How does your style attract your ideal client? What makes you stand out among your competitors? How do you want your clients to feel when they first meet you, and how do you want them to remember you after your meeting?
These are all questions that we’re exploring in this podcast episode with Melanie Lippman.
Melanie is an image consultant and believes that confidence is a woman’s most important asset – because when you’re feeling fabulous, you’re ready to take on the world.
Melanie has always been passionate about helping people express their confidence with style. From taking classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) as a teenager to studying fashion merchandising and cosmetic and fragrance marketing in college, she has immersed herself in the fashion world.
After becoming a mom, she decided it was time to create the career she’s always wanted – to teach women how to style their best lives.
Mentioned in This Episode
Melanie give listeners actionable tips on:
- How your style may be costing you clients
- Changing the mindset around our predisposed beliefs of having a personal shopper
- Why having help with your style will save you time and money
- The importance of first impressions
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Connect with Melanie here:
Connect with me
[00:00:26] Melanie: I’m Melanie Littmann. I am an image consultant for ambitious women. The majority of my clients are female attorneys and I help them get out of their own way so they can show up in their best light possible so they can have a greater impact, serve their community, and really just focus on what their job is and stop having to worry about what they’re wearing.
[00:00:51] Karin: Oh, I love that. That’s such a cool way of looking at it because I feel like having a stylist or, you know, however, everybody has different titles for the kind of work that you do. But for some reason, it’s, it seems, uh, it feels like there’s a lot of women that, that have a strange feeling about it in whatever direction.
[00:01:12] And to me, it’s no different than all of the. You know, great people that you’re going to hire as a professional so that you can focus on what you’re going to do. Like you’re not going to necessarily bake your own bread so that you can have a great sandwich. You’re going to go buy some bread somewhere, you know, like in the same way that you’re going to find that expert to do the right thing.
[00:01:33] This is, is no different. And this is oftentimes people’s first impression. So I feel like this is a. Conversation about kind of getting through those hurdles about how people initially think about hiring someone like you and, and why, and why is that important? So the big question that we are going to talk about today, How does style attract your ideal clients?
[00:01:56] So let’s tie this whole idea of the first impression and kind of your image and how that attracts the right people together. So, so what’s, what’s your first thought about that, Melanie? You know, how does, how does, how do you kind of set your style to attract the right.
[00:02:14] Melanie: So, what people don’t realize is clothing is the largest form of nonverbal communication.
[00:02:21] Like the moment that you get on a zoom screen, you walk into a room like people are noticing that before you even open your mouth. And the way that we get dressed sends a message. Not only that our confidence and our approachability and all of that, it also sends a message about. Our presence and us wanting to be there.
[00:02:41] And the efforts, especially if you’re like an attorney, your clients are paying you a decent amount of money, and you want to show that you are a hundred percent there for them. You are competent, you’re confident, and that you are not thinking of any other things. So sometimes I get the message of, should it someone be hiring me because of my education, my abilities, and all that.
[00:03:07] 1000000%. Absolutely. That is a reason why someone shouldn’t be hiring you. Right. But sometimes they can even realize that they want to work with you because your clothing is distracting from that connection, the likeability, just the competence level. It’s like, I can’t even see what you’re trying to tell me because I’m distracted by what you’re putting out.
[00:03:31] Well, I
[00:03:31] Karin: think what you’re kind of alluding to, and I feel like this is so important, not just in your appearance, but in every part of your marketing, your website, every part of your brand is that there’s this decision that everyone has to make, whether they’re buying. I’m going to stick with a loaf of bread idea, whether they’re buying bread or they’re hiring an attorney, which is a huge decision.
[00:03:55] Oftentimes this, this could be a life changing decision because in a minute, I’m going to ask you, you know, talk more about even like, if that attorney’s in a courtroom and has to talk to a jury, things like that, and try to, it has to be convincing there. In that decision there it’s, we’re talking about psychology and it’s not just logic that people are using to make that decision.
[00:04:18] There’s a lot of psychology and trust and they have to feel like they know, and, you know, the know like trust thing that people talk about all the time and that’s not going to happen by someone reading your resume. It’s just not. So they have to kind of get this feeling. You know, they, they trust you. And how, how is that going to happen by reading where you went to law school?
