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The heat of summer is fast approaching, and the desire to be cool during the day can make dressing appropriately for the office a challenge.
Kay Hunter is a professional image consultant, corporate trainer and president of IMAGINE … The Possibilities, an image consulting company that teaches people how to improve their image to enhance professional and personal success. Hunter gives some helpful tips to help you dress for the job during the dog days of summer.
What is summer casual?
Every organization is different, so it’s important to read your company’s dress-code policy. Generally speaking, though, exercising good judgment is key to maintaining an A-plus image in the summer months. In other words, even if your dress-code policy allows you to wear shorts, that doesn’t mean you should. Choose the shorts – and wear them – with caution.
Some people interpret summer casual as a step below business casual. But people should think of it as the same, except the clothes are made of cooler fabrics, lighter colors and fun prints. Keep in mind:
1. The more skin you show, the less important you might appear.
2. Men would never arrive at work in a tank top, and women should beware of showing up in a sleeveless top or dress.
3. Long-sleeve shirts often carry more authority than short-sleeve shirts.
4. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
How can someone look successful while still maintaining a level of comfort during the hot months of summer?
1. Put business first, casual second.
2. If your clothes fit properly, you’ll usually feel comfortable.
3. Clothing, when too big, small or showy, distracts from the person and what he or she is trying to say or do.
4. Wearing any kind of jacket will pump up the credibility scale, even if it is a knit style for women and an unstructured style for men.
5. Maintain your grooming all year long. People often think with casual they can be scruffy, but it’s important to be consistent every day.
Why is it unprofessional to show up wearing flip-flops?
This goes back to business first and casual second. Flip-flops, shorts and halter-tops are all great for a Saturday soccer game, but not the office. Wearing that level of casual attire is not acceptable, and portrays a lack of respect for you and your company. And flip-flops or other loud types of accessories make noises that can be distracting.
by Rose Flores Medlock
Orange Coast Magazine/November 2007
Image matters, especially in Orange County, with its flush of movers and shakers - tech company CEOs, big time philanthropists and more than a few national political figures. And it matters even more when you live in a region that likes to party the way Orange County does. In this sunny beachside region of Southern California, when it's time to rock the night away, the party could last all night long, with cocktails flowing freely, beautifully catered spreads and music that plays till day break. It could be a prescription for disaster if you're a newcomer who's unprepared for the social scene.
So, to make certain you won't be the morning after's topic of e-mail exchanges and gossip over coffee, we sought the advice of some local experts, who shared their image-conscious tips with us.
Holiday Party Tip #1
It All Starts with the Invitation
OK, so it sounds basic. Everyone knows the drill. The invitation arrives - maybe it comes in an oversized envelope or a beribboned package; perhaps it's delivered to your mailbox or the front door. It tells you the what, when, where and - just as important - to whom to reply. Often, there's a little card that you're supposed to mail back to offer either your regrets or your attendance. And that's the detail that so often gets lost.
Once you've received the in, don't blow it by ignoring the manners Mom taught you.
Finishing schools may no longer be the norm, but etiquette is timeless, and in the case of elaborate celebrations, it's a necessity. Demonstrate your social IQ by paying attention to the RSVP note. Those responses serve as the basis for your host's game plan for the evening. The number of guests dictates where to hold the event, how to plan the menu with the chef and the extent of bartending services. Make no mistake, the RSVP is the most important part of the invite.
Just ask Kay Hunter, founder of Tustin-based Imagine the Possibilities: "People tend to be very remiss about [responding], even though they plan to attend," she says.
And when it comes to a company's holiday party, Hunter offers a thought for those who don't reply: Management will see the list of invited guests who have not responded. She also says that in the case of corporate parties, it's not a question of whether you'll go, but rather how you'll fit it into your schedule. "When you get a corporate invite, you need to go," she says.
And the same goes for invitations to attend those exclusive Orange County bashes.
