Sunday, August 16, 2009

Building an Effective Executive Wardrobe

"In an era of corporate downsizing, is "down-dressing" a good idea? Might not managers, given a choice between two workers to retain, subconsciously choose to keep the one who looks more professional?"

--Marilyn Gardner

You have worked hard to achieve the success you have right now. In today's highly competitive world, putting attention on cultivating an executive wardrobe will accentuate the professional image that supports your objectives. While you know that you get only one chance to make the all-important first impression, it is equally imperative to make every day a day that you look your very best, even if you have no meetings except for the impromptu get-together you have in the lunchroom or around the water cooler.

Follow these tips to build an effective executive wardrobe that will convey confidence and competence throughout your workday.

Know the Environment

Office climates are continually changing. Knowing what is considered appropriate for your office environment will ensure that you do not make any expensive mistakes when building your wardrobe. Keep this in mind when visiting another office that might have a different business dress style than yours.

Consider What Activities You Will Be Doing 9-5

If you look uncomfortable doing whatever your job requires you to do because your wardrobe selection is out of place, you will not be taken seriously on the job. Be sure you build outfits into your wardrobe for each activity.

If you are an outside sales rep you will be doing a lot of driving around and pounding the pavement. You may want to select suiting made with natural fabrics, or wear less tailored styles that are easy to move around in.

Start With a Closet Audit

When starting to build an effective executive wardrobe, you need to start by being sure of exactly what you have already - before you make a list of what you need.

Pull out everything in your closet that could possibly be worn to work. Try everything on. Make sure it fits well, that it looks fantastic on you and that it is in good condition.

Build A Baker's Dozen

Your goal should be to have thirteen outfits in your closet. That does not mean thirteen suits. It means that with mixing and matching, your shirts, blouses, jackets, skirts and pants make up at least thirteen outfits that will comprise your executive wardrobe. You do not have to be at thirteen immediately, but it is what you want to work towards.

Start With Your Core Color

Start with at least one great suit that fits you perfectly, and in one of your neutral core colors. Your core colors are colors that are the same as your eyes or hair: black, brown, green, blue etc.

Keep Your Budget in Mind

Once you put together your shopping list, do not just go. Do some Internet research to see what is out there, look for sales and calculate what a realistic wardrobe budget might be. You will not feel good in your new clothes if you have gone into debt to pay for them.

When shopping, remember that quality is important and you are going to spend more for quality. Leave trendy clothes for your weekend activities. Start with clothes that will last for at least a few years.

When in Doubt, Hire a Professional

Consider hiring an image consultant to work with you to define your professional objectives and help you put together your best possible executive wardrobe.

You are now equipped with the knowledge and information to build a wardrobe that can clearly reflect your high level of professionalism. Keep this article with you while shopping or when considering if something is a must have for a wardrobe that will bring many rewards.

Look Great, Feel Great, Be Great

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Valuable Office Etiquette Tips

"Diplomacy is nothing but a lot of hot air," said a companion to French Statesman Georges Clemenceau as they rode to a peace conference. "All etiquette is hot air," said Clemenceau. "But that is what is in our automobile tires; notice how it eases the bumps"

If someone does not want to do business with you because he or she doesn't like your attitude or your habits, you'll never be told that's the reason. Poor business etiquette is a silent killer.

Let's be clear about what is meant by business etiquette. It has to do with how we treat one another - the accepted forms, manners, ceremonies, habits, protocols and rules required in conducting our business relations.

Business etiquette may be reflected in ways such as communication styles, dress modes and the atmosphere of the work setting. But the deeper purpose of business etiquette is to remove the obstacles and minimize the irritations that make doing business a pain rather that a pleasure.

Put these tips into action and they will get you where you want to go faster than a speeding BMW!


  • Dresses appropriately in business attire.
  • Greets visitor with a smile, asks who visitor is meeting, and informs the executive his/her appointment has arrived.
  • Offers refreshment, if your company follows this courtesy.
  • Offers use of telephone and magazines to read, if there is a delay.


