094: Upgrading Your Professional Style with Sharon Haver

By December 9, 2016Podcasts

 

Fashion guru Sharon Haver offers perspective on how to make people look powerful and professional at work.

You’ll Learn:

  1. Three key ingredients to a style upgrade that will make you look knowledgeable and professional
  2. How to find a wardrobe that fits comfortably, looks good and doesn’t break the bank
  3. Why dressing how you want to be perceived is critical

About Sharon
Sharon Haver teaches professionals to look like they’re worth it, so that they can create a relevant, authentic modern image. Halfway through her three-decade career in style, she left the lure of being a New York fashion stylist to help professionals make the most of what they’ve got. She founded FocusOnStyle.com in 1999. Although her impressive resume looks like a who’s who of media household names, her heart is with helping entrepreneurs refine their chic style to confidently pull their look together with ease.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Sharon Haver Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Sharon, thanks so much for being here on the “How To Be Awesome At Your Job Podcast.”

Sharon Haver
Thank you for having me, Pete. I’m thrilled to be here.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh boy, well I’m thrilled to have you. I’m curious, boy, you’ve been in the style game for like 30 plus
years.

Sharon Haver
You’re making me sound older than Methuselah. Yeah, I’ve been in the style game for 3 decades, but the
interesting thing about me is that I actually have a business degree and started out in business, and my
degree is in marketing, so I did a lot of stuff in PR. I’ve always liked style. I’ve always loved fashion. I’ve
always how it makes you feel, the message it sends out. I look at style, as much as I’m kind of like a
fashion groupie, I look at style more on a business end and I do run my own business. I kind of think of
myself as a 2-headed monster.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh mercy. A well-dressed 2-headed monster. Can you tell us …?

Sharon Haver
On some days. Knowing how to pull it together 2-headed monster, because that’s the most important
thing.

Pete Mockaitis
I would like to hear about some most important things. When it comes to, I’m thinking about the
business casual, typical, professional, work environment, what are some kind of just key principles or
guiding lights that we should bear in mind when it comes to put ourselves together in the morning?

Sharon Haver
I think it depends on where you work. I founded focusonstyle.com back in 1999, so even though I’m a
bootstrapping entrepreneur, most of my days are spent working from home. I mean I have my own
office here, but it’s still at home, so I can afford the luxury of being kind of casual, which is pretty
common for most entrepreneurs. However, when I go out, or I meet clients on a webcam, or I’m
networking, or I’m speaking, or on TV, or something, I need to pull it together. I think what happens is,
for me because I know how to do it and I try to pass that on to my clients and to my readers of Focus On
Style, it’s easy. What happens is, with casual Friday and all that casual work atmosphere, is something
that is just so perplexing to people because they kind of think that it’s okay to wear like the free t-shirt
you got like when you got your carburetor fixed, it’s like “Get free carburetor repair at blah, blah, blah,”
and they wear this disgusting stuff, or they kind of get too blinged out, especially for women, or guys
might wear cargo shorts or polo tops.
It’s not. It’s finding a way of looking polished, but relaxed. It’s the same way you would kind of dress if you work from home or if you worked in a casual atmosphere. It’s that fine line and it really comes from finding well-cut pieces that are comfy to sit in and that you can kind of dress up or dress down so that if you did have that opportunity to have a client meeting maybe you’re pulling on a jacket, if it’s a guy or a girl, you know a good blazer or a cool leather jacket or something over your casual outfit. You’re wearing sneakers, but they’re not like gross gym sneakers, they’re like polished cool sneakers so they’re more of a look than a comfort piece. It’s just easy to sort of up-level that way by just starting with the right stuff that you can layer up on.

Pete Mockaitis
You already covered a bunch of stuff here. When you say well-cut pieces, you just mean it you’re your
figure, your unique shape well.

Sharon Haver
It fits your figure. It looks modern. It looks expensive, because you know you make a first impression in business, and it takes less than 7 seconds to make a first impression. There’s been business studies that say to earn the cash you want, you really need to start from the get-go. You don’t want to wear anything that looks just dated, or cheap. It doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot on it, it just means it has to look good on you and fit well on you.

