According to experts, it takes seven seconds to form an opinion about a person, even during a first meeting. In other words, your wardrobe is going to speak louder than you, at least for those critical first few seconds. This reality is the reason why friends and family will always encourage a person to dress for the job they want – because our wardrobe telegraphs that message.
This knowledge adds even more pressure towards designing a professional image. Naturally, the first step in this process is to create the perfect wardrobe. In this case, something that is business appropriate and provides the image you want.
Dress to Impress
Our images play an essential role in how the world perceives us. This is especially true in the workforce, where first impressions happen frequently.
The best way to get ahead of the game is by dressing to impress – literally. One can get a headstart on creating their professional image by controlling how they look outside – how they dress.
Define the Look
Before going through your wardrobe or running out on a shopping spree, it is critical to decide what you want from your new wardrobe. There are a variety of considerations to take into account here, which will help you decide.
For example, what are the wardrobe requirements in your current company? Is it business casual? Business professional? Is it business formal? Look to coworkers and bosses to get an idea of how they dress and, therefore, what sort of professional level you should aim for.
Alternatively, one could go the route of dressing for the job they want. This usually implies dressing a step up from their current employment status. When doing this, it is vital to find the right balance.
Finally, consider asking yourself how you want the world to perceive you. Do you want to appear as a sharp dresser? Clean cut? Stylish? Consider any (and all) adjectives that you would like to apply to yourself here, and consider how they could be implemented in wardrobe decisions.
Assess the Situation
When designing a new wardrobe, regardless of need, one of the first steps in the process is to assess the situation. This means it is time to look through the articles of clothing one currently owns. What will work with this new focus? What does not work?
Don’t forget to consider fitting. Ill-fitting clothing can leave a horrible impression and generally does not look professional. One can have clothes tailored to their needs, so there are ways to save a favorite item.
Before going shopping, it is beneficial to form a stronger idea of what you’re looking for. This will help prevent purchases that you’ll later regret while helping to define the image you are looking for.
One way to form a better idea is by taking the time to do some research. There are a variety of ways to achieve this. One could hop on a site such as Pinterest, which is designed to compile visual information. The algorithm is smart enough to create appropriate suggestions once you have input enough information.
Alternatively, one can reach out to a professional stylist. Stylists are experts in designing a wardrobe that will make a person look good. If this sounds like a step too far, consider looking at what professionals in your field are wearing. Try looking up professional headshots, media posts, and more to help gain an understanding here.
Set a Budget
It’s essential not to go overboard when shopping for a new wardrobe. The idea of recreating one’s professional image is exciting – but you don’t want to be wasteful in the process. As such, now is the time to set a budget.
Don’t worry! There are still plenty of ways to redesign a wardrobe, even on a budget. Planning, reusing current clothing articles, and focusing on the basics first are all effective ways of following this rule.
Knowing the Difference
There are several levels of wardrobe in business, and they are not always interchangeable depending on the situation. For example, a person should never wear casual clothing to a business formal event. The reverse is also somewhat true, but it is significantly more appropriate than the alternative.
- Casual – Casual clothing is appropriate for informal occasions. However, most business settings would not consider it appropriate.
- Smart Casual – Smart casual is the next step up in this process. It’s still casual but has a bit more style and flair mixed in.
- Business Casual – This is arguably the most common form of business dress and includes many staples people consider for a work wardrobe. Picture trousers, skirts, blouses, and polos.
- Business Professional – Business professional is a somewhat more traditional way to dress, but as the name suggests, it also comes off as more professional. This style is more commonly seen in workplaces that have an enforced dress code. Consider dresses, skirts, slacks, button-downs, suits, and blazers.
- Business Formal – Finally, there’s business formal. This attire is especially appropriate for formal events in the business world, such as ceremonies, dinner parties, etc. Business formal is similar to ‘black tie’ in forms of style and expectation.