In this fast-paced world, we are all striving to be the best version of ourselves, but one topic that is still very much underestimated is … the huge impact of personal style.

Beyond the clichéd advice of not judging a book by its cover, your personal style isn’t just a matter of aesthetics, it has major influences on your business and on how you look and how you behave

A strategic tool

We’ve all been there. when you or someone you know dismissed the significance of appearances, saying, “I shouldn’t be judged by others.”

The truth is, appearances matter, and it’s okay to care about how you present yourself. It’s not about conforming to external expectations but understanding the power your personal style has.

It used to take just seven seconds for a first impression to be formed.  But we are in a much faster, visual world now – so that has reduced to just 3 seconds.  Literally the blink of an eye.  Whether you’re in a Zoom meeting or in a face-to-face situation, people are making judgments based on how you look (and unwittingly, you are doing exactly the same to others).

It’s not about vanity; it’s about acknowledging the reality of our visually driven world. In this online era, where Zoom and social media dominate, the importance of your appearance is heightened. The question isn’t whether we should be judged solely on looks, but recognising that we are and being strategic to use that knowledge to our advantage.

Lasting impressions

Psychologists have found that 93% of a first impression based solely on your appearance. That does includes body language, nuances, and all the subtleties that form an opinion before you even say a word. In a world where we’re constantly connected through the internet and social media, the need to create synergy between your appearance and how you want to be perceived in your professional life becomes paramount.

Imagine you’re in a Zoom meeting for the first time. It takes just 3 seconds (some research suggests a tenth of a second!) for that initial impression to be formed and to solidify. And within one minute, you’ve already formed around 60 opinions about the person on the other side of the screen. You might not be able to list them, but you have made them; it’s about the subtle judgments that stick with us, shaping our perceptions without us realising.

You’ve heard the age old adage “you never get a second chance to create a first impression”.  Well, while it’s true that the initial impact is significant, you can reshape perceptions, but it takes time – approximately 21 meetings. That’s if you don’t engage in direct conversation. The 93% that comprises the first impression is based solely on your appearance, and only 7% involves what you actually say.

Here’s the thing – your personal style is like an invitation. It draws people to you before you utter a single word. We’re naturally drawn to those whose appearance aligns with our preferences, and that includes non-verbal cues like smiling or confident body language. Your personal style isn’t about conforming; it’s about strategically aligning how you appear on the outside with who you are and what you stand for on the inside.  It’s one thing to make a great first impression but consistency not only cements those initial perceptions, but also impacts how you feel and behave, and therefore the results you achieve.

It’s all about the feels

It’s essential to recognise that personal style isn’t merely about how others perceive you; it’s about how you feel about yourself. Your appearance and your inner confidence are intrinsically linked.  When you look good, you feel good, and that is when you act with more confidence.

We’ve all had the days when we leave the house feeling somewhat less than what we would prefer.  Maybe it’s a bad hair day?  And the moment you bump into someone, the the first thing you might say is, “Oh, don’t look at my hair; I’m having a bad hair day.” Your body language and energy take a dip, so in turn, you don’t have as good an interaction as you might have otherwise had.

On the flip side, imagine leaving the house feeling great about yourself – no bad hair day in sight. Your confidence is a tad higher, you walk taller, smile more and more readily make eye contact with others.

This positive self-image isn’t about arrogance; it’s about feeling good and bringing positive energies into your interactions. It’s not an air of superiority but a quiet confidence that radiates authenticity. When you feel good about yourself, you naturally project positivity, leading to better conversations and improved outcomes in your personal and professional life.

Feeling good about yourself is a quiet celebration of your strengths. It’s not about shouting from the rooftops but about authentically exuding positivity.

Conclusion

Personal style is far from being a frivolous pursuit; it is as important to your business and personal life as any other strategy or tool.  Understanding how it can work in your favour allows you to be in control of any narratives formed by others  in those crucial initial seconds, but more importantly it gives you the confidence to know you are presenting the version of yourself that you want the world to see.