When I am image consulting with businesspeople it’s not usually that they don’t know what to wear or have personal style – it’s often that they are confused. They’ll wear what they think is appropriate for the office and may end up looking and feeling dowdy, or are too “time poor” to shop and plan outfits so will grab the first thing off the wardrobe rack.
How you look and dress does impact your leadership brand image. We are all “on show” to a certain extent particularly in our world of social and virtual media. It’s great to look and feel good no matter what your role or style and to express the best version of you. Long gone are strict dress codes in the workplace – unless you are required to wear a uniform – it’s more about putting yourself together so you look modern and professional.
Visual communication sends a message, as well of course when you say something – verbal communication. As a leader these two areas are part and parcel of being seen, heard and noticed. I like to call it personal PR – how you look, what you say and how you interact with others with confidence are leadership attributes that can be harnessed by any professional. It is this subtle influence that will help you be seen as a person of authority.
Where style and substance meets confidence and combined will empower your personal leadership brand.
Consider these suggestions to harness the look of a leader.
Style Personality. Classic and corporate – maybe not. And certainly not if you feel uncomfortable. Most people I work with fit into the classic or natural category. Yet there are many style types including elegant, romantic, creative, dramatic, rebellious and even sexy. Knowing your style preference and adding that extra edge without being completely over the top will give you extra clothes confidence and chutzpah.
Where you Work. When I was a student actor many years ago one teacher said he never ironed his clothes. It was obvious! And he wasn’t wearing Italian linen, subtly crushed. It didn’t matter as that was his style expression and it was part of the “image” that was suitable for that environment. Had he been going to a meeting to get investor funding for the studio, it might have been a different story as he could have been perceived as someone who didn’t care. In a business environment or on-stage speaking or anywhere else where you are “on-show” as a leader, consider the impression you want to leave on others.
First Impression. Head and shoulders rule. Half of the time half of our body is missing from the big picture. We’re noticed first online. Recruiters, potential clients and often the public will see our profile picture before they meet or see us in person. Use flattering, up-to-date photographs to showcase you and use high impact, colour contrast to stand out. Experiment with what you look “wow” in rather than default to black and white.
Colour. Colour is one element that can lift you; help express your signature look and reflect your personal or business brand.
Psychologists and colour consultants say that the colours you choose to wear express more about your personality and mood than you think. How are you feeling? Full of life, creative and confident enough to take on the world? Chances are you are wearing something red. If you are feeling indifferent, or distant, you are probably dressed in black. Now that’s got your attention, as most of us in the business world tend to have our wardrobes dominated by black.
Black is also a colour of authority, elegance and power. But do you realise bright colours always make you feel happier! And can have a positive effect on customers and clients.
Choose colours that flatter you and your personal colouring and that help you to appear healthy and dynamic to have brand image impact.
If you would like to Learn more about image and personal brand, sign up for the free video series, NOOK, LOOK, HOOK 3 Steps to Build a Stand Out Personal Brand.
Sue Currie is a speaker and the author of IMPRESSario, Present and Promote the Star Within You. She is passionate about helping business executives and entrepreneurial professionals elevate their personal brand, image and professional presence. Sue’s suite of image management services delivered through workshops, consulting, coaching and keynote presentations provides a multi-faceted approach to gain high transformation for her clients.