How to Dress for a Photoshoot for your Business with Melanie Lippman
February 1, 2023
As much as I wish this weren’t the case, I wasn’t born a fashionista. Sure, I can throw together an outfit worthy of running errands and choose my favorite out of a lineup of gala dresses, but being effortlessly stylish…well, I can’t quite claim it.
Which is why, when it came time to get new brand photos taken, I had no clue how to a dress for the photoshoot. I knew I wanted to seem approachable in the images, but how does approachable translate into clothing?
I was lucky that I was able to lean on my best friend for support, but it also made me keenly aware that I needed to learn what styles, cuts, colors, or patterns even looked good on me.
Is my story anything like yours?
Brand photos are extremely important marketing assets. If you don’t have professional images for your website, go out and get them now. And if you do, you definitely want to consider refreshing them from time to time.
But what do you wear? You know the way you look in these images will tell a story of sorts. And you want that story to be one that your ideal clients connect with.
This is exactly why I asked image consultant and stylist Melanie Lippman to join me on the Talk Copy to Me podcast. In this episode, we’ll cover all the ways you can feel confident in your clothing during a brand photoshoot, speaking on a stage, or any other professional event.
Here is what Melanie and Erin want you to know about how to dress for a photoshoot
How to choose clothing that you’ll feel comfortable in
Why it’s important to never allow how you feel about your physical looks to hold you back from opportunities
How thinking about your future self can help you to start developing your own style
How clothing choices can help you to attract the right clients or repeal the wrong ones
Why knowing the right colors can help you make better decisions on what to wear
How to determine what cuts are flattering and how articles of clothing should fit
Why it’s important to stop buying new things and develop a mix-and-match wardrobe
The importance of challenging our own fashion beliefs and staying curious
Other podcast episodes and resources mentioned in this episodes:
Quotes about how to dress for a photoshoot from Melanie and Erin
“Clothes play a vital role in self confidence, and motivating us to get out there and show our best selves.” – Erin Ollila
“It has to do more with the confidence and what you’re able to do when you feel like you’re showing up aligned with yourself, as opposed to wearing all of that… and it feels like you’re wearing someone else’s costume. It’s the same thing with copy. It’s the same thing. You can’t say something in someone else’s words.” – Melanie Lippman
Clothes are an extension of our identity. And if we don’t take ourselves seriously, no one else will.” – Melanie Lippman
“The fashion industry…makes women feel small. And it always tells you like “If you had this one thing, it’d be so much easier to get dressed…Here’s the style…Here’s the trend.” They’re just forcing information down on us. And it makes us feel like we need to go shopping every week, every month, every three like whatever it is.” – Melanie Lippman
“If someone is coming to you and telling you what to wear without like doing a deep dive into who you are. They’re just trying to sell you something.” – Melanie Lippman
“Five years from now, when you’ve already achieved your big, audacious goal, what are you wearing?” – Melanie Lippman
“Getting dressed is actually math and science. It’s not that hard.” – Melanie Lippman
Melanie suggests going through your closet and get rid of all the clothing that is no longer serving you.
She says, “Go in your closet and anything that feels like it’s from your past identity — like old version of yourself? Bad memories? — get rid of it! Why are you playing that mental crappy game of trying on take it off trying to take it off, get it out of your closet.”
Melanie Lippman is an Image Consultant and Personal Branding expert who helps ambitious, high-powered women in male dominated fields learn to use style to communicate confidence, build connections, and achieve next-level visibility. Combining her Image and Color Consulting degrees from Fashion Institute of Technology with her past experience working with brands like Marie Claire, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Neiman Marcus, Melanie helps women worldwide define their personal brand, making them instantly recognizable, memorable and viewed as a leader.
When she is not coaching, you can find Melanie practicing yoga with her husband, playing in the Miami waves with her 8 year-old son, or listening to a personal development audio book.
Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform – and even transform – its intended audience. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and went on to co-found Spry, an award-winning online literary journal.
When Erin’s not helping her clients understand their website data or improve their website copy, you can catch her hosting the Talk Copy to Me podcast and guesting on shows such as Profit is a Choice, The Driven Woman Entrepreneur, Go Pitch Yourself, and Counsel Cast.
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Here’s the transcript for episode 049 about how to dress for a photoshoot or other professional brand experiences with guest expert Melanie Lippman
NOTE: This podcast was transcribed by an AI tool. Please forgive any typos or errors.
