At first glance, fashion for business women may seem pretty straightforward and structured, but the truth is that working environments are as diverse as the individual businesses and the people in them. While you need to appeal to your company’s protocol, there is always wiggle room in there to add your personality. The trick is standing out in a way that makes everyone happy.
Take for instance the two female ‘sharks’ on the incredibly popular television show Shark Tank. Lori Greiner and Barbara Corcoran, while both multi-millionaires and entrepreneurs who help make so many Americans’ dreams become a reality, are true individuals both in their business focus and in their fashion sense. Dubbed the ‘Queen of QVC’ thanks to her patents and long-term relationship with the network, Lori’s fashion is as direct and outspoken as the men on the show. Barbara, the Real Estate and Startup Queen herself, makes her fashion statement in a similar but different way that we will explore below.
Where are their similarities and their differences and what can you extract for yourself from how they present themselves visually?
Here are four simple but impactful tips that you can use in your daily life to be your best shark in your own waters. Oh, and in case you are blanching at the idea of being labeled a shark, take a look at a recent study described in this article, “From Shy to Social, Each Shark Has Its Own Personality,” Instead of the bloodthirsty reputation they have (which is so not true), you can instead think of them as sensitive, smart, free-thinkers – in which case, who wouldn’t want to be like a shark!
1. Solid Colors Keep the Focus on You
If you watch Lori and Barbara on Shark Tank you will notice that they are generally dressed in solid colors with simple lines. There is a reason for this. It allows all of the focus to be on them, not their clothes. The colors flatter but don’t overpower them and, when you look at them, you are not distracted by any fussy design features.
Obviously, the most important thing when choosing a solid color is to be sure it is flattering. This is something I talk about all the time because it is so incredibly powerful. Color has the potential to make you look vibrant, powerful and dynamic or serene, graceful and dreamy, as well as everything in between. Or, it can make you look sallow, slightly sickly or completely overpower you so no one sees you because they are blinded by the color. The color does not necessarily have to be fluorescent for it to be overpowering. It is relative and has to do with your coloring vs. the color you are wearing and takes into consideration your personality as well. Too much color on someone with delicate natural coloring or a very gentle personality and she will get lost in too much brightness or darkness.
Here is Jan in colors that are too bright for her (left). When the colors are tweaked we see her rather than the top she’s wearing (right).
And the opposite can be true. Here is Jackie in a color that makes her disappear (left), but when she wears a brighter color she sparkles (right).
Both women on Shark Tank have a vibrancy to their skin and hair and there is no denying that their personalities are strong. So, when you see them in vibrant blues, pinks or reds (or even black), it does not take you by surprise (in fact, it gives you a clue as to who they are) nor does it overpower them.
Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to have every color of the rainbow in your closet. Far from it. You will benefit most from wearing those colors or range of colors that flatter you. If you were to look in my closet most of what you would see would be green, teal, orange and blue. I never wear pink or red and only have one thing in purple (and it’s bordering on a blue purple) and I have one thing in yellow. I’m not going to buy gray or orchid, for example, simply because it is popular. I only wear colors that look great on me and that has never led me astray.
If you aren’t sure what colors look good on you, you can always check out my recent article that shares 4 colors that look good on everyone.
Please also remember that wearing solid colors is not a hard and fast fashion rule so if wearing a print makes you happy and you are doing it in colors that make you shine and in a combination that allows the focus to go to your face, go for it! Adding texture to a solid color or choosing interesting design features like Lori Greiner (who loves interesting necklines) does is another way to add variety and interest.
For now, however, we are talking about the impact of keeping it simple and wearing solid color is one way to do that. But, it’s not the only factor to consider as you will see in the next tip.
2. Fit Alert
Now that you have the color(s) you are going to wear, what is the next step? Perfect fit. I know you’re groaning because it means finding a tailor and actually taking the clothes there, but the benefits are well worth it.
Color and good fit go hand in hand. To create a complete look you cannot have one without the other. The eye is drawn to something that is out of place and when your jacket gaps at the waist or is too big in the shoulders, it will be distracting. You do not want to have to compete with your clothes for someone’s attention.
