Putting Fashion Forward . . .

I follow a blog called, “Fierce Gentleman”. It’s written to promote a holistic higher standard of living.  www.fiercegentleman.com (A blog worth reading – very enlightening.)

I was originally attracted to this blog because it gave a list of 10 qualities that make a man a Fierce Gentleman. I read it to give me a road map for my next relationshipsigns and qualities to look for.

Once I read it I was smitten, however, with how as a woman I could mirror these traits to really develop and evolve myself.

I read tonight that the blog’s author was criticized for a few of the qualities listed and for some of his leanings. It struck quite a note with me, especially the point I want to discuss in today’s post . . .

The power of how one dresses.

In the list of 10 Fierce Gentleman qualities one of the traits is being impeccably dressed – and most likely in a tailored suit. The author later updated his stance on this point stating, “a Fierce Gentleman understands that his physical presentation in the world is important, and strives to make a good first impression, no matter his rank or station.”

I am in agreement with this point 100%.

And further here is my opinion . . . and why this is my opinion.

My love of fashion evolved when I lived in Montreal, Quebec. Montreal set a standard for me as far as how I had to look when I left my home. (And I’m taking it as far as what I’d wear to go get groceries or buy a book of stamps). You had to put yourself TOGETHER. It’s not about wearing something flashy or garish – it was understated but flawless. (I also modeled in Montreal so often I was paid with clothes instead of cash . . . that helped.)

After Montreal I lived in New York City were I was again surrounded by beautifully dressed people. Street style was my biggest influence. I would see an interesting outfit and then create my version of the style the next day with my own clothes.

After that, in Atlanta Georgia, I worked with a team of celebrity wardrobe stylist dressing artists and personalities for music videos, album cover photo shoots, TV commercials and magazine covers. There was a standard in this role too. When you arrived on set you wanted the rest of the team to know you were part of the wardrobe crew without them being told. Again our dress was, understated but with a few key pieces – like a statement ring and a fiyah top worn with simple jeans and Chucks to make it look like we weren’t trying.

How important do I think one’s appearance is to success??

I would say at the start of your career, when you’re trying to make a positive impression you would be a fool not to manipulate this variable in your favour. Dress the part. It’s a tool in your arsenal to bring positive attention to yourself.

I know I’ve used how I dress to positively manipulate situations many times – and not from the perspective of a woman using her feminine wiles either. 🙂

Being well put together can set you apart in a crowd like nothing else can. Even before you speak, how you dress can communicate volumes for you. And the people who understand this “secret communication” too will see your effort and respond accordingly. In my experience the people who respond tend to be well-dressed themselves but even people who don’t “get” style still respond to a well-dressed person.

Some people are going to argue against this point. I do understand that – I am speaking from MY experience.

Why I believe some people have an aversion to fashion . . .

1. Intimidated by fashion

2. Think fashion is designer-focused and very expensive

3. People believe the love of fashion makes one shallow

B to the S, people!!!

I usually find the people who believe these points are simply using these excuses to cop out. “I don’t quite understand it so I’m out.” *crickets*

A person might simply admit that they are intimated, don’t know where to start, find the idea of fashion overwhelming and admit that’s why they avoid it. That’s a good start.

For those of you interested, here is my rebuttal to the three points listed above:

1. Fashion need not be intimidating. I would compare fashion to a language. Expose yourself to it and you will learn it and begin to appreciate it.

2. Fashion need not be designer-focused or expensive. The type of fashion that I’m speaking of is sophisticated and tasteful. That has nothing to do with designers. Once you understand fashion you can wear a mix of higher and lower-end pieces together. In my case there are a few items that I am more inclined to buy in a higher-quality; shoes, purses and coats. I find I can get away with less expensive tops and accessories, for example, especially when they are worn mixed with better quality pieces. Notice I didn’t say designer pieces. 🙂

3. Being fashion conscious does not make a person shallow. To me dressing well shows pride in oneself. Dressing well shows an attention to detail. Dressing well suggests an overall sophistication. If someone’s only concern is fashion then there is a problem . . . but from my perspective fashion sense should be one compliment in a number of positive qualities a person has.

In my life fashion as made people take me serious. I believe it’s helped me transcend racism. (Yes, I’m going that far.) It’s gotten me favoured treatment.

My clothes have spoken for me and boosted my credibility even before I began to speak.

In my case I dress for success when it comes to my work and volunteer work. My feeling is “if I dress the part I am more likely to get the part”. I usually wear heels. I always do my make-up nicely. I dress a fashion-forward version of work appropriate. I made a conscious change in how I dress in keeping with my new goals this year. Not everyone will be going for work-place appropriate so it’s a good idea to know what’s appropriate in the environment you’re a part of.

The second reason I dress up for work is to set a tone. One of professionalism.

Another reason is habit. I’m not going to dress any old way now and then decide to up my fashion game when my professional stakes get high . . . that will be too late. Being a creature of good habit will set me up for success.

The last reason is the mindset that dressing beautifully puts you in. It boosts confidence. It can set a tone in how your day goes. It can make you feel happy.

From my perspective success is a multilayered complex endeavor. There are definitely ups and downs – most beyond your control. Why not invest in a part of success that you can control and manipulate to your greater advantage?

If you’re intimidated by fashion why not seek help?

Here are some suggestions:

1. Google a personality or celebrity who you think dresses well and save photos of some of their best outfits in a folder – magazines are good too. Identity a few key pieces that you’d like to try too. Go shopping. Take the file with you and ask salespeople for help to try some of these looks. Keep updating your file with ideas you like. (Pinterest is great for finding great style too.)

2. Work with a wardrobe stylist. A wardrobe stylist will help you to identify a general style that works with you and your personal or professional goals. They’ll go through your closet to see what you have that already works. They can help you eliminate what doesn’t – and send to charity. Then shop with the stylist – within your budget – to find clothes to get you to your style goals.

3. Approach someone who you think dresses well; a colleague or family member, and ask for advice.

Even if you don’t believe this post consider trying an experiment: get help to put together a few strong outfits and measure your success wearing these outfits. Put your outfits to the test by seeing if you sell more, or meet nicer dates or get taken more seriously at your next work meeting. Or just judge how you feel.

It would be a shame to stunt your over-all potential not harnessing the power of a variable this easy to control and succeed with.

And trust me, once you start to appreciate fashion. Once you see how people treat you differently – speaking that “secret” language . . . you will never look back. You will join a global movement of fashion-communicators. (I’d consider it a secret association.)

Here are some photos I’ve found recently for fashion inspiration . . .

imagesScreen-shot-2013-10-08-at-9.53.38-AMJodie Marsh seen at the Sanctum Soho Hotel in London

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