Melanie Lippman, Erin Ollila
Erin Ollila 00:00
hello friends today we are here with Melanie Lippmann, who is an image consultant and personal branding expert that works with ambitious high powered woman in male dominated fields. So she can help them use style, to communicate competence to build connections, to earn trust and to achieve a next level of visibility. So we are here today to talk really about branding photos and showing up with personality and confidence in the images that you use for your business. But one thing that you may not know about Melanie before we get started, is that she actually picked up her husband at a restaurant called catch in New York City, love the name of the restaurant, the idea that you’re like catching your husband. And then when he never followed up with her for a date, she called him to make sure that she got that day that she was hoping for. So Melanie, I love your confidence there on being the one who went out and got what she was hoping for. When you tell this story now, I’m assuming you’ve been with your husband for a little while when you tell the story now, what does your husband have to say about the idea that you are the pursuer and that you are the one that kind of got this whole relationship going?
Melanie Lippman 01:14
It’s funny because we just celebrated 10 years and Happy anniversary. Thank you very much. And I feel like I probably when I was 10 years younger and all of that and probably like was a little bit coy in the dating, you know was trying to do all the right things but the I called him I picked him up is very telling of who I am as a person. I also have to add is the reason why I actually felt confident enough to do that is he felt amazing and the dress I was wearing. So the clothes actually do make you do the hard things.
Erin Ollila 01:53
No, I will completely agree with that. You know I am we joked before we started and I’m sure we’ll talk about this within the conversation but I am someone who doesn’t necessarily have a natural inclination towards style. I tend to facilitate between like very well dressed or very well underdressed you know like living in the pajamas or living in like a cocktail dress there is not that in between. For me that’s like a natural thing. But the one thing I am very sure of, it’s when I do wear something that makes me feel good. Everything changes, right? Like, I can step on the stage, if I’m going doing like a speech and if I’m comfortable in the clothing that I’m wearing, I kind of like dominate the room, I can dominate that conversation to be a vocal, confident empowered Speaker. On the flip side to that, I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to I don’t know if the weight correct way to say this is like be something other than myself, where like I thought I had to look a certain way or wear a certain thing to project a certain image. And I went out and purchased an outfit. And then I wore that to an event and I was so uncomfortable because it wasn’t my style. It wasn’t clothing that I felt good in and then I withdrew a little bit like my personality didn’t come out because I was so focused on little things like, you know, is the slip too high in the back of my dress. Like if I bend over is anyone gonna see my bum right now like, and I wasn’t thinking about like my expertise and like what I was really there for. So while you gave the example about like meeting your husband and just feeling you know, extra competent, I think that relates to day to day activities as it relates to you know, business networking, how we show up within our business and everywhere. So I’m with you clothes play a vital role in self confidence, and, you know, motivating us to kind of like get out there and show our best selves to the world.
Absolutely. And even just to piggyback that so a lot of the women that I work with have like this internal struggle of like, my clothes shouldn’t matter. And I always say they shouldn’t like they like really like it feels frivolous, it feels like a waste of time, it feels like I don’t I have better things to do. It feels kind of vain, right? Like you’re like, I’m a working mom, like should not be like cruising the mall like I used to when I was 16 years old. But it’s exactly what you tapped on is that it has to do more with the confidence and what you’re able to do when you feel like you’re showing up aligned with yourself, as opposed to wearing all of that shirts and it feels like you’re wearing someone else’s costume. It’s the same thing with copy. It’s the same thing. You can’t say something in someone else’s words and say it with gumption and say it with like such charisma, if it didn’t come from inside of you. It’s the same thing with clothes, you your clothes need to feel part of you. They need to make you feel confident. And you shouldn’t have that second guessing thing in the back of your head feeling like Is this too short? This isn’t me. I feel like it’s just not aligned. Because nine out of 10 times you’re going to take yourself out of an opportunity because you’re like oh If they don’t notice, like, this isn’t fitting me, right, or I don’t feel good, right? Just want this to be over and go home and, and put myself hands on. Right. And I love
Erin Ollila 05:07
that you say take yourself out of the opportunity because like, What the What you just referenced is already being in the opportunity and feeling uncomfortable. But think about how many times like, especially women, I would say do not put themselves out for opportunities. So they don’t even get there with the clothes and feeling uncomfortable. Because they may think to themselves, I can’t be a speaker on a huge stage like that, like, what would I even, like, show up? Like, like, I don’t have style, like, and I’ve thought about this like, and I think part of it again, is we talked, I have young children. So working at home with young children as well. So it’s like, I don’t necessarily go shopping on my own right? Like, I don’t have that bandwidth to like, browse and check things out. So I have been in the situation before where I’m like, do I even apply for this opportunity? You know, like someone had said, Oh, Aaron, there’s a local, like women’s networking conference, you’d be a great speaker. And I just remember, I think my toddler was like two at the time. And could I have done