Cleo Lacey and Beth Cooper

6 March, 2014, by Kelly Cookson

Dressing for success – Making your personal brand work for you

Speakers: Beth Cooper, Employer Relations Consultant at Nottingham University Business School and Cleo Lacey, Image Consultant and Personal Shopper, Demi Couture.

Why is personal branding important? How can it make a difference?

This Dress to Impress seminar aimed to give the audience an overview of why personal branding is important with a particular focus on business owners and service providers. The session was rounded off with a host of practical tips for people to take back to their business and wardrobes.

Beth Cooper began by showing the audience a variety of beer brands and asking why people choose a particular beer and what their perceptions of beer brands are. The surprise reveal was that despite very different perception of these beers, Stella, Becks, Budweiser, Leffe and Hoegaarden are all owned by the same company: Anheuser-Busch InBev. That’s the power of branding for differentiation.

How does the general public feel about men who wear red trousers?

As it turns out, not favourably! An excellent example of how clothing is associated with a certain type of person.

Branded work uniforms

Beth gave examples of Virgin Atlantic and British Airways as a way that a company uses uniforms to portray its brand. Virgin’s Vivienne Westwood designed uniforms certainly portray the company’s fashionable, contemporary image. In contrast, British Airways’ uniforms still include the hat as their sense of heritage is a major part of their brand.

When thinking about your company’s brand, which car would you compare it with? Which celebrity? Which animal? Think about your clients, do you understand where they are coming from when thinking about a brand that’s desirable to them?

Dressing for the circumstance

The old adage “people buy from people” is true and you need to build respect, understanding and trust by presenting yourself in a certain way.

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook is famous for wearing his hoodie for work and for meetings with bankers. He’s confident in this outfit as he is the tech expert in the situation. However, when meeting the Japanese Prime Minister, Mark wears a sharp suit and shoes as this is a situation that requires respectable dress. When meeting someone for the first time, do you need to create an image that’s going to get you taken seriously?

Remember, when a client comes to visit you at the office, they get a sense of the culture. If this is a jeans and t-shirt at work environment that that’s fine. However, when you are visiting someone away from your place of work they no longer have any context, they just see the person in front of them. Dress for the occasion.

The importance of clothing – Image rules

Cleo Lacey began her segment of the talk with the statement “image rules”. In the modern world this is all around us and it’s here to stay. Image determines how you feel about yourself, how you behave towards others, how others see you, how others behave towards you and ultimately how professional you are. Making the right first impression is crucial as is keeping this consistent.

How can we dress for success at work?

Get organised! Not enough people think about what they are going to wear at work the night before. Be well groomed and keep this consistent. Good hair, skin and nails are key and above all – smell good! People will admire you for this. Your image should reflect you as a person but it also reflects your state of mind. Think about when you aren’t feeling 100%, you may tend to dress sloppily and for comfort. Be mindful of how this makes you appear to others.

Dressing for your body shape and increased confidence at work

Cleo works with people to help them dress for their body shape which in turn improves their confidence which has a knock on effect for job performance. There are several body shapes for men and women:

Women’s body shapes

  1. Pear – heavier on the bottom half of the body, smaller on the top.
  2. Apple – carry weight on tummy and bust.
  3. Hourglass – have a definite bust, waist and hips. In and out like an hourglass.
  4. Athletic, boyish – straight up and down.

Men’s body shapes

  1. Endomorph – slightly rounded with a large waist.
  2. Mesomorph – athletic and muscular.
  3. Ectomorph – tall and slim.

You can’t change mother nature but you certainly can disguise her! Find out your body shape and pick clothes to suit it when out shopping.

Cleo recommends you accentuate your positives which then detracts from your negatives. Ask your partner which are your good bits!

Style tips for men and women:

  • Personal grooming is important – skin, hair, nails.
  • Glasses – Make sure these are stylish, up-to-date and suit your face. Ditch the old fashioned frames for a new pair.
  • Watch – A smart, practical, stylish watch gives the right image.
  • Fit – Clothes are designed to fit the contours of your body. You may need to get clothes altered to fit your body (this is normal!)
  • Sleeve length – Never have the sleeve ending on the widest part of your hand. This will make you look short and dumpy. Get jacket sleeves altered in to the wrist or higher. ¾ sleeves make you look taller and slimmer.
  • Trouser length – The longer the trouser, the longer your leg will look. You don’t want the trouser leg dragging on the floor though.
  • Skirts – A flattering length is for the skirt to fall just below the knee. If you’ve got good legs, you can show them off with a higher hem.
  • Shirts/blouses – If a shirt pulls, go up a size or ladies, get the shirt tailored to fit your waist. Ensure there’s no puckering along the seams. Zips should lay flat. Stripes should hang properly. Shoulders should sit well along the back.
  • Accessories – The best way to finish off an outfit. It is a cost effective way to update a wardrobe. Scarves are great for both men and women and can really lift a suit. Belts add colour and interest and finish off an outfit or a suit. Men take note, belts are not to be used to hold up your trousers.
  • Bags – Bags set the stylish apart from the average. Invest in a good bag (even men should do this).
  • Shoes – Can finish an outfit extremely well or extremely badly. They need to be comfortable and you should maintain them to keep them looking new.
  • Ties – Never wear a novelty tie! Keep ties clean and pressed.

Invest in classics

Invest in classic pieces of quality clothing which will last you for years to come. Break the price down by cost per wear – it will be worth it.

Wardrobe maintenance – top tips

The session was wrapped up with these words of wisdom from Cleo:

  • Remove all wire hangers! They ruin your clothes. Try knitwear hangers which have a sticky coating to stop clothes slipping off and prevent shoulders from becoming misshapen.  Use a wide hanger for jackets to keep their shoulder shape.
  • Hang your trousers lengthways and upside down to avoid creasing between washes.
  • Shoulder covers are great to protect jackets while in the wardrobe.
  • Keep your shoes in boxes. This will protect them from getting dusty and squashed. Buy clear boxes so you can see what you’ve got.
  • Leather shoes and handbags. Use a spray moisturiser every 6 months. Looking after these will lengthen their lifetime.
  • Pointy shoes, use shoe blocks to keep their shape.
  • Use a lint roller to remove lint and pet hair. Keep one in your car and at your office.
  • Protect your wardrobe with mothballs – even if you think you don’t have moths. Use Zensect mothballs which have a colour indicator so you know when they need replacing. They are scentless too.
  • Bobbled knitwear? Use a fabric shaver to remove bobbles. Brush new clothes down with a clothes brush after wearing to prevent bobbles.
  • Dark jeans – look good if you can wear them for work. Get new jeans dry cleaned before you wash them to preserve the colour. Always wash inside out on a 30 degree wash with a colour washing detergent.

What did the audience find most useful about this Dress to Impress seminar?

  • Talking about style and fashion from a personal standpoint
  • The importance of how individuals portray themselves to customers
  • The basics of personal grooming
  • Lots of tips about creating the right image
Posted in BrandingIngenuity Knowledge Exchange