As a one-woman business owner and entrepreneur, I’m very aware of the challenges that we women sometimes face when trying to close the gap between being approachable (feminine, authentic, soft, compassionate) and authoritative (strong, powerful, no-nonsense).
This conversation often comes up with my styling clients, because we focus a lot of time on image perception and managing the way we all come across through various style & wardrobe elements. In my one-on-one styling sessions, I focus on teaching my clients how to understand and manipulate style elements to create a unique personal image and wardrobe - that’s equal parts powerful and authentic.
Over the years, I’ve come up with a growing list of styling tricks to have at your disposal that help “turn up the power” in your look when you need it - especially on those days when you have a big event/interview/presentation.
This list is especially handy if you naturally come across as someone who is very open and approachable but crave to be taken more seriously and want to dress in way that’s more polished and authoritative.
Check out 5 of my favorite tips below:
Swap out curved necklines for straight in your tops and blazers.
One of the style ingredients at our disposal is the element of line. Lines appear in our faces and bodies naturally (eye line, eyebrow line, face shape line, hip line, waist line, etc.). Straight/strong/vertical lines come across as more authoritative and they can significantly increase the power quotient of your outfit.
In one example, wearing a blouse with a slight v-neckline and pairing it with a blazer with angular lapels will accentuate the angles of your facial features and send the message of confidence.
Choose dark, contrasting colors over light and muted ones.
Color is another style element that affects the way we’re perceived by others. Dark and contrasting colors add authoritativeness to your look as they read as stronger and more pulled-together (and more masculine). If you have very fair features with little to no contrast, then the true black (jet black) might feel too harsh, so go for a grayish black or dark brown.
Wearing your hair pulled back or straight.
Straight hair sends the message of authority (and hair is one of the easiest details to change up in your look). Pulling your hair back or up (in a tall bun or ponytail) can add a touch of polish and will also expose any angularity your face might have, like a strong jaw or nose. Curls and waves, while girly and fun, can read too approachable – so saving those for your every-day look and going for more height/straightness will add the needed confidence boost on your “power days”. If your hair is naturally very curly and straightening it is not easy, pulling it back into a bun will do the trick.
Heels versus flats.
We all know that flats are comfortable, but It’s amazing how much a few inches can help you in the confidence department. Heels make you walk differently – balancing your body straighter and taller, pulling all the outfit elements together. Additionally, heels physically give you more height, so especially if you’re on the petite side, this gives you more authority through the power of strong/vertical line.
Column of Color Effect:
Dina Scherer with a client by Rachel Doughty
This is one of the biggest secrets in the stylist tool box. The idea of a “column of color” is that you create an outfit of similar shades/tones from head to toe with no obvious harsh color break (like the point where your red top and green pants meet, for example). Wearing all black is one example, but you can also achieve this by combining similar shades of any one color in one outfit. This effect elongates your figure while simultaneously adding height because it keeps the eye moving up and down, not having it stop on any color break. It can also eliminate many proportion challenges (like ending a hemline in a place where it cuts you in an unflattering way), and makes your look pulled-together and professional.
Hope you have fun playing around with these style suggestions, incorporating them into your look and feeling your outfit power turning up!
To see more of my styling tips & fashion inspirations, follow me on Instagram.
"Steal the mesh underwear you get from the hospital," a friend said upon learning I was pregnant with my first daughter.
It was the single best piece of advice I received before giving birth in December 2013. My best friend delivered her daughter eight months previously, and she was the first to pass along this shared code among new moms: you'll need mesh underwear for your at-home postpartum recovery, and you can't find them anywhere for purchase. End result: steal them. And tell your friends.
My delivery and subsequent recovery were not easy. To my unexpected surprise, after almost 24 hours of labor, I had an emergency C-section. Thankfully, my daughter was healthy; however, my recovery was quite a journey. The shock to my system caused my bloated and swollen body to need weeks of recovery time. Luckily, I had trusted my friend and followed her instructions: I had stolen some mesh underwear from the hospital to bring home with me.
