TV detectives. They’re everywhere these days, aren’t they? CSI, Scott & Bailey, The Bridge (my current favourite), The Killing, Silent Witness, New Tricks (oddly enjoyable)…the list goes on.
My theory for why they’re so popular is we all have a bit of the detective in us – an ability to see one minute detail which gives us a clue to a shed-load of information. So I was drawn to a recent article in The Times* about a new book – You Are What You Wear: What Your Clothes Reveal About You by Dr Jennifer Baumgartner (yes, I had trouble pronouncing her surname too).
I’ve written a number of blogs about how image is a huge part of communicating your brand (including my last one), so here’s Dr B’s thoughts on the matter that you might want to consider when you’re pulling on your pants in the morning:
Dr B says: If you have an image that’s dripping with logos, you could be perceived as having an identity crisis, using someone else’s name to prove your worth. I say: When you know yourself and your personal brand you have a confidence that negates the need to piggyback other brands, so it’s true that too many logos make people suspect your self-assurance.
Cleavage (one for the ladies, unless your moobs have got out of hand gents)
Dr B says: Too much cleavage screams attention-seeking or a plea for approval, but getting it right can make you seem powerful. I say: There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your body but remember where the line is between looking professional and looking like a pole dancer!
Dr B says: Baggy trousers or oversized clothing sends the message you’re not in control of your life. I say: From my experience it’s certainly true that, rightly or wrongly, that’s the connection we make. Ditto for people who are distinctly overweight.
Dr B says: This is a conservative classic – a wardrobe workhorse that, no matter what level you’re dressing at, will always look appropriate. I say: That’s true although make a note of a) the cleavage rule – even a smart shirt looks cheap when it’s buttoned so low there’s a place to park your bike and b) wearing it with black trousers/skirt can be too reminiscent of a waiter/waitress (a job I’m sure we all did when we were teenagers trying to earn beer money).
Dr B says: Are you clinging on to your lost youth? When we dress younger than our age we’re actually drawing attention to it. I say: It depends how mini the skirt and how well you can pull it off, but on the whole it’s best to avoid the ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ scenario.
Dr B says: When we’ve got the blues we wear the blues and research suggests that when women feel depressed they are more likely to wear jeans. I say: I’m not so sure about this one – I’ve never seen someone in jeans and assumed they’re popping Prozac. However, I do believe that, if you are going to wear jeans for business, they should be countered by something much smarter on your top half so it’s not all casual (the equivalent of the red carpet rule for Hollywood starlets: you can show your boobs or your legs, but never both).
So what are the image clues you can rely on to learn about someone’s personal brand? I’d love to hear your thoughts with a comment below.
*Here’s an example: What clues to my brand did you get when I said I read The Times?