On this week’s episode of the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast, we speak with style consultant, Melanie Lippman. Melanie works with ambitious women who are letting limiting beliefs and overwhelm about clothing and personal style hold them back from who they are really meant to be.
“From a young age, I realized the power of confidence and the power of just you, yourself feeling good. If you feel good and you just feel confident in the way that you look, as opposed to not loving the body you’re in right now, it can really flip the switch on any situation. That’s kind of where I really realized that I loved giving women the power to feel great in their own skin,” says Melanie.
We chat about looking beyond the surface level of personal style, as well as:
- Dressing for success
- Bringing positivity to your internalized view of yourself
- Identifying your body type and dressing for the body you’re in
- Embracing colour in your wardrobe
- Looking presentable and professional on video
- And more
Mentioned in this episode:
- How to Look Flawless on Video
- Melanie’s Website
- Melanie’s Facebook Group
- Melanie’s LinkedIn
- Melanie’s Instagram
Davina Frederick: Hello and welcome to the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast. Our mission is to provide thought-provoking, powerful and practical information to help you in creating your own sustainable wealth-generating law firm without overwork or overwhelm so you can live your best life. I’m your host, Davina Frederick, and I’m here today with Melanie Lippmann, style consultant. Melanie works with ambitious women who are letting limiting beliefs and overwhelm about clothing and their style, holding back from who they are really meant to be. So welcome Melanie. I’m so happy to have you here on the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast.
Melanie Lippman: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be here with you.
Davina: Great. Well, we’ve got a lot of questions for you today. And this is such a fun topic to be able to talk about. Fashion and style and how we present ourselves. But there’s a whole lot more than just kind of that surface, wearing a beautiful dress or wearing lovely jewelry or whatever. There’s a whole lot more to it than that and we’re going to get into that. But before we do, I’d like for you to tell us just a little bit about yourself and your background and how you came to do this kind of work.
How Melanie Became a Style Consultant
Melanie: Absolutely. So I’ve been personal styling since I was five years old. My family had an accessory store, and people would come in, let’s say, looking for a pair of earrings to wear to their son’s wedding. And then we all have our stories that I don’t, you know, I’m dreading going to the wedding because my ex-husband is going to be there with his new wife and like all this stuff. And I quickly realized that if you felt good showing up to the event, it was so much easier to go there.
And then also, if you just feel confident in the way that you look as opposed to being like, I just don’t love the body that I’m in right now, just really flipping the switch in that situation. So from such a young age, I realized the power of confidence and the power of just you yourself feeling good. So that’s kind of where I really realized that I loved doing that and I loved giving women that power to feel great in their own skin.
So, of course, trajectory in the fashion industry, went to the Fashion Institute of Technology and had a career as an account executive in corporate within the fashion industry for over 10 years. And went through a lot of the things that someone’s young in a huge corporate world goes through. I was given a pretty big position when I was 24 years old.
I was told to get on a plane and sell very expensive jewelry to Harrods, the department store in England. And some people may not know this, but like, the fashion industry is filled with a lot of men with white hair in suits, even though it’s glamorous and beautiful. And then those women that look like Anna Wintour in Devil Wears Prada. So there’s me that’s 24 years old that walked into this situation. And I loved fashion. I was obsessed with fashion. I read every single fashion magazine.
I knew every single trend, all the things. But I started feeling insecure how I looked and how I put myself together and that I didn’t deserve a seat at that table with those people that were there. Which was such a struggle for me, especially since I loved fashion and I couldn’t figure it out. But all of my insecurities from my youth, having weight issues and not feeling so great about my height, and all of those things started coming up at that specific moment.
And I actually went into debt because I felt that in order to feel like I deserved to sit at that table, I needed to be wearing Chanel shoes, I needed to have, you know, the perfect bag and all of those things. And I realized that it’s me who is obsessed with fashion felt that, I could only believe that someone who like didn’t have that in their blood, I couldn’t even believe what they were going through when they were put in those difficult situations and they were judging themselves and all of that stuff. So that really carried through my whole entire career.
And that’s why when I was at that life-changing moment when I had my son and stepped out of that corporate role, when my true calling and passion really like just, you know, almost like knocked me in the head. Like, why aren’t you doing this? And I went back to school because I’m a firm believer in education and really understanding the science and logistics and everything that goes into my business and what I’m teaching people. So I have a degree in image consultation and color consultation.
And that’s where I learned that getting dressed actually is really simple and that it’s just a mathematical equation. And that once you know your own personal equation, It’s super easy. So that’s why my clients that are very analytical love my method and love getting dressed because I just show them that it’s simple. And it’s not complicated. And I just love really making sure that people feel confident because they know what it’s like to not feel that. And it’s a pretty frightening feeling.
Davina: Right, right. Well, there’s, that is fantastic. There’s a whole lot to unpack there in everything you said. So I’m going to try to go back and delve a little deeper into some of the pieces. One is that you have, you know, working at such a young age in the fashion industry, you really are, could get into a comparison situation where, you’re already at an age where it’s easy to compare and women always compare themselves to others. And then here, you are comparing yourself to people, first of all, who have probably a lot more money than you did at the time, from, you know, to be able to spend on fashion.
And then also just that standard of beauty and standard of perfection that we see in the beauty industry, where you have to be really tiny and really tall, really thin and really tall, right? And so if you’re not that, which most of us aren’t, that, I can see where that would have been a real challenge at that age. And I think that it’s something that whether you’re in the fashion industry or not, in our culture, women are still bombarded with those kinds of images.