Unfortunately, I needed those disposable underwear for much longer than I anticipated and quickly ran out. As I still wasn't quite mobile, my mother went to the store to find more underwear for me. Unfortunately, she couldn't find them anywhere and ended up buying me oversized granny panties. Sure, they were big enough, but I had to cut the waistband for comfort.
I eventually recovered from my C-section, survived those first few sleepless months, and returned to work. At the time, I was working for a Fortune 100 company and happily contributing to the corporate world. But becoming a new mom brought with it an internal struggle and search for something “more" out of my life--a desire to have a bigger impact. A flashback to my friend's golden piece of advice got me thinking: Why aren't mesh underwear readily available for women in recovery? What if I could make the magical mesh underwear available to new moms everywhere? Did I know much about designing, selling, or marketing clothing? Not really. But I also didn't know much about motherhood when I started that journey, either, and that seemed to be working out well. And so, Brief Transitions was born.
My quest began. With my manufacturing and engineering background I naively thought, It's one product. How hard could it be? While it may not have been “hard," it definitely took a lot of work. I slowly started to do some research on the possibilities. What would it take to start a company and bring these underwear to market? How are they made and what type of manufacturer do I need? With each step forward I learned a little more--I spoke with suppliers, researched materials, and experimented with packaging. I started to really believe that I was meant to bring these underwear to other moms in need.
Then I realized that I needed to learn more about the online business and ecommerce world as well. Google was my new best friend. On my one hour commute (each way), I listened to a lot of podcasts to learn about topics I wasn't familiar with--how to setup a website, social media platforms, email marketing, etc. I worked in the evenings and inbetween business trips to plan what I called Execution Phase. In 2016, I had a website with a Shopify cart up and running. I also delivered my second daughter via C-section (and handily also supplied myself with all the mesh underwear I needed).
They say, “If you build it, they will come." But I've learned that the saying should really go more like this: “If you build it, and tell everyone about it, they might come." I had a 3-month-old, an almost 3 year old and my business was up and running. I had an occasional sale; however, my processes were extremely manual and having a day job while trying to ship product out proved to be challenging. I was manually processing and filling orders and then going to the post office on Saturday mornings to ship to customers. I eventually decided to go where the moms shop...hello, Amazon Prime! I started to research what I needed to do to list products with Amazon and the benefits of Amazon fulfillment (hint: they take care of it for you).
Fast forward to 2018...
While I started to build this side business and saw a potential for it to grow way beyond my expectations, my corporate job became more demanding with respect to travel and time away from home. I was on the road 70% of the time during first quarter 2018. My normally “go with the flow" 4-year-old started to cry every time I left for a trip and asked why I wasn't home for bedtime. That was a low point for me and even though bedtime with young kids has its own challenges, I realized I didn't want to miss out on this time in their lives. My desire for more scheduling flexibility and less corporate travel time pushed me to work the nights and weekends needed to build and scale my side hustle to a full-time business. If anyone tries to tell you it's “easy" to build “passive" income, don't believe them. Starting and building a business takes a lot of grit, hustle and hard work. After months of agonizing, changing my mind, and wondering if I should really leave my job (and a steady paycheck!), I ultimately left my corporate job in April 2018 to pursue Brief Transitions full-time.
In building Brief Transitions, I reached out to like-minded women to see if they were experiencing similar challenges to my own--balancing creating and building a business while raising children--and I realized that many women are on the quest for flexible, meaningful work. I realized that we can advance the movement of female entrepreneurs by leveraging community to inspire, empower, and connect these trailblazers. For that reason, I recently launched a new project, The Transitions Collective, a platform for connecting community-driven women entrepreneurs.
As is the case with many entrepreneurs, I find myself working on multiple projects at a time. I am now working on a members-only community for The Transitions Collective that will provide access to experts and resources for women who want to leave corporate and work in their business full-time. Connecting and supporting women in this movement makes us a force in the future of work. At the same time, I had my most profitable sales quarter to date and best of all, I am able to drop my daughter off at school in the morning.
Mesh underwear started me on a journey much bigger than I ever imagined. They sparked an idea, ignited a passion, and drove me to find fulfillment in a different type of work. That stolen underwear was just the beginning.