Dressing for Success in the Corporate Setting
Even before you open your mouth to speak your clothes say a lot about you. In the business, especially the corporate world, we would want our appearance to say “I’m competent, I’m professional, and you can trust me,” but how can we go about achieving this?
Psychologists call this control of image we present to others “impression management.” First impression management is not a new thing. People of high status have traditionally worn crowns, headdresses or distinctive outfits, while hunters decorated themselves with the horns or teeth of animals they have slaughtered.
As corporate professionals in the modern age, the aim is not at the outlandish or fashionable clothing, but at clothes which speak with authority, dignity, and good taste. It is good to invest in quality, not quantity, especially if money is a great concern.
Dressing appropriately is essential for developing poise, self-confidence, and self-esteem. The moment someone looks at you, he or she begins to make value judgments as to your economic and educational level, trustworthiness, social position, sophistication, and moral character. Whether we like it or not, it is a reality that we have to face.
The overall appearance of an individual can trigger an immediate response in the onlooker. The movie industry has long known this. The late Edith Head, grand dame of Hollywood couture, created glamorous attire for film stars and won eight Oscars, strongly believing that clothes make the person. She had that unique talent and skill to create wardrobes to package stars for their situation, time and place.
Clothing, which covers 80 to 90 percent of the body, reflects a person’s inner self. For this reason, you should dress for where you would like to be in life, not for where you are now. Think about what your appearance to say about you. By packaging yourself to achieve specific goals and objectives, you can contribute significantly to your success. It is rare for a person to get promoted if he doesn’t look the part. Is your image working for you?
In determining your effect on people, the way you dress is every bit as important as the way you act and speak. Not only can proper dressing help uplift your credibility; it may even determine how far you go in life.
Here are a few suggested guidelines:
• Choose clothes that are comfortable, versatile, and affordable. Your garments should speak of quality, not quantity.
• Avoid impulse shopping or buying. Make sure you try on any garment first before buying it. What looks good on the mannequin may not look as good on you.
• Start by building on an already successful wardrobe.
• Keep your clothes in good repair, impeccably cleaned, and you will find that they will provide you with that sensible, serviceable, long-lasting look you are striving for.
• Keep 70 percent of your clothes seasonless. Build first on solid colors that project the real you, then graduate into plaids, checks, stripes, etc. The best seasonless fabric is a 55 percent wool and 45 percent polyester blend.