7 Secrets: Dress for Success on Stage

2015 is nearly here. Wow! And what comes with the new year? Planning and review. Which means conferences. And, with conferences, when you are a woman in leadership, that likely includes presentations.

In any situation, you have only 90 seconds to create a good first impression, according to Presentation Magazine. So as you stand in front of your audience, you need to ensure you are giving the right signals. You need to “Dress for Success on Stage”.

Last week I had the opportunity to visit Marriott’s headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, and share my ideas on dressing for success on stage. It was so much fun checking out their amazing facilities. Thank you to the Marriott modern essential & extended stay brand management team for having me! You are a delightful and inspiring group.

The following tips are some ideas I shared. They are laid out in a general sense, so they are  applicable for every woman in leadership:

Emma Watson speaking on gender equality at the United Nations Sept 20, 2014 watch video

1. Stay Consistent With Your Corporate Brand.  Presentation Magazine suggests listing five adjectives that describe your company’s brand and seeing if your look matches that. For example, Innovative means up-to-date, and International means you might want to not dress head to toe in, as the author puts it, Marks & Spencer!

2. Prepare Three Looks. Ideally your presentation wardrobe consists of three looks according to this Forbes article. The three types are The Full Fig, which is your full blown presentation look. It’s likely a suit or dress but if it isn’t -it should be- or at least look expensive. The second look is the Upscale Casual look.

The Upscale Casual look is for conferences; for example, at a resort, where the audience is dressed more casually, with an emphasis on casual and comfortable. For men, it might be a sport coat, dress shirt, no tie, and high-end jeans or trousers. This translates to a casual Friday type look for women where you might wear quality jeans, blouse or shell, and fashion jacket, or an equivalent look.

The final look to prepare in your wardrobe is the Among-the-People look. This look is for when you are speaking to a very casual audience, and need to go “native”. This is the audience that may be wearing ripped jeans, and t-shirts. If you look too formal you risk not connecting with them. In this case you could choose a pair of high-end jeans, casual shirt, and fashion jacket, or any equivalent look such as a casual dress and cropped jacket.

Now let’s put it together:

3. Keep your look simple, clean and not too busy. Wear a color that flatters you. You are the expert and you want the focus to be on your message, not the outfit.If you are unsure of what color to wear go for blue. It looks good on nearly everyone.

Perhaps add an accessory. In the image above Emma Watson is giving her recent, and amazing UN speech. Her belt makes a statement without overpowering her presence. See my  7 Wall Strreet Worthy Accessories  post if you want some accessory ideas.

A note here: avoid any jangly jewelry.

4. Invest in Foundational Pieces. The right foundational pieces will make all the difference. Foundational pieces include the right bra, spanks (there are dozens of options), slips; etc. Wether you are size 2 or size 20 you will be happy you did when you look back at the footage and pictures of yourself. Trust me!

5. Wear Fitted not Flowy, baggy or loose clothing, suggests keynote speaker and corporate trainer Kristen Brown. It doesn’t matter the size of your body, it’s about the message and how you project yourself when you are on stage, Brown says.

No one’s body is perfect and it’s hard to know what to wear to create the most flattering line without resorting to something baggy. If you want tips for what to wear for your body type check out Corporate Fashionista’s guide Discover How to Dress Your Body Type.

6. Feel Great in Your Look. Most important when dressing to present is feeling like a million dollars. So whatever look you end up with think about how it makes you feel. If there is a suit you feel great in, or a Versace dress and mile high heels, then you should consider wearing that because you will feel more confident and it will spill over into your stage presence. The bottom line –  you will perform better. source

7. Always Dress Comfortably. The ultimate goal is to feel so confident with your visual presentation that you are able to forget about yourself and focus on the  more critical tasks at hand- delivering your message, and the audience. source

Some great questions were posed after my presentation at the Marriott . Be sure to check out the Q&A post for more tips.

What are your tips for dressing for success on stage?

xo, Jamie

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