A good friend of mine hasn’t been in the business work force for a few years. In addition to being an active mom and volunteer, she’s a writer and has been asked for a few speaking engagements this month. They are during the day (super hot in Houston) to exclusively female audiences. She mentioned her wardrobe hadn’t been refreshed recently and asked what to wear. She specifically asked “what kind of dress?”
So all you speakers out there, today’s Shopping With A Purpose is how to refresh your wardrobe when asked to speak.
While a dress is certainly a good option, my friend has broader shoulders and narrow hips, so dresses can be a bit trickier to fit. My first recommendation is separates. Easy, polished, fitted, and transitions easily to different audiences (business versus non business, etc.). I also note, that if your audiences will be more faith based like hers and less business audiences, that come fall you have a zillion more options. Knee high boots with dark denim and a cool vest or sweater are perfect for daytime audiences.
For summer separates, think pretty blouse with any number of bottoms. I recently acquired a gorgeous blouse that would look stunning with my friend’s coloring and figure. Now this blouse was pricey, and I only bought it because I had store credit, but it’s a great example of a top for her engagement because of it’s rich color and simple style.
For a bottom, try a neutral pant or a dark denim trouser jean. Keep them long enough to pair with a wedge or heeled sandal. I like these dove gray trousers, a great color for summer, or even in ivory (if you DARE!). Or if you can stand the heat, these simple dark denim jeans are only $25 at Old Navy. And you can always bring your pant hemline up a bit and go for the ankle pant with flats look which is cute and comfortable.
Pair this base with a lightweight cardigan for something more informal or a blazer if she wants to formalize the look. These two staple pieces make a very versatile base. Then add a cool tassle necklace with simple earrings and you’re all set.
However, a dress is definitely still a solid choice for summer. And a wrap dress, with flexibility to cinch at the waist, is a great option for different top and bottom sizes.
This selection is VERY style dependent. Here are a couple of lovely options from Nordstrom’s, but it’s really up to the speaker to know her audience and whether to go for something bright and patterned or more subdued. The key is to buy the dress is a quality, heavier, fabric to cover any areas you might feel less comfortable about.
The most critical component is to TRY out your outfit! Try it standing and sitting down. Try it moving around a pretend stage. Stand in your shoes a while to see if they hurt. Wear your necklace around to see if it itches or moves too much.
You must be comfortable in front of the audience or else you’ll twitch and tug. I know because I have twitched and tugged after selecting the wrong speaking outfits. I almost always go with blazers and trousers now simply because I feel the most comfortable and confident in that pairing. So do what feels right for you as well as your audience.
Have fun and look as gorgeous as you are!