It all starts with your core.

Shh…look and listen! Do you see and hear what others are seeing and hearing about you?  Like it or not, the clothes that you wear often are doing all of the talking and they are defining you! Your clothing creates a mental picture in the minds of others and shapes their perceptions about what you stand for.

The truth is, when it comes to first impressions, people evaluate your effectiveness based on your physical appearance. But when you think about it, don’t you do the same thing when you are shopping? The products on the shelves of stores are wrapped with attractive and distinctive labels, meant to give you an idea of what’s inside, in hopes that you will buy them. Our clothes serve the same purpose. And whether you dress intentionally or not, what you wear can magnetically attract others to you. They serve as the connection to who you authentically are at the CORE. So as the complete business leader, you must start with your core! This means taking the time to make sure that your outside appearance matches who you really are inside.

Core values are one of the pillars of your personal brand.

It is crucial to live an authentic life from the inside out. Our lives were meant to be lived out by authentically embracing and reflecting our core values. What are core values? They are those innate characteristics that have been providentially put in your DNA to make you the unique person you are. Core values make up what I call your internal GPS (Guides, Principles and Standards) that convey what you stand for, what matters most to you and they are the basis for your decisions and actions.

Dress the part from the CORE.

Rise up! Look the part of the complete leader. Even as an entrepreneur, you can dress like you mean business and strategically package yourself by wearing your core values on your “sleeve” for others to see. Your clients and customers need you to stand out and create a presence that reflects a brand that is fueled by credible values, that come from your core. To carry this out, wear clothes that showcase your best self. Remember that first impressions are lasting and the way that you dress will always affect the way people perceive you and your brand.

Most of us struggle to match our inside with our outside.

It is important that your appearance reflects a brand built upon solid core values. This is one of the keys to a successful brand and business. However, most people struggle to align their core values with their visual brand. Visual branding is not just limited to your clothes. But as a brand strategist who happens to be an image and etiquette expert, your clothing plays a big part.

To get you started, here are five steps to create a wardrobe that reflects your core values and improves your brand’s reputation:

  1. Identify your core values. Grab a cup of tea, find a quiet place and brainstorm. Create a list of your possible core values.  Select your top five core values and write out what they mean to you. One of the best litmus tests for determining if it is indeed a core value, is to consider how you responded as early as a young child, when this value was violated. If it makes you angry or evokes another strong emotional reaction, then it is probably a sign that it matters and impacts you deeply.
  2. Plan your wardrobe with your core values and target audience in mind. Visualize your core values. Always consider the message that your clothes are conveying about what matters to you. For example, if you value being organized and managing time well, it is inconsistent with your brand to wear clothes that are wrinkled and give you a hurried and disheveled look. Your goal is to connect and magnetically attract your target to you, not to repel and turn them off.
  3. Seek ways to be authentic and unique. We all have our own tastes, personal style and preferences when it comes to how we dress. As I always say, “to thine own style be true.” Don’t be afraid to be authentic, but also unique. Find ways to create a signature branded style where you dress the part of the complete leader in a way that represents the core essence of who you are. This is the way to be “on brand” with purpose.
  4. Wear your Power Colors. Because color is a silent language, consider how you can reflect your core values through the use of color. For example, if you value honesty, trust and integrity, blue is an excellent color choice. Once you have identified a power color, remember to choose the best shade of that color, one that harmonizes with your overall coloring.
  5. Choose clothes that position you powerfully. Wear clothes that you feel good wearing and that fit your body perfectly. As I say to my clients, “Wear the clothes that fit the body that you have today, not the one you used to have or will have once you shed those extra unwanted pounds”. Use your clothing to create a powerful image that shows that your brand is valuable because you believe in yourself enough to make an investment.

You get dressed every day, so why not choose to activate your leadership brand visually by leveraging and making the most of your appearance and representing your core values?  It’s my hope that these tips will help you to relax and embrace your core, so that you can dress in a way that turns heads, connects hearts and opens doors of opportunity for you.

Now I want to hear from you: How do YOU feel when you dress in a way that represents the real you, at your core? Tell me about it in the comments below!