Professional Image – Look better. Do better.
When I was pregnant, I worried that I would gain sixty pounds and never take the weight off. Well, that’s not what happened. I gained 18 pounds (amazing) and most of it was gone when Grayson was a week old. Six months later, I’m fourteen pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight. I can’t explain it. It certainly isn’t a result of eating well or exercising, because I’m doing neither. But it has left me with a problem that’s impacting my professional image. None of my clothing fits. This is a good problem to have, but nonetheless, it’s a problem.
Last week I was at a networking event wearing a suit that was huge. When I put it on, I hoped no one would notice. And they might not have. For all I know, I was the only person who knew I was wearing ill-fitting clothing. But more important than what others saw, is how I felt in the suit. I felt unprofessional, unpolished and silly. Aka, I was uncomfortable. I didn’t trust my appearance and it had me doubt myself. So instead of networking, which was the purpose of the event, I went to an empty room and made phone calls.
We feel more confident and do better work when we feel good in what we’re wearing and know we look good.
Here are four things you can do to elevate your professional image:
Elevate your professional image tip #1: Take photos of yourself wearing your ‘go to’ outfits. Look at the photos and assess how you look in your favorite clothing. I’m often dismayed at how I ‘really look’ in my favorite pieces of clothing. Then start taking photos of how you look in pieces of clothing before you buy them.
Elevate your professional image tip #2: Ask a friend whose judgment you trust to weigh in on your clothing. Specifically ask, “What’s the first impression I make in this outfit? Where should I wear this? Where shouldn’t I wear it?”
Elevate your professional image tip #3: Get a good haircut. You get what you pay for. Utilize the same practice as above. Ask a friend who always looks great to share the first impression your hair makes. Then make friends with your blow dryer. This might be the part of the blog when men check out. Stay with me. This applies to you too.
Elevate your professional image tip #4: Try on old items in your closet and get rid of everything that doesn’t pass the photo and friend evaluations. If you can’t bear to get rid of things you love, box them up so you won’t wear them.
You’ll present yourself more confidently when you have confidence in your appearance.
Note, these suggestions only apply when you’re in front of other people. If you work from home and don’t see anyone during the day but your dog and the occasional neighbor, bring on the spandex or the jammies. There is a school of thought that says you’ll do better work, even at home, if you’re professionally dressed. This isn’t true for me. I do better work when I’m comfortable. So now you know what I’m wearing when you call me. Aren’t you glad we don’t Skype!