Sunday, November 13, 2011

We've Moved!

Hello! As of November 14, 2011, we've moved! Please visit us at out new home at

Thursday, September 8, 2011

5 Tips For Looking Good On Camera

More and more people are using photos and videos to promote their business. These visuals can make or break you. Viewers make assumptions about how well you do what you do and what it’s like to work with you. Good pictures promote your business by building trust, demonstrating professionalism and making potential customers feel comfortable enough to contact you. At best, bad pictures make you look like an amateur, at worst, they create distrust that chases away potential customers faster than you can say cheese!

It‘s hard to look good on camera. It’s much easier to create bad visuals than good ones. How do you look good? Here are some suggestions for creating videos and photos that support you.

1. Look like what you do:
The photo/video of you is a representation of how well you do your job. If you are a financial planner, look like you are successful with money. If you build things, look like you can get your hands dirty. If you are an interior designer, design the photo and the background.

2. Look like who you are:
If you are serious, look serious. If you are fun, look fun. If you are smart, look smart. Viewers want to know what it’s like to work and be with you and will expect you to be like you are in your picture.

3. Look like you:
Be recognizable. Look like you do in real life. If you are 50, it’s okay to do some touch-ups, but it’s not okay to take off 20 years and 50 pound! Your hair, makeup, clothing style, expressions and posing in the picture should resemble what you look like in real life. This speaks to your honesty. If you hide what you really look like, viewers will wonder what else you are hiding.

4. Choose the background carefully:
Does your background reflect what you do and the way you do it? Does it flatter you? Do you stand out? If you choose an old-fashioned canvas backdrop or the fake autumn vista from your 5th grade school picture, viewers will assume you are old fashioned or imitation. The background is an extension of you.

5. Pay attention to the technical elements:
The technical elements of the picture make a difference too. They speak to whether or not you pay attention to details.

· Lighting: Avoid shadows on your face, body and background. Bad lighting and un-calibrated cameras will emphasize fine lines, under eye circles, distort your features, create distractions and shift colors.

· Makeup: Everyone needs makeup (even men). At a minimum everyone needs powder and lip balm. Women usually need full makeup, even if it’s applied in a very natural way. The makeup should counteract any shine and color-shifting caused by lighting, background colors, and photographic equipment.

A picture says a thousand words, so here are some examples of pictures that don't work so you can view them for yourself. There are also two videos on the same topic - one works and one doesn't.

Do you want these people to take care of your dog? The dogs and the people look miserable! Will they keep your dog in the hallway too?

Do you want her to help you sell your house? Do you think she'll do a good job advising you about how to stage your house to sell fast?
She's a realtor too. What's going on with her posture or hair? Can she be trusted to carefully review your purchase and sale agreement, seller's disclosure or closing documents? Will she be out late partying and show up to your closing late?

Do you want your fitness trainer to leer at you like this when you're wearing your workout clothes?
Where are this fitness trainer's hands? Is he going to touch you like this when you workout with him?
Can you find the stylist in this messy room? Is this the before or after picture?

The stylist teaches you how to wear red shoes. Is she or the model enjoying the experience? Do you want to work with her? Do you want to wear an outfit like the model?

Same questions

With some planning and attention to detail, you can avoid these pitfalls have pictures and video that support your business and yield the results you want.

If you liked this post, you might like these ones too

What does your picture say about you and your business?
What is Ines Sainz really asking for?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

You Might Be Speaking, But Do They Hear You? – Image Tips For Speakers

The content of a speech is more important than the image of the speaker. However, people hear what they see. If you’re a speaker, your audience won’t trust what you say unless your image supports your words.

In January 2011, an expert appeared on the news to give advice about how to have more sex in 2011. The topic was provocative and had the potential to generate lots of exposure for the expert and high ratings for the show. But the expert was unkempt and didn’t have any sex appeal. His image completely undermined his credibility on the topic. The audience didn’t believe him and changed the channel. The expert’s image got in the way – of the expert’s success, of the show’s success and of the viewers’ potential for getting more sex!

