|Graphic button by marketing genius Michael Brooks|
I’m going to give a shout out to Ted Ladd, our Entrepreneur faculty at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, who always tells us to "own the close" — to wrap up a presentation or speech with a strong finish. I am rebranding this powerful statement for my own purposes. I want you to "own the clothes."
I want everyone to overdress for the occasion, to wear their most professional or appropriate or attractive attire when giving presentations. Hell, even if you are just getting milk at the corner store I think you should look good — you never know who you might see.
If I give a speech in old jeans and a ratty t-shirt, will I get the same response as I would if I were wearing a suit? Of course not!
Over the years I have felt firsthand how people treat others based on appearance. I tried to fight social conventions for many years. But I eventually decided that I needed to change, because I do it too — it’s human nature. When we see a person for the first time, we make a lot of almost unconscious assumptions about what they have to offer, based on their dress and grooming.
In junior high and high school I had long hair, I wore flannel shirts and sloppy cardigan sweaters. I was voted Most Unique. I went to Evergreen State College, which is full of all kinds of wild individuals. I was a dirt-bag climber for years. But after I got married, my wife threw away all of my clothes and bought me new ones. It was in this moment that I realized just how good I could look. I cut my hair and shaved off my filthy chin beard. And to my surprise, people began to approach me, talk with me, take me more seriously.
When you look good, you feel good about yourself.
You don’t have to make a deal with the devil to do this. I absolutely believe that there is a way to retain your personal style/ brand, while dressing professionally. It’s not as bad as it sounds.
My wife introduced me to the show What Not to Wear, and I absolutely believe in the positive message and transformation that they are able to provide for the participants. They teach us that by changing how we present ourselves to the world, we can change how the world views and treats us, and ultimately we can change how we think and feel about themselves for the better.
Despite what we might tell ourselves, appearances do matter.
Put on a suit or a tie; try a dress or a skirt. Be different — be professional — be yourself.
Own the Clothes!