There’s a scene in the 1999 film “Magnolia” where Tom Cruise’s character, the rather unpleasant self-help guru Frank T.J. Mackey, is confronted by a reporter’s uncomfortable questions regarding his personal background.
Instead of responding, Mackey stoically stares ahead unblinking. When asked what he’s doing, Mackey responds, “I’m quietly judging you.”
It’s likely the most memorable line in the film, but — for better or worse — it rings true all too often in both overt and subtle ways of everyday life.
People forget that within the first seven seconds of meeting someone, they have already formed a first impression — and it takes even less time than that to make a mental determination of someone’s trustworthiness. That’s not a lot of time to win people over, which is why dressing for the part you hope to play can be an important first step in the foundation for a connection. Developing your personal brand can set you apart from your colleagues and help to elevate you to the next level personally and professionally.
If you want to be the boss, you need to dress like one. Some ideas for this are signature or core colors for your wardrobe. These colors generally aren’t bold or bright but more muted. It’s good to get some pieces in your color that are more structured and can stand the test of time throughout a busy day, such as a blazer or a structured vest for the fall. They hold their shape and don’t look slouchy or messy — staying fresh and crisp all day. Flowy or loose-fitting clothing is not the best option, depending on who you are seeing that day. Blousy dresses or tops can be too feminine for the office and look disheveled by the end of the day, sending the message of being tired, for example.
Another easy on-trend trick for looking put together and organized is by dressing monochromatic or layering the same color. Think of it in terms of business suits: They are the same color, and it gives the same effect. Think dark, clean jeans with a navy blazer over a light-blue shirt. Even a T-shirt, if it’s fitted properly, can give a clean, tailored look. If you’re on your feet all day and busy, sneakers can be a tailored-looking option as long as they are clean, bright and sleek.
Dressing for the part can be daunting, but there are professionals out there to help. They can take out the guesswork and leave the shining and showing off to you. Get out there and show off your brand of success.