Manhattan Makeovers Blog for Attorneys, Businesspeople, and Artists

Blue Blues and Blue Rules

Colors can be your key to dressing for success, provided you know what the research says about how color affects people. Our clients are primarily professionals and artists, and they need to know which color suits, shirts, ties, and shoes will be most helpful for them in interacting with clients, associates, and even audiences, such as juries, boards of directors, and audiences at musical events. We have done a good amount of research into exactly how color can help or hinder the working lawyer, doctor, scientist, banker, accountant, and performing artist.

Take the color blue, for example. It is a ubiquitous color in the legal profession, and for good reason. There it is highly effective for most male and female attorneys. But how effective is it for bankers, accountants, and CPAs? Ah, there’s the rub! Interestingly, it is less effective for these professionals than gray. This is because men and women in gray suits inspire more confidence in people when it comes to money. They prefer a banker or financial advisor who is wearing a gray suit, and people generally attribute more competence to him or her, more integrity, and more ability to help them.

But this does not mean that blue is wrong for people in banking or for accountants. Blue can work for them, but it must be combined with the right color footwear, and the right hairstyle for maximum effectiveness. A blue suit often entices a man to wear brown shoes to look stylish. In actuality our research convincingly demonstrates that he is hurting his chances of success with brown shoes. The only color shoe a man should wear is black.

Women almost always make the mistake of trying to coordinate their footwear with their outfits. This leads to the significant mistake of wearing gray shoes with a gray suit, or blue shoes with a blue suit. While the latter might not be too objectionable, it is significantly less effective than black pumps would be on the same woman. The general rule is that a woman’s shoes should not match her outfit but should be rather darker than her suit color. And the only shoe that is effective for a woman attorney, banker, teacher, scientist, or doctor is the pump. End of story.

Artists, on the other hand, such as musicians, painters, and poets, have a greater ability to vary their outfits and footwear, and even their hairstyles. In fact, a poet who dresses like a banker might even be impeding his or her chances for success. In each case, we do specific testing with the client, we run focus groups, and we dress the client in various outfits and then test them with about a hundred subjects before we make our final recommendations. Only by testing can you be sure that an artist has discovered the most effective image. We call it the signature look since it should ideally vary from person to person, expressing something unique about them and their artistic vision.

You won’t hear us recommend the latest fashions, either. We’re not about what is fashionable, we’re all about what is effective. Especially when it comes to the color blue.

Patterns Can Help Or Hurt Your Image

Many professionals like to wear patterns in their shirts, suits, and accessories. Women often are attracted to dresses with patterns. But when these people wear patterns they are communicating, through the design, to everyone who sees them. The message that is contained in a pattern is very clearly on display, but almost none of our clients knows the meaning of that message. Most consumers, I would say more than 99.9 percent of them, have no idea of the meaning of the patterns. Yet their clothes still broadcast this message loud and clear to the subconscious of everyone who sees them.

Wouldn’t you like to know whether the message that you’re sending is positive or negative?

Patterns can help or hurt you depending on the meaning of the pattern. Unfortunately, no one learns about the meanings of patterns in school, and there are almost no resources that you can find to decipher the meanings of the patterns in dresses, shirts, ties, and suits. However, the good news is that Manhattan Makeovers has been researching the meaning of patterns for more than two decades, and we have worked with sociologists and psychologists, as well as cultural anthropologists, to decipher the meaning of the patterns in clothes.

wheel dress

Look at this image of a dress containing a pattern in the form of wheels. Whether or not you find it attractive, do you have any idea of the significance of this pattern? Many women would buy a dress like this, and there are some famous designers who also make dresses with this type of wheel pattern. These dresses often are quite expensive, and they seem to promise a glamourous aura to the women who purchase them.

Almost none of the women who wear this dress, however, will realize that they are displaying an image from the Middle Ages known as the crocodile tube. This ancient device was utilized to torture victims, and it often killed them. The victim would be fed into the crocodile tube, which consisted of sharp spikes, and you can see the remnants of those spikes in the inner circumference of the wheel patterns on this dress.

