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Dressing to Impress ...

Dressing to Impress for Leadership Roles (Part II)

By Star Report 3 min read


It is often said that it takes seven seconds to form a first impression. In those seven seconds, what will your impression be? You won’t have the chance to elaborate on your resume, background, or personality. That minuscule time gap usually consists of making direct eye contact, offering a handshake, and an even exchange of names. Even if you are brilliant and ambitious, sometimes you will miss out on the opportunity to show all your traits, and instead, your appearance takes the center stage. For this reason, you should always keep the three P’s in mind if you want to dress for success: professional, poise, and personality. These aspects of dressing for success can be what helps formulate that strong first impression and sets you apart from your peers, especially if you are looking to work your way into a leadership role at one point in your career.

To view other parts of the article series, please click on the links below.

Professional: Dressing like a professional does not always require a pantsuit or a briefcase. More often than not, people neglect ‘dressing for the part,’ as they say, especially in interviews. For example, when working at an in-style fashion magazine, it is not preferable to keep the same pantsuit and button-down white collared shirt as your go-to ensemble. A great rule to abide by is to dress for where you want to go, not the job that you have. This will not only ensure a level of professionalism but also show your overall ambition, especially in our highly competitive industry.

Poise: Poise, a mixture of confidence and overall adaptable composure. When getting dressed you can’t pour yourself into something that you think, ‘fits the mold,’ of the position you are in. Your styling choices should make you feel confident! This component of dressing for success is about putting yourself in something that makes you feel polished but also makes you feel like you. You need to be honest when picking out your clothes about what makes you feel comfortable and confident. This means selecting clothes that are appropriately adequate for the position, occasion, and your desired fit.

Personality: As I said, we only have a few fleeting seconds to make an impression, so it is important that you showcase your personality in all aspects possible. When thinking about how you can express your personality through your professional wardrobe, think about the little things that can incorporate your traits in what you wear. For example, selecting a particular color or patterned tie can be one way that you express your personality a little. Someone who chooses vibrant colors and bold prints as their go-to's is likely extroverted, someone who demands the attention of the room. While you should accentuate your personality somewhat through your outfit choice, be careful not to overaccentuate it to an unprofessional point. Keep your career aspirations on the top of your mind; dress for the role you want, not the role you have.

The way you dress has always mattered. However, the value of your wardrobe and composure has increased exponentially as time has gone on, especially in a professional setting. Although it is not the only factor that attributes to your success, it is one that can affect a great deal in your career. Now tomorrow morning when you open up your closet and select your clothes for the day, think about what message you want to send to your audience and how you want it to be received. When you walk into a professional setting think about your future aspirations and build your credibility from the get-go. By dressing for success, you can showcase your professionalism and make those first seven seconds really count.

Originally published Sep 27, 2018 under Explore the latest topics, updated March 4, 2024

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