Women have long recognized the value of time management, money management, business management, home and family management, and maybe meal management. Another “branch” of management generally overlooked is image management—including wardrobe management.
To some, the word “image” means superficial gloss, frivolity, and vanity. Nonsense. Image is an essential part of the human experience, a visible, key factor in daily life. We all practice image management every day of our lives—to varying degrees and often without thought. In effect, image sets the boundaries for personal interaction or involvement—in the home, the school, church, and community, as well as in the workplace. Our image can work for us or against us—diminish our capability or empower us to greater ability and credibility.
Image management is the ongoing process of evaluating and controlling the impact of your appearance on yourself, on others, and the achievement of your goals. Positively, it is creating an authentic, appropriate, attractive, and affordable personal/professional appearance which increases your confidence, capability, credibility, and productivity. In the long run, image management simplifies your life and contributes to your continuing success.
Make no mistake about it. Image—the way you look or appear—directly affects:
1. The way you think,
2. The way you feel,
3. The way you speak,
4. The way you act or behave, and then
5. The way others react or respond to you.
Following are six image management tips relating to the Conselle Institute’s Personal/Professional Style Scale, tips that work to empower you.
1) Do not give into a casual-sloppy, sexy, or cutesy appearance for the sake of fashion trends or peer pressure. Visual cues of this sort are distracting and reduce your effectiveness in leadership or professional roles—including the parent in the home.
2) Do wear moderately-sized shoulder pads under tees, shirts, sweaters, vests, or jackets to add width to your shoulders to better balance your bust, tummy, and/or hips below. For those who think they hate shoulder pads, don’t think of shoulder pads as fashion trends, but fitting tools!
3) Do change from a round-neck top to a V-neck top or tee to increase your visual authority. A V-neck top or tee draws attention upward and frames your face with straight lines on an angle, communicating more stability, strength, and action. Rounded necklines cause you to appear softer, malleable, more submissive.
4) Do change from a collarless top to a shirt with a collar to increase visual authority. A collar lifts attention and frames your face with an extra layer, increasing body image boundaries and therefore attention and apparent authority. A straight-point collar works like the V-neckline to communicate more stability, strength and action. Collarless tops put more attention on the body and cause you to appear more casual and .less capable.
5) Do select refined or firm fabrics to increase visual authority. Utilitarian fabrics like denim, and casual knit fabrics cause you to appear sporty, playful, soft, and laid-back, easily influenced—not serious. Firmer woven fabrics, not meaning stiff or heavy, communicate greater stability and dependability.
6) Do wear an outfit that includes a jacket or a shirt-jac, even a sweater or vest whenever you want to increase your visual presence or influence. This third layer garment can increase dark-light contrast to draw attention up to your face, and increases body image boundaries for more visual authority. You will get attention faster, hold attention longer, and remain more memorable. This works in the home, the school, church, community, as well as in the workplace. You can always remove a jacket to dress down and appear more approachable, but if you don’t have a jacket, you can’t dress up and appear more capable and credible. Mr. Rogers knew exactly what he was doing!