Make The Right First Impression On Your First Date!

10 May

A participant turned good friend shared a recent blind date experience of her friend.  She was rejected by her blind date as she gave people the impression of being too serious and aggressive.  Her question – How can makeup, dressing and body language help such people who naturally come across as unfriendly?

Unless you are ready to go under the knife and suffer the pain, we are born with facial features we can’t change.


Your clothes and body language are an extension of your face.  These two areas are easier to change!  Let’s focus on your dressing today.

Play with Colours!

High contrast colours such as black and white sends a message of authority and power.  That’s why lawyers wear only black and white combination.  On the other hand, pastel shades and low contrast colours project approachability, compassion and kindness.  Nurses uniforms are in light and pastel shades to do just that.

Does the following high contrast black and white combination make you feel that the wearer is more serious and hence, less affable.  David Beckham seems to feel friendlier too in his light gray suit.  Look at the smile on his face!


Choice of Fabric

Firmer fabrics are used for suits to create a formal look.  Hence, try softer fabrics to reduce the seriousness of the message you are conveying.  Even black and white combination can be fun and alluring with the right fabric.  However, see how the light colours and softer fabric give the instant girl-next-door and easy-to-talk-to impression, the much-needed message for a first date!


Natural Makeup Techniques

The softer image on the left let makes her an easier and friendlier person to talk to.  The picture on the right, though mesmerizing, has a pair of very intense and distracting eyes.


If you have naturally big eyes, avoid harsh eyeliners as that can make you look aggressive and too intense for a first date.  A pencil or gel liner with some eyeshadow to soften it will create a gentler look than using liquid liners.

Consider brown rather than black for eyebrows and mascara to create a more natural look rather than a dramatic one.

Bottom line is this, ladies, if we impress on the first date, we will be sure to get a second and a third date.   Dress well and take into account the above to help you project amicability but don’t forget to be you!  Mind your manners and be interesting.  The man wants an interesting companion, not just a pretty doll but dull date!

Care to share your first date experience and the outfit that you wore?


Learn how not to make the same mistake as Clinton in wearing accessories

12 Apr

I conducted an evening training session this week for a group of client associates of a foreign bank.  You have probably guessed it, it was a group of ladies.

What enthralled the group most was the use of accessories.

The following picture of Hillary Clinton taken from the website triggered many thoughts and comments.  Most agreed the picture did not show her to be a powerful or savvy dresser.

Hillary Clinton matchy

What lessons can we learn from the mistakes she made?


The idea of repeating an accent or obvious colour is great but to do so for earrings and necklace in exactly the same shade is just too much!  This is overly “match-matchy”!

Here is a pic to show how the violet brooch picks out the colour of the pink camisole.  The colours just need to belong to the same family.  E.g. pinks and purples belong.  Similarly, gold and yellow belong to the same yellow colour family.


The brooch picks out the accent colour of the camisole


The accessory that Hlllary Clinton wore seems to be fairly informal and made of plastic.  On the other hand, she is wearing a formal suit.  A formal outfit needs formal accessories.  Accessories made of metals such as gold, silver, platinum or perhaps, pearls would definitely work better with business attires.

How much accessories to wear?

Overly Accessorised

Following our discussion, the next obvious question was how much accessories should one wear?  We know it when we see someone looking like a Christmas tree.

Here’s a guide, take into account all the details such as colours, frills, patterned fabric, hair clips, earrings, shoes, makeup and bags that you are wearing.  To every item, give it a point.  Your total point should be between 9-14 if you do not want to look too plain or busy.

If we keep these pointers in mind, wearing accessories is a great way to spice up an otherwise monotonous suit and make a person memorable.

Have fun in wearing accessories.

Authentic Dressing

13 Mar

I attended an event organised by the Association of Image Consultants International (AICI) Singapore chapter recently where Sue Donnelly conducted a 1.5days session on Authentic Dressing.

Sue herself was such an inspiration.  As a Certified Image Professional (CIP), she has been true to herself, dressed authentically to reflect her true personality.  Just look at her glasses and that pair of trouser!  She believes that being authentic in every aspect of your life is the key to success.


