As a former stylist, you tend to take notice of clothes, which is no surprise after years of habit and conditioning! So when it comes to making the right impression now, as a country lifestyle PR specialist, I find that I have to rein in my own personal style and dress ‘appropriately’ for the client or brand.
But what exactly is appropriate? Personally, I can’t really do the “tweed, twinset and pearls” look, as I end up looking like I’m in fancy dress… but of course, dressing like I’m about to go to a rave probably isn’t ideal either! If, like me, your wardrobe is a tad eclectic, then you will need to review your choice of outfit!
From my styling days, I know how important clothes are to get you on that magazine front cover or sell records, but making the right impression in person – especially in a pitch – is even more challenging. With fashion, you get a feel or at least can predict by the brand’s collections what the team will be wearing, but with the equestrian and country lifestyle sector, you are playing blind.
It’s well reported that you have only 7 seconds to make a first impression (good or bad) and whilst clothes aren’t the be all or end all, they do make up a large percentage of that decision making (indeed, apparently 93% is based on your appearance and your body language, leaving only 7% for the actual talking etc.)!
So with my stylist cap back on, and bearing in mind the mistakes I’ve seen and cringed at– what do I suggest?
First and foremost, buy clothing that fits. We might all dream of being a size 10 but if the reality is that you are two sizes bigger, then it’s better to be wearing something that is “figure skimming” rather than feeling that you are bursting out of the seams!
Shirts are a great option in country lifestyle PR – for guys or girls – but again it boils down the size game. For women in particular, I’d recommend opting for either a shirt that has a feminine cut or stretch. Also, make sure the buttons are positioned to enable you to wear it undone at the collar without revealing too much cleavage!
Make an effort. I have been to new business meetings to pitch and the lack of effort made can actually be quite shocking! Needless to say that the effort being made in all areas of the business is generally reflected in the same way! So, if you are coming in to a company to pitch, dress to impress and dress like it’s a business meeting, not like you are popping round to the corner shop!
Think smart casual – you don’t always have to reach for the suit or do the 90s power dressing thing, but if you do opt for jeans, make sure they are smart and made from dark denim, combined with quality footwear. Try and go for some colour as well, even if it’s just through a stripe in your shirt or scarf or handbag – it reflects an air of confidence in you (think about it; if you are feeling insecure about yourself, wouldn’t you just opt for black or dark colours so not as to draw attention to yourself?) Your pitch and client meeting is your chance to shine so add colour to project your confidence in you!
Finally, footwear is SO important. A person will naturally scan from your face down to your feet, so guys, please make sure you have matching socks and smart CLEAN footwear. For ladies, the most crucial thing is that you wear footwear that you can walk in! You never know, if the meeting goes well, you may be invited to view the entire corporation’s headquarters – or in my line of business, visit their production factory. Those killer 9 inch heels were fine from cab to board room but can they tackle anything more?!