There are 4 elements for speakers to consider as they create their image for a live presentation, video blog, or tv appearance: message, environment, stance and equipment:


As a speaker, your topic and your look must support each other, if you want your audience to believe what you say. If your topic is interior design, you should look should be designed and coordinated like the rooms you create. If you speak about the interaction of Baby Boomers and Gen Y in the workplace, your image should reflect Boomers, Gen Y and business. If your topic is provocative, your outfit should be too (i.e. not revealing, but cutting edge or unexpected in someway).

Speaking Environment/Stage

You literally want to be "easy on the eye," so it is easy for the audience to see and look at you. Consider the décor and lighting of the stage, so your outfit works in the environment. Your outfit should contrast with the décor so the audience can see you clearly. If you wear a beige outfit in a beige room or a dark outfit in a dark room, you’ll blend in with the background and appear to be a “floating head” without a body. If the room is busy with lots of patterns and colors, keep your outfit simple and monochromatic so it is easy to see you amongst the chaos. If the lighting is bright, make sure your buttons, pins or jewelry have a matte finish so they don’t reflect blinding lights into your audience’s eyes.


Consider the positions you will be in during your presentation and Q&A session. Clothes fit differently depending on your stance, pose and position. Make sure your outfit looks good when you are standing AND sitting and in any other position you will be in during your speech. Are fabrics around buttons, waist bands and seams pulling, straining and gaping? Will necklines or hems reveal too much skin in you lean forward or sit down? You want your audience thinking about what you are saying, not about the weird wrinkle in your jacket or the skin popping out of your neckline.


Amplification equipment can wreak havoc – turning a great outfit into a hot mess. After you create you outfit, ask these questions. Is there room for a lapel microphone, wires or battery pack? Do you have a place to attach the equipment (lapel, collar, waist band/belt, bra band, thigh holster)? Are fabrics sturdy enough to support their weight? Will jewelry or clothing details rub against the mic and muffle or interrupt your voice?

That red or navy suit that everyone tells you to wear to speak at a conference, business meeting, or TV appearance probably won't work. When you create an outfit that is in alignment with who you are and what you say, you allow your audience to connect with you, trust you and ultimately to be transformed by your words.

p.s. If you're going on TV, here are some other things you should know about image.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Forget Dress For Success, Dress For Yourself

Everywhere you look, in magazines, newspapers, on TV, at family gatherings, work and networking events, someone is telling you what to wear. Written and unwritten dress codes; fashion trends of the season, geographical region and generation, the advice goes on and on.

No one tells you the most important rule - you have to dress for yourself before you can dress for others. What happens when you feel uncomfortable, unattractive or inauthentic in your outfit? You hide out, your clothes pull attention so you aren’t fully present at work or with loved ones, or you don’t speak up when you can or should. What does that cost you, your employer, and your family? How can you be the best you in that condition? You can’t.

Feeling great in your clothes and when you look in the mirror equips you to walk out into the world empowered and energized. That enables you to perform at your best and contribute to others. Here are the two steps that come before applying any Dress For Success guidelines.

1. Flatter Your Body – Only wear styles and silhouettes that make your body look good.

2. Figure Out Your Dressing Rules – This is your personal recipe for getting dressed. Every outfit must contain every ingredient no matter where you are going. And fyi, your rules won’t make sense to anyone else. Here are some real examples discovered for some clients:
Pile on the necklaces, forget Coco Channel and put on another one.
Cleavage is always covered, all of it, every hint, shadow or suggestion.
Every piece has an interesting detail, skip anything plain.
Mash it up - mix styles, colors, textures, etc.
It’s gotta move – one element has to move around (i.e. hair, fringe, charm bracelet, flowing skirt)

3. Apply External Rules - Then and only then, apply dress codes or fashion rules in a way that works for you. All the articles and tv segments provide general information. It’s up to you to pick through that advice and choose the aspects that apply to you.

