Being Professional Doesn’t Mean Boring
I’ve been a consultant for 30 years and I’ve learned enough to fill volumes of sales books. Recently I’ve thought a lot about what I could do to help more women become successful, so I’ve tried to narrow all my learning down and start providing the “quick” version: Look your best, act your best, and be your best! Why do I say it that way? Because it covers everything you should be doing to be successful.
At Pure Romance I’m working to create a culture of The Professionista. One attribute of a Professionista is that she looks her best. I’ve talked to thousands of women and have repeatedly heard from them that they have not been taught how to dress, so I’ve asked my stylist, Emily Wall, to help teach women how to dress, how to shop on a budget, and how to maximize their wardrobe – with just a few pieces.
I wanted you all to have the opportunity to get to know Emily Wall, so not only have I asked her to be a guest blogger, I took some time to sit down and do a Q&A with her – consultants will be seeing a lot of her in the future!
Q&A with Patty and Emily
PATTY: I’ve known you for three years now, but I’d like for you to tell me more about who you are?
Emily: I’m from Dayton, Ohio but I’ve fallen in love with Cincinnati! I’m a Reds fanatic and I have five jerseys in my closet to prove it. Luckily, colored denim is in right now so I was able to find the perfect red jeans to wear with my Reds jersey. I’m very close with my family, especially my older sister who gets fashion advice from me whether she asks for it or not! I have a degree in Political Science from the University of Dayton because I wanted to be a lobbyist; I guess you can say I now lobby for fashion awareness!
PATTY: Tell me something about you that most people don’t know.
EMILY: I love fishing! I even have my own pink filet knife for when I get the chance to get out on the lake. AND, I had the pink knife before I started working with you Patty!
PATTY: I did not know that about you, but I like that you do it in style with a pink knife. Speaking of style, how did you become interested in fashion?
EMILY: My love of fashion started early. When I was about 5 years old I decided, inspired by the amazing film Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo, I only wanted to wear neon. Everything. Had. To. Be. NEON! My parents tell me I was quite passionate about it!
Fashion has been a constant in my life. I remember when I was in college; my roommate would only purchase the exact outfit that was on the mannequin. She couldn’t function without a formula for how to put it all together. It boggled her mind I would just throw different pieces together and come up with amazing outfits.
Years later as a stylist and personal shopper for Saks Fifth Avenue I now understand how intimidating style and fashion can be. As I’ve worked with my clients I’ve heard every concern and reservation when it comes to getting dressed. My goal is to make fashion easier, because when you develop your own personal style you feel more confident.
PATTY: What is the best part about being a stylist?
EMILY: Helping others. I feel so lucky when I get to see a client looking professional, happy, COMFORTABLE, and most importantly knowing what she has on is going to get her the respect she deserves and send the message she intended.
PATTY: If you weren’t in the fashion industry, what would you be doing?
EMILY: I would probably have a blog on food. I love to cook when I have the time. So I’d probably be taking glamour shots of maple bacon cupcakes and writing about how delicious they are!
PATTY: Ok, so you’re a foodie, what’s your guilty pleasure?
EMILY: Surprisingly, it isn’t food… it’s shoes! I just find there are so many perfect shoes that are waiting for a good outfit. Like I told my boyfriend when we were first dating, asking a woman how many shoes she has is worse than asking her weight and age in the same sentence! He still does not know my shoe count.
PATTY: You know I love shoes too and I completely agree that a man should never ask a woman how many shoes she has! Alright, the real reason we’re chatting today is because you’ve helped me and now I’m sharing you and your secrets with my consultants. Every time we work together you’ve taught me something new and I’m thrilled that you’ve offered to share your knowledge with other women because I know you can help them too.
I know you’ve met some consultants, and you know me, so you KNOW that Pure Romance consultants must have a personality to sell our products. The biggest concern I hear from the ladies is that they think professional clothing means boring. How would you respond to that?
EMILY: Professional can be a scary word that dances way too close to BORING for many people. There is a spectrum in fashion, so when I answer this I say you can look professional and put together without feeling like your clothes are putting you to sleep.
Professional can be defined as somewhere between the often scary pages of Vogue and a classic black suit, which can be bought anywhere. It is about mixing the right pieces for the right occasion, knowing your body type, and always dressing in age appropriate outfits.
PATTY: What’s the best way to achieve that professional look?
EMILY: The way to looking professional without putting yourself to sleep is investing in a few basic pieces and picking up more versatile pieces with personality and attitude as you expand your wardrobe. You MUST do this with some planning and dedication if you do not want to waste money (wasting money = bad. Very bad).
I suggest setting out to find key pieces each season that will add to and expand your wardrobe options. Let’s say you’ve jazzed the suit up with a scarf and statement jewelry over the winter and its time for a change. Going in to spring I would probably suggest getting a colored or white jacket and maybe bright feminine top. Now you have a new jacket to go with your pant and a top that mixes things up a bit also. So now you’re halfway through spring and you just can’t wait, so you add a dress to your wardrobe. Now the dress can be worn alone or with the original black blazer, and you are so smart because you chose a dress that matches the colored blazer you bought!
Those black pants have been getting a lot of wear so, next up, you buy a different pant. Maybe it’s a crazy printed pant (if you are reading this in 2020 please ignore because I don’t see this trend sticking around forever), or maybe it’s just a grey pant instead of the black. Here we go again; the new pant can be worn with original black blazer, the newer jacket and the feminine top. Plus you shop your closet and reinvent older blouses, for instance, by wearing them with your black blazer or bright jacket.
PATTY: What item would you recommend that all women have?
