What does peer mentoring have to do with a style mentor?

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Peer Mentoring Who is Your Style Mentor Ellen Ensher olivia popeEverybody needs peer mentoring or a style mentor. I had two experiences recently that led me to this revelation. First, I flew from the West Coast to the East Coast recently which gave me the chance to watch 10 hours of Scandal and Suits uninterrupted. This experience made me feel both guilty (for not being more productive, intellectual, or whatever) and also incredibly happy to have 10 hours of no one interrupting me! Yet in fact, a valuable insight emerged from this experience.  While watching these shows I decided that the lead characters Olivia, a Washington DC power broker on Scandal, and Jessica, a managing partner at a law firm on Suits, are my new inspirational style mentors. Check out these links for a view of my Style Mentors: Jessica Pearson and Olivia Pope 

Secondly, when I got home I took my 11-year-old son back-to-school shopping and discovered that my formerly laidback Target shopper has turned into a fashionista over night! Mark now has a burgeoning fashion awareness and is looking for his inspirational style mentors. He looks to his surf instructor, the Disney Channel kids, and even me for inspiration and peer mentoring advice. I would describe Mark’s fashion style as sort of surfer-style meets the Disney color wheel so sort of like a chic beachy clown vibe … anyway- it is evolving! The point is my little boy is growing up, looking around, and seeing who he wants to be like style-wise. To an almost tween, style matters—a lot.

Is this whole idea of a style mentor just a frivolous shallow Los Angeles thing? Perhaps, but I think not. And don’t get me wrong I still believe that developing one’s character and core competencies along with employing mom’s advice to not judge a book by its cover are extremely important. However, the power of style cannot be discounted, perhaps especially so for women peer mentoring as there are so many conflicting choices for what to wear at work and so much judgment passed on our female leaders. In fact, there is a well developed body of research on the importance of clothing and style communicating status and competency. Moreover, Sylvia Hewlett, a well-known business writer, has some interesting ideas about the importance of developing executive presence. I think being a successful professional is about being your best self at work and if your style can help communicate that to others, why not leverage that tool? So, today look around where you work, notice who has a style you would like to emulate, and ask yourself- who are your style mentors?

Image Credit: hollywoodlife.com