You have 7 to 30 seconds to make a good first impression according to psychologists: 55 percent of it being based on your appearance alone. There’s an “aha” moment for you!
Whether you are on a first date, working, shopping, sitting at a restaurant or bar, the people nearby are making a quick judgment on who you are, if you appeal to them, and if they will be open to hearing your thoughts—all due to that initial impression. Many of these people will not give you a second chance, no matter what you say, offer, or do for them. This is the reason your image is so important. Didn’t your mother tell you, “You should look your best even when you are taking out the garbage, because you never know who you might meet”?
This is why I watch What Not to Wear, for the last three minutes of the program—to see the reaction “Cinderella” receives, her new image revealed. I want to see the unedited response of those who thought one way about her and now must reevaluate their feelings about her in 7 to 17 seconds based on her new “look.” And I want to hear her success stories that were a consequence of the transformation.
I think every woman secretly wants to be one of the women Stacey London and Clinton Kelly make over: every woman wants to be “Cinderella” and have a fairy godmother who upgrades her looks to a new and improved model. I know I did. Yet, rather than wait to be chosen by the show’s casting crew, I took the matter into my own hands, dipping my toe in the water at first until the idea gained momentum.
It started innocently enough. I met a stylist at a women’s networking event. I liked her taste; I felt she understood my career, my age and would dress me for the right audience. She first entered my life to help choose the right outfit to wear for a professional head shot. Like the chosen few on What Not to Wear, I felt comfortable opening my entire closet to her. And, at the end, she had me wanting more. But, like the women on the cable program, I felt vulnerable after being told most of the pants in my closet were unflattering.
I was serious about creating a more powerful impression with strangers and I needed help. I was emotionally ready to have her pick through my closet of designer clothes and give her very honest opinions on each item of clothing. And, she did.
An hour later, 90 perecent of my wardrobe lay on the bed waiting to be stuffed into shopping bags for charity. It was not the right size, needed too much tailoring, had too much detail or “that’s not what people are wearing now.” Ten percent of my clothing remained. I was left naked and shell-shocked. Yikes!
What was there left to do but go shopping with her to build a new wardrobe? That new wardrobe which was going to be sophisticated, the right proportions for my body type, and would send a specific message to anyone who would meet me for the first time (or the next time). The clothing had to be representative of my personality. It had to be pieces that I was willing to wear again and again. I kept my mind on the future: where I wanted to go and who I wanted to be via the transformation. “Dress for the life you want, not the one you had”.
We shopped selectively. She knew where to go. We were careful with my budget and were able to replenish enough of a selection by buying at only three specialty stores, also adding to my collection of accessories. The result: I love my new clothes. I love the confident image. The success stories are sure to follow. I’ll keep you posted.
While you may not have the finances to afford a stylist, you can’t afford to miss on the important lessons mine taught me:
“With the right colors you can appear younger, lift your mood and appear more physically fit. Color automatically brightens your complexion”.
“Clothes that are boxy, shapeless and ill-fitting will add pounds to your body”.
“Invest in a good seamstress. Clothes that fit demand that you stand taller and therefore give you an automatic air of confidence”.
Susan Goldberg’s company, SGES, conducts retained executive searches for businesses that truly value their people as its number one resource and provides career coaching for individuals who are determined to change their career path. Her website is www.susangoldbergsearch.com, and Susan can be contacted at mail to:firstname.lastname@example.org. She can also be followed on twitter @suzebizcoach.