this bandwidth wise? Absolutely. Like, you know, I have a spouse who also works at home, sometimes he could watch my child family members. So it wasn’t that I couldn’t physically get there and do my job. It was, I think what was holding me back is like, I don’t know, the last time I hit that my hair cut, like I don’t even know what my style is like I don’t, I can’t show up in pajamas and be like, Hello, everyone, you know, like, I have smart things to tell you. So I can speak for myself to say I have held myself back in certain situations, just because I was in a place that I didn’t feel like I could show up that comfortably. So I think it goes both ways. Like you might put yourself in a situation feeling uncomfortable in the clothing you’re wearing. Or you may not even put yourself in that situation because of your own mindset issues around clothing and how they fit. Are you comfortable in your body. And I think that the great thing about having you here today because again, I cannot advise anyone on how to dress themselves. But they’re great thing about having you here to help talk to us about this though is you know, you don’t have to be a pencil thin model to fit in clothing and look awesome, and your branding photos. You just need to know how to dress yourself comfortably. And do it in a way that you feel like confident in your in the clothing you’re wearing. Because that confidence will show up in those pictures. 100%
Absolutely. And I would say that nine out of 10 times the women nine out of 10 women that work with me, they get on the phone with me and they always say this man 10 times the same thing. I’m really interested in this, but I’m gonna lose some weight first, like thing and we always can kick that can down the road, right? We can always can say, well speaking would be easier because you know what? When I lose 10 pounds, I can go fit in my old suit. Let me just tell you something. If someone invites you to speak on your stage, you’ve outgrown that suit, not not size wise, like person was identity wise. And this is the one thing we need to realize clothes are an extension of our identity. And if we don’t take ourselves seriously, no one else will.
Erin Ollila 08:11
Yeah, I love that. And I love exactly how you said that. My example was not wanting to speak because I was like a toddler mom. And that’s how I fell in in there’s actually nothing wrong with that, like, in a weird way I kind of loved being at home in this little like hibernating nest that I made of like playing with my kid on the floor doing a little work on the computer and like that being life itself. But like you mentioned, we outgrow these versions of ourselves. Like I wasn’t always going to be playing on the floor with a box with my child which leads me to now right like now I feel more confident when I go to like dance class with my kids because like I dress up like a quote unquote real human like I leave my house like I have my own style. And sometimes it is more like leisure like other times it’s more dressed up but there are phases that we go through. And I think it is important to understand the phases that we’re in and potentially push ourselves past it. Just because I spent most time on the floor with Legos and hanging out in my sweatshirts in my pajamas doesn’t mean that I couldn’t live using the other example go and speak on the stage in that same week right
I always say to my clients all the time. Let’s figure out who your next level is self is because we’ve all heard dress for the job that you want the job you have but there’s so much power because the scarcity just leaves when you really start embodying that next level version of yourself
Erin Ollila 09:35
and I love that you take that like on a client by client basis right because I think the key here before we even talk about like how to position yourself in branding is that you how you determined to dress is not how your competitor does it’s not how like the experts do it’s how you determine your own personal brand. I don’t know if you know Liz Wilcox, who is an email marketing genius. She is like so 90s or reentered, right, she wears like the 90s headbands, the colors of the 90s. That’s how she’s known. Like, if you like I literally saw someone wearing like 90s ish garb in the beginning of December. And I wanted to like take a picture of them and be like this reminded me of you like, did you come to Massachusetts? What I love about this is, you know, she’s just owning this like Fresh Prince of Bel Air. She’s the fresh Princess of email. And that’s her branding, and it fits her so well. It’s so authentic. And people recognize her in there. So what anything you hear from me and Millie today, we’re not telling you like, oh, Go and wear this trendy piece of clothing, because you are going to determine your own style. And that’s the key for that confident, sexy like in charge. Look, it’s your own style, not what society is trying to tell you is the look of the moment. It’s where you feel best in your branding, right? And
that’s like, so that’s my thing. And that’s, you know, how like, I mean, in marketing and copy, we always call you’re throwing rocks at, like, I grew up in the fashion industry. My family owns a store, I worked host our corporately for 10 years, the fashion industry and unfortunately makes women feel small. And they always tell you like if you had this one thing, you it’d be so much easier to get dressed like here’s the style, here’s the trend, they’re just forcing information down us. And so makes us need to feel like we need to go shopping like every week, every month, every three like whatever it is. And that’s the opposite like and even unfortunately, we’re in a time where because shopping is difficult. Now there’s subscription boxes. Now there’s AI style, like I don’t know, if it’s filling your feet, it’s filling my feet thinking that I need AI tell me an address. But like So switching devices, algorithms, even personal shoppers in stores, even if you go and hire a stylist, they are going to go tell you to go buy more stuff before you taking your own inventory of who am I? what’s working, what’s not working? How do I want to show up? What makes me feel good. If someone is coming to you and telling you what to wear without like doing a deep dive into who you are. They’re just trying to sell you something.
