Your Personal Style provides an opportunity to communicate your Personal Brand. People often see you before they hear a word you say! Learn a technique to help you define and cultivate your Personal Style, plus a simple tip to help you decide what clothing to buy and what to leave in the store. Thank you to Anne V. Muhlethaler for her valuable advice.
Anne V. Muhlethaler
- AVM luxury brand consulting – https://avm.consulting/
- LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/anne-v-muhlethaler/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/_outoftheclouds/
- Out of the Clouds podcast: https://www.talkabouttalk.com/74-mindfulness-with-anne-muhlethaler/
- Martha Beck – https://marthabeck.com/gathering-pod/the-gathering-room-with-dr-jill-bolte-taylor/
- Jack Kornfield – https://jackkornfield.com/podcasts-heart-wisdom/
- Esther Perel – https://www.estherperel.com/
- OUT OF THE CLOUDS Anne’s Interview of Andrea – https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/out-of-the-clouds/dr-andrea-wojnicki-on-hi_eog7VRbD/
- Talk About Talk #74 MINDFULNESS Practicing our Communication Skills with Anne Muhlethaler – https://www.talkabouttalk.com/74-mindfulness-with-anne-muhlethaler/
- Talk About Talk #16 Talking Fashion & Style with Toronto Fashion Week’s Carolyn Quinn – https://www.talkabouttalk.com/16-s2-talking-fashion-style-with-toronto-fashion-weeks-carolyn-quinn/
Here’s a Q for you: DO you have a “personal style”? That’s a hard one, isn’t it?
Let’s try an easier Q. What’s your favourite color? What colour is your personal favourite?
Anyone who knows me. Knows my personal favourite colour is turquoise. Without Question.
But what if you asked a fashionista? Say renowned fashion designer and STYLE ICON Coco Chanel? What would she say? According to Coco Chanel:
“The best color in the whole world… is the one that looks good on you.”
I love that.
Welcome to Talk About Talk episode #97, where we’re focusing on Personal Style & your Personal Brand. In this episode, you’re going to hear from someone who’s worked in the fashion business for decades about how to cultivate your personal style.
You’re going to learn an exercise you can try to help you figure out your personal style. You’re going to learn a hack for how to decide whether you should buy something or not when you’re in a clothing store, and you also learn what elements to think about with regard to your Personal Style – beyond just your clothes!
Why does this all matter? Because your personal style has a significant impact on your personal brand. Oftentimes, people SEE you before they HEAR a word that comes outta your mouth. Your personal style matters. Your personal style is a significant factor in how you communicate your personal brand.
A quick primer on personal branding. Your PB is what people say and think about you when youre not in the room. It’s your identity or your reputation. And certainly, you can control, or at least influence your personal brand. You can strategically manage it. ONE way to do so is through your personal style.
Before I go any further, let me introduce myself.
I’m your communication coach, Dr. Andrea Wojnicki (please call me Andrea!). I’m obsessed with communication, and lately I spend a lot of time coaching executives and running workshops on personal branding, in particular.
If you happen to be an ambitious executive with a growth mindset, looking to advance your career, then you’re in the right place.
At Talk About Talk, we focus on communication skills topics like storytelling, confidence, networking, and yes, personal branding. These are the skills that will take you from a strong B+ in your career to an A+. And if you check out the TalkAboutTalk.com website, you’ll find corporate workshops, 1-on-1 coaching with me, the archive of this bi-weekly podcast, and the free weekly communication-skills newsletter. I really hope you’ll go to the website and sign up for the free weekly communication skills training newsletter.
So welcome to Talk About Talk episode number 97, focused on personal style and your personal brand. Recently, when I’ve been coaching some impressive executives on their personal brand, a few of my clients have asked me – point blank – what they should wear. One marketing executive with a vivacious personality and a personal brand to match, asked me what she should wear. At the time, she was wearing a boring black suit jacket with a beige shirt underneath. No accessories that I could see. Lovely hair. I suggested she go with bold accessories or colours to reinforce her bold personal brand. I also made a note to myself: I NEED TO TALK TO ANNE!