  • Presents business card to receptionist, and gives pertinent information: name, company, and who he/she is meeting.
  • Sits in reception area until appointment.
  • Takes this time to collect thoughts and relax.
  • Stands and shakes hands when executive comes out to greet visitor.
  • Waits for executive to indicate where to sit in the office.
  • If initiated meeting, make several pleasantries, and then moves on to business.
  • Thanks receptionist on the way out.
  • If initiated meeting, write thank-you note to executive for his/her time.


  • Greets the visitor in the reception area, and shakes hands.
  • If there is a delay in the appointment, the executive meeting with the visitor should personally let the visitor know immediately.
  • Offer another appointment time if the delay will be long.
  • Walks the visitor to office.
  • Indicates where the visitor should sit.
  • Do not remain behind the desk because a desk acts as a barrier.
  • Sits in close proximity to visitor.
  • If initiated meeting, makes several pleasantries, and then moves on to business.
  • If initiated meeting, writes thanks-you note to person for his/her time.


  • Do respect each other's privacy and space.
  • An opened door does not mean you can enter it at will.
  • Stop at the door and wait to be asked in.
  • In some countries, i.e., Germany, office doors are closed.
  • If someone is on the telephone or working on a project, come back later or send a memo and set up an appointment.
  • If a senior executive walks into a room, stand up. If you are engrossed in a project with others, look up and acknowledge the person.
  • Off-colored jokes are not acceptable in a professional setting.

Etiquette for etiquette's sake is an empty activity and a meaningless ritual. But genuine good manners and a working knowledge of professional behavior are essential and productive business skills.

For answers to all your questions on Office Etiquette, International Protocol, Dining Skills and Professional Image Awareness, please contact us at (954) 782-6075 or email us at

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Proper Tipping Etiquette

"The manner of giving is worth more than the gift".
-Pierre Corneille

Tipping is gesture of appreciation for services rendered. But figuring out how much to tip can be very complex. Some businesses may provide a handy tipping-guideline plastic card that may tell you to offer 10% for a specific service, but good patronage may tell you to offer another amount. Different tipping percentages are standard for a range of services. Read on for more hints on how to be gratuity savvy.

At a salon: The standard amount for salon gratuity is 15% to 20% depending on the extent of the services, the skill of the stylist and whether or not you intend to frequent the establishment and the stylist again. Taking all of this under consideration, you'll want to offer a tip in the 20% range. Don't overlook the people who shampoo your hair and those who get you coffee and magazines--they get at least a dollar for their services.

At a restaurant: Offer up 15% to 20% of your total bill. Keep in mind that the amount you tip reflects the total price before any coupons, gift certificates, etc. Just because you get a discount, does not mean that your server did not serve up the full order. If you are part of a party of more than 8 people, you should offer an amount closer to the 20% marker, if not more, depending on the needs of the guests in your party. If, for example, one of your guests insists on getting the salad dressing on the side, extra bread, more water and no avocado, then you definitely want to compensate the server who extended service to include these extras.

At a club or bar: Tip the bartender between 10% and 15% depending on the complication of your drink order. If you just order a beer in a bottle, there's not too much effort involved in providing the service, but if you order a mixed drink that takes time and includes a lot of ingredients, then offer up a more sizable tip, somewhere closer to the 15% range.

Transportation: Whether you hail a cab or take a limousine, you should offer a gratuity between 10% to 15% of the fare. If the drivers are particularly rude or unhelpful, give them the minimum. But if they are attentive to your travel needs and help you in any way beyond the norm, remember and thank them with a 15% or larger gratuity. If you use valet service at a hotel, restaurant or shopping area, offer the driver 10% for the service, but never give change. Another guideline is simply offering the attendant a buck or two for the parking and retrieval of your car. And if you're traveling through an airport, and utilizing the aid of skycaps, offer a dollar per bag and up that amount if the bags are particularly heavy or large.

