Posted by: Viviana M. Rueda Image | February 28, 2008

For Women: Self Expression and Success

The theme of “self expression” seems to be a recurring one in my life and given that this is what I’m dedicated to bringing out in my clients, well, it’s only natural that it’s a recurring theme.

This Blog is dedicated to encouraging women to tap into their self expression through their personal brand.  Since “personal brand” is such a broad topic, let’s narrow it down to fashion and femininity. 

This past week I was reading through fashion magazines (sucks to be me, I get to actually enjoy my work-related publications) and I noticed that in the “Editor’s Letter” section of the magazine, the editor wrote about the fact that Hilary Clinton declined to appear in the magazine for fear of appearing “too feminine”.  Funny, because I’m just guessing that the fact that she is female, has probably not escaped the world’s notice.  Yes, I’m being sarcastic because this is a theme that I truly feel strongly about. 

Have we not escaped the notion that a successful, intelligent, contemporary woman must look and act like a man in order to achieve respect and the ability to lead?  Apparently not and this is scary.  So, I invite you, women of the world, to take a stand.  What on earth is wrong with being feminine?  In case anyone has failed to notice, some of the world’s most powerful people were/are women and feminine at that.  I don’t need to rattle them off, surely you can think of more than a few and I know you can think of the ones who’ve by their own choice (or in their mind, lack of choice) slinked into the dark side and now appear more like men than women.  God bless the 80’s power suit, where you too could have a Max Headroom cartoon-block figure.   If you don’t remember Max…check him out here Max Headroom.

Look it, I’m not implying that there is a form of power dressing that should not be adhered to.  Also, there is a time and place for everything and this applies to fashion.   I’m a Personal Brand expert and not a novice to what it takes to climb the “power ladder” having spent 17 years doing just that in the corporate world.  However, there is POWER behind self expression and if you are a woman, please express yourself as one! 

Some Tips on how to do this:
1. No more baggy suits for you!  Yes, I’m the Suit-Nazi.  No, don’t wear a skintight suit like the model in Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher” (I seem to be stuck in the 80’s in this Blog….which should be giving you a hint –  that if you are still dressing like a man…please leave the 80’s).   If you can’t remember how the model was dressed – Think super tight pencil skirt, heels meant for a runway, and I’m not talking a couture fashion runway, and a very tight, button-down that was unbuttoned to just-barely-legal.  Tailored suits are what you should be wearing and yes, this means that you’ll probably need to see a tailor – Surprise, surprise.  The odds are really low that an off-the-rack suit will fit you like a glove…so make friends with your tailor.  Need a tailor?  Call me, email me…etc.  Just ask.
2. No more “I’m going to not wear makeup to the office” look because maybe the men won’t notice I’m a woman and they’ll take me seriously-No really, they’ll just notice my work.  Trust me, they’ve noticed and they are wondering why as an adult, professional and successful woman you don’t seem to know how to apply makeup.  Seriously, if you are working in a corporate environment this is MUST.  Make sure you look polished.  If you are concerned about what a “polished” makeup look is for the corporate world, please contact me and we’ll handle that in an expediant manner.   By the way, polished also doesn’t mean a makeup death mask….”let’s-go-clubbing” makeup should be relegated to the nightclub, not the office.
3. The same goes for hair ladies.  Not having a clean, sophisticated haircut not only makes you look sloppy, but outdated and dare I say…old.  For instance, if you are over 16 and you are still wearing your hair like Guinevere from King Arthur’s Court, PLEASE, PLEASE, stop that.  YOU ARE KILLING ME, and others.  Call me and we’ll do a hair intervention.  Hair color is equally important.  The shade of your hair can affect everything from making you look unkempt, older and unprofessional.  In some people’s cases, age-inappropriate hair extensions and color need to be considered, as in, don’t go there.  Unless you are an actress or model, reconsider the Paris Hilton-toned hair extensions – Even then, use careful judgment and if necessary an outside professional opinion.

So what do you do to be a powerfully self-expressed woman, in terms of fashion?
1. With a clear eye and open mind, make an assessment of your Personal Brand, both in your personal and business life.  Are you truly expressing yourself or are you hiding in a shell that you were told you needed to be in to achieve success?
2. Realize that a strong woman can and should still be a woman.  You can choose hair, makeup and fashion styles that will not only highlight you as a woman but will make the appropriate statement.  Again, people don’t necessarily give you more credit for dressing like a man or like a sack of potatoes…they just think you don’t know how to dress and that dressing like a man or sloppily is your default. 
3. After doing item number one (the self-assessment), and you find that there’s something or a lot that you are holding back in your self expression, then take the next step.  Find out why.  What got you to this place and how has it affected your life? What are you losing in your personal and professional relationships by not being self expressed?
4. After doing the above, which you can do on your own or with the guidance of an Image Consultant or Life Coach, then take steps to amend the situation and watch how the world will start to react to you.

I’ll finish with this – Being a powerful and self-expressed woman means that you have it in you to show the world that your capabilities, experience, and confidence are inexplicably, beautifully and infallibly intertwined with your femininity.

Go forth, be bold and revel in being a woman!!!
Viviana M. Rueda
Creative Founder
Vivendi Fashionista

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