The day I got a corporate makeover

How a few hours on one day with a Stylist changed my outlook on corporate dressing, public perceptions and style for good.

Do you struggle deciding what to wear each day?

It should be easier, right? We’ve been wearing clothes every day of our lives (most of us) and dressing ourselves for a while now.

Clothes on clothes line

…nothing to wear…

Open the wardrobe. Sigh. What can I put on to look passable?

After 30+ years of wearing clothes, I was doing okay at getting dressed. Not great, but okay.

I knew that just being passable wouldn’t get me where I wanted to be or make me feel how I wanted to feel.

Because confidence matters

Self-confidence plays a crucial role in forging your career path

According to research, confidence has a massive impact on how likely you are to attempt new things and put your hand up for new challenges.


More confidence = more likely to apply

Apparently, the colour of your clothes also affect your confidence and other people’s perceptions of you ‘even where the perceiver cannot see the color’.

That’s pretty amazing! Your confidence can be affected by the colours you are wearing so much that people on the other side of the world who can’t see you will think you have more positive attributes.

Your confidence can be affected by the colours you are wearing so much that people… who can’t see you will think you have more positive attributes.

Keep that in mind next time you have a phone interview or an important conference call – chuck that power colour on and reap the benefits!

Because appearance and impressions matter

There’s also lots of studies around how the way we look impacts the way people perceive us.

This is often called the Halo Effect.

“People seen as good-looking … do better in all manner of ways, from how they are greeted by other people to how they are treated by the criminal justice system.” New Scientist


Studies have shown that appearance has consequences for success in work via selection processes and perceived achievement within a job.’

There is even evidence that just smelling good can help!

An investigation into scents showed that ‘perfume use increases the wearer’s confidence and perception of them even by others who do not themselves detect the fragrance’.

So, you could trawl through all the scientific studies and then follow them all to a tee (such as increasing your chance of success by wearing a more masculine fragrance to an interview for a manager role), but unless you can organise a double-blind study every weekday, what’s a little harder to find out is what people actually think of you and the way you present now.

…unless you can organise a double-blind study, it’s a little harder to find out what people actually think of you…

How do you know if you are presenting your authentic self?

…if you are a fan of personality tests, you could try Doctor Phil’s ten question quiz on how others see you (but beware of the Forer / Barnum effect)…

…family and friends might be able to help however they could be biased (positively or negatively)…

… you could ask random people in the street what they think of you…

Or you could just ask a professional.

Sometimes you need professional help

For a long time, I’d fooled myself into thinking those final touches I admired in other women – manicured nails, perfectly coiffed hair, (mostly) clean clothes – were too much effort, a waste of time, too frivolous to worry about or somehow beyond my reach.

I thought I should spend my time on loftier goals like getting fit and learning new pieces of legislation that cropped up…. but I mostly just ended up watching Veronica Mars….

Fashion and style just comes easily to some people…. not to me. I am cursed to be semi-daggy for life, only venturing into stylishness fleetingly for the first two hours after I have a cut & blow wave.

But that was a cop out.

Hang on, haven’t I always thought anyone can learn anything if they try hard enough?

These guys think so too… you can acquire any new skill in 20 hours or less and that having lots of skills widens your horizons.

With that in mind, I became determined to be slightly more stylish than passable (passablish? ….baby steps) and a stylist seemed like the best place to start.

I became determined to be slightly more stylish than passable (passablish? ….baby steps)

Which stylist?

There are a few in my home base of Melbourne and after a short search process and some website form queries, I settled on Style Right. The website had clear information and pricing, and the Stylist was quick to respond and follow-up with me.

Wardrobe refreshment

How would you feel opening your wardrobe to a stranger?

I have to admit, I was a little nervous! But the stylist put me right at ease and encouraged me to really think about the clothes I was wearing.

Bright pattern shirts… OUT!

I thought they were fun and modern… but in reality they were ageing me beyond my years – yuck! Out they go!

The stylist was gentle in pointing out that for strong colours (brights, reds, greens, etc), it’s better to go for all one colour instead of patterns.

New fashion rule (for me) created – no more loud patterned shirts!

hideously printed tops

Hello my name is Verity and I have a problem with prints. A small selection of the prints in my former wardrobe…

How do you feel when you wear this?

A question I would never ask myself but one the Stylist asked me repeatedly when we went through my wardrobe.

My checklist for clothing went more like….

  • Warm enough?
  • Comfortable?
  • Clean?
  • Not see through?
  • Good to go!

Now I won’t keep or wear things that are just passable. I ask myself how I feel when I wear it and if I don’t feel great, I’m not going to keep it or buy it. Easy.

Life after university

I quite liked wearing a black or charcoal suit with a top underneath. I thought it was no-nonsense and simple.

