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Transformation Is My Game: From Corporate Executive To Image Consultant

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been in the corporate world of healthcare. Years ago I participated in clinical research trials in the field of Rheumatolgy. I co-authored many professionally peer-reviewed published articles. I traveled the country with a national Clinical Research Organization auditing trial results. Following that, I served as a Director of Human Resources and have managed a number of medical office practices, small and large, independent and corporate. I’ve served as the Executive Director of one such large multi-specialty medical practice in Phoenix, AZ and as the Director of Physician Operations at a very large national hospital and medical practice corporation. I also did a stint as a trainer in our state’s rural communities, collaborating with government agencies and local coalitions, to build community food gardens in food deserts; improve access to healthcare; and reduce drug dependence.

So, as you can see, I’ve held high-powered, ‘big-girl’ positions. I was fortunate that I had some wonderful mentors, men and women. However, having said that, I also saw, and experienced first-hand, unhealthy competitive behaviors, again from both gender sides.

As I transitioned into my early sixties, after my last corporate position for a large, national health insurer laid off more than 20 of us at differing levels of the organization, I reinvented myself. I have taken many of my experiences and rolled them under my First Impressions Image Consulting umbrella. My goal is to make my clients look great on paper and in person. This is accomplished by creating resumes; improving presentation {body language, eye contact, listening); teaching networking strategies and customer service; coaching proper etiquette and social skills. Having worked in a number of female laden offices, I created a Gossip Avoidance Course. More about gossip later. Two other spokes under my consulting umbrella are wardrobe analysis and closet transformation.

How did I get into fashion, you might wonder?

Long story short, while growing up, my dad was a salesman in an exclusive men’s clothing store in Upstate New York. He taught me a lot about how to treat people. He was a man’s man! His clientele included the Boston Celtics, NY Giants, as well as other athletes and successful businessmen. I worked with him during winter recesses and summer vacations. Eventually the store sold designer women’s wear as well.

My choices were derived from the belief, and seeing first hand, over and over again, the lack of and need for customer service and etiquette in particular. Both, I believe, are sorely lacking in today’s culture…both in work and social situations. Likewise, I’ve seen how detrimental gossip is to individuals and companies as well.

As women, we should be supporting one another. Not tearing each other down. Competition, you ask, isn’t it everywhere? My response is this: there is room in this world for all of us to be successful. Success is based on relationships and as we build our circles of influence, how we treat one another will be the determining factor of our success or failure.

As we age, many things change. We gain weight in all the wrong places; our hair changes not only in color, but texture and fullness; we recognize and try to ignore aches and pains; our children move out; we are blessed with grandchildren; we change our work structure (retire, reinvent or otherwise alter our business hours); our income level fluctuates; we downsize; we spend more time with our spouse and/or significant other. And more, much more!

Hopefully we continue to grow as we experience these changes.

For this and future blogs, we will keep our focus on our wardrobe. As we age, and our body changes, so too should what and how we wear clothing, shoes and accessories.

Why lug a large purse and briefcase and negatively impact our shoulders?

Why are we still wearing 4” heels and challenging our balance?

Is our skirt too short showing our varicose veins and bulging knees?

Whether we are still working in an office setting or meeting people for coffee, what does your wardrobe say about you?

We have to be confident and want to be comfortable. Both are possible. We used to talk about the work uniform. It still exists, but not in the same way. If we are more comfortable in slacks than a skirt or dress, it is now acceptable and actually encouraged to be your authentic you. Fortunately today there are few rules; well maybe not! What do you see when you walk into the grocery store? Camisoles passing as tops; flip-flops; low rise pants and mid-riff tops not leaving much to the imagination. I live in Tucson so believe me when I say I understand casual. However I believe there is a vast difference between casual and ‘Did you look in the mirror before leaving your home?’

Many times when I work with a client, I’ve been consulted because the individual has a closet and drawers full of clothes, but says, “I have nothing to wear!”. The reasons are many. Let’s start with the fact that women only wear about 20% of the clothes they own. We buy a piece we love and get it home only to find we don’t know how or what to wear it with. As our body changes, clothing looks different on us. With our busy lives, we often do not mend items that need a button or zipper replaced or a hem repaired. As women we tend to wear the same pieces together. I help my clients mix it up and pair different items. The ultimate outcome is that they double or even triple their outfits without shopping a store online. They shop in their own closet!

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