From working in the corporate world to owning your own business – there is a major transition in building your own personal brand that compliments and completes your business brand.
First, let me say congratulations to stepping out on your own. Whether you are an entrepreneur, solopreneur or running a big business, you now have an opportunity and permission to turn your personal brand upside down and shake things up!
If your former job left your wardrobe constrained by a lackluster and conservative dress code or you simply need to pump up the volume with your new business brand; here are tips for making your existing wardrobe work for you, plus a few insider secrets.
Defining your personal brand doesn’t have to be painful. Think of it as an opportunity to reinvent yourself. Remember when you went off to college and were able to leave all of those embarrassing K-12 moments in the past and create a new persona when you arrived on campus? Well, this is the exact same opportunity! It is an exciting journey that can catapult your business or leave you stuck in the past.
For those of you who are ready to accelerate your personal brand, jump on the Styleology Train and let’s roll into your closet!
Tips on how to utilize your existing wardrobe:
- Break suits and matching ensembles apart. Hang each garment on its own hanger versus keeping suits and twin sets together on one hanger. This will vastly open up your wardrobe so you can mix and match varying pieces.
- Understand there will be a mind shift and it takes time to retrain your brain to see your clothes in a different light. If you have worn conservative suits and ensembles for years or adversely if you dressed in shorts, a t-shirt and flip flops—you now have the opportunity to write your own dress code and create your new personal brand.
A note of caution here: What I tend to see most often is people going from extremely conservative to entirely too casual because they want to break the mold. Being too casual can kill your credibility—especially if you are a new business owner. It is difficult enough to brand you and your business in the first few years, so don’t sabotage yourself by dressing too causally. I also see the extreme opposite—people who are now in a less conservative industry and still wearing their stuffy and conservative attire that does not represent their new business.
- Go through your closet. Any items you didn’t like or feel great in while in your former job, recognize the fact that you still won’t like or feel great in them today. Free yourself and purge to make room for pieces that better suit your new profession (and it doesn’t matter how much you spent on those items—if they don’t serve you now, get rid of them—it is an emotional reminder of the person you used to be versus the person you are growing into).
- Think about the items in your closet that made you feel the most powerful or were your “lucky” pieces. Keep those and either utilize them as part of your new persona or use them for inspiration when shopping for new pieces.
While I was never a traditional and classic suit type of gal in the corporate world; I had amazingly unique blazers, pants, blouses and not to mention off-the-hook accessories. What I did to transform my corporate look into an everyday look was pair conservative tops with hip shoes and accessories. I took pants that I perceived as “conservative” and rocked them with a great top and accessories. For example, I pair my dreamy Escada blazer with dark jeans, heels and on-trend jewelry. When I am shopping for clients or have a casual meeting; this is a perfect ensemble because it is still classy, yet fun and edgy!
* As a side note – I wanted my Escada blazer to be a bit less formal, so I took it to the tailor and had them take it from long sleeves to ¾ length sleeves. Most people forget that a great tailor can take almost any garment and make it look fresh. Plus, it is an inexpensive way to repurpose great classics!
Point being, I did not have to buy a new wardrobe to fit my new profession years ago. However, I did purchase key items that enhanced and provided a more expansive wardrobe.
Questions to ask yourself when building your personal brand:
- Was I respected in my former job? Why/why not? Did my wardrobe reflect my position and my professional goals? Is that a “brand” I want to continue moving forward with?
- Who are my clients and how do they dress? Unless you know who your target market is, you can’t possibly know how to dress.
- What do I want my personal brand to say to the world? Are looking for investors, business partners, new clients? Once you know this, you can then begin to dress strategically and with intention.
We want to hear from you! What were your biggest “personal branding” wardrobe questions or quandaries when you were transitioning from your job to owning your own business?