Start Your Own Image Makeover

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People often tell me that they want to update their look, upgrade their wardrobe or get themselves organized – but don’t know where to begin. Getting started can often be the scariest part of making significant changes in your life; but once you understand what steps to take, you’ll be on your way.

How you project yourself in public matters a great deal and, like with most things in life, what goes on behind the scenes has a big impact on what everyone else sees. Here are five quick tips I give to all my clients to help get them on the path to better managing their image and life.

Polish your shoes and re-sole if needed. Scuffed up, worn out shoes are one of the first things people notice – especially women. Buy the best you can afford; well-made footwear is an investment, will last years and is worth every penny. Make sure they are well fitting and of a current or classic style. Just as trendy clothing can make you look dated or silly, so can outdated footwear.

When it comes to suits or sport coats, know your size and get proper tailoring. That means the jacket’s shoulders should sit on your shoulders, some shirt cuff should show at your wrists, and you should be able to comfortably button it up. Find a good tailor and make him your best friend. Shorter or stockier men should avoid three-button jackets in favor of two-button models which offer longer visual lines and appear less bulky and constricting. Always choose natural fabrics like superfine wools and cashmere. Linen and cotton are excellent choices for warm weather.

Know what colors work for you. You already have preferences based on the colors to which you’re naturally drawn. If nothing else, ask a friend to honestly assess what does and does not look good on you. You can also have a professional colorist do an analysis of what colors work best with your complexion, hair, and eye color.

Invest in a good bag. This makes a real difference both in both your appearance and confidence. Focus on a more formal bag for work, preferably leather, and then a casual one for running errands and general use. Recently I wrote an article on my blog about finding the right bag for you; it’s worth a read.

Go through your closet and donate anything that you have not worn in more than a year. It’s a simple truth, so just do it. Be brutally honest with yourself and in the end you will be happier for the effort.


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Chris Hogan, an association executive based in Washington, D.C., blogs at OffTheCuffDC.com. A lifelong interest in style and clothing led to sales and management positions at several Ralph Lauren stores and an active wardrobe consulting practice