduced ourselves to a potential high-profile client or HR manager. I am sure you have heard many image professionals stress the importance of first impressions, and that an individual has about 7 seconds or less to make a memorable first impression; but how do we successfully leave a lasting first impression that will entice and persuade, for example, a project manager to hire us without leaving any doubt in their mind that we are the best candidate for the project or position aside from our applicable skills set and experience?
Listed below are my top 6 love ‘em or leave ‘em tips for any modern Gen-X woman who is transitioning from the old to the new to seriously consider and strategically utilize when up-leveling her personal brand with style and grace.
Tip 1. Rediscover your authentic self by exploring your interest, passions, and hobbies; what brings you inner joy apart from the usual material experiences of life. Fashion trends come and go and if we are not aware of our personal style preferences regardless of outside media influences we can easily be swayed into purchasing fleeting trends that do not align with our current lifestyle or professional and personal aspirations. Our style personality ought to be reflective of our intrinsic motivations, personality traits and quirks. Ultimately, what is it that makes you unique and set apart from the crowd? How can you effectively communicate your personality through your preferred style of clothing; thus, further enhancing and illuminating your personal brand, also known as your visual identity.
Tip 2. Research notable icons in fashion, music, theatre, politics or the arts who inspire you. The inspiration does not necessarily have to be influenced through wardrobe, costume, makeup or hair, although those elements do play an integral role in redefining your style personality, but rather in the way that specific icon carries themselves; their composure, cadence and most importantly their aura or energetic vibe and how they naturally make people feel when they are around them, for example, when listening to their music or watching them perform live in person. One of my contemporary fashion and political icons is that of Michelle Obama. As most of you know Michelle is a masterful orator, much like her husband Barack Obama. Her ability to enter a stage with elegant composure, confidence and respect for herself while naturally engaging and capturing the attention of her audience when making a notable speech or lecture is impressively reflected in her image and style. Michelle’s style personality can be considered a blend of Sophisticated Classic Elegance. Do those style personality descriptions bring to mind other style icons you admire or are influenced by? What sort of imagery does ‘cultured elegance’ evoke when you hear those two words?
Tip 3. Conduct a complete inventory of your wardrobe and accessories, including handbags and shoes. As we mature and progress through different life stages our preferences in the style of clothing we wear changes, but sometimes we may become stuck in a style time-warp that inhibits our natural progression to transition from our old-style preferences to a renewed, more refined style of dress. It can be a daunting task especially if you are not knowledgeable or skilled in the process of doing a wardrobe audit, which is the art of revamping, decluttering and reorganizing your wardrobe to reflect your current or desired lifestyle. When I was experiencing my life transition from doubt, fear and stagnation in my career to a now thriving, robust and authentic lifestyle and soul-purposed business, I too realized that I was stuck in a style time-warp that indirectly reflected the negative situations and experiences I had successfully endured and survived and that no longer aligned with my life’s purpose, which in turn left a residue of negative energies in an area of my life that I know longer associated nor identified with. Thus, having a thorough wardrobe audit completed by an image professional or done by yourself will aid in clearing away negative, stagnant energy that is holding you back from embracing the new, exciting changes that are or could be taking place in your life.
Tip 4. Do not resist the changes you feel and witness happening in your life. When you have made an intentional and conscious decision to not only change your life for the better whether for professional or personal reasons, do so with the intention of transitioning with purpose and passion – take action. Staying stuck in my doubt, fear and stagnation had become a crippling habit in my life that led me down a very dark path that I was determined to claw my way out of NO MATTER WHAT. I literally went on a complete life detox of everything and everyone including friends and family who did not positively enhance or edify my life or who did not genuinely support me in healing the inner brokenness I was too afraid, at the time, to confront. You may be asking yourself, how does this help me in rediscovering or redefining my style personality? Simply put, your selected style of dress including our accessories (handbags and shoes) are our daily armor when we are, for example, weaving our way through the corporate world, building empires, attending parent teacher meetings and every other societal role that is thrust upon us women. What we wear and how we wear it is a visual extension of who we are that is being communicated and judged solely on a 7-second first impression – read tip 1. Regardless if we are experiencing a divorce or have been fired from a coveted senior position how we choose to deal with that situation will impact our next steps moving forward and ultimately how we visually present ourselves during times of upheaval in our life. Do we apathetically let go and allow our circumstance to inadvertently dictate to us how we look and feel about ourselves or do we face the changes that are unfolding in our life with confidence and charisma? How will your style personality shine through and become your graceful armor against the day to day judgments of your critics?