We’re starting to see now, a little more diversity. So we’re starting to see more women with different skin tones and different skin colors and more body shapes. And some businesses are actually making that their model. You know, they’re targeting people of all different body shapes and sizes and colors. And that’s really exciting to see in the fashion industry. But still, what you’re probably working with with a lot of your clients is their internalized view of themselves. And a lot of times, that’s not very positive, right?
Melanie: Oh 100%, that, as women, I find that we always look in the mirror at our least favorite part of the body. And that is one of those things that when I’m in a dressing room or when I’m working with a client virtually and we’re kind of talking about what they don’t like about an outfit, it’s always their least favorite thing. And I really try to really flip that and kind of start talking about what they love about themselves and what they enjoy about themselves.
And it still comes from my conditioning from when we were young and things that are brought up, like I always talk about like the style story. And that is what I relate tom that story that’s in your head at that point when you’re, when you hate getting dressed. So maybe in the sitting room and maybe in your closet next to that pile of 17 outfits you tried on and maybe when you’re seeing a mirror, it may be when you’re at a networking event judging yourself against that super chic woman that walks in the room.
But it’s the voice in your head from when you were five years old. It’s the, potentially the mom that dressed you in these really frilly gowns that you didn’t like, it may be the aunt that said you have a really long neck and you show that off more. Or that first boss that gave you that backhanded compliment that Oh, that’s a cute dress. Like, all of those things just layer and layer and layer on and we don’t even realize that they’re there. But they kind of come up in this very indirect way when we are at our weakest point.
Whether that is in, like I said, the fitting room with a bad lighting or in your closet having, try to get dressed in two seconds. So there’s all these very stressful points that come up when we’re getting dressed, especially if you have a fear and anxiety about being visible. So we do all these things because of our, you know, 2 million-year-old brain that’s trying to protect us but it’s actually hurting us in the long run.
Davina: Right, right. I, and this is a situation that gets more complicated as we age too, isn’t it? Because I know for me, I’m now in my 50s and when I was, of course, you know, I never felt like I was perfect enough or good enough or beautiful enough even at a young age but then as you get older, your body changes. And you’re sitting there looking, this is not my figure that, you know, that I knew how to dress and now I don’t know how to dress it because it’s changed. It’s different. You know, there are different things happening in different places. And have you dealt with that with women as well?
Melanie: 1,000,000% because a lot of times when we’re kind of going through women’s closets, and that’s a lot of you know, the beginning steps of, you know, editing your closet, if we work in person, I do it with you, you know, in your home. But a lot of my work is done virtually. So we’ll kind of, I’ll go through your closet with you. And they have clothes for this other life for this other body and seeing it I s horrible every day. Like, it’s like a constant reminder of the body you once had. It’s like living with your ex-husband. Like you shouldn’t be doing that.
Davina: No. That’s terrible.
Melanie: And some people like, won’t get rid of this stuff so I force them to like put it in a box and put it in a closet for like, when you get back to your body, even though we all know like the weight shifts, like even after having a baby, your body is never going back no matter how many diets or peloton rides we’re gonna do. Like, it’s not happening. And that’s what is so important is just embracing what you have.
And that’s where it really comes down to embracing your body type as opposed to fighting it. Because that’s where you come into such a struggle because there’s so many things that come out in the fashion industry. It’s, you know, skinny jeans and it’s crop tops and it’s, you know, these thin shells to wear under blazers and there’s always something new. And the reason why there’s always something new is because they want you to keep buying stuff.
But if you kind of just let that stuff that doesn’t fit your body type go, it’s so much easier. Like if you’re like these are the type of pants that look good on me, you don’t have to spend seven hours trying to figure out how to make them look good on you. It’s learning the pants that look good on you and embracing it and being fine with it. I know there’s this brand, it’s called like, Not Your Daughter’s Jeans, and a lot of it’s like, clients that are in their 50s favorite pair of jeans. But when I first introduced it to them, I have to hide the label. I am not wearing jeans that say that.
They really should change the name of the brand. So like, I’m not trying, no, I’m not trying those jeans on. And then I’m like, Okay, let’s just try them on. And once they do, they never look back because it’s the genes that flatter them and look good on them. And they hug in the right places, they’re baggy the right places, they’re cut for them. And that’s the idea of just embracing it and not waiting until you lose the 10 pounds.
Davina: Right, right. Because we’re always trying to lose the 10 pounds. Even if you lose weight, there’s still 10 more pounds to go in our lives, you know? And so what kind of, do you work, do you identify certain body types? Do you categorize certain by types? What are the things that has always sort of frustrated me. There’s the pair and the apple and I don’t know what the other is. Banana? I don’t know. But
Melanie: Pear, apple, square.
Davina: Right, right. Rectangle? I don’t know. So and, but the thing that always frustrates me about that is that I don’t often see body types that talk about short waist, long waist, you know, like different proportions of your body, you know, the length of your body what the different proportions because I’m a short-waisted girl. And so things that are designed for, you know, a pear shape, or even an apple shape, whatever, if they’ve got thick waistband, it looks like, you know, my boobs are sitting on my, because I’m short-waisted, right?
Melanie: I am too.
Davina: Yeah. And so how do you help women get kind of identify what their body type is?
Identifying Your Body Type
Melanie: With, at the beginning, it gets a little rough because I ask them to give me their measurements and send me pictures of themselves in yoga clothes. But I always say this is part of the process. And as educated women, we know that knowledge is power. And when we know what our body type is and what works well on us, then we can start from square one and we can build a great foundation and knowing what works for us.
Because once you know like, just admit like, you can’t, there’s no surgery that is going to stretch you. Like, you’re not like Willy Wonka going in that stretching room. So what I do is just kind of a variety of measurements, pictures, kind of talking through the things that work, the things that don’t work. And really, yes, I do use the body type because there are a lot of specific kind of tricks when it comes to dressing specific body types.
