How to Dress for Effect and Boost Your Business Performance

Guest Post by Jenny Bersin

Creating an effective personal style is as relevant for business leaders as it is for Victoria Beckham. Style: the Road to Freedom by Jenny Bersin, MD of Jenny B Style and Image Consultancy, puts forward the case for having a strategy, or road map, for creating our own personal style. Here are some key pointers:

  • A perfectly clear style strategy gives us a real opportunity to be ourselves, and to present ourselves, in the way that we wish. To quote Gore Vidal: “Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say and not giving a damn.”
  • A style strategy gives us the chance to look at where we are and where we want to be; to signal who we are effectively and powerfully and manoeuvre change in a way that suits ourselves.
  • The difficulty in finding our personal style is when we have little, or no, direction – we need a plan for our journey as we would for a road trip.
  • Don’t confuse fashion and style.
  • Effective personal style is about speaking clearly without saying a word.  It is not about setting up a barrier to shield ourselves from the outside world.

Dressing for Effect

Dressing for effect can boost your business performance – research show that how you look affects not only how you feel about yourself but how you much you earn.  Polished and professional equates to 8-20% more pay.

First Impressions Count

Meet someone new and it takes just three seconds for you to have made that indelible first impression.  With just a glance, you evaluate them. Two things happen so quickly they could almost be as one: firstly, you notice the quality and level of energy they give out; whether they are open or closed, charming or alarming, secondly, you respond to how they look from their grooming to what they are wearing… and they do the same to you!

In those same three seconds, they have appraised your visual and behavioural appearance from head to toe. They have instantly analysed your dress, mannerisms and body language. You may intrigue some and disenchant others but feel something about you they certainly will. If they like what they see they will unconsciously tend to see the best in you and look for opportunities to say “yes”. If they don’t like what they see, the opposite is true.

Then, inside a further 87 seconds, without you having said a word, you have been appraised and decisions have been made as to how good you are at your job, what your social standing is, how educated you are and how much you can be trusted. It will take six months for those first impressions to be changed.

On first meeting, only 7% of what you say counts, the rest is down to your dress, demeanour and voice. This is the basis on which interviews, meetings and sales pitches are won or lost!

Your height, weight, hair, symmetry of face and body are a big part of this first impression. Some of these things are beyond our control but with the art of style you can create the illusion of a near perfect business body.

Tease or Please – Your Choice

Those that tease are generally of the opinion that others must take them as they find; they may look dishevelled, disorganised or drab but beneath they are a power house of vibrancy, intelligence and diligence. They let their clients be amazed when they discover the person who lies below the surface!

Those that please take an easier route; designers and creators make it their business to look as though they have flair, originality and inspired thought, whereas teachers and solicitors meet the needs of their clients by looking dependable, honest and with integrity.

Inspiring Confidence

Looking good at what you do inspires those you meet to have confidence in your skills.

So, how you move, gesture, sit, make eye contact and dress can directly affect what you earn. Get it right and you can be making 8-20% more than your competitors who don’t.  Making that right indelible first impression is good business sense and understanding how and why your appearance affects your business success enables you to create a salary boosting appearance and clinch the art of being in demand.

Jenny Bersin is the Managing Director of Jenny B Style and Image Consultancy, and Author of Style, the Road to Freedom.  Perfecting Personal Effectiveness, Dressing for Success, Addressing Dressing and The Art of Fiscal Attraction are just a few of the subjects covered in Jenny’s talks, workshops, small group and one to one consultations. To find out more contact Jenny on 01661 844190, e-mail; or visit

As a business strategist with decades of expertise in helping owner managers and family businesses, contact me on or go to @richardwhatif on Twitter, Richard Bosworth on LinkedIn or

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