I know I’ve dressed down to make myself blend in more… or worn conservative, constrictive outfits so I looked more like my peers. For me that resulted in feeling stifled. When I dress to express myself – a bold necklace or broche for example – and I highlight my passion and energy, I feel more comfortable in my attire and my personality. No employer or customer wants you to be uncomfortable, but proper attire means dressing consistent with guidelines and protocol.
In expressing your personal brand, particularly in a business setting, the goal is to show consistency with your passion and interest and still be relevant and appropriate for the occasion. One rule of thumb offers that you should always dress one notch above your target audience. If your audience wears slacks and sweaters, try a light blazer on top. If your audience wears jeans and t-shirts, make sure yours are pressed and high-quality. Set yourself apart but still maintain a perception that you know how to fit in.
Sometimes putting on an outfit that makes us feel like a rock star can give us an emotional edge that keeps us competitive. Have you ever put on a blouse or jacket that someone bought you and THEY love it… but you don’t? I have and the whole time I’m wearing it I feel like I’m not being myself. I love to wear things that make me feel happy, confident and comfortable – then I’m more easily able to be myself and engage with other people. When I’m distracted by something that someone else chose for me, which doesn’t feel right, it feels like a costume to me and I’m sure my audience knows it too. Wear things you love – things that make you feel like a rock star. Spend money on quality pieces and tailor them if necessary because a small investment in tailoring could make a huge difference in how you look.
Another good rule of thumb for everyone is to fit your wardrobe for your age, industry, geography and your body style. But most importantly, fit your wardrobe to present the best image of you, comfortably and authentically. How you present yourself affects your attitude so make sure you dress the part to be yourself.