Reader Issue: My biggest challenge is creating a cohesive style when my wardrobe is made up of extremes: very boring and very outrageous, very feminine and very androgynous, too youthful and too ageing, and I hate shopping too!
There are many answers to this question, and I did follow up with the reader about her issues and she shared more about how she’s become so inconsistent which I share in the video below. It got me thinking about WHY the reader has this issue, as I know it’s a pretty common one, as I’ve heard from many women that they feel their style is not cohesive, it’s scattered, and they have a wardrobe full of clothes but still nothing to wear that makes them feel really great (or just one or two outfits, but the rest isn’t quite right). When thinking about this topic it brought to mind the impact and importance of having a consistent style to have a strong personal brand that helps you succeed in life.
What’s a Personal Brand Anyway and Why Does it Matter?
A personal brand is something we all have, it’s the impression we have about people, as Jeff Bezos of Amazon has said “A personal brand is what someone says or thinks about you when you’re not in the room”. It can help open doors for you in life, whether your work life or your personal life, and it can also slam doors shut in your face as well if it’s not projecting what you need it to project.
Your personal brand is made up of:
- Your image and personal style
- Your behaviour and actions
- Your values
- Your voice and how you communicate
When you think of identifiable personal brands, such as Oprah, or Greta Thunberg, you know who they are, their values, what they stand for and what area they have expertise in. A great personal brand can help you become the ‘go-to’ person for a particular area or topic and so can help you succeed in your life and at work, whether you work for yourself or you work for someone else.
Consistency is an Important Aspect of any Personal Brand (as it is for any business brand).
Consistency makes it easy for people to figure out where to go to find answers, who is the expert, or which is the right product or service. If you think about businesses, the branding of Target is very different from Dior’s and the price point is also very different. There is copious research that shows that being seen as more attractive, and your style and image, including grooming and clothing, is an important part of this equation, can have you earning more money, without having to do any additional work. It’ truly is an example of working smarter, not harder! Sure the genetically blessed have it lucky, but we can all get a good haircut, do some grooming every day, and put on an outfit that is stylish and suits our body as well as the activity or occasion.
Why Having an Inconsistent Style is Hurting Your Personal Brand
So if you have an inconsistent style, whether it’s like my reader who told me about this style struggle of hers, where she feels like she’s different people for different parts of her life, and hasn’t yet figured out how to integrate herself and define her style, one that works for all aspects of her life, or it’s because some days you can be bothered and other days you can’t, having an inconsistent style is hurting your personal brand, that impression you leave on people.
I’ve worked with many managers who tell me about members of their teams at work who because they are presenting themselves poorly at work, are being overlooked for opportunities and promotions. Inconsistency communicates that you’re not in complete control of your life (your wardrobe is speaking volumes) in some way or another. These managers have told me too that they can’t promote team members who present themselves poorly to any kind of public-facing or client-facing role because they can’t trust them to be a great ambassador for the business’ brand. Yet these team members don’t realise why they are being overlooked for such opportunities.
When we think of great brands, there is always consistency. Someone like Richard Branson, who has had a strong public personal brand for a long time, is one such example, you know exactly what you’re going to get.
High-Quality Personal Brands
Not everyone wants to get the corner office, but if you are wanting to move ahead at work, and it’s particularly important if you are an entrepreneur and self-employed, because you are the face of your business, creating a high-quality personal brand is imperative.
If you want to be paid more, you have to look like you’re worth it! This is why a luxury car has leather seats rather than fabric. This is why we’ll pay more for a well-kept 2nd hand car than one that is beaten up (even if they have the same mileage).
Now you don’t have to go and dress in designer clothes (unless this is something you want to do), but you do need to put yourself together each day in a way that says that you are in control of your image and style, that your style represents your personality and values, and that it’s working in harmony with your body, as this shows great self-awareness and attention to detail, which are both important characteristics.
