Empowering Editorial Portraiture: Finally, The Result of Our Photo Shoot

Right before Covid hit, I shared the countdown to my photo shoot.  Lucky for me, I was able to get in the photo shoot and the photo selection before the shutdown.  So why have I waited so long to share the outcome?  Like so many of you, I was in shock, hibernation, and then adaptation mode for the past few months.  I just wasn’t ready to present myself too much.  But now I am.  

Who cares, it’s just a bunch of pics, right?  But for me, this was an emotionally complex process.  I’ve always felt uncomfortable getting my pictures taken.  I am a ham in front of a video camera, but when it comes to still photos, I freeze up and always look unhappy, uncomfortable, and unlike me.  And let’s face it, we are a visual culture now.  We speak in pictures.  They matter.  As a woman who writes about beauty, and relies on it somewhat — for better or worse, I really wanted my pictures to capture me at my best.  More than that, I wanted them to capture who I am and my personality.  I wanted them to express my growth as a woman, professional, and human being.

I held off for YEARS getting my next round of shots.  I was afraid to commit the time and resources to photos that could end up horrible.  But when I saw a post by a former advertising colleague, Rebecca Rehder, about her portrait studio, June4thstudio, I was intrigued.  Upon meeting and chatting about the shoot, I immediately knew she was the ONE.  She truly tried to understand my expectations, my goals, and how to showcase my best assets.  She recognized that I was on a new journey professionally, and how I wanted to “show up” as a mix of thought leader, creative and fun.  In a nutshell, she creates Empowering Editorial Portraiture.  So I went for it.  

Rebecca uniquely combines her background as an advertising strategist and her photography talent to create magic.  She tries to capture a person’s essence, her power, and her many layers of beauty.  To hear more about her special technique watch our chat below.    

For a selection of our shots, see gallery below:

Beauty Convos with Gad #3: What Are We Going to Take Forward After The Crisis?

I had the privilege of catching up with my good friend and beauty stylist to the stars, Gad Cohen.  I totally scrapped my intended “look” for the chat (a groovy headscarf) and played up the moment.  A few hours prior to our chat, I decided to wash my hair and then ran into a meeting that lasted much longer than anticipated.  I was left with only a few minutes to prep.  So I leaned into it.  I didn’t blow dry my hair but, instead, worked with the au natural waviness and fullness.

Why am I telling you all this?  Because it became the theme of our discussion: embracing the NOW.

Gad and I kicked off our chat discussing the New York Times article: What Is Beauty Now by Mara Altman.  Altman shares a number of different opinions around our responses to the beauty constraints during this crisis, and what’s going to happen when it’s all over.  She describes the sheer panic people are experiencing over their gray hairs and how they are jumping out of their seats in anticipation of salons opening up.  While others, she writes, are embracing their new-found liberation from beauty maintenance.  When it comes to the moment we can go back to normal living, the article shares the concern that beauty brands will shame us into trying to get plucked, primped and preened by pointing out how we’ve all gone to pot. But the article raises the opinions of others — like that of Gad — that we will be a lot more empathetic and embracing of others’  appearances.  And that we will all come out better from this experience.

I tend towards the “glass half full side of things” and agree with the last sentiment.  Given that Gad is part of the beauty industry that Altman refers to, I asked him if he agrees that people will be convinced that they will be crappy about themselves and succumb to the beauty industry’s call for transformation.  He said absolutely no.  First, he believes people will reject that type of marketing and even rebel against it.  Second, he, himself, looks forward to playing with the changes that we are all experiencing — the gray strands, the longer hair, the grown out eyebrows.  The opposite of using shame, he will greet people’s evolving beauty with love, excitement and creativity. 

This discussion led us to anticipate what’s going to change for HIM when people start coming back to his atelier.  Will he be doing anything differently given what he’s learned from this crisis? Of course he will continue to do what he’s always been doing, that is, truly understand his clients — their personalities, lifestyles, aspirations and dreams — in order to create the best styles for them.  But he believes that we will all be much more focused on the NOW, i.e., how we are feeling at that moment.  In the past, we may have asked our stylists for looks that will work in different future scenarios.  We would think about what will grow out well in the long run or what has versatility.  But our sense of the future is so unsure now.  Who would have expected to be stuck working from home for months on end?  Who would have thought travel was off limits?  Who would have thought we wouldn’t be socializing or that our major source of connection would be a small screen?  We are not saying that we won’t be planning for days ahead but we will have a greater appreciation for the NOW — what we need, feel, want, expect in this moment.