[00:04:40] This was not,
[00:04:43] Melanie: especially since there’s this idea that’s been ingrained in us. That attorneys need to look a certain way, by the way, it’s ingrained in like. Common people that are in attorneys and also attorneys, even more like my clients have showed me, this is what I was taught in law school. This is the messaging that it was.
[00:05:02] Then I, you know, then I had, my first job got fairly similar messaging. You know, a lot of the messages were, you should be wearing black. You should be wearing pantyhose. Very like choose some of my clients work for very conservative firms. Sure news with the pandemic, it’s gotten a lot less conservative, but the messages that are in great of how an attorney should walk actually are making them be unapproachable and kept at a distance from their clients.
[00:05:33] Like you said, If we want to not talk about an attorney for one second, we could talk about a doctor. And like, if you’re in a conversation with the doctor, and if they’re standing, looking down at you and just talking at you, as opposed to having a conversation, inviting you in asking what your expectations are saying, what your needs are.
[00:05:53] People want to have a collaborative yes. Relationship and not just be like, talk to, and your close do that. Like that’s what the black does. The format. There is a reason why judges wear a black robes. I’ve done lots of research on it.
[00:06:10] Karin: And so what is
[00:06:10] Melanie: that? It’s because they’re not supposed to have enough.
[00:06:14] Oh, there’s supposed to be no personality, no like complete neutral that’s formality that black shows. Nope, no opinion here whatsoever. Yeah. And while, you know, there’s times when we want our attorney to be like that, we also want our attorney to be on our side and be passionate and all of the things.
[00:06:33] Karin: Yes.
[00:06:34] Yes. So. How do you get past that? I, my first thought while you were talking was thinking about all of the attorneys that I have a bunch of attorneys in my family and all the attorneys I’ve ever worked with. And when you’re talking about being in law school and I’m picturing almost like a course where they say go to Brooks brothers, I know I had an uncle who was like, you have to go and get a suit at Brooks brothers and.
[00:07:00] Talk about why, first of all, just that in general is a bad idea and how you get through that hurdle of them wanting to just be like everyone
[00:07:10] Melanie: else. Well, first I flip it on them because talk about. A group of people that likes to form opinions and yes. To collect information. Like I’m like, so when I got on this call, did you notice what I was wearing?
[00:07:27] And did you have an opinion about it because you totally did so correct. You know, flip the situation. And think about how you can control the end freshing cause attorneys like control. So you’re just throwing some spaghetti on a wall and going into Brooke’s brother and just buying what everyone else is buying.
[00:07:45] You’re not having any control of the situation.
[00:07:48] Karin: Yes, yes. Yeah. And when they’re looking to kind of build their own business, it’s one thing when they’re working in a big firm and they’re trying to fit in, but if they’re looking to build their. From and go out on their own. That’s the opposite of what you want to do.
[00:08:03] You don’t, you need to stand out. You need to kind of look, you know, not exactly the same, like you have something different to offer than every other firm, um, you know, down the street. So where do you
[00:08:14] Melanie: usually start? So the first thing that I start with is dealing with the brain because like a lot of the things that we’re taught about, you know, working with a personal shopper or working with a stylist looking or a subscription box, all of those things become band-aids because they’re really talking about the physical object with just the clothes, which is great and all, but the really thing that we need to deal with is how we’re showing.
[00:08:40] And working with ambitious high achieving women. A lot of times they’re their own worst enemy. So we really need to deal with the things that every single professional per personal development specialists, sales with. I’m sure you deal with it a lot all the time. What are your limiting beliefs here? What, where are these thoughts coming from?
[00:08:59] No. How can you, um, see yourself as your highest level? What I absolutely love about what I do is I help women really start dressing as someone who’s already achieved their goals. Everyone’s heard for the job that you want, not the job that you have, but there’s so much power in. We don’t start dressing like the empowered person that has those ideal clients.
[00:09:25] Like it happens. Like it’s not like you’re, I teach women to play bigger. And unfortunately, in order for us to get there, we need to start with the brain and the mindset around it first, because there’s some lack in some scarcity that has to do with our spending habits, how we show up. Not drawing too much attention to yourself.
[00:09:48] You know, you’ve got more room, there’s all of that. So we asked to get really, really clear on that. And then the second thing that’s really different is really getting clarity over what you want your style to be. And I mean, style as the whole entire package of the messages that your clothes are saying, what makes you feel confident?
