Your image is a walking business card communicating who you are as a professional. For optimal impact, you want to be sure you make very focused and conscious choices about the messages your image ‘business card’ is transmitting, noting especially if it is aligned with your professional aspirations. Your appearance is your expression to others about who you are and what you stand for. The way you look reflects your self image, attitude, confidence and state of mind. A strong, purposeful presence is the hallmark of an effective image. When you look good (and you know it), you naturally feel more confident. You tend to radiate an aura of effortless positive energy which becomes contagious and magnetic. Others will be drawn to you and respond with the same positive energy that you yourself project.
As a professional image consultant I’ve worked with many women who find themselves stuck wearing a variation of a “uniform” to work. They are bored, uninspired and quite frankly, frustrated with their wardrobe choices and inability to have the presence at work they desire. I get it. So I want to share a few tips with you (just in case the notion of a uniform sounds familiar) to help. Here are seven effective ways to immediately enhance your professional image so you look polished and pulled together and feel absolutely confident!
- 1.Invest in quality pieces. Your clothing is an important career investment. Look for timeless, well made designs and mix these up with more stylish accents based on your personal style. What you wear and the way you treat yourself dictates how others will treat you. If you dress like a winner and act like a winner, people will treat you like one.
- 2. Image is so much more than the clothes you wear. It is your total package including your clothing, but equally as important, how you accessorize, how groomed you are, your poise and posture, non verbal cues, your ability to maintain eye contact, and so much more. Do you know how are you stacking up? Being honest about the answer to this question is critical.
- 3.You are a walking business card which conveys a personal brand whether you are aware of it or not. Whether you are an upwardly mobile professional, a senior executive with a high profile position, an entrepreneur, speaker or someone in the public eye, once you are representing a company or interacting with customers, clients or your followers in any way, you better believe you’re a brand. This means that your image is communicating important messages about your product and/or service just as your marketing collateral is. Is your personal brand in synch with your company’s brand? Think about it and modify accordingly.
- 4.I can never emphasize enough the importance of using color strategically. Colors convey their own ‘energy’ and you need to understand how to use colors in business to achieve different outcomes. Dark colors like black and navy blue, convey seriousness, “all business” and authority. Brown, while professional, has less authority than black or navy and engenders reliability and security. Pastels colors are soft and convey approachability and femininity. And red communicates strength, confidence, command and assertiveness and a bit of daring. Know the colors that make you shine and rock them.
- 5.Never be frumpy. Let your business associates see you dressed to a ‘T’ every day, not just for special occasions. Be consistent with your image and what it communicates. Take your presentation of yourself as seriously as you do your work. Pay attention to the details. Tags that show on accessories, broken buttons, wrinkled clothing, scuffed shoes, labels that show— all project sloppiness and detract from your image no matter how fabulous your ensemble.
- 6.Express yourself while still being professionally appropriate. Don’t get yourself in a clothing rut, wearing the same styles, colors or silhouettes all the time (the ‘uniform’). Use fashion trends as a way to experiment with new looks that express your style and compliment your wardrobe. You don’t need to be a slave to fashion, just open enough to try those items that have appeal to you. If you’re cautious, start small—try on a belt you find appealing and see how it makes you feel. Or a new shade of red. Experiment with fabric and patterns. You’d be surprised about what you can discover about yourself once you dare to allow yourself the permission to have fun with your wardrobe.
- 7.Do you command attention when you walk into a room? ‘Presence’, that ability to project a sense of ease, poise, command or self-assurance is an energy and an attitude. It can be magnetic. It draws people to you. When it is purposeful, you have created the equivalent of a slam dunk in your professional interactions. Get clear on the effect you want to convey to others. Then dress accordingly to achieve effective professional presence.
- For even more tips and advice visit the Élan Blog now 4 years old. Be sure to pick up your complimentary copy of our e-book and subscribe to our monthly newsletter. My book ‘Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style’ available on Amazon, gives all women a step-by-step guide to looking great with less effort. Have a question about style and figure flattery? Want easy to digest tips and advice on how to dress your body? Need to be inspired and motivated to look your best. It’s all in the book!