You know that people make snap judgments about you based on your appearance. But it turns out that most of those judgments are right. In a study where people viewed photos of CEOs, the people were able to guess the personalities of the CEOs accurately just by looking at their photo. (Hat tip: Recruiting Animal)
Sometimes it’s about body language, and sometimes it’s about tone of voice (the Economist reports that men with appealing voices are better looking, and better looking men are smarter). One of the easiest ways to change peoples’ perceptions of you is with your clothes. I have hired a consultant to help me with this (recommended) and I have managed my wardrobe myself, on camera (not recommended).
So I’m not great at telling you how to make your voice more attractive, but I know a bit about dressing to manage your image, and here are some ideas:
Best way to choose an interview suit
Spend more time choosing the tailor than the suit. A bad suit makes people think you look bad and a good suit makes people think you deserve a chance. So, since a good suit won’t get you a job, don’t break the bank. Buy a just-barely-okay suit and take it to a good tailor. The thing you pay for in an expensive suit is fabric that doesn’t wrinkle and that lays well on your body.
Since you are having your cheap fabric tailored, it will lay well on your body. And if you don’t sit a lot before the interview, it won’t wrinkle: Voila, an expensive suit that wasn’t expensive.
Best way to feign an expensive wardrobe
The first three months on the job, buy shoes. If you think people don’t notice shoes, remember that managers in Google all wear the same shoes. It’s not an accident. Good shoes can make bad clothes look good. And don’t forget polish. Polishing silverware is outdated. Polishing shoes is not.
Most overlooked aspect of clothing
You can wear the same great glasses every day, so you get the most bang for your buck when you splurge on them. If you are wondering if your glasses are out of fashion, they are. If you don’t have enough money for a nice pair of glasses, wear contacts. Note to penny pinchers: When I have been short on money, I have never suffered from keeping disposable contacts in much longer than recommended.
Best long-term strategy
The world is not tracking the number of outfits you have and when you wear them. So if you can afford it, buy a few well-made outfits instead of a lot of cheap outfits. Low rotation is your best long-term strategy. Build a wardrobe of good clothes that fit well and you look like you’ve got your act together. Note to penny pinchers: Don’t forget to include the return on investment you get when you buy nice work clothes and you wear them on a date.
Best ways to look older
Red lipstick for girls. And conservative earrings—like diamond studs or plain pearls. (You can buy both as fakes. The only way anyone will ever know is if you lose an earring at work and show no apparent concern.)
Guys, look more mature by ditching accouterments like a baseball cap or an iPod hanging from your ear. Also, buy glasses. They make you look older.
Best ways to look younger
Botox, of course. But for starters, get your eyebrows professionally tweezed and your hair professionally colored. And smell like a grapefruit.