Holiday Party Tip #2
Beyond the Required Response Is the Issue of What to Wear
Hunter - a professional image coach, corporate trainer and a former senior vice president of human resources - says the invitation also holds the clue to attire. ''Typically the rule of thumb is the nicer the invite, the dressier you get," she says.
Women often have a tough time with the dress code, though. That sexy gown with the neckline plunging all the way down to your belly button might be fine for a gala fund-raiser, or a formal soiree thrown by friends or a personal acquaintance, but don't even think about wearing it to a work-related engagement.
"Women need to be cautious…You can look very pretty, you can look attractive, but you want to look appropriate," Hunter says.
Rancho Santa Margarita-based lifestyle consultant John Spencer Ellis suggests being direct: Simply ask the host of the party what would be appropriate attire. After all, there's almost nothing worse than arriving to a party and realizing you are inappropriately dressed. "Sometimes people are overdressed or underdressed, and that in itself makes their behavior change," says Ellis, who also raises an important point about image. It transcends the boundaries of woven cloth with its effect on the subconscious.
People want to appear articulate and intelligent, and they want to be liked. Ellis says you can gauge the interest of another person by examining body language. If you don't like what you see, remember: Humans have two hemispheres in the brain, one being more dominant than the other, which affects the way we perceive things.
"If you feel the inability to connect to someone and you've been standing on their left side, walk away, then come back to stand on their right side," he says. "Notice changes in facial expressions and body tension. That's just who we are as humans."
Holiday Party Tip #3
Know Your Job-And Your Limits
Patricia Munroe, a lawyer and owner of Munroe Finishing School in Costa Mesa, says guests have jobs - there was a reason you were invited to attend the party. Interacting with other attendees by maintaining conversations is one of them.
"Your host or hostess invited you to help make the party a success. You help by socializing, mingling, and the best thing you can do for your hostess is to enjoy yourself and to interact well," she says. "In saying that, getting really drunk or having raucous behavior is never good behavior or ever appropriate. You don't show up with your boyfriend and make out in the comer."
It's simple: Just remember your manners, says Diana Jennings, founder of Irvine-based Brand You Image.
"I hate to say it, but we live in a me-me-me society," she says. "It is blatant-when you are talking to someone, they do all the talking and don't ask any questions. To be interesting, you need to be interested in the other people there."
Also keep in mind that Orange County is a melting pot, and some cultures might not be accustomed to the same social standards and relaxed interaction we practice here. So demonstrating respect is key.
"There are subtleties in how we show respect. It's about having respect for where you are, having respect for your host or hostess, and their home and the people they have brought together,” Jennings says.
In other words, check the ego at the door.
And, Munroe says, a guest with grace and character will stay at least long enough to mingle with other guests, and the host or hostess. "I think that at the end of the day, that's what is really good etiquette: being gracious and compassionate,” Munroe says.
Hunter even stressed this point in a holiday season client newsletter last year: "When you find yourself at a party where you don't know many people, it is gracious to mingle properly. Remember, there is a difference between including yourself vs. intruding on people. It is always best to approach groups of three or more. Once they engage you in eye contact, this is your signal to join in, and introduce yourself and your guest."
The dos and don'ts could go on forever, but perhaps one of the most important sets of don'ts concerns consuming the evening's culinary selection. No one wants to be caught with pepper nudged between teeth, nor does anyone want to hear this bit of coaching: "Um, you have a little something ... right there ... here on the right side. You got it." It's just awkward.
Ellis recommends wiping your face and taking occasional trips to the lavatory, which can save others unnecessary tension.
Once you've taken care of your pearly whites, it's time to glance around the room. Keep an eye out for the movers and shakers. Pay attention to the people to whom you feel a connection-interact with key people. "Look for the host, the president, whoever's throwing the party," says Hunter. "At these kinds of events, it's best not to talk business. It's social conversation."
