“Your personal style should be true to you and your brand.” Daymond John, Shark Tank
A 2006 Princeton University study found that it takes just one-tenth of a second to make judgments about a person. Judgments — on measures of attractiveness, likeability, trustworthiness, competence, and professionalism. One of the elements judged was wardrobe or, what we call in the personal brand world, self-packaging.
Personal brand concepts teach that self-packaging is crucial to a successful brand and that’s where wardrobe comes in to play. This ISN”T a ‘what to wear’ post because proper business attire varies greatly by profession, culture and climate. This article IS specifically about how to reflect an aligned brand identity through your appearance and wardrobe.
Your Wardrobe & Brand Alignment
Three years ago I was in the audience at a conference. The speaker was a VERY well known speaking coach. As he took the stage I noticed that his dress shirt was tucked in on one side, but not the other. His jacket was rumpled and he actually drew attention to it, commenting on the fact that it was wrinkled because he had been traveling. As you might imagine, I was distracted by his haphazard appearance, but it wasn’t just me. The woman behind me whispered to her friend that she was distracted by his shirt being untucked and wanted to fix it for him. Apparently I wasn’t alone. The speaker went on to talk about your first impression as a speaker and how to gain instant credibility. Not good.
You see, his wardrobe was not in alignment with his message and that created a disconnect, an inconsistency. Undoubtedly, some of the audience was distracted and not able to fully focus on his message which was a good one. What came out of his mouth was not in alignment with his appearance.
Another great example is my client (we’ll call her) Susan. Susan is a nutritionist and promotes a vegan lifestyle for health reasons and because kind treatment of animals is important to her. In building her wardrobe, I steered her away from leather shoes, belts, handbags because there was a disconnect between her belief system and how she was representing it with her appearance. Now, everything she wears is animal friendly.
Is your style in alignment with your brand? One last note I would be remiss to mention is that regardless of the style that aligns with your brand, your clothes should ALWAYS be clean and pressed, your shoes polished and your handbag in great condition!
Dressing for success includes more than just choosing the right outfit. To complete your professional look you should also consider your personal grooming. Professional grooming is focused on subtleties that enhance your appearance, not overpower it.
*Keep your hair cut, color and style fresh and current
*Keep your nails well manicured, simple and business appropriate
*Keep your skin healthy and brows shaped
*Keep your makeup clean, simple and appropriate for daytime. Wearing too much is worse than none at all.
*Keep your scent VERY subtle, if at all. Avoid wearing perfume and heavily-scented products in business settings.
Appearance is a key principal of the work I do with my personal clients. Addressing appearance doesn’t have to be a completely different look. While some want a complete makeover, others are simply fine tuning the details to uplevel and sophisticate their image. Demonstrating that you care about your personal appearance communicates to your client or audience that they are important to you. Paying careful attention to the details of your appearance conveys that you will also pay close attention to business details and the needs of your customers and clients.