Raise Your Game

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Your image and the way you dress is a powerful tool

Some may dismiss dressing and style as unimportant, frivolous and perhaps a bit shallow.  Not so.  Studies show that our first impressions of other people are made within 7 seconds of meeting them.  Also, our initial perceptions of people influence our interpretation of their later behaviour because of our - possibly misguided - expectations. First impressions are hard to change.

Stylish Work Outfit

Your image is powerful.  It is widely recognised that attractive people are immediately assumed to have a good personality and more skills than someone who just looks ‘average’.  This is known as the halo effect.  I’m not saying you need to be of supermodel ilk to reach the top of your game (just look at some of our politicians!) but you can make the absolute best of what you have.  Your efforts will quickly register with others and they will naturally assume other positive things about you too.  It’s not just the effect you will have on others either, crucially if you look good you feel good and that increases self esteem and helps you to perform better.

We are talking about your Personal Brand and stepping back to have a good look at how you come across to others is time well spent.  What is your professional presence and is it right for where you want to be?  Ask yourself what message your clothes and grooming are sending.  Are you creative, approachable, authoritative or corporate?  Is your star rising at work and have you adjusted your appearance to fit?

By not paying attention to the way you dress and its impact in the workplace, you could unwittingly be causing negative bias.  However, this is entirely unnecessary and something you can easily change.

 

So how can men and women dress well to communicate the right impression?

Women have moved on in the office environment from the days of power-suit dressing. There is no need to wear a pin striped trouser suit and stripy shirt to match from Thomas Pink.  However, if you like the mannish look then go for it but it can look a bit dated if done wrong. Power dressing was popularised in the 80’s to make the wearer seem authoritative and competent but these days that effect can still be achieved in a more feminine way. You can inject personality into the way you dress and still look professional.  Shift dresses are a good example, patterned or plain with a smart tailored blazer over the top.  If I were to generalise here then a classic look would always work, pearls, knitted woollen dress, great tailoring.

Men, the rules remain largely the same for the corporate fields.   Make sure your suit is in the standard corporate colours (black, dark grey or navy still lead the field).  You need at least three good fitting suits that are in top condition and are dry cleaned regularly.  Personality can be shown in colourful shirt and tie combinations or plush suit linings but steer clear of novelty ties and socks, you are trying to look professional not like an embarrassing uncle at Christmas. The exception to these rules would be in a creative environment in which case dressing without some flair could perhaps cast judgements on your creativity.

For both sexes, learning to choose the right colours to suit your skin tone is vital, and obviously, grooming is essential too - cleanliness, neat hair, polished shoes no chipped nail varnish etc…

Communication is a powerful tool for success.   Learn how to communicate yourself in the best way non-verbally, and by using the power of dress you will be creating the right impression, influencing others positively, increasing your self-esteem and overall, raising your game.

Lisa Gillbe

09/11/11

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