A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of presenting a Professional Dressing Workshop to a fabulous group of women. One of the topics we discussed was creating a great impression and eliminating the image breakers.
An image breaker is something that in your eyes diminishes a person’s character. Sounds harsh doesn’t it? Image breakers impact on the impression that we make on others (especially the first impression) and unfortunately, we are wired to form judgements on others based on their appearance, body language and tone of voice.
The aim in eliminating image breakers is to take away those superficial distractions so that others see the image that you wish to project and focus on you.
I asked each member of the group to come up with their top 3 image breakers in relation to personal presentation at work. It is important to point out that none of the image breakers identified relate to personal attractiveness but rather attention to detail, grooming and behaviours.
So here are the top 10 (in order):
1. Ill fitting clothes
Clothes that are too tight or too baggy may indicate that you lack self-awareness. In most instances for work it is most appropriate to wear garments that are semi-fitted rather than fitted. If you find that you are in between sizes, it may be worth getting the larger size and having it altered.
2. Ripped, worn or soiled clothing
Always check your clothes for stains, rips and general wear and tear before returning them to your wardrobe. That way if you’re in a rush you won’t find yourself in a position of putting something on that needs attention but you don’t have the time to deal with it.
3. Underwear on show or poorly fitted
Well fitted underwear is the key to looking great. Ensure that you have a professional fitting at least every 12 months and invest in the right pieces to complement your wardrobe.
4. Showing too much skin – in particular short skirts
A couple of rules for work attire: skirts should finish no shorter than 5cm above the knee; and tops should be no lower than 2.5cm above the cleavage. Outside of work it’s all about personal preference (and a whole lot of confidence!).
5. Heavy make up
Keep it simple. If you like wearing make up I recommend having a make up lesson every 2 – 3 years to update your look to ensure that it is current.
6. Untidy appearance
It may lead others to assume that you are overwhelmed or do not take appropriate care – not only in your appearance but also your work.
7. Wearing casual clothing that is inappropriate for the occasion (i.e. track pants, ugg boots and leggings as pants)
Others may feel that you don’t care enough to dress appropriately which in turn shows a lack of respect for your clients and colleagues.
8. Chipped nail polish
I understand that it can be tricky to fit in a regular manicure (either at home or a salon) so it may be better to go au-natural. At a minimum keep nails short, filed and clean.
9. Chewing gum
I highly recommend chewing gum after a meal laden with onions or other such odours, but best to be discreet about it. Chewing gum in a meeting is an absolute no – no but amazing the number of people who do it.
10. Large tattoos on display
This is a hot topic given tattoos are a growing trend and more widely accepted. Just be aware that they are not everyone’s cup of tea.
Are they what you expected? What would you add? I would love to hear your thoughts.