At a Hotel: It is standard to leave the maid a few bucks for tidying your room. If you have additional needs such as more towels, soap, an extra toothbrush, etc., thank the maid with an additional dollar or two. When checking in and out of a hotel, remember the bellhop with a gratuity of a dollar per bag, unless, once again, you have particularly large or heavy bags.

Overall, think before you tip. You don't want to regret the decision to be stingy at a later date. Like when your hair's a mess and you really need the stylist to squeeze you in for an appointment, but you left such a small tip last time, that she won't make the time to make you look amazing this time.

Please contact us at with all of your business etiquette questions!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Accessories for Men & Women in Business

"It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important."
                                                                                                      -Sherlock Holmes

Accessories are the icing on your wardrobe cake. They transform your clothes into a personal statement that communicates your unique message. Top-notch accessories are a wise investment of wardrobe dollars, because they often have a longer life span than the garments with which they are worn.

Accessories for Men

In the subtle world of men's business attire, small accessory items play a key role. The fine details can make or break a successful look, upgrading or downgrading the impact of even a fine suit.
SHOES: Shoes should blend in with a man's total look rather than calling undue attention to themselves. Dark colors, such as black, dark brown, and cordovan, are most appropriate. Business shoes should have a lightweight look; with soles no more than ¼" thick and low, trim heels. The thinner the sole, the lighter and more elegant the look.
Besides cushioning the feet and absorbing perspiration, sock can enhance or detract from a polished appearance. They should always be dark or neutral-no light colors or loud, attention-getting patterns-and generally coordinate to the trouser.
A belt is essential to hold pants at the waistline and add definition to the overall look. Choose one about 1" wide with a subtle metal buckle. A properly fitted belt is long enough to fit your waist and fasten in the second hole. The belt color should relate to the color of the suit, the trouser and especially the shoes.
Handkerchiefs serve two distinct purposes-fashionable and functional. For functional application, choose white cotton and linen for softness and absorbency. Tucked into a breast pocket, a handkerchief is the least expensive way to polish and upgrade a business suite. The pocket square should coordinate with, but never match, your tie.
Men's jewelry adds subtle punctuation to the total look, but should never be a focal point. Watch, rings, cuff links, and collar pins should be elegant and subtle. There is no better business jewelry investment than a high quality-watch.
Frames that closely echo your hair color are nearly always flattering. Select a style that flatters your face shape and your features. As a general rule, they should follow the natural line of the eyebrows.
A trim, tailored 3" case looks far more stylish than a bulging, oversized one. Heavy leather is the best look. Black is the traditional color, followed by brown, burgundy, and tan.
WALLET: The wallet should be made of top-quality leather in black or brown. The oblong "secretary" styles has more presence than a traditional square and maintains a trim appearance in your inside jacket pocket. Never tuck a wallet in your back pants pocket where it creates an unsightly lump and can more easily be lost or stolen.