Pete Mockaitis
What are some key considerations for ensuring that when you’re buying clothes, that you’re getting a good fit? What are some things to watch out for? Like dos and don’ts of what good fit really means.

Sharon Haver
I hate dos and don’ts that much because, well for a reason is because we’re all our own little unique snowflakes. We all have our unique bodies and fits or whatever, so what works for one person will not necessarily work for the person standing right next to them, even if they’re like identical twins with almost the same body. It’s like there are little nuances, but you should always, if you’re looking for a jacket, make sure that it’s beautifully cut across the shoulders, that it has excellent seaming, that it looks like it’s quality, that it lies flat and nicely against your front, if you’re having it buttoned it doesn’t pull on your tush, and that it’s a modern fit. I see so many guys still wearing double-breasted jackets and they look like… To wear a double-breasted jacket, you really have to wear a good one. Most of the time you look like a middle-management banker and it’s not like in the ’90s. It’s not a good look. You want like stick, for guys, basically like single-button jackets look better or single-breasted, something that if it is a casual atmosphere, you can maybe wear over a nice pair of, a good pair of jeans besides the suit. You can break it up so it’s more of an unmatched suit.
Same thing for women, that you could wear skinny jeans and a good pair of pumps and put your blazer on and t-shirt and you suddenly look cool on casual Friday, or you could switch it out to really cool sneakers. It’s the fit and that it’s modern, and that it’s on brand for you in your industry. You don’t want to be wearing something, if you’re in like a lifestyle business and you’re kind of woo-woo, you don’t want to be wearing something that look so corporate. If you’re corporate you don’t want to be looking something that’s very IT. It’s kind of like what are the boundaries within your industry? What looks good on you and that you look modern and classic.

Pete Mockaitis
Could you maybe do a little bit of defining for us? When you talk about good jeans, or good sneakers, or well-cut in the shoulders.

Sharon Haver
The jeans that are baggy in the knee, that are that light blue wash, that are fitting sloppy across your butt, that are the wrong length, that just look sloppy and cruddy and crappy and miserable are not good jeans. Good jeans are they fit well. They could be a light wash or a dark wash. Normally in business, dark wash is better. They fit well. They look good. They could even be a color. You have to look at them and say that looks great and not like, “What are those jeans?” When you’re looking at someone and your jeans speak louder than you, they’re the wrong jeans. They have to be well-cut, and they have to look. They have to go with your outfit so that they’re not separated as jeans. They happen to be the bottoms you’re wearing, so it’s all one unified look.

Pete Mockaitis
What is the perfect length?

Sharon Haver
There is no. You know what, there is no. Are they straight? Are they skinny? Are they flare? If they’re straight, normally they should break at the top of your shoe. I also like, on women, I like crop jeans. I think they look sexy with a pair of shoes where you see a little bit of ankle. I like a little roll at the bottom, sometimes. A lot of guys now are wearing skinny jeans rolled up. That’s perfectly cool and kind of modern, if that’s your industry. You wouldn’t necessarily be a corporate dude wearing skinny jeans rolled up a little at the ankle, but if you were an IT guy or you were in startups, you probably could. Again, it depends on what’s on brand for your industry.

Pete Mockaitis
You’ve mentioned that you don’t like dos and don’ts, in terms of everyone’s a unique snowflake, so this might be an unpleasant question for you. What can you tell us are some universals to bear in mind. You talk about it being on brand for your industry, nothing sloppy.

