How Female Advisors Should Dress to Win Clients
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The data on first impressions is overwhelming. There is no doubt that we are judged very rapidly by prospects (in as little as seven seconds) and that our clothes play a significant role in how others perceive us.
In this article, I discussed the impact clothes have on first impressions made by male advisors. I will now summarize the views of independent experts on the same subject relating to female advisors.
Many women would agree with this observation, attributed to Ida Liu, a director in the fashion retail group at Citibank’s private banking arm: “I want to be a trusted adviser to my clients. When they are looking at me I want them to see me as intelligent.” While this goal is easy to state, it is difficult to implement.
Women have many more clothing choices than men. It is daunting to select clothes that convey competence, intelligence and professionalism without sacrificing fashion and attractiveness.
I interviewed three prominent image consultants for this article. I asked each of them to describe an appropriate look for female investment advisors and to give me links to clothes that met their standard. Here’s what they told me.
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Ms. Ramsey is the president and founder of Manners That Sell, a business etiquette consulting firm based in Savannah, Georgia. She is the author of Manners that Sell – Adding the polish that builds profits and Lydia Ramsey’s Little Book of Table Manners.
Ramsey believes the right look for female investment advisors is “clear cut.”
She cautions advisors not to confuse fashion with professional dress. She believes women should wear stockings or panty hose and should confine their wardrobe to well-tailored, perfectly fitted, skirted suits available at high-end department stores like Neiman-Marcus, Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue. She provided this link.
Provocative clothes should be avoided. These include sleeveless outfits and clothes with plunging necklines.
Hair should be either short or, if long, pulled up for business wear. In her experience, very few women can go without make-up, which should be appropriately applied.
For those who may not have the resources to buy these clothes, Ramsey suggests exploring consignment shops, where women can find “gently used” clothing at vastly reduced prices.
Ms. Diaz is a New York City-based fashion consultant. She is the author of The Power of First Impressions and 7 Days to Style. Her image consulting firm is MDMode.
The look she recommends for women investment advisors is “conservative, polished, current and approachable.”
She prefers straight dresses, with cap, full or three-quarter sleeves. The dresses can best be worn with jackets. Colors depend on skin tone, but among her choices are plum, certain shades of red, blue, gray and navy. While black can be appropriate, she finds it’s often “too predictable.” Preferred designers are Akris, Max Mara and Michael Kors.
Here are links to a sampling of Akris clothes she believes are suitable:
Here is a link to a Max Mara outfit.
Shoes should be basic pumps with a 2" to 3" heels. Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik have good selections.
Here is a link to a suitable shoe from Manolo Blahnik.
Hair should be “well-styled and updated.” If you have long hair, she suggests pulling it back for business meetings.
Make-up should be natural. She is opposed to “no make-up.” If you aren’t confident in your make-up abilities, seek out a make-up artist or go to one of the cosmetic counters at high-end department stores. She prefers make-up from Bobbie Brown and Lancôme.
Here’s a link to Bobbie Brown cosmetics.
Doreen Dove is a Boston-based image consultant. She is the author of Confidence is Always in Style.
For the sophisticated investment advisor who needs to look approachable, polished, and well tailored, she recommends clothes from Lafayette 148 New York.