Boy, am I looking forward to that NOW moment

Beauty Convo with Gad Cohen: How is Beauty Going to Change When This is All Over?

As I mentioned in our last post, beauty maven and celebrity stylist, Gad Cohen, and I are going live to express our changing views of beauty during this Covid era.  In our second IG Live chat, we dove deep into the discussion around how this moment will change our views, habits and beliefs around beauty in the future.  So how is our attitude going to shift when this is all over? In the words of Gad: “It will take time to rebalance but we will experience a huge paradigm shift.”

1.No question, we are going to come out of this re-birthed.  We’ve been cooped up, confined and restricted.  We are going to be escaping our cocoons, like brand new butterflies.  We will have the time to reflect, to try different things, and just to let our hair grow out!  

2. Whether we’ve liked it or not, we’ve had to reveal our vulnerabilities — whether that’s our gray hairs, our kids yelling in the background or our stress.  But we are learning to use our vulnerabilities as strengths and our flaws as assets.  Pre-Covid, I got my bushy eyebrows threaded and carefully styled.  Now they look like a forest sprung up over my eyes.  But, Gad has convinced me that they are beautiful, even youthful and fresh.  Of course I don’t let them grow wild.  But I’ve learned to love them.  As Gad said, when we embrace our vulnerabilities or our seeming flaws, we get “more power, more strength to be who we are…And when we love ourselves we can love others that much more.”  How great is that!?

3. Our response to each others’ beauty will be that much stronger.  Because of this crisis, we are recognizing how valuable we all are to one another.  We will look at one another with a lot more love, empathy, and compassion.  “We’re going to be looking at people differently,  more deeply because of all of the love we are now having.”

4. We will want to express our glamour, or as Gad put it, we will have a “thirst” for it after being cooped up for so long. He goes on to say:”people are going to go all out and it will translate to the sidewalk!”  Yes, yes, yes.  I want some now!

5. Finally,  we will be more conscious as consumers and wearers of beauty.  Over the decades, we’ve become a disposable culture.  Because so many of us are at home, we’re holding off on buying the new thing — new bag, new blouse or new blush. Instead of shopping, shopping, shopping, let’s use the time to understand what our sense of fashion really is, how we want to show up instead of just following fads.  Let us all be a rainbow now of different styles, colors and points of view.  Let’s create our own trends and be authentic.  Then when this is all over, the job of folks like Gad, the stylists, will be “to take women and men, their unique qualities, and pull them out.  Beauty is where you find it.”

For the full fun discussion, watch this.

Convo with Beauty Maven, Gad Cohen: Why Beauty Matters More Than Ever

It’s been awhile since my last confession…ooops, I mean Beautyskew post.  Like so many of you, the Covid situation hit me like a ton of bricks.  By March 2nd, my middle son had to be quarantined. His school was the first to be shut down in the country due to kids being exposed to one of the first known carriers of the virus in New York.  WFH became my reality early on. In addition to having five of us in the house, including my son home early from his year abroad, work has been the busiest it’s ever been.  So thinking about beauty took a back seat as I tried to adjust.  I barely had time to go to the bathroom let alone wash my hair, lol.  

But as I have begun to settle into a new rhythm, my need for beauty has resurfaced — big time.  I’ve been watching shows and reading more articles than I probably have time for around beauty topics. Making the Cut with Heidi Klum had me salivating.  I’ve been trying to figure out how I can express my love of fashion through a small screen — color, color, color.  And, as I run in and out of the only social space I venture into — the supermarket — fully covered (from sunglasses to mask to gloves), I’ve been challenged by how I can still maintain some sense of femininity. Sure, I spend 95% of my brain power focused on business strategy or my kids’ food needs, but there’s still that 5% that craves beauty — expressing it, seeing it, and talking about it.

