The name of Emmi Sorokin’s image consulting firm is an inspired choice.
It’s a Man’s World is tongue-in-cheek enough to avoid raising the ire of feminists, and yet it is flattering to her male clients, putting those of us who don’t feel overconfident about our appearance at ease. Perhaps that was why Sorokin insisted on a lunch at a Japanese hotel, where kimono-clad Japanese waitresses scurry about with traditional self-effacing politeness. In Japan, it is still very much a man’s world.
Who: Emmi Sorokin, Men’s Image Consultant, It’s a Man’s World (www.amansworldco.com)
Where: Hakubai, The Kitano Hotel, 66 Park Avenue, New York
When: January 13, 2009
Menu: Sesame tofu, green tea and communication
I admit that coming to meet an image consultant, I chose my clothes with some trepidation, rummaging through my closet for a new suit and a Brooks Brothers shirt.
Apparently, I did rather well — although my Liberty tie could have been brighter and my classic L.L. Bean penny loafers could have been junked in favor of something more modern and perhaps less dusty. However, if I actually wanted to get a few free pointers on presenting myself better, I should have worn a different outfit.
“For my professional clients, their workplace attire is usually strictly codified,” remarks Sorokin. “A plumber or an attorney doesn’t have to think what to wear to work.”
To be sure, there may be adjustments in the cut or color of a business suit, to make sure that it is appropriate both for your coloring and build, as well as the image you wish to project. Sorokin notes that men’s fashions change slowly, but they do change. For example, a couple of decades ago, men’s suits were all about size and power, with large pockets, broad lapels and bulky shoulders. Now the look is much slimmer and more elegant, and, unless you consciously go for a retro look, you should not be showing up in an out-of-date cut.
Still, when you are at the office, says Sorokin, people already know who you are and what to expect of you.
“It is in presenting themselves on their personal time, their social time, that most people need assistance.”
The Importance of Being Earnest
Some of the most important business contacts, especially for professionals who need to expand their client base, are made outside the office — at community events and networking parties, but also in ordinary social interactions or even on the airplane.
“You can meet your next big client on a line at Starbucks,” says Sorokin.
But when you meet people outside the office, when you’re on your own, the window of opportunity for projecting the right image is very narrow, Sorokin warns. She observes that the first impression we make on people has an enormous influence on our quality of life and professional success. The first impression is even more important today, in a rushed, multitasking environment, when we are often forced to make snap decisions about people we meet casually.