Can suits make you smarter?

Business-Suits-IdeasWell, maybe not smarter, but they do change the way your brain works! According to a recent study conducted by California State University Northridge, they found that putting on a suit doesn’t just change how you look, it can change the way you perceive the world and makes you think more broadly. “Putting on formal clothes makes us feel more powerful, and that changes the basic way we see the world,” says lead researcher, psychologist Abraham Rutchick. Wearing suits encourage us to think about the big picture rather than getting hung up on the details, what psychologists call “abstract processing” rather than “concrete processing”. Abstract processing is the kind needed in leadership, while concrete processing focuses more on details. When you look good, you feel more in control and think more broadly and creatively. Shopping, anyone?

“Youth-anize” Your Image – Tip #5

5. UPDATED EYEGLASSES Meryl Streep glasses
Accessories can update your image instantly and, often, cost-effectively. Instead of investing big money into trendy suits, coats, and jackets, add a touch of trend with less expensive ties, jewelry, scarves, sunglasses, belts, and bags. Yes, you can and should spend-till-it-hurts on those items when buying classic styles, but if you want to look trendy, don’t spend a lot. Trends will be gone in a season or two and you won’t feel sad when you give or toss those items away.

Eyeglasses are an important accessory as they draw people into your face. It’s true – they aren’t cheap, so keep an eye out for sales and special promotions. You’ll want to select a new, updated frame every few years as an outdated style can age you and convey that you’re out-of-step with the times. You never want to look like you’re caught in a time warp!

Don’t rush the selection process. Shop around, try on lots of pairs, and trust the optician who takes your coloring, face shape, hairstyle and likes/dislikes into consideration. They’ll help you find a pair you love and look great wearing. Some of the national chain eyewear stores have face shape information on their websites. Once you determine your shape, their site will make specific eyewear recommendations for you. In the meantime, here are some guidelines from the Vision Council of America.

Kenneth Branagh glassesThe Oval Face is considered to be the most versatile with frames because of its balanced proportions. Frame options: wide as or wider than the broadest part of the face. Try almond or oval shapes.

The Base-Down Triangle Face has a narrow forehead and widens at the cheek and chin areas. Frame options: ones that draw attention upwards. Try bold frames or cat-eye shapes.

The Base-Up Triangle Face (heart-shaped) is widest at the forehead and narrowest at the chin. Frame options: ones that draw attention downwards, such as rimless styles, very thin metals or plastics.

The Square Face is characterized by a strong jaw line and broad forehead. Width and length are in the same proportions. Frame options: rounder, narrower styles that soften facial angles, such as narrow ovals.

The Round Face has curved lines, with width and length in the same proportions. Frame options: frames that are wider than they are deep. Try angular, narrow frames.

The Oblong Face is longer that it is wide and is characterized by a long, straight cheekline and, sometimes, a longer nose. Frame options: frames with top-to-bottom depth or decorative temples (frame arms) to add width.

The Diamond Face is narrowest at the browline and jawline. Cheekbones are frequently high and dramatic. Frame options: frames detailing or distinctive browlines, like cat-eyes or ovals.

Eyes are considered by many to be the most important feature on a person, the “windows to the soul”. So let the world see the how young you feel inside!


“Youth-anize” Your Image – Tip #4

An updated hairstyle can be a great way to convey youthfulness. When was the last time you changed your hairdo? If you look the same as you did in your high school yearbook, it’s time for an update!

While it’s important to determine and wear the best style for your face shape, lifestyle, and hairstyling abilities, it’s also important to tweak it occasionally to reflect the current trends. I also believe that job changes, promotions, and life milestones should be accompanied by a new “look”. So at least once per year, have a conversation with your stylist or barber to get their recommendations for changes that could be made – longer or shorter sideburns, bangs/no bangs, straight vs. layered, etc. And then decide what, if anything, you want to do. But at least promise yourself that you’ll have the conversation annually.

Consider coloring your hair, too, especially if you have warm undertones to your skin and eyes. I realize the unfairness of it all – silver can make a man look distinguished, but make a woman look old. To color or not color is a personal decision – and it certainly requires a commitment in both time and money – but if the goal is to look more youthful, covering the grey is definitely something to consider.

“Youth-anize” Your Image – Tip #3

When you wear colors that flatter your natural coloring, you can instantly look energized, healthy, and well-rested. Sounds like a youthful image to me! Your ideal clothing colors complement the undertones in your skin, hair, and eyes and create an attractive harmony in your appearance. Wearing those colors can prompt compliments like, “You look great today! Just get back from vacation?” Wouldn’t you rather hear that than, “Nice suit”?  Color, used correctly, can draw the observer’s eye off of your clothing and on to your center of communication – your face. Right where you want them!

