How confident do you feel in the clothes you are wearing? Do they make you feel ready for anything? Or are you hoping no one sees you in those yoga pants you slipped on to sneak out of the house and pick up the kids? How do you think you appear to others? Do you ever worry about what other people think of the way you look? Do you worry that you might be putting off potential clients or customers by being too professional, polished, and distant? Maybe you've been too casual and are worried that you don't seem professional enough. Or maybe you just worry that your clothes make you look frumpy and feel older than you actually are. Maybe you hate thinking about clothes altogether and end up in jeans and a t-shirt you got free when you ran a 5k or some kind of charitable event instead of wearing something that you actually planned out and put together.
Wherever you are in relation to your appearance and your clothes, Rachel Nachmias can help. When Rachel first booked in to be on my podcast, I was curious about what kind of interview this would be. My podcast is called Financial Fluency and it usually focuses on matters that relate to money for women working outside of the traditional 9 to 5. So while this encompasses everything from straight up budgeting, bookkeeping, taxes and investing, we also explore sales, marketing, workflow, gender gap, divorce, caregiving, financial abuse, self-employment, and outsourcing to scale and grow. Fashion was not a subject I planned to tackle. And yet, when I thought about it, for women in the workforce so much of time, what we look like and what we wear can have an out weighted effect on our bottom line. Is the fact that women who are perceived to be more put together and attractive are often more successful in business and life, fair? Of course not. Is this at least in part patriarchal oppression and sexism at work? Yes, of course, it is. But this is also the reality that we currently live in so while we are in the process of smashing the patriarchy bit by bit and bringing the walls down brick by brick, we can also be aware of the fact that we all tend to prefer to spend more time with people who are relatively well groomed and have at least a pleasant appearance.
So Rachel came onto the podcast to talk about what colors, cuts, and styles look best on your coloring, height, weight, and body type. Rachel has dealt with challenges in this area herself. As someone who loves Haute Couture and high-end fashion, but someone who is also closer to 5 foot tall than 6 foot, she used to find her own height, bust size, and frame difficult to dress. And while I personally think she is a dead ringer for Kat Denning, she admits that in her mind she wishes she looked like Lauren Bacall, slender, sultry and tall with an angular face and great cheek bones. I can totally relate. Back when I played in indie bands out of college, I always wanted to look more like that indie chick ideal, which was basically tall, very thin, flat-chested, athletic, and very androgynous. Instead, I was only tall-ish (5'8"), curvy, busty, totally unathletic, and very femme. (I was still femme even after I experimentally shaved my head in a bid for butch.) But no matter how far our physical bodies may be from our own personal ideals of beauty, we can all work with what we have and turn it to our best advantage.
This was the kind of thing that I expected from a personal image consultant. What came next was not what I expected at all. Color Theory. Yep, that’s right. Rachel, after a short stint at Bryn Mawr (my own beloved alma mater), earned her degree from Parsons School of Design. You know the one. It’s the place where Tim Gunn mentors would-be fashion designers live on Project Runway. Or at least he used to back when I watched the show. Which means that Rachel not only knows a lot about fashion, she also knows a lot about design, art, and color theory.
At one point in our interview Rachel revealed to me that it is not so much the color choice, but the properties of the colors that matter most. She said that you can wear all kinds of colors together, so long as their properties are the same or similar. I had never heard anyone say something like this before. I had to learn more.
Rachel is a Certified 12 Blueprints Personal Colour Analyst. This means she knows how to help clients identify the colours that work best with their colouring and features. In color analysis, the three important properties are hue (warm or cool), value (light or dark) and chroma (bright or soft). When several colors are adjusted to similar levels for these three properties, they will harmonize together. This was a total epiphany for me.
Rachel breaks down the biggest issues around establishing your own personal style into three basic concepts that will help you zero in on the style that works for your brand, goals, shape and personality:
1) Know where you want to go in your business, and who you want to attract;
2) Identify how you dream of presenting yourself;
3) Consider your shape when choosing clothing, makeup and hairstyles.
Rachel highly recommends that foundation clothing, especially bras, be properly fitted so that the clothes that go over them will fit properly too. In fact, when clothing shopping with clients, she usually begins with a professional bra fitting. Factoring in proper tailoring of clothing is also important when it comes to fit and comfort.
Rachel also disclosed that designers typically design clothing in much smaller sizes, using vanity sizing. These sizes are in fact 2 sizes smaller than the retail versions. Many designers stop at size 10 as well, even though the average American woman is a size 16 these days. Finding the retail stores that sell clothing that work for you will make shopping far more pleasurable.