One thing I share at all my presentations and with all my clients is the 3 V's of effective communication. The Visual – what is seen, The Vocal – what is heard, and the Verbal – the actual words said. The most important element by far - the element that has the greatest impact- is the Visual element. When I speak about the visual aspect of communication, I usually talk about body language, posture, gestures, movement and facial expressions. However, one of the most obvious parts of our visual appearance is our clothing. One of my interns, Linda Rosenblum writes about what goes into creating an effective professional wardrobe.
Growing up, my mother taught me everything that she knew about dressing like a professional. "Don't show too much leg," "Make sure your shirts aren't cut too low and your heels aren't too high." Because of this advice, I grew up dressing the way my mother would dress herself – which wasn’t exactly fashion forward. On the first day of my first professional job, I walked through the front doors, confident in my outfit choice of a knee length skirt paired with an oversized blazer. I quickly, learned that this style was totally outdated. Women in my office were dressed way more provocatively in tight, ill-fitting outfits and wearing their highest heels. I was utterly shocked, so for my next day on the job, I tried to find a suitable middle ground between old-fashioned and inappropriate.
If you've been sitting at your desk pondering the effectiveness of your professional wardrobe, here are FIVE ways to impress your colleagues, while still making a statement:
1. Make sure your clothes fit properly: Keeping professionalism in the workplace starts with a polished image. Women- make sure your outfits aren't too tight, and men- remember that a suit that is too big will cause you to look sloppy.
Especially true for slightly built men I once had a client who wore clothing that was slightly too big and it had the effect of looking like he had raided his father’s closet.
2. Dress monochromatically: Dressing in one color scheme makes people look taller, richer, and more accomplished.
3. Accessorize, but don't overdo it: Small amounts of jewelry and accessories can turn an outfit from boring to exciting- just don't pile them on in an effort to make a statement. Classic and minimal accessories will give you a tasteful look that will be sure to impress your colleagues.
I’m a strong believer in dressing or accessorizing in colors and textures that compliment your strengths. If you’re strong, passionate and dynamic throw in a touch of red; If you’re creative, and energetic, a print scarf or tasteful, colorful shoes might be a great addition to your wardrobe.
4. Stay well groomed: Having good grooming habits is essential to any professional environment, whether it be keeping your hair properly in place, or having simple makeup that compliments your features.
I recently read a statistic that said women who wore makeup were taken more seriously. Of course, wearing too much makeup has the reverse effect.
5. Keep your comfort levels in mind: Remember that comfort equals confidence. If you're secure with your outfit choice, you'll spend less time second guessing yourself in the office and be more likely to be poised and assertive.
But DON’T use comfort as an excuse to look too casual. "Business Casual" can easily be interpreted as "Business I don't care"
Following these Five steps is bound to help you strengthen the Visual aspect of your communication which will help you look confident, competent and be taken more seriously.