If you haven’t had your colors analyzed by a professional, schedule a consultation with a color/image consultant in your area. Check out the website for The Association of Image Consultants International ( for listings of consultants near you.

Shirt = hair color; Jacket = eye color

Shirt = hair color; Jacket = eye color

Tie = hair color; Shirt = eye color

Tie = hair color; Shirt = eye color

But here’s a simple trick you can start experimenting with today. Evaluate your skin, hair, and eye colors and simply match those same colors in your clothing, especially the pieces worn close to the face. For example, my hair is auburn, my eyes are olive green, and my skin is ivory. One of the most flattering outfits I wear is a burgundy jacket with an ivory top underneath. I get compliments every time I wear it and it’s become my go-to outfit for appearing on-camera and in front of audiences. Another favorite ensemble is an olive green cardigan with ivory shell. See how it works?

Now – look at your own coloring. Once you’ve determined your colors, play around with the different combos of hair color+skin color, eye color+hair color, eye color+skin color, etc. in your jackets, sweaters, tops, shirts, scarves, jewelry, and ties. These will be some of the most eye-catching, flattering, and unique-to-you ensembles you could ever wear! 

TIP #1: Light skin tones can be the hardest element to analyze. Hold up to your face lots of different whites, creams, and ivories until you find the shade that eliminates the shadows and adds color to your cheeks.

TIP #2: Gentlemen – did you know the best tie color for you is your eye color? When you repeat that color in your tie, it will act like an arrow right into your eyes! For those of you with brown eyes, play with yellow or gold ties and get ready for the compliments.

TIP #3: To appear youthful, avoid wearing a lot of black near the face. While young people can look great in black, it can be quite aging on older faces. Better to wear your skin/hair/eye colors around the face. You’re wearing them there already!

©Jill Bremer 2013

“Youth-anize” Your Image – Tip #2

Here’s another great exercise from Brenda’s Wardrobe Companion called “Name That Rut”. Create two columns and label the left one “Ruts” and right one “Actions”. What are your image ruts these days? Own too much black? Hairstyle still looks like your yearbook photo? Wearing jeans too often? In the right-hand column, start thinking of new responses to those old, boring habits. Consider new colors, styles, patterns, accessories – and the next time you go shopping, STOP YOURSELF when you find you’re heading toward the same stores/departments/shelves. It’s going to take courage to explore new territory, but it can also be exciting, too. You’re on your way to designing the new you!

As important as it is to look current, it’s also crucial to look age-appropriate. Trends = youth/energy, but you can’t be dressed in trendy fashions from head to toe. You’ll look like a fashion victim instead of someone who’s “current”. A good first step can be to add trendy accessories (shoes, bag, belt, etc.). Clothes should always be flattering, so keep your body shape in mind, too. In other words, maybe skinny jeans aren’t the jeans for you! If that’s the case, try a different trend. And be prepared to pay for alterations. You always want your clothing to look like it was custom-made just for you and the body you have today.

FACE FACTS: You’re going to need to go shopping. A youthful, trendy look means clothes will be new. At least, new-ish. Clothes these days are generally more slim than baggy. Buy new ties, ban all pleated pants, and no dark hose for women!

“Youth-anize” Your Image – Tip #1

That title is probably a poor choice of words, but I hope you know what I mean! If you’re on the far side of 45, how can you spruce up your image and compete against all those young-uns out there? I know it doesn’t seem fair, but you have to face the truth. When you start to look old, people will assume you probably also have out-of-date skills and rusty attitudes. And that can be the death-knell to careers these days. I recently spoke on this topic to a group of older jobseekers and shared six tips that can help them – and you – stand out in the sea of younger job hunters.

Start by taking a look within. That will often reveal what needs to change on the outside. Think of it as a study of your “inner image”. A colleague of mine, Brenda Kinsel, shares the following exercise in her book, Brenda’s Wardrobe Companion. The book may focus on building wardrobes, but this exercise is a great way to start fresh on many levels.

Before you can define where you want to get to, you first need to describe where you’re starting from. Make two columns and label the left one “Moving Away From” and the right one “Moving Toward.” Think about your current situation in life/work and start listing what isn’t working for you right now. What’s frustrating you, bugging you? Are you feeling trapped, tired, invisible, old? That’s what you want to move away from.

Now think about what you want to move toward. When you visualize your dream life or job, what do you see? Think expansively! Are you picturing yourself confident, powerful, happy, employed? Give yourself the gift of time and let the dreams for yourself flow out of you.

The next step is to start to think strategically about your wardrobe, behavior, and communication skills. What new choices can you start making now that will reflect that “moving toward” image of yourself? The next five tips will help you in that effort.