But then I take in some consideration things like your rise, if you have long legs. If you have, you know, a long torso if you’re short, you know, have a short torso, if you’re petite, because petite isn’t only really that your legs, it’s also about how long your arms are. And if you have a suit when your blazer goes like past kind of your thumb line, it starts looking sloppy. And so we really take into consideration your body as a whole and how we should dress it.
And there’s millions and millions of different tips and tricks that can make you look taller, that can make you look thinner. that can make you look like you have a smaller chest, bigger chest, whatever you want. So it’s only almost kind of nice sitting down with the client and getting to know what their body type is and then getting to know what their goals are. Because some of my clients have a huge chest and they’re proud of them. And then they have clients and huge chest and they would do anything to look like they’re an A.
So it’s really learning about what your goals are and also like how to dress your own personal body wherever you are in life. Because as you said, it changes. And the good thing is that your body changes not so much. So we the things that you’ve probably learned when you were 16 years old, you could use a few of them but you just need to do a few more things. And that’s again, when it comes to knowing how to dress your body type as opposed to buying the thing that never should have been bought before.
And doing 25 things to fix it. But I find a lot of times when we’re in a, when we’re in our closet, Okay, these pants look horrible on me. So I have to layer a tunic on, I have to put a necklace on, I have to wear heels. If you just had pants that fit you right you wouldn’t have to do that. And then what you, going back to what you said before, it really has to do with dressing proportionately and making sure that the proportions are correct because that’s one of the key things when getting dressed.
Besides, you know, colors that look good on you, is just making sure that the proportions are right because a lot of people when they think about getting dressed, they cut themselves in half Where like, their top and their skirt is kind of like the same length and pairing a skirt into a blouse is usually when clients come to me the thing that they’re like, I don’t know, I missed this day of school because I can’t do it. But it’s because you actually want a different sort of proportion.
You don’t want one half and one half. You want one half, one third, and two thirds. So it doesn’t cut you off, because you don’t want to cut yourself in half because it makes yourself look shorter and it makes you look uninteresting and kind of boring. So if you think about the ratio of one third to two thirds when getting dressed, it’s just so much more flattering, and it looks so much more aesthetically pleasing when you are looking at yourself or when someone else is looking towards you.
Davina: Right. I know that you probably also encounter a lot of dark colors and black and things like that in people’s wardrobes. And as far as injuries go, you know, attorneys when I was going to court every day, it’s just much easier to put on a black suit because it’s dramatic and I know I’m gonna, I’m very fair. I’m like, I liked the contrast. And I knew it was going to look good on me. And I can’t wear white because I look, you know, ridiculous and I always envied people who can. But I live in Florida too. So black in the summer is really fun. I got to tell you black suits in the summer are really fun.
Melanie: And people are calling you a New Yorker.
Davina: Right. So, you know, I think that we kind of, when we first graduate from law school, we’ve got to have that, you know, we feel like we’ve got to have that Navy interview suit, or that black interview suit. But I’m seeing now a lot of women attorneys really embracing dresses and more bright colors and, you know, things like that. What do you say to somebody who’s just like, you know, they’re you look in their closet, you do their consult and it’s all black.
Melanie: I tell them that black makes them look older and that it brings as the dark circles under your eyes and it exaggerates your wrinkles, and then they’re more okay about wearing color.
Davina: Exaggerate your wrinkles. That’s fine.
Melanie: But it’s true. But the one thing about black is, you know, that’s one of my dramatic responses. When I start, when I chat with women about getting dressed about, you know, black only looks good on 25% of women and then are you a part of the 25%? But it’s really by our face. So dark colors are naturally slimming. They kind of make everything blends and look nice. But by your face, they’re draining. So if you are going to wear a black suit, that’s totally fine, especially because I always want people to be comfortable and not wear a costume and something that doesn’t feel true to them. But just know that near your face, you need to be adding a little bit of vibrance.
So whether it’s a shell and a color that’s more flattering on you, whether it’s a pair of earrings and necklace, a scarf, you just want to make sure that near your face, you’re having some radiance and some warmth because the worst thing is for someone to say to you, did you not sleep last night? And it because you’re wearing black. And also just navy blue is a much more flattering color. So if you’re able to just switch your black for some blue a little bit, it’ll be a little bit easier to work with and you won’t have to play it up so much.
Davina: I know that, you know, I tried to do some things with chocolate brown, but I’m very picky about my browns. It has to be like a rich chocolate brown or it doesn’t, or it makes me look very washed out. And so that’s often a good, because I’m a redhead. So it’s often
Melanie: Do you wear emeralds green? Because that’s like, should be your choice for color. And
Davina: Actually, I just bought a green suit, in fact. But I don’t wear suits very much anymore since I don’t practice, you know, go to court like I used to. So I am, I have switched to a much more casual wardrobe. And especially, and I want to talk about that because I want to talk about so many of us right now we’re recording this during the pandemic, and a lot of people are working from home, including attorneys, and we are having to make court appearances via video.
And, of course, I encourage a lot of my clients to do marketing videos so that they’re, you know, putting information out there and attracting their ideal clients. And then we’re meeting with clients and colleagues through video chats and things like that. Have you been offering some advice for how to look good on video and what they, what people can do to sort of enhance their look on video? Since we can’t show off the fabulous shoes?
Melanie: I think the worst thing, I keep saying to all my clients, I’m like, are you ever gonna wear heels again? Like, your feet probably are gonna, I remember like after I had my son and I didn’t wear heels for so long when I first put them on I’m like this feels weird.
