Does it feel like too much effort to pull a completed look together each day and besides, you figure no one is noticing anyway? Are you concerned that your colleagues aren’t taking you as seriously as you’d like?
In my last article on this subject, I talked about how much confidence you can gain from presenting yourself well. But there’s more to it than that. It is also important to show respect for those around you in order to improve your chances of winning their favor. In my opinion, when you don’t put in the effort, you’re sending a clear message to others that you don’t respect yourself very much and you also don’t respect them. That’s right, you’re not respecting them!
Why do you think most executives tend to dress a bit nicer than everyone else? It’s not a coincidence. In order to achieve a certain level of gravitas, it’s not just about acting the part but also looking it. It’s a component of having an “executive presence.” As a leader, they understand the importance of showing respect for themselves and those they work with through their own personal presentation. There are always exceptions, especially those working in science and engineering fields where dressing well isn't always valued, but for nearly every other industry, a strong presentation can only help, not hurt.
If you desire to advance your career, your best strategy is to dress for the job you want. I guarantee you that taking it up a few notches in the presentation department, consistently, will do wonders. This is not to say that your other professional attributes (e.g. intelligence, unique skill set, communication skills, etc.) aren’t equally if not more important but these characteristics will have a harder time standing out if you put little to no effort into presenting yourself well within the context of your workplace culture.
So for those of you who are just showing up and need some motivation to get out of your presentation rut, let me offer you a challenge:
For one straight week, I want you to dress and groom yourself in a way that makes people think, “Wow, you really clean up nice.”
Women – Wearing an appropriate amount of makeup creates a more positive impression in the workplace. Find a balance between wearing no makeup, which shows you don’t care, and too much, which can be distracting and send the wrong message. Take the time to style your hair in the morning, it is one of the first things people notice. Please don’t show up with wet hair. Ever.
Men – Your hairstyle matters, too. If the nice lady at Supercuts has been cutting your hair since college, it is probably time for a change. You have a good job now - you can afford to spend a little more on a real professional. You’ll be amazed at the difference, and you won’t be the only one who notices. Also, shave or trim your facial hair each morning. You want to look neat and clean.
2. Wear your best colors:
Wear colors that look best on you. Not sure which colors work on you? Start with wearing colors that match or compliment your eye, hair or skin color. You can even look at the veins under your skin to pick our blues, greens, and purples that are flattering. Seasonal color trends don’t work for everyone, so hold things up to see how they look next to your face or the inside of your wrist. You should be able to notice quickly if it clashes with or flatters your natural coloring.
3. Make sure the clothes fit:
If it’s too tight or too loose (and it’s not part of the intended style), it may be time to take those clothes to goodwill or a consignment shop. Sometimes we buy things that don’t fit quite right but could easily be tailored. Most clothes don’t fit people perfectly off the rack. The most common problems are sleeves lengths and pant hems that are too long or short, waistlines that are too tight or loose, and the shoulder fit is too snug or extends too far past your natural shoulder line. Find a good tailor and determine whether some of your ill-fitting clothes can be made to look spectacular on you with a few modifications.
Take my one-week challenge tomorrow! And for those of you, who are already knocking it out of the park in the presentation department, help your colleagues out who aren’t quite there yet. Share this article with them and start a discussion.
Share your comments below and tell me what you’re going to do to take your personal presentation to the next level. Get ready for some compliments and looks of “oooh, something is different and I like it.” As George Zimmerman from the Men’ Wearhouse always says, “You’re going to like the way you look.”