Erin Ollila 12:15
I’m sorry for this, but I’m putting you on the spot here. So here’s the crux of the question is how does one determine what their style is, especially if they’re coming from a place where like, you know, we’re the pandemic season of zoom in with like a fancy shirt and your boxer shorts. Like, if someone is listening to this, and they’re like, alright, I really want to start to feel confident myself and start to determine like how I want to dress like what are your some of your suggestions for them to start to identify that before they even start thinking of things like a brand shoe?
Absolutely. So and it’s my favorite thing to do with clients. I mean, I I’m very good at like speed. It’s funny, I just got off the phone with a client before this. And she I had her do like an exercise. And she was trying to decode what the exercise I was having her do is like a little bit of Alter Ego, it was a little bit of like a Pinterest board. It was a little bit of like, you know, if you could wear a band t shirt, what would it be, and she was trying to crack my code. And she’s like, this is frustrating, like, I didn’t tell you to do my job. For me, I’m really good at cracking the code and finding the patterns. We are creatures of habit. I mean, that’s why I sort of sort of works in subscription box sort of works is because there are patterns that we can read. But you can’t just say here’s the pattern, go and do it. Like it’s like, we can use AI to write or copy. And it sounds like a robot did it unless we put our own personal twist and we figure it out. So it’s really, really here’s like the thing, this is the first thing that I will tell clients to do. Five years from now, you’ve already achieved your big, audacious goal, what are you wearing, because scarcity goes away then like you are not going to start, you know I need to keep because the one day this is going to fit like all of your stories that are holding you back. Because here’s the thing with getting dressed. There’s a lot of stuff in it. body image issues, shopping issues, the challenges about how we see ourselves status, there is so much that goes into the clothes that we wear. But if you can say five years from now I’m speaking on a TED stage five years from now I’m charging, oh my god, I just met someone who charges $80,000 to work with her. I’m like so in awe. Five years now she had $80,000 to work with me, this is how I dress. Everything goes away. So that’s a fun little journaling thing to start off with. Because you embody someone completely different in that aspect. So I would say if you want to start play the game, and that’s the other thing with getting dressed, stay curious, have fun. No one besides someone on top or in high school is going to be mean going out there with a red pen and saying you’re doing it wrong, only you so really just start getting curious about out what’s going on and really figuring out how you want to start dressing at your next level.
Erin Ollila 15:04
I love those two, because I think that when we look at it from like already achieving, like you mentioned, it takes the fear away. But it also takes the assumption away. I think one of my clients a few years ago was a photographer, and she worked with really creative people. But she was also getting like a higher end luxury type of client. So like, for example, a vacation Villa hired her to come due for some photography, things like that. So when it came time for her to do her own website, rebranding, she, we talked about luxury a lot, she really wanted luxury within the feel of the copy luxury and the images. And what we found while working together was that she had assumptions on luxury, and what that meant, and it wasn’t exactly what she knew was real, or what she felt embodied her brand, you know, and I find that when I’m working with a client, and I’m getting some feedback, or I’m feeling some friction, that they’re, they’re not really vibing with the direction we’re going. It’s because the information I’m being told at first is what they think their business should be, and not what it is or what they want it to be. Right. So just using this photographer client, what she ended up I mean, not that I had anything to do with her actual images, but in conversations about branding and how she she should show up in her business. What we found is like she really needed to just kind of like go into her funky self like she was the type of person that had the crazy cool jewelry, like the kind that she picked up at craft shows that no one else wore, because there are one of a kind pieces. And that was what got her noticed it. The luxury villas still hired her because she was creative. And they could see that creativity in her, they did not need her to wear a tailored suit. And I think that’s what she was really going for within her original like branding was she needed to dress luxury and luxury to her was tailored and put together when she was really this wild, chaotic type of style and side story again, but I think it’s like one, when you look at who the future self fails. I don’t if you removing fear, because you’ve already achieved all those things, I think you can more easily pull that image of yourself, right? And then see these, like how you would be dressing. You don’t automatically pull in that tailored suit, if you would, if you were thinking about what would you like to be in five years, you might see that tailored suit onstage. But if you’ve already achieved all of these things that you’re hoping for, you’re going to see like yourself in your home, you’re going to see yourself on a vacation and how you’d be dressing on vacation, not what you assume success would look like five years from now.