Sharon Haver
If you wear eyeglasses everyday, they should be good glasses. You should own the fact that you’re wearing glasses. There is nothing that will make you look more old and more dated than those little wire-rim glasses. The only way you can wear Ben Franklin glasses is that like if you’re 18 and beyond so cute that you could pull anything off. For the most part, you should be wearing a good, solid pair of frames. You shouldn’t be wearing any narrow frames that look like the ’90s or readers, especially if you’re of the age where you do need glasses for reading, you don’t want to be constantly flipping them on and flipping them off.
Get yourself a nice progressive that you can keep on your face and own them. Really modern glasses, invest in them. Don’t get one that has too much bling and too much designer logo on the side, but they should be good. There’s plenty of brands out there that don’t have scream advertising on the side. Spend money on a good frame that flatters your face because you’re wearing them every day. They could last you 5 years. That’s number 1. It’s hard to trust someone when their first impression is wired ugly glasses, or wireless glasses, or dated glasses, then you say, “Oh my God,” and if they look that old and sort of farty-looking, then everything that comes out of their mouth is not going to be as relevant, so go for your glasses. That’s number 1.
Number 2, go for your shoes. Do not wear like comfort shoes that scream comfort, then you get perceived as being lazy. Keep the hiking shoes to the hiking trails. Keep the sensible shoes to, I don’t know, grandma. Wear a nice pair of shoes that you can walk in, men or women, proper shoes. Avoid rubber flip-flops, unless you’re getting a pedicure, at the beach, or in the shower, at the gym, you shouldn’t be wearing those shoes. Up-level to real shoes and a heel height you can walk in. What would be like the third thing? A good haircut, let’s say. I think that’s also so important. If you’re getting a haircut that’s dated, or just does not flatter your face, or has too much product in it, or no product in it, or just looks like a big poodle head, and I do love poodles, you need to really get a modern, up-to-date haircut that’s not trendy, but evolved. You don’t want to come in looking like your high school yearbook photo unless you just graduated high school. People get stuck in hair and that’s the one, hair, glasses, people see your face as soon as you walk in. They look at your shoes, let’s just get that straight. Get that up-to-date.

Pete Mockaitis
Got you, thank you. It’s interesting, then, I think we go into a bit of detail with each of these. For the glasses, I don’t know, maybe I’m an offender or maybe I happen to find a great one, I totally went on zinnyoptical.com, which has glasses at outrageously low prices. It seems like my glasses they just sort of are. I wear them when I read for like over an hour, so they just are. They just kind of exist. What do you mean by frame your face well?

Sharon Haver
Actually I know about that site, and I looked at it, and my lens on there, because one of my friends told me about it, was so expensive I’m like, “Dang, I might as well just go to the optometrist.” I got a complicated prescription. I mean, own them. They have some decent glasses on there. I’m pretty familiar with that site. I see a lot of women and they’re wearing those metal-frame glasses from, I don’t know, the ’80s. Even young women are still wearing them. Or a lot of guys get stuck in those sport frames from the ’90s, those like wraparound glasses. It should be a nice solid plastic frame, a tortoise or a black. It should just be a good frame. It should look cool on you. It should be like, “Wow, you look great,” and then, “Oh, you’re wearing glasses.” They could just be. They don’t have to be like outrageous and blingy. For women, too, stay away from crazy colored glasses and printed glasses. Unless you’re like a super-duper brand, like a Prada who could pull it off, stay away from gimmicks. Leave those weird gimmicks. Find a nice, solid frame that you look sophisticated wearing.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. On the shoe front, I have lately actually been, I’ve been loving Allan Edmonds. That’s just kind of where I stand at this point in my life.

Sharon Haver
You know they make really big sizes, a lot of basketball players wear those shoes.

Pete Mockaitis
You mean they just go up to the high numbers?

Sharon Haver
I remember that, yeah, back when I used to be a stylist. I think that was actually where I even got Will Chamberlain’s shoes from when I worked with him. I’m going to Google that while we’re talking. I think they go up to like size 15 or something.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s a fun fact. I’m about 10 and 1/2 or 11, typically, is kind of my story. I’ve found, in my male experience, that by golly a quality pair of shoes really does serve as a more cost-effective investment in outlasting lower-quality pairs of shoes.