Who’s Anne? Well, you’re about to meet her. And you’ll love her, I promise. Amongst other things in Anne’s impressive bio, she worked at Christian Louboutin – arguably one of the world’s top shoe designers, for years, and she even managed his communications. SO COOL.
Here’s how this episode is going to go. I’m going to formally introduce Anne, then we’ll get right into the interview. After the interview Im going to summarize everything for you with key takewaways. And all of this (the summary, links to everything we mention, plus the transcript) are all available in the shownotes on the TalkAbouttalk.com website. So as always, you don’t have to take notes, because I do that for you. You’re welcome.
All right, let me introduce Anne. Anne Muhlethaler worked for Christian Louboutin, first in the UK as general manager, then in the US and France where she spearheaded global communications for over a decade, overseeing all channels including public relations, social media, content creation, retail marketing and events, as well as wholesale collaboration programs and partnerships.
Nowadays, Anne leads AVM Consulting, a branding and communication consultancy that provides bespoke communication and business development strategies for fashion and luxury brands worldwide.
As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Anne’s also a meditation and mindfulness instructor. You can hear more about this side of her in TAT episode #74. Yah, Anne’s a sort of a renaissance woman. And she writes one of my favourite weekly blogs. She’s smart and she’s thoughtful. She also has a beautiful voice (she’s a singer) and she hosts a podcast (that’s actually how we met). Her podcast is called “Out of the Clouds” – I’ll leave links to her podcast and newsletter in the shownotes.
So as you can see, Anne’s got a lot going on. She’s smart, she’s generous, and she’s on a mission, as she says, to make us better at living. Let’s start with how we look – our personal style.
Thank you and so much for joining us here today to talk about personal style.
Oh, thank you so much for having me, Andrea, I’m delighted to be talking to you today.
Okay, let’s start by talking about the definition of style, particularly relative to fashion. I have my own ideas about how those terms are distinct. But I would love to hear from an expert.
When I was thinking about style and the topic in general, I just thought I was going to quote a friend of mine who happens to actually be from Toronto from Canada. I actually interviewed him on the podcast as well. His name is Todd Lin. He is a menswear and womenswear designer. And apparently he’s producing a short line of knitwear. And what he said to me is, fashion is about ideas. And sometimes these ideas become clothes. And I think that it’s interesting in a good way to get into the conversation, because fashion does convey a lot of concepts. And whether you choose to actively think about this as you get dressed, whether it’s for yourself, or going out for work, or not, fashion itself, as around belongs to the world of ideas. And when he said that, to me, I thought, wow. And so style is entirely different style is something that can be applicable to your writing, the way that you express yourself, the way you decorate your home, or how you get dressed. And I think that our personal style for most people does evolve a lot through our lives. But I think what’s interesting in this question is to first identify what is it that we like, before talking to you, I was thinking, What do I like, I’m pretty colorful, not that you’ll see it today. But there’s texture, where sometimes I don’t have color. I’m very eclectic, and I like a multiplicity of things. And you will find this in my personal dress style, as much as you’d find it in my home or in other things that express something about me. So I think that style is much wider than what we see through our clothes. But it’s obviously an important part of it.
Do you have like a list of ways or places where style shows up? So you said how you decorate your home, your clothing? What else can we be thinking about in terms of expressing our style,
I think that the way we write the way we speak on the phone, for example, I’m a thoughtful email writer. And that means I don’t write emails, how I speak or how I text. So I’m relatively formal in my email style. And that is something that you’ll find across the board. And that hasn’t changed over time. And in terms of in person or over the phone. Again, I like to be very considerate. It’s something that comes to me relatively naturally. But I also am very intentional about it, my style is very warm, and tends to be a little bit more casual. I work mostly in English, but I do obviously engage in French. And occasionally in Italian, there is a formal rule or lay in Italian. And wherever possible, I’d rather be using the more informal but with a lot of warmth and with you know, consideration, which means that you’re expressing respect.
