Too casual for the workplace? Should I change my personal style?
Should I be sacrificing my personal style for a first impression? Should I change my personal style because it could hurt my career or business? If you’ve ever asked yourself this question, trust me, you’re not alone! When it comes to creating your ideal appearance for a first impression, it is essential to consider your personality. Because if you are not representing yourself in a way that you are comfortable with, it will show through in the way you are behaving! So yes, it is important to stay authentic to yourself, but you can be authentic while still dressing up your current look a bit more.
You have a primary and secondary image persona
We all carry different image personas within us —kind of a DNA— regardless of our gender, race, or age. While most of us have styles and looks that feel the most comfortable, it is common for us to shift those depending on the circumstances. However, I totally get that it can sometimes be hard to identify the right styles that will feel like yourself while still coming off as professional and current.
That’s why I launched a new image persona assessment. The idea behind it is to help people identify how others may perceive them based on that DNA.
By getting personalized information about how you may be perceived by the specific clothing styles you tend to lean towards, ways you’d usually behave, choices you make, etc. you can better navigate planning for your desired impression.
For example, when Lisa wrote to me about this question, she mentioned that she usually likes to wear a nice jacket, heels, and dark jeans. That is her comfort zone. If Lisa would take the assessment, chances are high, she would fall under “The Explorer.” Her challenge might be that she often feels underdressed or too casual in the workplace.
People who match with the explorer usually like to keep it casual and comfortable. They are those casual and sporty “next-door neighbors” with an easy-going, friendly, always fun, and optimistic personality. We love to be around them; they usually have a good sense of humor and are spontaneous on the one hand and laid back on the other.
Each image persona has two sides—good and bad, easy and hard, worry-free, and challenging. There is no right or wrong. However, the explorer also struggles with sometimes being perceived as too casual, too laid-back, not being a go-getter, and hard to fit into a corporate environment.
Now, you are right. These may all be just assumptions about a person. However, these assumptions are subconsciously made about you by people imprinting their opinions about you based on your appearance, behavior, and communication.
Your appearance plays a major role
Your appearance plays a significant role in this – as it’s like a filter you put in front of you. People think you are “too casual” because you might look “too casual.” The colors you choose, the fabrics, the patterns, fits, and cuts – they all play a role.
However, this is simply your primary image persona, meaning your go-to image that you are most likely to be in AND you are most likely born with. Your primary—and somehow “natural” persona—if you will, is the one you should never try to change, adjust, or let go of.
Someone who is categorized to be an “Explorer” should never try to fit into the concepts of a “Traditionalist”, for example, and vice versa. It would make you feel uncomfortable, insecure, and anxious. A lack of self-confidence and faith in oneself and its abilities is the consequence. As well as being perceived as someone who is inauthentic, playing a role, or not having found your true self yet.
It’s just part of who you are. Accept it, stick with and even develop and expand it.
Do not let go of your authentic style, but avoid being too casual
But all of us have a primary AND a secondary identity, and by finding our secondary persona, it can provide some insight into how we can up our appearance without straying too far out of our comfort zone.
This is exactly what this assessment will tell you. By honing in on your primary and secondary image persona, you will get a better idea of how people perceive you, and how you can alter your image to be genuinely you and still incredibly professional.
If you have ever felt unsure about how you come across a first impression based on your attire, go take the assessment linked here!
It can be incredibly challenging to navigate a first impression. Thanks for taking the time to improve yours.