Look like a million on a tight budget

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in Workplace Communication

Anyone can look put-together and professional with a hefty wallet. But Sandy Dumont, of the Image Architect (www.theimagearchitect.com), knows how to achieve a million-dollar look, even on a shoestring budget.

How to build a wardrobe that positively affects your career:

Buy quality, not quantity. Having only “one perfectly fitting skirt in a superb fabric that spans several seasons (lightweight wool, for example) is better than a dozen ill-fitting skirts in an array of colors,” she says.

It’s hard to believe, but no one will notice if you wear the same black skirt or slacks three times in a week if you pair it with different tops.

What women should look for on the sale racks: linen, wool gabardine and wool crepe designer skirts and pants. Men should start with one navy blue suit in wool gabardine, crepe or worsted wool and at least three shirts and three great ties.

Choose earrings carefully. They’re “among the most important accessories for women,” Dumont says. Dainty earrings often look “powerless,” while thin hoops and chandelier earrings create distraction. She prefers chunky hoops that imply “power.”

Also, she says, an omega-shaped necklace helps to frame the face. And silver is more flattering to most people’s skin tone than gold.

Find out which colors suit you. “One of the biggest mistakes made is trying to achieve harmony by matching the superficial appearance with colors: blondes in pastels, redheads in rust or orange, etc.,” she says. “Don’t be afraid of bold colors.”

Think contrast. Safe, perfectly matched looks often end up looking boring. For example, with a brown suit, a man might opt for a French blue shirt and burgundy tie. Think magenta, raspberry and royal blue when assembling different outfits.

Tip: Make a list of the things that are missing from your closet and keep it with you. If you have a suit in a safe color, add to your list “scarf, tie or blouse in a bold color.” Know your best colors and list those, too. Next time you run across a fabulous sale, you will be prepared.

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