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24 Nov, 2009

First Impressions are lasting Impressions

Posted by: The Coaching Academy In: Coaching Articles

Ann Skidmore

8 Top Tips for Building an Effective Image Wardrobe for a Coach!

Written by Ann Skidmore

You have worked hard to achieve the success you have right now. In today’s highly competitive world, putting attention on cultivating an effective wardrobe will accentuate the professional image that supports your objectives. While you know that you get only one chance to make the all-important first impression, it is equally
imperative to make every day a day that you look your very best, even if you have no meetings except for the impromptu gettogether you have with some fellow coaches at your local coaching circle. You will stand out as someone who has taken the time and trouble to present themselves at their best – someone that other people would be likely to invest in.

Follow these tips to build an effective executive wardrobe that will convey confidence and competence throughout your coaching workday.

1. Know the Environment

As a Corporate Coach I’ve noticed how office climates are continually changing. Knowing what is considered appropriate for your office environment will ensure that you do not make any expensive mistakes when building your wardrobe. For example, in a conservative office a suit is a must; while in some more ‘dress down’ offices, you might wear a pair of trousers with a sweater (works for men or women). Keep this in mind when visiting another office that might have a different business dress style than yours or your previous clients’ environment.

2. Consider What Activities You Will Be Doing during each day

If you look uncomfortable doing whatever your coaching role requires you to do because your wardrobe selection is out of place, you will not be taken seriously on the job. Be sure you build outfits into your wardrobe for each activity. Or do what Barack Obama does – he is suited and booted for his Press Call first thing in the morning, then he takes off his jacket and tie, rolls up his shirt sleeves and looks very informally dressed when his next visit is to a school where he is meeting children – they would be intimidated by the man in the suit but not by the more casually dressed.

When choosing your clothes – also think about the fabric they are made from. Select suiting made with some stretch in the fabric, or wear less tailored styles that are easy to move around in.

3. Start with a Wardrobe Audit

When starting to build an effective wardrobe, you need to start by being sure of exactly what you have already – before you make a list of what you need.

Pull out everything in your wardrobe that could possibly be worn to work. Try everything on. Make sure it fits well, that it looks fantastic on you and that it is in good condition.

4. Build A Baker’s Dozen

Your goal should be to have thirteen outfits in your wardrobe. That does not mean thirteen suits. It means that with mixing and matching, your shirts, blouses, jackets, skirts and trousers make up at least thirteen outfits that will comprise your coach wardrobe. You don’t have to be at thirteen immediately, but it is what you want to work towards.

5. Start With Your Core Colour

Start with at least one great suit that fits you perfectly, and in one of your neutral core colours. Your core colours are colours that are the same as your eyes or hair: black, brown, green, blue etc. However if you have blonde or red hair never wear black – it is very aging (unless you want to look 10 years older of course!). Blondes and red heads can look very professional in charcoal grey which is professional and flattering.

6. Keep Your Budget in Mind

Once you put together your shopping list, do not just grab your wallet or purse and go. Do some Internet research to see what is out there, look for sales and calculate what a realistic wardrobe budget might be. You won’t feel good in your new clothes if you have gone into debt to pay for them.

When shopping, remember that quality is important and you are going to spend more for quality. Leave trendy clothes for your weekend activities. Start with clothes that will last for at least a few years as you expand your coaching practice.

7. Essential Pieces

While the task of getting your wardrobe into “executive shape” may seem daunting, this list will help you find the essential pieces to start with to build your executive wardrobe:

  • Two dark suits in one of your core neutral colours
  • One dark skirt in one of your core neutral colours
  • Two pairs of trousers in one of your core neutral colours
  • Two solid shirts or blouses (not prints) in your accent colours
  • A jacket that is tailored, yet loose, in an accent colour

8. When in Doubt, Hire a Professional

Consider hiring an image consultant, a personal branding coach, or an executive coach to work with you to define your professional objectives and help you put together your best possible executive wardrobe.

You are now equipped with the knowledge and information to build a wardrobe that can clearly reflect your high level of professionalism. Keep this article with you while shopping or when considering if something is a must have for a wardrobe that will bring many coaching rewards.

7 Responses to "First Impressions are lasting Impressions"

1 | Jacqueline Pigdon

November 24th, 2009 at 12:02 pm


Great article Ann – I agree! It’s very important to step out in confidence in the right clothes. Making poor wardrobe choices can negatively impact your entire day!Attention to detail for me is a must.

Thanks for the great tips!

Jacqueline Pigdon
Existentialist Spiritual Coach

2 | Julie Sanders

November 24th, 2009 at 1:35 pm


I couldn’t agree more!

Wishing you all a colourful Christmas and a stylish New Year.

Julie Sanders
Colour, Style & Confidence Coach

3 | Sarah J

November 24th, 2009 at 2:03 pm


I am now thinking about details I never considered which make a huge difference!
Thanks for the insight!

4 | Sanda Ionescu

November 24th, 2009 at 3:33 pm


Great tips – thank you for that! I hadn’t thought about core colours before, now I know!

I would only add to that the capsule travel wardrobe. I used to travel 3-4 times a week to Europe (first plane out, last plane back) or have 2-3 day business trips and was so full of books and training materials that I had no room in my suitcase for lots of changes of clothes. So I always had a spare pair of shoes (the ones on your feet might get wet or your heel might go) with underwear and plain white, cream, black or beige T-shirts rolled up in them. As well as far more tights than you ever think you are going to need (or knee-highs) – they will always ladder at the least convenient time. Voila – there I was, always fresh and ready to go!

5 | David Lynne

November 24th, 2009 at 4:18 pm


What are the accent colours?

6 | Rene Wyndham

November 27th, 2009 at 11:00 pm


Dear Ann
Very well put, in a nutshell. Really enjoyed reading your tips. I work in France a lot, mainly in Strasbourg, Lyon and Paris. The women there seem to have a natural flair and adhere to quite a lot of the tips you give. They have those well-cut basic suits and shirts, though in the Lyon workplace they often wear sweaters and trousers, expensive looking. But what is striking is how they use accessories. They will spend out huge sums on silk scarves and good jewellery, and in this way, with few outfits, manage to look immaculate, and elegant, just by a change of accessories. Also they keep something LIGHT close to their face, however dark the rest of their outfit is. This is flattering to the skin.

7 | sanju

December 18th, 2009 at 5:10 pm


great article,I am damn sure that this article will certainly help for the person having coaching as a profession .make sure to follow the tips provided to have a well career growth in coaching….

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