Gentlemen, if you're the type to make New Year's resolutions, make 2013 the year you take five simple steps to improve your image and make a better impression in the world.
1. Keep your shoes and boots clean and polished. It's a cliche by now, but I say the same still rings true -- in the old days, a man's character was associated with how well he kept his shoes, and there is no reason to think differently now. Freshly-polished footwear is the sign of a man who takes pride in himself, and people notice.
Shoes are the base of our daily wardrobe, and if they're dirty, scuffed, and/or in need of repair, your footwear will negate any effort you've taken to dress well. On the other hand, wearing magnificently cared-for footwear can actually excuse an otherwise sloppy wardrobe -- shoes are powerful!
2. Keep your hands clean. We meet a lot of people and we shake a lot of hands, and keeping yours clean, like wearing well-kept shoes, sends a positive message about your self esteem and your respect for other people. Clean hands also reduce the spread of germs, important especially in winter -- so respect your health and the health of others and wash often!
Unfortunately, washing germs away will dry out your hands, making skin tight and uncomfortable (to the point of cracking, for some of you). The way around this is to apply moisturizer. Now fellas, I hear your complaints already, but moisturizing your skin is no different than using oil to keep your baseball glove supple. To avoid the discomfort of dry hands, gents, try to apply at least once a day, preferably after your morning shower.
3. Keep scent to a minimum. Remember that most, if not all of your grooming products, from shampoo to shaving cream, are scented. If you wear aftershave or cologne, this is another fragrance on top of these scents, which gets to be overpowering quickly.
Keep the smell volume down low, because you may be the only one enjoying the fragrant symphony hanging around you.
4. Wear well-fitting clothing. When dressing for business or casual, if you're not paying attention to the fit of your clothes, you're doing yourself a disservice. It doesn't matter how big or small a man is, ill-fitting clothes visually change your body shape.
Wearing too-small clothing makes bodies bulge and pushes us out of proportion. Too-big clothing gives visual obesity while making us look insignificant as we swim in excess fabric. A correct fit accentuates the positive and makes us more confident -- makes a better impression too.
5. Stand straighter. Want to lose a visual five pounds and feel more confident? Inhale, straighten your spine, lift your eyes, and square your shoulders.
People don't often pay attention to the way they stand, but posture speaks loudly; it can diminish us in the eyes of others or boost our presence and mood. People notice confident people, and confident people stand straight.
I encourage you to watch this 20-minute TED talk with social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, who explains body language and how to turn up your testosterone and your confidence by assuming two-minute "power positions":
Without spending extra money, you can sharpen your image by following these simple steps, making for a more confident and memorable 2013. Happy New Year!