Projecting a professional image is important. Maureen Costello, President of Image Launch in Lake Forest should know because it’s been her business for the last 20 years. A critical component of professional image is maintaining a contemporary look. Wearing outdated clothing, no matter how attractive, diminishes one’s professional appearance.
So how can you be sure your look fits with today’s styles? Maureen offers some practical advice.
1. Conduct a Closet Audit
- Study the styles in several current department store catalogs, and clothing websites. Notice the general dress of the senior management.
- Based on what you see and observe, discard clothing that’s out of date, including items that are more than three years old, ill fitting, or gathering dust.
- Remove and donate items that may have been over-worn even if they’re among your favorites.
2. Conduct a Self Assessment
- Study your personal coloring. Have you changed your hair color? Do your clothes reflect and flatter your hair, skin and eye tones?
- Has your body shape changed in the last 18-24 months? Look at recent photos for realistic clues. Ask a friend for honest feedback or pay a professional stylist for recommendations.
3. Go Shopping
- The best time to shop is Tuesday or Wednesday morning when the stores open. The staff is fresh and the regular team members who know the merchandise are present.
- Shop for a wide range of garments at all dress levels: Formal, Business, Business Casual and Casual so you have a fully functioning wardrobe that covers you for any event. Have clothing tailored, if necessary.
4. Introduce Your New Look
- If you’re uncomfortable, introduce your new look in stages.
- A haircut and new glasses are a good start. Follow-up with adding updated pieces to your existing wardrobe such as pairing an updated shirt with an older sweater or replacing pants with a skirt.
- Try to mix up your dress levels to avoid the comment “You’re dressed up so you must be going on an interview.”
Maureen also points out that image is made up of more than simply appearance. Word choice counts, too. As an example, a female friend recently referred to a new “boyfriend” jacket as a blazer and a young woman knew she had to be her mother’s age. Of course, don’t go to the other extreme either. Hearing a 50-ish executive say “Hey, Dude!” also sounds ridiculous.
Maureen’s final piece of advice: “Updating your look will improve your confidence, so go for it.”
Maureen Costello is President of Image Launch. She works internationally with organizations to develop positive visual appearance strategies in the areas of business etiquette and professional presence. As a consultant in the US and Singapore for four years, Maureen has worked with large multinational organizations to develop their top talent. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.