Authentic, Authenticity, Body Language, Confidence, First Impressions, Image consultancy, Leadership, Lyn Bromley, Men in Business, Women in business

How to Express Your Leadership Presence

iStock_000017925351SmallLeaders of men and women come in many guises, from successful business people like Richard Branson and Sheryl Sandberg, to spiritual and political leaders like Gandhi or Martin Luther King.  One thing effective leaders have in common is presence and by learning how to maximise yours, you will be developing an essential vital non-verbal communication skill that will ensure you look like a leader. The art of communication is surely one of the most vital skills of any leader, the power to persuade and appearance plays and important role in that process. In this very visual world, we are all influenced by what we see and so our appearance needs to match what’s on the inside – our abilities, characteristics and values. Otherwise, we get mixed messages. The ability to manage our image is a positive communication skill and something we can easily learn like any other for career success.

Deep impact

First and foremost, you have to make an impact. Effective leaders will almost always have ‘presence’ or that indefinable X factor. They will either give an impression of quiet authority or of obvious power, according to their personal style. Your posture, demeanour and the way you interact with people – as well as appearance – will all contribute to your personal presence. It has often been described that leaders ‘take up space’ and are comfortable doing so. They stand, move and dress confidently and assertively.  Good leaders will be well aware of the subliminal messages of non-verbal communication, including image and your body language, and will use these tricks effectively. Leaders also make the rules rather than follow them and have the confidence to dress to reflect their personality and business. Think of Sir John Harvey-Jones with his natty suits and flamboyant socks, Richard Branson’s early years in his approachable knitwear or Anita Roddick’s style echoing her individuality and ethical interests. Each of these leaders has a very distinctive personal image. You need to develop your personal style to suit your style of leadership. Whatever look you choose, you must be true to your personality and remain individual to ensure you’re memorable.

Feel the quality

And, whether you believe money is the measure of success or not, when it comes to appearance, quality counts.  That doesn’t mean you have to buy the most expensive items you can find – it’s about seeking clothes and accessories where the quality of the material and craftsmanship is evident.  A perfectly fitting lightweight wool suit, an immaculate silk tie or a beautifully stitched handbag in softest leather – they all breathe quality.  Too often in corporate life, an individual’s impact is marred by the inclusion of an item that jars.  A smart tailored suit and crisp shirt can be undermined by teaming them with a cheap plastic watch and biro.  It gives out a message of poor judgement, poor quality and a sloppy approach to work.  The subliminal message you want people to pick up from your appearance is ‘here is someone who knows what they are doing, where they are going, with sound judgement and an eye for quality and detail’.

Role Model

Another aspect of effective leadership is taking your duty as a role model seriously.  Individuals leading their own businesses can obviously make the rules, but should remember that they are role models for those following them up the career ladder and so should set the standard for the company.  Giving clear messages to your employees about how you expect them to dress at work will make them feel far more comfortable than a confusing ‘anything goes’ atmosphere.   Make it clear to your staff or team just what you expect of them – and avoid vague terms than can be misinterpreted. The current trend towards a ‘modern professional’ dress code, where an employee is expected to make judgements about what look each day’s activities require, is a good test of their business acumen. Judging when to opt for ‘formal business’, knowing when ‘relaxed business’ will do or when ‘business casual’ is the order of the day takes perception – and that’s a valuable skill to have on your team. You will want your staff and clients to have absolute faith in you and your ability to make good decisions, so a good leader will need to earn respect.   Your clothes can play their part – err on the side of formality or, if the culture in which you work demands a business casual approach, keep it smart and co-ordinated and of good quality. And, of course, your clothes need to match the culture and values of your organisation. For example, in a young, innovative company, you’ll need to be more casual and keep a closer eye on fashion trends. Knowledge of colour will also be valuable to know how to look more authoritative when you need to. This is especially true when selecting business casual items as they are often more colourful and require good co-ordination.  There will also be occasions when you need to project more approachability and subtle changes in the way you wear colour can help achieve this.

