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One of the top five pieces of advice I ever got came from Lou Lamoriello, General Manager of the New Jersey Devils. I’d spent a year consulting for them, helping them to get into the interactive/online world back in the mid-90’s, after I left AOL.
I’d been working all night to get the website up and running for our grand launch, and it was easier to sleep on the office couch then go home. But I hadn’t yet learned the lesson of taking off my suit before falling asleep, so when I woke up, even after washing my face and shaking out my jacket, I looked like I’d been run over by a truck.
Of course, Lou picked that day to stop by my office, and told me in no uncertain terms that if I didn’t make myself look more presentable, I could go home.
His actual line to me was this: Start off every day by dressing like you’re planning on meeting the most important person in the world.” He was right.
How do you dress? What do you wear? Just because we work in an industry that’s a little “laid back” doesn’t give us the right to dress like slobs.
The problem is, most of us dress like we’re working in a cave, 40 feet below ground.
For some reason, we’ve lost some of the basic functions of etiquette and logic when it comes to how we present ourselves, then we’re shocked when we aren’t taken seriously!
Understand, there’s a difference between “getting dressed up” and “looking good.” I RARELY wear a suit – I’m usually most comfortable in jeans, and either a smart t-shirt or a button down shirt with a jacket. The end result though, is that I look “put together.”
I hear a ton of people asking why no one takes them seriously. Perhaps seriousness starts with something as simple as taking a shower first. It’s ok to have your hair “mussed up” as a look. But “mussed up” doesn’t mean “you haven’t showered for three days and it looks like you’re coming off a coke binge.”
The guys of Mad Men had it right. You know who else has it right? Tony Bennett. James Bond. The look is important. It doesn’t have to equate to “Stuffy.” Stuffy is when your mom throws you into a suit when you’re six years old. Style is what you should have now.
The Oatmeal did a fun piece on what happens when you’re stuck working from home. Make sure you’re not that person.
I actually hired a stylist to tell me what to wear and why I should wear it. She came in and threw out 80% of my closet (Donated it to charity.) Then we went shopping. My neck is a certain way so certain things don’t work for me. Other things do. I wear those things now. And for what it’s worth, I know this is not necessarily “fair,” but the majority of clothing produced today is designed to fit people who fit a specific physical profile. It’s one of the reasons I’m doing this.
End of the day? It comes down to a few simple rules:
1) Good style never goes out of fashion.2) “Relaxed” should always mean “still looking good.”3) Just because you don’t have to wear a tie anymore, doesn’t mean you don’t have to look good.4) The people who look good usually get the best parts in life.4a) The caveat to 4 is simple: I don’t mean the people who go out and buy a $6,000 Prada suit. I mean the people who realize that their appearance matters, all the time.5) Your appearance matters.
In the end, this is just another factor in your personal brand. Make sure you’re on top of it.
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