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Do Clothes Make the Man?

What do your clothing, hairstyle and image say about you when you meet a business acquaintance or new client? Are you job hunting? Changing careers?  Maybe you just want to maintain that competitive edge. It’s time to take stock of what image you are projecting to the outside world.  In order to project a professional image in all economic climates, you may want to seek the help of an image consultant.

In today’s economy, it is important to have characteristics that make you unique and stand out from the competition, especially when you are seeking a new job or career.  An image consultant will teach you how to project a polished, professional and personalized image that will help you land that new job. You may have done the leg work to land a killer interview but now what?  How do you make a lasting impression when all you have to give is a powerful first impression? Philadelphia, New York, DC, and Baltimore are all buzzing cities for young professionals and highly competitive by nature. When interviewing for a new job, one has a limited amount of time to make a lasting impression.   By analyzing your current wardrobe, hairstyle, and make up according to your lifestyle, an image consultant will determine what changes need to be made in order to knock the socks off your prospective and existing clients.

 Your image, body language and confidence are the first characteristics that are notably apparent when you walk into a room.  Your image is what speaks volume before having a chance to say anything at all.  What does you image say about you? Are you dressed to impress? Does your appearance command too much attention?  Are you showing too much personality?  Are you dressed for the job you want? Are your wardrobe choices appropriate and current?  Many people will dust off their best suit or skirt in an attempt to portray a professional image.  This sometimes results in settling for what’s available in your wardrobe.  We all know what may be available in our closet is not always the best option.  You may struggle to compromise somewhere in between what fits and what is boring enough to be considered professional.  A professional wardrobe should be many things, but boring is certainly not one of them.  To stand out amongst your competition, you need every edge and angle to be razor sharp! An image consultant can show you how to achieve a professional identity without breaking the benjamins!  All you need to do is be willing to look and feel amazing.   

Subtle changes such as wearing a suit in an updated fabric, style, or pattern will make a huge impact when paired with the proper shirt and accessories. For men, common accessories include: watches, belts, a modern briefcase or “murse”, laptop bag, and shoes.  Every man should have at least 3 great suits that can be mixed and matched with a variety of shirts, blazers, sports jackets and accessories. With the help of an image consultant or personal stylist, these items combined should make at least 12 different outfits.  Every man should have a tan or grey summer suit that is lightweight and tailored to perfection. These colors look great with light blue, yellow, and pink shirts.  For a more casual approach, ditch the jacket and throw on a sleeveless V-neck sweater with a crew neck T-shirt underneath. For fall and winter, a crisp black or navy suit with a subtle pattern will do the trick.  Just make sure it is a heavier fabric then your summer suit.  Either way, dress pants should be belted. In a business or professioanl environment, your belt should match your shoes.

It is common for men to have an unlimited supply of button down shirts and polo’s that unknowingly turn into a convenient uniform.  Do you wear a button down shirt to work with slacks or a suit? Do you wear a button down shirt in the evenings when you go out after work?  Do you also wear a button down shirt on the weekends with jeans or shorts? If you have answered yes to all of these questions, chances are you need to add some variety to your wardrobe. You may want to consider a personal shopping session. The polo shirt is another uniform that men unknowingly conform to.  It is an easy item to wear and requires very little work and maintenance.  However, once washed 2-3 times it begins to curl in the collar and the color starts to fade.  So again, if this describes your fashion selections then maybe it is time to add some variety and style into your wardrobe or seek the help of an image consultant.

A fashion or image consultant acts as your personal stylist and shopper.  They will go through your closet providing resourceful feedback in regards to the items you currently own. An image consultant will also work with your current wardrobe to maximize the time and resources you have already invested by creating new outfits from the garments you already own. She/he will also go through your closet and recommend what existing clothing can be given up, updated or slightly redesigned to become more exciting. Your consultant will accompany you on shopping expeditions and suggest updated styles that suit your body type, lifestyle, personality and skin tones. Another convenient service the consultant provides is to take pictures of your new wardrobe with all of the different outfits put together to help take the guesswork out of getting dressed. Next, the consultant will introduce you to trained hair, skin and grooming professionals who will give you advice for a more polished look. You will then see your image come together in a step by step process.  An image consultant will help you change, manage and maintain your professional and social image to give you a competitive edge. 