So what message is this dress and this pattern conveying to the people who see the wearer? To decipher this message is one of the things that Manhattan Makeovers does for clients. Cultural anthropologists have also helped us understand the subconscious message about bondage and enslavement conveyed in certain patterns in expensive necklaces and bracelets, wristwatches and rings.

When we work with you to enhance your image, we will help you avoid conveying the wrong or inappropriate message to clients, associates, and even to your dates and spouses. Certain patterns are effective, but many are going to be problematic. You may not know the message you’re sending, but we do, and we will help you send only the right message, thereby enhancing your image at work and play.

You can count on Manhattan Makeovers to help you select the best wardrobe items. The research we have conducted is second to none. Give us a call today to see how we can help you select patterns that will move you ahead in your career and your social life.

White Teeth and Your Image

All over America lawyers, doctors, bankers and other professionals and artists work to improve their image. They buy new suits, shoes, and get haircuts. But one thing they almost all fail to focus on is their smile. One of the reasons for this is that there is a lot of misinformation circulating about how to care for your teeth. People regularly brush with fluoride tooth paste, which is a big mistake. The Fluoride Deception by Christopher Bryson (2006) explains why. But an even bigger mistake people run into is that they brush and floss but still get dental decay and they don’t know why.

“I believe you can’t get cavities if you have a basic rather than acidic mouth,” my dentist told me recently. He’s an old-fashioned dentist who has been in practice for many years.

“How do I achieve that basic pH?”

“You can use baking soda,” he said.

If you rinse with baking soda you’ll leave your mouth fresh and with a basic rather than acidic pH. “The bacteria that are involved with causing cavities love acid, and every time we have acidic food or foods that bring down the pH of your mouth (carbohydrates are the most common) these bacteria wake up and become active starting the demineralization process (removal of minerals from your teeth). Having a less acidic or more basic oral environment keeps the bacteria in a more stagnant state while encouraging your teeth to accept more mineral into them.” (“Holistic Dental Care Tips.” 9/7/2016. The House of Dentistry.)

If you use water that is basic you will also be helping your teeth every time you drink it. The most basic water I know, which also tastes delicious, is Gerolsteiner Sparkling Mineral Water. It also has a high magnesium content, and most Americans are deficient in this important mineral.

Another tip to help your teeth is to stop using toothpaste that contains glycerin. Glycerin prevents your teeth from absorbing minerals because glycerin forms a coating on the enamel which is not a good thing. The only toothpaste that I know without glycerin is Earthpaste, and I recommend it highly to our clients.

In conclusion, you’ll improve your dental health by avoiding fluoride, avoiding glycerin toothpaste, and rinsing with baking soda to keep your mouth at a basic pH.

Hairstyle for young man

Women, please help us do fieldwork by sending your suggestions how this young man can improve his hairstyle and make it more attractive to women.

 

 

[Note: The client images were removed to protect our clients anonymity. Thank you to all who replied!]

By |February 1st, 2017|Wardrobe|1 Comment

Pump, heel, or flats – which is best for professional women?

The majority of professional women who come to us for image consultations are naturally interested in wearing shoes that will help them succeed on the job. But nine out of ten of these women are wearing the wrong shoes.

The first thing to keep in mind is that looking in fashion magazines, online, or in stores won’t help you find the best shoes. It’ll only expose you to paid advertisements from shoe manufacturers and designers, none of whom cares in the least about your success on the job. All they care about is moving merchandise and making women feel they need something new and trendy.

The truth is that trendy is ineffective. Just think about it for a moment and you’ll clearly realize that certain styles are NOT going to be effective at work. Very high heels, for instance. The only way to find out what works is to test the footwear, and this is precisely what Manhattan Makeovers has been doing for three decades.

One of the first things we discovered is that the pump is the most effective footwear for the professional–lawyers, doctors, bankers, accountants, and other white-collar jobs. It may sound boring, but the pump in a dark color conveys a subliminal message about your competence, integrity, and honesty. Our fieldwork and comparison tests are unequivocal on this point: your shoes communicate messages to your colleagues, clients, and customers.

