As shallow as it is, people do judge you by how you look. In fact, since your clothing and demeanor reveal so much about you, from your origins and education level to your probable income, others make snap judgments about you all the time – just as you do with them. So what can you do to harness this power and use it to your benefit, whether you’re in the classroom, climbing the ladder, staying home with the kids, or enjoying retirement? Here are five steps to creating a profitable personal image:
1. Make your Appearance a Priority
When you’re young and into fashion, how you look may be your only priority. As you get older, however, other things take more of your time like working, raising kids, volunteer work, and the like. Often, we’re so busy taking care of others that we lose ourselves in the process. We can justify dropping a lot on dressing our daughter for a special occasion yet balk at spending the same amount on ourselves. Remember: People treat you how you treat yourself. If you ignore yourself, others will ignore you as well.
2. Build a Style File
Start by flipping through a few magazines or catalogs or clicking around online. When you find looks you like and are appropriate for your lifestyle, rip them out of the magazines or print off screen shots and start collecting them in a file. You’ll begin to see a pattern of the types of clothing elements you like. You can also pick up some great styling ideas.
3. Shop in your Closet
Before you head to the mall, flip through your closet and see if you can duplicate any of the looks in your style file with what you already own. Your pieces may not look exactly like what’s in the picture (you have a yellow shirt but the picture shows a blue one, for example), but try approximating the look as closely as you can. It’s an easy way to look up-to-date without spending anything and will help you to dress with more focus.
4. Clear the Clutter
If you’re having trouble taking stock of your clothes or accessories because you have so much, get rid of the things you don’t wear so you can see what you have to work with. If you’re hauling around a bunch of stuff in your handbag, tote, or briefcase that you don’t need, get rid of it. If every inch of your office or workspace is covered with papers that need to be filed or sorted, clear them out. If you routinely use your car for business or hauling kids and it’s a mess, clean it up. In short, get rid of all the clutter around you that’s bringing you down and zapping your energy. Once you clear the mess, you’ll look and feel like you’re in control – instead of totally out of control and incapable of handling more.
5. Strive for Consistency
Strive to present a consistently polished image. Anyone can clean up for a special occasion. But if you make it a priority to consistently look good, you’ll not only feel better about yourself, those around you will consistently treat you with respect because they’ll know what to expect from you. Red-carpet starlets don’t just look good on the red carpet; they look good any time they’re photographed, which makes their endorsement partners even more confident that they have the right person for the job. So should it be with you. A polished image doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective. If you strive for a consistent look every time you walk out the door, you’ll be delighted by the response you get.