Clothes can certainly make or break you.  When you are meeting someone for the first time, your appearance communicates unspoken words.  You never get a second chance to make a first impression.  The first impression you leave somebody with should be a lasting impression in order to guarantee a second and third encounter. This is best utilized in an interviewing, social, or group situation. Image, communication, clarity, and body language are all contributing elements that play a significant part in how people perceive you. When you first walk into a room, the first detail people see will be your appearance.  What does your appearance say about you?  Do your clothes say you are organized and put together?  Does your attention to detail show in your refined total look?  Are you efficient and timely or do you rush out the door every morning with little time to prepare?  Do you value and respect your clients or colleagues by making an effort to be professional?  Believe it or not, your appearance will answer all of these questions for you.  It is important to project a positive image and dress in a confident way that suggests you are aware, alert, current, and in control. In conclusion, clothes do make the man and influence the initial perceptions people have about you, at first.

Once you have created a polished and professional image, you need to maintain it!  Think of it as branding and marketing yourself.  If you show up for the first day or two of work in a suit then you should continue to project a professional image. If you show up to a first date well dressed and then the third date show up in sneakers and ripped jeans, you may be perceived in a different way. You cannot change people’s opinions of you, but you can change the actions that contribute to their opinion. So basically, if you sell or brand yourself as a professional then you should maintain that image.  This doesn’t mean that you have to wear a suit every day, but it does mean that you should work to keep a professional image.  Don’t falsely advertise yourself: own your image at all times. You can still appear polished in shorts or linen pants.  Summer is a great way to hide behind unacceptable fashion choices.  There are days when the humidity or commute to work is almost unbearable.  By the time you actually get to the office, you have huge sweat spots that have stained your shirt.  A simply solution is to throw on a clean dark t-shirt while you commute or travel to work.  A dark shirt will camouflage sweat stains until you get to where you are going. Keep a few clean work shirts in the office so you can change once you get there.  You may even want to keep a backup suit or sports jacket there as well.

Maintaining your image also means that you should remain fashionably up to date.  If you have had the same hairstyle since 1990 then perhaps it is time for something a little more suitable and current. The same applies to your wardrobe.  Your clothes should fit you proportionately!  If you are still trying to fit into a pair of pants from 5 years ago after gaining or losing weight, then chances are you need to shop for garments suitable for your current body style.  Most fabrics begin to pill and fade over time. It is a natural part of the aging process.  If you find that you are still wearing things from 3 years ago and insist they are still in “good shape” you may want to think again.  Your body naturally changes over time and can influence how garments fit you.  Clothing also tends to change overtime so it is important that you know when something is outdated or out of style.  A simple solution is to take proper care of your garments and never loose or gain weight again.  Easy enough right?  All joking aside, there are a few things you can do to prolong the life of your garments such as:

  • Make wise investments.  Purchase garments that are timeless and classic as opposed to trendy.
  • When you retire seasonal clothing, make sure to store them properly to maintain the life of the fabric.
  • When you take things to the dry cleaner, avoid starch and have all button down shirts laundered in cold water instead of dry-cleaned.  The dry cleaning process involves a high intensity of chemicals and heat that ultimately will damage the surface of the fabric over time.
  • Keep shoes stored with shoe trees and shoe covers. Make the investment, it is worth it.  You can use these for any pair of shoes.  This helps preserve the surface of the leather and prevents it from fading, hardening, or creasing.
  • Wear a T-shirt to work in the summer months and change once you get to the office.  This will help to keep your garments clean from sweat stains that are impossible to remove over a few months time.
  • Avoid purchasing white dress shirts.  Sweat and deodorant stains will eventually result in yellow armpits.
  • Does not use wire hangers! These will leave stretch marks on your garments and damage the fibers. This is irreversible.
  • Keep all suits covered in garment bags until you are ready to wear them.  The humidity and moisture in the air splits wool and cashmere fibers which will cause them to stretch and pill.
  • Keep your closet organized and accessible.

Once you have made the commitment to polish your image, these tips will help you prolong the life of your gamrents.  Let your image consultant take care of everything in between!

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