Everybody knows how important first impressions are. But not everybody knows that the “first impression” is actually only a seven second window upon first meeting someone. While perhaps not a completely fair or correct judgement of your character, an initial reaction is made largely upon your appearance and that notable opening hand shake.
Your image is your own most powerful brand ambassador. In a business setting this matters, as colleagues’ perceptions of you can be built upon this concept – rightly or wrongly. Your image can be outside indicator of who you are as a person.
A clean and neat professional appearance is an important step in making a good first impression. You want the interviewer or your colleagues to focus on you and your skills not your clothes. Dress as you want to be seen: professional, successful, and the kind of person the company wants to represent it.
Tips to help you Dress for Success:
- In a rush in the mornings? (Aren’t we all!) Lay out your clothes the night before! Put your outfit together before bed. It will only take you a few minutes and you will be under less time pressure. This way you can enjoy picking out your clothes and accessories for the office the next day.
- If you like what you are wearing you will instantly be in a better mood! Try some bright colours for a change or mix in that new accessory to liven up your outfit. If you are happy in your outfit you will exude confidence – and add to your ‘brand’ as you walk through the office.
- Clean out your closet! If you are wasting time each day searching through items that you are never going to wear (too big, too small, too old, too bright, too dull!) then get rid of them! You can then clearly and quickly see your options for the day – and as a bonus you will have made some space for any shopping treats.
- Iron your clothes! Nothing says ‘I don’t care’ quicker than a crumpled shirt! A simple once-over with the iron will go a long way to freshen up your outfit and overall look. Your wardrobe for casual clothes might be the floor of your bedroom (the floordrobe!), but your business attire should always be kept on the hanger!
- For interviews, dress as if you are already working at the company. That way you can show up for the interview dressed as if you already belong there!
- The latest fashion may not always be suitable for the office. While it may be fabulous on the catwalk, it might not work quite as well in the canteen. Although it is always better to be over dressed rather than under dressed, you should err on the side of caution and be more conservative for the office setting. Save your latest style for the weekend! I would always rather be too chic (is there such a thing?) than too casual!
When you look your best and feel your best, you perform at your best. You will be much more relaxed and confident. This makes it easier to walk into interviews, meet new people and even stand up and present in front of an audience. So start today – lay out your clothes tonight for tomorrow in the office and Dress for Success!
Lainey Broderick is an Assistant Manager Funds Administration, aspiring writer and clothes shopaholic.