Lyn Bromley MFIPI, ACMA –  Managing Director, First Impressions  Lyn Bromley is Managing Director of First Impressions Training Ltd and a Master of The Federation of Image Professionals International. (FIPI)  She is also Director of Regional Events for FIPI and a leader of Achiever’s Academy for Women. Please contact us if you would like to know more about our programmes, bespoke image training or one-to-one coaching.  First Impressions have a network of over 150 consultants working across the UK – to find one in your area visit the website and take a look at the consultant map. Telephone: +44 (0)1926 623038 Email: Website:

Business Etiquette, First Impressions, handshake, Lyn Bromley

Etiquette – The Handshake in Saudi

This post is inspired by the news today that Michelle Obama shook hands with the new Saudi King; King Salman bin Abdulaziz.  They were there to pay their respects to the late King and to meet the new leader.   During the receiving line, Michelle shook hands with the new King.  Better than150127130348-michelle-obama-saudi-arabia-0127-super-169 hugging him, as she did with our Queen Elizabeth!

There are strong Islamic rules about men meeting women other than family members in private and they must not touch any part of a woman’s body, if they are not related to them.  The rule though is generally overlooked for visiting diplomats.  Many female diplomats have visited Saudi in the past and they have all shaken hands with the King; Hilary Clinton, Angela Merkel and Madeleine Albright to name a few.

It is important when travelling on business to understand the cultural norms in the country you are visiting.  It is so easy to offend if you have not done your research.  In our ‘Business Etiquette’ training we have covered all the do’s and don’t for the countries that are often visited on business and there are some surprising facts that we uncovered.  It is real a mark of respect to observe the cultural norms and is seen very favourably.  When we went to deliver training in Hong Kong and Shanghai it is customary to take a proffered business card with both hands and then really study it – a little different to how we behave in the UK.  I personally like that tradition, it feels very respectful.

In meeting the Saudi dignitaries, Michelle waited to see how the man reacted.  If they offered their hand she shook it and smiled and if they didn’t she just smiled and nodded her head.  She was therefore respectful of their culture and played it just right.

Lyn Bromley MFIPI, ACMA –  Managing Director, First Impressions  Lyn Bromley is Managing Director of First Impressions Training Ltd and a Master of The Federation of Image Professionals International. (FIPI)  She is also Director of Regional Events at FIPI and a leader of Achiever’s Academy for Women. Please contact us if you would like to know more about our programmes, bespoke training and workshops or one-to-one coaching.  First Impressions have a network of over 150 consultants working across the UK and in 20 countries around the world– to find one in your area visit the website and take a look at the consultant map. Telephone: +44 (0)1926 623038 Email: Website:

DvF, Lyn Bromley, Women's Style, Wrap Dress

Women’s Style: Wrap Dress

There is a well known misconception that Diane von Furstenberg invented the wrap dress.  DvF’s dresses started to appear in the early 70’s, but there had already been a version of what we now know as the wrap dress in 1930’s by Elsa Schaiparelli and 1940’s by CSchaiparelli wraplare McCardell.  Here’s the Schaiparelli wrap – very elegant and something I may try to re-create myself as a ball gown.

Lyn DvF Wrap DressThe difference between these early dresses and DvF’s is the fabric type and the length.  DvF favours knee length and the fabric is famously figure-hugging jersey.  I am lucky enough to own a DvF in a vintage pattern.  It is 100% silk jersey and I absolutely love wearing it.  Here I am at an event we exhibited at back in 2011 with longer hair!  I looked long and hard before I decided upon this dress.  I don’t often buy designer because I think there is a great variety of garments available without having to take out a small mortgage to buy them!  Don’t get me wrong, I love them and really enjoy looking at them, finding out about them and using them as inspiration, but I want a hard wearing day-to-day wardrobe, rather than one full of designer pieces.  So I really took my time selecting this dress.  I do absolutely love it and it has really lasted well.  I think cost-per-wear must be down to pence by now!  Very sadly it has started to rot under the arms, probably from deodorant, so I am looking into ways of fixing that as the rest of the dress is still in perfect condition.  Let me know if you have any ideas!

Back to DvF – she attributes her divorce to the design of the wrap dress.  It was apparently created in the spirit of allowing women to enjoy their sexual freedom.  I guess that must be the clingy form-hugging jersey.  She originally created it as a wrap top and separate skirt and was quite astounded by the reaction when she put the two together and created a dress.

The dress has even been credited with being the symbol of women’s liberation in the 70’s – quite a claim.

