When travel is part of your career, it becomes part of your life—a part of who you are. As such, it’s important to take a vested interest in defining who you are as a traveler. One might ask, what does it mean to define what kind of traveler I am and why does it matter how I define myself anyway? Well for one: you never know who you might meet in an airport…You might make the acquaintance of your future business partner or that future fiancé—you just never know. Why risk looking a hot mess when you bump into the CEO of that company you’ve been mooning over in the sky lounge. You may have your elevator speech ready, but it won’t come out quite the same in those comfy Victoria’s Secret lounge pants and hoodie.
As frequent travelers constantly dealing with long layovers, airport hassles and sometimes less than fabulous destinations, business travelers tend to get lazy about appearances. We come up with all kinds of reasons why we can’t look our best on the road. But a word of caution for those business travelers in a fashion rut: be as careful of the clothes you wear as the company you keep, lest you be judged by either one. Most travelers don’t want their fashion options limited by their suitcase and they want what they wear to reflect in what they wear no matter where in the world they are. But who has the luggage space and enough wrinkle free, fashionable clothing to overcome this dilemma in a practical, low maintenance way?
The solution is to create a business traveler identity for yourself and stick to it. Here are some easy steps to creating your business traveler persona.
Step One : Define your personal style in your “real” life—who are you when you are not jetting around the country? Take a gander at the contents of your closet for some answers. Looking through your wardrobe will help you identify your current style — what you like about it and what you wish you could change. A walk through your closet will help you get a sense of what you feel most comfortable wearing. Look at your clothing styles and colors, as well as your shoe and accessory collections. Do you prefer a more elegant look or do you stick to basics. Do you like to blend into the crowd or do you prefer to stand out?
Step Two: Analyze the work environment of your travel destination. Do you spend most of your time in an office or our visiting rural communities. What are the requirements, challenges, cultural norms and weather considerations of your work environment on the road: is your job physical, are you on your feet a lot, do you work in conservative settings etc…Identify what types of clothing make the most sense in that work environment.
Step Three: Know what you want to accomplish: What is the desired look you are going for? Do you need to impress a new client or are you working one on one with colleagues? Do you want to achieve a more down to earth professional look during site visits to rural communities? Think about your goal for the work trip and determine what clothing and accessories can help you accomplish those goals. Look for inspiration: check out magazines (new and vintage), blogs, pintrests, to find ideas that capture the look you are going for.
Step Four: Know your physical strengths meaning: understand your body type and what looks good on you.
Most women’s bodies are pear-shaped, which means they have a narrow waist and wider hips. If you’re pear-shaped, buy clothing that draws attention to your slim upper body. Brightly colored shirts, scarves and modern-looking shoulder pads should work well. Wear tailored pants and skirts, as well as hip-length long jackets. Avoid pleats and stripes, which will further accentuate broader areas.
If you’re rounder and more apple-shaped all around, you’ll want to draw attention away from your waist. Go for flat-fronted skirts, empire-waisted dresses and tailored, wide-legged pants.
Don’t accentuate a flat chest with a deep v-neck. Instead, choose rounded-neck tops, and add a layered necklace to add dimension.
If you’re busty, accentuate your curves by wearing a scooped neckline that hugs your chest appropriately.
If you’re extra curvy, don’t wear baggy, saggy clothes. Find fashionable, tailored clothes that comfortably compliment your body.
Step Five: Determine your staples. Take inventory of items already existing in your wardrobe that take into account your work environment considerations. Then determine what essentials are missing. Invest in these core wardrobe pieces. It’s important to maintain a core wardrobe composed of a few well-designed and constructed pieces. Keep some classic staples in your closet that you can mix and match to give you more bang for your fashion buck.
Step Six: Tweak your wardrobe. You don’t need to reinvent your entire wardrobe. That would cost a fortune. Instead, update it. Start by introducing a few up-to-date pieces that reflect your style. Think: How can accessories jazz up your wardrobe? Do you like to wear scarves? A broach or a fancy ring can take an outfit a long way.