Davina: You’re like, I don’t know how to walk in these anymore.
Melanie: All the calluses that we’ve acquired over the years have gone away. We’re gonna have to build up new ones. But definitely, so it actually kind of speaks to a lot. I know that a lot of my clients that are attorneys, they get so stressed out when it comes to the weekends and when it comes to like meeting a friend for dinner or something like that. Like, they probably have like their work look covered.
But that more casual event kind of stresses them out. And now it’s another casual thing of the I don’t have to wear suit. I can’t wear the shoes. Like, what do I do? I have all these clothes, but they really don’t relate to what I’m doing right now. So I have been doing consults where I work with clients’ current wardrobes and we go through, we’re so linear thinking that we think that the blouse that we wear under the suit is only acceptable to be worn under the suit, that it’s hard to kind of take the blinders off and thinking about wearing it a different way.
Like, maybe you can wear the blouse by itself. Or maybe you could wear the blouse under a cardigan and you could wear it with jeans. So I’ve been doing these consults where I go through someone’s closet and then show them how to wear what they currently own casually and then suggest a few pieces for them to invest in that, in turn, can kind of go into that weekend wardrobe that they always get stressed out about. But as far as looking good on video, I do, I have actually training that I could send to you that we could link in the show notes, if that’s okay with you.
Davina: Oh yeah. That’d be great.
Melanie: So that is basically how to look good on video conference because those boxes are horrible. Like, and we’re seeing ourselves as we’re talking so they were not created by a female probably. But the best things to do when being on video conferencing is to, easy colors to wear or just jewel tones. Again, black is the worst because the lighting is never perfect. So it makes you with drained, it makes, you know, wrinkles, under-eye circles really, really stand out. So if you stick with jewel tones which would be like your emerald green, eggplant, cobalt blue, like a coral color, those are the cards that are universal colors that will fit on everyone so you don’t have to worry about if they look good on you or don’t look good on you.
And they also look very, very good on video. I also always suggest wearing either a necklace or a pair of earrings. You don’t want to do too much and it looks like where you going next. But wearing an accessory really, really helps kind of finalize and polish your outfit. And also, it’s just nice because you’re, it’s inside that box so it really kind of helps look like you’re put together and polished. I also suggest, you know, wearing makeup and kind of having your lighting be as good as possible.
And then when it comes to prints and patterns, you really want to be very particular about them because any of those small patterns that we probably wore under blazers, they come across very fuzzy through video conferencing because the video is kind of like being on TV is that it kind of doesn’t know what to do with it so it makes it kind of fuzzy looking, especially like a horizontal line.
Again, it just looks strange. And then when you’re talking, you kind of see yourself in the video, you start to get distracted by it, your viewer gets distracted by it. So if you’re unsure about prints, I would avoid them. But if you are going to wear prints, I would wear a larger print because it’s those smaller ones that start looking a little fuzzy and weird. And then the last thing that I always recommend is the idea of the camera adding five pounds is true. So especially when you’re in those little boxes, because we can’t see the proportion of everything else around us.
So what you’re wearing looks exaggerated. So you want to make sure that your clothes are tailored correctly and that you’re not wearing that oversized sweatshirt, that oversized casual shirt that you wear on the weekends that looks great with maybe your pair of skinny jeans. Like, it looks so much bigger and uncapped in the video. So it just really looks sloppy. You want to make sure that your clothes are more form-fitted when you are doing these video conferences so you don’t look like, sloppy and unkempt.
Davina: That’s a great tip. There’s a woman that I follow who teaches people how to do YouTube videos and she was talking about that one day about this little trick that she takes if she’s wearing a little t-shirt or whatever she takes and sort of ties it up so that it’s more form-fitting. And, of course, you can’t see the tying top part, you just see the top, but it looked more form-fitting. And I thought oh, that’s a handy little trick to have there. But I know that, you know, for me, I’ve been doing, when I do, been doing live videos, of course, I’m just showing up with what I’ve got on or whatever.
But I tend to wear a lot of, you know, cute little V neck tees and things like that. But when you’re positioning yourself as an authority on something, it looks too casual. You know, it’s fine for when I’m talking with, you know, one on one with people who know me or whatever. But I find that, you know, if you’re presenting material, like if you’re presenting to a court or if you’re presenting a marketing video or something like that, that you do have to dress up a little bit more to come across and to communicate the way that you are trying to communicate, you know?
Melanie: Right. Because you are, this is your only way of presenting right now. And this is the only way of you branding yourself at the current moment. And that’s why a lot of my clients are creating, as you mentioned, like these marketing videos, they need to be going live on LinkedIn or Facebook or Instagram and you just want to remember that these videos don’t go away and you never know who’s gonna see them. So you want to make sure that you’re always putting your best foot forward.
And if you’re smart about creating content, you’re repurposing it. So you want to create something that you are going to be happy to maybe, you know, record your screen and share it on another social media platform. Or if maybe you’re on LinkedIn and someone’s chatting about something that is very relevant to what you spoke about in a webinar you were hosting a few days ago. You could kind of you know, take a glimpse of that and share it. You just want to make sure that everything that you’re putting out there is really in line with your own personal brand. So you can repurpose it and you don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel every single day.
Davina: Right, right. I would imagine things like necklines and stuff like that are something we need to be thinking about with regard to videos. They’re more flattering neckline, things like collars and if you, you know, you have to watch your V necks for sure. You know, like, you want to recreate those kind of videos. So, you know, are there recommendations for different kinds of, you know, are the different kinds of necklines of look good on different kinds of bodies? Are we looking at the body type or are we looking at faces when we think about necklines?
