I just returned from a whirlwind — but amazing –trip to Norway where I was privileged to speak to the Norwegian business community at the Oslo Business Forum. As I prepped for the speech, I definitely had a stressful moment or two. Was I concerned about the two-thousand-plus audience? Nah. Was I in a fluster that the flight was cancelled at the last minute and screwed up our plans? A tinsy bit. What really challenged me was deciding what to wear! And I know I’m not alone in having such angst, especially among many of my female friends and colleagues. Am and I just a superficial gal? Well, I do love a nice pair of heels. But the issue runs deeper than that. What we wear speaks volumes. It needs to be on point. And I have definitely experienced the downside of when it wasn’t. And it wasn’t good.
This topic is the focus of the second video conversation with my friends and brilliant women: Rachael McCrary, CEO of Jewel Toned, and Marci Weisler, CEO & Co-founder of Smart Women, Smart Ideas (and edited by the great Suzette Cabildo, also from SWSI). For us, women, especially in this new era of #metoo, we want to be super careful about how we “show up.” As Rachael and I discuss on the video, there are many nuances to consider — many more, we believe, than those that men have to ponder. First, we have to think about the audience — is it male or female? American or Foreign? Young or old? Then we have think about whether the event is a business or a more casual one. Even the state or region of the country in which we are conducting the engagement matters! Rachael speaks about how she dresses differently in L.A. vs. SF vs NYC. Of course we have to make sure we communicate a sense of seriousness while not appearing TOO serious. We want to seem sophisticated BUT still fun. And we can’t seem to old or too young. Phew! No wonder it takes us about four times as long to “suit up” than it takes for men. Think of the opportunity cost of dressing: hours we could spend making money, being with our kids, sleeping, whatever!
Yet, I also appreciate much of the considering, adorning and pampering that goes into this process. It prepares me; it gives me the added assurances that I can rock it, no matter the situation. And it allows me to express myself in more ways than just through the words I speak. I just wish how we appear wasn’t so complicated. Wouldn’t it be great to be able share our full selves without fearing some kind of backlash … from either gender.
Take a look at our latest conversation and please weigh in with your thoughts.
Getting dressed should be a painless, more than that, it should be a positive experience. And certainly it should be the least of my worries when it comes to speaking around the world on very big stages or meeting with clients. Maybe by spreading the word and sharing our feelings, we can learn to applaud, not judge, one another for what we wear. Imagine how we can channel all that left over stress for new ventures!
And now some pics from the event!