Exactly. And that’s like, the interesting thing is because I that obviously you can tell from our conversations is that, while closer to the vehicle and close kind of are for a lot of my clients, it’s their version of imposter syndrome. Like they’re like I’ve already kind of achieved success, or I’m almost at the pivotal point of my life where I’m really enjoying my business. I just feel like I’m not looking like I should. It’s really about you stepping into you, but also feeling confident in there. And sometimes we need to visit older versions of ourselves. Like you said, like with your client, like she probably had a disconnect and what a feeling with luxury was and felt like she almost didn’t belong. As someone who works in luxury for 10 years. Like it’s so funny. Someone said this to me. So you never tell the story. I used to sell $30,000 bracelets, and I can tell you the people that were buying it, you never knew when they walked in the store that they were going to go and buy it. Like we all think about the idea of the person who invests a lot of money and spends things you have to just get comfortable with who you are. And know this is the thing that clothes same thing with copy or magnets. Like I used to have this idea I want I work with executive women, I need to wear a blazer in a suit and they’re not going to take me seriously. It wasn’t until I wore like a red and pink leopard blazer that one of my clients, thank you, you’re finally there and showing up in your pictures. Like I know who you are, but like you’re finally being you. So I could come find you and say Oh, I like you. I want to hang out with you and also repel the people you don’t want to work with. If someone wants you to be in a suit and you don’t wear a suit by
Erin Ollila 19:22
Yes No, I am such a huge huge believer in repelling like, I think that when we when people hear that they there’s a mindset that goes into that right? They’re like Oh no, I can’t lose a potential client and um, and what I like to remind them of is like, you want to separate the leads from like the ones that are ideal and are not ideal and you want them to do that on their own right so like if you have a client who is put off by an element of your like branding your style, then they’re going to come to you and not they’re already not trusting you a little right they’re already not convinced. You don’t want to have to work with someone who is not convinced of whether or not you’re the right person to work with, when I did my last branding shoe, I tend to be a little bit corny, right, let’s just say a little bit corny. It was really kind of a lot. So when I did my last branding shoe, I had stumbled upon these shoes that were like pencils. You can look at my website, they’re on like a front page if you want to, like judge me here, but um, I really love these shoes. I’m so corny. And I’m like, yeah, these are the best shoes ever, ever writer, I want to get my pencil shoes. And I remember my husband and my best friend and my best friend is very stylish. Looking at me and being like, You’re taking this too far, right? Like, this is a bit much like, we love you. But like, you don’t need Pencil shoes for your branding shoe. And I just remember being like, okay, but guys, look this No, I’m gonna veto you here like, yes, you might have a little both of you have a little better style than I do. But the thing of the matter is, I am corny. Like I like I love the idea that I have pendule shoes on and my branding photos because like it just it’s like the Erin corny cue, and that’s who I am in business. Right. So I know that sounds silly. But I’m glad that I was able to identify myself that like, of course, you don’t need to wear pencil shoes, or like, you know, shirtless as I am a writer in a branding photo like that is absolutely not, it did not required to identify yourself based on your profession. But it was just knowing that like, I do tend to be that person who’s a little bit corny. And I probably would walk around with a shirt that says I am a writer, right, just because that’s my personality. So I can avoid giving advice at this point. How can someone like if they’re starting to see like, okay, they’ve done the curious thing we’ve tried on clothing that maybe they wouldn’t have worn before colors, things like that. And they’re starting to kind of see like, Oh, I like these things. How do they determine things like because I think this is where a lot of people get stuck, like what colors, what prints and what patterns that are actually flattering on them.
Getting dressed is actually math and science. It’s not that hard. People again, fashion industry. Here’s the big fairy tale, you need the leather pants, you need that paper bag, you need that this influenza like to know it, let me just throw a bunch of stuff at you. So you just keep buying more stuff? No, if you learn the colors that flatter you. So we’ve all heard, like the 80s color me’s analysis people have gotten and people not. But besides knowing the colors that look good on you also need to know what to do with them. So with branding, it’s like what are my five colors, so you know how to wear them. It’s easy to mix and match. You know, which ones look good on, you know, the messages they send. And then same thing with prints and patterns. Like it’s I mean, it’s a lot of information as far as like your face shape, and your figure and the all of the things. But once you know, you know, it’s not trendy information. It’s like I look good in geometric prints. Hmm, that was easy. So it’s that when it comes to it. So that’s science and then getting dressed as math. It’s literally proportions and balancing your proportions. That is it is nothing crazy. So once you know like this neckline looks good on me. This is where a blazer should hit me. No one wants to tell us how clothes should fit. It’s like this big mystery. No Tell someone the seam is supposed to stop for your blazer on top of your shoulder. If it’s over here that’s wrong over there that no one wants to see these factual things. When you learn your own facts, you know how to get dressed and you know, a checks and balance system, you have a system and a strategy and a blueprint. So that’s what I love. That’s what I teach in my course is like this is your blueprint. This is how you go and get good, how it’s easy to get dressed. And this is how to create a pull together polished outfit. So you’re not standing in your closet for 20 minutes each day figuring out what to wear. You are not panic shopping the day before your photoshoot buying a whole bunch of stuff that you hate two weeks later. It’s really about this is my system and strategy to feel good and my clothes, the end.
