They seem so trivial – not deadly at all. But when it comes to image, the devil is in the details. Don’t let those little details undermine your image without your knowing it. Many a product has been destroyed by bad packaging, so make sure your brand is classy and stands out from the crowd. Here are the seven deadly image sins that kill your credibility in a professional setting.
1. Dated, unkempt or dirty hair
Women are more likely to have dated hairdos than men. If you still have a shag cut, you probably need an update. Generally, a classic bob looks fine, but update it with natural looking “pointy layering” so it frames the face. If you have naturally curly hair, make sure it doesn’t look like granny’s hair, and don’t let it dry in the car on the way to work because it will look flat and droopy. There’s no excuse for having dirty or unkempt hair. It reflects badly in terms of professionalism.
2. Bad makeup
This includes the use of garish eye shadow colors such as bright blue, green, turquoise, or orange. Monochromatic shades of brown look the most professional; and the “smoky eye” will enable you to steal the scene. Black eyeliner encircling the eyes is a bad idea, since it makes your eyes look small and beady and can impart a mean or severe look. Foundation that looks thick and cakey should also be avoided, since it gives the impression you are hiding behind a mask. Lastly, brown-toned lipstick will make you look drab and tired – maybe even older. Try a soft fuchsia lipstick and notice the difference. Even your teeth will look whiter.
3. No accessories
Wearing a nice suit without a single accessory is like a cake without icing. It’s good but it’s not sensational or irresistible. Bold accessories make an impact and tell others you are at the top of your game. Dangly earrings and large wire hoops shout “teenager” and tiny studs are nearly invisible, so they don’t make a statement. Consider chunky hoops in any of their myriad of shapes and sizes. A single strand of pearls (even priceless ones) suggests you are demure, while multiple massive strands of colored glass stones look polished and chic. Understated has been greatly misunderstood!
4. Girlie Colors
Women love pastels, but according to fashion historian Fred Davis, they suggest you are a lightweight instead of a mover and shaker. Take a leap of faith and wear fuchsia instead of baby pink, royal blue instead of slate blue, and notice how your presence increases. If you’re dedicated to pastels, then make sure you wear power accessories and styles to augment your perceived presence.
5. Girlie styles
As with girlie colors, you’ll lose credibility. Soft ruffly fabrics are beautiful and appealing to women, but you’ll look wimpy next to a man in his sturdy fabrics with padded shoulders and dark power colors. Go for tailored jackets in substantial wool gabardine or cotton twill. You’ll never be considered a pushover again. Whatever you do, avoid cleavage and garments that are too tight or too skimpy. University studies say you’ll be label a bimbo in such attire.
6. Bad shoes
Gladiator-style heels may be all the rage, but they make your feed look huge and clumsy, so you might be labeled clumsy. Good comfy walking shoes like Queen Elizabeth wears won’t do much for your career either, since they look dated and matronly. And forget five or six-inch stilettos. They may be sexy and “in style”, but they aren’t for serious professionals.
7. Bad body language
Sloping shoulders suggest you’re defeated, burdened or dead tired. Don’t slouch. Stand up straight and tall with squared shoulders and a “proud chest” but then let your fingertips elongate so you don’t look too stiff. You’ll convey an air of supreme confidence. Avoid looking away or at the floor when others speak with you; instead, look people straight in the eye with your squared shoulders. They’ll take notice of what you say!
Sandy Dumont is a speaker and internationally known image consultant who has conducted workshops on three continents. She has produced numerous books, DVDs and videos on the subject of image. Her latest product is a 12-pice DVD video set for women, “12 Days to a Brand New You” which is available at a special introductory price on her website: www.theimagearchitect.com.