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Neels & Company - Strategic Business Communication
Trusted Advisor
Gretchen Neels
Gretchen Neels, President, Neels & Company

Dear Trusted Advisor

When there is a networking event or job fair on the heels of a winter storm, is there any leeway when it comes to dressing to impress? At the last few events, I've had to wear a hat and boots and frankly looked less than my best. Your thoughts?
A.K., Boston, MA

Dear A.K.,
You are not alone - I've had several people pose this question in the last few weeks. For a networking event, I wouldn't be too concerned about hat hair or keeping my boots on, as most folks in the crowd will also have that winterized look about them. A job fair requires more attention, so bring a pair of dress shoes with you and a plastic bag of some kind for your boots. For a job interview, however, you've got to look (and feel) fabulous, so take a cab if the weather is really bad and treat yourself to door-to-door service.



Our Active Listening program was featured in the New York Times and has been a big hit with professionals at all levels. Consider adding it to your professional development or mentoring offerings. Call us at 800-975-7031 x 701 for more information.

We know your training budgets are tight this year, so please avail yourself to the free resources on our website: grooming checklists, dressing guides, dining quiz, wine tasting and Five Keys to Connecting with Clients.

Be our Valentine! Send us an email with your mailing address and we'll send you a complimentary reference card on presenting a perfect first impression.


If you don't love it, lose it

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
                                                                                                          William Morris

Sooner or later I knew my degree in Art History would come in handy, and so it did just last week while I was shopping with a client who needed to add some new pieces to her wardrobe – most specifically a new interview suit. Olivia (her real name) does not enjoy shopping and admits she only buys items on sale, which, for the most part, never quite hit the mark.

My advice to her was not to buy anything unless she flat out, head-over-heels loved it – whether it was a $1,500 designer jacket or a $15 pair of jeans. This advice isn't new – it's been around for a long time. I borrowed it from British artist William Morris, father of the Arts & Crafts Movement. It hit Olivia between the eyes.

Many people have closets full of clothing that for one reason or another no longer get the job done. Sometimes items are dated, no longer fit properly, or are the wrong shade of blah. But more often than not, the item in question was purchased in haste, because it fit and wasn't horrible, by someone without a plan. You need a plan.

Get the Urge to Purge
Do it all at once, or take it in stages, but before you buy another thing, clean out that closet and toss things you haven't worn in the past year or two, items you hate but wear anyway, and clothing that is out of style. Don't forget the shoes and handbags. (Please consider donating gently worn business appropriate clothing to your area's Dress for Success.)

Create a Budget
I dislike the b-word more than anyone, but it's got to be part of the plan. Decide how much money you have to spend on putting together a few basics (skirts, pants and jackets) with shirts, blouses and tops to round out at least five new outfits. Take advantage of the sales that are everywhere, including Bloomingdales, Nordstrom and Saks, and don’t forget budget friendly Dressbarn (if you haven’t shopped there lately, you will be pleasantly surprised – I was!).

Choose Your Neutral
One neutral – brown, black, dark gray or navy – should be the foundation of your wardrobe. If you work with too many neutrals, you can easily get overwhelmed and back to a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear.

Less is More
A fabulous addition to your wardrobe is just like love, you'll know it when you see it. If it works with your neutral and is within your budget, that amazing sweater, blouse or pair of shoes whispering buy me is yours to take home whether it's on the sale rack or not. As you learn to discriminate, you'll buy fewer but better items.

Shopping with purpose takes time and discipline, especially if you're on a budget, but it's worth it. Aim for five or six outfits that will take you from the office to after-hours in style. Hiring a stylist to help you put together a wardrobe strategy and shop with you could be an excellent investment. Also, many stores now have personal shoppers at no cost to you.

Olivia decided on a well-cut black suit with a silk blouse in a purple and lavender print (great with her hair color). When we spied a gorgeous deep purple jacket that fit her like a glove (and yes, was on sale!), we knew it was meant to be.

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Neels & Company, Inc. – Strategic Business Communication
P. O. Box 623, Boston, MA 02117
800-975-7031 ext. 701
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