Part II – Executive Image Series

Part II – Executive Image Series

I wrote this introductory post awhile back What Affects Executive Image?.  I intended it to be a weekly series regarding Executive Image, but I dropped the ball and haven’t picked it back up again.  Yes, there are excuses – sick kids, working full time, revamping the site…but they are excuses.

I was immensely touched to receive this comment last week:

Hey MIM, please keep up the Executive Image series. I’m a 40+ working mom who puts in 50+ hours a week and struggles to keep up with what “image” we should project while trying to keep groceries in the house. Recently, I realized my best suits were all 6 to 10 years old and I was perilously close to frumpy. I cleaned out the closet but dread the thought of facing the business professional racks for updated duds. Same with make up, hair, nails and all the things we are judged on. I’m all about finding ways to update without shopping in the 20-something stores. Look forward to learning more.

With this in mind, I am going to jump start this series again after the Holidays.   As a teaser, I’ll share the brutal direct feedback my executive coach, Ginny Page, gave me in our last monthly session.   These comments are directed specifically to me, but may be useful to others also.

She started by saying I come across as Competent and Casual.  However, for this stage in my career I need to project an executive image and therefore, I need to take it up a notch.  Specifically…

  • Wear jackets – daily.
  • Iron.  Make sure to add a crease to sleeves and slacks.
  • Choose fabrics that will carry a crease (not knits).
  • Pay attention to accessories.  Specifically, wear earrings every day and a tasteful necklace.
  • Wear more makeup.
  • Pay attention to posture.
  • Get a more defined hair style.
  • Wear nice shoes.
  • Hire a personal trainer.

Is there any part of my appearance that she missed?

I need new clothes, new hair cut, new makeup, jewelry, and to lose weight.   Yep, that pretty much covers it.  Basically, I need a major makeover!

This seems like a great launching point to start the Executive Image series since I am going to be actively pursuing it myself.

I would also be interested in creating some blogger partnerships if there is anyone else that would like to participate in this series?  Maybe a week of appearance – Monday on MIM, Tuesday on …?

Let me know and check back soon for the next installments…

12 Responses to Part II – Executive Image Series

  1. Hi Daria,

    Some of these points are well advised. I believe everyone men and women should revisit their overall personal appearance from time-to-time. I don’t think this means that we become a slave to fashion, but there are certain standards that every working person should know.

    I think one of the most important things for people to keep in mind is being aware of body shape and understand that even if a manufacturer makes clothes in your size, that does not necessarily mean that it’s appropriate for all body structures. Also being aware of fabric types and knowing what will enhance your body rather than detract from it is important. I, also, know some women who have done the “color party” to determine which color season they are.

    The one thing that jumps out at me is something my mother always espoused. She was a believer in full-length mirrors and that no one should leave the house before objectively making an appearance in front of it. She also felt that if someone has to ask others if his/her butt looks big in something, he/she already has the answer.

    I don’t think that looking professional and polished necessarily means having the latest haute couture in your closet or wearing tons of makeup. Actually, I’ve been told by make-up professionals that as we get older, the rule of thumb is to wear less makeup so it doesn’t cake into the lines on the face.

    IMHO, people who know that details matter are probably the ones who appear the most professional in appearance and in manner, because they know they’ve covered all the bases.

    • Thanks Cyndy. These are really great insights! I especially like the one about “if you have to ask if this makes your butt look big, you already know the answer.” That one made me laugh while at the same time it is so very true.

      I don’t have a full length mirror and have been feeling like I needed to get one. Your comment pushed me over the edge from thinking about it to actually going out and doing it!

      Overall though, I found the most value in your last statement – “People who know that details matter are probably the ones who appear the most professional…”

      That is a really great concept to keep in mind when trying to prepare for almost anything. It is applicable across the board.

      Thank you again for commenting! You had really great additions to the post.


  2. Since our image is part of our brand, you have hit on a really important topic here. Women attract lots of descriptors for lots of different reasons at work and one of the few we can control is how we look.

    Cyndy raises some wonderful points in her comment. I would like to add this: The way we present ourselves in our clothes is as important as the clothes themselves–posture, eye-contact, gesture, speech, and walk can overcome “deficiencies” in any outfit. Actually, the way we conduct ourselves often makes our attire forgettable which always seemed right to me.

    I would be very intereted in hearing some views on who we’re dressing for at work. I suspect that answer may help determine the “look” that works in our favor.

    Great “soft relaunch” of this series, Daria. I’m looking forward to it! Happy Thanksgiving, Dawn.

  3. Daria, You and your coach have hit on some key areas that impact our appearance. Dawn effectively pointed out that how we interact is just an important as how we look. I don’t think any of us successfully arrived at this point in our careers without knowing something about both. My biggest concern is that what worked so well in my 20s and 30s will cause me to fall behind in my 40s and 50s. How can we purposefully change/grow, while maintaining the best of who we are and projecting the right image? To me, this is the heart of the issue. Our appearance should strengthen, complement and enhance our effectiveness with our coworkers. A dated look doesn’t do this!

  4. Hi! Glad I stumbled on your blog. I think the Executive Image Series is a *great* idea. Sounds like I am like you in that I’m a no-fuss kinda gal. This year I have done a few things to update my look… finally am getting “real” haircuts on a regular basis by a pro (not Supercuts!), and had a Colors/Image thing done so I have a 40 color palette to use when shopping of “my” colors. BUT I still need so much help……….

    • I have been fighting the need to get a “professional” haircut for awhile now. I don’t think I can avoid it any longer. I also need a hair color consultant as my grays are finally more than I can count on fingers and toes combined and the remnants of the at home highlight job I did this summer just looks orange. Uck.

      I think I have a fairly good idea of my colors from just years, but also a Mary Kay consultation in college where she evaluated us and told me I was a Spring. Who did you go through for your colors eval? That may be a resource I reference in our Series.

  5. Also- things I’d like to see discussed:
    1. Panyhose w/ business suits in summer– yeah or ney? If ney, tanner on the legs or glowingly Casper white? [Maybe I should stick w/ pants!]
    2. Professional purse when also carrying briefcase? Or do I have to shove all my personal things in the case?
    3. Winter coats that work with business suits… ditto rain coats– w/o feeling like the Michilen Man.
    4. NATURAL makeup- help!

    • Hi Melissa,

      Those are GREAT questions! I have actually wondered all of those at one time or another. I especially rebel against hose of any kind. I grew up in Florida and wearing pantyhose in the humidity and heat was horrible. Plus they always make me feel fat – have to tug and pull and coerce them into finally getting up my leg and not have a crotch a foot too low. :)

      I have joined up with 8 bloggers and we are going to write a weekly series on Executive Image starting mid December. I don’t know if all of these questions will get answered in this first series, but we will get to them! I imagine lots of professional women wonder the same things.

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