“Clothes aren’t going to change the world. The women that wear them will”. Anne Klein
When talking about developing their gravitas, a lot of clients I work with ask about their clothing and how they can increase their presence through personal style.
I would love to say that it doesn’t matter what you wear, that you should be free to wear exactly what you want, but in leadership roles, especially in the corporate world, this simply isn’t the case. Your wardrobe is one of the key factors that can impact your success and, crucially, how people perceive you so if you can use what you wear as a tool to raise your gravitas and leadership impact, then you definitely should.
I am really happy to have on the blog today one of the UK’s leading personal stylists, Lizzie Edwards. Lizzie specialises in assisting female business leaders and senior executives with their image and has taken hundreds of women through her transformational process.
Here, Lizzie share with us her tips for tackling your wardrobe so that you can stand out from the crowd and lose the invisibility cloak. ‘The 7 Rs’ encapsulate the methodology in her hugely successful book, Look Like the Leader You Are. Over to you Lizzie and thanks!
I start working with my clients by asking them how it would feel if they could open their wardrobe and see everything at a glance – clothes they love, that fit, that are clean and ironed – and not only that, to have the skills to know what to put together to feel at their best.
Unsurprisingly, this is met with a resounding ‘yes please’ from most of my clients who are often time poor and have stressful and demanding roles that often see them elevated in leadership positions which demands they not only look, but feel, like the leaders they are.
This wardrobe transformation doesn’t just happen – it takes work and focus but it is achievable through my 7 Rs programme. Now sadly I don’t have pages to write here but here’s a top line overview to give you the idea and please find more details on each section in my book.
Step 1: Reflect
The first step is to give yourself some time to really think about you. What’s your why? What do you want to achieve? What image do you want to give out? What are your wardrobe goals? This is also time for you to really look at what you look like – what are your top five qualities?
I then ask you to look at three of your typical outfits as well as accessories, hair, make-up etc and assess if they convey the image you want them to – and ask a good friend for their thoughts too. Write down your findings.
Step 2: Review
Once you have done this work, it’s time to review your wardrobe, but make sure you take before pics and then the sort out can commence! A few tips (loads more in the book) – take all non-clothes items from your wardrobe out, that is not their home anymore! And then sort your clothes into piles: charity shop, sell, recycling, dry cleaning, alternations and ‘time capsule.’
Step 3: Reorganise
This is where the work begins! In this chapter I take you through the changes that need to be made, from purchasing new hangers to organising your wardrobe and drawers into clothing categories and noticed gaps on things that are missing and are needed. Often, after a big wardrobe clear out, it is surprising to find that there are actually many items that do work and project the right image for you.
Step 4: Rethink
So, you’re all organised – now is the time to adapt your new thinking in line with your visions and goals. Now is the time to bring your qualities to life through your clothes and create some signature styles just for you that make you feel great. This will help you create formulas to stick to going forwards which saves a load of time and emotional energy.
“Style is a way of saying who you are without having to speak”.
Step 5: Research
Now’s the time to take all that work and thinking and make it practical so get your calculator and laptop out. Take some time to define your budget and then find brands that fit this budget and your goals.
Spend a bit of time here researching brands (including international – and make sure you know your international sizes) and build a list of preferred brands. They’ll act as your go-to and save loads of time.
Step 6: Replenish
At last, it’s time to go shopping! But with a plan – always with a plan! My advice is to go early in the day, and on a weekday if possible. The shops are completely different mid-week to weekends. Just as the money you’re spending is an investment in your career, so is the time. If you were actively seeking a promotion or interviewing for a new role, you would invest hours of time in preparation. I urge you to take shopping for new items just as seriously and invest the time needed to get the results you require.
Step 7: Refine
Once you’ve organized your clothes, the final step is to assess your grooming routine, including make-up, hair, teeth, skincare, nails, and whether you need any other longer-term solutions. Alongside this you will have a tool kit to ensure you keep up the maintenance of looking after your clothes and make them last.
The most important take-away with all of this is that if you follow my 7 steps, you will feel and look like the leader you are and your confidence and self-belief will be off the scale – which can only be a good thing, right?!
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”. Jeff Bezoz