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Dressing to impress are words we hear often, but what do they really mean? Well, that depends on who you’re trying to impress. In a business setting, dressing to impress your boss might mean conservative suits, silk ties and wearing your Rolex watch in the boardroom.
With only seven seconds on average to make a great first impression, you don’t want to blow it. Follow our tips on making the right impression and dress for success — whether at a business meeting with a potential client or a gala for a local charity.
1. Learn How Formal the Event Will Be
Getting invited to an event is definitely a highlight that you’ll want to remember, but being over- or underdressed for any occasion can be embarrassing and make the wrong impression. Traditionally, events during the day are less formal than those that take place after six in the evening. So, pay attention to the event’s start time on your invitation.
If you are dressing for a job interview or your first day at work, consider calling or researching the company online to determine whether they have a company dress code. Typically, most corporate companies expect their employees to dress in business casual attire, including a button-down shirt, chinos and a sports coat for men, and slacks, a blouse and a blazer for women.
2. Study Up on Your Party Terms
If you are unsure about the dress code for an upcoming function, here are some of the more common terms found in an invite:
Formal events require a man to wear a complete suit, including a tie and cufflinks, although some trendsetters are forgoing the tie in fashion-forward spots. Formal events for women are option-filled opportunities to show off that stylish pantsuit, slinky cocktail dress or full-length gown with just the right accessories to make the outfit pop and give off that power impression.
● Black Tie
This requirement refers to wearing a tuxedo, including tailcoat, seamed trousers and cufflinks. Men get some creative freedom in this dress category by pairing their tuxes with luxury watches made to shine at events such as this.
● Cocktail Attire or Semiformal
An event with a semiformal dress code will be perfect for a fancy party dress and those heels you couldn’t resist but had no place to wear. Men going to an evening cocktail party are stylish, showing up in a dark suit with shirt and tie color being optional. A daytime semiformal event might call for a lighter-colored suit.
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3. Know Which Colors Suit You Best
The right color choice can turn a boring outfit into a beautiful ensemble that highlights your features and makes an unforgettable impression. The right colors for you depend on your skin’s undertone rather than your skin color.
Skin undertone is classified as warm, cool or neutral, regardless of how light or dark your skin color is. To find your undertone, look at the veins on the inside of your wrist in natural light. If they appear blue or purple, you have a cool undertone. If they look greenish, you have a warmer undertone. If they blend in with your natural skin color, you are neutral and can wear almost any color you like.
Individuals with cooler undertones look stunning in crisp whites and jewel tones like sapphire, emerald and ruby. Accessorize with jewelry and hair accessories in white gold, platinum and sterling silver if you have a cool undertone.
People with warm undertones should choose delicate pastels, earth shades and off-white or beige. Yellow and rose gold accessories can make your outfit pop.
4. Pay Attention to Details
Choose accessories that complement your outfit and your personality. Women have plenty of jewelry, purses and makeup to accessorize with, but don’t overdo the add-ons. Keep accessories simple for most events and at a minimum for formal and black tie affairs.
For formal gowns, it’s always best to have a complementary piece for your dress but be sure it doesn’t overlap. Choose a showy diamond pendant for a plunging neckline or one of many elegant IWC watches like the Portofino or the Da Vinci for a sleek sleeveless dress.
5. Put Your Best Foot Forward
For most party events and formal occasions, men need to wear footwear that follows the dress requirements and make sure their shoes are well-kept. Simply giving them a good cleaning and buffing out any scuffs is usually all that’s needed.
For women, semiformal and formal wear doesn’t necessarily mean wearing high heels, but many ladies choose this option because they give a nice shape to the legs. If you’re more comfortable in a beautiful pair of flats, there’s no real reason not to wear them. Just ensure they coordinate with your outfit either by color or thematically with embellishments.
No matter what sort of event you go to, make sure the shoes you wear are comfortable — not causing you blisters — and safe for your environment. A romantic candlelight canoe trip is probably not the best place to wear your 4” stilettos, and you probably shouldn’t wear your work boots to a charity dinner!
6. Always Ensure You’re Well-Groomed
The most well-planned outfit can fall flat without proper grooming. Before getting dressed for your event or job interview, ensure you shower, shave and wash your hair. While you don’t need a professional manicure, keep your nails trimmed and free from dirt.
Apply deodorant but forgo perfume unless you’re going out on a date. Many people can be sensitive to certain scents, and you may end up making an impression you didn’t intend to. If you love wearing scent, use restraint and apply it to just one area, like behind your ears or the inside of your elbow.
Ensure that all elements of your outfit are cleaned and pressed or steamed to remove wrinkles. Nothing says chic and well-styled like a wrinkle-free outfit.
Make a Big Impression with Your Style
Whether you are attending a formal event, fundraiser or job interview, donning the right outfit is critical to projecting your personality and inviting people to get to know you better. Planning your outfit several days or weeks in advance, depending on the formality of the event, can take the hassle out of choosing what to wear for the occasion and ensure that you always look and feel your best.