Scientific research reveals that as much as 66 percent of the initial opinions we form about others (and vice versa) are based solely on what we see and how we see them.
Here are some guidelines you can use in establishing your own visual reputation.
Dress for your audience and your industry.
Just because the mixologist at the hottest new bar in town thinks it’s cool, doesn’t mean you should sport it on the next casual Friday. By the same token, someone in the financial services or investment industry shouldn’t dress the way his buddy who is the creative director for an advertising and social media company does.
If you don’t know what is customary and acceptable for your audience, find out.
Buy the best quality you can afford.
People love doing business with someone who is accomplished, aware and actualized. After all, the pinnacle of Maslow’s Theory of the Hierarchy of Needs (self actualization) is defined by aesthetics. The quality of your clothing is the first non-verbal indicator to the rest of the world of your station in life.
Never underestimate the subtle difference something that is truly well designed and made can make. Like driving a luxury vehicle, you will not know the intrinsic difference personally until you actually try on or wear clothing that is elevated in design and workmanship.
Don’t dress as if you’re trying to attract attention to yourself.
Anything that attracts inordinate attention to what you’re wearing detracts, and distracts, from your message or purpose. Studies have shown that in business those who appear to pay too much attention to themselves are perceived as less trustworthy. They often seem to be out for themselves and not for the good of all.
Avoid pocket squares that are really “poofed up,” too many colorful elements at the same time, or tight clothes that are “way” too tight, especially on a muscular frame.
Avoid bow ties for business.
Studies have shown that men who wear a bow tie in a business setting aren’t taken as seriously as those who wear a necktie. Think about it: When was the last time you saw a titan of commerce or world leader wearing a bow tie? In a business setting, you would be better off not wearing a tie at all than wearing a bow tie.
Exceptions are academics, physicians, attorneys and judges and, of course, creatives. Socially, bow ties are acceptable just about any time.
Dress for your body type.
Regardless of fashion or style trends, taller, trimmer men shouldn’t wear loose fitting clothes and heavier set men shouldn’t wear tight fitting clothes.
Dress for the occasion.
The CEO who wears a suit to the company picnic is just as poorly dressed as the guy who shows up to play golf at the country club in a tank top and cut-offs. Both show poor judgment and appear suspect in the eyes of others.
Choose from whom you ask advice carefully.
Get advice from someone whom you not only trust and like, but who is also knowledgeable and concerned about how well you do in business and in life.
As in most other things in life, long-term relationships are best. Having someone who will be accountable and handle problems smoothly when they occur will prove invaluable and personally rewarding.