We have all heard the overused sayings like: You’ve got to look the part to play the part, or Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have, and Dress for Success. Whatever your goal may be, to get a new job, a promotion, a new love life, a new lease on life, weight loss, more happiness, more peacefulness, more productiveness, and then some, your wardrobe and style is an important factor in whether or not you will achieve what you are setting out to accomplish. In fact, did you know that the number one way we are perceived and judged by others is through our non-verbal communication? Non-verbal communication includes image (which includes wardrobe and style) and body language.
Dress for Success is all About Self-Perception
However, aligning your outer appearance with your inner goals isn’t just about wearing the right clothes to impress your boss to get the promotion, or hoping that the low cut, attractive top will finally grab the attention of the cute guy who you ran into at the bookstore. No, altering your style isn’t just about changing how others will perceive you, altering your style is all about changing how you will perceive yourself. As I always say, if you don’t feel it, nobody else will.
The truth is that you can put on the most fantastic suit for work that may impress someone who will see you as promotion material. Yet, if you don’t walk into the office, wearing this fantastic suit, feeling like you are promotion material, then all you will be is a woman wearing a fantastic suit. Or, if you get a date with a guy you think is dreamy, put on something slinky that you think he will be impressed by, yet feel strangely uncomfortable wearing, do you really think you are going to have a comfortable date? Doubtful.
This may seem stupidly obvious to say but it warrants being stated here: Others perceive you not necessarily based on what you wear, but how you feel when you wear it.
Thinking from this perspective changes the way we dress, and what we wear. We suddenly stop thinking about what we should be wearing, what’s trendy or what’s going to to impress others. We, instead, start thinking about impressing ourselves, and more importantly how we feel when we put something on. We start considering the energy we are putting forth, and therefore attracting back, instead of worrying if what we are wearing will do the job for us and, therefore, get us something in return. By creating a style for ourselves, from this perspective, we command what we want, because the way we feel about ourselves in what we wear mirrors exactly what we want to accomplish or attain.
So how do we dress for success? The good news is that it is pretty simple.
To start, instead of thinking solely about what you want to accomplish this year, think about what would it feel like to do so. Use your imagination, how does a woman who found the love of her life feel and carry herself in her life? What does a powerful woman, with a job she enjoys, look and feel like to you? This is the energy you want to feel when you get dressed. The goal is to find wardrobe items that make you feel this way when you put them on. If you put something on and think, “Damn, I feel hot” or “Wow, this suit makes me feel strong” then you’ve got something there.
Next, think about how you want to be perceived by others. Perhaps come up with three buzz words like: Approachable, Fun and Powerful, for example. Then every time you get dressed ask yourself, “Do I feel approachable, fun and/or powerful in what I am wearing?” If you answer no, take it off. I mean, what’s the point? If you don’t feel good in it, why would you want to wear it?
Pay close attention to your body language. I have watched hundreds of clients change their body language before my eyes in the dressing room the second they put something on that feels good to wear. This is seriously the best litmus test you can give yourself. If you don’t think you are a good judge of your own character, take a friend shopping and have her identify when you put something on and your body language changes for the better. Sometimes the shift is so subtle, like a change in stance, or a more confident walk. Watch for these signs.
By choosing to dress for success in a way that echoes the person who achieves what you want, instead of becoming a pursuer of a goal, you inhabit and live these changes, now. You don’t just look the part, you are the part.