Picture with Sue Donnelly (left)

It often seems a lot harder to dress authentically as we all have a job to keep and people we want to impress.  Hence, sometimes we may even have to ask ourselves if we are in the right job or industry?  How could we dread what we wear every single day?!

On the Sunday after the session, I decided I was going to wear what my “right brain” tells me to wear instead of using the logic and all that coordination guidelines that I have mastered as a CIP myself.

Usually, I would have coordinated this simple asymmetrical top with either black or beige coloured pair of trouser.  But, on this day, I pulled out my orange coloured jeans and wore it with my hardly-worn tangerine, leopard printed wedge heels!  I thought it was a breath of fresh air and I felt so liberated!



How about you?  Do you feel trapped in your clothes?  As Sue said, it is time that we put the “I” into your image.  Share your thoughts!  🙂

Table Etiquette – What to do when faced with unfamiliar food?

31 Jan

I recently travelled to South Korea and our family was hosted by my husband’s Koren colleagues to a memorable dinner experience.

Firstly, at the traditional Korean restaurant, diners sit on the floor with legs crossed.  My children were not very pleased initially as the seating position reminded them of the assemblies in school halls.

Then, we were served appetizers.  There were easily 5-8 deifferent types of Korean appetizers served.  One dish was particularly hard to swallow.

Sannakji hoe is a variety of hoe, or raw dish in Korean cuisine.  The nakji or octopus is served uncooked, cut into small pieces and served immediately, usually lightly seasoned with sesame oil.  We saw the tentacles still squirming on the plate.  My husband was the one who ate it courageously.


With more regional businesses and extensive travelling, many of us would have encountered unfamiliar foods.  What do you do when faced with one?

1)            Wait for the host to show you how to manage the food item.  Do not cry out, “Yuks!”

2)            Even if you do not like it, just tasting it will show appreciation to the host for exposing you to their local culture.  This is especially important in Asian culture.

3)            If a portion of the unfamiliar food is served on your plate, just go slow with it.  Play with it by moving it a little with your cutleries or tucking it under the salad leaves.  Your host will not offer you another portion when you’re still working at it.

4)            Kindly turn down any second helping and instead, you may ask for something specific e.g. ‘I love the Kimchi.  Can I have another serving of Kimchi?’  This will help to take attention away from you declining the unfamiliar food.

Be a little adventurous if the item is not beyond you.  It is always fun to try new things!  Share what other hard-to-mange or strange things you have tried at the dining table.

How to Build Rapport

12 Oct

I was conducting a training session on Branding Through People TM for a group of clinicians this week and the topic on the impact of rapport building of doctors with their patients was brought up.   I think we can all relate to the experience of how we prefer to see one doctor to another because he/she was empathetic, caring and make us feel at ease.

Similarly, has there been a time when you met someone for the first time and felt that there was instant “chemistry”?

Great Rapport!

Regardless of industry or position, as long as you work with people, understanding how to build rapport will always give you the competitive edge.  You will be able to connect, build a sense of trust and understanding that will create opportunities for you.

If you feel that you’ve always been an introvert and developing rapport building skills is beyond your reach, well, there is hope!  This so-called intuitive skill can be learnt by anyone.  Below details pointers that can help you connect with someone new you meet the next time.   It’s all about matching!

1.    Match Topics

You would have noticed that when two people meet for the first time and they discovered that they were from the same home town, school or university, there is instant connection.  Hence, during the initial conversation with someone new, try asking questions to find things in common.

2.    Match Attire

I once witnessed a meeting between two men at central business district.  The first guy who arrived early seemed to be the “seller” and he was dressed in a suit.  His customer arrived in T-shirt, bermudas and flip-flop!  It was noticeable that the two men didn’t feel at ease with each other.

Hence, always consider how your client or guest will dress and dress a little better as a way to show respect. Avoid the extreme.

