5 Steps to Finding a Personal Style that Exudes Success

Do your clothes make you feel unstoppable? Because they should.

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5 Steps to Finding a Personal Style that Exudes Success
Image credit: Martin Dimitrov | Getty Images
Guest Writer
Owner and Creator of Your Shop Girl Image Consulting
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Your image is telling people a story about you whether you want it to or not. The great thing is, you get to write it. You decide whether they remember the story, or even want to read it at all. That may feel like quite a bit of pressure, but if we break it down you can see how much influence it gives you to decide what impression people will walk away from you with.

That’s a pretty powerful tool, right? You need to get dressed anyway, so why not ensure that you use your clothes to help you sell yourself.

1. Think about your Superman cape. 

Clark Kent changes his outfit and all of a sudden he can save the world. What outfit makes you feel like you have superhuman strength? Imagine getting a call to be on TV in an hour. What are you going to wear? What outfit makes you feel like you could do anything -- or at least makes you feel pretty darn good about yourself? What is it about that outfit? It is tailored? Or layered? Does it have an original detail? It doesn’t have to be a corporate outfit, you just need to start thinking about what your ideal style looks like. There is no reason you can’t look like that every day.

Related: Want to Dress for Success? Ditch the Expensive Suits and Get to Work

2. Think about three words you would ideally want people to use to describe you.

Then think about how people would actually describe your style. Do these descriptions match? What words did you choose? Do you want to be approachable? Dominant? Classic? Modern? Think about the words you used to help your web designer design your website. Alternatively, think about what words you do not want to be described as. 

You will want to be able to conjure up these words when you look at individual pieces of clothing or outfits. For example, if you are putting on a plain suit, what details are you adding to show your personality? Then think, how would you describe this outfit? Is it the same way you want to be described? Your style is a part of your personal brand, so the more consistent you are with that style the more you will resonate with your clients.

Related: Personal Styles of 10 Successful Entrepreneurs (Infographic)

3. Think about your style icons.

Who have you seen that you would describe in those three words? Another entrepreneur? A celebrity? A friend? A co-worker? What is it about their personal “brand” that you admire? I recommend having a visual in mind for your style icon so you can use those images as inspiration. We often want to be described in one way, but find ourselves drawn to a completely different style. It is important to be consistent in the way both we and others describe our style. For example, we may want to be described as “powerful” and “dominant” and yet find ourselves being drawn to sweaters and soft colors. Having a person in mind who embodies the characteristics that we want to emulate is a great place to start in defining our style.

4. Create a Pinterest board.

Inspiration boards are great for redecorating your house, but they are also amazing at helping you clarify what your current style is and what your ideal style looks like. Start a Pinterest board and collect images that resonate with you. I recommend separating them into work and play, or even more specific categories such as meetings, events, work parties, etc. Once you have a few images pinned, write a short description of them underneath. In other words, if I pinned a picture of James Bond in a suit, I may write “powerful, tailored and classic” underneath. This description will allow you to see whether all the images are homogenous or whether there are any that vary. It will also allow you to see whether the descriptions match your three ideal style description words. In order to avoid being sucked into a rabbit hole, try searching using your style icon or a favorite outfit to help you focus.

Related: Aligning Your Wardrobe with Your Personal (and Professional) Brand

5. Copy your favorite looks.

Look through your images and find one picture that you really love; one outfit that looks exactly how you want to look walking into a meeting. Try to look for one that is slightly dressier than you would normally go for. Does it have details? Or accessories? Now, copy it. Go in to a store and try and look for a similar look. Don’t worry about whether or not you look like the person in the picture. I simply want you to think about what you liked about the outfit and look for pieces that have the same look. Try and be as specific as possible about what you like about the outfit. If you don’t love the outfit on, take note of what you did not like and try the process again with a different picture. Do not settle for something that doesn’t make you feel incredible. I’m sure Clark Kent tried on a bunch of outfits before he decided on tights and a cape.

Lastly, the details are very important. They are the art of your outfit and they tell people a lot about you. Do not leave them out.

Be true to yourself and make sure that the clothes make you feel amazing. Otherwise you are just going to feel like you are in a costume. Unless you work at Disney, no one wants to buy anything from someone dressed in a costume.

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