By Traci McBride
You’ll see anything from polished, professional, colorful, and relatable to awkward and … what were they thinking? I’ve seen photos that were cropped from a group shot and obvious selfies taken in all kinds of places.
Our visual representation is best made when we are current and accurate for how we want others to perceive us, so ask yourself how you want others to see you. Here are common responses and tips on how to communicate your preference. If you want others to perceive you as:
Polished — Be mindful of grooming, simple cosmetics, well-tailoredclothing, polished and well-maintained shoes and purse. Having positive body language and proper etiquette demonstrates a polished impression.
Detail Oriented — This tends to be someone who pays attention to the tiniest details of how they put things together. Men use coordinating pockets squares, mixing prints, perfectly buffed shoes; woman may use fine jewelry, leather purses, and coordinated accessories. If the industry you work in handles private information, sensitive files, and confidentiality, then you would be best served to visually communicate that you pay attention to the details.
Relatable — The key is dressing so that others feel like they could easily talk and share with you. If you consult with others in your chosen profession, you want to be relatable and visually appear so. Color and prints, as well as a relaxed presence, will many times draw others to you.
Professional — Typically a two-piece suit is our clue to someone being a professional. Depending on the profession, it doesn’t always need to be a matched suit. A third piece is often a suit coat or blazer, but a suit vest can convey “professional” in a more relaxed setting as well.
Creative — Are you a designer, decorator, writer or graphic artist? Your visual message is a way to communicate as much while setting yourself apart from the bankers and CPAs of the world. Try an interesting neckline, mixing prints or unexpected unique shoes or jewelry. Color, texture, and layering are techniques you want to incorporate into your personal presence.
Conservative — This does not mean boring! Typically, solid colors in suits or dresses will read as conservative. Boring would be basic black shoes with just about everything you own. Show your individuality with a little texture, a plaid shoe for women or print socks for men.
Traci McBride is the wardrobe stylist of TeeMcBee Image Consulting and is a longtime supporter of nonprofit Dress for Success-Cleveland.