The team in Montreal made over two advisors, Josée Jeffrey and Denis Preston. The goal was for the advisors to maintain professional appearances while still being stylish. The transformation orchestrated by LOULOU fashion director Claude Laframboise, won them over without breaking the bank.

Tax expert and independent financial planner Josée Jeffrey is a radiant fifty-something looking to project an image of elegance, confidence and professionalism to her clients. “To that end,” she admits, “my wardrobe choices are rather classic.” Jeffrey runs her own firm, Focus Retraite & Fiscalité Inc.

Claude Laframboise, fashion director at LOULOU, is up for the challenge. “I’m here to broaden her horizons while staying true to her personality and the demands of her professional life.”

The makeover occurs at The Bay on Sainte-Catherine Street in Montreal. Jeffrey arrives wearing a brown dress paired with a jacket in similar hues. After speaking with her, Laframboise and his team select pants, printed skirts, and tops in Jeffrey’s favourite colours of fuchsia, purple, blue, and black.

After trying on several outfits, a floral print dress paired with a navy jacket is declared the clear winner. The jacket’s reverse collar and two gilded zippers add a touch of conservativeness and originality. Cream-coloured pumps tie everything together.

“Typically, I wouldn’t have chosen this dress, because of the print; I let myself be guided by my taste and by Claude’s advice,” she says.

“Often, with financial advisors, there’s this idea that you have to remain classic in order to look professional, but it’s possible to add fashion elements to your work wardrobe by playing with colour, cut, and print,” Laframboise reminds us.

Comfortable in her outfit, Jeffrey says she feels chic and admits that she “would go to work like this.”

Laframboise agrees. “Look at her, the dress hugs her curves ever so slightly. This gives it both a modern and a professional flair, all at once. At the end of her work day, she could easily slip off the jacket and head out for dinner. The cut allows for this kind of daring move.”

A little bit of magic

Our next candidate is Denis Preston, 54, a busy financial planner. An independent instructor for the Institut québécois de planification financière (IQPF) and the Chambre de la sécurité financière, he also lectures on insurance and accounting at the HEC Montréal. In addition, he regularly makes court appearances as an expert witness.

“Generally, I opt for a suit without a tie, unless I’m in court, where more formal attire is expected. When I’m teaching, my jackets don’t always match my pants.” His wish? “To get the best possible return on my investment. I want to look smart but casual.”

Laframboise delivers. His choice of a fitted blue checked jacket with right-side ticket pocket has everything to make it both fashionable and professional. By pairing it with an air-force-blue pant and a blue dress shirt, he showcases the versatility of this colour to great effect. With its clean lines, this outfit charms while commanding respect.

“In my opinion, this style reflects his personality rather well,” says Laframboise. “The monochrome blue palette elongates, and the fitted jacket and pants highlight Denis’s slender silhouette. Blue is also a very flattering colour on him. The brown shoes bring out the hue of the pants.”

Preston is astounded by the transformation. “Like any planner, I want to project an image of seriousness to my clients. I would wear this to work with no hesitation.”

All about image

Erika Quimper, an instructor specializing in business communication, says, “In the world of financial services, we talk about money, which is always an emotional subject. In the eyes of the client, our clothing choices indirectly communicate our credibility. If the advisor projects the right image during a meeting, the client is reassured.”

How do you know if you’re projecting the right image? Esther Pelchat, who advises on business etiquette and protocol, says, “This starts with clothing being ironed and in good condition (watch for threadbare collars) and by wearing colours that suit you. And, if you’re questioning your sense of style, don’t hesitate to call a stylist. Your outfits must reflect your position and personality, but also be appropriate for your age and body type.”

Dressing yourself is not a science, and yet, for at least the past 10 years, “we’ve seen a loss of reference points and a certain relaxing of standards in professional dress.” Laframboise says that the absence of company dress codes and “casual Fridays” have contributed to this phenomenon. For example, “a suit jacket worn with jeans is in poor taste. It’s not a sports coat!”

Pelchat says, “A financial services advisor will subconsciously alter the way he works if he feels his outfit is work appropriate. For example, he might feel more in control of his work and have a more professional attitude with his clients. Even the tone of his voice can be different.” Even though clothes don’t make the man, they can definitely have an impact.

Clothing and accessories on loan from The Bay, 585 Sainte-Catherine West, Montreal. Photos also produced by The Bay.

Photography credits (other than Advisor staff)
Photographer: Maude de Varennes
Make-up/hair: Julie Plante (Judy Inc.)
Stylist: Claude Laframboise
Assistant stylists: Jessica Dunberry and Laurence Labrie