People make split-second judgments about you constantly! You can’t change that. However, you CAN improve that initial impression. One simple step can change peoples’ perception of your competency.

Your Chatty Wardrobe

What do your clothes say about you?

As a frequent flyer, I have adopted a uniform of sorts for work travel. I wear a smart blazer, a printed blouse or camisole, dressy jeans, and red flats. While standing in line to board the plane, I almost always get approached by a frazzled passenger, asking which group is currently boarding. There are dozens of available people standing around me, but I am consistently singled out and approached with the question. Why? People assume that if I look put together ascetically, I am likely to be on top of things in other areas of life as well.

On the flip side, I have also flown around the country and world for hiking excursions and backpacking trips. While donning my more casual adventurer look, I never get approached with questions from other passengers. Instead, the businessman or woman in polished attire, who is waiting in line with me, is trusted with those answers.

The Psychology Experts Agree

So does your attire really matter if you want to be respected and taken seriously as a wellness speaker and health expert? Yes. Those beloved yoga pants, distressed jeans, or frumpy top are not helping you gain, retain, or captivate clients.

Extensive research on the psychology of fashion firmly backs this up. Even small variations, such as suit tailoring or skirt length, can influence how competent, trustworthy, and successful you are perceived to be. 

Therefore, if you want to be taken more seriously, level up your wardrobe. Pull out the good stuff for those high visibility networking events and speaking gigs.

Be a Savvy Shopper

When it comes to work clothes, often less is more. Purchase a few, higher quality (if possible) key pieces that you can easily mix and match with the rest of your work wardrobe.

If you cannot invest hundreds of dollars into your closet, don’t worry. You can improve your style game without breaking the bank. Here's how:

  1. Shop the clearance section at more expensive stores, and purchase great staples at reduced prices.

  2. Find a thrift store in or close to an expensive area of town where wealthier folks are donating great clothing. If you are willing to comb through the riffraff, you will likely find some gently used, high quality pieces. My favorite J.Crew blazer was a $5 thrift store deal!
  3. Re-use and save. On-line stores, such as ThreadUp (women only), exclusively sell gently used pieces from mid to high end clothing lines, and they do so at a fraction of the original cost.
  4. Be squeaky clean. Beyond basic hygiene, pay attention to simple details such as keeping your hair well groomed, ironing your clothes if needed, and making sure your shoes are not scuffed up.
  5. Wear clothes that fit you properly and are flattering to your body type. If you don’t know where to start, use Stitch Fix or a similar service that will help you hone in on your style.
  6. Make sure you are wearing flattering colors for your skin tone. (And yes, work clothes don't have to be boring. Add a pop of color!) A tan blazer might look great on one person while making someone else look washed out and sick. As a wellness expert, you need to look healthy. Avoid sporting clothes that work against that objective. 
  7. Ladies, keep it under-wraps at work. Studies have shown that overly tight or revealing clothing decreases your perceived competency. Therefore, close that extra shirt button, opt for the longer pencil skirt, and leave the strappy platform heels at home if you want to be taken seriously.

What fashion tips and tricks do you employ to give you an edge in business? I'd love to hear from you! Join the conversation by commenting below. If you found this article helpful, let me know through a "like!"