Never Quite Sure What to Wear?

 Walk into a room and own it/iStock photo courtesy of  STYLEdge®

By Patty Soltis, Guest Columnist

I understand the impact of your image and the affect that it can have on your performance as a professional woman.  It is a proven fact that when you look better, you feel better.

When I was first starting out in retail as a department manager at Neiman Marcus, I remember clearly how beautiful the merchandise was, like the feel of silk, the grain of leather and the shine of diamonds.  I was awestruck.  Then one day I realized these items were not just merchandise, but that they evoked an emotion in the owner.

Standing in the fitting room, I watched as a client put on a garment that was just perfect.   She stood up a little straighter, her smiled broadened, she spoke with ease, it was as if something was radiating from inside of her.  At that moment, it ignited a passion in me to help as many professionals have that feeling of elation.

We have all had these thoughts:  If only I were thinner, if I were taller, if my skin were smoother, if my hair always  looked like it did after a blow out, if I had more money to buy better clothes, if I had more time.

The biggest IF to think of is if only I had more confidence. Walk into the room and own it with your stride, gaze and confidence in yourself.

Five Modes of Attire©

Everyone can have that feeling of elation, and I simplified it for the professional to Five Modes of Professional Attire:

  1. Everyday Professional
  2. High Impact Meeting
  3. Day to Dinner
  4. Business Casual
  5. Weekend Wear

With these Five Modes of Professional Attire, the process of knowing what to wear and emanate that feeling of elation comes alive.  When you are shopping, think about what you will wear the potential item with and which mode(s) of professional attire it will fit.

For the Everyday Professional, build a base color in your wardrobe and work from that.  Most often it is black, but it could be navy, grey, or shades of browns like camel and beige.  With this as your base, then build on it for color, prints and trend.

                                                                              Everyday professional/iStock photo courtesy of  STYLEdge®

The High Impact Meeting needs to go back to your color base; for example,  something in a dark neutral to shout clearly that you mean business.  Check the length of your skirt, dress or trousers, make sure the jacket fits in the shoulders and the length is updated.

                                                                           High impact meeting/iStock photo courtesy of  STYLEdge®

For Day to Dinner, add a quick swipe of red lipstick, which are available  in every shade and color combination so you will find the right one for your skin.  Add a piece of shiny jewelry and a clutch or smaller handbag that will fit in the small of your back when you sit.  A pocket square is the perfect accessory to add for men.

                                Day to dinner/iStock photo courtesy of  STYLEdge®

Business Casual seems to be shrouded in the most amount of mystery.  Let’s clear that up right now.  Business Casual is a step down from Everyday Professional.  Wear a pair of well-made jeans with a jacket, or for women, pick a skirt or dress to the knee or maxi to the ankle.  Add some print, color, florals or animal print,  but always remember that you are going to work.

                                                                                Business casual/iStock photo courtesy of  STYLEdge®

For Weekend Wear, have a little more fun.   Ditch the yoga pants for a pair of leggings or jeans, swap out the flip flips for sandals, sneakers or booties.  There are so many choices for denim – they are in multiple colors, fabric weights and styles from skinny to wide leg.   For men, a pair of cotton shorts with a polo or button-down short sleeve shirt are just perfection!

                                                                    Weekend wear/iStock photo courtesy of  STYLEdge®

Remeber also to take care of your shoes.  Men’s shoes will last for years when you keep them shined, the taps replaced and soles refinished.

For women, use a handbag that is the appropriate size —  not too big and not too small.  Have your jewelry repaired and cleaned regularly for the sparkle you loved when you bought it or received it.  Fix the buttons, have the sleeves taken up on your jacket and the hem repaired on your pairs to just the right length.  All of these little details will change the way you feel about your appearance.

Lastly, evaluate your body and wardrobe for what you love;  focus on emphasizing that part of your body.  Keep on reading AliveTampaBay bi-weekly as each of these Five Modes of Attire will be explained in more detail  so you will  have a wardrobe that makes you  happy!

Use these tips to exude your look of confidence and success.  I encourage to contact me at, of course, when you have a question , and you can follow STYLEdge® Fashion on social media.  Pick up a copy of First Impressions Last, my book for the professional woman, to start your journey of confidence.


Patty Soltis/Photo courtesy of  STYLEdge®

Patty Soltis has spent the last three years as a frequently sought-after image consultant who specializes in working with alpha business leaders to match their brand with a credible and professional image.  She worked in retail for 27 years and was the general manager at the prominent retailers Lord & Taylor and Marshall Fields.  Patty worked for nearly 14 years at Neiman Marcus, mainly as their vice president.  She has worked with thousands of professionals over decades of change on their timeless image.  Patty can be seen on television and heard on radio and podcast shows.  She has been in media in print and online regularly as an expert.  She is the author of First Impressions Last, a book for the professional woman to exude confidence, power and skill with her attire.

Her Five Modes of Professional Attire give the client an impression to start the journey to competence, power and success.  Most of all, her clients make an impression that exudes leadership, achievement and results as an industry leader.  As a professional speaker, Patty communicates how to dress for success in a candid and interactive manner.  She educates and trains her audience how to put the Five Modes of Professional Attire into their life with ease and simplicity.  Patty points out items to invest in for a “cost per wear” return and how to shop on a budget.

Be powerful, be impressive, be memorable.


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