Phew! What a scorcher! (As The Sun might say.) After a dodgy start to May the sun (no, the other one) has finally come out, but the hot weather has brought with it a personal brand conundrum: how can you stay cool and still look professional?
As one friend* emailed me the other day: “My personal brand has just come into scrutiny here in the office where I’ve been told that I look overdressed for the hot weather. All the women in the office look like they’re heading to a beach party and it’s not just the tropical prints that have come out but a very mixed bag of, dare I say it, cleavages**. You also realise that more people have tattoos than expected, and I’m tempted to have the following inked across my chest: If you can read this, I’ve probably got my shirt unbuttoned too far.”
I’ve written before about how people gather clues to your personal brand – especially from what you wear (or don’t in this case). So think about what others’ perceptions might be as you stand in front of the wardrobe, in those sagging, grey pants that could do with going in the bin but are just too comfy, deciding what to wear.
- Bare legs might be coolest, but is the fact they’re pale, hairy and/or bruised too far removed from the brand you want to convey?
- Your tattoo may be a work of art, but does a butterfly perched on a rainbow deliver the gravitas you need?
- Hairy armpits might be Mother Nature’s way of delivering pheromones to attract a mate, but did she ever have to sit opposite you when you leaned back and put your hands behind your head?
- Flip flops might be the answer to letting your feet breathe, but does that weird little toe you have that’s longer than all the rest put your best foot forward?
- A shorter skirt might aid the circulation of air around your hoo-ha, but do you want it to be known that after work you’ll be going to your part-time job as a hooker?
- White trousers might be a great way to reflect the sun, but how do they reflect on you when we can all see that natty G-string you’re wearing?
The bottom line: just because you are hot doesn’t mean you look hot – dress for business not for the beach. There’s a balance between keeping cool and losing your credibility, so take the time to get it right. There’s no point making the effort to deliver a professional brand when it all goes out the window the minute the mercury rises.
I’d love to hear your office no-nos for the hot weather and what you think they say about people’s personal brands - there’s a comment box below!
*I’ve kept his identity anonymous for obvious reasons in case a colleague realised it was her cleavage he was referring to!
**Just to clarify: that’s not a self-portrait I’ve used to illustrate this blog (though my other half wishes it was)!