Tip 5. Choose fashion and beauty magazines that resonate with your lifestyle, profession or personal aspirations. I don’t know about you, but my time is very valuable and I find that on my days’ off from managing a business, coaching fabulous women such as yourself and other obligations of being a mother and daughter my down time must be spent edifying my soul in a meaningful and yes, sometimes indulgent manner. However, instead of randomly choosing various glossy magazines because of its front cover eye candy appeal I’ve since adopted the habit of subscribing to a select few magazines that address and speak to similar lifestyle issues any modern Gen-X woman may be experiencing in her life and can easily identify with. You will want to pay critical attention to the style advice that is featured for that particular season; is it practical and can you envision yourself in the highlighted ‘trend’ of that season? Can you easily adopt those trends or style advice into your current image and style routine? And do you actually enjoy reading the articles featured in that specific magazine; thus, adding substance and knowledge to your existing Style IQ. Reading digital media outlets, for example, such as Teen Vogue, although a fabulous and reputable magazine, may not be a progressive step in the right direction in terms of discovering your authentic style personality, as a modern Gen-X woman. Yes, this is a simplistic example, but hopefully you can appreciate and understand my sentiments on choosing your digital media outlets selectively, one that celebrates all of who you are and represent as a modern Gen-X woman.
Tip 6. Shop with intention and purpose. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I love an amazing end of season sale at my favorite department store or très chic boutique, but shopping just for a bargain with no apparent purpose in mind or consideration of what suits your authentic style personality, other than boasting about scoring a sweet pair of Jimmy Choo’s that were ridiculously priced out of your range during the off season is not an excuse to buy them just for the sake of a sale… Mmm, well maybe for a pair of Jimmy Choo’s. No seriously, unless those Jimmy Choo’s are being used to complete or update a power outfit you have picked out to wear to a high-profile client meeting and you foresee wearing them quite often in the near future maybe you should think twice about your purchase. The key to shopping with intention and purpose is to purchase items that are considered long-term investment pieces and that add that extra je ne sais quois to your style personality, but more importantly gives you a ROI. So, what things should you be looking out for. Well, to start, is the item you are interested in purchasing illuminate and align with your authentic style personality? A pair of studded, leather, Louboutin stilettos paired with a fierce leather pencil skirt would look phenomenal on a Bold Artistic Maven style personality, but may be an over the top, awkward look on another lady, whose dominant style personality may be that of a Whimsical Endearing Charmer. The difference between these two style personalities is the fact that one is more bold and adventurous in the type of style they tend to naturally gravitate towards; thus, they have no problem looking effortlessly chic, polished and comfortable in their own skin, such as the actress Tilda Swinton (love her) whereas a Whimsical Charmer, such as the character Charlotte from Sex and The City (loved her character) prefers clothing pieces that are softer, delicate and ultra-feminine in appearance. Two different style personalities that know what works best for them and what doesn’t. Side Note, this is not to say that a particular style personality cannot intersect with another; however, you will find that discovering and becoming comfortable with your dominant authentic style – read tip 1 will assist you in anchoring and honing in on a style personality that illuminates the best version of who you authentically are.
Look out for Part II where I will be discussing in further detail each of the 6 style personalities and how you can create your very own version of at least two of them.
Part II: The 6 Style Persnalities
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Melissa .T. Jarred is a certified Toronto Image Consultant and Personal Stylist who works with women expeiencing life transitions who feel deep within their soul that it is time to not only up-level and overhaul their entire life, but to also revamp their image and personal style to authentically align and reflect with the new changes that are emerging in your life.