Melanie: So, it’s both. Usually, a V neckline is the most flattering just because it’s one of those optical illusions. It draws your eye up and down and kind of makes you taller and thinner. It’s also great if you are wearing one, a kind of a more delicate necklace because it can show it off. But the thing that you want to realize is when you’re on these videos is that you want to be impactful. So if you are wearing a delicate necklace, no one’s going to see it. So wearing more of a statement is definitely more dramatic and impactful and is going to show your personal style. And you never want to kind of cut yourself off.
So, and you never want to be fussing. So wear like, one of those like off the shoulder taps or something that’s like a button that keeps opening. You really want to be aware of your comfort level and what happens when you are going on camera because I know myself like if something’s bothering you, you’re like fussing in your chair and it is so obvious when you’re recording something.
Davina: It’s so much more exaggerated on video. When I realized that when I, I’m always, I have a hairstyle where it kind of drapes over to one side a little more than the other. And I’m always fussing with my hair. I don’t really pay much, you know, I don’t realize that doing it. And then when you see yourself on video the first few times you’re like, wow, I really do that a lot. I need to stop that.
Melanie: Because we’re our own worst critic also. So it’s like amplified.
Davina: Yeah. So talk to me about some of the challenges that you think, that you’ve seen your clients face with regard to going in and trying to work on their wardrobe with them to maybe increase their confidence or make them feel better about themselves. What kind of stories do they come to you with about their struggle with clothes? Because there are some people who love fashion, there are other people who hate shopping. And, you know, what kinds of things are you hearing professional women say?
Melanie: Sure. So my clients, interestingly enough, is when I first started. And also, a lot of my clients come to me, they’re like, almost embarrassed, they’re kind of mortified. Especially it’s like, they may enjoy shopping, or they may like fashion, but they just don’t know how to do it correctly. I know like a lot of my clients that are attorneys like, a lot of them just shop for sport. Like it’s the thing that girlfriends do, or it was something great to get out of the office, or it was like retail therapy. They would just kind of hoard cards and buy stuff to make themselves feel good. But they weren’t doing it with purpose and intention.
They were just collecting stuff. And so while they like shopping and they were kind of good at it and they were fashionable, they just weren’t doing it correctly. And that’s one of the things that they kind of come to me. They’re like, I have all of this stuff and you know what, I still go and shop more. Like, I never feel satisfied. I don’t know if it’s just like I like the high of shopping or I just don’t know what to do with what I have. So it’s almost like that confusion and overwhelm where having too many choices within your closet.
And that is something that, it takes a while when I first start chatting with these women because they’re embarrassed. They’re like, I don’t, why do I need to hire someone to help me to do this when I can do it on my own? I should be able to. Like, I love, I’ve always loved, you know, dressing up and all of that. So there’s that whole story of not really doing it with purpose and almost just like hoarding and not really being able to do it intentionally. Because getting dressed and having style, yes, it has to do with what you like and what you think is pretty and how you want to present yourself.
But deep down, it really needs to do with your own personal brand and who you’re trying to attract and what message you want to be sending off. And if you’re sending us the right message. Like, when we speak about colors and fit and, you know, if you think about let’s say, like an eye kind of woman. Like, let’s say, Michelle Obama or Kate Middleton, like if I say their names, you know exactly the type of clothes that they wear. And as a personal brand, you need that for yourself. You want someone who’s working with you to think of you as that like, a leader, impactful powerhouse person.
And just because you know how to shop and knew how to buy things doesn’t mean that translates into that level of success. The level of someone walking into a room and owning it is different than I know how to buy some stuff. So it’s really thinking about yourself as a leader and a thought leader and someone who is influential and makes a difference is different than being pretty and being able to put together a nice outfit. So it’s that idea of that whole personal branding. And then on the flip side, I have women come to me that are just like I am mortified. I hate shopping. I’m embarrassed to tell my friends.
Like, I would rather like, clean a toilet bowl than go into a store. And like, it’s just not my thing. And we’re never taught how to do it. We weren’t taught in like high school, this is how to dress for your body type. This is how to be presentable. This is what you shouldn’t be wearing. We’ve learned some of those rules from TV shows and from fashion magazines but there’s so much information out there that is confusing. So even if you try to do it on your own, which has powerful women, we always find that there’s an answer and should be doing it on our own and shouldn’t be hiring someone to help you.
But there’s so much conflicting information out there that it actually puts you into a tailspin and you kind of feel like, Okay, I’m just gonna wear what I wore last week. It’s fine. Like, it’s fine. It’s fine. Well, fine’s not okay. You don’t want to settle for fine. You don’t want to have a fine career. You don’t want to like have, you know, a fine relationship. You want like, it to be spectacular. So it’s really kind of taking these women that feel that they don’t have a stylish bone in their body and they’re like, I don’t even know how to talk to you about what I like.
I don’t even know what to talk to you, how to even explain what my style is. Because we’ve never been allowed or we’ve never allowed ourselves to actually say what we like and what we want to look like. And because we stop ourselves. Like, you may be like, walking down the street and be wow, that woman is wearing a beautiful dress. But I couldn’t pull that off. Like, or you may, let’s say, go be flipping through a magazine and say, Oh, I really like that red blazer. Hmm, I couldn’t wear red.
That’s not my color. So we always kind of like block ourselves because of the fear. Because if we did try and it didn’t look good on us and we called attention to ourselves and we weren’t noticed, someone would see that we may not be perfect for one second. So there’s a lot of those other things that come up too of really just kind of not even knowing where to begin and having a personal style. And but knowing that something’s wrong, like, because we compare ourselves to these other women that look perfect.
