When people see you, they should instantly be able to trust and believe that you are who you say you are. Do you look the part?

As a leader, your ability to lead well, personally and professionally, is always “for sale!”  Since clothing is one form of communication, you need to speak boldly and clearly with a well-defined branded message that includes your wardrobe. As the holiday sale season approaches, now is a great time to enhance your brand with new clothes. It’s a worthwhile investment. Not only will you save some money at this time of year, but you’ll build visual credibility.

Did you know that in less than 30 seconds, people make the following impressions about you based on your appearance?

* Socioeconomic status
* Personality (people skills)
* Educational level
* Strengths and abilities
* Values
* Likeability

Your unique promise of value is too valuable to be lost by misaligned visual indicators such as clothing and grooming. Take control of your reputation and choose your wardrobe strategically, so that your incredible brand message is clear, consistent, and compelling. After all, every complete leader has a vision that takes them beyond themselves!

Consider these 5 visual credibility-building shopping tips:

1.  Buy Quality: Resolve to purchase one “power” wardrobe essential a month, such as a suit or dress. Buy with your dream job in mind, and select the best item that’s suitable for the highest leadership position. Now is a great time to practice before you assume the role.

2.  Wear Power Colors: Choose clothing colors that represent a powerful leadership presence and commit to wearing them daily. Rich dark neutrals such as black, gray, blue, or brown in a pant, suit, skirt or jacket are wardrobe staples for every closet (depending on your overall coloring). Darker colors create a powerful presence. Remember that blue is a great color for expressing credibility, because it conveys trust. Other neutrals to consider are taupe and certain shades of greens. I recently worked with a client who loves green and helped her identify her most empowering shade for her personal style and brand messaging.

3.  Select Proper-Fitting Clothes: I encourage my clients to embrace the body that they have right now, not what they used to have or will have in the New Year!  Wearing clothes that fit properly will increase your appearance as a credible professional because it will impact your confidence. When trying on clothes, make sure that you walk out of the fitting room, sit down, stand up, and look in the mirror, viewing yourself in the garment from different angles. Do you see any wrinkles? Tight wrinkles typically indicate that the garment is too tight; wrinkles that are loose and tend to sag indicate that the garment is too large. A well-fitted outfit will be wrinkle-free and will allow you to look respectable and memorable.

4.  Don’t Forget Your Shoes: Shoes are made for walking as well as finishing off a well-defined branded look with style. Choose a high-quality pair that can be well maintained. Also, shop later in the day when your feet are a little tired and slightly swollen to avoid buying shoes that are too tight. And before you leave the store, make sure you check the size of both shoes. Can’t spring for a new pair this season? Invest in repairing your overly loved and worn out ones so they look new.

5.  Maintain Your Nails and Hands:  It’s important for men and women to keep nails well-kept, clean, and manicured because your hands are often the first thing people see when you shake hands. For women, choose a shade of polish that is most flattering and least shocking! I recommended the new long-lasting gel polish for a busy client with young children whose job keeps her in the public. Also, find a trusted nail salon and make it a frequent place to visit—it’s such a great way to relax and de-stress your life. Finally, if your hands look rough or dry between appointments, a daily dose of high-quality lotion will make them — and your image — look impeccable.

Gain the competitive advantage of visual credibility by dressing the part and showcasing your well-defined branded look. Watch the difference your presence will make. Not only will you inspire and win trust, but your unique promise of value will give you the ability to soar beyond the glass ceiling!