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Fashion & Finance: Style = Success

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July 15, 2011

As a graduate of the State University of New York Fashion Institute of Technology, and a career beginning in New York with companies including Giorgio Armani, Christian Dior, Jones Apparel Group and Avon Products Inc., I would have never expected to find myself employed within the field of accounting, let alone the industry’s 2011 Association for Accounting Marketing “Rookie of the Year.”

I remember struggling in school with my math classes, terrified of numbers and formulas I just couldn’t seem to understand, but was absolutely in love with writing, reading and the study of art and fashion.

After 10 years in New York City, I decided it was time to start fresh and relocate back to my hometown of Buffalo, N.Y. I knew it would be an adjustment, a completely different way of life, but was hopeful that I would find some of the things I was looking for and lacking in the fast-paced and often lonely world of the Big Apple.

So here I am, three years later, life changed dramatically with a new house, impending wedding, and fledgling career in accounting, working as e-marketing and communications specialist for Freed Maxick & Battaglia, a top 100 CPA firm in the United States, located in Buffalo. A little over a year ago, our marketing and HR teams and directors saw something unique in my background and personality, and felt my marketing, public relations and communications skills would be an asset to the firm.

Through my career, I have experienced that life really does take you all over the place and back, and if you work hard to stay fresh, smart and creative, you can do just about anything and enjoy it. Navigating through your daily work life, you can find success translating your knowledge and abilities (in my case public relations, digital media, marketing and communications) to any job, bringing along the skills and experience you picked up along the way, and translating new ideas into diverse industries.

My fashion experience truly does help me execute many of our marketing tactics here at Freed Maxick, and the savvy men and women I worked with in New York helped me become a confident and assertive professional. My co-workers at Freed Maxick also help encourage and shape me, respecting my knowledge and experience, placing value on what I do, and leaning on me for new ideas.

One thing that I found a bit different from my days in the garment district is the corporate dress code. These rules and regulations are the standard for many firms across the country (and can be especially brutal for women!), but I just wasn’t used to all of the style directives within the accounting workforce, and felt a bit confused about how to adjust while maintaining my individuality.

This is one place, though, I have learned I can really shine. I can help others in the accounting field with some useful tips and tricks throughout each season, to show your best self and maintain a professional appearance, all while staying on trend.

I’ve learned that, just as in the fashion world, your attire at the office says a lot about you. Your clothes dictate how others treat you, affect your ability to gain and build trust, represent the respect you have for your clients, and can help build confidence to close the deal.

To start off my fashion-related column, with more to come as we look toward to the fall fashion season, here are two key tips. They may seem like obvious statements, but you’d be surprised at the number of questions that people have about dress codes and what to wear. Here are two classic recommendations of where to start.

1)    Hold on there Lady Gaga! It seems so obvious, but not every current makeup and beauty trend is right for the office environment. Since spring and through summer, we have seen a ton of bright, beautiful and colorful new options available at the beauty counter. But, super trendy makeup colors and hair styles can look completely out of place in a business meeting, and not right on everyone, so consider how those louder choices can affect your credibility and professional appearance.

Attempt a natural but polished look from well groomed brows to polished nails. People do notice these things, and appreciate the time you put in to looking your best. I love Gaga too, but those glam get ups are better on stage than during a client meeting. A polished look just comes with the territory of a conservative business environment.

2)    Guys, you just can’t go wrong with a suit—a quality suit that is. Buying a suit that is the right color, fit and structure appropriate for your body type is key to looking sharp and feeling confident. As often stated, many clients can spot a cheap suit a mile away, and you just don’t want to be that guy.

Just as you have invested in your education and professional development, you want to invest in a quality, well-made suit. You’ll wear it often and it can help build a professional and respected look.

If you are not sure where to start, head to your local department store and ask for help. There are many retail consultants that can help you find the best style and fit, or a suit that you’ll get a long life out of. Department stores also often have great coupons, in-store incentives and sales, so you may even be able to get two for the price of one!

You may not enjoy shopping, but the right suit can last you close to a lifetime, with various dress shirts and ties creating endless looks.

You can follow Emily on Twitter @FreedMaxickPR or email her at emily.burns@freedmaxick.com.

 

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