And but it’s not really being given the clear path of this is how to make it better. And that’s why people love just kind of having the tools of like, Okay, this is what we do in the first week. This is what we do in the second week. And now we’re going to go through your closet. And what people don’t realize is, they probably haven’t been doing it completely wrong. They just haven’t been doing it 100% right. So it’s probably just minor tweaks. Like, people come through that I just need to start from scratch. I am bad.
Davina: We think we all I think we all go through that period of time where we’re like, Can I just take everything out of my closet dump it and start over>
Melanie: But then you know what happens? Like, that’s the thing most people come to me and like, okay, I tried the subscription box, that didn’t work. And that just frustrated me because they don’t listen to what I said. And then people are like, Okay, and then I went and I hired a personal shopper. I went to Nordstrom and I worked with a personal shopper. And I spent all this money and all of these new clothes because I thought that would be the answer. But you still have those old limiting beliefs and you still kind of never really talked about who you want to be as a brand and what you want to achieve.
And they kind of didn’t work with what you already had so they didn’t know what the issues were. So it’s really like a more of a holistic approach. I call it like putting band-aids on things. Like, if you put a bandaid on it, the blood is going to kind of come through at one point in time. You really need to deal with it head-on and really want to change and really be like I’m not okay with fine anymore.
Davina: Yeah, it’s really about feeling good. You know, looking good is almost secondary to the feeling good. Like, you want, and people have, I think that women have a misunderstanding that if you have, if you dress pretty, if you dress nice, you dress up, it’s not going to be comfortable. So there’s that whole I want to be comfortable thing.
And, you know, and saying okay, yeah, but you can look presentable and dress, you know, in a way that makes you attractive, and I don’t mean sexually attractive, I just mean attractive to people and present you in the light that you would like to be seen in and still be comfortable. You know, you don’t have to wear clothes that are uncomfortable to achieve that look that when you walk into a room, people go Wow, she looks really put together. She looks really confident.
Melanie: And that’s like a mindset, I think from our childhood. I remember my mom saying to me, like, you need to suffer for beauty. Like, I feel like, you would like, get your period you’d get smacked in the face because that’s what it’s gonna, because that is what you could expect from like your adult, you know, adulthood as a female. But that’s not the case anymore. There’s literally millions of brands out there now.
Like, there’s not the old times when you could only go to certain stores and you could only get these things. There are comfortable shoes that are pretty. There are pants that aren’t tight that still look good on you. There are there, you don’t have to trade one for another. Like, there definitely are things that you feel good in and that also you can look good in. It’s not, you don’t have to give up one to get the other one.
And then the other thing is, if you kind of flip that a little bit is if you don’t love the way that you look in something, you’re just, it’s not that you may be physically uncomfortable, you’re going to be mentally uncomfortable because let’s say you’re standing in a courtroom or you’re making a presentation and you don’t feel comfortable in what you’re wearing because you feel like you look sloppy or you’re realizing that you’re wearing like, the wrong type of shoe or the wrong type of pants. That’s like an emotionally uncomfortable situation and you’re not able to perform at your best because you have something else going on and you’re insecure about something like that.
Davina: And it’s not always a conscious thing. And sometimes it’s just that sort of noise that runs in the background, right?
Melanie: Right. Like, it’s like, Do I have a booger in my nose? You have a stain on my shirt? Is my button open? It’s that internal like thing of, like, it’s just kind of noise and not, you’re not able to clear your head, really focus on what you should be focusing on because you’re not so confident that moment.
Davina: Right. Exactly. I think so many women also tend to think of fashion as too much effort and too much work because they’re like, I’m a mom, I’m running my own business, I’m dealing with clients, I’ve got my spouse, I’ve got all these things going on it I don’t have time to fuss over what I wear and I just need it to be simple and get me out the door. What do you say to those women?
Melanie: Those are the same woman though, that are spending an hour when they have their like once a month date night with her husband figuring out what to wear. Like, they’re, you know, there’s I don’t want to fuss. I have so much going on. But then they’re standing there like being like, I have nothing to wear. Like, I really wish that I did something about it. It’s all about strategy and having a plan. Like, I don’t, none of my clients are billionaires. M=None of them like, you know, get packages every single day. Like, it’s really about learning what looks good on you and letting everything else fall apart, fall away. Like, it, so it’s not stressful.
It becomes a thing of like, the way that I work with my clients is they have an app on their phone and we outlay whatever may happen throughout their month. So maybe it’s a networking event, maybe it’s throwing a barbecue over the weekend. Like, that we alley those situations and then they have pre-planned outfits on their phone. So they know exactly what to wear. So when the situation arises, when someone invites you to something that you don’t want to go to, you already have the outfits. You don’t have the excuse not to show up.
So it doesn’t have to be complicated. And I think also as women, we go through this whole process of we have kids, we have a house, we have these bills to pay. And the dress that I own, again, that I wear all the time is fine. And I shouldn’t be investing in myself. And I shouldn’t be doing that. And there’s this like, internal kind of war that we have with ourselves about spending money on ourselves. And what I actually have clients do is put $1 amount to the amount of money that they’re willing to pay on certain things. Maybe it’s a blazer or maybe it’s a dress and kind of talking about the necessity of those and how those things will make you feel.
And what they always come to realize in the end is that they never spent as much money as they thought that they were going to. In our minds when we’re like we’re going to go shopping, we think it’s going to be thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars. But if you do it smartly, it won’t. If you have a game plan, it’s not going to be. If you buy things that you were and you enjoy, it’s not going to be wasteful.