Okay, so you said so much there that I want to dig further on. You use the word intentional. And you also said that your personal style, what I heard was that it’s informal and warm. Yes. But it also varies across medium, right. So as you said, texting versus phone calls versus an email and your newsletter, your newsletters, definitely feel informal, but warm. Does that informal and warm tone? carry over into how you dress?
Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s a very interesting segue that you’re making, but love formal dressing. So in my previous career, I had an enormous amount of opportunities to get very well dressed for lots of events. And let’s be honest, I’ve really enjoyed that. I have a, I have half a closet in my guest bedroom that is entirely dedicated towards evening where that I hasn’t seen the light of day for over two and something is wow. So yeah, I prefer informal. And I think that you can find warm through the colors you can find warm through the textures. And so where possible, I try to make sure that my wardrobe is not going to give me any discomfort. Because you know, wardrobe disasters can happen.
Oh goodness, I definitely want to talk about wardrobe disasters. I guess that’s a good segue into what are some of the mistakes that you see people making?
I mean, listen, when I think about mistakes, I think about the ones I’ve made, first and foremost, for me, the mistake is when we try to be someone we’re not. And that happens a lot when we don’t know who we are. Personally, in my career previously when I was in London in particular, from my mid 20s into my earliest At ease, I never had a desire to be in fashion, I wanted to be a singer, I had a whole thing. And so as things progressed in my career kept on moving up and up and up, I found myself first having salary that didn’t necessarily reflect, you know, the opportunities to get dressed with the designers that were surrounding the store I was in. And then the secondary thing is, I didn’t know how to get dressed to be a fashion executive because I wasn’t sample size. And a lot of the women that were in and around me, were very skinny and could afford to buy anything that was discarded from fashion shows, and the samples that designers make at the start of the season that you can buy for 80% off or something at the end of each season. So for me, it was, it was a real struggle, I found it very difficult to get dressed for a few years.
So do you have any specific examples of mistakes that you made, it could be a specific article that you wore that you were like, steak, or like a way of thinking about how to dress that you realized wasn’t working for you?
Listen, I for a while I went down the route of the dress, because it just felt easier, you know, put a pair of tights on put a pair of heels slip on a dress. And I think that for a lot of women, when we need to show up and be relatively formal, because we have a lot of appointments, there’s a lot of see title coming to our office, it just feels like it’s the more considered choice because you don’t need to think about it mega heart, you know, you don’t need to over accessorize. You put a big coat on top of that handbag, and boom, you’re good to go. And some of the dresses that I got in looking back, not my favorite fashion choices of all time, whether it catastrophic, probably not. Yeah, and I definitely remember a couple of very nice dresses like super chic, short dresses. But the fabric felt itchy. I have this vision. And I remember one or two bit particular winters in London, where I feel it was just a little bit itchy. And just feeling just a little bit too tight here. Not quite right there and just not not quite comfortable. But I am a very, very big fan of comfort, particularly to express your personal style through clothing, and through shoes. You want your clothes to be something that enhance you, you know, there’s always that famous Coco Chanel quote, I’ll paraphrase. But she says you want to be seeing the woman, not the dress. And I think the minute that your clothes give you any kind of discomfort or make you feel self self doubting or losing your self confidence because something is not quite right, then people are going to notice the way you’re dressed rather than notice you sure you want your clothes to be an extension of you. Right? You don’t want them to dominate you.
No, not at all. Especially not your shoes, especially for women.
So you’re really focusing on the shoes, which is understand, given where you’ve gone Yes. I’m sure that any and all women who are going to listen to this podcast are going to of course, think of shoes if we talk about personal style. And if I say comfort, the first thing that’s going to come as to you know, the state of that toes.
That’s really interesting. So I have a friend that she’s stunning and she used to be a model. And she told me that when she was doing her modeling courses, they taught them hair, hands and feet. Before you leave the house, check your hair, check your hands and check your feet as long as those three things look fantastic. You’re probably good to go.
