03/30/2012 10:45 EDT | Updated 05/30/2012 05:12 EDT

Dress the Part

Image is everything. When it comes to your image, the way you dress and how you are groomed make up the majority of a first impression. What are the top five image breakers, you ask?


Image is everything.

When it comes to your image, the way you dress and how you are groomed make up the majority of a first impression. With that said, only seven per cent of what you say contributes to that, a study shows. In the first few seconds, when someone meets you, they are already forming perceptions of you and your abilities. It's important when going to a job interview, business meeting, or going about your daily life that you dress the part. The way you dress speaks volumes about who you are as a person and as a business communicator. I hate to say it, but your clothes do a lot of the talking!

I know you aren't supposed to care what people think about you, but when it comes to landing your dream job, future wife/husband, or business opportunity, it's important to understand what type of perceptions people are forming about you when they meet you. What are some of the perceptions people come up with based on your appearance? Immediately, they look to your level of professionalism, sophistication, intelligence, and credibility.

Those are just some of the perceptions people may think about you -- so it's integral that you understand proper dress, speak eloquently, and are knowledgeable about the situation you are in, or the topic you are discussing.

What are five of the top image breakers, you ask?

1. Never wear clothing that is in poor condition, worn out, wrinkly, stained, or just plain old.

2. Nails that are unclean, jagged, or haven't seen a manicure in years or hair that is not kept neat, clean, or tidy.

3. Bad breath, body odour or too much perfume or cologne.

4. Being inappropriately dressed for the occasion you are in.

5. Visible undergarments -- so bra straps, panty line, or boxers.

Pay attention to detail, always be groomed, and ensure your wardrobe is clean, current, and sized accordingly. You don't want to show up looking like you are in your dad's suit to an interview. People underestimate the important of a properly fitted suit. Tailoring is key to building a proper wardrobe. You can't expect the clothing on the rack at stores to fit you flawlessly when everyone's body, shape and size varies.

When thinking about a balanced wardrobe, you need to make sure that it includes something for every occasion and projects appropriate messages. You should feel at ease and confident in it, and you look "put together." Seems easy, but in order to build this balanced wardrobe, you need to reflect on your life. What are the many functions of your daily, weekly, monthly obligations? What is this as a percentage? For instance it could be 40 per cent business, 20 per cent gym, 30 per cent casual, ad 10 per cent formal. From these numbers, you should be able to equate what clothes you need in your wardrobe. After you have distinguished what your lifestyle is, now look at your personality? Often times when we dress, we forget to allow our personality show through our clothes. If you are a creative person, opt for clothing with interesting details, designs, or patterns in them. The last item to consider when building a balanced wardrobe is your age. Don't get caught up in current fashion trends, but consider your age and dress appropriately. You will age yourself by trying to dress younger then you are.

Your wardrobe should evolve with the seasons, your age, and your lifestyle. Make sure you always dress the part -- even if it's just a run to Starbucks in the morning. You never know who you could meet and what opportunities might present themselves!