Sharon Haver
Yeah! I mean, guys’ shoes, you could re-sole them for years. You also want to make … I’m on their site right now. The shoes actually on the home page of their site are exactly what I’ll tell you not to wear. You don’t want to be wearing like the fringe-tassel loafers, unless they’re like so cool. There’s another one here that’s like a basket weave. I love John Barbados shoes. I just love John. I have a husband and son. I mean, I feel like I live in the John Barbados shoe warehouse. I like a shoe to be solid, to be classy, to look like it lasts forever, but to also be cool, to have that little extra turn to it that just makes it say, “Hey, I’m not a conformist.” That doesn’t mean it has to be crazy, but it’s just a little cool. I got a real thing about guys with tassels and laces. It’s just too conservative. There’s a difference between being conservative and there’s a difference between classy. When I look at a guy wearing tassel shoes, I keep think he’s going to be the kind of dude who’s going to come in wearing pale yellow socks and I’m like, “Oh my God.”

Pete Mockaitis
It’s funny, when you paint that picture, I’m imagining someone with a little bit of a baton doing a little song and dance. No, I’m just kidding.

Sharon Haver
It’s like the kind of guy who’s trying to sell you the river. It’s like, “My way, the highway.” You got to have a little edge, just a little edge. Wearing that kind of look is like, “I have no edge.” You need to differentiate yourself just a little bit.

Pete Mockaitis
I’m hearing you’re not digging the tassel and the weave, but you are cool with some broguing,

Sharon Haver
Yeah! I love brogue. I love a man in a little lace up boot, a little Chelsea boot for casual wear.

Pete Mockaitis
Now let’s talk about women. How about women and shoes at work, what should they know about comfort and such?

Sharon Haver
You should be able to walk in them, duh. It’s like don’t wear heels you can’t walk in, that doesn’t look cool. I think anything. I mean, you can’t go wrong with a pair of pumps, that’s for sure. There’s just so many things you can do. You just want to make sure they don’t look dated and old. Actually I did this really weird thing in my closet. I was trying to organize something the other day. I went in there and I said, how many people always ask me how many shoes do I really own. I have to admit some of them are piled 3 high and I counted 56, and then I’m like, “Oh God.” Then I started taking that space what 56 would hold and I realized I probably own close to 300 pairs of shoes. Then I figured out I probably wear 10 a season, a lot, that’s 40 a year. The rest are kind of in rotation.
People say, “I can’t wear shoes. They hurt my feet. I can’t wear shoes. I don’t do this.” Let’s negate all that. I’ve had 3 foot injuries in the last 4 years between broken ankles and strained feet. I actually had a foot surgery that didn’t go well, which my husband didn’t do and he’s a podiatrist, that’s a foot doctor. I’m married to a foot doctor, I’ve had all sorts of cruddy foot issues, and here’s the thing, when you tell me that you can’t wear this and that, I mean there are days that I look better in my walking cast than women I was working with at networking events and when I was speaking in the audience. You can find a shoe that fits. Trust me. I have found 300 of them.
I accumulate them through the years. You got to look. It’s like pay to play. If you’ve never worn any shoe, make it your time as a grown up person, pull on your grown up panties, your big girl panties, and find a damn pair of proper shoes. There’s no excuse to be in flip-flops all the time, or in some futzy looking Cawford shoe. Unless you really have an orthopedic reason, then you should find good shoes. If you do have an orthopedic reason, then wear clothing that works with those shoes so your whole look is in unison and it works together and it doesn’t just stand out like that albatross of having horrible, cheap footwear.

Pete Mockaitis
You’re saying, it absolutely can be done, it just may require you to try on a dozen, plus pairs of shoes to land on one.

Sharon Haver
Yeah. What’s the big deal? Like, hello, what’s the big deal? You know I have big feet. I have a high instep and a high arch, you think that every shoe fits me? I mean, it’s like [inaudible 00:17:11]. Learn your last. Usually you find one brand that works with you. You start with that. Usually all their shoes will fit you. Just like clothes, they have a fit model. Different shoe manufacturers have a different lass. If you have flat feet or a high arch, you may need a different kind of shoe or heel height. It’s like it’s part of being a grown-up, really.