So my good friend and celebrity-beauty-stylist, Gad Cohen, and I decided to begin discussing it — live — online.  For our first IG Live chat, Gad and I delved into why beauty matters NOW more than ever.  Beauty inspires us, fuels our sense of creativity, and enlivens us — all things we need during this crazy time.  Beauty reminds us that we are creative and imaginative enough to change our circumstances.  Maybe as individuals we can’t develop a vaccine overnight.  But we should have faith in the brilliant scientists who can.  And, even as individuals, we can change our situations to some degree.  It’s often constraints like the ones we’re facing that force us to come up with new solutions and amazing new ideas — from new ways to light our faces “just so” on camera all the way to new career ideas.  In fact, when I speak about creativity to large audiences during “normal times,” I challenge audiences to seek constraints to make them MORE creative. Gad, for example, can’t work right now.  He cuts and styles hair for a living.  That just ain’t happening now, as much as it pains us! But he isn’t sitting on his butt all day long. Instead, he’s focusing his creative energies on finally learning how to develop online videos and chats. The result? After Covid is over, he will have his own mini production studio.  In fact, he and I want to video tape our chats as he cuts and styles my hair in real time!

We may be inclined to ignore our need for beauty — after all, people around us are truly suffering.  I’m appealing to you all NOT to do that.  We should seek out beauty.  It nourishes us emotionally and fuels us creatively.

Our discussions have evolved over the course of the few we’ve done.  I’ll be sharing the key insights and videos from those chats in the coming posts.  Stay tuned!

Beautiful Rebellion: How Beauty Can Become a Symbol of and Gateway to Freedom

If you ever thought the topic of beauty products was frivolous, think again.  When women are willing to risk their freedom to smuggle or wear beauty products in totalitarian regimes, then you know it’s no small thing.  

In the recent story by Lexy Lebsack, Lipstick, Hair Dye, & Power — How Beauty Is Fuelling A Revolution In North Korea, women, such as Danbi Kim, share their stories of risking imprisonment in prisoner camps in N. Korea in order to offer people smuggled beauty products. But this pursuit isn’t just a way to make money, it’s a form of political and cultural resistance.  “Products and styles from South Korea, whether it was unlawful lipstick or banned apparel, began to signify a shared disobedience against the North Korean regime and an unspoken nod that the wearer had seen a glimpse of the outside world and was willing to get in trouble to show it.”   How so? North Korea’s regime dictates much of everyday life, including how women should appear in public.  There is even “beauty police” to ensure enforcement of these rules. Punishment for defying the rules includes public humiliation, “confessions” to local authorities and people cutting off hair and clothes as the “offender” passes by.

Beauty and fashion aren’t just a means to defy certain laws, though.  They represent forms of self-expression — exactly what a totalitarian regime abhors.  And exposure to beauty products opens a desire for expertise with them which then leads to a whole new industry for women:“…saving up hair straighteners, makeup, or nail supplies has opened a door for microeconomics among women who otherwise would have no income stream.”  Finally, the exposure to these new products, looks and images of glamour, opens people’s eyes to a world beyond the borders of North Korea.  This exposure — this taste for something beyond — compels people to push for change.  And the governments know this. In fact, Dr. Sung-wook Nam, chair of the department of North Korean studies at Korea University in Seoul points out that “beauty products are just the latest focus in a chess match between the two Koreas. He’s quoted as saying, “’South Korean K-beauty is a threat to the Kim Jong-un regime and the control of the system’”.

This story reminds me of a study I conducted while at college with Russian immigrants living Israel back in the mid-90’s.  I was studying social anthropology and wanted a way to get to Israel to see my long-distance, Israeli boyfriend.  Merging my studies, with my love for beauty and need to go to Israel, I pushed to secure a grant to study Russian women’s view on beauty.  I wasn’t really sure what I would get other than a free ride.  But I didn’t come up short.  What I remember most vividly (after all it was a long time ago) is that while in the Soviet Union, Russian women were so desperate for beauty products that they would save up their lunch money for days on end to buy a simple lipstick.  Beauty was deemed a frivolous pursuit by the Soviet regime and cosmetics were hard to come by.  But that wouldn’t stop Russian women from finding ways to outsmart the system and look beautiful.