The style of the wrap is perfect for the ‘hourglass’ figure.  It’s for the woman who has a slim waist compared to hips.  It doesn’t work for the ‘straight’ body shape, where there is little or no difference between the waist and the hips.  The wrap creates a focal point at the waist, emphasising the slimmest part of the body.  It also creates a lovely ‘v’ at the neck.  If a round neck suits you better, you can always add a camisole underneath, which also creates the extra security of a higher neckline.  Worn without a camisole, it can sometimes expose more flesh than you would like.  (Depending upon the cut of the dress).  This may be acceptable for a night out, but for work it is advisable to err on the side of caution.

It comes in many different fabrics, they all behave differently, so pick wisely.  There are short and long sleeved versions and they vary in length from a shorter, tunic style to floor length as in the Schaiparelli version above.  There is also a version with a collar, or the collarless version above.

Whichever your preference, there will be wrap dress to suit your taste.

Lyn Bromley MFIPI, ACMA –  Managing Director, First Impressions

 Lyn Bromley is Managing Director of First Impressions Training Ltd and a Master of The Federation of Image Professionals International. (FIPI)  She is also Director of Regional Events at FIPI and a leader of Achiever’s Academy for Women.

Please contact us if you would like to know more about our programmes, bespoke training and workshops or one-to-one coaching. 

First Impressions have a network of over 150 consultants working across the UK – to find one in your area visit the website and take a look at the consultant map.

Telephone: +44 (0)1926 623038




Lyn Bromley, Sewing, Wrap Dress

Sewing: Wrap Dress No 2

There have been lots of questions about the dress I made this weekend, so thought I would add a few details for you.

The pattern I used was Vogue V8379.  I made dress B with longer sleeves.  I personally prefer the dress with no collar, but as it is winter, I wanted the longer sleeves.  The short sleeved version would be a little easier as one of the only tricky parts to the pattern was figuring out how to stitch the sleeve band and attach it to the dress!

This is only my second attempt at the pattern and the first on my own.  You can read all about the first attempt in Lyn Learns to Sew.  I decidIMG_1003ed to try this again so I could be sure that I had understood what I learned last weekend with Kate.  I always preach to my own students that it’s all well and good learning, but the key is to put it into practice as quickly as possible to ensure that you have really understood it and that the learning is strengthened and enhanced.  There is specific research to show that this is true by Ebbinghaus  called the forgetting curve.  The concept is that each time you reinforce learning you forget a little less each time until you get to a point where you remember it all.

Kate had given me a piece of fabric to practice with and I really liked it!  It has all the shades of colour in it that I like and that suit me and unbeknown to Kate, I do like animal print, although it is often tricky to find in cooler shades.  It is widely available in warmer shades – think African grassland in yellow tones, rather than the cooler blue tones of the British Countryside!

Here is a close-up of the fabric.  It’s a jersey with a good amount of stretch.  I would guess a cotton/viscose mix.  It was easier to work with than the IMG_1006bamboo/elastane mix of the first dress.  The bamboo was much softer and more delicate, so a nicer feel on the skin, but more difficult to handle when sewing.  I had to use a special jersey needle in the sewing machine for the bamboo, but with this fabric, a regular needle was fine.

The first challenge was to pin all the pattern pieces on to the fabric to make sure I could fit them all on with the grain line going in the right direction!  I did have to re-pin a couple of times before I was happy with it.  This was an early attempt with far too much space between the pieces!  I started on Saturday late afternoon and had cut out all of the pieces and sat adding tailor’s tacks and basting whilst watchinIMG_0990g The Voice on Saturday evening!  By Sunday morning, I was ready to start sewing.  When I have a new challenge I like to get on with it.  I enjoy doing it, but always like to get it finished so I can see the final piece!  So, rather than having a Sunday morning lie in, I was up and sewing early.

