You Are What You Wear - Clothing and Your Social Image

Sure, it would be nice if the whole world over we could be judged solely by our character – our inner souls. But the reality is that we are not. You can protest all you want and wear those comfortable stone-washed denim jeans from the 80s that your aunt saved in the back of the closet. But you’re probably going to face some unintended challenges in that business meeting, on that first date, or when you go to that party where you’re hoping to make a good impression on the potential clients. It’s not even about the fact that you’re wearing jeans when you should be stepping it up a notch. It’s that you’re wearing something that obviously didn’t cost you much more than your lunch and you’ve forgotten what decade it is.

We’ve all probably heard you never get a second chance to make a first impression. So…What is your first impression telling people? Some wardrobes shout I just can’t get my act together and my clothes are proof! While others scream I invest in myself because I am worth it and I’m successful enough to afford it. So if we can get past the altruism of wanting to be judged by more than our clothing, we can see that our clothing doesn’t have to define us, but it can help us to fully reach our potentials.

Consider the business woman walking into the sales pitch. She’s never met the audience and has one chance to convince them that her strategy is the one that will help them succeed. She has to prove that she is successful before they will believe she can help them reach similar goals. Her presentation slides, handouts, and business cards are tools of her trade. She’s not scribbling on napkins or writing on the walls with crayon. It’s a total package – and that includes how she is dressed.

Investing in a high quality wardrobe can propel you forward. You don’t need to overextend your wallet, but you need to be thoughtful about your investments.

·       Build a wardrobe of a few basic, quality pieces that will work with a variety of colors and shades. Two or three new suits or dresses can kick start your wardrobe – and how people perceive you.

·       Make sure that your clothes fit well. No matter how much you spend on your wardrobe, your clothing should fit well and accent your best features. You don’t have to be a supermodel to wear an outfit well.

·       Don’t forget about the shoes and bags. If you show up at a meeting in a stylish suit but are wearing shoes that look like they came from the clearance rack because no one in their right mind would want them, your audience is going to think you’re the one with a questionable mind.

·       Change it up without changing everything. You can use the same stylish outfit in different ways so you don’t have to invest in a new piece for every occasion. Accessories and jackets are great ways to convert pieces in your wardrobe.

·       Care for your clothing and accessories. One of the easiest things you can do is to take care of the pieces in your wardrobe. While people around you might not think, “Hey, that girl does an amazing job ironing,” they will notice if you show up with a rumpled top or faded bag.

·       Consider using a tailor or going to a fashion designer to help you create the best fit. Often you can take quality clothing that doesn’t cost a lot and turn it into an amazing piece just by altering the fit so it accents your assets – and hides those things that make you turn your head faster in the mirror.

Invest in your wardrobe, both in time and money, and you’ll look like you’re worth investing in to others around you.