The Power Look
BY: Judith Rasband • Sep 25, 2019
Wearing a crisply tailored shirtwaist dress and matching cardigan jacket, I was about to check out of my hotel when a wide-eyed young boy approached, looked me up and down and asked, “Are you someone important?” “Am I… Why do you ask?” I stammered somewhat taken aback. “Because you look important,” he answered admiringly.
Just then, the keynote speaker for the convention I had attended emerged from the elevator. A very powerful woman in her own right, she looked considerably less than important dressed in casual cotton-knit pants and shirt, both slightly too small.
As she headed for the checkout counter, I embarked on a sudden experiment. Coming from behind, I stepped up beside he at the counter. The clerk, she had arrived at the counter first, nonetheless, turned his attention to me and asked, “May I help you?”
Miffed at the obvious slight, the woman informed him that she was there first and should be helped first. The clerk looked to me for approval. I acknowledged and yielded my position.
With checkout completed, I paused, and then asked the clerk whey he had offered to help me first. His answer was simply, “You looked more important.”
We all experience times in our lives when, to look like “someone important,” could gain us the attention we need.
Whether we need service from someone else, the acceptance of an idea or the sale of a company product, there are times when we can benefit by looking important-possibly more important than others.
Clothes have the ability to communicate importance, power and authority. Regardless of whether you have the power or not, people are quick to assume that you do or you don’t, depending on your clothes.
The keynote speaker has power and position, but wearing casual, ill-fitting clothes, she went unnoticed, even unrespected when she tried to assert herself.
As an individual engaged in business, you have a certain degree of power that accompanies your position. Dressed in casual, ill-fitting clothes, however, you may go unnoticed and your power unrespected even when you try to assert yourself.
Only those individual whose faces are easily recognized are regularly able to gain their due attention and respect simply by virtue of their presence. Even then, the level of attention and respect is influenced by appearance.
In most cases, it is tailored appearance that makes you look more important. Tailored clothing is characterized by 1) Straight lines; 2) Angular or tubular shapes; 3) darker colored in solids and classic patterns; and 4) firmer, smoother textures.
These characteristics communicate, “I’m in charge,” “I’m in control,” “I have authority,” “I have something to offer.”
When necessary, you can effectively soften a tailored appearance to communicate friendliness, warmth, sensitivity and your own willingness to help, by including in your appearance some 1) rounded lines; 2) fuller shapes; 3) lighter colors; 4) softer, more fluid fabrics; and for women 5) feminine accessories.
You can use this information to your advantage. When you are engaged in a business or leadership position, you can tailor your appearance to increase your apparent importance and boost your position.
Regardless of your personal or professional role, the more competitive your position, the more important your look of importance becomes. This is true whether you are a member of the board, making a sale, giving instructions, vying for a table at a restaurant, or in a hurry at the cosmetic counter during rush hour.
In most cases, if you want to be treated like someone important, you have to look like someone important.