Your personal brand comes to life in how you consistently behave, promote yourself and present yourself to others. As you know, in this blog I share many of the ways you can uncover your personal brand assets, create a strategy for promoting and positioning yourself, and ways to be intentional in how you show up (image, body language, tonality, etc).
In this entry, I am pleased to feature an interview with a top stylist and image consultant, Rachel Lefort. Rachel trained as a designer in New York and Paris, and brings tremendous understanding of fashion, style and personal image refinement to her work. Her clients stay loyal to her because of her genuine passion for styling and her talent for helping clients define their image.
LIDA: Style is often thought of as “beauty.” How do you define “style?”
RACHEL: Style is defined by how we present ourselves and carry ourselves through the world. Beauty refers to one’s physical characteristics and is also a reflection of the integrity, intelligence, honesty, loyalty and other qualities that make up one’s inner beauty.
Style is the packaging of our inner beauty. Unfortunately the world cannot see how beautiful or intelligent we are on the inside, so we must package ourselves according to the image that we deserve, in order to attract others to want to learn more.
As you know, Lida, people judge us in the first 10 seconds of visual contact. It is important to think about how we would like people to perceive us and what image we want to project. The way we dress, walk, stand, talk and behave is the style with which we present ourselves. Just as we take care of our beauty and health by visiting the hair stylist, nail salon, and dentist, we must also take care of our personal style by intentionally dressing appropriately for our figures and desired personal brand.
LIDA: What are three simple ways someone can bring their style into alignment with their desired personal brand (without breaking the bank!)
RACHEL: 1/ Start by writing down the image that you currently have and what you think your style says about you. Then, write down the image that you would like to have, and how you would like to be perceived by the world.
2/ Look at photographs of yourself in your wardrobe. Analyze whether you are sending the right message with the way you are dressing and presenting yourself. Does your clothing look outdated though your business is very cool and modern? Does your clothing make you look old, while you are trying to network with a younger target market? Is your clothing oversized and sloppy so that you appear larger than you are? Be discerning and remove anything from your wardrobe that says something about you that is not in line with your desired image and personal brand.
3/ Shop for updated, quality clothes that are appropriate for your figure and your lifestyle (profession, casual days, cocktail events, networking, etc.) Buy quality: Look for sales and promotions at various stores in your local mall or online. Purchasing proper attire is an investment that will go far if you spend wisely. Your personal style should shine through and be consistent with your personal brand as much as possible. It is important to gather clothes that will work for you as your proper packaging, to market yourself to the world in order to attract opportunities and relationships that will help you to succeed, personally and professionally.
LIDA: Rachel, in personal branding, image and style are very important. If your image is not consistent with your value proposition and reputation, the impression falls apart. Tell us about a client whose reputation was inconsistent with their image and what did you do to help them?
RACHEL: I am thinking of one client who is very intelligent and successful. She works extremely hard in everything that she does and she is confident in her work and in her abilities to succeed. However, she was dressing and presenting herself in a way that was not at all in line with this impressive side of her: She looked disheveled and careless, she did not feel good about her figure and did not dress in a flattering way.
When we began our work together it was a difficult, emotional process. We began by discussing her goals and the image that she wanted to project by reviewing a detailed style questionnaire. Then we edited her wardrobe to analyze the fit, style and colors of each piece to be sure that she was dressing in the most flattering way.
After compiling a tailored shopping list, we planned our shopping day. As she tried on everything and learned why certain styles and colors are more flattering on her, and what to look for when shopping on her own, she learned that you can look polished and professional while having a signature style to reflect your personality and send the right message. She was finally ready to move forward with confidence, knowing that her new image was in sync with her desired personal brand.
Wherever you are in your personal brand journey, consider how your image matches the way you want people to see you.