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Personal Branding - Don't forget the Hat!

First impressions are always the lasting ones. So they say. Whether it's the first time someone meets you or your first appearance that day at your workplace people make up their minds there and then.

This first impression forms an image of you for the observer. They make an instant judgement. Are you vibrant or dull? Up to date, or aging? Dangerous or Boring? As part of your personal branding, what you wear to work is as important as the way you act, and the way you talk. So it's worth investing some time in thinking through your wardrobe, and what you want people to see and say about you.

"Trendy is the last stage before tacky." —Karl Lagerfeld

How you look may also have an impact on your career or the way you are treated. And it's not just us saying that. In recent studies by the Office Team, 80% of managers said that they believe that what you wear to work can impact on your chances of getting a promotion. Another study in the Journal of Human Performance suggested that people who are more physically attractive are treated better at work.

What we are most definitely not saying is we all rush out and spend thousands on Botox, hair implants, and personal trainers. What we are saying though is take some care in your appearance and it may have more impact than we would like to believe. As we get older, we need to survive in a competitive market where age is not necessarily seen as an advantage. We need to showcase ourselves and that starts with our external appearance. Personal grooming is one area but in this blog, it's about your clothes. How do you choose clothes to tell your story, show your energy, ideas, and all-round good egg?

In our role as fashionistas (stop laughing at the back!) we recently came across a few tips about clothing that you should consider AVOIDING. And as clothing can add 10 years to you, we thought we would share.

The All Black Look is out. As you get older your skin colour changes and wearing only dark colours all over, especially close to the face, can make you look ill, washed out and a lot older than you actually are. It is fine to wear black but why not add some splashes of colour, especially in red-violet shades as these can provide a more youthful appearance. So professional with a playful touch rather than undertaker. Equally All White is strange, and All Pink is weird. Don't go All anything actually!

Oversize jackets and blazers can date your style - Anything that doesn't fit well can add years to your age and make you look dishevelled, whether you are male or female. For the workplace tailored jackets may be a better way forward to keep you looking young. Leave trendy to… well someone else.

Tailored jackets or suits (Men and Women) can give you confidence - Very loose can make you look like a crumpled sack. On the other hand, very tight or close-fitting clothes can make you feel like an overstuffed sofa. And you are more likely to be self-conscious about your appearance, especially if you have a mature figure but hiding in baggy clothes. Even if you buy clothes off the peg it can be worth paying to have it altered to fit better. One size does not fit all! But either way, don't go too tight. We can breathe thinking about it.

How low do you go with your skirt? Ok not for everyone this one, but according to Inside Out Style, midi length and calf-length skirts can age older women unnecessarily in the workplace. Why not consider a knee-length skirt, pencil shape if you feel confident to wear it. In the summer you may want to consider a skirt above the knees, especially if teamed with a tailored jacket or tucked in, collared shirt.

"I want people to see the dress, but focus on the woman." —Vera Wang

Casual day jeans need to fit too! If your workplace allows jeans even if it's just on dress down Friday consider finding a good pair that fit and accentuate your figure. Baggy clothes can make you look much older than you are, as well as possibly appearing less professional. And men - dark or black jeans, not ripped, frayed, or personalised. Match with a good pair of shoes and a jacket.

Just Say No - to jersey fabrics, tee-shirts with slogans, very low cuts, anything see-thru (especially men), shorts (unless you are a postie), beachwear, nightclub wear, sports gear or anything that contains flashing lights. Be idiosyncratic if you like but try not to look like an idiot.

Go “Retro”. But do so consciously - not your clothes from 20 years ago. Retro styles work best with modern pieces - whilst wearing head to toe vintage is definitely out, it can look great if you wear vintage and contemporary clothes together. Otherwise, it may give the appearance that you are stuck in the past or 10 or 20 years older than you actually are rather than a vibrant go-getter who has loads of experience to offer.

"Fashion you can buy, but style you possess. The key to style is learning who you are, which takes years. There's no how-to road map to style. It's about self expression and, above all, attitude." —Iris Apfel

Wear glasses but don’t want to look old? We know how important eye contact is in the workplace to make you appear more likable and establish rapport but don’t be afraid to show that you wear glasses. Ditch the wire-rimmed ones that may date you in place of frames that are bold and modern in material and shape. Men should look at blues, burgundies, and greens for their frames (apparently - but choose what you are comfortable in) whilst women may find berry and jewel colours more flattering. Does yellow work?

Even your feet count (not literally) - You may not think so but what you choose to wear on your feet can also make you look older or even frumpy. So ladies it's time to ditch the peep-toe heels in the workplace and for the chaps - why not consider square-toed shoes, paired carefully with straight leg trousers or those dark jeans.

"Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they notice the woman." —Coco Chanel

What about knitted accessories? Ok some of us are still laughing at this one. Ok, maybe not your grannies knitting then (tank-top anyone?) But high-quality knitwear can work when it gets colder. Keep an eye in the media for lengths, colours, and style because nothing says “hello grandad” more than an old flat cap and a jumper from 2 years ago or ladies, a cardie that has had more (tissues) stuffed up its sleeves than a Christmas turkey. And don't go all unicorn-rainbow-cat face on us. It's not ironic. It makes you look ready for the retirement home.

Hats - we forgot hats!

Personal Branding is serious, but it can also be fun. If you want to know what questions to ask, come, and have a chat with us. Contact us at

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