When I first started my career I struggled making the right impressions. My co-workers and leadership would often make assumptions about me that didn’t seem congruent with my ability and work ethic. This went on for several years before I decided there must be something negative I am communicating that I am just not aware of. I was working for a large financial institution. One day I noticed how a particular executive was dressed so obviously different from everyone else. The suit she was wearing had a custom tailored look of fine wool and of subtle shine. How did she look this way? Did she wait until becoming an executive and then alter her wardrobe to look the part? No, that couldn’t be. How could she have been trusted with leadership if she didn’t already look successful? Answer: To be an executive you must look like an executive.
This gave me inspiration to understand better what it means to look professional. With some searching I found a book called Casual Power. In it I was able to discover the social queues and unspoken messages that we express in our fashion. The author Sherry Maysonave very carefully illustrates what our clothing communicates about ourselves in our profession. I discovered quite recently how my own personal style was negatively affecting my success in business. It wasn’t obvious at first but then as soon as I began making effective improvements in my professional attire people noticed, perhaps not in the way you might expect. There was no preoccupation with the new clothes that I was wearing but I did begin to be taken more seriously during meetings. I was first to be acknowledged by leadership among my peers. This has eventually led to a significant increase in position and pay. Did looking more professional also converted me into a more effective leader? That I will never know, getting my MBA certainly helped.
If you found my career success inspiring perhaps this book will help you too!
You can find it at Amazon: Casual Power: How to Power Up Your Nonverbal Communication & Dress Down for Success