That’s such that’s such a good piece of advice. Yeah, I remember that when I first landed in London and started working in the boutique Christian Louboutin. I was always enjoying reading magazines and being around fashion. Beforehand, my mum was incredibly stylish woman. I wasn’t, she was not that excited about my fashion. But I remember just wearing a lot of very simple things like a white t shirt and a pair of cargo pants, and having a good pair of shoes. And I think that’s why so many of us focus on footwear. You can have a couple of very simple items to wear. And just one great accessory that just lifts everything up and that it’s sometimes through that accessory that you get to say something about what your style is true. You know, I was thinking about this quote that my friend shared with me and I was thinking nowadays, it’s also the handbag, the handbag seems to be pervasive or common in terms of when when we talk about accessorizing
Yeah, I’m not a massive handbag person. So I have a few. I’ve never really been much into the bags of late. So I think that This is something that you’ll find in any and all fashion websites and magazines. But for me, it’s a little bit less important. And I think that it also becomes less important because a lot of us have spent a lot of times at home. And I think the difficulty for handbags is that you really need to have the functionalities. And you really need to be careful about the weight.
So everything that you just said, it could also apply for our footwear, right? It’s like, form and function, there’s the aesthetic, and then there’s, is it comfortable. And then you said for you, you know, the shoes are probably the accessory for other people, there is the it bag, and they want to have the bag or they have a particular bag that they use to express their personal brand, whether they’re conscious of it or not. And I feel like that might be a nice segue into personal branding, because I think there’s a very strong connection between our personal brand and our personal style. And in fact, you know, when I’m coaching my clients on personal branding, after we’ve articulated what their personal brand is, we move into this long list of ways to express the personal brand, including how they dress. And I shared with you previously that recently several clients have started to ask me, Andrea, how should I dress? Can you talk a little bit, I guess, in general about how we can express our personal brand through what we’re wearing?
Sure. I’m thinking about your clients, and maybe helping you answer that question. There’s a reason why in a lot of movies, there’s a moment where someone’s going through, you know, what, like that pretty woman situation where she tries on all of the clothes and she comes back out. And she’s like a new woman. We like a makeover. Right. But I think that the piece that we all forget about the Mi Coover is that there’s a lot of tying on that happens beforehand. And what I think most of us don’t give ourselves the opportunity to do I mean, I certainly did not for most of my life, is to do it properly. And to go okay, so what should I wear? Let me try tons of things on. And let me do this with someone who can give me an informed opinion. And by that I don’t mean your mother, or your best friend, or your husband. First of all, without spending a lot of money, just go to a store you love and go and speak to someone and say, Listen, I’m trying to figure out what my personal brand is. And I’d like to try few things on. Is there anyone that can help me and just spend an hour, right spend an hour, take the accessories that you are most likely to be using, whether it’s shoes or a bag, a pair of tights, I keep on thinking about women, but it’s the same for guys. And and give this a try. And also by the way, you’ll be doing that store owner or that store assistant a favor. Because it’s rare that someone proactively says listen, I’m looking for something, I need help. And I think that when we ask for help, we’re much more likely to come out on the other end, feeling like we’ve succeeded and found something that really suits so I remember a few years ago, I hosted a bunch of large events in the south of Europe in Italy and scorching hot temperatures. And I was very uneasy about what I was going to wear. And I was working at the time quite closely with Net-a-potter the multi brand online store. And so one of my friends who was at the time, the head of their personal shopping service, said Listen, come to the personal shopping suite and tell us what you need, how many events what time What’s the occasion, blah, blah, blah. And I’ve got to be honest, it sounds a little bit full on but it was absolutely amazing because I don’t know most of the clothes that they had on in stock that season. And you want to go towards a professional who’s going to say try this on it’s gonna be amazing. And on the rack I’m thinking oh, I’m going to look like I’m wearing a tent. And you know what? Some of the best dresses have ever bought in my entire life and it still holds up seven years later because it was the most amazing dress and I would have never even gone towards that designer because I am not that fond of Michael Kors. And yet proven wrong. So I think whether you are in to high fashion, vintage, regardless of the level of your budget, it’s really worth going and actively trying to figure out what suits you and you don’t need to buy a lot. But be clever and make sure that you come out with something that you love so much you want to wear straightaway. That’s my go to role. If I don’t want to wear it today, even if the weather is not appropriate. And I probably don’t want you
