New Look, Old Brand

When Richmond Magazine contacted me over Twitter -- after I tweeted about needing a new haircut, and an entirely new look -- and invited me to participate in one of their periodic fashion makeover exercises, I agreed without hesitation.

Partly because I really needed a new hai rcut, and billing was down in November. But mostly because I was curious.

Curiosity, and a willingness to invest myself in someone else's vision, are traits I appreciate in myself. I just don't often let them loose. The last significant release in that direction might have been my performance with the Starr Foster Dance Company in 2006.

Once we decided -- the editor at Richmond Magazine and I -- to focus on my everyday, client-facing style, things fell into place. Stylist Megan Marconyak and I chatted over the phone a few times, and suddenly we were getting together to pick out clothes. She shopped, I picked.

Here's how I described it at my Buttermilk & Molasses weblog:

Megan nailed it in our discussion when she said it sounded like I was looking for an answer to the space between kicking around in jeans (with the family, or on days when Floricane doesn't have me actually out in public) and in a suit (the less frequent ensemble worn for serious client meetings and presentations).

We chatted, exchanged a few emails and then she went shopping.

On Wednesday, I met Megan at Richmond Magazine to check out the clothes. She arrived with four different looks -- including a khaki pants/pastel shirt combo that immediately went into the "not that much of a makeover" pile.

We played around with the rest of the clothes before settling on what I'm now calling the "moderate makeover" look -- black boots, black cords, black suit jacket over a grey sweater, purple Oxford and purple/grey tie. The woman who told me months ago that my body structure and skin coloring demanded I look to the actor who plays House on TV as a fashion template would be proud. Apparently, I still need a cane.

We ended the day with my "before" photo -- scuffed boots, scuffed jeans, wrinkled button-down and shaggy hair. They told me to look sad and miserable, so I slouched a lot while the photog shot away.

The tragedy of it all is that I didn't get to keep any of the clothes. I did, however, come to realize that it doesn't take much to look good -- an iron, a good haircut, a bit of shoe polish.

I also learned that letting someone else understand and reframe my brand is not a bad way of doing business. Thanks, Megan.

(Check out the photos and the story behind the makeover at Richmond Magazine.)