[00:10:09] You know, what are the colors that make you feel powerful? What are the silhouettes like? The really good thing is that I know the way that my clients’ minds break. And so I have a framework and a system and a strategy that we get this end result, where they get really clear of what that whole entire stylist.
[00:10:28] So they have a framework and a foundation. To what to work towards because when they think of getting dressed, it’s like, oh, this is creative. It’s a Pinterest. But it’s like all these like Pinterest boards and I’m sitting here. It also, when he went to branding and they were like, this is so not my thing.
[00:10:42] This is why I came to you. And you’re like, well, there’s not the cookie cutter website that I can hand you. We need you in it.
[00:10:49] Karin: Exactly. So how much of a bigger picture, because what you’re describing, like starting with mindset is really. Uh, I can easily see this playing out as being an impact, having an impact on their ability to perform and their ability to raise their own prices and make more money
[00:11:12] Melanie: themselves.
[00:11:13] 1000000% like the women that have gone through. So I host a group program it’s called standout style and the women that go through this program, that one, like key takeaway that they have. I am able to feel so much more confident in myself working with my clients because I have a direction because I’m clear because they know what I’m working towards, because I’m saying, look at me, I need to take up more space and I, you know, I’m capable and they feel good about exactly.
[00:11:45] Yeah. So it goes like this and second getting guessing your clothing choices does not make her really empowered decision. So it’s like owning your power is really what it’s
[00:11:54] Karin: about. Yeah. And just starting at the very first moment of the day when you’re putting your clothes on and not feeling good about it, that’s setting the stage for the rest of that day.
[00:12:05] Maybe the rest of that week for all of the things and just kind of walking into a place where you feel really good about the way. Look in, and it’s not just the way you look, but it’s the way you look in terms of whatever that whole scene is. Like. If you are walking into a courtroom and you have a trial and you know that you really need to convince this jury of something, you need to be confident about.
[00:12:30] And if you come across as meek and insecure, it’s not going to work. I mean, it’s, you’re just, you know, you’re not going to be successful. And then you’re gonna, it’s just going to reinforce all of those kind of negative mindset ideas. So it’s really, there’s so much more to it than just kind of, I picture this book.
[00:12:51] My mom had like back in the eighties when she was going back to work and. What was it called? It was like a dress for success. You probably have it
[00:12:59] Melanie: back here. I have all of those eighties bucks, like confident. There’s so many. But like, if you think about it, like, if you think about like that, like in your mind, like that professional power suit woman, like that’s where a lot of the principals that I work with came from like, that’s the foundational things, stuff like how to dress for it to embrace your body, what colors to wear for you.
[00:13:23] But it’s kind of what men have been doing for years and years, but they have it easy. They get to go to Brooks brothers and just say, I’ll take number two. And number three, and I’ll get pants haven’t even talked about body image situations is which one of the other big things that really deals with, um, you know, a lot of the work that I do.
[00:13:40] Yeah. I know it really, there is that some people think that it’s such an old school way, but what it really has to do with really learning what works for you. So you get to let everything else go.
[00:13:53] Karin: Yeah. And I feel like, you know, the stuff that my mom was looking at and that dress for success, it really was about how to fit in a man’s world.
[00:14:00] It really is a totally different story. Now we’re not trying to say. Let’s take a look at the Brooks brothers suit and figure out how to make that work for me as a woman. And, you know, maybe I just go to a tailor, like, I don’t know exactly what the book said, but along those lines, it was more like fitting yourself into the corporate world that was designed by a man versus.
[00:14:23] Reinventing yourself and finding your own confidence and place in the world as a woman and doing your own thing. Like not, not, let’s not even go to
[00:14:31] Melanie: Brooks brothers. Exactly. I mean like Brooks there’s like, I do have to say one of my clients is a really great Navy blue suit from Brooks brothers. It’s like our court suit.
[00:14:39] You got. Th that’s another conversation that comes up all the time. And my group program is the masculine versus feminine, like as opposed to cause there’s a fight. I find that there sometimes there’s an internal fight within female attorneys of that. Do I blend in and do I kind of join the old boys club?
[00:14:58] Like think about all the marketing that you probably had to go
[00:15:01] Karin: through.
