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What does dressing with elan have to do with women’s confidence?

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If you are like many accomplished women, particularly baby boomers who having basically broken the glass ceiling and become quite accomplished individuals, you may feel some guilt craving the latest thing when you pass by the shoe department at your favorite high-end retailer. No more! Denver-based Dana Lynch, AICI FLC, consultant, speaker and co-author of Image Power, has some excellent counsel to share about how embracing fashion and its trends can actually give you an edge in your profession and, quite honestly, boost your pluck.

In her recent article titled, “Accentuate the Positive, Lynch writes, “Today I’d like to talk about emphasizing the parts of your body that you love. Dressing to celebrate yourself instead of just covering everything up can help you see yourself in a whole new light. You’ll see an increase in your confidence and get more compliments than ever before.”

Lynch continues,

“I invite you to fire your inner critic and look at yourself with an admiring eye. If you’re really having trouble with this, recruit a couple of friends and look at each other objectively.”

Among Lynch’s spot-on tips are:

  1. Waistlines. And belts. When choosing the width, keep scale in mind. Many times we think of wearing belts with pants, but forget about them when it comes to skirts. A great belt can perk up even the most conservative skirt. Even when you’re not wearing a belt, remember to always choose clothing that shows off your waistline.
  2. Neck. In the winter, show off the neck with turtlenecks in sumptuous fabrics. In warmer weather, look radiant in strapless styles with a short jacket for the office if need be. Try long, dangling earrings especially if you have short hair or can sweep your hair up off of your neck. Signature earrings of whatever kind you feel most confident in can make you feel pulled together in fact.
  3. Skin. If you love your beautiful, luminescent skin, commit to finding shades that are close to your skin tone. Consider soft colors like your blush or bronzer to warm up your daytime look. Lynch recommends that instead of reaching for a white or ivory blouse to wear under a suit, try a skin tone or blush tone for approachable authority.

Lynch is the owner of Elements of Image, an impressive image consulting group specializing in “taking the stress out of getting dressed." Elements of Image shows women how they can be more successful when they match how they look on the outside with who they are on the inside.

Lynch talks to the benefits of focusing on your clothing and accessories in her 2013 article, “Does Your Image Reflect the Fabulous Woman You Are?” She says,

“…the rewards that come from creating the kind of wardrobe and image that completely serve you are tremendous. I get a big kick out of the non-verbal messages that your image can send out about you, but truly, one of the biggest rewards you will 'see' is feeling absolutely great about yourself each and every day.”

Suppose that the way you dress can indeed be proven to sharpen your focus. In the April 2012 article titled, “Confidence Dressing: How Clothing Affects the Mind,” Katherine Bernard of Vogue Magazine reports,

“Science is one breakthrough closer to understanding the brain chemistry behind your intense interest in clothes, and as it turns out, your outfit may alter how you approach and interact with the world. In preliminary findings from a study published on the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology’s website, subjects who donned white coats that they thought belonged to doctors performed better on tests than those who wore street clothes, or those who thought the coats were associated with artists. Their heightened focus was evident only when subjects actually put on the coat in question (not merely when they were in the same room).

Lynch continues with helpful advice in writing about image reflecting who you are, “Sure, I know you’re busy, but here are a few things to reflect on to get you headed into the right direction. Personally, I think tucking this list of questions into your handbag (or iPhone) and taking a break over an iced mocha is the perfect way to get a little ‘me time’ during the dog days of summer.”

The list from Elements of Image’s Dana Lynch to size up your wardrobe

  1. If your wardrobe could be any way you want, what would it be like?
  2. How would you like to feel and be perceived in this ideal wardrobe? What do you want people to know about you?
  3. What would be the impact on your life of having this ideal wardrobe and image?
  4. Now…what is your wardrobe like? How well is it reflecting who you really are?
  5. How do you think people perceive you with your current look?
  6. What is stopping you from matching up your outer image with your inner self?
  7. How would you feel or how would it impact you if you never made any changes to your current wardrobe or image?

One can’t remark on this notion of women's fashion and professional stature without pointing out not only Hillary Clinton’s signature pant suits, but the use of memorable brooches of fellow former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. According to Smithsonian Magazine’s Megan Gambino in June 2010,” Throughout her diplomatic career, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright used pins to express her moods and opinions.”

When asked when she first began to use jewelry as a diplomatic accessory, Albright told Gambino,

“It all began when I was at the United Nations. It was right after the Gulf War and the United States was pressing for resolutions sanctioning Iraq. During that time I had something dreadful to say about Saddam Hussein on a daily basis, which he deserved because he had invaded Kuwait. The government-controlled Iraqi media then compared me to an “unparalleled serpent.” I happened to have a snake pin, and wore it to my next meeting on Iraq. When the press asked me about it, I thought, ‘Well, this is fun.’ I was the only woman on the Security Council, and I decided to get some more costume jewelry. On good days, I wore flowers and butterflies and balloons, and on bad days, all kinds of bugs and carnivorous animals. I saw it as an additional way of expressing what I was saying, a visual way to deliver a message.”

This is a good way to look at your interest in fashion. Dressing in a way that pleases you may indeed alter the way you approach the day.

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