Branding yourself with the right apparel

Are you known for the reasons you want to be known? Do people in your market perceive you according to your personal brand identity?Much has been written about personal branding in recent years, and for a very good reason. Brand experiences come mostly from the people who serve clients in business or consumers in a retail environment. A brand, whether it’s an organization, a product or a person, is perceived three ways: visually, emotionally and culturally. The way you dress affects not only visual perceptions of you but the cultural and emotional as well. Your wardrobe is a predictor of the type of person you are.As you dress yourself in the morning, think of it as a personal branding execution. What you wear sets up the first impression people have of you in every situation. For all of life’s events there are appropriate and inappropriate ways to dress. Your outfit for a given event makes a strong statement about your attitude and level of respect for the event and the people present. It sets perceptions in others for how much attention and respect you may be due.The majority of your overall appearance is clothing. Oscar Schoeffler, longtime fashion editor of Esquire magazine once warned, “Never underestimate the power of what you wear. After all, there is just a small bit of you sticking out at the collar and cuff. The rest of what the world sees is what you drape on your frame.” So drape wisely!Basic guidelinesPeople make judgments about you by the way you look. In business, this can cost you money or help make you money. For example, if you’re under-dressed at a business networking event you could be passed over for conversation by a desirable connection because the person is uncomfortable with your overly casual appearance. What you’re saying with your clothes is, “I don’t really rise to this occasion,” or “My judgment is a little off.” Or even “I don’t bother to follow instructions.”Conversely, those who understand the concept of personal branding tend to be sharp dressers. They carry themselves with cheerful confidence and attract conversations at gatherings. Wearing good-looking clothes that fit well can boost self esteem and put a spring in your step which makes you more attractive.If you’re a business or professional person, you can’t afford to be stingy with your wardrobe. However, you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money or slavishly follow fashion trends. You simply need to choose clothes that complement your coloring, suit your build, match your personality and are appropriate for whatever occasion you are attending.For some people, men in particular, this may actually sound a little complicated, but it’s easy when you deal with a professional clothier.To be impeccably dressed for every occasion is not feasible for most people. Whatever your budget, however, the professional can help you find outfits that make you look great and feel good about yourself – for what you can afford. When you follow a few basic guidelines and apply common sense, you can guarantee that first impressions of your personal brand are positive.The “wrapper” on your body is the packaging to which people will be initially attracted or perhaps want to avoid. Being suitably dressed is the first step in portraying an attractive personal brand in the marketplace. A good clothing partner will provide knowledge and suggestions for your apparel purchases to help you create your own personal branding style.Bernie Marchowsky is marketing director for George’s Apparel, Manchester. His presentation, “Suitably Dressed,” is offered free to organizations interested in learning about the basics of properly dressing in today’s business environment. For more information, call 603-622-5441.