I found the majority of the construction pretty straightforward – it is classified as a ‘very easy’ pattern to follow!  The only pitfall on the bodice is getting the slit for the belt to go through on the right side, which I failed to do!  The dress is symmetrical, so it didn’t actually matter, but having around six wrap dresses already, when I tried it on with the slit on the left, it just didn’t feel right, so with a small alteration, the belt slit is now on the correct side!  Kate did warn me about this and I thought I had done it correctly, obviously not, so do take care with this.  I had made up the bodice in about an hour and a half, including facings, so I was pretty pleased with that.  The skirt was really easy.  I had cut out the skirt back on the fold, so it reduced the need to sew an extra seam, so two seams later and attaching the skirt to the bodice and I was almost there.  I had to pause here to get ready to go to visit my parents!  My Mum is a sewer too – she taught me originally when I was about 11 I think.  I used to make all my school skirts and tube skirts in lurid 1980’s shades!  I have my Mum’s old sewing machine, which we realised is about 39 year’s old.  She has a much newer one, so I thought I would take the sleeves over to finish off there as I remembered them being a bit tricky!


This is how the sleeve with the sleeve band attached should look.  I was pleased to have my first dress to check as a guide.  The pattern, in my opinion, is lacking in it’s description here.  It took me some time to work out whether it was the right way around, so it was good to be able to double check it with Mum too!  Even so, I did manage to sew it on wrong and Mum unpicked it for me while I did the next one!!  I am really pleased with the finished look – it is definitely better IMG_0996than my first attempt!

Here is the  finished dress.  It doesn’t really go with my biker boots, but I was still at Mum’s.  I shall have fun working out which accessories to wear with it.  It’s a pretty busy pattern, so fairly plain I’m thinking.  I may try to find some blue tights to match the pattern on the dress!  The only modification I may make is to do something with the facings.  They are not sitting properly and I think they will annoy me if they keep popping out!  Happy sewing to my friends who try this!

Body Shape, Colour, Fabrickated, Fitting, Lyn Bromley, Sewing

Lyn learns to sew!

I have just had the most fabulous three days. I have been learning to dress-make. Well, re-learning really. I used to make clothes when I was in my teens and early 20’s. Then I got busy in corporate life and didn’t make the time. I love clothes and find the construction fascinating. It made me realize that we often put up with imperfections in our clothing because they are the closest we can get with off-the-peg outfits. The magic of hand-made is that they can fit your form perfectly – no compromise necessary at all.

I spent the weekend with the lovely Kate Davies – she has her own wonderful blog – The intention was to make a wrap dress using Vogue pattern V8379 which Kate has already constructed several times before.

I started by selecting fabric in preparation for my trip – that’s not so easy! I went to 5 different shops to find what I was looking for. I was looking for something cool and bright. Not easy to find during the winter when most fabrics are deep and muted! I eventually settled on a cool pink that is slightly deeper than I would have liked, but it works and was the best of the selection available. I was looking for jersey and there are so many choices – mixes of polyester, elastane, viscose, silk and bamboo. Of course, the man-made options are much cheaper and for a first attempt was probably where I should have pitched it. The choices on offer were not great in terms of colour, so I pushed the boat out and went for a bamboo (95%) and elastane (5%). It is a lovely firm jersey – some of the alternatives were just too flimsy and upon being stretched, did not spring back into shape well. Had I chosen them, I would have had a nice bottom shape in the dress after sitting down for half an hour – not that attractive, although cheaper. I decided on balance, that I would rather pay a bit more and be able to wear the finished product, rather than go for a cheaper option and not really want to wear it. I was also pretty confident that with Kate’s help I’d be able to have a pretty decent bash at it and I always find that if I start out assuming that I am going to succeed, I definitely stand more of a chance of success!

The revelation to me was that we started by taking all of my measurements, comparing them to the standard ones on the pattern and then adjusting it to fit me completely. Quite obvious when you think about it, no wonder my teenage attempts at trousers cut straight from the pattern were disastrous really! We discovered that I am fairly close to off-the-peg, except for a couple of adjustments that were a few inches different – fairly significant and explains why off-the-peg fits in some brands and not in others.

We pinned the pattern and then started cutting out – fairly scary.   At this point there is no going back! My cutting skills need to be sharpened up, but it became easier the more I did, guided by the ever skillful Kate.

The sewing was great fun – it’s so quick. I realized that the preparation, in terms of good planning of where to pin the pattern pieces to get the most out of the fabric, creating marks on the fabric to show where things such as darts, pleats, centre back and front, are really quite important and make for a better finished garment. I made a few mistakes on the machining – catching fabric from behind where it should not have been and getting too quick and sewing wonky lines to name a few!