Your Personal Brand Image
This is made up of:
- Your personality and values – who you are, your personality traits, what you stand for, what you value
- How you want to be perceived – what you want the world to know about you and to pick up quickly and easily about your personality and values
- The roles and activities you have in your life – what you do, your work, the various activities you undertake in your life, the roles you take on
There needs to be congruence and consistency and your personal brand image also needs to be authentic and genuine, as people see through inauthenticity, maybe not immediately always, but when things don’t add up, when it feels fake, then questions start to be asked.
The Foundations of Your Personal Brand
Just like you need strong foundations when you build a house, you need strong foundations for your image and style. Your values, your personality and your why are all part of the foundations. This is why in my online programs (7 Steps to Style) personality is the first step, before body shape, before physicality, and colouring, you need to understand how your personality is impacting on all your style choices. And it’s why understanding your values is also an important aspect of building your style.
What You Wear – Your Style – The Outward Expression of Your Personal Brand Image
The actual garments and accessories you wear is the outward expression of your style, just like the exterior of a house. Whether it’s a Tudor style or a California Bungalow or Victorian cottage or a Mid-Century Modern, the cuts and colours you wear, the fabrics and accessories, your grooming and how you behave and communicate are what people are seeing that are representing the inner you, those foundations that the house is built upon.
Creating a personal brand is a proactive way of controlling how you are perceived and gives you the power to influence. What’s great is that you’re in charge. You are the CEO of your own personal brand!
Focus on Your Uniqueness
What makes you different and special? What are your values and points of view? Even when you are inside a business that has a dress code, you can still be expressing elements of your personal brand personality through your image and style. You don’t have to go for boring, bland, and blending in (and in fact, this is the worst route to ever succeeding as you’ll easily be overlooked). Instead, it’s important to start to combine those different parts of you into one whole package. You may want to bring in small elements of the creative you that still fit within the confines of the dress code.
It’s what makes us different that makes us memorable.
Before You Start to Transform your Style Ask Yourself These Questions
- What personality traits do I want the world to know and see?
- What roles and activities do I do and what is appropriate for each of these? What kinds of clothes do I really need?
- What are my values?
- What is my why?
Then look to how you want to express this information:
- What clothing details and styles express my personality?
- What styles and kinds of clothing and accessories?
- What colours and contrasts?
- What are my outfits communicating?
- What is consistent in the expression of my image?
You may want to start a Pinterest board as a way of collating this information in one place, to start creating something that represents you. You may also need to get assistance to actually figure out the answers to these questions, as understanding all the elements of style isn’t something you were taught at school and isn’t something you’ll learn from fashion magazines or Instagram, you are not a failure in any way if you feel out of your depth when shopping for clothes or trying to figure out what works for you. This is why my 7 Steps to Style program covers the different aspects of image and style and gives you a solid style education (in fact it teaches you more than most personal styling courses teach people who want to be stylists).
When you understand what it is you are wanting to project, what actually suits you and how your personality influences your style choices, shopping becomes so much easier as you know what to say yes to and what to put back. Knowledge really is power when you are shopping for clothes and if you’ve been making shopping mistakes it means you don’t have the style education you need to make the best style choices for you.
Consistency is Key
Remember that creating a consistent style and personal brand image isn’t about wearing the same thing every day, like a uniform, it’s just creating a consistent thread that runs through all the different ways you express your style. Ensure that the most important aspects of your personality and values are in every outfit, not just a few. It doesn’t matter if you’re dressing more casually or more formally, for the exercise or presenting at a conference, there needs to be some sort of identifying thread that runs through your image and personal style. This is where the right style recipe is key to delivering this for you!
Creating Your Personal Brand Image
If you’re an entrepreneur or professional who appreciates how improving your image can help you get ahead at work (and in life) and you want to really get to grips with your style – and develop a strong and authentic personal brand image, I’m currently developing a new program to help intelligent visionary women just like you to do this. If you’re interested in doing this with me in a fun and supportive group program with lots of hands-on love and advice from me, I’d love to hear from you to let you know more! Please do email me or let me know in the comments.