As an entrepreneur, you're a trendsetter, a risk-taker, a pioneer. So why not look the part?
If you're more interested, however, in the latest Google acquisition than the latest trend in shoes, we've done your homework for you. We turned to a small-business owner steeped in the fashion industry: Caren West is co-owner of award-winning Caren West PR in Atlanta, which represents clothing lines and salons, among other clients. From must-have men's accessories to advice on making a mini-dress work for you, she's got you covered.
Yes, we know it's hot outside, but that's no excuse for giving up on looking good.
Entrepreneur.com: What colors are in style this summer and how can men and women incorporate them into their professional wardrobes?
West: Summer is the ideal time to mix a little color into your wardrobe, whether for work or play. Both men and women can incorporate soft pastels including lavender, blue and pinks or pops of bright color into their work wear. I recommend both canary yellow and kelly green this summer. If you're not used to wearing color, accessories are an easy way to add life to your look.
Entrepreneur: What styles and colors of suits are best for summer?
West: Slim-line suits and shorter two-button jackets with lower-cut trousers are in, but since suits are more of an investment for men, I recommend going with clean timeless looks instead of falling prey to the suit trend of the moment. Find out what style and lines work with your body and find a good tailor to make sure your suit fits properly. Although I love a nice black suit--black and white is very in right now--crisp khaki or grey suits are great for the summer.
Women can have a little more fun with their suits, especially because we have so many options for shirts to manipulate the look from sophisticated to feminine. Flat-front shorts are big this summer and are a great alternative to more traditional pant or skirt suits.
The workplace in general has become less about the suit and more casual. I believe that confidence is the best accessory, so it's critical that you are comfortable in what you're wearing. Instead of worrying about what is right or wrong or what everyone else is wearing, focus on looking put-together and professional, while expressing your individuality.
Entrepreneur.com: What trendy styles of dresses can women wear this summer while still looking professional?
West: Mini-dresses are everywhere right now. I recommend wearing dark skinny jeans paired with fabulous heels under shorter dresses. It gives a more creative and playful look without having to worry about a rising hemline when sitting down.
Summer is definitely the season to embrace dresses and skirts and show off your sun-kissed skin. But before leaving the house, give yourself a check in the mirror. Do you look like you are heading to the pool or to a meeting?
Entrepreneur.com: What's the hot trend in shoes this summer?
West: For ladies, platforms and espadrilles are in. Mega heels, patent leather shoes and accents, metallics and retro looks are also popular. Update your rubber flip-flops with a pair of gold or silver thongs for a more grown-up look. They're perfect for a casual day or night. Also, every woman should treat herself to a pedicure. There's nothing worse than spotting unkempt feet in summer sandals and shoes.
For men, it's important to know that your shoe can make or break the outfit. A pointed-toe shoe is the trend of the moment. For a more adventurous look, try a pointed-toe boot that can be worn with jeans or dress pants.
Entrepreneur.com: What are a few must-have items for the season?
West: Every man should own a whiter-than-white button-down shirt or plain T-shirt and a good pair of jeans. It's one of the sexiest outfits and can easily be dressed up or down. A stylish watch is always a good investment for men. Marc by Marc Jacobs has a water-resistant black embossed cuff watch that I love. If men are trekking around town with a lot of accessories--from laptops and iPods to cameras and paperwork--they should find a good "man bag" that will keep them organized and reflects their personality. Also, stylish sunglasses can make a statement and accentuate facial structure. My favorites are Prada, Dior and Gucci shades.
For ladies in colder climates, a linen scarf is a trendy must-have accessory this summer. A cardigan is a necessary staple to battle air conditioning and walking in between buildings. A great classic dress that can transition from day to night is also a must in every business woman's closet.
Finally, skin protection is especially important in the summer. I recommend SkinCeuticals Daily Defense with an SPF 20. Now through August 31, a portion of all sales will be donated to the Skin Cancer Foundation. When it comes to make-up, go lighter to show off healthy, glowing summer skin. Bronzes, pinks and corals are a sure bet.
Caren West is co-owner of the award-winning Atlanta-based public relations and graphic design firm, Caren West PR. With 10 years of public relations and marketing experience, West has executed marketing and public relations campaigns in international, national, regional and local markets. She has worked with a diverse range of clients including, The Recording Academy, Paste and domino magazines, Soda Salon and Designateria apparel.