The pump needs to have heels that are no more than two or two-and-a-half inches. They cannot be flats. Flats are ineffective at work. Your shoes also cannot be heels. They, too, are ineffective. Save them for the weekend or for dates.

Shoe and pump color for professional women

Probably the biggest mistake women make with their image is trying to match their shoe color to their outfits. Field tests demonstrate repeatedly that it is exponentially more effective to wear shoes that are at least two tones darker than your outfit. For the purpose of avoiding confusion: you don’t want to match the shoes, you want them to be darker.

What do I mean by “at least” two tones darker? This means that the shoes can be significantly darker and they’ll still be effective. For instance, you can wear a white suit and a black pump. You’ll be very effective with this combination.

Do your own shoe test

One final word of advice. I realize that you want to look fashionable. But if you want to be effective resist the temptation. The traditional pump will serve you well. You might want to do what our clients do and keep a reaction diary. See how colleagues, clients, and customers react when you wear dark pumps as opposed to how you’re treated in heels that match your outfits.

Our clients sell more, experience less friction in court, and report better all-around responses with colleagues and associates.

 

How to choose a hat or fedora

Today fewer people are wearing hats than in the 1950s or 1960s. But this is actually GOOD for YOU because if you do wear a hat you will stand out from the crowd. In effect, a hat can help you develop a signature style.

What is a signature style? Just think of Tom Wolfe with his white suits, Truman Capote with his hats, or Tennessee Williams with his signature cigarette holder. Every celebrity, writer, or actor who has a signature style becomes more memorable in the public eye. By wearing a hat today, you can develop a sophisticated look that can help you boost your visibility and name recognition. And remember, hats look great in photos, too.

So how do you select a good hat?

First, you need to go to a good hat store. There, you will find a selection and a sales force that can help you.

Second, you want to look at some of your favorite writers, poets, singers, or politicians who wear hats. My favorite is William S. Burroughs, which is why I chose a fedor similar to the ones he used to wear. It’s easy to find photos of your favorite hat wearer online. Print the photos and take them to the store with you.

Try the hats in the store, so that you achieve a look that matches the photos of the person you admire.

My recommendation is to buy a hat in a good hat store, not a supermarket. Supermarket hats are cheaply made, will not last, and are not in a classic design in most cases.

Don’t be afraid to spend up to two or three hundred dollars for a good hat. Such a hat will last twenty years or more. This comes to only ten or fifteen dollars a year when you look at the lifetime of the hat.

If you need help selecting a hat, we can also suggest that you go to J.J. Hat Center in Manhattan. We have no affiliation with them, but they’re the oldest hat store in the world, and in my opinion one of the best. We can take you there and help you decide on a signature look.

 

 

Coffee and Writers – a new survey

coffeeCoffee helps many writers increase their productivity. Some of the most prolific and successful modern writers have relied on coffee, including Honoré de Balzac, William Faulkner, Ayn Rand, and Jack Kerouac. When we look at the production of these authors, we often find that they were drinking copious amounts of coffee during their most intense writing periods. In fact, Jack Kerouac famously said that he wrote On the Road on coffee. He told his friend Neal Cassady that he, too, should drink coffee when writing. Although Cassady wasn’t a writer, Kerouac was always trying to get his friends to write, and he raved about the way coffee helped him finish his books in record time.

There are some interesting new findings about coffee that all writers should pay attention to, especially the recent genetic findings. According to the latest research, people are either rapid, average, or slow metabolizers of caffeine. Rapid metabolizers clear the drug significantly more quickly from their system. This means they also have a greater tolerance for coffee.

This research also indicates that rapid caffeine metabolizers will not experience an increased risk of nonfatal heart attacks, the way slow metabolizers will if they drink more than two cups a day. About 30 percent of people are rapid caffeine metabolizers. I found out that I was, too, by taking a fun genetic test from 23andMe.