Try to appear approachable by always keeping one hand free. Rather than showing up with a ravishing appetite, Hunter suggests having a protein bar or snack beforehand. But, she adds, "You probably want to get a beverage because it shows you're having a good time and participating in the festivities."
Holiday Party Tip #4
Leave a Lasting Impression
Try to have a good time because you'll likely attend more social gatherings in November and December than the other 10 months of the year combined. To ensure the same goes for next year, keep in mind that good guests continue their behavior beyond the stroke of midnight.
"It is preferred to send a thank-you card-not an e-mail-but an actual card in the mail, especially if you are a guest at a small gathering,” Munroe says.
And, Hunter says, too few people send them anymore. "A thank-you note is handwritten, not e-mailed. It just makes all the difference," she says. "In a smaller group, absolutely you're sending a thank-you note. With a large corporate party, it's not as necessary but still impressive."
Just as it is important to pay attention to the invitation, keep in mind that it's essential to use the postal service in return.
By Dick Dahl Staff writer LawyersUSA/July 2, 2007
Few attorneys employ sartorial strategies as bold as the one unveiled last summer by 68-year-old New Zealand lawyer Rob Moodie, who decided to start wearing dresses to court.
Moodie's fashion display came to an end this February when a judge held him in contempt for releasing sealed documents to the press, whereupon Moodie announced that he was retiring from the practice of law. But the response from members of the New Zealand bar has been that the skirts and pumps and handbags probably played a role in his censure.
In the everyday practice of law, cross-dressing is a rarity. But the consequences of lawyers' fashion and grooming decisions can be no less dramatic, according to Kay Hunter, an image consultant from Tustin, Calif.
Five years ago, Hunter created her own company - Imagine … the Possibilities - after working for 15 years in the corporate world as a senior human resources executive and finding herself oftentimes frustrated by colleagues' inability to maximize their appearance.
"I saw people not get ahead because they didn't know how to put themselves together," she said. "It's not as easy as going to Nordstrom's and buying an expensive suit."
In her new capacity as image consultant, Hunter works with lawyers and other professionals, providing advice on how they can get ahead professionally by making better choices about how they look.
She often talks to groups of lawyers in firms or at bar gatherings and has created a presentation she calls Nine Essential Image Ingredients for Success.
Lawyers USA recently spoke with Hunter about those nine ingredients.
1 - Consistent impressions make a difference.
First impressions never get erased, Hunter said.
"If a young woman comes to work her first day wearing a low-cut blouse and showing cleavage, that's what people are going to remember," she said. "They're not going to remember the great suits she wore after that."
Oftentimes, she said, lawyers will dress to make an impression for one important event and then fall back on more mundane fashion practices. "But you make an impression every day, and people forget that."
And even though many law firms are now business casual, the principle still applies with them, she said.
"I've noticed that many people think business casual means no standards. But whether you have on a suit or khakis and a golf shirt, there should still be a standard with which you dress, meaning that your hair is still cut every three weeks and that shoes are still shined."
Maybe it was the purple suit with the matching eye shadow or the creative use of four-letter words. Answering a phone call from a friend during the interview likely didn’t help either, nor did bringing in a water bottle filled with vodka. In each case (all of which actually happened), the hopeful candidate was rejected with a generic, “We found someone else with better qualifications,” leaving the job seeker unaware of what they may have done that rubbed the hiring manager the wrong way.
“Employers don’t have to give a reason as to why a person wasn’t hired,” says Bethany LaFlam, of LaFlam Law LLC, Newport Beach. And anything they say may be spun into a protective clause, leaving the company open for a discrimination suit (i.e. “I ate the potato chips during the interview because I have diabetes and needed to raise my blood sugar…”).
And while it’s illegal to ask the questions, if a person reveals something during an interview that casts an unfavorable light on them in the eyes of the interviewer, they may be taken out of the running for reasons they’ll never know. Many employers perform phone interviews before asking the candidate to come in for a face-to-face interview.