Once you do steps 1 and 2, dressing and shopping get easier. Paying attention to the image advice of the day can be very useful. Just remember to put on your own fashion oxygen mask first.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nothing To Wear On New Years Eve?

Believe it or not, there's probably a fabulous New Year's Eve outfit hiding in your wardrobe. Here are step-by-step instructions for last minute party shopping in your closet.

Step 1 – Start with a simple outfit
Step 2 – Create statement accessories from your jewelry box
Step 3 – Add the party spirit
Step 4 – Wear it all together, spin in front of your mirror and…VOILA! Drab is transformed into dazzling!

Step 1 – Start With A Simple Canvas
A simple outfit will be the frame for the sizzle you create in steps 2 and 3. Create a simple outfit. It can be colorful, neutral, or embellished with some details. It doesn’t matter, just choose pieces that are in good condition and fit well. Here are three options, go with one of them or create something else that is easy and comfortable.

Sheath dress you usually wear for work (or your go-to little black dress)

Print blouse and your favorite jeans
Cardigan sweater/blazer/suit jacket, t-shirt and dress pants

Step 2 – Make A Statement
Accessories will turn your plain clothes into a fun outfit. The jewelry this season is big and bold. If you have a big-honking necklace that fits the trend, wear it with your outfit. If not, create one using one of these ideas.

Hang a big holiday ornament on a neck wire. A neck wire is a chocker necklace shaped from a thick wire or metal strip with a hook on it for hanging a pendant. Use glass ornaments, swarovski crystals, inexpensive glitter snow flakes or anything special or fun. (thanks Fran Cothran for this idea!)
Hang several holiday ornaments on separate ribbons and tie them at different lengths around your neck.
Mix and layer loads of necklaces of different lengths. One or two strings of pearls look too dainty and old-fashioned. But wear 5 to 10 pearl necklaces of different lengths, sizes of pearls or even colors of pearls and you’ll look modern and chic. The key here is to layer necklaces made of similar materials or colors i.e all natural stone beads, or all similar metals, or rhinestones or glass. Here are some pictures to give you some ideas.

Step 3 –Party It Up
Accents of sparkle or shine will to turn your plain clothes into party attire. Add a few accessories with satin, metallic, sequin, beading, or crystal details.
Add one more big piece of jewelry like a cocktail ring or stack of bracelets. You can pile on bracelets or watches using the layered necklace strategy in step 2. Or buy an inexpensive cocktail. You’ll find some at Claire’s or Topkapi at the local mall for about $5.
Party shoes can be boots, heels or flats. Attach clip on earrings to plain shoes to dress them up.
Keep your handbag small, an evening bag or clutch works great.

If you want arm coverage with the sheath dress, add a sweater with sparkly trim, or long satin evening gloves or Secret Sleeves (a long-sleeve shrug/scarf).

Step 4 – Step Out The Door
Put it all together and walk out the door! You’ll look fantastic! I’d love to hear about the outfits you created! Would you post a description or a picture of your outfit in the comment section? Happy New Year!

Two clients were the Muses for this post. Thanks Ladies for the inspiration!

Note, I thought Secret Sleeves were so cool, I became an affiliate.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Tale Of Two Images

With more people working from home and business casual becoming the dominant dress code in corporate America, there’s a tendency to dress more and more casually for business meetings and interactions. Does what you wear really make a difference? Aren’t results really based on your capabilities and performance in business?

Recently, I got to be a “guinea pig” and experience the power of image first-hand. Through some fluky circumstances during an audit of a tax return, my information was reviewed twice by the auditors and I had the opportunity to be represented by two separate CPAs. Both CPAs had the same documentation to work with, responded to the same audit requests and each conducted separate meetings with the auditors. Both CPAs had years of experience and a track record of resolving audit issues. One CPA’s negotiations resulted in disaster and the other’s in amazing success.

