While the pandemic has put fashion on pause for many, the return of in office visits and in person meetings call for a serious style tune up. In the above Black Professionals Network interview, professional stylist and wardrobe consultant Ashley Michelle Miller shares ways to channel your personal flair in the workplace and tweak your closet just ahead of the highly anticipated Black Professionals Summit this November 13th at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Between the BPN summit “best dressed” contest determined by a fashion panel, to the red carpet upon arrival, you will want to put your best foot forward both stylistically and professionally.
Armed with an array of experience styling the entertainment industry, Emmy nominated wardrobe stylist Ashley Michelle Miller’s unique holistic approach sets her clients apart from the crowd. A leap of faith postgraduate school led Ashley down the yellow brick fashion road to New York City, where she styled everyone from talk show hosts to athletes and business professionals.
The art of connecting with her clients, working collectively to build their personal style and brand is at the heart of Ashley’s work, elevating wardrobes with both distinction and ease.
“There is no rule book,” says Ashley on the topic of personal style.
“What there is, is being able to present yourself in a way that you want people to see you and also so that you can be comfortable.”
Ashley sets her clients up for success by directing them to seek their closet for items that give them the “it” factor, whatever enables them to exude confidence. The next step is to then determine what elements of that look work for you to then replicate, so you have more ensembles that are an instant YES, rather than a hair pulling, resounding NO. A solid foundation and fit are the blueprint to a successful look, with additions like accessories and compliments of culture and color elevating your personal style to the next echelon.
“As people of color, we have such an amazing culture about us and vibe about us. Bring it into the professional wardrobe, don’t wait until the weekend. Go ahead, put that amazing blazer on with a vibrant color or pattern. That’s not only going to allow you to stand out and present yourself in a strong and bold way, it's going to give you confidence inside-out,” Ashley shares.
Color blocking two bright contrasting shades, Ankara printed suit wear, and accessories like a bold statement earring or tie are a few ways to incorporate vibrancy into your style selections for the summit or any other professional occasion.
Factors like weight gain and an extended period of not dressing up during the pandemic have given many fashion anxiety when facing the challenge of what to wear returning to office. Approaching your wardrobe and body image with both grace and fun make the step from work home lounge wear to office best dressed more manageable. Ashley suggests maintaining a sense of style and professionalism while working from home, so you can feel ready to present yourself at any time. Dig into your closet for a favorite structured piece to mix with a more leisurely one for a flexible dress for success from home fit.
Dressing for your present size, not past is key to maintaining confidence during times of uncertainty. Diving deep into your closet and trying on forgotten finds will help you determine what works for you currently and what doesn’t. Your oldies but goodies that aren’t fitting you in the moment can be stored for safekeeping, should you ever revisit that size.
When it comes to size of clothing, “nobody knows the difference, but what they do know is when you can’t breathe because it's too tight and you’re walking around and your skirt is too short or your suit is puckering, they notice those things. Be comfortable, be you, be natural,” says Ashley.
Focusing on what makes you look and feel good at any size is far more valuable to you than stressing over fluctuations in weight.
The “no business like show business” mantra has prepared Ashley to set those she dresses up to be their best selves, allowing them to focus on their performance in full confidence.
“Because of being in the industry, I’ve watched these people at higher levels really step out and be their best when they look good and feel good. The best look comes from when we really incorporate who you are as a person and your body type.”