Thursday, August 6, 2009




Michele Benza

Not too long ago, I pulled a hot orange jacket, black pants and a black boat-neck top from a vast assortment of clothing racks before us. “ I like these for you” I said to my fifty-something client. She looked startled. “You have to be joking,” was written all over her face. I remained unperturbed and continued to rifle through more racks. My client’s eyes opened even wider; her jaw dropped. She finally said, “I’m not at all sure.”

Sometimes I have to gently remind my clients that they’ve hired me as their image consultant for good reason. I really do know how to do this. My client wanted to step out of her boring business attire and let her appearance shine, just as her work does. (Incidentally, this is a good tactic to improve other’s perceptions of you and help your progress up the proverbial corporate ladder.)

“This is just the beginning,” I warned her.

Makeovers transform us in subtle ways but when the transformation radiates from the inside out that’s when people look up and take notice. There is no doubt that if you feel great about yourself within and without, you cannot help but project confidence and a positive attitude to life.

Rest assured, a makeover does not necessarily require dramatic changes. A simple adjustment such as updating your eye make-up or wearing a hemline that is more flattering to your figure can make a quiet but noticeable difference.

We’ve all heard of the saying, “success on your own terms.” My take on this is “Dressing on your own terms.” I, for one—and there are many other women out there who feel the same way—want to wear outfits that represent moi. I want to be feminine. I refuse to wear female versions of men’s shirts and suits!

It seems to me that many of my clients believe that dressing for work means dressing like everyone else in the office and being invisible. This is fine if your goal is simply to do what needs to be done, collect your paycheck and go home. However, if your sights are set on leaping up the ladder, then along with excelling in your daily work, you need to excel in the appearance department.

This is true even more so now and if you are over 50 presenting a good image is absolutely essential. I don’t need to tell you that an interviewer more often than not forms an opinion within the first 30 seconds of setting eyes on you, even before you’ve uttered a single word. And, these days, your interviewer is very likely to be thirty-something! So you really need to take your appearance by the collar and retool it!

Take heart though, you women who are over 50 have something going for you that many younger women do not have and that is style!

Know who you are and what looks good on you. Then create a wardrobe that takes your image to a higher, stylish level. Spend time sifting through your clothes and trying different combinations whether it is with a belt, scarf, blouse or a piece of jewelry. Explore and play.

I hope you will now be prepared to dress on your own terms. Remember, as you climb the professional ladder, the more polished you and your clothes should look. Dress for the job you’re aiming for, not for the job you’re in now.

Whatever industry you work for, be yourself and be an inspiration to your younger colleagues. Be admired for your work AND for your perfect style and grooming.

A final note, when my client put on the hot orange jacket, the black pants and black boat-neck top, her face lit up when she saw herself in the mirror. The right colors, the right shapes and an updated fashion helped her to look herself—not like “Ms Humdrum Worker” or her mother in a business suit.

So go forth into your closet and slay your clothes dragons!


Work with Michele!

You can now work with Michele on-line or face to face. Call or email for an appointment. You’ll be thrilled with the results.

Michele Benza, Image Consulting & Posture
email: Michele@mbenza.com
phone: 415-956-3025

Send me your Style question at Michele@mbenza.com. I'd love to hear from you!