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How to Shape Your Professional Image Through Style: 6 Expert Tips

Judging a book by its cover can lead to poor evaluations; nevertheless, for some, the image does matter. To shape your professional image is to choose a style that resonates with your personal brand, that is, with how you want others to perceive you and your offerings. Here are some expert tips on how to shape a style that resonates with your brand’s objectives.

1. Gain a deep understanding of your industry

Your goal is likely to represent your personal brand in a way that resonates with your profession. To do so, it’s often of use to have a good understanding of your industry’s trends in terms of dress code, expectations, and so on. For example, if you visit a law firm you’ll typically see people dressed in formal attires. At a tech company, on the other hand, a casual look is the norm.

Once you understand an industry’s expectations, the next step is to find a balance between generic standards and your style; after all, you probably don’t want to look like a prototype. For example, let’s assume you’re in a field where formal attire is a must. Whether you like this dressing style or not, you’ll likely feel more like yourself by including a unique accessory or choosing an attire with a color or pattern that will make you stand out.

2. Don’t overlook the importance of quality

While you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on designer clothes, quality can make a lot of difference in many situations. As an example, imagine you spend hours searching online for an outfit that resonates with the professional image you want to create and end up with a product that either doesn’t look as in the image or gets visibly deteriorated after just a few washes.

If you have a brand that you know and like, it’s best to stick to it, providing that it offers the type of outfit you are looking for. Alternatively, search for products with good reviews or products by brands that enjoy a good reputation.

3. Wear products that fit you well

Many of us have experienced buying an outfit that didn’t fit well simply because we liked it a lot and couldn’t resist the temptation of wearing it. When you’re trying to build a professional brand through style, however, you may want to stay away from items that don’t fit properly.

If you think this advice is an exaggeration, keep in mind that you may be wearing the outfit for many hours, perhaps while sitting at a desk. If your clothes make you feel uncomfortable, your working experience will be unpleasant and may even affect your productivity. Similarly, if you’re at a professional event, you don’t want to wear something that makes you feel uncomfortable and distracts you from what matters most.

4. Choose colors and patterns that resonate with you

In many formal settings, you’ll notice that most people wear neutral colors such as grey, black, navy, and white. Patterns such as pinstripes or herringbone are also relatively common. These stylistic approaches are fine as long as they don’t make you feel uneasy.

You can, of course, adopt a style that retains industry-specific elements while also reflecting your style preference. For example, if you wear ties, scarves, or belts, consider experimenting with colors and patterns that you like while perhaps paying attention to whether they complement the color scheme of your outfit and don't make a poor contrast with your shirt or suit. If you like accessories or just want to add some originality to an otherwise standard outfit, think of items such as jewelry, briefcases, or hats.

5. Consider consulting with a fashion expert

Asking for expert help in choosing an outfit or two might look like overdoing it and, in some cases, it is. However, there are situations in which you might be caught off guard and you need to take action fast.

For example, imagine you are being sent on a delegation to a foreign land. How are you going to dress in a way that resonates with a business culture you don’t understand while also presenting yourself as a unique individual?

To find the help you need, consider using professional platforms such as LinkedIn, where you can search for people based on their skills and location. In addition, consider leveraging the power of search websites, which can provide information about a professional that isn’t readily available on traditional social platforms. One of the best examples is Leadar, a search website where you can search for talent by entering a name, location, professional skills, and more.

6. Find a source of inspiration

Is there anyone in your industry that you really appreciate for their sense of fashion? If the answer is yes, you may want to be inspired by them without looking at an exact copy. Exactly how you do so is up to you, but there are a few things to consider.

When you look at how others dress, notice the materials, patterns, and colors they’re wearing constantly. The first step is all about identifying themes that you believe to resonate with your style. The second and final step is finding ways to incorporate these themes within your own style by, for example, removing what you don’t like and adding new elements that better resonate with you.

Bottom line: Confidence is key

Whether you like fashion or not, how you present yourself in front of strangers can have an impact on their first impression of you. Whether you want to find a new business partner or you’re interacting with customers, a particular dressing style can have an impact on your professional image.

Regardless of your outfit choice, don’t underestimate the importance of confidence. One way of saying the same is that no matter what shoes you wear, make sure you look comfortable in them. If not, others might have the impression you’re superficial and different from the image you project on them. To show confidence, learn how to wear what you like within the limits of third-party requirements. Once you’ve discovered your brand, others will too. 

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Yes, never underestimate the power of a professional look!

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