[00:15:04] Melanie: But it, or do I step oh, uh, out and really paved my own way and say, this is how I’m showing up. This is what looks powerful for me. Maybe I don’t need to wear a blazer, you know? And this is one of those conversations I have with my clients all the time. Do you really need to wear a blazer? Like as a dress?
[00:15:21] Okay. But really talking about all of the situations what’s what’s appropriate, but also what works for you as well.
[00:15:29] Karin: Well, and then coming back to the big question, how does that align with your ideal clients? So I would assume because this is the same kind of questions we have when we’re kind of making design decisions.
[00:15:40] And the, there is no one right answer for each firm and each client. And there shouldn’t be, because then you’re just talking about a template. So, um, how do you then take those ideas or those questions and figure out what fits for a person in terms of how they’re trying to attract
[00:16:01] Melanie: that ideal. And it really comes down to knowing your ideal client, knowing what their values are and knowing what is going to make you seem like the smartest person in the room.
[00:16:12] And then also what is going to be their approachability. Cause I work with lots of different types of attorneys that in different practices that even let’s use, like the estate planning space, there’s someone, that’s an estate planning attorney that works with one of my clients works with, um, You know, people that are older that really are thinking about, you know, more of that real estate planning, like doing a well, then I have another client that works with people that are really better parents that are really thinking about setting up their future.
[00:16:44] Then I have another one that really works with people that are frontline workers. Her approach to that is just really different. So it’s really understanding your clients, their needs, their wants, what is going to make you seem more approachable. Um, and really stepping into that because there is times when, if you were to wear dark colors in a blazer, you would completely put your clients off.
[00:17:08] And then there’s other ones that if you didn’t show up that way, they would say, you’re not giving me the respect that I deserve by dressing for the part. So it really has to do with knowing what the expectations. Knowing what you can kind of get away with. Like let’s face it where things have gotten a little bit more casual in the past few years.
[00:17:26] So it’s not like you’re playing dress up. It really just needs to be aligned with your whole entire brand. And the coolest thing is that once you figure it out, there’s no more second guessing. It’s like, this is what I do, as opposed to going into your closet each day and saying, well, what costume?
[00:17:45] Karin: And just like dreading it to walking in there, going on.
[00:17:47] Oh, gosh, uh, I, and you know what everybody says, when they walk out, I have nothing to wear. There’s nothing in there. I have nothing to wear. Like I, you know, I hate everything basically.
[00:17:56] Melanie: So I’ll tell you why everyone has nothing to wear. I’ll give you the spoiler alert. The reason why people don’t have anything to wear is because they don’t have their outfits already.
[00:18:04] Pre-planned people are just in their closets, but when you’re not intentional about how you’re putting things together and you’re just being sold items, it’s really about. Being strategic, it’s better to have 10 great outfits than 500 grids and pieces. It was a lot of work though, go together, but just like people, people don’t have time for that.
[00:18:28] Karin: Well, that makes, that makes so much sense to think of it in terms of the whole, like we were saying earlier, the bigger picture in terms of your whole brand, instead of thinking about one piece at a time, like. Just this pair of pants, or just thinking about each whole entire outfit in a, in one kind of
[00:18:47] Melanie: unit.
[00:18:49] Exactly. And that just makes it easy.
[00:18:51] Karin: That makes so much more sense. Plus then you just walk in and you’re like, okay, it’s same thing. They were
[00:18:55] Melanie: doing exactly what I mean. And then it gets to be like, okay, this combination works so I could switch the shirt out. Sure. I could sweat, you know, and it becomes so much more like it’s just second nature as opposed to each day, like, you know, it’s like social media content.
[00:19:10] Oh, what am I talking about today? It’s like, no, this is the message for today. And when you kind of pick your flavor. It just really is about, you know, this is what the message I need to send, and this is what I wear to ensure it. And the good thing is we were chatting about it before, is that everything’s about a habit.
[00:19:29] It comes so easy when there’s a habit that’s attached to it. So when she gets to dress that being a habit. Painless. Yeah,
[00:19:38] Karin: we were saying we were mentioning atomic habits, which needs to be the book of the hour. Um, and that’s, I know that’s not your book that you’re going to share, but kind of as a nice segue into that.
