When I work with speakers, coaches, entrepreneurs, and executives on creating a powerful professional image, it’s because they’ve either been told or they’ve come to understand that an effective brand is essential to showcase their knowledge and skills. They know that cultivating an overall image includes (but extends beyond) what you wear, your attitude, how you show up, the strength of your communication skills (verbal and non-verbal), and your digital footprint. They or the employer who hires me, knows there’s an R.O.I. on their image.
Research has consistently supported that what you wear has an impact on how others perceive you, your promotion and advancement opportunities, how well you perform on a daily basis and your confidence and self-esteem level. This is more than just following a dress code, avoiding wrinkled clothing or wearing a skirt that's an inch or two too short (although these things do matter).
It only takes a 1/10th of a second to form an impression so it's important to avoid unprofessional images that will forever cast you in an unflattering light in the mind of those around you. Since 93% of our communication is visual, how people see you in those first few seconds matters.....A LOT!.
Your clothing serves as your social armor, which will either protect you or leave you vulnerable. Professors at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University called this phenomenon “enclothed cognition.” They wrote in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, that enclothed cognition “involves the co-occurrence of two independent factors — the symbolic meaning of the clothes and the physical experience of wearing them.”
Much like how our favorite Superheroes (I’m a fan of Wonder Woman) when they done their time-to-save-the-world costumes, their level of confidence, competence, and complete faith in their ability to “save the day” increases exponentially. We know this intuitively but we fail to regularly act upon it. We adopt the characteristics and energy associated with what we wear and for increased confidence, improved performance, and enhanced success, we have to wear the right things.
As previously noted, time and time again, research supports the impact your clothing has on your path to success in pretty much every area of your life from landing the job, achieving your promotion, gaining new clients, and even finding a new love.
For example, over 83% of executives say an employee's clothing choices will impact their changes of earning a promotion. Hamermesh and Biddle in their research published in the American Economic Review found those with an improved image enjoyed a 20% increase in income. A study in the Journal Social Psychological and Personality Science suggested that people use higher levels of thinking when they dress up. Additionally, people tend to trust and believe those who well-dressed and groomed over those who are not.
What are you looking to achieve in your life, business or career? While you need a game plan to go after and accomplish those goals, don't forget to include a plan for your image.
Gone are the days when you can just rely on your resume and talent. You must be intentionally mindful about how you dress and present yourself in a way that ensures an empowering image reflective of your authenticity and credibility. Don't forget, before people can even get to your resume, or even hear about your brilliance, they're going to visually take you in and form an opinion. Be sure it's the one you want them to form.
So, when you wake up each morning, pay attention to your wardrobe choices. As Zig Ziglar said, "You cannot climb the ladder of success in the costume of failure."
You can also get a FREE copy of my guide: 5 Ways Your Image is Sabotaging Your Income!
Live, laugh and unapologetically shine,