A client recently asked me, “I am giving a presentation to a group of single parents who will be dressed casually. How should I dress to appear polished yet approachable and relate-able?” Great question! Anyone who has worked with me knows I am a big believer in the “third piece” to create a finished look. The third piece can be a jacket, a blazer, a cardigan or a statement accessory like a belt or a large necklace. When giving a presentation, a third piece is crucial, regardless of your audience. It helps you appear more “in the know” and credible.
For a casually-dressed audience, I suggest the speaker dress in soft fabrics, approachable colors and casual styles of top, bottom and third piece. If you have had a custom color analysis done with me, you know your approachable colors. I suggest wearing your light neutrals, as well, for a slightly more relaxed look. Dark neutrals like black, charcoal and navy are somewhat intimidating and are more appropriate for presentations to professional groups. Your light neutrals are also pinpointed in a custom color analysis. I am a big believer in jewelry to complete a look and pull it all together. Just be sure your jewelry is on a smaller scale to make it less noticeable and not as likely to be distracting to your audience. Wearing your best colors or metallic colors by your face is a great way to keep the audience focused on you.
I created the following set on Polyvore to show you one way this person could dress for her presentation. While the sweater I chose for her is a dark blue, it is made in a sheer fabric and does not appear as dark as a navy blazer would. As you can see with this ensemble, nothing is distracting, yet it is pulled together, approachable and modern. The light neutrals offset nicely against the blue. Do you think this look is appropriate for a casual audience?
One more tip about your appearance: if you polish your nails, polish them in a light neutral like Revlon ColorStay Bare Bones. Your audience will follow your nails if you wear a dark or a brightly-colored nail polish, and they will not hear your message. Good luck to my client on her presentation!