Pete Mockaitis
Let’s talk about the haircut piece, there. What might I look to? I go to Gabby’s barbershop here in Chicago and they are amazing. It’s a good price, solid barber treatment, a hot lather shave at under $20, my goodness. I don’t know if my haircuts out of date or not out of date. Where would you recommend folks look to get acclimated to good versus bad, visually?

Sharon Haver
There’s a few things on that. One is I don’t believe you need to pay a lot of money to have a fantastic haircut. I have had one of the worst haircuts. When I used to have my newspaper column at Unscripts Howard, it went out to 400 newspapers every week. Publicists loved to send me stuff because if I wrote it up, you got 400 clips, client was always happy. I had, in those days, a lot of really great opportunities, and I had a haircut by a guy who will remain nameless, but I would bet 80% of your audience has his hair products sitting in their bathroom shelf or in their shower. It was like, “Wow, I’m getting a haircut by famous dude number 1.” It was like the worst haircut I ever had. It was like it did nothing.
I have had great haircuts for like $15 that one of my make-up artist friends turned me on to some dude down a set of metal steps somewhere. She goes, “He has everything, you just tell him what you want.”
You can get a good haircut at any price. I get cheap haircuts. I get expensive haircuts. I had one of the worst highlights. It took me 3 years to correct my hair, it was falling out, from an extremely expensive hair salon. I now get my highlights at a really inexpensive place because she knows what to do. It’s the person who’s doing it, it’s not the price they charge, so be clear on that. What you want to do is is just, when I work with a lot of my private clients in my Say Chic crash course, which is my signature program, even with my readers on Focus on Style, when I tell you how to find things, I’m a big fan of creating your own personal iconic moments on Pinterest. If you go to Focus on Style and Google in iconic moments, you’ll find how.
I think what you do is you create on Pinterest, if you don’t know it’s like a visual bookmarking board and I’m a very visual person. You create a board and you just look for looks that you feel attracted to, and look for things you like. Then kind of hold it up so you’ll find your own inspiration. It’s kind of amazing how we think we don’t know style, but when we put images that stick in our mind in front of us, we see that is our style and that really has sort of paved the way for what we do. It’s like seeing the forest for the trees, so to speak. Find out what you like, what you look like, and what your haircut is. Look at, like for guys it’s so easy, like look in GQ.

If you’re not sure of a direction for your hair, you can create a whole bunch of Pinterest boards of hairstyles you like, and keep in mind face shapes and hair textures, and take that to a hairstylist and say this is the direction I’m thinking of, what do you think?

Pete Mockaitis
Simple enough, very good. You tell me, is there anything else you want to make sure that we cover off before we sort of shift gears and talk about some of your favorite things?

Sharon Haver
Not really, other than the fact that I think it’s just so important, you know research says at least 55% of another person’s perception of you is based on how you look. We all like to get ahead in business. We all like to up-level our business skills, but how you present yourself is often the most overlooked skill in your toolbox. That’s something you need to master. You need to understand that stay on brands, wear what’s right for your industry, look modern, look relevant, and look ready if you want to ask for big figure pay days either on a job interview as a consultant, as a coach. Whatever you do, you want to be able to look the part of what you ask for. It’s really important. Just because you’re not a fashion person, you’re short-changing yourself, so you really need to make the effort to be on top of your appearance.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, thank you. Could you kick us off now by sharing a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Sharon Haver
Yeah, I have a really, it’s kind of funny. It’s “Even I don’t wake up looking like Cindy Crawford,” and it’s by Cindy Crawford. I think it goes back to those shoes. You know, it takes a little bit of effort, it takes a village. It takes a little bit of effort to pull yourself together, but that’s what counts.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. How about a favorite study or experiment?

Sharon Haver
I like to go by my gut. I study my gut. If it feels right for me, I go with it. If it just doesn’t fit well, if it just doesn’t feel right, it’s not right. Study what feels right for you.

