Photo by josh.liba
Fashion has always been a comfortable way for me to express myself. From an early age, I took chances and experimented with my look.
I didn’t always feel assured to raise my hand in class, join a new social circle or go to a school dance, yet my favorable fashion choices allowed me to plough through self-doubt to catch up to the confident image my personal presentation projected.
I still do this today. For example, when I feel nervous about standing in front of a group of people to give a presentation, the right outfit helps me to move through my initial anxiety and continue to fully engage in the venture at hand.
However, the most surprising and yet equally positive effect I have discovered when I carefully plan my fashion choices and dress my best, is that it becomes a social lubricant, where everybody gets engaged.
The visual stimulus makes others feel comfortable too and they are drawn to me and the discussion I am either involved in or initiating. My clients have also noticed it when they use conscious fashion choices. Try it and it will happen for you too – looking your best sparks energy in a room that lingers after you walk away.
Unfortunately, this is the exact opposite of what people think will happen!
We, at least those of us who are not celebrities, think attracting attention is a bad thing. It often stirs up limiting beliefs and messages, such as, “Who do I think I am?”, “When I look good, I will not be taken seriously on the job”, “It will look like I am trying to compete”, “Nobody cares what I wear – fashion is frivolous”, “It will look like I am self-absorbed”, “It’s not good to be in the spotlight”.
Our misguided perception and perceived risk is not in alignment with reality.
Just as a child is mesmerized by a shiny object, we too, are attracted to beauty. When we see someone dressed up and looking their best, it changes the liveliness in a room. The reality is we all perceive good fashion as F-U-N – whether we admit it or not! And it changes everyone around us for the better.
A great sense of style is not seen as competitive, either. It is actually quite the opposite! When you look your best, it shows others that you are celebrating life and who you are, and, in turn, this motivates everyone else to celebrate, too. Now, they feel they have permission to look good and feel good. Plus, they see the possibilities through your efforts. The internal messages change to “Well, if she can do it, maybe I can too”.
We inspire by example.
If you are concerned that looking your best may overshadow your smarts, know-how, passion or compassion…don’t be! Skillful fashion enhances these influential attributes. It is really important, especially in business, to communicate non-verbally also, and to utilize our appearance authentically to reiterate our professional message, goals and responsibilities.
So, whenever we start to feel uneasy about showcasing our style, and those pesky limiting messages pop into our heads, let’s not lead with fear, but rather, lead with our confident fashionista inner voice – our psyche will catch up. Let’s not deny ourselves or others the simple pure pleasure of looking good and energetically engaging. It sure is a lot more fun than schlepping in and schlepping out of our daily lives.
What professional or social experiences have you had, where you noticed that looking your best affected those around you? Are there any particular internal messages that have held you back from dressing up and looking good?