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!