Kathyrn Graves

What to Wear

Fashion Favor. A friend approached me for a favor. She was scheduled as the featured speaker at a large women’s event and she didn’t know what to wear. She wondered if I’d be willing to help her.

Another friend, whose husband was running for U.S. Congress, asked if I’d help her shop for some clothes to wear to several events in Washington, D.C. A couple of summers before, she and I had enjoyed helping her granddaughter shop for outfits to wear when she attended the Presidential Inauguration.

There is a reason women seek out my advice. I’ve spent more than seven years in the fashion industry. I’ve learned the secrets of accessorizing, and tips to help women look ten pounds thinner and ten years younger. I’ve attended seminars on fashion trends and hot colors. All of it is fun for me, but I never really thought about how helpful my fashion training might be to writers until I attended a CLASSeminar. This was professional speaker training which included teaching us how to project a professional-looking image. I found the speaking a challenge, but the image part was a cake-walk for me. I didn’t realize that was not the case for everyone until my writing friends who began speaking also began coming to me for help.

What should you wear to a speaking engagement if you’re the featured speaker?

  1. Dress one step up from your audience in terms of formality. If they’re in jeans and t-shirts, you should wear khakis and a nice pull-over. If they’re going corporate-casual, you should, too, but jazz up your outfit with a tweed pencil skirt. Add a great pair of boots and a snazzy scarf or a sparkly jacket.
  2. Remember that jewelry pulls your outfit together. Wear at least 3 coordinating items. (Earrings count as one.) This will make you look like you knew what you were doing when you got dressed. Don’t be afraid to stack mis-matched bracelets. This adds a “cool-ness” factor. And go for a statement watch. I know, you use your phone to tell time, but who wants to pull out her phone while speaking? And we can’t rely on the venue to provide a clock on the wall.
  3. If you wear a skirt, make sure it ends in the middle of your knee-cap. Any longer makes you look frumpy (unless you wear sky-high heals) and any shorter is, well, too short. Your knee is the thinnest part of your leg above the ankle, so that is what you want to accent.
  4. If you wear pants, they should not break over the front of your shoe. You want them to form a straight, long line. The hem should end a half-inch above the floor in the back. This will require a heel on your shoe, but will give you a long, tall, lean look.
  5. Put a little extra effort into your hairstyle and make-up. Yes, do wear at least some make-up. If you don’t like the feel, try tinted moisturizer. Add a bit of eye shadow and mascera and you’ll be amazed at the difference. Keep your hair under control, if it is long, with a pony tail. Add a jeweled clip to the hair band and enjoy the compliments.
  6. Finally, wow the audience with your confidence and knowledge of your subject. You look great, so relax and share what God has given you to say.

Kathryn Graves writes “On the Other Side of Comfortable.” She can also be found at www.KathrynGraves.blogspot.com and www.KathrynGraves.wordpress.com.

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