You’re going to be investing in the things. And what is wasteful is there’s usually a breaking point. There’s usually that woman that’s like I’m not going to spend the money. I have all these things. They do use the subscription box at one point because there is something that isn’t feeling so great about them. They do maybe go online onto Nordstrom’s Rack and they fill three carts and they buy all this random stuff. But what ends up happening is they have end up with a bunch of clothes in their closet that still have tags on them that they never truly enjoy.
And then that goes into, like, I feel bad about myself because I wasted all this money. So it does take a little bit of work. Like, I’m not going to say like, it’s the easiest thing in the world and snap your fingers and you’ll have all these new beautiful outfits. It does take a little bit of work. Some of its emotional because you have to deal with your own body. And some of this stuff has come up through image over time. But it’s easier to do the work and kind of, you know, what I do is I make it very straightforward and very easy.
It’s like, you know, an hour or so a week. It’s not like all of a sudden you have a second job. But once you do the work, you have it done and then you’re saving yourself hours of stress and frustration each month trying to figure out what you’re going to wear or trying to decide or avoiding going to something. Like, I have clients that are like, I don’t have, someone asked me to speak because someone canceled at this networking thing but I don’t have what to wear so, and it’s tomorrow, so I’m not going to go.
Davina: Wow. And so really cutting off the possibility because they don’t think about impact, that clothes have, outfits and how we, getting dressed in our body image, we don’t think about the impact of that can have on our success in our career by not doing that work. But that’s a perfect example of that. Yeah
Melanie: But not showing up and not being present is all of the impact. It is.
Davina: I have that, I have clients who don’t want to, you know, be on video or go, you know, do public speaking or whatever. And a lot of it just comes from that feeling of I don’t want people looking at me, I don’t like the way my this weird thing is on my face that I, you know, that nobody else sees but me, you know? And it does make a huge difference when you know how to, you know, how to fix your hair the right way that looks good, or, you know, dress in a way that looks good, right?
Melanie: And that’s one of the things that I have like this, like giveaway on my website. And it’s the five myths that you need to bust to get next level of visibility. And it’s little things. It’s those little things as women we use as excuses to not go on video to not accept the invitation. And they’re so simple, like. But we use them. Like, if it’s something for example, if you’re someone who like, if you had a gray hair, you wouldn’t go to something and you know that about yourself. Schedule a hair appointment every three months, three weeks. Like, it’s not, nothing you need to go and be a Glamazon, but if it’s the thing that stops you, realize it.
Davina: It really is the self-care, it really is a self-care thing. People think self-care is, you know, mani pedi, but self-care is really doing this kind of work and saying, you know, I want to be comfortable in my own skin and comfortable in my own clothes and comfortable with the way I look when I show up, you know, to face the world, and it doesn’t have to take as much time or energy as people think it does.
Be Comfortable With Yourself So You Can Have Maximum Impact
Melanie: Right. And it doesn’t. It actually takes you more time stressing out about not doing it than the actual act of getting it done and feeling and being complete. And I’m sure you chat about this with your clients because I always say this to my to people that get stressed out about, you know, being visible and showing up. And I kind of flip it on them. And I say other people need you. They need what you were saying, they need what your message is. And you are actually by not getting your hair done or not being confident, you are depriving them of that. So you need to be of service and make greater impact.
And if it’s stopping you by not feeling confident in your clothes or having chipped nails or something like that, like everyone has their own insecurities. And I am not judging anyone about any of them because we all have our own quirks about reasons we don’t show up. So but if you are not doing that, you can’t have that impact that you are meant to.
Davina: Right, right. Absolutely. Absolutely. And this is not about, we’re not talking about head to toe labels either. Like
Melanie: Absolutely not. You are not going to need to be going into debt.
Davina: Let me just say like, as women attorneys, we, you know, we all forget, especially when you own your own practice, you own your own business, we often complain that clients think we have all this money and so they’re wanting discounts. You know, this is some of the things that women attorneys talk about.
We talk amongst ourselves, you know, clients think that attorneys are rich, that we come I’m out of law school and we’re automatically rich, we have all this money. And yet the flip side of that is you see a lot of women attorneys spending money they don’t have on expensive designer clothes because they think, or shoes or handbags that cost thousands of dollars because they think that they have to present this kind of image to get clients.
Melanie: And it’s the same thing that I felt when I was, you know, 25 years old, is I felt that in order to, you know, be at Barneys, I need to dress like I shopped like Barney’s except I was making like $40,000 a year.
Davina: And you can still look great, you can look great and nobody will ever know, you know, unless somebody is a, you know, somebody who’s just obsessed with designer stuff, or whatever. But one of the things I always joke about is, you know, when you have the friends that are buying the designer items and then you’re like you live in Orlando, Florida. Like, most people here, you know, just don’t, it’s different in New York than it is here.
And it’s like, Okay, well, how many of these handbags do you need? Because what are you exactly, you’re going to get the nicest restaurant in town, I mean, we do have some upscale restaurants, but you know, but the ones that you normally would go to, people are going to be sitting across from you in shorts.
Melanie: And that kind of also goes to now with everyone’s mentality is, because there’s so many things on sale right now and there’s such good sales because there’s over excess inventory because people haven’t been shopping. And my clients kind of like, all this stuff is on sale but where am I wearing it to? Like it’s now I think, our mentality of what we’re purchasing, what we’re investing is different, because like, are we ever gonna go 100% back into an office? Like, do you need to own suits anymore?