3.    Match Body Language

Mirroring the other party’s body language

“Mirroring” is a technique where we adjust body postures,     gestures and facial expressions to match the other person.   When he nods, you nod too.  This is a powerful technique and will help to increase the level of rapport.  Be careful though that you don’t come across as insincere with “monkey-see, monkey-do” attitude.

4.    Match Speech

Speaking with same tone, pace and emotions help to connect

Consider matching the pace and tone of the other person.  It helps you to quickly feel the way your audience is feeling as you speak in his manner.  How about the language?  If he is less formal and you do likewise, you can feel that it helps to put both parties at ease.

As you put the above into practice, don’t forget the simple things like eye contact, addressing the other person by name and giving firm handshakes.

You will be surprised that you become well liked, trusted and create more opportunities for yourself in life!

5 Tips on How to Look Great for Plus-Sized Women

30 Sep

Continuing from my last blog “Big Is Beautiful”, I promised to provide some image consulting trade secrets for plus-sized woman to look beautiful and confident.

Below list tips that will bring effective results:

1)            Wear the Correct Size

Trying to squeeze yourself into clothes that are smaller than you are will only reveal all the bulges and look like an over-stuffed dumpling.  Instead, accept yourself for who you are and know that big is beautiful too.  Wear clothes that are of your size, not any bigger or smaller.  Trying to hide your size under clothes that are bigger than you will also cause you to look sloppy.

2)            Wear Lower Necklines

High Neckline (left) vs Lower Neckline (right)

Plus-sized women tend to be top heavy.  Hence, consider wearing a scoop or V-shaped neckline.  The space from your face to your neckline helps create an elongated look and make one look slimmer.  T-shirts’ jewel necklines and turtle-necks are best avoided.  See how the scoop-neckline look so flattering on the lady on the right.  Pictures below also include V-shaped necklines.  This simple rule works wonders – remember to open up the space around your neck area.

3)            Wear Vertical and Diagonal lines

Vertical lines on left and middle outfit; diagonal lines in light fluid fabric looks fabulous on a top-heavy individual

Wearing long jackets help to create vertical lines and causes the eyes to scan a person from top-to-toe rather than left to right.  Attires with vertical lines help to break up space and make one look narrower (center pic) while the diagonal lines formed by the fluid fabric creates a slimming effect from waist down.  See the picture above.

Horizontal lines are a no-no as it optically creates excessive width and only enlarges you further.  Also, be careful with prints.  Prints that are round such as circles, balloons, balls, flowers, etc can bring about emphasis on the wrong parts of the body and call for more attention at the less desired places.

Where possible, always find means to cinch in at the waist.  This creates the silhouette of a soft hour-glass, helping a plus-sized woman look slimmer and also, more feminine!

4)            Wear Deeper Tones

It is well known that light colours “expand”.  So, if you are top heavy, avoid light colours at the top as it will only reinforce the size.  The “in-thing” with colour blocks may not be a good bet for the plus sized woman.  See how distinct change of colours and the horizontal line in the middle pic reinforced her body width.  On the other hand, the deeper colours, the diagonal and vertical lines of the other two outfits look so much more flattering.

5)            Wear Softer and More Fluid Fabric

Fabrics that are too heavy, textured and structured will only add bulk on the body frame.  Softer and more fluid fabric that fall nicely around the body make a woman look slimmer.  Be careful though with fabrics that are too soft and cling to your body, such as jersey.  You guessed it, these extremely soft fabric clings to all the wrong parts of your body and will surely be helping you shouting for attention at the wrong places again!


All women desire to look beautiful.  KNOW that you are beautifully and wonderfully created.  Start by applying the 5 tips above and see how they can create magic for you.  Dressing becomes exciting and purposeful as you can look great and confident regardless of your size and shape!

Big Is Beautiful

19 Sep

All women are beautifully made, regardless if they are stick thin or not.

The recent feature of “Large and loving it” on Life! Of Straits Times is indeed a re-affirmation to many women who are larger than those glamorous models whose 36-24-36 body measurements are considered as ideal.

