Creating the best first impression
Clothes may seem a frivolous thing to consider, but the truth is, the right wardrobe can affect your outlook, and perhaps more importantly, the way others see you. Once a first impression is formed, it rarely changes. That means whether you are in sitting in an office chair or on a bar stool clothes that contribute to your personal brand will create the best, most memorable first impression. Here’s how.
Defining your personal brand
Send the right message
Begin by deciding just what that first impression should be. For instance, the personal brand of a fashion designer will be different from that of a builder. If you are in the fashion industry, you’ll be fully aware of the latest trends, and without being a slave to every change, you might give a subtle indication of your expertise in the clothes you wear.
Similarly, someone working in a trade will present a different appearance. While you might not go out every day wearing work shorts and steel-toed boots, as a builder you may want to create that smart, work-ready impression with a pair of good jeans and a button down shirt. Your own personal brand will define the message you send, and the impression you make.
Be consistent – be you
You don’t change radically from day to day, and neither should your clothes. Your personal brand is the same – a consistent message of confidence and professionalism in everything you do, and to everyone you meet. If you yourself were a company, you would not change your brand, your logo or your message each day. The consistency of your personal brand is part of what creates the best and most memorable first impression.
To establish for yourself what your personal brand is, consider carefully how you would describe it. Are you formal and polished, casual and quirky or somewhere in between? The descriptive words you choose for your personal brand should apply to every occasion, from attending an awards ceremony to going out for a morning jog.
Having established your personal brand, you will find it far simpler to choose clothes that reflect you, while being appropriate to the situation. When your wardrobe truly represents you and your personal brand, you will find that consistency and being yourself come naturally. You can focus fully on what you do, because you already know you are making the right impression.
Whatever you decide is your personal brand, here are some steps to take towards making that first impression the best it can be:
At the office – simple and understated
At work, age-appropriate understated elegance is the key. Unless your personal brand is about fun, colour, quirk or fashion-forward playfulness, these tips may help simplify things.
Choose one main colour for your suit – black, brown, tan, navy or grey – and purchase everything to complement that. This allows you to invest in fewer, higher quality pieces that will still give you a wider array of options to take you anywhere. Add personality and accent interesting shirts, ties, pocket squares, scarves or jewellery.
Rotate out the old
Fashions change, and just as you accept new technology, it is best to roll with subtle shifts in style. That may mean an update to slightly narrower ties, or new bright coloured socks. You should avoid worrying about every little fashion quirk and fad, but neither do you want your wardrobe to look dated.
When you do add a new garment to your wardrobe, remove an old one. That way, whatever you wear will be fresh, neat and fashionable. This is especially important for your casual wear – anything worn, frayed or stained will create an overall impression of messiness, detracting from your personal brand. Tuck the worn-out items away for gardening or painting, or donate, if there is still life in them.
Keep it tailored
Make sure your garments fit properly. Sagging and wrinkly clothes will overtake any other personal touches you’ve made. You don’t need to replace quality items if you have lost weight or built up muscle – a good tailor or alteration business can make your wardrobe fit, at much less cost.
Plan the night before
Choose what you want to wear the night before and set it out ready, so you avoid simply putting on the first thing you see. In the morning, this will leave time to groom and dress, and make those adjustments that enhance and complete your ensemble.
Research dress codes
When you have an important occasion coming up, it pays to plan your outfit ahead of time to avoid indecision and unmindful choices. Learn what level of formality is expected and select your clothes to suit. Keep in mind that while formal events demand dress formality, some less formal but equally special occasions – a congratulatory lunch, for instance – can be enhanced by dressier attire.
Keep a back-up dressy option handy
Even though your workplace dress code may normally be casual, it is always a good idea to keep a more formal outfit nearby. Having a complete outfit ready, can be mean you are prepared for anything.
Enhance your business, enrich your life
If the adage is true that clothes make the man, then building a wardrobe that reflects your personal brand of professionalism and confidence is a must. You can establish that personal brand for yourself and for those around you, by the mindful way you dress for every occasion, formal or casual.
Start dressing in line with your personal brand now, and you will create successful and memorable first impressions that enhance your professional – and personal – life.