oh that is a fantastic test. I love that if you’re if you’re not excited to put it on immediately. Leave it in the store. I also love your advice about going in and seeking that professional. And I’m actually thinking back to this amazing sales person, Connie who’s helped me a couple times. And I remember I went in there after I had my third baby. And I felt really frumpy. And I had to go and speak at a conference and I was going to be, you know, quote, unquote, on stage. And I told her all this, and she helped me pull together a suit, I actually still have it. So I went to her with the occasion. And also, here’s how I feel. Now, here’s how I want to feel. So I was really implicitly expressing to her my personal brand. I’m feeling frumpy, how I want to feel is professional and put together. And, and I’m a pretty bold person, which, which leads me to my next question for you. I’ve had this question twice in the last two weeks, and I’m doing a lot of one on one coaching with and in these two cases, it was women, but it could apply to men definitely equally as well, who have said, okay, so I am a bold leader, Andrea, what should I be wearing? And you know, to one of the women, I said, well, the easy answer is that you need to wear something bold, but it needs to be true to you. So you know, it could be color, it could be an accessory, and I said you have gorgeous hair, you know, pull your hair up and in front and show off your gorgeous hair. I think this may be a common thing, right? There’s people who don’t look bold, but they are bold, and they step it up.
I think that one of the easiest things to do is to do a visualization exercise. So I recently was coaching someone who has had a lot of stops and start with her career. And so what we did is we sort of stepped into the future, so to speak, ask her to close her eyes. And to visualize what it’s going to be like the day she’s got the office, she’s dreaming off. And so we start to visualize the space, the environment, the location. And then I asked her to be more descriptive about the internal design of her office. And I asked her what she looked like what she was wearing. The thing is, when we start when you close our eyes, when you go inwards, and we start projecting, we immediately have ideas that we’ll come up with in our mind’s eye. But essentially, we have a connection to that other person that we’d like to be embodying, let’s say, and so the goal at the end of a coaching session like this is to say, okay, so what out of that future you that you want to be? What can you bring into your life today? So is it the black polo neck that you described me that you were wearing? Is it the way that you were holding your hair, she was descriptive about her glasses, for example, or about the watch she was going to be wearing. So some of us will have an idea about we could be a piece of jewelry. And so it’s funny, because once you start having that sort of inner consultation, it becomes much easier to step in those shoes, because somehow you’ve been in them before, right? I think you’ve mentioned hair, and I would go to her as well. Whether you’re a man or a woman, yeah, consider well, how do you want your hair to be like you? How do you want to be seen, if you’re a woman, be very tactful about how you want to wear your makeup. And I always go back to that quote that you introduced me to. This matters, because your personal brand is what people will say when you leave the room.
I love the idea of thinking about the future you the desired future you write thinking not only about the office that he or she is in, but also about how that person’s dressed. And then you’ll feel like I noticed you used a metaphor with shoes, you said you have walked in those shoes before, at least in your mind, right?
When we step into that visualization about ourselves, there’s a real opportunity to bring that desired feeling because it’s the feeling we want, right? And start to make it real, make it manifest, make it manifest by choosing at least one component of what comes up in the visualization.
Brilliant, brilliant. Your recommendation for doing this visualization also reminded me have the saying it’s almost a cliche, right? Don’t dress for the job you have dress for the job you want. But this is a way to really take that to the next step. Imagine yourself in that office. What are you wearing? on that stage? What are you wearing?
Yeah, and I think that it’s also the beauty of it is you’re wearing it for yourself? Yeah, absolutely brilliant. But I like the idea that we in that way we’re dressing for the job we want but really, we’re dressing for ourselves.
Right? Right. So you’re gonna be quoted on this. Absolutely. And because the cliche phrase of dress for the job you want not the job you have. In our minds, we’re thinking about other people that have that job or that kind of job and how they dress. But you’re saying no, no, no, you in that job? How are you dressed? How are you feeling? So observing yourself from another person’s perspective, but then really being focused on am I communicating implicitly? How I feel and how I want to feel?