My favourite gadget was the overlocker. It gives a really professional finish. It is unforgiving through, as it cuts off the excess fabric and stitches at the same time – so no room for error at all. I quite liked this and was happy to take the risk, given the alternative of double stitching, which, for a beginner is also quite tricky. The objective is to sew two parallel lines – keeping them even and straight. This seemed like a bigger challenge than overlocking. I did try both and noticed that where there was the opportunity to try it twice, my second attempt was always better.

The pattern we used was deemed to be ‘very easy’ by the manufacturer. I realized that they actually assume a high degree of prior knowledge. Many of the instructions are brief and not explicit enough, despite my previous experience, albeit a long time ago. My machine skills stood me in good stead, I have at least made curtains and blinds in the last decade, so I remembered how to sew. It was more about being reminded of the pattern markings and interpreting their brief instructions. I am sure there would have been much more unpicking if I had been left to my own devices! The beauty of it was that Kate has at least three of these dresses in her wardrobe, so we were able to look at the finished garment, so I could see what I was aiming for.

Adding interfacing

Here I am basting the interfacing to the collar and neck of the dress.

This was another important lesson. Previously, as a complete amateur, I would have pinned, then sewed. Kate taught me the importance of basting – this is a long running stitch that holds the two pieces of fabric together, allowing the pins to be removed. It really holds the pieces together much better and avoids any damage to the machine by sewing over pins inadvertently. It gives a much better finished item and a step very well worth adding.


Look at that concentration! I loved Kate’s sewing corner – it’s a really inspirational place to be, with everything I needed close to hand – including Kate’s wonderful husband who kept us fed and watered all weekend! It was like ‘Sewing Bee’ meets ‘Master Chef’!

Finished dress

I couldn’t believe how quickly the dress came together in the end. We seemed to be working on it piece by piece and suddenly to whole dress came together. I am delighted with the finished dress – it fits perfectly. Here is the top half – the bottom still had tailor’s tacks in it, so the full-length dress picture is me back at home after a good press.

Wrap Dress

How satisfying it is to make something from scratch.   I shall definitely be dusting off my machine and maybe even signing up for some classes to learn more. Now I have a perfectly fitting dress, I’m not sure I want to compromise with shop bought.

Measuring hem

Thank you Kate for teaching me so much.  Here she is showing me how to measure the hem from the floor up to get an accurate hem all the way around.

Colour, Confidence, Dress, First Impressions, Lyn Bromley, Women

New Year’s Eve Dress Shopping

There are still five full days to go until New Year’s Eve.   Are you still looking for that perfect party dress?  If you already know what suit you in terms of colour (yes, there are more choices than just black!) and style, it can sometimes be tricky to find something that ticks all the boxes.  I especially find this once the sales are on – there will be a reduced selection out there and many of the best ones will have already gone.  It just means that you need to look a bit harder and there may well be a gem of a dress waiting to be discovered.  Here is my own personal search for a dress for the party season.

My ideal dress would be a cool and bright colour – one which has a blue undertone and a vibrant quality to its colour.  It would have an angular neckline, so either a ‘V’ or a slash neck, it would be fitted in at the waist and either a full skirt (1940’s style) or a gradual A line – I don’t favour the full A line, even thought I could wear one.  I could also go for a pencil, albeit, it has to be one with some shaping from the waist with a curve to it to skim my hips.

My search starts with colour first – it’s a really quick way to eliminate what is not right for you straight off and saves lots of time. So for me, I scan the rails for cool and bright shades – I particularly love reds, pinks, blues, purples and I also love silver.  At this time of year there are so many dark shades – lots of blacks, charcoals, deep reds, purples and of course lots of forest green.  All of which are too deep for me, so they are ruled out straight away!

Once I find a colour I like, I take it off the rail and look at the design.  I’ll specifically look at the neckline, the waist, the length and any particular design details – i.e. for me, I wouldn’t want any large pockets on my hips (my widest part!) they would just draw attention to an area that I don’t want to highlight.  I’d much rather have definition at the waist with a belt, ruching, or embellishment.  Some consultants would say that you need to tick all of those boxes, for me, I like to break the rules, so as long as it fits the majority, I’m happy.  It makes sense to make the most of your figure so you look and feel your best right?

