I have a fabulous friend who hasn’t gone shopping in a LONG time. She’s lost a little weight which was one of the primary reasons holding her back, and now she’s got a great reason to shop: a new business!
Here’s her Shopping With A Purpose submission: I will soon be meeting with prospective private clients as I build my business. These people would be high net worth individuals needing a “Personal CFO.” I would mostly meet them in their homes, although some might have me come to their offices, but my work for them would not be in an office. I would work for them personally, not for their company. I want to look professional, but a black suit would be over the top. What type of outfits should I consider? Would your answer be different if I was meeting with a woman versus a man/couple? Or if I’m meeting them at their office versus their home?
This is a momma of three who is busy and working on a budget. So first things first: don’t worry about different outfits for different gender clients or different meeting locations. Stick with a few basics that you can mix and match; otherwise shopping will be a nightmare.
Importantly, if you’re serving high net worth individuals, you need to look high net worth even if you’re not. One great way to do this is to buy a few well made “investment” wardrobe pieces. People with extensive budgets will notice. Also, regardless of your personality, go for understated. It reflects good judgment and stability which someone will be looking for in the finance industry. Look for unique detailing that speak to quality without being too over the top.
A great way to shop luxury on a budget is to look at the “outlet” branches of high-end stores that would normally be out of reach. Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue all have stores in Houston (where she lives) but far more options available on-line.
I suggest, for the most part, sticking with trousers. The driver for this recommendation is it’s a lot harder to manage creeping hemlines if you’re sitting on someone’s sofa for a meeting than if you’re parked under a desk in an office chair. If you are comfortable in your clothes, and not pulling and tugging, you will come off more at ease and put the client at ease.
And, for the most part, sticking with a blazer looks more professional than a sweater, though there are certainly exceptions to this formula. Before you go shopping, pick up some magazines (like Town & Country or Vogue) and pull some ideas. While you don’t have to shop couture, the pictures can serve as your inspiration for style or color as you shop.
Finally, before you start, you must have a great handbag. Quality leather. Buy it on eBay or on sale or at an outlet, but you need a great bag. It’s what you will carry every day and will be one of the first things the women notice. This is where you spend your money. And buy a big enough bag you can include your folder with any papers you have for your client. This Diane von Furstenberg has been marked down from $450 to $200 and this Badgley Mischka has dropped from $475 to $240 – both at Last Call:
Here’s a few great individual piece options:
This gorgeous ivory blazer with a muted giraffe print is Lafayette 148, it reads luxury and won’t need any accessorizing – it normally runs over $500 but you can get it for less than $200 at Last Call.
This is a simple ice blue Cacharel jacket that normally runs $700, but is just over $100 at Rack.
One way to soften your look is to get a belted sweater jacket, like this one on sale at Nordstrom by Vince (I’d pair it with something brighter underneath).
If you can afford the splurge, get a couple of fabulous bottoms since you’ll be wearing them all the time. These not quite ivory lined wool blend Giorgio Armani trousers would normally run you close to $1000, but at Rack, they’re less than $200.
Another great “trouser” light option is the ankle pant. Pair an overlong sweater/jacket with heels and an ankle pant and you’re comfy and sophisticated. These Vince ankle trousers are over half off at Last Call and come in under $100.
And despite my recommendation to favor trousers, a number of this season’s skirts are lowering their hemline. Depending on your figure and what you pair on top to balance it out, one of these sophisticated past knee numbers would be lovely. (This inspiration is courtesy of Neiman’s and well outside most of our budgets…)
How do you pull your pieces together? Consider mixing a color palette that you wouldn’t typically. Nothing in the neon family, but deep rich hues that show your sophistication. Add a simple piece of jewelry. Buy a new lipstick. Try a few things out and text your best girlfriends pictures!
This is a great example of an outfit you could pull off in an office or home for a client meeting. The jacket is courtesy of Rack (and on sale for $30, someone please stop me from clicking buy), but I love the pairing of the gold jacket with a thin maroon sweater and narrow black trouser (polished off with a skinny belt which actually does make you look thinner regardless of what you’d think).
Here’s another great way to mix color and texture to achieve a polished, but not overly formal, look.
For second meetings, feel free to break out the sweaters. Pair it with a gorgeous pearl or gold necklace (quality, but simple) – think this top layered sweaterwith camel trousers (adding an oxford underneath or a blazer over immediately upgrades a little sweater).
Don’t match – just play with patterns and colors. But most importantly, have fun! Wear what you feel beautiful in and buy clothes that fit well.