This is not the first time I’ve written about the liberating power of beauty and fashion.  In Clothing is Power I share the story of Jasvinder Sanghera who expressed her freedom from her abusive husband via her highly feminine mode of dress, and in Fashionable Protests: The Unexpected Source of Saudi Women’s Independence I raise the possibility of Saudi lingerie shops as the spark to greater women’s empowerment.  Why is fashion, and, particularly, beauty products and ritual especially triggering of rebellion?  First, for women beauty has often been “our world,” i.e. something that we can claim greater use and understanding of — whether because of male objectification or not.  Second, I believe beauty holds so much power because it is so central to our bodies.  Beauty products literally become part of who we are each and everyday.  Creams, colors, scents blend with our skin and our hair, integrating with our physical selves.  They reflect what we feel, they show our sense of imagination (who do want to look like today?) and what were willing to fight for.  They excite us and give us confidence.  No wonder people have created, traded or smuggled beauty products for centuries.

Beauty may be superficial to some, but for so many of us, it’s a key part of who we are.  Of course there are still some social norms about how much to wear or in what ways to wear it. But, for the most part, we have the freedom to enjoy it.  Let’s appreciate that most of us can put on blush or spritz some perfume any time we want.  Let’s celebrate that we can look beautiful — or not –and no one can stop us.  As this is Memorial Day weekend in the U.S., how fitting it is to celebrate the freedoms — both large and seemingly small — brought to us by fallen soldiers, including the freedom to look buy, apply and wear in public any kind of cosmetics EVERY SINGLE DAY.

BE outside the box, don’t just think it! Kicking Off my New Adventure on Expansive Living

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of being both a panelist and a moderator for a few events at Advertising Week in NYC.  One of the perks of being on the speaker roster was that I was chosen among a few other women to be interviewed by Katie Kempner for her video series: “Perspectives with Katie Kempner.”  As Katie describes it on her site, this video series is a way to: “To inspire and empower working women who are attempting to live meaningful, happy, healthy lives as some combination of wives and partners, mothers, friends, sisters, daughters and successful professionals while retaining a sense of self and navigating the crazy 24/7 always-on life that is today’s reality.”

So what did we speak about?  Prior to the interview — I’m talking minutes prior — she asked me what am I known for and what I do at Google.  When I answered her, she looked at me nonplussed.  But when I told her that I live nine lives and try to integrate them all, then she got excited.  And that topic became the main subject of our interview.

And, thus, this interview became the first real forum for me to discuss my next adventure: to share my story on how to live a meaningful (successful? happy? — still not sure of the exact description yet) life.  Here goes: so many of us are an amalgamation of seemingly contradictory aspects.  When it comes to me, I’m part tech maven, part beauty/fashion commentator, part spiritual animal, part athlete, and part mother.  But we don’t necessarily celebrate or push those sides to their fullest, and certainly don’t always weave them together.  For years, I’ve been excited and energized, but also conflicted and challenged by the many nuances of myself.  On the one hand, I’ve been enriched by these many sides, they have opened up new opportunities for me.  I realized it’s time to fully buy my own seemingly random but fruitful, fun, expansive approach to life and inspire others with it.

On the other hand, I’ve been accused of giving people a mind fuck.  People often ask me, “wait, what, you work in tech and sit at the front row at fashion shows?”  Or, “huh, your speaking on big stages about creativity all over the world and are raising three kids?”  Or “you combine anthropology with technology?” And this is my favorite: “you dress like that and strictly observe the Jewish sabbath?”  Yep.  And what’s more, it’s BECAUSE of these different sides that I can be as fulfilled as I am.  Don’t get me wrong, I bitch and moan like the rest of us, so I’m not saying I’m fulfilled ALL the time.  But when I take a step back I can say I have lived, and know I will continue to live, a pretty badass life.  I believe I’ve found my success because I’ve embraced — versus compartmentalized or rejected– these different sides.  What’s more, I have found ways to interconnect them.

In the video, I give an early life example of this.  I studied in small, yeshiva high school. This meant I endured intense days filled with secular and Jewish studies.  Needless to say, college was not just a breeze compared to that but definitely eye opening. I was exposed to many different types of people and subject matters.  Did I reject all that despite having slightly different upbringing or lifestyle? No way! Moreover, I took my treasure trove of judaic studies and applied them to almost every subject!  By combining my two different worlds I realized I could stand out, and ultimately, succeed.

