Guest Blog: Dressing for a convincing first impression

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Hilde Pollet is owner and designer of Osbelk & Co, an accessories brand that invites spirited professionals to show creativity and character in their working wardrobe. www.osbelkandco.com. In this guest blog Hilde offers some tips on putting together that important ‘first impressions’ outfit.
Dressing for a convincing first impression

The day has come. The appointment has been in the diary for months; today you are meeting the company you have aspired to work with ever since your business was just a flutter in your stomach. Your pitch is clear, the proposal is solid, you just need to get dressed.

The rails of your wardrobe are daunting. “So you think you are up for it?” they sneer at you, “you think you know how to make that convincing first impression?”

You could opt for the tailored suit, classy, confident, but maybe too safe. Or maybe casual chic, but when is casual no longer chic, and just unprofessional?

Recent research at Harvard Business School* says that standing out in distinct ways can lend an air of presence or influence. Exactly the kind of first impression creatives and entrepreneurs may want to make when vying for business. The research points out that standing out from the community you are in means you need to understand the expectations and norms in that environment. If an individual was viewed as accidentally out of sync with everyone else it erased positive feelings about him. But it also means that understanding the expectations will allow you to deviate on purpose. You can confirm positively what is unique about you and your company compared to your competitors, using subtle cues; deviating but not straying into unacceptable territory.

So when pulling together that look for the big job which cues are you going to use?

Your strength will be in the uniqueness of what you do. Yes, your client will want a specific piece of work; that is what they are meeting you for. But they will be comparing you against competitors. When you are introducing yourself and delivering that make-or-break proposal make sure there is something memorable about you, something that supports the convincing argument in your pitch. A memorable image in their memory will stick with them. Make sure it is the right picture.

design, first impression, Hilde Pollet

A bold distinct coat may show your fast moving dynamic approach to doing business. Or maybe your service is one that many others offer but your end result is always quirkier, funnier, creating unusual interactions with the end users, so you may want the reliability of a tailored suit but wear eye-catching shoes with it? This would probably be one of the few occasions cowboy boots are an option! The message you send out will either alienate your customer or give them confidence that you are the right person for them.

When standing in front of your wardrobe that morning remember the one distinct and unique feature about you and your business that your prospective client must remember. Then select what you are going to wear and pick a few memorable details. Good luck!

*‘The science of (sometimes) standing out, published in The Wall Street Journal on 19th March 2014.

Styling by Mme Osbelk:
Cream wool coat by Carven, on www.mywardrobe.com, £799Top by Dries Van Noten, www.brownsfashion.com, £545Black trousers by Etro, www.net-a-porter.com, £295Necklace by Kenneth Jay Lane, www.net-a-porter.com, £80Boots by Gianfranco Rossi, www.net-a-porter.com, £775Black boots by Dune, www.selfridges.com £149 Tote bag by Osbelk & co, www.osbelkandco.com, £70Silk-blend scarf by Weston, www.liberty.co.uk, £140.00

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