Erin Ollila 23:55
I love that. And I think actually it’s really drives me perfectly to the next question I wanted to ask you because we’re here to talk about photoshoots right and my clients will kind of look at me or even asked me their copywriter like what am I doing? That’s photoshoot like how do I show up? What do I dress what are the like accoutrements that I bring to the photoshoot to kind of like showcase myself at work. And I think a lot of it this is a conversation that doesn’t really get held between photographers and their their clients right? In a way that I think the photographer assumes very often and this is not a dig at photographers because I’m sure that there are many that really help their clients like walk through this process. But I think they assume the clients are ready when it comes to taking pictures and I think that’s where you know, a brand stylist or someone who can help them a client figure out who they are in their messaging and their brand in their visual elements before the pitcher day is vital because I remember myself my last foot issue thinking like well, what do I like I know Do I bring notebooks like, we talked about the pencil shoots? Like I was sold on those, but I was like, What the hell else do I bring to a photo shoot, you know, to show action within these pictures, because I didn’t want to look like it was an average roll like headshot of Aaron, I want it to look like I was doing things. So where do you have I know we’ve talked about you have a great core. So tell us about that as part of this, like, how do you like advise people to get ready for a shoe? Not necessarily picking the exact clothing but like deciding all of these tiny factors that play together when it comes to branding?
Yeah, so it’s all encompassing. And this is like, one of the things that my clients say to me is like, they’ll go through my five week program, and they’re like, Wow, that was a lot more close. Like there was things about how I want to show up messaging mindset, things identity, how formal and how casual I am, how do I show up if I see a client at a grocery store, and I get like, not Hi, like this sort of thing. And really what I love to do, and what we need to do is decide in advance. Like, again, it goes to that, imagine that done, and then putting some tangible elements to it. Like photographers, I know my photographer is really good at making me look good in the sense of she knows how to pose me, she knows how to make me stand. So like they’re able to do that. So they’re normally will make you look good in your clothes. Like, I’ve even like I had a client and their photographer did like Rent the Runway. For her. It was it was like it was the funniest thing was we had this whole thing. We planned out what she was wearing. Oh, don’t worry, she’s doing Rent the Runway for me. What does that even mean? And it turns out, they were like pinning stuff and they were doing and it actually came out like they’re good at what they do. And they can make you look really good. But they’re not may not be necessarily making you look like you. Like they’re not going through the process of like, how are some asks, How are you using these images? How do you work with your clients? Like? Do you want to show up formally? And what situations like what are your five year goals with and this is what I say to my clients, like let’s talk about every single thing like Is your goal to speak on a stage, you should have a picture that you can hand to someone and say, Hey, you want me to go speak at your event next week. Here’s my amazing professional headshot ready to go. Or I really want to work with moms. And I want to show that I’m approachability, like have a picture with you in the Lego is like but let’s dial it so it feels like you. So we need to think about all of like the nuances about how you show up. And this is the other thing that really also kind of transitions great into my course is we’re so focused on ROI as women we are so like no nonsense. This is how I make money. This is how I show up for work. But we never realized that we have so many other identities and we play so many other roles. So therefore like you said before you do PJs great and you do like gala great. And we have our book ends really figured out what happens when you go to the grocery store. What happens when you go to a four year old’s birthday party. I mean, for me, I used to go in the pool all the time because the kids didn’t swim, and that would set me off, I have to be in a bathing suit in front of these women that go to bar class every day. This is awesome. So we need to really like let’s just figure out all of the things that we show up for figuring out how we want to feel in those situations. So you don’t have to feel like you need 75 Different wardrobes. We want a mix and match wardrobe to really feel about how we’re going to get dressed and then put all of those tangible things like color like fit making the most of your closet, you’ve invested a lot of money on your clothes, stop thinking that shopping is the the one size fits all solution it is not and most of the time, what can I tell you what women do all of the time 95% of time they go and buy the thing they already own. Again, for their photoshoot, you already had basically the same sweater but you bought a new one because it felt like you should know figure it out and make the most of you at what you have. And then figure out where the gaps are. I’ve had an uplevel at how to feel more like you like the pencil shoes or all of that. And then really figure out how those connections are made. Whether it is you know having the cool notebooks for me like I went to podcasting was one of the things I really wanted to get into. So I have like a podcast mic that I had in my last photo shoot I had a light ring in my last photo shoot because I’m always on Zoo. Like how are the ways that we show up and show some character so some personality people want to work with humans that they know like and trust be a person in your photo is.