The phone interview, or “pre-screen,” tells the hiring manager whether or not the person has the basic qualifications for the job. The face-to-face interview reveals whether or not the interviewee is a fit for the company in other crucial, less obvious, aspects: passion, courtesy, commitment and promptness, for example. Here’s what you can do to come out on top.
Make a good first impression
Before you leave the house for the interview, give yourself a head-to-toe critique. “Dressing too casually” ranked as one of the biggest complaints among hiring managers. Bowling shirts, Dockers and golf shirts for men, low-slung pants, open-toed shoes and revealing tops for women do not belong at an interview. “Business casual has confused everybody. Although the company may have a corporate casual policy, you should still dress like you’re going on an interview,” says Kay Hunter, a personal and corporate image consultant and founder of Imagine…the Possibilities. “The general rule is to go one step above how the employees of the company dress. Too many people think ‘business casual’ equals ‘no grooming,’” Hunter says.
Although pantyhose for women seems so “yesterday,” bare legs at an interview may be frowned upon. Women should avoid the controversy altogether and simply wear a pantsuit, according to Hunter. Ditto for open-toed shoes (one manager eliminates candidates based on this alone) and high Barbie ponytails, although wearing a ponytail at the nape of the neck is fine. “As long as you don’t play with it,” Hunter says.
Leave jangly jewelry at home, along with fragrance – and go easy on the makeup. “Women tend to wear either too much or not enough.” Men need to be sure their collars are not frayed and old and that their clothes are pressed and fit properly. And save the Tasmanian Devil tie for another time. “You want a tie that shows some character and confidence without going too far.”
Know what you bring to the table
Dressing the part creates a positive first impression but is only one piece of the interview puzzle. “We want to know how you’re going to add value to our company,” says Melanie Villapando, director of talent acquisition for James Hardie, a Mission Viejo building products company. “And it doesn’t matter if it’s a high-level position or an administrative job; we need to know if you have an understanding of how this position impacts the company.” An administrative assistant, for example, should know how her behavior reflects the company when someone walks in the front door, and that a negative first impression could drive away business.
And don’t be shy about talking about your accomplishments. “People like to talk about what they did as a team,” Villapando says, “But I want to know about what you did on that team. Were you a major player or did you just bring the donuts to the meetings?” Be careful about excess puffery, as in how you ran over two other people for the VP spot and became the company’s Golden Boy by making someone else look bad.
Study the organization before you go in for the interview. “There are plenty of places where you can find information about the company – even about the person who will be interviewing you,” says Nicole Cox, director of recruitment at Decision Toolbox. Do some investigating. “Maybe you’ve noticed some challenge we’re facing and you have an idea of how to resolve it,” Villapando says. “Offer suggestions. It shows you have insight.”
“Put your full game face on,” Cox says. “Even if you’re lukewarm about wanting the job, if you’re taking the time to interview, don’t act as if you don’t care one way or the other. You never know when you may run into that person again – and you may find that you want the job after all.” Cox notes that it’s a candidates’ market, and many people have so many options that they don’t always take the interview seriously, but you can be sure the employer does.
Prepare at least three to four questions in advance to ask the interviewer; not asking questions can reveal a lack of preparation. “Ask questions and let them know that you researched the company,” says Theresa Grothe, recruiter and staffing specialist for Boost Mobile. Ask about new products the company may have developed, recent acquisitions or the company’s plans for long-term growth, for example. A question like, “What are your biggest challenges with your competitor and how are you dealing with that?” may also win you points. On the other hand, avoid asking questions about the location of their corporate headquarters or number of employees, as you should know this basic information through your pre-interview research.
Don’t offer too much information
“Don’t get so comfortable that you spill your entire life’s story to the interviewer,” says Grothe. “In general, the less you say, the better.” It’s illegal for the interviewer to ask if you have children, but if you let your guard down during the interview and begin talking about your four little ones who are always in and out of the doctor’s office, the interviewer may question your dependability. Or if you talk about a family member with cancer, the employer may see this as a red flag, wondering if you’re going to be wrapped up in your family’s situation.
“People say too much,” Grothe says. “Keep it about business and don’t go into a story. A one word answer: ‘Great!’ is usually sufficient when fielding questions such as, ‘So, how’s the family?’”
Mind your manners
Don’t save your best behavior for the hiring manager, either. How you treat the front desk person or the travel agent who booked your flight to the interview can affect your chances as well. “We’ve canceled interviews with candidates when we’ve heard negative things from our support people,” says Villipando.
From the other side of the desk
Practicing common courtesy holds true even when the interviewer doesn’t behave as professionally as you might expect. “Some companies hold very confrontational interviews,” says Ed Klimczak, a senior recruiting consultant, who has experience on both sides of the desk. “One manager asked me why he should hire me and then threw my resume at me. It only made me realize that I didn’t want to work there.”
The interviewer should be selling the company to the candidate, according to Klimczak, “But, more often than not, they look for reasons to disqualify a candidate. Some days I interviewed when I wasn’t on top of my game and it showed. For this reason, I think it’s important that qualified candidates get at least a second interview; you can’t tell enough about a person in just one session.”
The company’s hiring methods can also work against you. Some use “consensus hiring,” where all the hiring managers must unanimously agree to hire a candidate. Even if four out of five interviewers agree to hire a person, the one who disagrees determines the candidate’s fate. Other times, the hiring manager has the final say no matter how everyone else feels. “Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing how they decide,” says Klimczak.
At the end of the interview, be sure to ask the interviewer about the next steps. The answer will give you a good idea as to whether or not you landed the job. And don’t be afraid to close the interview by asking, “Is there any reason why I wouldn’t be considered for this job?” If you were well-prepared, the response will likely be a positive one. OCM
Linda Melone is a freelance writer and columnist. Visit her website at lifebeatfitness.com.
10 tips for a better interview
- Be prepared: know the company and what is expected of the job for which you are applying.
- Dress the part.
- Ask for professional help; an organization like Career One Stop (careeronestop.org) can help you prepare your resume and fine-tune your interview tactics.
- Arrive on time.
- Wait for the interviewer to bring up the subject of compensation and benefits.
- Don’t interrupt the interviewer and know when to stop talking.
- Make eye contact.
- Follow up with a thank-you note.
- Avoid smoking or alcohol prior to the meeting.
- Keep your sense of humor. OCM
The New Year is here and you're ready to step out in style. Trouble is, the holidays haven’t left your hips. If “eat, drink and be merry” was your mantra a few weeks ago, diet, exercise and guilt is likely to be on your mind this month.
Like most of us penitent partiers, you’ve made wise resolutions to help erase the evidence of holiday excesses. In the meantime, what do you do about those stubborn five or 10 extra pounds that are making it tougher to tackle the New Year with vim and vigor?
You hide it, says professional image consultant Kay Hunter of Imagine… The Possibilities in Tustin. ”Whether you are small or extra-large, we all have a little something to camouflage and keep us humble” Her tips for fooling the eye will help you look svelte until those sit-ups start producing results:
IF IT DOESN’T FIT, GET RID OF IT
If you’re hanging on to clothes that are outdated, stained or too small, get rid of them. Keep what may fit in a few months. But if it’s been years since your were a 4, call Goodwill and go shopping for new duds. “Clothes that are too small can make you look fat,” Hunter says. “Clothes should skim, not cling, to the body. If you can’t slip a couple of fingers between yourself and the waistband, it’s too tight.”
MONOCHROMATIC IS MAGIC.
“When you wear one color from head to toe, it creates a long, vertical line that elongates the body and you will look taller and slimmer,” says Hunter. Choose a flattering color, then pair a matching top and bottom. Add a little pizzazz near the face with a scarf or jewelry. And keep this pointer in mind: “When you wear a light top and a dark bottom, you divide yourself in half at the hip area, which makes you appear shorter and bigger.”
