Wednesday, January 7, 2009

how to dress for respect

Image Consultant Sandy Dumont asks: Have you ever been treated with less respect than you feel you deserve? Have you ever been kept waiting unnecessarily? If you answered "Yes" to either of these questions, you may be surprised to learn that it may have something to do with the image you project.

Change your Image if you want to be treated like a V.I.P. Believe it or not, the problem may be that you don't look important. In today's "business casual" world, we often look more like we're ready for a weekend getaway than for a workday. Think about it-would you keep a distinguished-looking business professional waiting? Would you treat him or her in a disrespectful fashion? Chances are you wouldn't, because the person looks important. We treat important people respectfully, even preferentially.

As an Image Consultant of over 30 years, my clients report that changing their image results in dramatic, "overnight" differences in the way they are treated at the grocery store, the drugstore and the hardware store - not just at the office. They find that they are suddenly given deferential treatment and increased respect. In a sense, they are "noticed" instead of being treated like "everyone else." Want to test out my theory? Here are the basic ingredients: Look as polished and professional as possible - from head to toe. Messy hair, in particular, will prevent you from looking polished and professional. Wear authoritative clothing and colors.

Darker colors give more authority than pale colors; and stylish-looking suits immediately suggest clout. Women: wear bolder earrings and other accessories. But, remember, you want to look like you are going to a board meeting, not a bridge game.

Men: bring out the "power ties" - not the pink one or the one with little pictures of Mickey Mouse all over it.

Stand up straight and tall. Good posture implies that you are a person of "stature." Next time you're about to venture out to the grocery store, trade in your usual jeans and T-shirt for your best suit and tie - and see what happens. Going on a business trip? Avoid your usual comfy jogging attire. Instead, dress up as if you were going straight to an important business meeting, and see what happens. I find that I always get superb service when I'm "dressed," but am easily ignored when I dress for comfort. Here's a vivid example: on a recent overseas flight, I asked the flight attendant for a glass of champagne.

She advised me that it was not available in tourist class. Then, she looked at me again and immediately reconsidered. She said, "Wait just a minute. I'll get you some from first class." She then proceeded to bring me not one, but two, glasses of champagne! I can only assume she thought I looked important enough to have my request fulfilled! So give it a try. Your newfound status may surprise you! You may even score a free glass of champagne, at the very least.

About the Author:

Sandy Dumont, THE Image Architect is an image consultant and professional speaker based in Norfolk/Virginia Beach, with 30 years of international and national experience helping individuals and Fortune 500 companies improve their image. She conducts customized Branding for People T workshops on a regular basis. For more information, visit or email

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