Whether we like it or not, the world judges us on first impressions. And whether we like it or not, the world perceives the way we look to say and mean something about who we are–or who we aren’t . Before we can even utter a simple “Hello, My name is…” to a new acquaintance or a group of new trainees, we are scrutinized by how we look, and more specifically by how we are dressed. In full transparency, it’s not a completely fair practice. I mean, shouldn’t we be solely judged by who we truly are and the value we bring to the table? Well, surprise, surprise that the average adult attention span is 7 seconds and because of that, how we present ourselves and choose our clothing selections is increasingly important because after that encounter, we often hold those initials perceptions about someone forever. (once again – not fair, but incredibly real)

The Leader by Mistake, Brooklyn, NY Book Tour Stop

We are all unique. We have our own set of interests and tastes. As such, we naturally have our own style and attire preferences. Some people may love sporting a hot pink coat and yellow polka-dotted shorts while another person might choose to go all out in black–black slacks, black shirt, and black shoes and of course, I can’t discount the people who would live in a pair of jeans if they had the opportunity to.

The options for dress are truly endless, just like the many colors of success. My definition of success is different from your definition of success. And both of our versions of success will be different from the next person’s. What’s important, however, in both success definition and attire preference is to dress for your own success–not mine, not your neighbor’s, not your sister’s or your brother’s, not your partner’s, and not even your superior’s.

2017 Essence Festival

You need to own you. One of the best first impressions you can give is to be 100% you in your element of success, which can be exhibited by how you choose to dress. Now, of course there are attire categories ranging anywhere from athletic to white tie and a quick google search will give you photos, videos and inspiration for each of those, but even with the details that a search might provide you, it is necessary to apply your own unique bend and approach to broad attire categories and clothing options.

I’ll use myself as an example. As an etiquette and leadership consultant, I often ask my students to come back to the basic definition of etiquette–the accepted code of behavior for a particular situation. In my bio, I mention that I am not your typical etiquette and leadership consultant. The reason why I like to highlight this fact is that I am always on a mission to debunk the myth that etiquette is an outdated and antiquated concept that only knights, queens, and chairwomen of the boards of yore were concerned with. Etiquette remains a big part of everything that we do in the business and social world–right down to how we dress.

Since one of my main missions as a consultant is to shed light on the true essence of etiquette and make it an accessible, relevant, and functional concept for all, it’s important for me to pair this particular definition of success with how I dress because I am my living brand. I am the brand ambassador for my non-traditional form of etiquette and leadership training. As a result, I need to pay attention to how I am dressing for my success.

NBC Leader by Mistake Interview

Depending on where I’m teaching, who is in my class, and what topic I’m covering, my attire may seem like it changes – because it does. Circumstances dictate some of my dress choices, but my definition of success underlies these options. I try to make sure that how I appear in person aligns with what I’m trying to accomplish, in addition to who my audience is on any given day.

Now, even though I am holding myself up as an example, by no means do I want you to internalize my way of doing things and just copy whatever it is that I choose to wear (or what anyone else chooses to wear for that matter).

Use my example as a guide–just like you might use a hot new ebook on B2B marketing as a guide for your content creation. And remember to also use your next setting and audience as guides. Ask yourself: what is the accepted code of clothing for a particular context and/or a specific audience? How can I switch it up to ensure that my attire reflects my respect for, awareness of and comfort in THIS particular situation?

The day after the Leader by Mistake book launch with custom cocktails by Perfect 10 Mixologist and Owner, Jennifer Peeples

But above all, remember this: it’s up to you to make the way you dress and the way you define success your own. Your path and attire choice to success is not my path and that’s quite alright. DRESS FOR YOUR OWN SUCCESS!

Until next time,


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