How to Dress for Success and Build a Personal Brand

Lesson 6/8 - Appearance


How to Dress for Success and Build a Personal Brand


Lesson Info


So let's start to target these three areas. And let's look for those opportunities. Let's look for those particular places where we could make small improvements that have tangible impacts on the way we're seen and the way other people interact with us and think about us. The first thing I want to mention about appearance is that it matters that you're neat and that you're clean. This sounds so obvious. And yet, it's not. I don't know what's gonna be fashionable next year. I don't know what colors are gonna be in style, what qualities of fabric, the shape of garments that are gonna be considered flattering. But I do know that, if you take pride in your appearance, people will notice. I don't know what industry you're gonna work in. If you plan to be a tattoo artist on the West Coast, you're gonna make very different choices than if you plan to work for a large insurance company in Connecticut. But whatever industry you work in, whatever particular choices you're making, take pride in y...

our appearance. People will notice. Let me tell you a story about Jeremy Fitzgerald. He was my closest neighbor at a small cabin I lived at, on the side of a mountain at Huntington, Vermont. Jeremy worked as a logger in the wintertime. He would do winter logging. I'd be getting up for work in the morning, I'd be heading out the door. It was all I could do to put the right button in the right buttonhole. And Jeremy would be out preparing his equipment for a day at work. And he always looked better put together than I did. His particular work attire was usually a flannel shirt. This is Vermont. And Carhartt pants, appropriate for working as a logger in the winter in Vermont. Probably flannel lined. They looked like they'd been pressed and ironed. Jeremy is known around the town of Huntington, Vermont. It's hard to book time with Jeremy Fitzgerald. I was his neighbor, so I was fortunate. I got to work with him. Because it was easy for him to say yes to me because I was right next door. But if you're trying to book time with Jeremy, you usually have to do it a season or a year in advance. He takes care of his equipment with the same care that he takes care with his appearance. You could eat off the floor of his garage. He cleans the sparkplugs on the small engines that he uses for work, with a wire that's the appropriate gauge so you don't get buildup or residue, so that they last forever. He mows his lawn with a criss-crossing diagonal pattern that leaves a diamond checkerboard. He takes pride in his appearance. It's not the particular choice that you make. It's about how your professional reputation is built with the care that you present yourself with. I tell stories about Jeremy Fitzgerald when I'm teaching in Seoul, when I'm teaching in Seattle, when I'm teaching in Burlington, Vermont. Last time I was teaching in Burlington, Vermont, someone, "I know Jeremy Fitzgerald! He's amazing!" I said, "I know. I was his neighbor. "It was really nice when I lived next door." When I was looking at that house, it was one of the things they told me. They said, "Your neighbor here, "you're gonna love him. He's great!" It's part of what sold the house to begin with. Take pride in your appearance. People will notice. Also true of your person. You want to be well groomed, and you want to double check. So, the bullets here on this slide used to say body odor and bad breath. But some of my clients just thought that was too gross. They didn't want me to mention body odor and bad breath. So I changed it to well groomed, double check. Someone would tell me if I had body odor. You know what? They might not. You might not smell your own bad breath. Maybe you started drinking coffee in your mid-20s, and you didn't know that coffee breath is a thing. I had another friend, an attorney, left a law firm in New York in 2008, because he just couldn't take the coffee breath. He used to tell me his boss leaked coffee. Every time he put is cup down somewhere, it would leave a ring. He'd come over and talk to you, and just the coffee breath coming out of his mouth. It was hard to get an attorney to leave a paying job in New York in 2008. We had a trainer at the Emily Post Institute, worked for a high-powered law firm in Texas. One of the partners had bad breath. Everyone in the organization talked about it, and no one had the courage to talk to him about it. Doesn't matter what level you are, what degree of success you've reached. Oh my spouse would tell me. I'm gonna tell you about the spouses that reach out to me at the Emily Post Institute and say, "You know, "it's the way my husband chews his food. "I just can't bring myself to tell him about it." Or, "I've told him about it, he just doesn't hear me." Personal grooming, our habits for grooming are gonna change over the course of a lifetime. The things that we need to take care of are gonna change over the course of a lifetime. It doesn't mean that you weren't raised well or that you don't care. I want you to think back to your Image Team. Think back to the person who you know the best. That person's gonna be your ally. That's the person that's gonna help you with this particular question. You're gonna talk to that person. You're not just gonna talk to that person and say, "It's okay to talk to me about these things." You're gonna talk to that person, and you're gonna say, "I want you to talk to me about things "that we don't usually talk to each other about. "I want you to talk to me about grooming and hygiene." You have to explicitly ask for someone to cross that divide and to make that effort with you. My person is Lizzie Post, my co-author on Emily Post's Etiquette. Before we go do a book tour, we talk to each other. There's gonna be publicity photos, I'm gonna be doing interviews. I don't wanna find out when they come back that I looked like this. Or that I wasn't presenting the way I thought I would or the way I would've liked. Here are some things that we don't usually talk to each other about that I want you to hold me accountable about. Is there anything else? I'll give you a personal example. I've got an antique dresser, and I was keeping my shirts in it. And my T-shirts started to smell like the antique dresser. You wouldn't have thought that a new piece of furniture would affect your personal hygiene, but guess what? I needed to get some potpourri bags or something to put in the dresser so that my shirts didn't smell like old dresser. You just don't know. I had no idea. She told me at the copy machine one day. I can still remember it. I appreciate knowing that. Well groomed, double check, you're not just gonna know yourself. My final tip, there's room for it on the slide, is the tip that could be surmised or reduced to the rule of too. And that's T-O-O, not the number two. Is this too much? Have I gone a little too far here? Is the scent a little too strong? Is this hemline a little too low, a little too high? Is this fashion choice a little too forward, gentlemen? Tie clip, pocket square, colorful socks. Just dial it back a little bit. Choose one accent element, French cuffs. Enjoy discovering the way you can dress up a suit. But don't overdo it. Defer to that little discretionary voice in your mind. And if you never hear that little discretionary voice, start to cultivate it. I worked with someone from Chanel once, who told me that Coco had said, "Before you leave your apartment, take a look at yourself "in the mirror, and the first thing you notice, "take it off." You don't want to distract from the quality of your work, what you bring to an experience. I've heard that story told with other protagonists. I've heard that story told with other people giving that advice. Just take a quick look in the mirror, just a glance. And the first thing that you see, think about dialing that thing down just a little bit. You don't want something to stick out. Take attention away from what you bring to a situation that's substantive and content-oriented, particularly professionally. This is a piece of professional advice. Maybe that choice that you're making is a particular statement choice. That's what you want to do. By all means, continue. Oftentimes, in business situations, we're deferring to a slightly more formal standard.

Class Description

Your overall image is an essential aspect of proper etiquette, including how you look, act and speak. No amount of good behavior will get you anywhere if your appearance is sloppy, your body language is awkward, or your tone of voice is loud or grating.

This course focuses on improving your image and personal brand, both in real life and the virtual world. You’ll do a personal assessment of your image, identify factors that impact your relationships, and discover ways that you can polish your personal brand.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Build your image team.
  • Evaluate and improve your online presentation.
  • Make small improvements to both your real-world and virtual personas.
  • Polish your appearance through better hygiene and attire, without overdoing it.
  • Use your body language, posture and eye contact to improve your image.
  • Modify your voice, including your tone, speed, inflection, laughter, accent, and pronunciation.