They say that it takes 7 seconds for someone to form a first impression of you. That’s right – when you meet someone for the first time, whether that’s in your personal or professional life, you’re being judged almost immediately. Of course, it’s also the same the other way around: we’ve all experienced meeting a business contact and being put off by grubby fingernails, scruffy clothes, or questionable personal hygiene. In order to make the best first impression when you meet someone new, your clothes are a good place to start.
I’m a singer-songwriter, and I also mentor creatives on how best to achieve their goals within this industry. For other musical artists, that extends to things like how to get a record contract, which obviously means lots of in-person meetings with potential managers. It’s a competitive world out there, and over time, I’ve learnt that a great way to stand out is by expressing your personal brand through your style. As Forbes points out, people will judge you on your appearance before you even open your mouth. That means that dressing in a way that’s authentic to you is a great step in showing off your character and what makes you unique. This extends beyond the creative world, too – it’s just as important for entrepreneurs or freelancers turning up to pitch to potential clients.
After years of trying out new things in the style department, here’s what I’ve learnt about expressing your personal brand through your style.
Who are you?
Style is an extension of your personality. The first step to making sure your personal brand emanates through how you dress is – surprise surprise – to nail your personal brand itself. Who are you? How do you want people to describe you? Are you an introvert, or do you want to draw attention every time you step into a room? Whether or not it’s a conscious process, what you wear tells strangers a whole lot about your personality, which extends into how you are to work with, and eventually whether or not someone will decide to work with you. It’s not always that simple, of course, but if you’re hiring a freelancer for some design work, for example, you’d want them to be reliable – and turning up to a meeting with a stained shirt with holes in it won’t necessarily project that image… Once you’ve figured out your personal brand, it’s time to take a look at what style would work for you.
Get Inspired by others
The creative’s heaven, Pinterest is a great place to start looking for fashion inspiration. Often, we can get stuck in our ways, and if you’re used to always dressing in a particular way, it might not strike you that there are other things to try. Scrolling through inspiration in magazines or Pinterest can help us think outside the box, and be a little more daring. First, look for inspiration with no preconceptions and without thinking to yourself, ‘Oh, this wouldn’t look good on me’. Just screenshot or tear out images focusing on what you’re drawn to. Then, lay everything out next to each other and look for the patterns that emerge. Is it a certain colour? Are you especially drawn to oversized garments? For me, I’m really drawn to the colour pink, and to clothing with bold shapes. If you look at my Instagram, you’ll see that I’m usually performing wearing some combination of those things – often with some glitter thrown in, too. I love pink because it feels very feminine and powerful to me, so I use that as a base colour when I’m putting a look together. Once you’ve figured out what styles you tend to be drawn to, use this to guide your next shopping trip.
Focus on the Feeling
When you feel your best, you look your best. There’s no point in wearing something ultra fashionable if it just makes you feel uncomfortable and self-conscious. I like to focus on fabrics and the physical feeling of the material – this can also play into how you feel on the day. You might love the way that silk or velvet feels to the touch – if so, look out for clothes that incorporate those fabrics. You might find that you’re extra peppy when you’re wearing a neon jacket, or a top with winged sleeves. Close your eyes, and think of a time you felt really fabulous. Maybe you were walking out of the door to an important meeting, or maybe you were twirling on the dance floor at a glamorous party. Now, think about what you were wearing when you felt that way, and see if you can incorporate elements of that into your everyday look. A ball-gown might not be appropriate for a work meeting, but if you loved the silky feel, why not look for a shirt in the same material? If you felt great walking down the street in Berlin in killer biker boots, could you pair those same boots with a dress that’s suitable for work? The better you feel, the better you’ll perform – it’s as simple as that.
Dress for you – and no one else
It’s true that some outfits just won’t be suitable for a work event. But it’s 2020, and there are literally millions of options out there on the high street, in vintage shops and in charity shops – or even in your wardrobe if you pair things in new ways. An extension of your style reflecting your personal brand is that it should also feel true to you. It’s not about what’s in fashion at the moment, or what your partner thinks you look good in. The more conscious you are of your personal brand, the more authentic you’ll feel in your fashion choices, too.
Decide who you want to be, and show up as her
It might be a cliched Instagram quote, but there’s a lot of truth behind it. Dress like the person you want to be, even if you don’t feel like that person just yet. If you have a massive meeting with someone important that you want to work with, wear something powerful. Platforms work a treat for me – they make me feel tall, powerful, special… it’s the elongated legs! Even if I don’t feel powerful in that moment, and if I’m very nervous about the meeting, my outfit helps me to step into the energy I wished I had, because I’m projecting a powerful image. It’s crazy how well it works. It’s the same reason why putting on your pyjamas can help you feel sleepy in the evening: somehow, your clothing helps you to change your mindset. So next time you’ve got a big event ahead, think about your choice of outfit, and the image you’re projecting – it might just help you score that deal, ace your speech, or sign a big new client.
If you’d like to find out more about how to develop your everyday style, I’m hosting an event on January 21st at Huckletree West in London, chatting with celebrity stylist Rachel Holland. Use the special Found and Flourish discount code F&FSTYLE for 20% off your ticket!
About the Author
Leah Williams is the Blog Editor for Found & Flourish, working with Co-Founder Lara Sheldrake to ensure every piece of published content is empowering, inspiring and well presented, just like the women we work with.
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