Clothes That Work
Our clothes send messages to the people around us – like, “I’m a tourist” or “I’m a construction worker” or “I’m a professional”. We are walking billboards so one has to ask: is the message people receive from us an accurate reflection of our personal brand?
Are your clothes working for you? And, I don’t just mean that they should be appropriate for what you’re doing, be comfortable (most of the time), fit your body type, and be stylish. I mean, they should work for you by reinforcing your personal brand message, therefore helping you achieve your goals.
You know the saying, “dress for the job you want”. They aren’t just talking about for the interview. You should be dressing for the life you want, the job you want, and for the people who influence the direction your life goes. That’s why you should be strategic about planning what you wear each day. Start with knowing the persona you want to project to the world and then choosing appropriate wardrobe staples that reflect it.
Here is an easy 10-step process:
1) Start by looking at where you live and how the people in your industry and social circles currently dress. What is acceptable and popular?
2) Now, look at your own style. How would you define that? Try giving it a two- or three-word description. For example: stylish professional, northwest casual, conservative prep, bleeding-edge trendy, retro rocker, New York black, traditional romantic, snappy casual, sporty chic, etc. Take a poll, ask your friends and see what they come up with.
3) Then, ask yourself what you think about your current style. What do your friends think? Do your answers and their answers match up? Do people see you the way you see you?
4) And, probably the most important question you can ask yourself – will they get me noticed for the right reasons? Do they tell people where you are heading in life or who you are supposed to be? What I mean is – do the clothes you wear make a statement congruent with your personal brand?
5) This is worth repeating. You didn’t work hard those 6 years in school just to be passed over for a promotion because they took one look at you and thought you didn’t take your job seriously. Be sure your clothes aren’t making things harder for you than they already are in this very competitive economy. You’re grown up now, and it’s time your style reflected this.
6) Talk to people who have the style you want to have; get their advice or go see a personal stylist if you have the time and resources.
7) After you’ve figured out the style that perfectly describes you, the next step is to assess what is missing. Look at the gaps; look at where you may have gone astray with your clothes. How do you feel about your clothes, have you out-grown them, or are they falling apart? Is it difficult to pull together an outfit with what you currently own? Basically, out with the old and in with the new.
8) Once you have edited down to only those things that fit into your new personal style, you will need to go out and get what is missing. Make a list and keep it in your purse or wallet so you can reference it any time you are out shopping.
9) Once you know what you need to buy, take a look at your budget and decide what you are willing to pay for things. Quality is worth it. But, you can also get a deal if you know where to look so do your homework. Research when the seasonal sales happen, and don’t write off a good consignment boutique just because you hate used clothing. I got a fantastic leather jacket with the tags still on it for $50 once.
10) Once you have updated your wardrobe – remember to check in with yourself every year or so and reassess where you are at in life (you might be surprised how far you’ve come). See if you need to repeat the process for your current goals. Now those are clothes that work!