For older workers, maximizing your personal style is just one way to stay relevant in the rapidly changing workplace. Style doesn’t trump substance, but staying on trend might give you an advantage.
Lee Ann Wahi and Michael Maupin both have jobs they love, but looks they loathe. Worried that they might be passed up by more stylish, perhaps younger colleagues, Wahi and Maupin turned to expert help. Twin Cities stylist and image consultant Carly Gatzlaff of A La Mode Wardrobe Consulting ransacked their closets for a makeover, helping them come up with a style plan better suited to their careers.
Before: Wahi was making the mistake of hiding behind clothes that were too big for her and in the wrong colors, Gatzlaff said. Her proportions also were imbalanced, making her look larger than she is.
After: A slimmer fit pant paired with a colorful, longer top makes her look more balanced. A comfortable ankle boot adds a touch of style, and accessories from Wahi’s travels show off her personality. She should focus on great fit, not extra bulk, advised Gatzlaff.
To get the most flattering look, Gatzlaff recommended that Wahi: vary proportions, by pairing loose or long tops with slim bottoms, wide bottoms with slim-fitting and shorter tops; wear light makeup, including a rosy cheek and pink lip to help her to look energized and youthful; and opting for red-rimmed glasses, which are trendy and sophisticated.
Post makeover: “I wanted to look like a with-it 66-year-old with a lot to offer, and now I do,” Wahi said. “I stand up straighter. I have more confidence ... and these boots are pretty snappy.”
Michael Maupin, 53, St. Paul
Michael recently landed an associate publisher job, but admits his closet is “pathetic.” As Michael heads into a new job, he’s concerned about his style, in part because he’s experienced the corporate trauma of “younger, more fashion-conscious workers climbing the ladder and giving the older workers pause,” he said.
Before: Maupin’s monochromatic tan color choices were wrong for his skin tone, Gatzlaff said. His clothes were generally too big and his choice of shoes dated him.
After: A darker pair of denim pants paired with a sport jacket and tie give Michael the professional yet cool look he wants. A pair of driving moccasins with a bright-colored sole add a sense of style and charisma. In general, Gatzlaff said, Maupin should stick to colors in cool tones, such as navy, charcoal and white. He also suggested he try blues, green, darker purples, reds with blue undertones and burnt oranges for colors that still work as neutrals.
Post makeover: “Turns out I have a lot of great clothes in my closet — I just didn’t know how to wear them,” Maupin said. “The way I was dressing had become habit and sometimes you just need a nudge to change.”
Stylist: Carly Gatzlaff, A La Mode Wardrobe Consulting
Makeup and hair: Mark Navarro