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What to wear when you’re presenting

Meet Lynne Marks. She and I go way back! We both served on the international board of the Association of Image Consultants International back in the 1990s. We’ve actually been photographed together in our jammies! But I’m not planning to share that picture here. It turns out her daughter and my eldest daughter share the same birthdate so whenever we see each other at conference, we have to have some “daughter” talk. Lynne teaches image at her London Image Institute in Atlanta, Georgia. This year at conference she was co-presenting a workshop on a subject she’s passionate about: building a brand. The conference was held in Glendale, Arizona.

When I’m dressing clients for important events, I’m always considering their audience, the location and the topic. I want to be sure my client’s message is heard and that she’s seen for the professional person she is. There should be nothing about the outfit that distracts. It should draw our attention in and hold it.

Think of a sentence. That one just ended in a period, right? I believe a speaker’s outfit should be like a sentence, only one that ends with an exclamation point. It should be just a little bit “more” than the audience members. More … exciting, more … polished. More.

If I had dressed Lynne for her presentation, I’d be pretty proud of myself. She nailed it. She wore this red dress, beltless. It had some gathering detail that drew the attention in at the waist. It was in what appeared to be a jersey or crepe fabric. No wrinkles. The print jacket she wore was nicely fitted to her waist, on the short side and avoided the 1/2 and 1/2 proportion that is flat. A 1/3 to 2/3s proportion is more pleasing. The shorter jacket was closer to being one-third of the length of the outfit, the dress was two-thirds.

The triple strand of crystal beads around her neck was the perfect focal point. As she walked around the classroom calling on people it was easy to follow her. The beads added interest and KEPT our interest while pulling in the colors of both the jacket and the dress. They twinkled just like Lynne twinkles.

In a classroom set up the way ours was, you would mainly see her from the waist up. Her communication center, her face, is what we’d naturally want to focus on. Some people could wear red and have a hard time getting attention back up to the face because it’s such a strong color. But Lynne’s jacket and those fabulous beads made it easy to stay focused on her and her message.

If you have a presentation coming up, you might borrow some styling tips from Lynne. Oh, and by the way, the presentation completely “matched” her outfit. It was polished, well put together, and focused. When the message of the presentation and the presenter’s image match, it’s a winner. This was a winner!


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