Erin Ollila 29:23
Yeah, that is vital and you know, this is bringing up something separate but I want to stay here for a second and it’s like understanding why your clients like you and we all have different reasons for that. When I did some voice of customer research with my own clients couple years ago now one of the key things that’s that stood out for my clients and is that they loved working with me because of my like jovial personality like I’m a giggler like I laugh a lot. I smile a lot. And I just remember that stuff stood out so much to me because I’d never would have thought about bringing that into branding at all, I mean, yes, that’s who I am like I am a giggler. I do giggle a lot I like like to tell jokes. And I’m always smiling, but I just didn’t see it as a part of branding. I thought my branding was, again still, like just visual of how I look in clothing or how I look with items. And then I recognize too though, like, if my clients were saying that was like something big that stood out to them, like, you know, we’re on like our call, like discovery call. And they felt like they trusted me because I was happy to answer their questions like I didn’t, I wasn’t stuffy, let’s say, well, that that’s an indicator that that’s how you need to show up more often. You know, like, if, if someone is telling me, they’re trusting me, because I’m smiling, and I look approachable. When I did my last photo shoot, that was exactly how I directed my photographer, I want to be laughing in some of these pictures, I want to look approachable. Like if there’s one word I can use, it’s approachable. Because I That’s something my clients are telling me that they feel when they work with me. And that’s just a way that I’d love to be in my business, you know, and again, every every business is different. Every brand is different. But I think that once we start to identify these things of like, how we’d like to show up, or like, even if we’re asking our clients like, what was it about working with me that made you trust me? Or like, was there any moment in time that you felt like really confident about like my abilities? Or when you viewed my branding? You know, what kind of feel did you get to give you a clue about you know, whether the way that you want to show up is actually how you are showing up within your business?
Yeah. And that’s, I think it’s, it’s always staying curious, because I think that we always take this idea that we need to be the expert, and we always need to show up as the expert. And I definitely have had those situations with clients, where I, as the expert need to say, like, what is not being said here, because I think that there’s so much nuance, and then we’re getting like a little off topic, but like, that’s okay, we’ll even know like with my clients, like if they’re hesitating with something, I’ll be like, what’s going on here? What’s going on here? And then like, it’s like, it’s an onion. And there I just feel like I’m blown. I get it just like it’s something or when I was seven years old my mom made me work for on Baba Baba, there’s usually something much deeper in there. So it’s like knowing when to push know when to pull and kind of really figuring out what’s making them tech.
Erin Ollila 32:28
Yeah, I love that. And it’s key of figuring that out. Or like the key of pushing yourself past your own boundaries is what you said is being curious. You know, like the the child who was seven and they’re, you know, mother laughed at them wearing floral or forced them to wear floral, whatever it is. And now they don’t want to as an adult like they’re rebelling? Well, maybe it’s you take a date with yourself to go shopping and just stay in a dressing room and try on all different types of floral. Right, you might find that you love like a big crazy, like floral design, and you hate like the teeny tiny floral looks right? Like, but it’s challenging these own beliefs that we because we all come to are the way that we dress and appear with a ton of beliefs that we’ve gotten throughout our life, whether they’re valid or not, right, we all take these things, you know, I love that you mentioned going to a lot of four year old birthday parties and having to like jump in the pool. Because I think that these tiny moments, like you said, like look at like how you style yourself and the tiny moments and recognize that you don’t have to have different versions, right? You can take pieces of these different parts of your personality and, and get articles of clothing that would work for all of them. Right? So like, maybe it’s just as simple as like reviewing, like how you want to show up in all of these tiny facets of life. Like what would you like your date night to be like? How would you feel comfortable when you’re hanging out with your kids? Like, what would you do if you were going to like a craft class? Like what would you wear? Like, what are you doing? If you were out with your girlfriends, if you’re meeting a new client and think about what you’re visualizing what pieces come up that could be used in different scenarios?
Exactly. And that’s the thing is that, like you said, like, there’s all these multi facets and unless we explore it, we’re just making more jeans and a T shirt. Yeah, that’s easy. But you bought you leave the situation thinking I could have done that better. Yeah, the worst when someone says it’s fine. It’s I was fine. Like, you know what, I feel fine. Do as Yeah, and
Erin Ollila 34:27
all you’re doing is reaffirming those beliefs that you have like, Oh, it’s okay. Like I’ll just wear that like jeans and a T shirt. It’s no big deal. And then you see other people maybe dressed up a little more and it’s like a reminder to yourself that like, you know like yet again, here I am in the situation where I don’t feel good, right? So I think it’s sometimes you’re kind of just like pushing yourself past those boundaries that you set pushing yourself into uncharted territory, to be able to feel like you’re actually moving through some of these style things. One thing I wanted to ask because this is a question I have Part of my clients say often is how to go about like choosing items of clothing that won’t go out of style when you are doing something like a brand photoshoot. So
I am sure you can tell by our conversations I am very not a trend driven person, I when you have that own sense of style, and you know how you’re showing up, it feels like that 90s Sort of like, this is my thing. Like it becomes part of your brand. Yes. Do you want to look innovative? Do you want to look like you know, it’s in you know, you’re ahead of the curve. But when you have that really strong, deep like gut knowing of this is me, you’ll have a quick checks and balances of like real crops, I’m not wearing that, too. There’s a lot of like, so like, right now, there’s a lot of like crystal and sequins that’s in, and it’s very me. So the fact that I went and bought like the boys are those those crazy crystal? Like, yeah, I want to wear it today. But like, I’m wearing it in two years, too. So it’s kind of having that very strong sense of self of knowing like this feels like 100% aligned with me, and I’m not just buying it because I feel like every other man on the block has it.
