Real estate, diamonds and gold coins were once considered good investments. Today however, one of the most important business investments one can make is a professional wardrobe. Anne Yendrek, public relations manager for Neiman Marcus in Las Vegas calls it investment dressing. “Smart business professionals will spend a great deal of money on classic suits in timeless cuts and styles and update their wardrobes with seasonal trends.” Said Yendrick, “If you are a savvy shopper, it doesn’t take that much money to have a wonderful wardrobe. You can wear a favorite Armani suit for years and simply update it by adding accessories.”
“Today’s executive needs to make an individual statement with a business-like look,” said Christy Moeller. “It’s important to show creativity and imagination, and the well-dressed executive knows how to turn a non-descript outfit into an incredible look.” Moeller is a professional wardrobe stylist and costume designer who styles national print and television advertising campaigns, and works with high-profile fashion photographers.
For men, making a fashion statement can be as simple as combining a basic business suit with something fashionable, such as Prada shoes. For women, it may be adding that special Kate Spade handbag that can make or break the look. “Whatever you do, it’s integral for women to show fashion and class – no office tramps allowed. Remember, you’re not going to a cocktail bar, you are going to work,” advised Moeller.
Yendrek agrees, “Women should dress with intelligence, wisdom and knowledge. Their clothes must say, ‘Wow, she’s got it together.’”
The hot trend for women this season is the peasant blouse. “By itself, the peasant blouse may not be appropriate, but under a tailored suit it can be worn in the workplace or at social functions,” suggested Yendrek. Suiting, she recommends, can also be accomplished by pairing an A-line sleeveless dress with a simple cardigan. The peasant blouse is part of the hippy chic look that dominated the runways in the Spring 2002 collection. “Trousers with flaired legs or bell bottoms and suede bags with fringe are also back,” said Yendrek. Bright colors, stripes and florals, especially on blouses, dresses and skirts, are in style, as well.
“Fashion covers a wide spectrum,” explained Yendrek. “However, most people will dress in what they feel most comfortable wearing. In today’s business atmosphere, most women prefer to have a structured look.” To accomplish this, Yendrek suggests buying simple accessories such as a small handbag that holds only a wallet, cell phone and a powder compact. Popular shoe styles this season include slides, low heeled pumps or sling backs. “Many were beginning to consider women’s fashions as over the edge,” said Yendrek. Instead of far-out looks, designers such as Chanel, Armani and Ralph Lauren are now offering lines that define low-key, structured elegance.
If fashion seems conflicting for women, it can really be confusing for men. To demystify the shopping process, The Men’s Store in Neiman Marcus at the Fashion Show Mall offers a “Personal Shopper” service. “Men, especially corporate executives, are extremely busy and their time is limited,” noted Phillip Hernandez, who has built a solid reputation for his fashion savvy at The Men’s Store in Neiman Marcus. Hernandez’s clients appreciate his experience in working with a wide range of corporate men’s fashions. His clientele includes CEO’s, doctors, lawyers, private business owners and people in state government.
The personal shopper service begins with a personal interview, perhaps over coffee in the client’s home or office, where Hernandez develops an idea about the colors and styles that will work best for the client. He takes into consideration: height, weight, hair, skin tone and eye color. “It all comes into play when deciding what’s best for my clients to wear,” he explained. “We also discuss rack items or custom-made clothing. If they choose custom-made, then I bring in a tailor to take measurements and make fabric selections. Many of my clients are in a position where it would be embarrassing if they walked into a board meeting, luncheon or executive meeting and someone else was wearing the same thing. Custom-made clothes limit any duplication.”
He advises men on the latest fashions, but most importantly, what complements their personal style. “Too often executives make clothing decisions quickly, and often regret their choices as they purchase things that are not appropriate for them. We all have different ideas about what we look like. My clients appreciate the fact that I can be objective and extremely honest with them. All too often, people are influenced by fashion magazines or an inexperienced salesperson. Don’t fall prey to this – be careful in your decisions, as it will affect how you are perceived in the realm of business.”
According to Hernandez, there is a definite revival in the dressier look. “The dot-com casual look is no longer acceptable, as executives now moving into the mainstream of business need to dress better. Elegance and style by designers such as Prada, Dolce & Gabana and Armani represent the modernist trend.”