Brooke Elliot’s comments reflect many women’s unspoken thoughts, “We are constantly told we’re not good enough, or smart enough, or pretty enough, …”. Women in this society feel constantly pressurized to slap on the latest featured cream to look younger, practice self-governance on diet and exercise.  Still, when many look into the mirror, they are not satisfied.

Learning to accept oneself is paramount to building self-confidence.  If we are constantly hoping that we’ll look better, get slimmer, appear younger, life is like an illusion.  We live in a bubble everyday.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick” – Proverbs

Brooke Elliot also paid tribute to her parents for the reassurance that she was great and gave her a great sense of worth just the way she was.

The green house effect shields plants from the direct harsh sunlight so that plants may grow.  In the same way, establishing a green house effect in the home, office and school helps create an atmosphere of self-acceptance and growth.  This shifts the thought life and creates a culture of self-worth and confidence.

In my next blog, I will provide practical tips on how large women can dress to look and feel great!

Here’s a quick reference to the article from Straits Times.

Large and Loving It (Straits Times, Life! Section 17 September 2012) 


As a child, American actress Brooke Elliott has always looked up to veteran singer-actress Barbra Streisand.

Speaking over the telephone from Tennessee, where she was visiting family, the star of hit TV drama Drop Dead Diva tells Life!: “Growing up, I thought I was going to be Barbra Streisand. She was a big influence and I always thought I’ll just grow up to be her. She is just an incredible inspiration.”

Streisand, 70, whose credits include the movie Funny Girl (1968) and hit songs The Way We Were and Evergreen, is a source of inspiration for many as she not only has an impressive career, but is also always seen as elegant, poised and strong.

Though Elliott, 37, has not quite reached superstardom status like Streisand, she has regardless become very much like her in another way – becoming a source of inspiration for many others in her own right.

As the lead of Drop Dead Diva, whose fourth and latest season airs on Sony Entertainment Television (mioTV Channel 20) every Tuesday night, the actress plays vapid model Deb, who dies and then returns to life in the body of Jane, a physically larger but intelligent attorney.

As the show progresses, her character comes to terms with her new look and even embraces it with confidence. Elliott is proud of the fact that the role is unlike typical TV lead characters who are stick-thin and forever glamorous.

She says: “I feel like women are up against such a tough thing sometimes. We’re constantly told we’re not good enough, or smart enough, or pretty enough, and because women receive so much pressure, it makes me want to fight for their right to be who they are, even more.

“So what I love about playing this role is that I can finally be a part of a message that is sending positivity – to tell women that they are great and wonderful and to be happy with their lives.”

Since the show began in 2009, it has been praised by viewers for delivering positive body image messages, with The Baltimore Sun writing that the series is “an enlightened exploration of body and self-image”.

Now with the show in its fourth season, Elliott promises that her two-in-one role of Jane is going to have more fun as the man that she has been holding a torch for in the last few seasons will finally notice her.

“It’s the first time we will see Grayson pining after Jane, which is fun because we spent three seasons watching Jane pining after him. It’s even more fun that Jane does not notice it at all because she is now in a relationship with Owen.”

The character of Grayson is played by Jackson Hurst and Owen by Lex Medlin.

Despite Elliott’s confidence in herself now, the actress admits to having suffered bouts of self-doubt before.

“I don’t think you can be a woman in this society without feeling some pressure. I don’t think any of us escape the magazines and from being told what we’re supposed to look like.

“But I guess I tribute a lot to my parents because they gave me a great sense of worth and that I’m great the way I am.”

The native of the Minnesota city of Fridley is the daughter of a homemaker mother and a city manager father.

The pressure to forever look good as a woman, it seems, has prompted her to want to try to see the world as a man, if she were ever given the chance to live life in another person’s body like how her character does on the show.

Elliott, who is single, says with a chuckle: “If I could be in any other person’s body, I would choose to be in a man’s body. I would want to know what they feel and what they see, what they’re attracted to and how they’re pressured by society to look or be a certain way.”