Neels & Company - Candor. Insight. Success.

The Elegant Executive
Vol. 2, Issue 2                            February 2011

Quick Links



Total Image Management Seminar
Wednesday, May 4th
Location: The Ritz-Carlton,
Pentagon City

Total Image Management is our proprietary approach to helping professional women manage the impression they make on others.


The seminar will cover appropriate attire, grooming, business communication, business and dining etiquette, and emotional intelligence.


More than a make-over, attendees will come away with more confidence, powerful influencing and relationship-building skills, and increased self-awareness.


This is one professional development opportunity you won't want to miss!


Perfect for women changing careers, re-entering the work force as well as those transitioning out of the military.


Click here for more information.


Register before March 31st and save $100!



Contact Us

Gretchen Neels
Neels & Company, Inc.
P. O. Box 33937
Washington, DC 20033
Welcome to The Elegant Executive


The Elegant Executive is a free monthly newsletter offering tips, strategies and advice to enhance the softer side of one's career. We hope you find it useful, and that you'll share it with colleagues wanting to increase business by "looking the part" and connecting with others more successfully.

DressReady for Your Close-up?

 Sunset Boulevard

Does the thought of having a business head-shot taken at your firm or organization put you into a panic? Do you have a website, blog or social media spot that lacks a fab-ulous, professional photo of you?


Or worse, might the photos of you on work-related sites do you more harm than good?


First impressions don't just happen in person or over the telephone, they happen in cyberspace all the time. Law firms in particular showcase photos of their partners and associates online, complete with biographical information and summaries of accomplishments, in an effort to sell the firm's services. Many times the photos miss the mark by not fully conveying the individual's expertise and talent. Here are the four major mistakes I see in what passes for professional portraits: 


Poor Clothing Choices. It's important for both men and women to wear a jacket with lapels if they are in professional services fields such as banking, law or consulting. Polo shirts and cardigan sweaters just doesn't say "trust me."


Men should wear a starched white or blue shirt with a dark suit, paired with a necktie in blue or red. The tie may be solid, striped or have a small pattern, but should by no means stand out. Ladies have much more leeway when it comes to color, but a suit jacket is still a must. Adding a  complexion-flattering colored buttoned shirt, silk blouse or knit shell underneath will complete the look.


Too Many Distractions. Accessories are the spice of one's wardrobe, but must be chosen carefully for the camera. Likewise, hairstyle and make-up require special attention for a photo shoot. I remember when I was in the fourth or fifth grade, I borrowed a double strand of pearls from a stylish classmate and wore them for picture day (my love of jewelry goes way back).  My mother hit the ceiling when the proofs arrived in the mail six weeks later. She was upset because what we now might call "bling" was a distraction to the overall photo (sorry, Mom). Ladies, in a business shot it's best to go with small to medium sized earrings and a low-key necklace. Scarves are tricky, so rely on your jacket and blouse to enhance your face.


A good business portrait should make you look modern, accomplished, capable and competent. If you haven't had a new hairstyle in a while, visit your salon a few weeks before the photo session and tell your stylist you want a new look. If your hair is difficult to manage, it will pay to visit the salon the day of the shoot, and while you're there, get your make-up professionally done. You won't regret it, I promise. 


An Amateur Shot. Some firms encourage the use of personal, casual photos of their principles, in an effort to make them more "real," or more down to earth, I suspect. Not using a professional photographer, however, is a big mistake. It makes the organization look cut-rate as many of the photos are of poor quality. Having a professional and consistent look and feel to all the photos featured on a website lends crediblity to both the firm and its people.


Dated Photos. Ever meet someone who bears little resemblance to his photo? When it happens to me, I can't quite concentrate on what the person is saying when we first meet. Rather, I'm in a quasi-state of shock, as I play the "what-the-heck-is-different" game in my mind.


Clinging to one's younger, thinner self through an old photograph makes no sense. Accept and own those extra 15 pounds, that thinning hairline or perhaps even a double chin, and make the most of it. Expert lighting, professionally done hair and make-up, and an expert photographer can make just about anyone look good.


Please visit my blog and check out Roberta and Lisa and their amazing publicity photos.


Elegant Accessory of the Month

Garment Steamer

OK, so maybe a clothes steamer isn't technically an "accessory," but adding one to your laundry arsenal will save you time and lots of cash! I bought the HoMedics HomeTouch garment steamer last fall and wonder how I ever lived without it. It's essential for smoothing out wrinkles in jackets, pants and skirts in between dry cleaning, and it's the best ever when it comes to making hand or machine washable knits look as good as the day you bought them. Reduce those expensive trips to the cleaners and keep your suiting and knits looking fresh and elegant with this amazing tool. (On sale for $49.99 at Macy's.)


CommunicationElegant Communication Tip of the Month

Thank-you Notes
When was the last time you recieved a thank-you note in the mail? Whether it was from a person you met at a networking event, a sales associate from whom you made a recent purchase or a family member after the holidays, no doubt finding that handwritten envelope among the bills and solicitations in the mail box was a positive experience. 

Next question: when did you last send a thank-you note? And no, email thank-yous don't count. Elegant Execs know that sending handwritten thank-you notes sets them apart from those who are too busy, too disorganized, or too self-absorbed to say thank you.

Now is a great time to get out your good stationery and send notes of thanks to people who have extended themselves on your behalf business-wise. This could be someone who introduced you to a client or strong connector. Perhaps she is someone who gave you a great sales lead, stock tip or book recommendation. Or, is there a person who gave you some feedback that at the time was hard to hear, but now you realize it was quite valuable? In all of these cases, acknowledging the other person's efforts with a note makes you especially elegant.

Click here for samples of well-written notes.

Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved.