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You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression

I’m probably the last person to write about fashion.  I buy most of my clothing for comfort, and mostly second-hand.  I care about the environment, and while I’m not ready to give up flying and driving, I figure that buying clothing sustainably is a way I can contribute.

Fast-fashion bothers me.

The idea of wearing something today that will be out of style (or worn out) in a few months isn’t good.  So what is fashion, or not, is something I’m pretty clueless about.

I also gave up make-up in my 40’s.  I didn’t want to fund companies whose business model is based on making women insecure with themselves so they would buy their products.

I do know the power of first impressions though.

I know that clothing can increase, or decrease, our power and influence.  I know that our appearance is memorable, which can be even more challenging without make-up.

I know that standing up in front of a group is tough. I'm definitely not a natural at it. Just ask my elementary school teachers, and my mother who had to pick me up at school after another attempt at presenting in front of the class ended up with me at the nurse's office for an upset stomach.

Presenting in front of a group is a lot easier when we feel good about ourselves.

Colors can influence those around us.  The color of our sweater could comfort and soothe, or energize and invigorate.  Colors can also wipe us out.

I think about colors and styles a lot when I present.

Do I need to power up?

Especially when I was younger, a young woman engineering manager, I focused my clothing choices on clothes that made me more powerful, more serious.  I was a young girl in a man’s world in automotive engineering, and I used dark suits and heels to make me appear more formidable, more striking, more likely to be taken seriously.  I think I wore black and grey exclusively for at least fifteen years.

Or do I need to power down?

Now, a lot of the training that I do in personal development still needs me to be taken seriously.  Otherwise, my training isn’t impactful.  But I also need to be someone who people can open up to, who they can trust.  Raising power too much can be intimidating.  It creates barriers and builds walls between us.

Culture can also play a role, and how much we use power symbols to raise or lower our power.  Carrying a Louis Vuitton bag could help to build credibility in China, but would be seen as show-offy and obnoxious in Sweden (who does she think she is?).

This autumn, I had the pleasure of meeting Linda Nordqvist at the Lysekil’s NLC Networking Lunch.  She presented about her clothing brand, Klädje, and her goal of helping people find clothing that is perfect for them (her motto, translated from Swedish, is "You are perfect as you are. Let me help you realize that."

A lot of this resonated with me.  A lot of our values and purpose are similar:  to help people find their unique purpose and value within them.  Not when they achieve or reach something, but who they are today.   She also produces her clothes locally from sustainable materials and has the intention to offer clothes to complement an existing wardrobe, with classic long-wearing and enduring items out of natural materials.  Her pricing is also really really reasonable for all of the above.

I wanted to learn more and work together.

First of all, I tried a consultation workshop with Linda.  She identified my best colors and styles, along her principle that every body is perfect, but there are styles that bring out the best in different body styles.

Wow, did I notice a difference!

I had some sense that some clothes that I picked up second-hand that I wanted to love were never worn.  I would take them out, try them on, and decide that I either looked fat or dull.  Or both.

I would hang them back in the closet, because they often were a great find (a high quality brand of enduring style).  But each time I took them out, I felt worse about myself in the mirror.

I need to lose weight. 

My colors aren’t as vibrant as my friend’s. 

I don’t look like I did 20 years ago.

All those thoughts don’t help, especially when I need to stand up in front of a group.  When I want to project confidence.  When I’m doing something that is anyway scary or tough and challenging my comfort zone.

From the consultation workshop, I was amazed at the difference that the right color and style made.  I found that the colors that I gravitated to, usually blues and greys, were right, but that there were others, such as cool browns, light pinks, and sage greens that made my eyes stand out.

For our formal New Years celebration, Linda made me a dress of moss green and paired it with a pale pink scarf.  Remnants of childhood taunts - “You can’t wear pink and green.” circled in my head, but I realized they were wrong.

Pink and green worked.   And it worked really well.

Linda and I have decided to bring our complementary skills and backgrounds together to offer workshops together. All to help you "Present Your Best Self"!

If you find it interesting to talk about how colors and styles can help you present your best self, as well as learning my favorite presentation tips, join us for one of our workshops (Present Your Best Self or Presentera Ditt Bästa Jag) or reach out to arrange a special consultation and workshop.

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