Every entrepreneur knows the importance of looking presentable and professional, but do you know how to "wear your business on your sleeve?"
According to Sheila P. Coates, founder of BYOB (Be Your Own Brand), clothes speak volumes without saying a word. It's that subconscious message they send to your audience that can make or break the 30 seconds it takes for someone to form an opinion of you. They are the first visible part of your branding statement and can be particularly powerful in the business world. (Read Coates' three-step process to defining and becoming your own brand.)
To understand their language, The Story Exchange visited Coates during a recent presentation she gave to young professionals in New York City.
It turns out there is a lot hidden in the fabrics, color and the way you wear your clothes that can help you create the perception you want people to have of you and your business.
Take Oprah Winfrey, for example. Many of our 1,000 Stories participants have listed her as their most important role model, and that's in part because everyone can relate to her and she has branded herself that way throughout all her different media ventures.
"She always has her neck open," notes Coates, who explains that throwing on a v-neck is the easiest way to make people feel connected to you (or to soften your appearance). "There's always texture in her clothing. She wore a lot of sweaters when she did The Oprah Winfrey Show. That is a sign of getting to be comfortable with someone," continues Coates.
The way you dress defines your unique qualities and needs to be consistent with your branding statement. Lady Gaga is one of the most vivid examples of that. Each one of her media appearances makes a loud statement, and for Coates seeing the songstress in a meat dress at the MTV video music awards was something natural.
"Why is this such a big to do when everything she does is out of the box? When you say something, you have to be something, you have to look like something."
Your business attire may not allow for accessorizing with raw meat or arriving at a meeting in a human-size egg, but there are different ways that you can express yourself through your clothes. Watch Coates' examples of how to look your brand and what different types of clothing speak to the masses.