Accessories for Women

A modest outfit can triple its face value when worn with an excellent quality handbag, shoes, and jewelry. Accessories also sidestep the issue of weight fluctuation. When did you last hear a woman say, "I've gained so much weight I can't squeeze into my watch"?
Shoes are the foundation of your accessory wardrobe. Opt for shoes in black, navy, gray, or taupe and perhaps burgundy. Shoe color should match the hemline or be darker, so the entire look appears "grounded". White, ivory, and pastel shoes don't work in business. Strappy sandals show too much foot. They also inhibit the stride. Closed-toe pumps in leather are always correct in business.
Neutral-colored hosiery is the strongest and freshest look for business. The well dressed women should never, ever go bar-legged to the office, no matter how tan your legs or how hot and muggy the weather. The entire look is unfinished and un-businesslike.
A skirt or pant waistband is generally not a fashion focal point, but a structure that looks best covered by a good-looking belt. Buy leather, suede, or skin belts about 1" wide in the same neutral colors as your shoe. The belt should fit comfortably and securely over the garment's waistband when buckled in the second or third hole. Avoid wider styles if you have a thick waist, short torso or low, full bust-line. The wider the waistline, the narrower the belt.
A scarf can do wonders to coordinate a wardrobe. In a print scarf, select the primary color of the scarf based on the primary color of the suit. For business, wear a scarf in a subtle, tailored way, not tied into a giant flower pouf.
Many women have a small wardrobe of eyeglasses. Thin wire frames in tortoise shell with a smaller lens generally look updated and chic. Try selecting frames in the same color family as your hair for your everyday pair.
Carrying both a large purse and an oversized briefcase creates an overloaded, disorganized look, select one or the other. If you opt for a purse, carry business papers in a leather notepad or trim portfolio.
Some entrepreneurs and women in creative fields were hats as a personal trademark, but hats are inappropriate for the majority of businesswomen. The exception is in very cold weather, where a hat is essential to conserve body heat. Select whatever style provides maximum protection with minimum damage to your hairstyle.
Some of the most important accessories for a woman never see fashion daylight, but these supporting members of the wardrobe team can make or break a professional look. A properly fitted bra can shave years and pounds off a women's figure. Without exception, cheap handbags, acrylic scarves, plastic jewelry, and bargain-priced shoes, will diminish everything else that you own.
The best rule in purchasing accessories is that none of us can afford to buy cheaply.

Look Great, Feel Great, Be Great

Can you pass a person in the hallway and know what his or her career goals are?  

Of cause you can! Are your people aware of the message their appearance send to those who are capable of promoting them or propelling them forward in their chosen professions?

Exclusive Corporate Image provides educational programs to help men and women learn how to dress and act appropriately for professional environments. For the training your employees need ~ to ensure that their image at work will reflect their own self-confidence, inspire the respect of other professionals, and reassure clients and co-workers that they are committed to the goals of your company ~ Contact us us today at

Saturday, April 11, 2009

How to Find the Right Pair of Jeans

“I wish I had invented blue jeans. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity - all I hope for in my clothes.”

--Yves Saint Laurent quotes (French fashion designer, b.1940)

Jeans are the staple of many a wardrobe, but if they do not fit right, you’ll find that you won’t wear them. Often, it seems like hit or miss when you are looking for jeans. . . even the ones that are in your size don’t seem to fit you right. Since jeans are an important part of any casual wardrobe, it’s important that you get the fit right so you look great and feel even better.

There are specific things to look for in a pair of jeans and you’ll learn how to find the right pair of jeans in the tips below. You may even want to print this page out and take it with you when doing your shopping.

Make Them Fit Your Body Type

Jeans will be far more flattering if you choose a pair that suits your body type. The great thing about jeans is that they really do work for anyone . . . you just need the right style. For women who are a bit heavy in the hips, a nice flared jean will help balance this out and draw attention downwards. Petite ladies will look best in low-rise jeans that come just up to the hipbone, while a high-waisted pair will help keep a larger stomach from being too obvious. Tapered legs look best on women who have narrow hips, since they create the illusion of curves.

For men, when it comes to jeans, the perfect pair isn't too far away. When it comes to style, there are two main options: snug and loose. Jeans that are looser or baggier will give you more range of motion and freedom. If you're going out to do chores or to play with your friends, these more comfortable jeans will serve you well.

Choose the Right Pockets

Pockets may seem insignificant, but they really do have a lot to do with how a pair of jeans looks on you. Small back pockets, or ones with lots of detail, will tend to make big bottoms look even heavier and draw a lot of attention to your backside. Opt for no pockets at all or look for ones that are large enough to be in proportion with your bottom. The opposite is true for women with smaller behinds, detail and smaller, fancy pockets will tend to add bulk to that area.

For men, I have heard it said that one of the cutest things is their butts. So for men keep the detail to a minimum. Honestly, I can’t think of anyone that wants to focus on the detail on the pocket and that's exactly what happens when you see those pockets. Your butt isn't being checked out...all that stitching is. Let's find some pockets with less detail, ok?