EMILY: There is more to life than your professional black suit, HOWEVER that is exactly where I would suggest starting if you are on a journey to revamp your style. That black suit is going to take you to any party or work event you have to attend without looking boring. Think about adding a scarf, think about the blazer over a bright spring dress you may already own, the pant with a flow-y blouse and a statement necklace.
PATTY: What’s your philosophy on shopping?
EMILY: SHOP WITH PURPOSE! Comfort and confidence are important, so take the time to research and invest in versatile pieces.
USE YOUR RESOURCES! Pinterest, Us Weekly, fashion magazines/websites/blogs, and even morning news shows are all free and provide great information. For inspiration my favorite sites to use are The Cut at nymag.com/thecut, Styleite.com, or Style.com which streams the latest runway shows. I also look at a variety of magazines from Harper’s to Vogue. Make a board and note the things you like and try to copy the look – on your budget. If you’re someone who really struggles with putting it all together give this formula a shot and keep it simple, there is a basic black suit for every woman that will fit her well.
REACH OUT FOR HELP! Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. Most major department stores will offer stylists or a well-versed sales associate. If you’ve done some of the initial research, you can think of the department store sales associate as a second opinion. Make sure to find someone who understands you – your needs, your wants and your lifestyle.
LEARN YOUR BODY TYPE & DRESS YOUR AGE: The Wow Factor by Jacqui Stafford is a great resource to help you understand what fit accentuates your best features and also how to dress your age. Now, dressing your age can go both ways—you can be dressing too young or too old – and I guarantee that neither one will work for you! I have many more style tips to share, so stay tuned!
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Eek! It is so scary for me to dress nicely! I have gone to mostly dresses because I dont have to match anything. I hate looking back at old pictures!! Also, I am top heavy, its very hard to find something that covers me up on top, and still covers my belly. I may need to call you the next time Im in Cincinnati Emily!! Thanks for the article!
Abby, you aren’t alone! In a perfect world we would all have neatly organized closets were the perfect fitting outfit just jumps out for every occasion. Unfortunately it really does take work to put everything together, but I believe it’s worth it! Please reach out to me if you’re in town for sure! VERY soon there will be more info and opportunity to reach out so stay tuned to Patty’s page! Thank you for your comment! All the best, Emily
I love this, Thank you for sharing
Annette, I hope you picked up some good tips! More to come! Thank you for reading!
In January I switched from a company that had no dress suggestions – I wore a logo t-shirt to every party, sometimes wore jeans, and never bothered with jewelry. I was TERRIFIED that having to dress professionally would cost a ton and that I would feel stuck up and boring. Instead, I was able to find cloths at consignment shops VERY inexpensively (note: this takes time and going back to find quality and fit), I feel more fun and confident for my parties and my sales have AT LEAST doubled. I’m SO grateful to have these standards and suggestions now!
I am thrilled you shared your consignment shop tip! They are a great resource for amazing fashion finds at prices that won’t take your breath away as well as sometimes being a way to make a little money on the side selling your own things. Definitely something every Professionista should know about! Thank you so much for this! I look forward to sharing more suggestions amongst great women in the future!
Thank you Emily! I often refer to myself as being fashionably-challenged. My sister is the fashionista and I often reach out to her for guidance. I do sometimes pull off an outfit or two that she likes. The usual response is, “You did good”. With these tips, I’m sure I’ll be able to spruce things up for the Spring. Again, thanks for the wonderful advice!
I love this! My sister will be so thrilled to hear she isn’t the only sister subjected to fashion advice from another sister! Good luck sprucing for spring, I’m confident you will shine!
how can I improve my sales? It seems like people give me excuses of why they will not buy or host a party. And that makes me anger because I’m putting my heart into it.
Networking with other Pure Romance consultants and attending as many corporate functions, as well as World Conference is so vital as a consultant. When you first start out in this business it can be daunting, especially if you are attempting to go it alone. You need support, and that is exactly what Pure Romance provides – it is up to you to access and take advantage of it. Use your frustration as fuel to move your business to the next level. Get out there and talk with other consultants. Access the training tools provided to you. You can be successful, it is up to you to believe it and make it happen. Pure Romance is a way of life; the women who are successful in this company are passionate about the Pure Romance mission, they network with sister consultants, promote their business within every realm of their life and eagerly jump on every training and networking opportunity available to them. Shift your strategy a little toward this way of life and I assure you that you’ll notice a positive difference. Good luck and I hope to see you at World Conference.
Thank you for your advice, I am a jeans and t- shirt girl so fashion is VERY challenging to me. I do know that when I do dress up to the best of my ability, lol I do feel a lot more confident in my self, shoes are a very hard thing for me, I LOVE my Nikes …..
I am a Pure Romance Consultant and also work in a call center M-F and the dress code is business casual. I could really use a new wardrobe! I am 28 years old soon to be 29, I look a lot younger than I am and I struggle with finding clothing that isn’t too young but also not too old looking. I have such a hard time finding anything I like when I go shopping for myself and end up buying things for my son instead.I love fashion and have been using Pinterest to help me come out with ideas for outfits, because I am that girl that has to go off the mannequin. 🙂
I’ve struggled with this for a long time because of my body and not feeling comfortable with it…well I’ve started bootcamp and hope to learn how to better my wardrobe along the way, excited to see what you share with us 🙂 Thanks to you Patty too!
When the dinner jacket ( tuxedo in American English) first came into fashion in the Victorian era , it was used as a less formal alternative for the tailcoat which men of the upper classes wore every evening. Thus it was worn with the standard accompaniments for the evening tailcoat at the time: matching trousers, white or black waistcoat, white bow tie, white detachable wing-collar formal shirt and black formal shoes. Lapels were often faced or edged in silk or satin in varying widths. Dinner jackets were considered from the first less formal than full dress (cutaway) and etiquette guides declared it inappropriate for wear in mixed company.