All too often, the person we see in the mirror daily is not the one we were born to be. I found that out for myself when I was 17 and got my red dress. My life was changed forever when I saw my “new” self in the mirror. I ditched my habitual “grey mouse” colors and it changed my life.
Lynn, an attorney, also discovered that the colors and styles she habitually wore didn’t necessarily enable her to look better or to achieve the results she desired. She learned that the colors she wore were sabotaging her goals. They were wrong for two reasons.
The first reason had to do with the psychological impact a color bestows. Some colors bestow credibility or authority, while others diminish or destroy these qualities. Pastels speak of softness and femininity; however, they also suggest demureness and shyness. Attorneys need to look as if they will fight for you and your rights. They need to radiate confidence, strength and high credibility.
The second reason has to do with a “rule” that all artists know about, and it has to do with focal point. There can be only one focal point in a painting. The same is true for humans, and that focal point must always be the face. When Lynn wears garments that cause her to blend into her clothing, her clothes literally “wear” her instead of Lynn wearing them. When the face and garments are viewed as “one” Lynn violates the age-old artists’ rule, “one focal point.” Take a look and you will see that Lynn’s focal point is no longer her face alone; it is her pink jacket and her face.
The old wives tale says that bold colors will wear you. The opposite is actually true. Colors that match your superficial appearance and cause you to fade into them actually “wear” you. It then becomes difficult for people to focus on your face. Their eyes will dart back and forth between your face and your garment, because they are registered as one.
Most men who wear camel or pale blue jackets may also blend into their garments. By the same token, ties that disappear into garments are also ineffective. Contrast is an important factor for both men and women.
The pastel pink that Lynn wore also presented another major disadvantage; it took the luminosity from her face and made her look as if she were wearing pancake makeup or heavy powder. Lynn’s face has more luminosity and also looks smoother in the fuchsia jacket.
Accessories are also important. Lynn discovered that her single strand of pearls added to her demureness and caused her to look passive instead of dynamic. Multiple strands and baroque pearls convey much more authority. Lastly, Lynn found that tailored jackets looked more polished and professional than loose-fitting ones that didn’t fall right. Ultimately they create a distraction to your message.
At the beginning of the workshop, Lynn commented that it went against her grain to think that she needed to dress a certain way for people to trust her or hire her. She said she wanted them to judge her on her credentials. “After all, I have a law degree and I’m very competent,” she bemoaned. By the end of the workshop she had different ideas.
How do you feel about your current image? Would you dress up more if you thought it would get you a promotion or a better job? Would you consider learning solid information about color if you thought it would boost your career? The way you look matters, because it is your “message without words.” It literally announces the outcome other people can expect from you. In a matter of seconds, they can decide whether or not they want to do business with you. Is your “habitual” image worthy of a Yes?
Sandy Dumont is an image consultant and author of several eBooks on the subject of image. She also speaks to audiences throughout the United States as well as internationally about the power of image skills. Please visit her website www.theimagearchitect.com
to see the cover story in which she was featured by Money Magazine