Friday, September 20, 2013

What to Wear to a Speaking Engagement - London Times and Via Spiga

So, I was invited to co-present at the San Diego HR Forum last week.  We booked the engagement a few months in advance, which basically meant I had several days and hours to ponder what I was going to wear to the event.  I am always very much aware of my personal brand and felt like I had to be super conscious of it because our topic was Creating Personal and Team Brands to Drive Company Goals.  I kept analyzing all my options.  I would ask myself questions like:  What does this outfit say about me?  Does it convey a strong professional female image?  If I bend over to adjust the projector, will everything still be covered?

Well, at the end of the day, I very purposefully chose a deep purple London Times dress I bought on Zulily and a black pair of Via Spiga booties I bought at the Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale this summer.  And I have to say, I think it was a home-run decision for the following reasons:
  1. Objective Feedback - I had several compliments on both the dress and the shoes via email and in person.  That's probably 20/20 hindsight but I'll take it.  It is also a good idea to run your outfit by a friend or spouse if possible ahead of time.
  2. I felt like the dress was both Fun and Colorful but Still Professional.  I did not want to wear the typical black suit because I felt like that was easily forgettable.  I wanted a look that was clean, classy but still made me approachable.  Plus, I felt like the length and cut were the right combo of conservative and sexy.
  3. The booties are one of my current obsessions.  They Just Make Me Feel Happy.  I slip them on and I cannot help but feel a smile creep across my lips.  I think it's important to have an item that you just love for no reason because it gives pep to your step and adds to your confidence and presence.
  4. Finally, and most importantly, I felt that My Outfit Reflected My Personal Brand Words.  The words I had chosen for this event were Sophisticated and Trendy.  This is how I wanted people to perceive and treat me.
You may think this is all way too much thought for just choosing an outfit, but you'd be surprised how many judgments people will jump to just based on appearances.  You cannot change first impressions.  If I had shown up in jeans and a collared shirt, you would have had immediate conclusions about the type of person I was and the type of company I represented.  I challenge you to be thoughtful about what you wear.  Choose a couple choice words that you want your outfit to reflect and which are in line with the brand you want to build for yourself.

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