Karen Griffin of KC’s Boutique keeps plenty of fashion choices handy for women on the job.

Karen Griffin of KC’s Boutique keeps plenty of fashion choices handy for women on the job.

Clothes determine first impression

NANAIMO – New trends can be incorporated without alienating clients.

When plucking an outfit out of the wardrobe for work, consider this: the clothes you pick could determine your success.

According to two Vancouver image consultants, colour and style play a big role in getting women what they want in the workplace, from shaping professional relationships to credibility and workplace advancement.

The trick is knowing how to marry goals with the right kind of clothes, they say.

Blues and browns are the colours of trust, for example. Straight, masculine clothing in black and grey send a message of authority while soft pastels and ruffles put co-workers at ease. A jacket is believed to give businesswomen credibility and hosiery and heels are considered  more professional.

“We make our decisions about people within the first two seconds [so] being well put together in a business situation is hugely important,” said Giovanni Amenta, founder of Pink and Grey Style and Image Consulting. “It can mean sales and advancement in your area and it can be a way for people to recognize and pay attention to you.”

Amenta has a long resume in the fashion world. He has been an expert for shows that include Breakfast Television and has worked with celebrities like Michael Buble and Marie Osmond. He says it’s important for people to wear the colours that suit them best, while keeping in mind their choices can also play a role in getting them what they want. Green can make people automatically think money, and dollar-store yellow symbolizes a bargain, he said.

“If you are in a human resources position where you want people to really relate to you and trust you and feel comfortable with you … then you want to dress softer and more romantic,” he said. “So you use more curve shapes like ruffles and pastels.”

For those looking for people to respect their authority, try straight-lined clothes like a V-neck button-up dress shirt in black, grey or dark purple with a straight bob hairstyle, he recommends. Royal purple is also the new red when it comes to commanding attention.

Katharine Lazaruk, owner of Vancouver-based ICU Consulting, said women should also look at where they work and if their clothing choices fit within that context. Dressing at the height of fashion might not be appropriate for a corporate environment.

“If you are out of context … people won’t trust you or take you seriously,” she said, adding it can be as simple as wearing red stilettos among conservative over-60 co-workers.

Karen Griffin, co-owner of KC’s Boutique in Nanaimo, agrees fashion could be more for after work, but said businesswomen can still add trendy pops of colour with  a scarf or jewelry. Knit skirts and pants, block prints, blazers and swing sweaters are also trending for the office this season.