What was the difference? My image at the CPA meetings. Here’s a summary of what happened…

CPA #1

CPA #2

Outfit For CPA Meetings

Casual and fashionable. Jeans, fashion t-shirt, cardigan, funky jewelry, sandals, very little make-up

Professional and fashionable. Tailored dress, platform heels, formal makeup, fresh manicure and pedicure. (The image represented my business)

How The Clothes Felt

Comfortable. I dressed down because I had lots of materials to carry and we were friendly and knew each other for several years through networking. And besides, there’s no need to dress when you’re the client, right?

Empowered and professional.

What Happened

CPA communicated with me in a casual way, saw my business as more of a hobby than as a “real” business (even though we’ve been networking together for years), prepared for 1 hour for the audit meeting, represented me from a position of weakness, and failed to support the expenses.

CPA communicated with me in a professional way, saw my business as a growing small business, prepared for hours for the audit meeting, represented me from a position of strength, and demonstrated the validity of expenses to the auditor.

The Results

Disaster. The inquiry turned into an endless inquisition.

Success. The inquiry was resolved in one meeting to the satisfaction of all parties.

What’s the moral of the story? Whether you like it or not, what you wear does matter. The world does judge your professionalism, capabilities, talents, success, and honesty based on your image. The ramifications of those judgments trickle down through every aspect of your business and affect all your communication. The results you get really are influenced by your image.

For image to really work and support you, it must be authentic, be practical for your life, flatter your body, make you feel empowered, AND represent what you do. When you have an image that does all that for you, then your expertise, experience and talents shine through.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Green Is The New Black!

A new crop of natural fabrics are hitting the fashion scene. Some materials are new to the fashion world, such as soy, bamboo and hemp. Others have been around for years, but you may not have known they were natural, like ramie, rayon and modal. While others have been used throughout human history such as, cotton, wool, linen and leather.

These fibers are breathable, comfortable and feel beautiful on your skin. Many of the plant-based fibers even have natural sunscreen, anti-bacterial and anti-static properties. Here is a snap shot of these natural fabrics the their green (and not so green) aspects.


Soy fabric is made from proteins that are extracted from oil pressings and tofu whey. Soy is called “vegetarian cashmere” because it is soft, warm and tends to fuzz. It breathes even better than cotton. Soy works well for sweaters, underwear and socks. Soy fabric cannot withstand high heat.

Soy plants are grown without pesticides and the production of soy fibers turns a material that would otherwise be waste into a useable resource.


Bamboo cloth is made from fine, fibrous material inside bamboo stalks. Bamboo fabric is soft, absorbs perspiration, dries quickly and contains a natural antibacterial agent that fights odor and resists mold and mildew. Bamboo fabric works well for intimate garments that need to breath, like work-out wear, underwear, socks, t-shirts, pajamas, bath robes, towels and bed linens. Note, bamboo shrinks on the first washing and has a tendency to pill.

Bamboo is the world’s fastest growing plant with a quick cultivation cycle and it’s fabric is biodegradable, recyclable, renewable. Note, bamboo viscose fabric is not the same as bamboo fabric. Bamboo viscose is made from bamboo pulp and uses chemical-intensive processing methods.

Hemp, Linen and Ramie

Linen (flax), hemp (the marijuana plant) and ramie (a member of the nettle family) are made from plant stalks. Fabrics made from these fibers are smooth, lint-free and wrinkle easily. They “breathe,” so they are cool in warm weather and warm in cool weather. These fabrics work well for general apparel (jeans, dresses, jackets), accessories (handbags, hats, belts, scarves) and shoes.

Hemp is naturally insect resistant, so it grows without any insecticides or herbicides. Flax is weaker than most weeds and needs herbicides for conventional cultivation. Organic flax is cultivated with sustainable farming practices and is more eco-friendly than conventional varieties. Conventional processing of flax and hemp plants generates lots of wastewater while organic varieties are processed while the stalks are still the fields using the natural dew.