Yes, I think that’s wonderful. And I believe that one of the best things that we can do in tandem with this exploration is to make sure that we are clear about what our values are like, what is it that I wanted to be conveying about myself? And I think that there’s a, there’s a work of self reflection, which I think that you do a lot with your clients, so that they really have a clear perspective on what they want to put across. And then carrying that through and see, is there a correlation? Or is this dissonant? Is there something about what I’m presenting to the world that goes against what I’ve put on paper as to what my personal brand is?
Beautiful. Okay, we’re gonna move on to the five rapid fire questions. Are you ready? Number one, what are your pet peeves?
I really can’t stand it. When people put out a newsletter and say to new followers, Oh, tell me where you are, who you are, where you’re from. And then they ask you to email you and then your email and the one response that really I cannot stand it really pisses me off?
That is very fair. Okay. Question number two, introvert or extrovert?
enthusiast, ik introvert, which some people find confusing.
Okay, the third question is actually related to a comment that you made about the way that people imagine things. What type of learner Are you? How do you internalize information
I internalize in two ways. First in writing, I find that I’m a very big note taker. So and I take notes, very liberally on my phone or my computer hand, I have paper everywhere post its, but I also am a big, I think it was thanks to Seth Godin, who in a Tim Ferriss interview, had said, These are my favorite books, and it’s worth having them on audio and listening on repeat like six or seven times. Every time I listen to it, more of the knowledge seeps in and I don’t, I’m not gonna remember everything otherwise. But so for me, I’m not just a learner, I’m integrating when I repeat, and repeat and repeat either reading, writing or listening.
Okay, last question. Do you have any recommendations for books, blogs, or podcasts that you’ve been sharing with people?
I’m going to be very specific on the podcast. So I trained as a coach with Martha Beck last year, and she has a podcast called The Gathering pod. And she did two interviews with the neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor. I cannot recommend this enough.
She’s the neurologist who had a stroke, right? Yes, yeah.
And I also really, really love the podcast by Jack Kornfield. It’s called the wise heart, the wisdom heart. I can’t remember. But it’s a beautiful and generally there’s long talks, and he’s quite funny, and he’s super thoughtful. And it’s just like, I don’t know, it’s like a hug. As a newsletter, I want to tell you, Esther, Parral rocks my world. I mean, frankly, it’s worth the hype. She’s really impressive. And as for books, how much time do you have for me to recommend books. I’m going to give you what I’m reading at the moment. So right now, I am listening on audible to the late Tony Hsieh his book which is called Delivering Happiness. This is the founder of Zappos, and I’m really, really enjoying it. I am also loving this book called Peak mind by Dr. Michel Jarre. I really loved her tech talk about attention, which I think everyone should see. And the book is, is really delivering and I also have it on Audible. And then this one, which I’m actually quoting today, in the intro of my newsletter, it’s called difference. It’s by the writer, Bernadette jiwa. She’s a wonderful, wonderful writer. And she generally writes about marketing, communication and business. It’s very smart. It’s very simple to understand. And it’s, it’s generous. I really, really like her. Your recommendations are so compelling, and I can’t wait to devour every single one of them. So I will also link links, I mean it, I will leave links to all of those in the show notes and also to your website and your blog, because I know I’ve told you this before and I want to say publicly your blog is one that I read top to bottom, and I always am so glad that I did. It is very thoughtful and very smart.
So thank you so much. I’m so excited. Yeah, I love it.
I mean it. Is there anything else you want to say in terms of our personal style and our personal brand?
I would say just I think that we all deserve to be seen. And I think that this is something that it’s a journey that we can support each other on and don’t forget, you can ask other people for help. It’s worth it.
That’s great. Thank you so much and for sharing your insights and your time I will Love this conversation
thank you I could have talked about this for another three hours
THANKS for LISTENING. Talk soon!
- Email: Andrea@TalkAboutTalk.com