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You only get one chance to make a first impression, and what you wear says a lot about you. Like it or not, people will make snap judgments about you based on what they see. So, decide to dress the part for the role you want to play.

Speaking of dressing for the role, last fall, my husband and I had the chance to see the Tony Award-winning Broadway play, Hamilton. What an incredible experience! Even now, several months later when singing along with the soundtrack, I can still visualize the characters fully dressed in their costumes. Their clothing helped them to RISE UP and embody their roles. It created a connected experience, making their characters more believable and the experience that much richer for the audience!

Likewise, when it comes to your clothing, don’t shrink back! As an entrepreneur, your business is your stage. Own your platform by dressing like you mean business! Create the presence of The Complete Leader! Lead well by embodying your leadership brand, visually, from the inside out.

When it comes to visual perceptions, I have some good news and some bad news. First, the bad news: the reality is you can’t control the opinions of others. But, the good news is that you can control and choose the message you convey to the world. So, use your clothes deliberately to reinforce your brand message. Be intentional about what you wear each day.

Avoid doing yourself a disservice by sending the wrong message with your appearance. Your clothing is a visual cue and should reflect that you are serious about who you are and what you do. Rise Up! Whether you find yourself in the board room, meeting with clients, networking, working from home or volunteering in the community, choose clothing that makes the best impression for the situation.

Here are six tips to dress like you mean business:

1. Think About Your Message – What is your leadership brand message? Think about the mantra or tagline you use to communicate your unique promise of value. Take the time to think deeply about the power of your presence and your message. Write down what comes to mind and then keep it near you when you’re dressing, so you can do so with your brand message in mind. Remember, your business is your stage, so dress accordingly to your role.

2. Define Your Brand Attributes – A well-defined brand has a persona which is made up of specific character traits. And the reality is this: people are naturally attracted to people who are full of personality and have a positive appearance. An effective way to magnetically attract people to you is to develop a clear set of  brand attributes, and then reflect that personality in your clothing.

Think of the three words that represent your brand. These are the three most important attributes you want others to think of when your leadership brand comes to mind. When you get dressed each day, choose clothing that represents these specific attributes. The goal is to become a credible authority by looking and acting the part of The Complete Leader.

3. Consider the Occasion and Audience –What are your main events of the day? Who will you connect with at those events? Where will you be meeting – in the office, attending a luncheon or networking event? Whether it is in the boardroom, coffee shop or home, pick clothes that will empower you to create a leadership presence that reflects the best version of yourself.

Don’t expect everyone to find you appealing or relatable, but make sure that you are wearing clothes that allow your audience or connected community to “get” you! For example, a structured or tailored suit is most appropriate for more a formal and professional event, such as an awards ceremony, a keynote presentation or important business meeting. But a company picnic would call for more casual attire, like a playful floral print dress or belted shorts with a sleeveless blouse.

4. To Thy Own Style Be True – Style is a reflection of your personality expressed through your clothing. It also provides a way for you to represent the story of the Remarkable Y-O-U. I refer to style as “wearable art” signed with your own unique signature. Don’t stress! Everyone has style, so make your presence known by taking the time to define your personal branded style, and reinforcing your brand identity.

5. Don’t Forget Your Power Colors – Choosing power colors is a matter of considering a few different factors. What colors look best on you based on your overall coloring and your physical features – eyes, hair, and skin? For example, do you look great in green because of the way it enhances your eyes? I also recommend that you think about the colors that you love. What colors do you receive the most compliments on? Lastly, what colors do you feel connect and represent you on a deep level?

I’ve shared how purple is one of the power colors for my brand because it represents my spiritual side. I want others to feel inspired when they are in my presence. The key is to select the appropriate power colors for the message you want to convey, and then wear them consistently to reinforce your personal message.

6. Differentiate Your Wardrobe – Find ways to stand out! Whether you choose a particular print, color or designer look, find ways to showcase your uniqueness. Determine what is considered “dressed down” and “dressed up” for you. Create a list of your typical roles and activities and decide the type of wardrobe you will need for each one. For example, maybe you have a meeting scheduled with a top tier client for an informal dinner in an upscale restaurant. Go ahead and decide what to wear in advance. Remember to incorporate the three brand attributes you defined earlier into your outfit.

When you’re well prepared and feel confident in your clothing, you will make a strong impression. Think of creative, yet professional ways you can make your brand message a part of your outfit. Accessories, such as watches, scarves, jewelry, purses, and shoes can be a great way to stand out with a little pizzazz!

Draw the curtains! It’s show time! Rise Up and show the world that you are serious about your leadership by dressing like you mean business!

As always, I want to hear from you! What’s one thing could you implement today – with grace and ease – to uplevel your visual brand? I’d love to hear your answer. Let me know in the comment section below!