Massage & Bodywork

July/August 2010

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ten for today BY REBECCA JONES DRESS FOR YOUR SUCCESS 1. Back in the day, massage therapists didn't need to spend much time worrying over what to wear to work. There were scrubs. There were sweats and T-shirts. Or there were khakis and polo shirts. And those who worked for spas just wore whatever polyester uniform they were issued. But as the profession has burgeoned, so has the spa fashion industry. Today, entire lines of fashionable uniforms in flattering styles and high-end fabrics— available to individual therapists as well as to spas that buy in bulk—are spiffing up massage therapists' appearances. Following are some things to consider, both when stocking your professional wardrobe and when just getting dressed in the morning. PROJECT A PROFESSIONAL APPEARANCE "The way you dress and how you create your environment is a reflection of the level of respect you have for your client," says Melinda Rand-Kenefic, a massage therapist, psychologist, and the owner of Celebro Natural Living, a boutique in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "Any person in the healing arts should want the client to feel honored and respected. So how you dress is not about you, it's not about wearing that funky tie-dye you love. It's about being compliant with your client." If you have tattoos, cover them up. And cover up that bare midriff and cleavage while you're at it. "Another big faux pas is hipster pants—showing the midsection," says Noel Asmar, chief executive officer for Spa Uniforms Inc., a boutique uniform company based in Vancouver, British Columbia. "These styles should be kept out of the professional area. It can make a client very uncomfortable and most likely question the professionalism of the practitioner or facility," he says. "You just don't want to show too much skin in any area," advises Amy Brooks, cofounder of Fianna Spa Fashions and a onetime esthetician and makeup artist in Denver. "Too much skin portrays something you don't want to portray. You don't want to give the wrong impression." 2. 78 massage & bodywork july/august 2010 COMFORT DOESN'T HAVE TO MEAN BAGGY "Always look for comfort," says Dorothy Szeto, designer and co- founder of Tao Freedom of the Body, a New York-based company that specializes in comfortable, functional clothing. "But don't just buy oversized clothes—especially if you're a larger woman. I say to large women that you don't have to be afraid just because something is formfitting. Buy things that flow across the body." For women, perfect pants tend to be harder to find than perfect tops. Rand-Kenefic has designed a unisex line called Super-Comfy Pants that are a relaxed fit, with a deep crotch and deep pockets. "The point is, you need to have an unconstrained fit so the pant can do any of the movements we need to do," she says. "From a massage therapist's point of view, that means being able to move unconstrained without having the crotch get in the way or the waist feeling too tight." Asmar, of Spa Uniforms, recommends a tailored uniform with plenty of stretch so the garments won't drape over clients during treatment. In short, just remember: sweat pants aren't the only option. 3. DIFFERENT COLORS PROJECT DIFFERENT MESSAGES Black is the most popular color for MT work attire, experts say. It looks professional, and it carries the additional benefit of hiding stains better than light colors. White is also a classic option. But both colors have their drawbacks. "Any soothing color—soft blue or soft green—is more relaxing for the senses," Brooks says. And white, in particular, may evoke a kind of clinical feel that you may want to avoid if you are not working at a clinic or your massages are meant for relaxation more than rehabilitation. Rand-Kenefic says neutral colors are the best choice, since one never knows what associations any given client might have with a particular color. "My feeling is, the least distracting you can be for the client, the better."

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