Do you know the image you're projecting as a leader? As people, we get different energies from attire that affect our communication.
Just as you feel the difference when you wear a suit instead of a casual outfit, so do your employees and clients notice the difference.
Think about those days when you feel confident in your clothes. People interact with you in a positive manner and you are at your leadership best. Then there are those days when you put on an article of clothing and feel out of sync. You don't lead well when you're uncomfortable.
An inner feeling
As children, we instinctively knew which clothes we loved. We picked out colors, styles, textures and patterns that made us feel comfortable and happy. Then we grew up. Peers, fashion and television became our clothing models. We began to second-guess ourselves instead of listening to that child-like instinct.
Do you ignore your clothing instincts? Deep down, you really know which clothes look best on you. They're the ones you wear all the time, even if you don't know why.
You also know that those items that hang in your closet and never get worn do not project your best image. Those are the outfits you're unsure of wearing.Be yourself
Is your attire sending the message of your true role? Can clients tell what you do for a living?
In today's world, we sometimes cannot tell the difference between the executive and the visitor. But to your clients and employees, there is comfort in immediately recognizing you as a leader.
With the shift in workplace attire, ask yourself how you want to be perceived. Is it professional, casual, approachable, competent, powerful? Give consideration to your choice of attire and how that choice will affect that perception.
Dress for respect
No matter your profession, certain body parts should always be covered in order to project a professional appearance. With a professional appearance comes respect.
For example, women should never wear anything sleeveless, and no one should have bare legs or ankles. A man not wearing socks or a woman not wearing hosiery is way too casual in a business situation.
Whatever you choose to wear, always think about how you want to be perceived -- with or without respect. These items are very subtle yet very powerful.Keep tailored
Tailoring is a fine detail that makes a world of difference. Unfortunately, we are not all built the same. Two people may be the same height and wear the same size. However, one person has long arms, the other, short. One has squared shoulders, the other, sloped. One has a small bone structure, the other, a large bone structure.
Even though they wear the same size, clothes may fit entirely differently. To get the perfect fit for your unique body type and to display a professional image, have all your clothes tailored.
Develop your image plan around your industry, leadership position, level of clientele and lifestyle. Attire should project individuality, what you do and your goals.
As you analyze your clothes and how they make you feel, you'll realize that a subtle change in your attire can create a powerful difference in how people interact with you. Ultimately, your visual package is a powerful leadership tool for financial success. Dawn Waldrop (email@example.com) is a national speaker and leading expert on attire in the workplace. She is author of the book "Best Impressions How To Gain Professionalism, Promotion and Profit." Reach her at (888) 577-BEST or visit www.best-impressions.com.