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What Your Business Accessories Say About You

What do your business accessories say about you? 

For most women (or men), they don't say much. Accessories are often an after thought, thrown together without a plan.  So when you do meet someone who's got her act together, it often leaves an impression...a very favorable one at that.

Most image experts agree that you should allocate 40% of your clothing budget to accessories.  If that seems high, remember that these well-chosen appointments can last for years with routine care.  You'll also probably be wearing them more often than your wardrobe items, and some --like handbags and shoes-- may see use everyday.  If you choose wisely and use clothing capsules, you'll only need a few pieces to coordinate with your entire wardrobe.

One of the most telling descriptions I've read about accessories comes from John T. Molloy's "New Dress For Success" (Warner Books, 1988).  Here's what he wrote in his observations about accessories for men:

"There are very successful men in this country who wear expensive suits, expensive shirts, expensive ties, and who drive expensive cars.  Some of these men are $200,000-a-year pimps, some are $200,000-a-year executives.  Without seeing them, but merely having their major articles of clothing described as expensive, we would find it difficult to distinguish between these two groups.  By describing their accessories, we would know the difference immediately."

So what's my point?  That the business accessories you choose are very revealing--whether you realize it or not. Depending on where you work and the impression you want to make, "appropriate accessories" can mean different things. 

Here are some guidelines:

Jewelry

Jewelry can be either an asset or a deterrent, depending on the situation.

As a general rule, try to avoid pieces that clank, make noise, or are overly-cute when conducting business, unless you happen to sell those types of items.  The dangly earrings and clunky bracelet will pull attention away from what's being said.

Handbags

Years ago, any woman who considered herself fashion savvy would perfectly match the color of her handbag to her shoes and hat.  Today the rules are a little more flexible, but do call for some coordination.  Again, if you follow the clothing capsules concept, you should be able to span the seasons with only a couple of handbags

Shoes

While casual footwear seems to be making its way all over these days, appropriate business shoes still call for a closed toe style worn with hosiery (or socks).  Debate this if you want, but know that women who wear hose with closed toe shoes repeatedly test as being more credible and of more influence than women who wear no hose and open toe shoes.

Want to boost your credibility?  Follow this simple rule.

Hose

As mentioned above, hosiery of some sort-socks, tights, knee-highs, pantyhose-should always be worn when conducting business.  In test after test, women who wore no hose were viewed as being less credible and having less authority than their hose-wearing counterparts.  Some also reported receiving more sexual innuendos when they went without hose.  Bottom line:  wear hosiery.

Briefcase

"Definition of an expert:  Someone from out of town carrying a briefcase." -- Anonymous

I've heard this saying many times, and while it may or may not be true, there's no denying that a briefcase carries a lot of clout.  If you regularly transport documents in your line of work, a briefcase could come in handy...and boost your credibility to boot.

If you haven't given your business accessories much thought up to this point, now's a great time to review your accessory inventory.  Consider how your accessories are coming across to others, and make sure they're saying whatever it is you want them to say.

Need more help in building your business accessory wardrobe?  Grab a copy of Business Wear Magicby author and image consultant Diana Pemberton-Sikes to discover how to increase your income by dressing appropriately for your line of work.  You can find it online at www.fashionforrealwomen.com.

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