[00:19:48] Um, so as you know, all of our attorneys are tireless attorneys that don’t have time for a book. That’s not worth it. So Melanie, what’s a book that you’re gonna recommend to our attorneys
[00:19:58] Melanie: that is worth it. So I’m completely obsessed with, um, tower. Playing big. Um, I’ve gotten through her coaching program, nice insights.
[00:20:08] I bring into all of my work with my clients and it really is about how women can get out of their own way and just start having a bigger impact. Like we all want them to get more space. So it really is about how to speak up, how to lead and how to do it. Holistic. Like, it’s not just about what you wear.
[00:20:27] It’s about every single decision that you make. Yeah. And
[00:20:31] Karin: I feel like once you, you know, you mentioned earlier, you had these frameworks and these strategies and these systems for this. And once you put the time in to figure those out. Then it becomes easier. You know, you do kind of that upfront investment in your time and effort and all of that, but then you’re doing that for the long-term to make, first of all, the outcome is going to be better on a daily basis.
[00:20:52] And second of all, you’re not going to have to think about it so much every single day. Um, and, and the idea of, of playing big, I feel like it goes hand in hand with everything we’ve been taught. Am I in sat work and, and knowing that you have to appear a certain way and not just kind of taking that default idea that, you know, some people might’ve talked to you about them in law school.
[00:21:12] Like that’s not really the place to learn your style. You
[00:21:16] Melanie: learned how to like, be an attorney in Los. Well, not how to get dressed. You take all that information with a grain of salt.
[00:21:24] Karin: Exactly. Awesome. Okay. So we will link that book in our library with all of the other book recommendations. And so Melanie, what’s one big takeaway you want listeners to get from this episode.
[00:21:36] Melanie: Um, so I really think it has to do what we, what we’ve been chatting about the whole entire time is that I understand. Everyone is super busy. Like we all are really busy. We all in our minds do not have time to invest in thinking about our style and getting dressed and all of the things. But I have to tell you a really crazy statistic that on average women spent over 4,000 hours thinking about what to wear like, oh my God, that’s a lot of time.
[00:22:07] By the way. That’s less than 20 minutes a day. It’s like 17 minutes a day. It’s not a lot of. But the really good thing is is that if you just spend some time upfront, figuring it all out, you get to get all that time, that energy and money, like you think of how many things you’ve bought and then doing that.
[00:22:25] And there’s a waste. Yeah. There’s such a waste, like, forget about like the landfill, but think about like the mental space of my closets over this.
[00:22:37] Uh, it’s a really wise investment of your time because you always know what you’re working towards. So it’s not some, it’s not some like thing just to do for fun. It really is about a tool for empowerment and really how you’re showing up each day. It
[00:22:52] Karin: makes so much sense. And I feel like it’s, it’s so valuable, uh, and, and really underrated.
[00:22:57] I think it’s one of those things that you, you, I, I would bet a lot of your clients realize in retrospect, oh my gosh, that was such a great investment. And I went in thinking, okay, this is going to be helpful, but they probably didn’t really grasp the full, uh, idea of everything that they were going to get out of it in terms of mindset and feeling.
[00:23:17] They are worth it and they should be valuing more and they should be, you know, thinking about their whole impact in terms of the impressions they make. And then as a result that they’re worth more literally and they can charge more. So, you know, it’s, it’s like a nice little circle. It all works
[00:23:34] Melanie: out.
[00:23:35] That’s the biggest thing that they always get is I wish I would have done this sooner. They always say like, they’re like, oh, I know I went and I bought that thing three weeks ago. I wish I knew like you could back just
[00:23:46] Karin: returned
[00:23:47] Melanie: right back. Like you could always, you know, this is always the thing that you could kick the can down the road, but like, it’s just going to keep, you know, wait, you’re going to be wasting more time and more energy
[00:23:55] Karin: on it.
[00:23:56] Right. Or the reverse is the sooner you do. The more it’ll pay off in kind of exponential value over time. So, um, so, so valuable. I feel like that was such a great conversation, Melanie Littmann we will have your, all of your links and your social media and the book and everything on the website. But thank you so much for being here at melamine Littman as a style consultant, and we will link to your website and everything on the website, but thanks so much for being here.
[00:24:23] I really appreciate it. Thank you for having me.