Erin Ollila 36:09
Yeah, that’s super helpful. And I think another way to look at that too, is sometimes I’ll hear my clients want to style their brand photoshoots based on like, the way that their like website will look or like their current branding, maybe like I know you mentioned even before, like your brand colors. So they go out and they pick clothing that is just related to those things. And you know, I think maybe it’s the case of are you going to be comfortable in those colors, right? Like just kind of having, like you say, a gut check of Is this me, when you’re picking out the pitchers and not worrying about like trying to match brand colors just for the pitcher. Like it’s more about showing up as yourself in a way that you feel confident. And that will be indicated in your patrons when you do feel confident?
Absolutely. And I think like I was very, I think it’s great to have like the brand colors to know like, is it going to clash you don’t want like your pictures to be black online on your website, because it’s clashing with everything or, you know, if you’re speaking and someone’s taking a picture of you, you really want to be very, very specific, because think about how am I using these pictures. But I even just know like my last photo shoot, I found that blazer that’s behind me is in in it. And so it’s very bright colors. And I found these start truths. Like they are like a wine green shirt, truth pants to go with it. And I was like, just this color combination is so me and so wild. They were not colors once Yeah, but when here’s the funny is that, uh, now that they are becoming my brand colors, because on Canva I’m playing with it. I’m liking it. I feel like I need a little bit update. But it doesn’t feel like it’s not me. So it feels like I’m introducing something that’s like completely out of left field. It’s like just introducing a new color into this combination. So it’s baby steps. That’s the other thing is that where we are now. It’s like new level new devil.
Erin Ollila 37:56
Melanie, thank you so much for your time today. Before I let you go I just want to ask a couple of quick questions for you. The first is, if you could give a small homework assignment to our listeners based on our conversation today. What would you ask of them?
Go in your closet and anything that feels like it’s from your past identity? Like old version of yourself? Bad memories? Get rid of it? Why are you playing that mental crappy game of trying on take it off trying to take it off, get it out of your closet,
Erin Ollila 38:27
I have found over time when it comes to clothing, other physical items and like my home space, like the more you can remove, the better you have for a vision of the future, the clearer that you are. So if you wear the lipstick and it just you don’t like it, don’t it? You’re wasting space by keeping it up when you could bring something else in if necessary, or not even bring something new and just use what you’re having that feels better for you. All right, here’s my connection question. If you could meet anyone at this point in time, who would you meet and why
I’m turning 40 next week and I am going to see a dowel if I like ran into her in the ladies room. I think I may die.
Erin Ollila 39:09
I guess you’ll have to update us maybe by the time this goes live update us and let us know if the Adele interaction actually happened but I will keep my fingers so crossed for you and happy birthday as well. Final question is we’ve talked about how other people can approach their branding and I know you’ve mentioned some elements of clothing that you’ve worn or hope to wear what was one of the most fun pieces of clothing or outfits that you’ve purchased or some of your own branches.
When we are consistent things come together. So I had this orange blazer that I bought like four or five years ago and for two photo shoots ago I bought this one top and a matte coordinating skirt to go with it. And then like I guess like I said Sometimes they don’t listen to my own advice. I bought like during pandemic major sale these hot pink pants that I never wore. And it was like, literally us figure out what I was wearing for my photo shoot, go look at my website and must be there I’ve noticed on Instagram is all over social media, somehow three pieces from three completely different parts of my life went together. But this is what happens when you’re really, really strategic. And you know what your style is. Georgia just works together magically. And it was and also I had choose from my corporate days like literally these like Manolo is that were already there, orange and pink. And it all went together so perfectly. It looks like it was all bought in the same day and it was bought a tent span of like 11 years apart, but the fact that it was I’m so consistent that all of these things went together was fabulous.
Erin Ollila 40:51
All right, perfect. All right, Melanie, thank you so much, and everyone else. I’ll see you next week.
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