Do you need five-inch heels? Like, are these, these are the questions so like, Where are you wearing that too? But it comes down to confidence and how you feel about yourself and if you are going to be on your A game in what you’re wearing. So whether it’s if you’re rocking a $50 blazer or a $500 blazer, it’s what makes you feel good about yourself. It has nothing to do about the dollar amount that you spent. And there are beautiful clothes at Zara, there are beautiful clothes at Nordstrom Rack, there are beautiful clothes at Neiman Marcus.
So no matter what, I always had a joke with my husband, he’s like you can go to TJ Maxx and find something to buy or you can go somewhere else and find something to buy. It’s just, they’re out there. It’s just really knowing where to look. And also knowing who you want to be because if you’re buying some stuff that doesn’t really fit your lifestyle, that’s another thing. I go into people’s closets and I’m like, Where’s the black-tie galas is you’re going to with all of these dresses?
Oh, I haven’t gotten to one in like 15 years, because, so really making sure that your wardrobe is fitting with what your lifestyle is. And also maybe the goal that you’re hoping to achieve. So let’s say, you know, you are starting this firm and in two years, you want to be doing speaking engagements. If you don’t have the clothes to be asked to speak, you’re never going to get your mindset that you are going to, that you’re capable. So it’s a little bit of that playful, what do I want, but really making sure it’s in the realm of it’s serving you right now.
Davina: So let me ask you this before we wrap up because we need to wrap up here in a minute, But I want to ask you, a lot of people now are doing, I mean, we’ve been online shoppers as been evidenced by every holiday season the past several years, more and more people are shopping online.
And one of the challenges of shopping online is when we go to buy clothes. And because it’s the same thing as being a store where you can touch it, you can try it on and, you know, a lot of people still like to try things on. But what advice would you have for us in shopping online? What kinds of, is there key things we need to be looking for and things that we need to really be steering away from when we’re shopping online?
Melanie: So one of the things that, so, a lot of my clients, I’ve been shopping online with them for years. And what I always try to do when I’m recommending something is recommend something that I know already. So it’s not like a blind eye intuition that you’re kind of just throwing some spaghetti on the wall. But if you go into your closet, there probably is some sort of trend.
There’s probably a few brands that you like. So if there’s brands that you typically would buy when you were shopping in person, go online and look at those brands because you probably would like what they are making now that you chose and also you know what your size is and you know what the fit is and all of that stuff.
I also would be really, really careful of looking at what the measurements are and taking that into account because some things are cut differently and since you’re not trying it on and you’re not seeing in person, you want to look at what those measurements are. You also want to look, it’s okay to buy things in multiple sizes. I mean, only shop in a store where you have a good return policy. Don’t be the person who like, some of my clients like, they’re I bought this on Instagram five weeks to get here, and it won’t even fit on my toe. I’m like, What are you doing?
Davina: I can’t send it back because it came in an unmarked box from China.
Melanie: That’s right, exactly.
Davina: I’ve done that a couple times.
Take This Time to Experiment a Bit
Melanie: You know, we all do it. Sometimes it’s fun if it’s only a few dollars, you know, it’s kind of a giggle, and you may end up getting something really, really cool. But like really only shop at reputable stores. Look at their return policies. And now with the pandemic, people are extending their return policies. Make sure that it’s not exchange only unless it’s a store that you love and that you know that you’ll spend your credit and don’t lose your credit.
But when you’re buying something, be okay with buying it in multiple sizes. Just know that it’s not you, it’s usually the brand that cuts differently. So if you want to come out with some stuff that you love, you may need to invest a little bit of money to find that thing and be okay with returning. And I know like, my clients are sometimes I have to send these boxes back.
But just know that it’s part of the process, especially when you aren’t going into a store right now that there are going to be some buying and returning. And then the other thing, too, is again, just really sticking with some of those brands that you really have gone to is just super, super helpful. And then also have some fun and experiment. Like, it’s almost like you’re ordering something. Like, try something you never would have tried before is always what I say.
I find that the most things that my clients are most hesitant of trying when I’m like, just order it and they’re like, I don’t know, and I’m like, do me a favor, you’re already ordering a few things from them. I really know you’re going to love this. Just order it. It is that wonderful email I get a week later. I am obsessed with this shirt. Can you make 35 different outfits with it, and can I wear it every single place? So once you step out of your comfort zone a little bit, you may fall in love with something that you never, never knew you would love.
Davina: Wonderful, wonderful. Well, I thank you so much for being here and sharing. You’ve shared so much great information with us. And I know everybody’s gonna love this episode because it’s really fun to talk about style and fashion and how we can, you know, look as good as we feel, right?
I also, so I want you to tell us where we can find you on the interwebs and especially to tell people your web address so they could see the fantastic shoes that you’re wearing in your photo on your, I want better shoes. I have no place to wear them to right now but they’re gorgeous. So tell us where we can connect with you and find out more about you and reach out to you if we want to.
Melanie: Sure, absolutely. So my website is my full name, which is Melanie Lippman LIPPMAN.com. And then I also can be found over on Instagram at the same handle at Melanie Lippmann. I’m on LinkedIn as well. And then I’m on Facebook and I actually started, if anyone is interested, during May 15, I started a really fun Facebook group, which is called All Dressed Up With Nowhere to Go.
And I kind of do outfit inspiration posts every single day kind of getting people inspired to get dressed as opposed to being in their pajamas because that’s really key at this point in time is to get dressed, to really feel good and like we’re accomplishing something in our day. So if anyone wants to join us in that group, I’d love to have you there.
Davina: Okay, great. We’ll put that in the show notes as well. So thanks so much for being here. It’s been really fun and I’ve enjoyed it immensely. And now I’m going to have to go take a look at my closet and weed out about half the stuff in there and rethink everything. Thanks, Melanie.
Melanie: My pleasure. Have a wonderful day.