I realise now what I actually looked like…  A T.V. show cop or detective (but with less make up and much worse hair…)

LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT -- Season: 15 -- Pictured: Mariska Hargitay as Detective Olivia Benson -- (Photo by: James Dimmock/NBC)

LAW & ORDER: SVU— Season: 15 — Mariska Hargitay as Detective Olivia Benson — (Photo: James Dimmock/NBC)

Simone Kessell as Tamara Chippindall in Fat Tony

Simone Kessell as Tamara Chippendell in Fat Tony

“Judge, Jury and Executioner” / Ep 411
TNT / Ph: Trae Patton

Sophia Bush as Detective Lindsay

Sophia Bush as Detective Lindsay in Chicago PD  Photo: NBC

These ladies are all gorgeous and they look great but they belong on the beat and not in the boardroom.

As the Stylist quite rightly pointed out, the TV Cop look might have been okay as a graduate lawyer, but what’s okay for a grad is not okay for a pro.

…the TV Cop look might have been okay as a graduate… but not for a professional…

So, out with the stretchy cop tops!

I’m keeping the badge & the gun though…

Guardian hair angel

Do you ever feel uncomfortable at the hairdresser?

Something about the cape & gown at the hairdresser seems to shut down my ability to think and speak normally because despite going in with an idea of what I want, I inevitably end up saying something vague about the hairdresser doing whatever they think will be good.

Having the Stylist there who knew the ins and outs of what I was after and was able to communicate that to the hair dresser was an unexpected relief!

The Stylist at also expressed to the hair dresser that I’d like a bit of a lesson on how to blow dry my own hair and some different ideas for styling my hair for work and going out.

The end result was a cut and style I can recreate at home (I’m getting better with the hair dryer!) and because I have more confidence to style my hair, I’m less likely to go back to just tying it up or clipping it away.

Superstar shopping

Does your normal shopping mode go anything like mine?

  • vaguely look at a few things online…
  • stumble around from store to store…
  • try a few things on (none of which go with any other item or what I currently have)…
  • um and aaaah over them…
  • have a coffee….
  • buy a top or too (yes… brightly patterned *blush*)…
  • go home slightly annoyed.

Not on stylist day!

This is shopping as it should be.

Whilst I was getting my hair did at Toni & Guy, my intrepid stylist was morphing the chats we’d had about my current wardrobe and future aims into a series of selected items at various shops around the shopping centre.

With my new head of stylish hair, we waltzed into various shops where there awaited a tasty selection of clothes tucked away, in my size, which matched the overall look we were trying to achieve. Huzzah!

Productivity boost

As a productivity lover, the efficiency of the process was great. It also meant I didn’t get fatigued or discouraged by digging around in the racks trying to find sizes or things that I liked, the work had all been done. Even more productive.

…I didn’t get fatigued or discouraged trying to find sizes or things that I liked…and everything went with everything else.

I’ll definitely be asking shop assistants to help me out more next time I go shopping when I try to style myself…

Advice and confidence

The Stylist was helpful in suggesting sizes – sometimes up, sometimes down – which meant I came away with great clothes that fit me properly.

For example, for one pair of pants, I needed to go down a size (yay!) because the fit was too baggy. For a dress, I needed to go up one (against my initial doubts) because whilst the 10 might be fine in a change room standing still, walking around an office, going to meetings or sitting at a desk calls for a bit of leeway.

Portmans Downtown Suit Dress

Portmans Downtown Suit Dress (My legs will never be this long…)

Despite going up to a size 12 (darn…), the dress actually makes me look more slender because of the way it sits, my confidence in wearing it and the fact I won’t have to pull the skirt down after each step! Win.

Stylist advantage

Did you know stylists get discounts at some stores?! I didn’t but that was definitely a welcome surprise.

…your Stylist might even end up paying for themselves in discounts…

Depending on the Stylist services you order, how much you spend on clothes and at what shop, your Stylist might even end up paying for themselves in discounts.

A definite hidden advantage I hadn’t even known about but will keep in mind for next time.

What is your style?

Parisian? Chic? Moi?! I never thought that could be my style.

Parisian chic isn’t just about legs or money….

Surely that kind of high fashion style is for the ultra gorgeous, ultra rich and ultra leggy. The impossibly slender and fresh-faced females who have never eaten a croissant or had a pimple in their lives.

Clemence Posey

Clemence Posey



PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 03: Lou Doillon attends the Chanel Haute-Couture show as part of Paris Fashion Week Fall / Winter 2012/13 at the Grand Palais on July 3, 2012 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Lou Dillion

But, as the Stylist explained, Parisian chic isn’t just about legs or money… (although I still think it helps).

Just okay is not okay

Since I read this interesting article on decision fatigue which details President Obama’s blue and grey suit rule, I knew minimising the decisions required for dressing was a great concept but wasn’t sure how to implement it into my life when I had no idea what I wanted to wear or what I looked good in…

We have heaps of clothes that are okay. They do the job. Our bits were covered. We are professional at work and relaxed when casual. You probably even have a pair of runners.

But when the Stylist asked, ‘How do you feel when you wear this?’ I kept saying ‘Yeah, okay I guess‘.

How do you want to feel when you get dressed for work or an event?

When I get dressed for work or big events, or even just casual nights out, I want to feel better than just “okay”. I wanted to feel strong and confident, my overall image polished and clean.

