Instant messages form the basis of many of our judgments. Every day we tell the world a great deal about who we are by our appearance. Our clothes and body language are seen as clues to our character, personality, level of education and socio-economic status. Rightly or wrongly, clothes form the basis from which the wearer is judged on important issues such as moral and social values, trustworthiness, honesty, integrity and professionalism. Our visual presentation not only reflects on us personally but also on the organisations we represent.
We all need to be very aware of the messages we are sending about ourselves by the way we dress. Everything we wear, say and do should be appropriate to the situation or the job at hand. Many of us don’t fully appreciate the power of image to influence other’s opinions of us. Human beings are visual creatures, we rely heavily on our sense of sight to interpret the world around us and this includes the people we meet. Many people resent the fact that they are judged by something so seemingly superficial as our appearance. That resentment may be justified but it does not change the facts. Humans judge other humans by how they look. And yes we frequently get it wrong, but that still doesn’t alter anything. We all do it, consciously or not. We may not like it, we may feel very uncomfortable about it… but we need to accept it as a fact of life. So, if we want to be interpreted correctly and not misunderstood, under estimated or overlooked, then we need to know what it is we are saying every time we get dressed and leave the house.
The late Steve Job’s turtleneck sweaters spoke reams about his attitudes, his business acumen and his vision. In the same way, Richard Branson’s ‘can do’ approach to life is reflected in his business attire and President Obama’s ‘man of the people’ message is reinforced by his open neck shirts. These people understand the power of their visual image and they make it work for them.
Ordinary people are no less important and equally deserve to have their personalities, credentials and capabilities recognised and valued. Professional image consultants can assist people to master their visual image and maximise their professional and personal opportunities. They are expert at helping people look great and feel good about themselves. Confidence is powerful and it is attractive; when we change the outside its not long before the inside changes too.