Have you ever experienced a situation like this, where you accidentally sent the wrong message in a business or social situation. Maybe you had the best of intentions in a new situation, but whatever you expected to happen didn’t happen. You missed an opportunity and unfortunately, didn’t get a “do-over”. You really felt like you had something great to share with the other person, but for whatever reason, it really didn’t go as well as you wanted.
- You misread an invitation and arrived to a special event dressed casually when everyone around you is in business attire. You feel completely out of place and not taken seriously.
- You’re meeting a potential new client for a coffee. Unfortunately your schedules were hard to synch up so you’re slipping this meeting in at a coffee shop right next door to your office-sanctioned Tai Chi class. You’re in your loose clothing, your accessories are off and you’re wearing your soft-soled tennis shoes. You explain this to the potential new client who looks at you curiously. You don’t hear from this person again.
- You don’t see much point in purchasing any new clothes because you never change sizes. You’ve had this philosophy for the last couple of decades. When suddenly you have to find a new job, you assume that if it was good enough for the company you worked for, your appearance should be good enough for the company you want to be working for. You’re not asked back for a second interview.
- You’re ready to put your feet into the dating pool. You’ve been working hard in your career for a long time but you’re ready to tell the world, “I’m available.” While you spent the day in a courtroom representing your client, you don’t think about getting out of work attire and into something more friendly looking for your meet-and-greet date after work. It doesn’t go so well. Even though your intention is to be social, you can’t seem to switch gears out of office mode.
You may not know exactly what each of these people could have done differently to perhaps alter the outcomes they experienced, although you might have an idea or two.
There is an art and a science to matching your message to your appearance.
Here are 3 common situations where you want your appearance to match your message and my tips on what to do, how to dress and what to chose for maximum impact, results and success in each situation:
#1 – Get serious
You’re getting dressed for a situation and you want to be taken seriously. People are expecting you to bring clarity and your best solutions to the table.
Consider: “Business” colors like charcoal, navy, maroon, black; jewelry should be in metals, semi-precious stones, or classic pearls; prints can be stripes, small polka dots, sophisticated floral or paisley.
Avoid: Loud prints; bright colors; noisy jewelry; too much makeup.
#2 – Loosen up
You’re switching gears from work to play. You’re dating or socializing in more casual settings. You’ve left work behind.
Consider: Touchable fabrics like cashmere, silk, brushed velvet; lighter or brighter colors; prints; accessories that have interest and could be conversation starters.
Avoid: Pinstripes; stiff fabrics; head-to-toe dark colors; classic jewelry.
#3 – Show up
If you haven’t changed your look in years, you may appear like you gave up on yourself a decade or more ago. Neglecting to update your style or appearance could send a message that you’re lazy, bored, or stuck…even if you aren’t.
Consider: Updating your look to be more modern and current so you look relevant and savvy; engaging professional help to guide you.
Avoid: Putting your needs off for another few months; expecting you can make these changes on your own.
Unfortunately, we don’t often get second chances. You can align all the parts of your outfit to match the intentions you have. It makes a big difference! Not only will others read these non-verbal cues and make the right assessment about you, but you’ll also be sending a message to yourself that you’re prepared and confident. Whether you’re loosening things up to go on a date or dressing in a more formal way to present your findings to fellow colleagues, your message will be loud and clear.