Here is what I found – a lovely Coast dress – Lianna lace dress.  It was originally £125 and I got it for £49 in the sale – bargain! The colour is perfect for me – it is actually pink, but looks red on the computer screen – do watch out for that – colours can look deceptively different on screen.  Lianna Coast DressI ordered another one recently from House of Fraser – it looked bright red and when it came it was deeper and much more muted – needless to say, it’s going back!  I had ordered it on click and collect, so no postage or return charges.  Do watch out for that when sale shopping, you can get stung on the postage costs if you are not careful.  Many stores will allow you to order on line and have them delivered to their local store at no cost.

Anyway, I digress, the shape is great -waist definition, shaped around the hips and flattering for my body shape.  The neckline is not perfect – it would be better as a V-neck for me, but I do like this draped neckline and it is not too curved – it actually sits quite straight when it is on.

The main acid test for me – when I put it on I loved it!  I already wore it to a Christmas party and I’m planning on wearing it for New Year’s Eve too.  Enjoy your dress shopping and don’t settle for something in a fit of adrenaline that you will never wear again!  It’s only a bargain if you wear it and it works with other things in your wardrobe.  I have a lovely fake fur jacket in cool silver grey and strappy silver heels to go with mine.  I also added an angular brooch to add a bit more of an angular look to the dress.  Happy shopping!

Authentic, Authenticity, Body Language, Communication, Customer Service, Lyn Bromley, Uncategorized

Communication Skills for the NHS

body_languageDid you know that one of the most common complaints about the NHS is poor communication?  The NHS trust in the area that I live in, South Warwickshire Foundation Trust, or SWFT, has a great reputation and scores very highly in feedback surveys.  At their recent nursing conference they still decided to select ‘communication’ as their main theme.  It’s interesting isn’t it, that those who are at the excellent end of the spectrum often choose to learn more.  You might think that there is no need, if they are already doing well, why strive for improvement?  Well, it is this very attitude of wanting to continually improve that puts them at the top of their profession.  The aspect that I most noticed about the group of 200 or so professionals, was that they were totally engaged and had an attitude of wanting to learn more, even though I had the ‘graveyard’ slot immediately after lunch!  This is a byproduct of what happens whether there is a culture of continuous improvement in place – people have an expectation of learning and are open to taking on new information.  They know that they are not there to be ‘fixed’ because something is broken, they know that their employers value them so highly that they continually invest in their professional development, whether that be clinical training or soft-skills training.

For people who wear uniform, their communication skills are really important, especially when they are in a caring profession because we have an expectation that they should be, well, caring!  If we are met with a situation where they are not, it really jars with our preconceived idea of how they should behave.  Their appearance is key – we expect them to be smart, clean and tidy.  Of course their uniform helps with that, but grooming is incredibly important too – you wouldn’t want to be treated by a nurse that looks a little grubby!

Their uniform already tells us much about who they are – it’s a shorthand to tell us that they are qualified and there to help.  They have an opportunity to bring their own personality to bear through their communication style, tone of voice and body language.  Nurses probably come under more scrutiny than most.  Imagine being a patient in a hospital bed.  Once you have read your magazines, eaten a few grapes and done your crossword, what else is there to do but watch the interactions of the staff in the hospital?  We find people infinitely fascinating and they draw our attention to them all the time.  We pick up on subtle clues from the unspoken word – our body language gives so many clues to what is going on and how we feel.  Are we stressed, are we calm and have everything under control?  Patients observing these interactions between health professionals will read all kinds of information from them and they will pick up on the smallest changes in body language – we are programmed and attuned to do this.  Remember our flight or fight response that I have spoken about in my earlier blog ‘Are you being Authentic?’

The nursing profession is the ultimate in customer service and we do have high expectations.  In all the interactions I have ever had with our local NHS nurses, they have all been excellent and am very thankful for that!


Lyn Bromley MFIPI, ACMA –  Managing Director, First Impressions

 Lyn Bromley is Managing Director of First Impressions Training Ltd and a Master of The Federation of Image Professionals International. (FIPI)  She is also Director for Regional Support of FIPI and a leader of Achiever’s Academy for Women.

Please contact us if you would like to know more about our programmes, bespoke training and workshops or one-to-one coaching. 

First Impressions have a network of over 150 consultants working across the UK – to find one in your area visit the website and take a look at the consultant map.

Telephone: +44 (0)1926 623038