Ramie is fast growing and can be harvested two to six times a year. Processing ramie fibers is chemical intensive.

Organic Cotton

Cotton fabric is made from the fibers that surround the cottonseed pod. Cotton is soft and comfortable when worn next to the skin and cooling to the body in hot weather. Unlike conventional cotton, organic cotton retains its natural wax, so most weaves drape beautifully and softly reflect and absorb light. Cotton works well for any clothing worn close to the body, such as underwear, sleepwear and general apparel (jeans, shirts, skirts, dresses, etc.)

Conventional cotton uses more chemical pesticides and fertilizers than any other crop. Organic cotton on the other hand, relies on sustainable farming practices to lessen impact to the ecosystem.


Wool is made by shearing the thick winter coats of animals such as sheep, goats, rabbits, alpacas and llamas. It is also recovered from the hides of animals used for food and leather. Wool is flame resistant, warm, breathable and absorb moisture without feeling damp. It work well for coats, sweaters, mittens, scarves and fine tailored garments, such as suit jackets, pants, skirts and dresses.

Wools can be a renewable resource in cases where the coats re-grow each year in animals that survive the harvest. Typically, wool fabrics are dry-cleaned using chemical solvents. Wool knits can be hand washed gently in cold water and laid flat to dry.


Silk fibers are collected by unraveling the cocoons made by silkworms. Silk is soft, delicate, lustrous, absorbs moisture and is comfortable in all seasons. Silk is very versatile and is great for evening wear, daywear and underwear.

In conventional silk production, the silkworm is killed before it emerges from the cocoon to preserve the single long fiber that is used to make the finest silk fabric. In the production of “peace” or “vegetarian” silk, the worm is allowed to emerge from the cocoon and continue it’s life cycle. This type of silk isn’t as strong because the silk fiber is cut when the worm creates a hole in the cocoon to hatch. Typically, silk fabrics are dry-cleaned using chemical solvents. However, they can be hand washed gently in cold water and laid flat to dry.

Rayon (Viscose, Modal and TencelTM)

Rayon is made from tree cellulose. It is lustrous and breathes well. Viscose rayon is silky and drapes well. Modal rayon is smooth, soft and absorbs 50-percent more moisture than cotton. Tencel rayon stretches, dries quickly and has a peached (suede-like) texture. Rayon fabrics wrinkle easily and shouldn’t be wrung or twisted. They works well for evening wear, business wear, lingerie and knits.

Rayons are made from trees. However, chemicals are used to process the tree cellulose and convert it to fibers. TencelTM is the more eco-friendly form of rayon. Trees are cultivated and harvested using sustainable forestry practices and the cellulose is processed in a closed-loop system reclaiming and reusing the chemical and wastewater components. Most rayon should be dry cleaned. Some Modal and TencelTM knits can be hand washed and air dried flat.


Leather is made from the skins of various animals and reptiles. It can be delicate and soft or stiff and durable. It works well for shoes, bags, gloves, and clothing such as coats, jackets, pants and skirts.

Conventional leather is made using chemicals such as heavy metals, acids and organic solvents to tan (remove hair and preserve) the skins. Eco-leather is made from hides tanned using vegetable products. Organic leather is made by vegetable tanning hides of animals that were raised organically. The animals do not survive, no matter what tanning process is used.

How Green Is Green?

The sustainability and impact puzzle is complex. There are lots of groups that will tell you what green "really" is. In truth, it’s up to you to decide how you want to define “green.” You can consider the source of the material – is the fabric made from chemicals, plants or animals. Or you can consider all or part of the life cycle: cultivation and harvest of the base material, fiber processing and dying, energy used for transportation to market, cleaning and care after the material is made into a garment, use-life and final disposal of the material.

There's no right or wrong, choose the fabrics you love and the green elements that resonate with you and let your idea of green evolve with your experiences. Happy Earth Day!

Thank you Kiana McFarland and Julie Urlaub for your help with the research for this post