I went to an important meeting a few weeks ago. For argument’s sake, let’s call it, oh I don’t know….an interview.
First impressions matter
For this type of meeting first impressions really do count. Whilst what you say, what you can contribute, and how you communicate this are critically important to the meeting’s success, it would be unwise to ignore the impact of what you wear on that success.
Getting others to know, like and trust you is the first step to building a successful relationship, especially in business. The impression you make in the first few seconds of attending a business meeting, an interview or a networking event can significantly affect the success of the outcome. And what if it in those few seconds you make a negative impression based on a visual assessment? Then you have to work twice as hard to reverse it!
So, this interview or whatever....what to wear?
With the above in mind, here are 4 thoughts that crossed my mind when I was deciding what to wear:
1. What 3 things do I want people to think about me before I even open my mouth? What impression do I want what I'm wearing to convey? Once I’d picked my outfit, I asked myself whether it is actually described me in those 3 words – professional, approachable, individual.
2. Am I comfortable in this outfit? Being comfy - both physically and mentally - in what I wore meant I could forget about it and just focus on the conversation. An outfit should and can be a confidence booster - I didn’t want to be distracted by an outfit that wasn’t really me, was outside my comfort zone, was itchy, scratchy, too tight or painful. None of that would elevate my confidence and allow me to perform at my best.
3. What's the dress-code? My first stop was looking at pictures on the organisation’s website to see what others were wearing. Were they in suits or more casual attire? I thought too about the purpose of the meeting. If it's an interview - just say (!) - what would you be doing in the job, where will you be going, who will you be working with? What's appropriate for that context? If you’re not sure what the dress code is, then in the business world I advise erring on the side of caution. Take what you think the dress code is and take it up a notch.
4. Finally - do I feel amazing in this? Do I feel like I can take on the world? Does it make me feel confident? How you feel really does make a difference to how you behave. It's one thing looking the part but you've got to feel it too.
Why does it matter what I wore?
I truly believe that your clothes are always talking, even when you’re silent.
I truly believe they build and support your personal brand.
I truly believe that they can affect how you behave and how others behave towards you.
I truly believe that clothes, a second skin, can act as the visual representation of who you really are.
You might be uncomfortable with this. It might feel judgemental and a bit vain or superficial. I’m afraid it's human nature. And if that's the case, why not use it to your advantage?
Getting back to this, what I like to call, interview. After much consideration, I opted for a black trousers and blazer combo. But I saw your standard office attire and raised it to individuality. Something that really said, "This is me".
The true dichotomy of fashion - fitting in and standing out at the same time.
The black trousers are what I call my “Greatest Showman Trousers” –
they have a subtle black leather stripe down the side aka the musical ringmaster himself. Smart and comfortable but a little bit different.
I donned silver loafers – I don't really do heels so why wear them to an important meeting - the pain would show on my face for sure! I love these silver shoes. Always felt good in them - always make me smile when I glance down.
A blazer with a subtle pattern and texture. Professional but a bit more interesting than donning a matching suit jacket. That just wouldn't really be me anyway. I would have felt more corporate and probably more nervous and neither things were right.
A bright yellow handbag. I do a lot of yellow. Especially accessories. I wanted that pop of colour in my outfit as it's truly me. A bit like I'm bringing my own sunshine on a rainy day! I needed a bag big enough for a water bottle, some papers, hairbrush, lippy...you know how it is.
These might sound like very small and, to some, very superficial choices. And these are not the be-all and end-all for successful meetings. I know that the content is critical. However, I also know that what I wear affects how confident and competent I feel. How ready I am. The right outfit helps me to be that professional, confident, approachable individual I want to be. Contributing to my ability to deliver the best content I can.
So the big question is - did it work? Was this a successful "meeting"?
Yes! I start my new job at the end of January and I cannot wait!! Look out for more info on that on my social channels.
For advice on how to dress for the real you in all situations, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and together we'll make you the best version of you!
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