Another example: when I transitioned from my advertising life to Google, I felt like the biggest fish out of water, a total charlatan.  What did I REALLY know about tech anyway? But I was an expert on how to uncover human insight.  I studied social anthropology in college and then spent 20 years partnering with anthropologists to help me uncover those insights.  Aha! That was my special sauce. Leverage the study of anthropology to uncover what drives our deep relationship to the digital space.  That sparked an industry-first thought leadership series of studies, Humanizing Digital.  These insights not only drove digital campaign after digital campaign for my client, but also elevated my team within and outside of the company.

Of course the subject of beauty made its way into the video.  Like I have done in this blog for years, I encourage us to embrace it.  So many people I know see the subject as frivolous and therefore, unsuitable for intelligent business women or men to discuss.  Bull shit. There is no reason to not to weave beauty into our daily lives and let it inspire and empower us.  Yes, we can embrace beauty AND brains!

Ok, I think you get the gist.  I realized it’s time to fully buy my own seemingly random but fruitful, fun, expansive approach to life and inspire others with it.  I’m still spinning this concept around so I would LOVE your feedback.  Or at the very least have fun watching the video :).  Click the image below to watch.

Will AI Kill Fashion or Improve It?

I have to confess: I’m FAR from being an expert on AI.  But given my role at Google, and the work of my team members, it comes up in many conversations, is the engine behind some of the tools my team creates, and it makes its way into at least one article in my news feed a day.  So I have some understanding of it.

Lately, I’ve been talking about it in the context of fashion.  It’s undeniable that AI will have an increasingly greater impact on the fashion world in the coming years.  The question everyone asks is,”is that a good thing?” Like in other creative fields I work with, people are concerned that AI could squelch creativity or limit it altogether.  After all, its key value is automation. What happens to the human being behind all of this? Does all creativity just end? Will creative industries like fashion just fade away or change into something empty of artistic expression? One particular entrepreneur engaged in the fashion tech space argued that soon AI will scan our behaviors, predict what we’d like into an ideal outfit and then we’d scan the looks into a 3D printer which will print out our clothing at home.  No more need for fashion design and no more need for fashion retailers.

I don’t quite agree.  

I was asked to comment about this topic and few other fashion and strategy related issues in an interview with Geoffrey Colon, a marketing disruptor and innovator from Microsoft.  He hosts a podcast, “Disruptive FM” and interviews various people from across the globe every year at the Cannes Lions Festival.  His Cannes video is called “Fashion Boutique.” Geoffrey didn’t waste any time with me under the hot sun and homed into the interplay of AI and fashion.   No question AI will be able to get a faster, maybe even more, nuanced read of our habits, preferences and activities than a human being could.  And with that speed and nuance, it can create styles that every individual would likely find appealing. 

But there is still a need for the human being to oversee and correct or pivot the findings of AI.  Certain cultural norms or expectations may underpin our fashion sense that can’t be picked up through behavior alone.  Certain permutations and combinations may seem to look nice via an algorithm but appear “off” as the end result. Technology is our friend.  It does the tedious work for us so we can then build off of it and spend more time playing and evolving fashion.

Prior to my podcast I was mining my friend and fashion tech guru, Amanda Parkes for insight on this matter since she speaks on stages all over the world on this and related topics.  She highlighted a few fashion companies taking hold of AI like H&M and Myntra which uses machine learning to design full collections in record speeds. But there’s human beings along the way, tapping their sense of creativity to enhance machine learning to be that much more nuanced.  AI isn’t killing fashion or creativity; it’s allowing us to do it more quickly and in different ways.

AI will give us greater personalization than ever before, we we all love that (think the craze over Nike ID).  Could the hyper personalization we crave and receive from AI further discount the need for human side of fashion?  After all, we are getting exactly what suits us, right? Of course we seek clothing that benefits our specific lifestyles and needs.  But there’s the other side of fashion. The side that surprises, enlightens and inspires us.  It’s the side that opens our eyes to something we never even REALIZED we needed. AI can bring us closer to that, but it’s human beings who can take it to the next level.