Take a look at Barbara and Lori in any of their outfits. You never seem them wearing something that needs a tuck here or a sleeve shortened there. Never. And, it is pretty much guaranteed that they do not expect a purchase off the rack to fit them perfectly as is. If you wait for that to happen you not only limit your options significantly, but you will spend far more time looking for that elusive perfectly-fitting item than finding one that is nearly perfect and adding the finishing touches at a tailor.
Unlike wearing solid colors, good fit IS a hard and fast fashion rule. If you aren’t going to have something tailored, don’t buy it.
3. You Do Not Have to be Loud to Stand Out
You might be thinking, “But, I’m a quiet person and I don’t want or need to be center stage.” Maybe Barbara and Lori’s styles are too intense, overpowering or structured for you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have the same effect by adapting these concepts to fit who you are. Standing out is about being true to who you are and reflecting that in the choices you make.
Take Christiane Northrup, for example.
Christiane Northrup is a leading authority on women’s health and wellness and the author of the new book ‘Goddesses Never Age.’ She has made a powerful impact on the health of many women and is regularly seen on PBS. You can’t help but notice that she is obviously comfortable on television and clearly stands in her own power. In contrast (but no less impactful) to Lori and Barbara’s images, Christiane tends to wear soft solid colors in flowy fabrics that reflect her inner and outer beauty. And, her clothes always fit her beautifully.
4. When in Doubt, Make Statement Jewelry the Star
Jewelry can change an outfit in a heartbeat. Something that looked boring can sparkle with the right necklace. An outfit that felt too casual can be dressed up with perfectly chosen earrings and a bracelet. If you wear the same jacket more than once a week, change the jewelry and the jacket will take on a new personality as well. It’s like magic.
Lori Greiner, in particular, is not known as the ‘Queen of QVC’ for nothing. Whether it’s a simple but chunky necklace, a long looped chain or sparkly earrings, Lori Greiner has been well known both for her jewelry cases (I own one as do many of my clients) and jewelry choices. She sports a variety of necklaces and earrings on the show and each one makes its own statement.
Barbara Corcoran’s jewelry, on the other hand, often feels more classic and you will regularly see her in some variation of pearls. Not surprisingly, Christiane Northrup’s jewelry often has a delicacy and airiness to it that looks graceful and charming. Each woman purposefully reflects her own personality in the jewelry choices she makes.
I have put together a number of outfits including jewelry ideas based on what we have discussed here. You can find all of them here.
Here is one example:
This blue dress (which also comes in a gorgeous mint green color as well as navy blue) is a magic dress. While it looks like nothing off (every single client who has ended up getting this dress never would have given it a second look seeing it on the hanger), it fits beautifully. Whether you have curves or not, doesn’t seem to matter to this dress. It’s flattering on many body types.
Here is one example of how you can accessorize it:
Or, for something more delicate, this necklace would look lovely:
And another option would be to wear these pretty reflective earrings and bracelet:
See other outfit ideas with suggestions for jewelry here.
To show you a real life example of how jewelry can make a difference, here is Amanda in the same outfit with and without jewelry:
Learning to accessorize in a way that compliments the outfit and your personality is well worth it. This knowledge will not only allow you to expand your wardrobe by being able to wear one outfit many ways, but it also makes getting dressed more fun! As Barbara Corcoran shares, “If you want to be noticed, dress the part. My red suit became my trademark and everyone noticed me when I had it on.” She writes more about this in her book, Shark Tales.
When it comes to personal style, you can run, but you can’t hide. If you think you aren’t being noticed, guess again. This is about standing in your own personal power. It doesn’t have to be loud and you don’t have to be the center of attention every second, but it does need to feel authentic. No matter how hard you try, you are not invisible. You can stand out because you are dressing in a way that expresses who you are or you can be noticed because you aren’t. Which makes you feel better?
Take a cue from the women of Shark Tank and stand in your own power as expressed authentically by you!
Please note: All garments pictured here (and in the catalogue) are vegan-friendly (made from fabrics that did not harm any animals).
Some of the affiliate links may generate commissions for Total Image Consultants which helps support the time spent creating these very specific recommendations.