But I didn’t want to spend ages in front of the wardrobe trying to figure out what to wear.

And that’s why Parisian chic works as a rule. It’s about simplicity & comfort. Bingo! Just what I needed! Some easy and basic rules to follow.

Your Style Inspiration- Verity_Page_11emmanual altYour Style Inspiration- Verity_Page_15
If you are keen to get your French on, check out these great posts for dressing like a Parisian, being a French it girl, and 12 secrets to steal from French women

Fashionable tidbits

The asymmetrical tuck

I never knew a little tuck tweak could be so powerful. This was a great little gem! For a casual look, instead of no tuck or an all around tuck, the stylist suggested an asymmetrical tuck, as seen below which is much more flattering than an all around tuck or leaving untucked.

Half tuck

The half tuck… yes there are instructions

For more tucking advice and tutorials… head here, here and here

Your hair is your main (& most important) accessory

Woah! I had never thought about it like that! I put minimal effort into doing my hair (and of course got minimal results).

In line with my pledge to upskill…. I will learn how to blow dry my own hair *hand on heart*. Most of the videos on YouTube are for long hair but linked below is one I found to a super perky mid length tutorial which was very helpful for me.

Statement necklaces for high cut tops

I didn’t realise how a necklace can change the way a top looks entirely.

The Stylist – obviously being very stylish – found an amazing black necklace which I fell in love with. It goes with everything from t-shirts to blouses. I am sold! I am now on the look out for some other new accessories for a mini-splurge that can change a plain tee into a great outfit.

necklines and necklaces

neck vs necklace

Do you struggle with necklaces too?

Here are some great visual ideas with options in the style of good, better, best. This chick has a cute preppy style (apparently polos are making a comeback btw) and it’s great to get some age appropriate insight on necklaces and a variety of different necklines including collared shirts.

Hints for your stylist day

Your brand

Spend some time to think about your personal brand…

Sounds a bit lame I know… but Michelle Tillis Lederman does some great work in this area and her interview on The Art of Charm podcast and her book the 11 Laws of Likability explains an easy process for developing a personal brand.

What three words would people use to describe you?

In a nutshell, you just think about what three words people would use to describe you, what would they say?

More importantly, what do you want them to say?

Michelle encourages us to clear about the impression we want to make and make those three words your personal brand.


Ask the Stylist if they have any special deals coming up or if you can get a discount for bundling services together.

What to wear

Wear knickers and a bra that will go with everything (i.e. skin colour strapless bra and comfy knickers with minimal VPL). You’ll be trying things on…. lots of things… so keep your outfit easy to take on and off again (i.e. a dress), wear minimal jewelry and comfy flats

Write it down

Take notes! From the hairdresser to the make up lesson and everything in between with the Stylist, I wish I had taken more notes so I could be clear about the advice I was given and accurately refer to it later on.

Start writing down your questions now

Start writing down your questions now. With the flurry of fun on the day, you might forget your burning style questions like whether you have to match your bag to your shoes, does your bum actually look fat in these pants, or can blue and green really never be seen unless there’s something in between…

What ever major or minor fashion puzzles you may have, write them down so you can ask during the day.

The verdict

The confidence and actionable advice I gained from the day with StyleRight was far more than I would have been able to achieve than with a mere solo shopping trip or armed with ideas from magazines (even if I had the right perfume on). 

Highlight: I now have a bit of style with an actual style plan I can easily work with.

Lowlight: Paying for parking at Melbourne Central… ouch… won’t do that again…

By taking the time to get to know me and where I was at in my life, the Stylist was able to assist me to not only recraft my corporate image, but also to help give me an easy to follow framework for everyday.

So much easier to go shopping and get dressed when you aren’t looking at everything. Instead, you have a plan of attack because you know what works and what doesn’t.

…you will save time & effort with a plan of attack because you will know what works and what doesn’t.

I will always approach clothes and shopping differently now and with much more confidence.

What’s holding you back from getting a bit of help with your confidence? 

Could you benefit from using a stylist?

Feel free to hit me up with any questions you might have on stylists in general or any other queries –



P.s. links below for all the gurus that helped me out J

The gurus that helped me:

Stylist: Style Right

Siobhan from StyleRight was wonderful and put me at ease throughout the whole day. I am looking forward to booking another session in future.

Hair refresh: Toni and Guy

I was fortunate enough to have the services of salon director Marie, who was lovely, helpful and patient in explaining things to me and gave me a cut I can handle at home.

Make up lesson: Napoleon Perdis

Not enough time to go into here (ask me if you have questions) but my make up artist was amazing and took me through how to make a day look and a night look, some non-Kardashian contouring, and easy peasey eyeliner (that doesn’t rub off on my eyelids). Highly recommend the David Jones store if you are a local– all the ladies were lovely!

Also, just in case you were wondering, this is not a paid post – I paid standard rack rates for the gurus. 

x Verity

Posted in Career, Corporate, Life Hack, Productivity and tagged , , , , , , , .

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