Pete Mockaitis
How about a favorite book?

Sharon Haver
One of my favorite books is by my personal business coach and it’s, “The Way You Do Anything Is The Way You Do Anything,” and it’s by Suzanne Evans.

Pete Mockaitis
If I may, I’m going to double-click on this one a bit for favorite book. Any favorite books for how people should dress themselves?

Sharon Haver
Yes, my book, “Style Word: Fashion Quotes for Real Style.” You can go to stylewordbook.com. It’s coming out in the fall.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh very good. Is that for women or for both women and men?

Sharon Haver
It’s style quotes so it’s very general. Yes, it’s more women oriented, but it’s really not. I mean, guys just read the ones that work for you.

Pete Mockaitis
Cool. I got to get your take, have you read The Details’ “Men’s Style Manual: The Ultimate Guide for Making Your Clothes Work For You”?

Sharon Haver
Who’s that by?

Pete Mockaitis
Details Magazine, I believe.

Sharon Haver
I know, but it has an author.

Pete Mockaitis
Daniel Perez.

Sharon Haver
No, because I read one a few years ago. I’m actually looking at my style books in front of me to see if it’s on my shelf and I don’t see it. I think I have the men on the bottom, sorry guys. No, but I know in the past their books have been really good. The problem with a lot of those things is that they’re very cookie cutter and style is not cookie cutter. You need to learn how to think for yourself, and that’s kind of what I try to do with clients is help them find their own style within themself because you shouldn’t need me. The best job I could do is that I impart my wisdom on you and you never call be again because you figured it out.

Pete Mockaitis
How about a favorite tool, something you use often?

Sharon Haver
Oh my God. You know I’m like the internet techie junkie. I guess everything, WordPress, InfusionSoft, Canva, Photoshop, anything by Apple, BaseCamp, Trello, GoogleDocs. We use a million at focusonstyle.com.

Pete Mockaitis
A favorite habit, a personal practice of yours that’s boosted your effectiveness?

Sharon Haver
Oh my God, just know when to give up, know when to walk away and get a new perspective. Sometimes you just stay too long with the form, especially with the computer, you sit there until your eyes get fuzzy and they start to feel like they’re going to bleed. It’s like know when to get up, walk away, get some air, take an afternoon off, come back, finish it later. Just know when to get up, and give up, and say I’ve got to go out. Sometimes the best ideas come to you in the shower or when you’re walking the dog.

Pete Mockaitis
How about a favorite sort of resident nugget, something you teach or share with clients that gets them really being like, “Oh yeah, that’s perfect”?

Sharon Haver
Dress how you want to be perceived. You can find that in my “Style Word” book.

Pete Mockaitis
What would be the best place to find you, if folks want to learn more or reach out.

Sharon Haver
Anywhere on social media @focusonstyle, or if you want a little freebie from me, if you go to focusonstyle.com your message, I created a little book called, “Your Look Is Your Message: The Business Style Formula For Looking Like You’re Worth It,” and you can pick it up for free on focusonstyle.com/yourmessage and stay in my loop.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s fun. “You’re Worth It,” I say that to people all the time. I thinks that from L’Oreal originally. How about a favorite challenge or parting call to action you’d issue for those seeking to be more awesome at their jobs?

Sharon Haver
That’s actually, it’s funny because that’s my other business coach, it’s my speaking coach, and it’s his book, and it’s something I say all the time. It’s funny because he wrote a book about it I think in like 2007. It’s called, “It’s Called Work For A Reason!: Your Success Is Your Own Damn Fault,” by Larry Winget. Really, it’s called work for a reason, you want to get ahead, do the work. Don’t be entitled, just roll up your sleeves and do what it takes to succeed.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, fun, thank you. Well Sharon, this has been a lot of fun ranting a bit with you. I really appreciate this perspective and I wish you tons of luck with your book and all the things you’re up to here.

Sharon Haver
Thank you so much, Pete, and thank you for having me.

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