Power dressing is a much maligned phrase. Can wearing a navy suit and bold red tie really give you the confidence you need to get the edge in an interview or business meeting? Maybe, but it depends on other factors.
The power of clothes
The transformational effect of clothes comes from how you feel when you wear them. For most of us, buying a new suit is a significant purchase. You take time to choose the perfect suit and make sure it fits you perfectly. When you put it on it feels new, it feels good and so you feel good while you are wearing it. Wear it too much and it will become familiar or worse still, it will look worn or even old – you no longer feel special when you wear it and its confidence boosting power is lost. The key message here is keep your clothes looking brand new regardless of how often you wear them. This principle doesn’t just apply to suits; whatever you wear, you will look and feel better knowing it looks brand new regardless of whether it is a suit or your favourite jeans. If an item is starting to look past it’s best and can’t be returned to ‘as new’ condition with a little work replace it, and while you are there – upgrade it for a higher quality item. It doesn’t have to cost more, but it does need to be something that will last you longer this time. It will also be a great time to learn how to care for that item properly. If you start on day one when it is new, you stand a much great chance of keeping ‘as new’.
I feel sorry for anyone who was told to wear a power tie only to find it didn’t help make the sale or get the job. If you are dressed like average Joe, but are sporting a bright wide tie of vivid colour, you will not only look like you are putting your faith in your power tie, but you will also bring attention to the rest of your outfit. On the other hand, if your suit is crisp, well fitting and clean and a bold tie compliment the outfit – sure go for it, but it shouldn’t stop there. Your tie is just one part of the overall look; it should never overpower your suit. If you want to be bold or flamboyant with your tie, I would suggest other complimentary accessories – a pocket square, a tie bar, fine watch or even well matched socks to show you really know what you doing. Don’t put all your faith in a power tie!
Can clothes give you confidence?
Absolutely they can! The magic comes when you know you are presenting the best version of yourself to the world. When your clothes fit well and you know you look good, you will gain confidence no matter the situation. That is the real art of power dressing because when you understand that principle, and you know you look good, then you will get confidence from your clothes.
There are times however, when all your hard work can be undone! Picture the scene – you wake up late for an important meeting, you stayed up too late reading up for the meeting and now your tired. You run to the wardrobe to put on that perfect suit you keep spare for important meetings. As you put on the jacket you notice a gravy stain from that business lunch last month. You were meaning to get it dry cleaned but you never got round to it, after all you are a busy man. Not to worry, you put on your next best suit – you will still look ok. Now you are really late, you had intended to quickly polish your shoes but time is pressing so you just wipe some mud off with a cloth. It’s not really a shine, but hey, who is going to notice? Just as you are about to leave the house you have a final check in the mirror and sure enough, you look ok. You will get away with it, or at least you hope you will!
The thing is, just looking ok is never going to give you the confidence boost that looking your best would. Not only that, each minor set back will actually erode you confidence, even if you are too rushed to notice.
Now re-run the scene, but this time it starts the week earlier. You know you have an important meeting next week so you check what outfit you are going to wear, lucky you did – there is a gravy stain you need to deal with so you send it off to the cleaners so it’s back in plenty of time. It’s a great suit, but you really want to dazzle so you go to your local menswear store to pick up some accessories. The assistant give you some good advice and you leave with a new tie and cufflinks. Now you are really going to look sharp. You prepare each evening by reading up for your meeting, just a half hour since you don’t want it to interfere with your recreation time. The day before you pick up your suit from the dry cleaners, you take your shoes for a professional shine. That night you set out all your clothes and get an early night. The morning of the meeting arrives. Everything is ready, you’re well prepared and you feel great. One final check in the mirror and you look a million dollars, there are not going to know what hit them…..
The key message here is prepare in enough time. If that only means put tomorrow’s clothes out tonight, do it. Don’t leave anything until the last minute, you will be doing yourself a disservice and undermining any confidence you might have had when things go wrong.
Five steps for dressing for confidence
- Keep your clothes in ‘As New’ condition
- Ensure your clothes fit perfectly
- Polish your shoes
- Finish off with details
- Prepare in enough time
Agree or disagree?
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