Pick a Yoke to Enhance Your Body

The yoke is the top part of the jean, most visible at the back and the curve of the seam can make all the difference in how your jeans fit and look. For example, a yoke seam that curve upwards from the hips will tend to make your bottom look larger; while a flat yoke line creates a wider hip. A “V” shaped yoke is one of the most common types and it is also quite flattering to all body types and usually fits well, so when in doubt, opt for this one. A wide yoke will allow your jeans to fit better if you are on the larger side.
Match the Wash to the Occasion

Where are you planning to wear your jeans? Part of picking the right pair of jeans is choosing the wash, or how distressed the fabric is. You can get your jeans already faded or stone washed. Obviously, these are all for a more casual outfit. If you are thinking of wearing your jeans to work, you’ll be better off going with a plain color . . . often the darker the better for less casual situations. Dark blue or black jeans wear well for casual occasions.

Choosing the right jeans for you requires knowing where you will be using them and which style will flatter your body type. Use the tips given here to help you select the perfect pair of jeans and then go find yourself a pair that not only fits you and is comfortable, but that looks great, too.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dressing For Your Promotion in 2009

Your big interview starts long before it is scheduled. From the first day on the job, you should be positioning yourself for a promotion. The following guidelines will help ensure you are conveying the right image messages.

Position Yourself to be the Best Fit for a Promotion
You know you are the ideal match, but how does your boss feel? Make sure when you are going for a higher level position that you have considered all factors that your boss will take into account before offering you that big promotion.

It's Never Too Late to Make a Great Impression
You're going for a promotion, so dress the part. Take dress cues from your boss as well as other employees that are one level above you. When you arrive for your interview, be confident and enthusiastic that you are the best fit for the position.

Do Whatever it Takes
Keep track of your attendance - take time off only when truly needed. Pitch in where needed - if you are caught up on your projects, offer to help out and put in a few hours to assist others with their work. Attend workshops, seminars, and classes offered by your company. These are often free and your employer is likely to take notice of your work ethic and desire to learn. Keep track of your job performance - include the number of hours you worked overtime (whether paid or unpaid), new skills you have acquired, continuing education credits, etc. All of the above will help position you as the best candidate for the promotion.

Ace Your Big Interview
You have prepared for your interview. Make sure you deliver the right message as you sit across the desk from your interviewer. The following how-to guide will help you dress for success and land that much deserved promotion.

Embrace the Neutral
You want to appear confident and competent during your interview. Women, think olive green, taupe, navy, chocolate brown or black for your suit. Use color sparingly - that pop of color is great on a day-to-day basis, but for a promotion interview use that tool in moderation. Consider wearing a basic beige, blue, green or sand-colored blouse. Men, opt for a navy or other dark colored suit with a white or neutral dress shirt (Tie if appropriate).

Trendy is as Trendy Does
Unless you work in the fashion industry, leave the trends behind for your big interview. Don't wear anything that might distract from what you are saying.

Don't Go Gaudy on Accessories
Accessories can make or break an outfit. Woman should keep accessories simple. If you like to wear pearls, this would be a good day to wear them. Small pearl earrings and a matching pearl necklace are stunning. Of course, forget those anklets and wear one ring per hand to keep your look simple and stylish. For men, a simple watch is great, but don't overdo it - no gaudy or big-faced watches.

Hygiene is Important
Don't overdo your fragrance, or better yet, skip it. Consider getting a manicure - clean, neat nails are attractive and will leave a good impression. Getting a haircut before the big interview may give you the visual and emotional lift you want during your interview. Pop a breath mint a few minutes before you walk in the door. As you pass through the threshold remember you have what it takes, and always remember to smile.

Maximize Your Chances for Success

You have the tools necessary to get your promotion. Prepare, dress appropriately and set yourself apart from the competition by making a great impression and letting the interviewer know - You are the best choice for the position!

Call us today for help with your non-verbal communications - Your Presence and Your Protocol.