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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Cloths: Represent You To Others

People will form an impression of you based on what you are wearing.

Of course that sounds extremely shallow and it is. That impression may be completely wrong but whether you like it or not it is a fact of life that your appearance says a great deal about you.

But it is no good creating a false impression, the one you project needs to reflect who you are and what you are capable of. You need to be comfortable with your image and that only comes with being comfortable with who you are inside.

If you choose to mirror someone else image or style, a well known singer or celebrity for example, then you are bound to be disappointed because you can never be like them. You are a different person with a different shape, style and personality.

You are you and you need to be proud of that and confident in yourself to project it.

If you choose to dress ‘outrageously’ then that is your choice, however you must be prepared for reactions you may get from others, which could vary from hilarity to alienation.

We all have our ‘uniforms’, suits for the office, green Wellingtons, Barbours and checked shirts for the country, designer clothes, leathers for the motorbike riders. Some of these uniforms are donned because they are practical. You wouldn’t wear an evening suit on a country walk, would you? But uniforms also have another purpose, they show you belong and belonging to a group is part of a human need. By dressing outside that group’s norm you are signaling that you don’t belong and can therefore feel and indeed be isolated. I am sure most of you reading this book can identify a time when you wore the wrong clothes to a function and felt awful and out of place. Perhaps you were too casually dressed for the occasion, or overdressed.

Clothes also affect the way we feel and therefore our body language. For example you move very differently if dressed in glamorous evening attire as opposed to a tracksuit, or in a suit as opposed to jeans.

If your clothes are old, worn, tatty and dirty, what impression is that giving out? What is this saying to others? How does it make you feel?

If your clothes are clean and tidy what impression are you projecting? How do you feel? You may not be able to afford the top quality designer wear or the most expensive clothes, but there is no excuse for looking dirty or scruffy, as my dear father used to say and he had very little money and used to buy his clothes from charity shops. You can find some great bargains in charity shops and at the same time know you are helping a worthwhile cause. So you don’t need a fortune in order to look good.

You can also do wonders with a needle and sewing machine or with knitting needles; you can make the latest designer fashions very cheaply. I am both an amateur dressmaker and knitter, not a very good one, but practice makes perfect and it is a very enjoyable and rewarding pastime. You can make children’s clothes very cheaply as well as your own and you can look good and individual.

If your clothes are rather on the old side because perhaps you can’t afford new ones then maybe you can update them slightly (with that needle and thread) or you can take them to a dressmaker or tailor who can update them for you.

Whatever you do, do ensure that your clothes are clean and well pressed. Try not to wear shirts with frayed necks and cuffs unless you really don’t care what impression you give out, or you have the inner confidence and personality to carry it off.

Different nationalities have their own ‘uniform’ and customs, be aware of this and don’t let it prejudice the way you communicate.

Giving some careful consideration to the impression you wish to convey and the objectives you wish to achieve can help you to choose the right clothes.

This is a quote taken from my local newspaper from a woman who was interested in meeting a partner and was going to local pubs, and social functions with that aim.

‘I spoke to a couple of men but because I was wearing quite a low cut top they spent time talking to my cleavage rather than to me!’

Well there’s a surprise! If this woman was really serious about meeting someone she could have a conversation with, and who was interested in her as a person then perhaps she shouldn’t have had so much cleavage on view?

At work the general rule for women in the western business world is: the more flesh you show the less credible you are. If you arrive at the office dressed for the disco, in the tightest, skimpiest clothes you can find then how do you think the hot-blooded men around you are going to react?

Of course they are. That may be your intended desire to inflame some passions but make sure you don’t get your fingers burnt. I’ve lost count of the number of times women have said to me in my career, ‘Why aren’t I taken seriously?’ I’ve simply told them to take a long hard look in the mirror at what they’re wearing to the office and think about the effect it has on their male colleagues. And what about men in the workplace? Well they’ve got their suit, haven’t they? But times have changed and are changing. There are now many more dress options for men going to work from the smart to the smart casual and casual-casual. Just how casual do you dress on a Friday dress down day? That interview you are attending – what is the dress code of that particular company? Will you be overdressed in a suit and tie when everyone wears open necked shirts and chinos? Do you wear colored shirts or a white shirt? I once did some work for a company where the Managing Director told me he wouldn’t employ anyone wearing a colored shirt!

Before attending an interview perhaps it would be advisable to telephone the company and ask if they have a dress code and what it is.

If you aspire to a management position then you should always dress the part. In fact you should always dress for the next level up and not the level you currently hold if you wish to be noticed and considered. This does not always mean adopting a formal style of dressing because it depends on the industry you are working in and the ‘uniform’ or ‘dress code’ within that industry.

Do make sure your shoes are clean and that goes for both men and women. I have sat in on a number of sales presentations, promotion and job interviews when a candidate has ruined his/her overall impression by having dirty or scuffed, shoddy shoes. This can be all it takes to cause you to fail. Interviews can be nerve racking and difficult as it is without adding to it by neglecting your appearance.

Choosing what to wear to work, for a sales presentation or job interview can sometimes be a difficult choice, particularly so for women who have more scope for error than men because they have more choice.

So ask yourself:
  • Where am I going?
  • Why am I going there?
  • What is the normal dress code or uniform for
  • that occasion or group of people?
  • What impression do I wish to project?
  • What should I wear?