What Does Your Professional Image Say to the World?
Something that I have noticed over the last 10 plus years has been the continual decline of professional dress in all areas of business. I have always worked in professional offices and professions’, so dressing the part was very important years ago. Today, the idea of dressing to impress has taken a turn towards dressing down to conform more than stand out.
I have noticed an increase in the casual movement in the workplace since the “Dot.com” explosion where dressing down and dressing for comfort was and is the norm; specifically, the T-shirt and jeans wearing Facebook mogul, Mark Zuckerberg. The millennial’s seem to believe in expressing their personalities through T-shirts, ripped jeans, and what appears to me to be, really old clothes that I would only wear on a Sunday afternoon at home. And, some people seem to think it is perfectly fine to wear pajama pants out in public!. It really says something to people whether they realize it or not, or maybe it is that they just do not care what their image is saying to everyone, which is sad. Again, it is an example of how mentally we have changed. We downplay our best assets and express to the world that you have a laissez-faire attitude about yourself.
Conversely, there are some hold-outs in the business world who understand that a well-structured suit, appropriate jewelry and nice shoes, an easy and neat hairstyle, and flattering make-up are main-stays of everyday dressing for work. I am one those. My mother and father both worked in Human Resources, and Professional Employment Recruiting, so I learned from the best. They often coached job applicants they were presenting to companies on how to dress for the interview. They both understood how important image was to a potential employer and for advancement in your present job or career.
In an article by Mallory Stark, of the Harvard Business School, ‘Working Knowledge-The Thinking that Leads’ interviewed Laura Morgan Roberts of Harvard Business School and she stated, “Your professional image is the set of qualities and characteristics that represent perceptions of your competence and character as judged by your key constituents (i.e., clients, superiors, subordinates, colleagues).” (quote taken from: http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/creating-a-positive-professional-image).
As a Wardrobe Consultant/Coach, I take this idea to a new level to incorporate personality into the way I dress my clients. I do not prescribe to a cookie-cutter approach to my image coaching. The personality of the client should reflect visually to the world who they are, but in a good way. People who have a bohemian natural style can still embrace that element of who they are while still dressing professionally.
The addition of color and fabric, accessory and jewelry are just a few ways to make sure the real you stands out as well as the professional you! After pointing my clients in the right direction and they have acquired some key pieces in their wardrobe; I feel that I’ve done my job well. I have educated them about the appropriate colors to choose to flatter their skin tone, the right jewelry to pair with their outfits, the best designers for their figure, a great haircut and style and possible color or highlights to flatter and lighten their face, and the right shoes to match a multitude of outfits they are ready to conquer whatever they choose, knowing that they are presenting their best to the world with a new sense of confidence, poise, and professionalism. These are my key elements of image success!