Professional & Personal Image: Power Up Your Look!

Do you sometimes hide behind your imperfections or perhaps hide your image altogether? Some may sneak behind sunglasses or long bangs; others may be wearing boxy clothing regardless of their size. Some hide behind the ala natural look. Regardless of what keeps you from presenting your whole self to the outside world, you can power-up your look by focusing on your strengths.

Many of us struggle with an inner voice constantly trying to recreate reality to suit our own personal preferences. Statistics tell us however, that as a rule, people will both believe and invest in you if you first believe and invest in yourself. It is not just about what you wear; it is about demonstrating through nonverbal communication what you want to say about your inner being to the rest of the world. And it’s not just about clothes and accessories. It’s also about the way you walk into a room, the way you hold your head, the expressions you make, or even the way you sit. And finally, it is about how you wear your clothes and how you complete a look. It’s about giving yourself a competitive edge when needed.

This image is something you convey without telling others a word about yourself. So, who are you? And how do you get there? Consider a few of my favorite questions to ask oneself from Robert Pante’s Success Checklist:
• “Do you always feel like you are dressed appropriately?”
• “Do you feel comfortable around people who are well-dressed?”
• “Is the daily act of getting dressed a pleasure?”
• “Is every item hanging in your closet something that makes you feel good about yourself?”
• “Is your physical presentation working for you in attaining your goals?”
• “Do you feel that you have put 100% in every area of your presentation? Hair? Makeup? Grooming? Body? Clothing?”

Each of these questions is important when it comes to helping one power-up their inner being through their physical presentation. CNN did a survey and found 81% of responders take a person more seriously when dressed in business attire. Now add that 81% to another study that showed that women who apply makeup in a tasteful manner receive 20% more income over all and that people perceive them as being happier and more competent. And further, that a woman that wears no makeup is perceived as having low self esteem. Now are you ready to get an edge up and truly power-up your overall look?

If you have ever put something on and thought, “no one will notice that stain”? Or, “It really should be cleaned but maybe just one more wear won’t matter … ”? Or how about, “Surely no one really cares if I ironed the wrinkles out?” Or “If I don’t sit down in front of anyone I’ll be fine?” Ever thought, “What I wear should not be more important than how I perform?” Consider those you know that are always dressed well … does it seem fluid or effortless on their part? And consider what you are thinking even now about that person. All they did was dress to influence your mind in a positive way and so obviously succeeded. They don’t go through the day wishing they had worn something else, dreading if a client stops in unexpectedly or the boss wants them to go to lunch or stand in for him in a meeting. They are ready to tackle whatever business challenges come their way without wasting time on what their outward appearance is portraying. They know they are conveying authority and confidence.

To power-up your look, make a list of the following questions:

• What upcoming meetings do you have?
• What do you expect those you are meeting with to be wearing and what may their expectations be of you?
• What community activities do you have in the near future where you may be making business connections?
• What social events?
• What do you want to achieve out of each of these occasions?

“First know what looks project power for your career … and what is appropriate in your workplace,” says Sherry Maysonave, one the most quoted In today’s economy, the stakes are even higher to keep up an edge as well as the need to make wise investments when making a purchase. First make a list of what you truly need by doing a closet audit. Then, compile a budget, decide which stores will best fit your need (as well as your budget) and then always buy the best quality you can afford. The best quality is not always attached to a pricey tag. Coco Chanel once said, “Fashion is made to become unfashionable.” What is important is that you develop a sense of individual style that speaks to who you are within the confines of your work environment.

How to Develop a Power Look

• have a black or navy suit made of quality fabric that is tailored to fit your body
• select blouses that do not convey a social attitude – no gap at buttons, no sleeveless tops if you will be removing your jacket, collared blouses are best
• jewelry should be tasteful and not noisy when worn
• shoes must be well-maintained and should be closed-toed
• handbag and briefcase should also be well-maintained and handbag should complement what you are wearing … it does not have to match your shoes (however if wearing a belt, it must match your shoes!)
• a good haircut that you can style and maintain
• cover your legs and wear hose! (This is a tough one especially in Austin in the heat of the summer.) If you disagree with this one, refer to the questions we asked above and think about what outcome you are expecting. Then ask yourself, “In that environment, would a man wear socks?” Bare legs communicate a different social connotation, so keep in mind what you are trying to accomplish. Then ask yourself if without them are you presenting yourself in the most powerful light?
• Foundations – if you have lost or gained 10 or more pounds, you need to be refitted. The bonus is when foundations fit correctly, it can make a woman look like she has lost weight! It most certainly makes your clothes look more presentable on the body.

Although many of us here in Austin do not work in what could be termed a “more formal” work environment, the need to keep your look powered-up still applies. We have definitely entered into what is also termed “business casual” in most work environments, so we will explore this world further in February, discussing how to wear business casual and still maintain a power image.

And always remember: “Less is sometimes more. One can never go wrong with simple elegance.”