If you haven’t taken the genetic test, but you still wish to know whether you’re a rapid caffeine metabolizer, just ask yourself whether you tolerate coffee well. If it keeps you up all night, if it causes you jitters if you just take a few sips, or if it makes you overly anxious, you’re probably a slow metabolizer. But if, on the other hand, you can have one, two, or even three cups during the day, without feeling overly jittery, then you’re likely to be in that 30 percent of the population who are rapid caffeine metabolizers. The good news is that if you’re a writer, you can still enjoy the beneficial effects of coffee if you just drink one or two cups, even if you’re a slow metabolizer. Rapid caffeine metabolizers can drink considerably more.

Jack Kerouac was almost certainly a rapid caffeine metabolizer because he would think nothing of having four cups of coffee at a time.

If you write for a living, or even if you just enjoy writing (such as on your blog), please take my new Writers and Coffee Survey. This short survey will help me with my new book about how writers use coffee to be more productive. The survey will only take a couple of minutes, and you’ll be redirected back to this website after you finish. Thank you!

References

  1. Cornelis MC, El-Sohemy A, Kabagambe EK, Campos H. “Coffee, CYP1A2 genotype, and risk of myocardial infarction.” JAMA. 2006;295(10):1135-1141.
  2. Nikolopoulos, Stephanie, and Paul Maher Jr. 2013. Burning Furiously: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (Alternately titled: The Saga of Young Jack Kerouac and Jack Kerouac’s American Journey) Morrisville, NC.

 

 

By |January 5th, 2016|Health|0 Comments

Photography and Image

Lewis Mason in Greenwich Village

Lewis Mason in Greenwich Village

Jack Kerouac sat down and wrote The Subterraneans in three days, hopped up on coffee and Dexedrine, not stopping to lift his fingers off the typewriter, pounding the keys at sixty words a minute, and telling the world all about his crazy relationship with a black girl named Mardou Fox . . . and his friends Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs and Neal Cassady and omitting commas like crazy so that he could get the words down and not pause to create any typographical effects instead creating all the effects he needed with the words themselves and the way he had the people talking and interacting and living their lives. You know if you know anything about him that Kerouac created and lived in a world that was fresh and vibrant and in high definition like a sharp image that burns through time and comes down to us fresh and pristine and the beauty of it is that although his time has come and gone the way he lived is still available to us and can be recaptured and is being recaptured by a new group of young people in Greenwich Village even today . . . and for what it’s worth I’m going to give you some photos of them so that you can catch up on what’s happening and get inspired to maybe get behind the lens of a camera and create your own 1960s images in black and white, which is what Kerouac and friends did with their lives, creating an image of the Beat generation that has captivated the interest of people the world over.

Here for example is a photo of one of these young people who can be found in the Village at all hours of the day and night in coffeehouses and cafes and pizza places and open mic clubs like The Bitter End and Cafe Wha? and others in the West Village. This is Lewis Mason, an up-and-coming actor and singer/songwriter who is currently enrolled in the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York City and who associates with the habitués of theaters and clubs, creating work on the run and honing his writing skills and reading books and poems and plays in a way that most of his generation do not do today. The unfortunate state of affairs in the year 2015 is that there has been such a sharp decline in the reading of literature. The NEA recently issued a dire report on the sad state of American reading, Reading at Risk (2004), which explains that not only is book reading on the decline but the drop in reading is accelerating.

Lewis Mason at the Bitter End

Lew outside the Bitter End

Why get worked up over the decline in the reading of literature? Because if you’re a young person in America today they’re writing books about you (!) and speaking in unflattering terms about the dumbing down of the current crop of college and high school students, recent grads, working people, and almost everyone else. There’s a book that you have to read entitled The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30) by Mark Bauerlein, a professor of English at Emory University, and the reason the subtitle says “don’t trust anyone under thirty” is obviously because they don’t read and they don’t know the history of the culture they find themselves in, they have close to zero cultural literacy, and they lack a common understanding of their own culture. It’s a crying shame and it’s enough to make you want to tell your friends and family to click off the TV and the computer and the tablets and the cell phones and open a book, for heaven’s sake, read something and don’t just text your life away or fritter away your time with so-called social media, all of which, Bauerlein persuasively argues, is sapping the culture out of you like a vampire draining a corpse. E.D. Hirsch had a similar criticism of the vacuity of his students and actually wrote a book, Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know (1988) listing, like a dictionary, all the things they did not know.

