The Importance of Clothing in Building your Personal Brand
We’ve all heard the saying, “dress how you want to be addressed.” No, not the way it has been used against women’s free will in society lately, but more in the sense of building your personal brand. If you are trying to attract a specific audience or want to be known for something specific, your clothing really does say it all.
For example, if you’re an interior designer and you showed up to an appointment with a client dressed in jeans, flip-flops and a t-shirt, do you think the client will trust you to design their home? The answer is probably no. However, if you appeared dressed nicely, with your nails done, shoes clean, you are more likely to get a “yes” from the client. This shows the client that if you can put yourself together, you can certainly put their house together.
Prior to joining my current company, I worked in consulting where you had to dress in a professional manner, especially when dealing with clients. Since I primarily worked in the client’s office, I had to wear dress pants, blouses and blazers to work every day. I really loved it because I would get off the train in Toronto and I felt like people respected me as I walked to work. There was a sense of belonging because most people around me dressed the same and you really do feel a sense of community during this 5 minute walk to the office. Whenever I got to the office, I was met with people who dressed the same and whenever I would sit in front of the client, I was taken seriously because I dressed the part.
Fast forward to my current company, where the culture is more laid back. I now wear jeans, sometimes ripped, and t-shirts to work. I also wear running shoes and all in all, I am generally more comfortable. This was an adjustment for me because I literally had to go to the mall to buy jeans when I got the job offer. I didn’t want to stick out like a sore thumb when walking through the office in my blazer and pant suit. Don’t get me wrong, you are encouraged to dress however you see fit (within reason of course), however, I really wanted to fall deep into the culture and so I begun to dress in a more street-wear, laid back style.
Now that I am building this brand however and know who it is I envision myself to become and how I want to be addressed, I have had to tap into a mix of my professional and laid-back self to create the perfect medium. My laid-back look to work simply won’t cut it. In order to build a personal brand, you too need to do the same. Below are 3 things to consider when determining your clothing choice for your personal brand.
1: WHO DO YOU WANT TO BE PERCEIVED AS?
First step is figuring out who you want to be. What is your ultimate goal? For me, I want to embody the #24hwoman and eventually will like to be invited to speaking events where I can share my knowledge on entrepreneurship and women empowerment. In order to be perceived as this person and apart from cultivating that knowledge, I also need to dress the part. My closet needs to speak for itself. Pictures people see of me and even when they run into me in the street, needs to embody this. I don’t need to be in a suit in my day-to-day but I do need to dress like the founder of this movement. I need to become the #24hwoman.
2: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Knowing your audience also makes it easier to understand your clothing choice. Let’s say you were invited to a networking event for working professionals, your choice of clothing should reflect this audience. Nothing wrong with wearing jeans however, throw a blazer on it to make it smart-casual.
3: BE YOURSELF
Personalization is key. Just because you want to dress how you want to be addressed doesn’t mean you forget who you are. Do not try and emulate someone else - it backfires faster than you can imagine. No matter how much I want to be addressed as someone who knows about entrepreneurship and female empowerment, I will never dress in a way that I don’t feel comfortable being myself. After all, it is your personal brand. Currently, I call my style chic. Chic as in, I can wear a pink suit or jeans with a blazer and still be myself.
I would love to hear from you what you want to be perceived as (personal brand) and your clothing style!
Written by Victory Omotayo