How to Improve Your Appearance in 6 Easy Ways

Years ago, when I was a newbie on Wall Street, I dressed in a suit and tie every day.  I figured that this was the way to dress like a “professional.”

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At that time there were a few people I looked up to in the industry.  Each of them had their own take on appearance.  The message that was consistent among all of them was to dress for the job you want, not the one you have. 

Essentially, this meant that clothing was only part of the equation.  The rest is in your presentation; how people receive you, perceive you and interact with you.

 

I distilled this approach down to 6 principles:

Confidence
Approachability
Authenticity
Style
Refinement
Detail

Confidence is a key factor in your success.  Presenting yourself as someone who knows what they are doing incentivizes people to do business with you. The trick is to avoid being perceived as cocky. This comes down to your first impression, expression, handshake, eye contact, tone of voice, and how you carry yourself.

Approachability is about attitude, and has the power to attract or repel others. When you are miserable, no one wants to be around you, let alone do business with you. Doing business with a miserable human makes for a terrible experience. However, when you are genuinely warm and inviting, you become a magnet. Everyone likes to be around positive, energetic people.

Authenticity is an important piece of the puzzle.  Your clients can easily tell when you are being real or inauthentic. When you present yourself as someone of genuine character, your clients will receive that message clearly.  More than that, they will believe your company takes a similar position. When you care about your clients, they will care about you. This will be reflected in their desire to transact business with you.
 

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“Dress to impress!”  Have you ever heard those words?  Your style speaks volumes about you.  Of course, you wouldn’t wear a tuxedo if it were incongruous with your brand and profession.  Wearing Dad’s old duds sends the message that you’re out of touch with the times and un-relatable.  Style is about expression, but there are some boundaries. 

Looking sharp sends a positive message to your clients. Psychologically, clients believe that when you dress like you are successful, you have the ability to help make them equally successful.

 

Style includes more than just clothing, however. Be aware of how you comb your hair, the style and quantity of makeup you wear, even your perfume / cologne.  I am not saying don't wear what you like. However, put some thought into how these, seemingly trivial things, can make an impact on someone’s perception of you. 

For instance, if you wore thick eyeliner, heavy foundation, and a lot of colored eye shadow, your audience might believe that you are hiding from the world, and question your authenticity.  The take away here is to be cognizant of how your clientele will interpret the signals you put forth.  Incidentally, luxury brands do this exceedingly well.

A refined appearance tells your audience that you care how you look.  It lets clients know that you have put thought into your wardrobe, style, and the message you are trying to send. For example, a sloppy presentation tells your clientele that you don’t care, and probably won’t care about them either.  When folks lose weight, they end up with baggy clothes.  To avoid looking sloppy or messy, best guidance here is to take note when you need to visit a clothier or a tailor. First impressions matter, and people do notice things like a polished presentation.

 
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Finally, the devil is in the details.  I suggest investing in a lint brush.  If your house is like mine, you will undoubtedly have a few (or more than a few) dog hairs floating around. A lint brush will save you from having to face a client while wearing your pet’s winter fur.

 

In addition, it never hurts to send your clothing out for dry cleaning or pressing. Investing in an iron will work too.  It would be quite embarrassing to attend a meeting with an investor, wearing clothes that look like they were balled up in the corner of a room.  Some prep work will save you aggravation, and will go a long way to presenting yourself as a polished professional.

As you can see, each of these plays a vital role in your presentation. When you dress like a million bucks, you’ll feel like a million bucks. When you feel like a million bucks, you’ll act like you’re worth a million bucks.  This is infectious and people will not only want to be around you, but they’ll want to know your thoughts.  Suddenly, you transition from professional to thought leader.