Lewis Mason at The Bitter End looking up

Lewis Mason

Anyway, the key point is that if you want to preserve your intelligence and integrity as a member of contemporary culture—with a link to it’s deep core and roots—then you owe it to yourself to develop an understanding of that culture’s literature, specifically, novels, poems and plays, and start reading books. People who do that, according the the NEA study, are also more likely to attend arts events, go to the theater, visit museums, and become engaged with their community on a political level. Good photography is another way for you to participate. You could take photos or have them taken of you. Whichever you do, you’re likely to experience a boost in your self-image and become part of the artistic culture that is flourishing again in the Village. I encourage you to let people photograph you and to contact a professional photographer to help get your image on the move again. While you’re at it, stop in at a few of the bookstores in the Village. Lewis Mason even works at one, called bookbook, on Bleecker Street. Go in and buy a book and support the few bookstores that are left in this city.

Lewis Mason door NYC

Lew on 5th Ave.

By the way, The Subterraneans is a superlative novel, short and full of interesting observations, despite how fast it was written. Yes, Truman Capote famously said of Kerouac’s method of not editing his first drafts, “That’s not writing, that’s typing,” but the book still comes close to D.H. Lawrence in my opinion. And another thing, you might as well know it, John Giorno is still working and writing great poems in the Village. He was an associate of the Beats and was one of them, and has the most amazing delivery of poetry. I love his poem “Just Say No to Family Values.” You can catch him sometimes at the Bowery Poetry Club, which has devolved into a burlesque joint but which apparently metamorphoses into the old poetry club two nights a week.

Here is a list of books that, in my opinion, you should be reading:

  • Dynamic Speed Reading a nonfiction work by Norman C. Maberly (1966). You can get this book used for one cent on Amazon (plus $3.99 shipping), so you really have no excuse not to read it. It will enable you to absorb useful information like a sponge and you’ll be able to read very fast when you want to. If you’re already read this book, I suggest you reread it. It is one of the most important books you will ever read precisely because it will make you less afraid of reading.
  • The Subterraneans a novel by Jack Kerouac. Written in 1958, it is more modern than your iPhone and very short. Why not read it! Then you can boast to your friends that you’ve read Kerouac. The book dips into the love lives of Kerouac (called Leo Percepied in the novel), Allen Ginsberg (called Adam Moorad in the novel), William S. Burroughs (Frank Carmody in the novel), and more.
  • The Birthday Party, a play by Harold Pinter. The link is to the BBC production, starring the playwright, Harold Pinter. You’re lucky because today many great plays can be seen in their entirety on YouTube, including this one.
  • A Clockwork Orange, a novel by Anthony Burgess (1962). The novel uses a lot of Russian words and is about a violent boy who loves Beethoven.
  • Any book by Wilhelm Reich. Not to have read this man is to miss a liberating intellectual and emotional experience.
  • Any book by Friedrich Nietzsche. The writing is breathtaking, the ideas as well. You might start with Ecce Homo, his hilariously funny autobiography, which contains chapters entitled, “Why I Am So Wise,” “Why I Write Such Excellent Books,” and the like. The link is to the book online. Even if you don’t want to read it, why not at least click on the link and look at his writing style. This man, who has a reputation as one of the greatest philosophers of all time, is not difficult to read. On the contrary, he writes more clearly and with more excitement line by line than anything being published today.
  • The Armies of the Night a nonfiction novel by Norman Mailer (1968). A beautiful account of his antiwar efforts, the first part of the book is the best.
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1972) by Hunter S. Thompson, which is a comic novel about a journalist who covers a police narcotics convention while high on every imaginable drug. This is an example of gonzo journalism, in which the author stretches the truth for comic effect.

There are more books that I’ll add to the list at a later time, but this is a good start.

(Photos by William Cane)