THE OPEN HAVERSACK: Appearance matters
“Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?” These should be the words asked every and any time you are dressed to leave your home, be it for work or social interaction.
It is not that you are being vain nor conceited, but ensuring that when you leave home you are dressed appropriately for the occasion. Therefore, it is not expected that party type apparel will be worn in a work environment nor vice versa.
The packaging of your personal brand is strongly determined by the way you dress and conduct yourself. Whether you like it or not, you will be judged on your appearance. Our personal appearance is a message we send each day to the people with whom we interact. It immediately gives us away or hides something about us. As the saying goes, “first impressions count”. First impressions are the most lasting, for one never gets a second chance to make that first impression.
How we present ourselves in public is a choice we make. How we wrap ourselves up in our clothes, shoes, make-up, accessories, hairstyle and attitudes are totally up to each individual. Therefore we are actually selling our brand. Let us face reality – people react to our “looks” whether we like it or not. They formulate their own opinions about our “taste”, self-esteem, values and believe it or not, our ability to make decisions.
Be mindful that most of the time when you meet someone or go into a business meeting, the person you are encountering for the first time has already formed an impression of you based on your non-verbal communication with them up to that point. Your appearance matters.
It is therefore imperative that when you are dressed especially for work, to present yourself in a way that is pleasing to the eye. Wear comfortable clothing. If females have to be constantly pulling down their skirts or dresses, the message is clear – the attire is not appropriate.
Please wear shoes that are comfortable. Women should avoid wearing heels that make their calves pull, or causes them to “scotch” and take 15 minutes to get to a destination that will usually take five. It is unsightly and takes away from your appearance. If you have to take your shoes off and change into another pair while at work to make you comfortable, then your shoes were not appropriate from the beginning. Know the fit and style that is most comforting and suitable for your body type. Every style is not for everyone.
Remember, people will talk and make subtle remarks about aspects of your attire behind your back. Avoid being the “laughing stock” of others.
If you are criticised, look for some merit in the criticism and take it constructively. This can only help with your improvement and stop you from being the joke in the crowd later.
Remember that when you asked the mirror: “Who is the fairest one of all?”, the answer coming back should be “you”.
Rhonda Blackman is an educator, a reviewer with the British Research Journal and a member of the American Education Research Association. Email [email protected]