As Dr. Anastassia Lauterbach, tech entrepreneur and author, said so adroitly: “The word intelligence in AI is highly confusing and causes funny discussions. Today there is nothing absolutely intelligent in Machine learning applications. Everything happens by design, and this design is done by humans – preferably in diverse teams. Humans decide what criteria get emphasized in a model. Machine learning scales what ever good or bad gets into the datasets and algorithms. Every profession needs to adjust to a world where some coding will be as normal as cooking today. Yes, you can eat in restaurants every day and let others cook for you. But it is maybe nice to be capable to produce something on your own. Same is true with AI in any industry. If you choose technology illiteracy, you can lament the death of creativity. Or you can use your great knowledge and add new skills, partner with technologists who are capable to listen, and do the work. AI is not a conscious agent. It is a tool…it can be used in a smart way, and support your ideas. The Intelligence on what and how remains yours.”

The opportunity is in front of us: retreat from AI or harness it to take creativity to newer and maybe even greater heights.

For the full video, click here (My piece starts around the 10 minute mark).

Chinese Fashion: Not A Case Of Cultural Appropriation But Cultural Understanding…I Saw It With my Own Eyes

Yue-Sai Kan, Miss China Universe 2011-2016 and me at the Plaza

I’m sure you’ve all read about the bruhaha about a Utah girl’s Chinese prom dress.  Keziah Daum wore a classic Cheongasm dress and got beaten up in social media by people accusing her of cultural appropriation.  In response to that shaming she received tons of encouraging messages directly from China.  And I’m not surprised at all the positive feedback.  Having just hosted the China Fashion Gala at the Plaza last weekend and seeing all the amazing mixing and matching of traditional and modern Chinese elements worn by Westerners and Chinese alike, I can tell you that Keziah’s choice of dress was a wonderful and future-forward one.  Not only was her dress beautiful but it was symbolic of the wonderful fusion of Chinese and Western fashion, and dare I say, the growing multi-cultural understanding we are all craving..

A little context for you all: you may recall that I’m collaborating with Unipx Media, a Chinese media channel that focuses primarily on fashion, lifestyle and tech.  The goal is to turn me into an “influencer” in the Chinese market.  To be honest, our early attempts weren’t making much progress.  Then we had an idea: host the China Fashion Gala!  It would be live-streamed into China, I would meet some movers and shakers, and be photographed with lots of China’s “beautiful people.”  It was all last minute and a bit crazy up until the end.  Not only did I have to attempt to learn a bit of Chinese, but I had to pronounce A LOT of Chinese names without butchering them too much, yikes!  I was also super fortunate enough to wear not just one but two amazing dresses by haute couture designer, Grace Chen.  

The event was gorgeous.  Men and women — old and young alike, — dressed in stunning gowns that expertly married modern with classic, and Western with Chinese styles.  Each and everybody looked regal with a bit of kick!  In fact, when I kicked off my hosting gig, I had to go off script and comment on how everyone looked so proud and beautiful.  And, just to name drop, I got to hob nob with the likes of Christian Louboutin and Vivienne Tam!!!

What struck me the most, however, is fashion’s unique ability to help people appreciate each other’s cultures.  Clothing is a language of it’s own.  For better or for worse, it “speaks” a culture’s definition of beauty, it’s values, rituals, and social norms.  Just as I convinced my 5th grade teacher when I chose to write my history term paper on the fashion of the Wild West (vs, oh, say, a defining war or key U.S. president), we learn about different cultures through our clothing.  Fashion is a way to see how we differ and how we are very much the same.   Grace Chen reinforced this when she treated us to a fashion show of her latest lines.  And thanks to Yue-Sai Kan‘s urging (Yue-Sai, by the way, has been named the “most famous woman in China.”) Chen explained to us how each piece resembles elements of ancient and modern China culture, as well as those of Western life.  It was fascinating and educational!

Even though I just scratched the surface of Chinese fashion in my short experience as a gala host, I will look at Chinese fashion with a deeper sense of appreciation.  And I will know that much more about a culture rich with heritage and nuance.  So instead of criticizing Miss Daum, we should thank her.  We should thank her for taking a risk and going against the grain and wearing a classic Chinese dress.  But more importantly, we should thank her for introducing a different culture to her community, to social media, and, now, to the entire U.S..

Feel free to check out our page hosted by Unipx!

A Female Perspective: Fashion. How to show up post #metoo: Another Video Conversation

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!