It’s a contentious subject because many people think that what you wear shouldn’t matter – it’s your thoughts and work that are important isn’t it? The answer is yes they are, but…
Are you subconsciously distracting your audience? If you have to ask whether your suit is too tight or your skirt is too short then the answer is yes! If you feel self conscious about your outfit you may be drawing attention to the one area you don’t want people to notice. Have you ever watched a presentation where the presenter kept pulling down their skirt to cover their knees or pulling their jacket closed across their tummy – where do your eyes automatically go to?
The first thing we noticed about the picture on the left is that George Osborne seems to be wearing a shorter person’s trousers? There is a great article on the BBC News Magazine that seems to think it was deliberate and part of the latest trend to wear slimmer, tighter fitting suits. We aren’t so sure, it’s not a great look for the man who controls the country’s budget!
A little good planning will ensure your wardrobe works with, not against, your personal brand.
Here are our top tips for business clothing that enhances your personal brand:
- We believe the first essential in business dress, for men and women, is good fit. Even if you can’t afford Saville Row, if your suit fits you perfectly it will look more expensive. So make sure if you lose or gain weight you either buy new or get your clothes tailored to fit. If you struggle to find clothes that fit you well, find a tailor who can alter them and always budget that into the cost of the outfit. Think of your workwear as an investment in your career.
- Don’t think people won’t notice – someone always does! Being distracted by the button falling off your jacket or your chipped nail varnish means you aren’t focussed on the meeting and what’s being said and you will miss out on giving your opinion.
- Colour is one of the strongest statements you can make. Dark navy is great for authority (not surprising many police uniforms are blue) and red stands out. For those days you have important presentations or meetings combine both. For men choose a navy suit and a red print tie. Women have it easier because they can wear a navy dress and a red jacket.
- Work isn’t the place to try out the latest trends. While you shouldn’t stand out for your wacky appearance you also shouldn’t blend into the background. Find an accessory that can become part of your personal brand statement, for example cufflinks or a scarf. Choose quality and something individual and carefully thought out over buying the latest “IT” brand – it shows more personality and flair.
- Buy less, but buy better quality and retire pieces from your wardrobe when they are starting to show wear. If you wear a suit everyday buy two pairs of trousers with the jacket to make your suit last longer and always hang them on good hangers (not wire) at night. For women who wear suits, buy trousers and a skirt or dress with the jacket if you can.
- If you are client facing always make sure you have a jacket to hand even on dress down days, you never know when an unexpected meeting might crop up.
- If you do have dress down days, or wear business casual full time, always remember the first word of that title is business so make sure you stay appropriately dressed. Jeans and a T-shirt aren’t business casual. Chinos and a jacket are.
We describe your personal brand as “it’s what people say about you behind your back” make sure they are saying positive things about you and your work/thoughts not “she always looks like she’s just got out of bed and thrown the first thing on” or “he’s the one who’s trousers are always to short”.