“Clothes maketh the man” ~Mark Twain
“What’s all this fuss about image?”
“Why should I bother about my appearance at work? Surely it’s the quality and output of my work that really counts.”
“People should appreciate me for who I am on the inside, not for my clothes, the way I do my hair, or the fact I may have facial hair.”
“I’m unique, an individual and I’m not going to let anyone dictate how I should look or behave. If they don’t like me for who I am, that’s their problem.”
I’ve heard all these statements and more in my years of image consultancy, but the fact remains – image is important.
The saying ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’ may be true, but with thousands of books competing for your attention in every bookstore, those with poorly designed, unattractive or damaged covers will rarely attract enough attention to be looked at. It’s the same for people; we live in a fast moving, time-poor world. As a result we have come to rely on our heightened sense visual of perception. Few people have the time to truly get to know a person before passing judgment. Instead we take visual short cuts to assess what we see and match it subconsciously to stereotypes and our past experiences. This often ends up as a ‘gut feeling’, or intuition, whether to like, trust or want to do business with the person. The way a person dresses, moves and stands all tell the world a great deal about who they are, how they feel about themselves and others, where they have come from, and where they are headed.
The way you present yourself does matter. Your clothes as tools, which along with the Global Rule of Etiquette, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, can be used to improve your business and social life.
I want you to be able to look in the mirror and like what you see; when this happens you will instantly feel more empowered and you’ll feel your self-esteem and self-confidence rise. Within a short time you’ll feel motivated and capable to set, strive for, and achieve all the goals that you may have previously been reluctant to tackle.
A great image will also impact the people you work and socialize with. They will begin to see you in a new and positive light; your social and business relationships will improve and you’ll be recognized for the great way you present yourself today, and you may also find yourself being considered for exciting future opportunities.
At all times your clothes need to be:
- appropriate to your situation and/or occupation
- flattering to your physique
- current in style and coordination
- in a style that suits your personality and occupation
- in the best quality you can afford.
The first step in understanding that you can positively impact the opinions of others, especially in regard to what they think you’re capable of, is to accept the fact that people you meet will automatically accept the role that you have packaged yourself for. This said, your improved visual image will never replace your professional skills and work ethic. It will, however, afford you opportunities that a poorly presented person rarely receives. Looking after your image is termed ‘Impression Management’; it is the manipulation of your appearance, and interactions to suit a particular situation and gain a desired outcome. Your image will either enhance or detract from your abilities; it will either give you an advantage over your competitors or give them an advantage over you. Socially, as in business, we all want to deal with ‘people like us’. By managing your appearance and behavior you can attract the very people you want to do business or “socialize” with.
Your total image management relies on a mixture of Your Presence (how you look) and Your Protocol (how you act).
- Your Clothing
- Your Clothing Colors
- Your Style of Dress
- Your Hair
- Your Grooming
- Your Skin Care
- Your Accessories
- Your Entrance
- Your Posture
- Your Handshake
- Your Introduction
- Your Body Language
- Your Mannerisms
- Your Eye Contact
Lastly, keep everything in perspective. I’m sure that there’s much more going on in your life than your clothes. It’s important to know when they matter and when they don’t. Life is short and we are only given one chance to make the most of it. Who we are, how we think, what we do and how we act will be indelibly printed on those we influence. Vanity and pride, selfishness and greed all come from taking the importance of clothes, image and possessions to extremes.