Dressed for success. – Roxette
On Sunday night a few of my girlfriends and I watched Roxette LIVE in concert at the Coca-Cola Dome. The last time this Swedish band was in South Africa was seventeen years ago when they played at Ellis Park. We all had a fantastic night jamming and singing our lungs out. Surprisingly (if you know me well!) I knew all the words to her songs. The memories of road trips when I was younger with my family and sleepovers with friends came flooding back. We all decided to dress up for the night which is not difficult as Roxette always wears black, leather, silver and heavy eye make-up. On the night she was wearing the most incredible jacket – black leather adorned with silver sequins on the shoulders and arms.
One of her more famous songs is arguably Dressed for Success and has become a popular slogan. This got me thinking about the whole concept of first impressions and how others judge you based on your appearance. When I started working I found myself in the midst of a wardrobe crisis. My cupboard was filled with jeans, vests, shorts and slops and the occasional dress to go clubbing in. How was I meant put together a corporate ensemble? I believe in cultivating a powerful executive image as people do selectively filter and pay attention to physical appearance and body language. Both of these are important elements and care should be taken to exude the correct impression to strangers when first meeting them. Whether this entire concept is “PC” or not is a debate on its own.
There has been a lot of research conducted on this subject and a simple google search will offer some insight and scientific/psychological studies. I asked the question on Twitter and spoke to some friends about whether people judge others when they first meet them based on physical appearance and all responses I received were similar; “I do not consider myself judgemental but yes if a person does not look after themselves or present themselves with pride I do judge.” Surprising? I do not think so. None of us would like to think of ourselves as judgemental but I think this is an inherent bias. We are all judgemental and superficial to a certain degree.
There are a few reasons why I think a person should actively construct the image they want to portray.
- It is very difficult for people to reject a first impression, literally having to “unsee what seems like ongoing evidence in support of first impression” (WEISBUCH, M. (2009). Ask the Professor. Why do first impressions stick with us so much? Tufts Journal. Weblog [online] 23 September 2009. Available from: http://tuftsjournal.tufts.edu/2009/09_2/professor/01/. [Accessed 2012/06/06].
- Human beings have fickle memories and if the first impression was not of a certain standard we are prone to remember it with even more bias towards the negative side. If a negative first impression was created it is further enforced here.
- The body language you project can impose itself on the people whom surround you. So, for example, if your attitude is not engaging or is negative the people around you will start exhibiting these traits. In general, not an environment conducive of productivity.
- Although I firmly believe that you need to be yourself too. There is no point acting like an extrovert at a first meeting when you are usually a shy person. People will later start to wonder what else you lied about.
- When dressing up for the corporate world or an interview; wear what you feel comfortable wearing. It is possible to adapt any outfit to suit your personality. This is very important. I love colour and comfort and refuse to only wear black and matching suits (and heels) to work every day. Express your individuality through your personal appearance. This will only add to your brilliant concepts and ideas to implement at work.
- Always be aware of the power of first impressions and use this knowledge to your advantage. (knowledge is power!)
Below are a few corporate looks that I think suit my personality and that I would personally wear. Maybe soon I’ll post some pictures of myself dressed for success!
From Style Sprite (a relatively new blog so looking forward to more quirky but well put together looks from her)
Please share your thoughts on this subject with me in the comments section below.Click on images to view larger versions.