VERTICAL LINES ARE YOUR FRIENDS
As many a tabloid front page has illustrated, even the worlds’ most beautiful women fall victim to fashion faux pas. Take Hunter’s advice and elongate your lines by wearing vertical stripes. “The eye scans vertical lines quickly, which makes you look narrower and longer.”
That being said, every rule has its exceptions. “Avoid vertical lines on stretchy fabric, as the straight line turns into a curved line and hugs every curve, bulge and bump. Also, watch out for broad, vertical stripes that are widely spaced,” warns hunter.
SELF-CONFIDENCE IS THE IDEAL ACCESSORY
Perhaps the best tip you can take away from Hunter, who has coached beauty queens and working moms, is to dress from the inside out. Stand tall, smile and feel comfortable in your own skin. When you’re confident about who you are, the world will see a magnificent woman – not those few extra pounds
|MS. MANNERS: Tustin-based consultant Kay Hunter teaches the finer points of butter knives during an etiquette seminar Monday for the Loara High School varsity basketball team.|
| FORK MEETS FINGERS: Loara High junior Mohammad Abuhadwan learns the correct grip.
The Loara High School basketball team gets a lesson from an etiquette coach.
ANAHEIM – Passing the basketball is no sweat for members of the Loara High School boys basketball team.
But the bread basket?
On Monday, the teenagers got a lesson on proper dining etiquette, such as how to pass the bread basket (hand off to the right and take a roll when the basket comes back to you, please).
And they learned the proper way to hold utensils (like a pencil and most definitely not like a shovel).
"This is what separates the men from the boys," said Kay Hunter, a professional image consultant from Tustin who gave the team, along with two cheerleaders and two team stat takers, the lesson in table manners.
While many youngsters may think that fine dining comes in a wrapper and that fingers make way better utensils than forks, varsity coach Ed Prange hoped the off-the-court lesson would bolster his team's self-confidence.
"Basketball shouldn't just be about winning," Prange said, "but building character."
For the occasion, the boys wore their white polo basketball shirts, black slacks, belts and black shoes. Standing at the front of the classroom was Hunter, in her matching suit jacket and pants.
She typically teaches corporate folks about minding manners and making worthy first impressions.
Sixteen teens can be a little more daunting.
Hunter explained to them how she keeps a sharp eye out in case others set the dining table incorrectly.
"The blade (of the knife) faces in, because in history when it faced out, it meant you wanted to attack someone," she said.
As part of the exercise, Hunter asked the students questions and gave them paper plates and plastic utensils. She talked with a bubbly voice, not like a drill sergeant.
She taught them the proper way to eat soup – gently scooping the broth away from themselves and into the spoon.
"If it drips, it won't splatter on you," Hunter reasoned.
"This is hard, dude," said power forward Derek Gentry, 17, as he motioned his plastic spoon through the air.
When it came to inspecting how the teens were holding their forks, Hunter scanned the classroom.
"Good, good," she said. "No, like this. Hold it like a pencil."
By the end of the hour, the basketball team, cheerleaders and stat takers impressed Hunter with their eagerness to learn skills that could help them during dates or with job interviews.
But Rufus Jamison, 16, wasn't sure if the team would retain all of the finer points of sharing a meal.
"I don't know. Maybe," he said after dropping his fork and heading toward the gym to pick up a basketball.
Mind your manners
Proper etiquette isn't just the formality of saying please or keeping your elbows off the dinner table.
"It's about being pleasant and respectful around people," said Alison Tucker, owner of Class Act Manners Academy in Ladera Ranch.
- Be more considerate. Return telephone calls and e-mails promptly.
- Learn how to be a good conversationalist. Get other people to open up and speak, and also be a good listener. (That means don't hog the conversation.)
- When going to a social gathering, dress appropriately. If the party is "casual dress" and it's unclear what that means, don't be afraid to ask the host.
- Address the parents of friends as "Mr." and "Mrs.
