Learn from academic research about the ways in which we embody the clothes we wear. Understand how to show up as your authentic self and feel your best, appearance-wise.
- You've probably heard the expression, don't judge a book by its cover. But consider this. Some studies show that it takes only three seconds for people to form an opinion about you. Since there's only so much talking most of us can do in three seconds, guess what people are judging? Wait for it: your appearance. It's true, one of the most critical ways you communicate your executive presence to others is through what you look like. I'm not talking about how pretty you are. I'm talking about how you present yourself. But here's the thing. Women get told what to wear a lot. Think about all the magazines and websites telling you how to look. And I'm not going to do that. Instead, I'm going to say this. You can be a trailblazer in your industry no matter what you wear. But there are a few guidelines that can help you gauge what choices you want to make. The first is knowing that what you decide to wear affects how you feel. A famous study from the American college Northwestern University found that when people wore a white doctor's lab coat, clothing we associate with care and attentiveness, it improved people's performance in tests of care and attentiveness. That suggests that when you choose to wear something, you are taking on a persona of sorts. So choose things that make you feel ready for that big presentation or excited to nail that negotiation. The next is, if you feel authentically you in your clothes, you'll bring that originality to work. Your confidence can come through in your conversations. Your presence can change. What do you want to wear? What makes you feel powerful? There's another guideline I can offer, and it's only for you if you really want guidance on what to wear. Here we go. Identify people you admire in your industry or in leadership positions at other organizations and ask yourself these questions. How do they present themselves? Are there any patterns, and is there anything I can learn from that? Then, make it your own. That's it, you figure out your industry and norms and what works for your individual style and goals. I trust that you're smart enough, motivated enough, and strong enough to decide for yourself. Be you.