Over the next 30 days you will most likely go to more social events than you do in the other eleven months of the year. If you are like most people, you find yourself stewing over what to wear and how to act. Whether your event is business or social, follow these tips to ensure your holidays are stress and faux pas free. Enjoy the season!
- Dress Code - Holiday parties are special, dress 1-2 levels above what you would normally wear to this type of event. For men, if you would normally wear jeans and a polo shirt, wear dress jeans or slacks, nice leather or suede shoes, and a long sleeve shirt. If the occasion calls for a coat, step up the tie and shirt selection - solids or small patterns are always more elegant. For women; this is the time to shine, pull out your glitters and sparkles. If you would normally wear basic slacks and a blouse, select velvet or satin pants and add a sparkly camisole top, shrug or sweater. If the event is more formal, step up the evening attire with metallic shoes, fun small handbags, faux furs, and dangle earrings.
- Meet and Greet - When you find yourself at a party where you don't know many people, it is gracious to mingle properly. Remember, there is a difference between including yourself vs. intruding on people. It is always best to approach groups of three or more. Once they engage you in eye contact, this is your signal to join in and introduce yourself and your guest. Please, when you are talking with someone, do not allow your eyes to dart around the room!
- Mind Your Manners - Don't talk with your mouth full. Don't stand too close. Don't eat over the serving table. Don't double dip into sauces and condiments. Don't over fill your plate; you can always go back for seconds.
- Say "Goodbye" - Be sensitive to your host, they have many guests to talk with and you do not want to monopolize their time. Make it easy for them to move on by saying, "I have enjoyed talking with you, I know you need to mingle".
- Don't Drink Too Much - It is never in good taste to drink too much, and get loud and sloppy. Ensure you are invited back, drink in moderation.
Boots and flat shoes are in. Small handbags are out. Black is back, but you can still wear brown, too. And in a fashion nod to the 1980s, leggings are in style again - if you can get away with wearing them.
Fall is here. It's time to put away the shorts and update your wardrobe. Whether you're a corporate executive, a hairstylist or a stay-at-home mom, it's important to address fashion trends, but not dress overly trendy.
"People respect those who look current. There's a lot of credibility that comes with somebody that looks current and appears to show good judgment," says Kay Hunter, an Orange County image consultant and corporate trainer.
"Don't go with every trend. Pick the trends that work for you, your body and your style," advises Hunter, president of IMAGINE... The Possibilities (kayhunter.info).
Women's slacks and suit pants are more tailored and tapered; jeans are downright skinny. Also in fashion: frilly blouses and feminine fabrics, like velvet and lace. Celtic plaid, says Hunter, "is the utmost of trendy." But you don't want to go overboard on the plaid.
Designers such as Ralph Lauren are showing sleek, slim-fitting clothing in neutral solids like black, taupe, white, off-white and brown. Lauren's fall line includes tight-fitting and tailored blazers, turtlenecks and dresses. Favored fabrics include cashmere, velvet, suede and silk. Cashmere leggings are shown with over-theknee suede boots.
Hot fall colors include black, deep shades of red and green, purple, gray, rust, brown, teal and winter white.
Where are the best places to shop? Hunter says upscale department stores like Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's offer wide selections.
Fall trends to look for:
Boots: Tall or short, with flat or high heels. Boots can slouch around the ankles, have buckles or roll-down cuffs. Cowboy boots are out.
Flats: Round-toed ballerina flats and pointed flats.
Wedges, platforms and sandals: To give summer sandals an autumn twist, choose a pair in suede, patent leather or velvet.
Big bags remain hot, especially in soft hobo, tote or satchel styles.
Handbags with studs and buckles.
Designer purses: Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton and Michael Kors are still the rage. "We're seeing a lot of layers and male-inspired clothing, but with a feminine fit. Perfectly tailored jackets, leggings and romantic clothes are in. The military look, with double-breasted jackets and coat dresses, is also in," says Hunter.