Lets talk about the second ‘A’ of image management.
Have you ever turned up at an event and realized that you are underdressed? Or sometimes you could arrive at an event and realize that you are overdressed.
And then there are times that the weather catches you off guard and you are not appropriately dressed for it.
How often has it happened that you have received an invitation that specifies dress code, that you cannot crack?? (I guess that’s why it is called as a ‘code’.)
For example, how does one interpret a dress code specified as ‘Evening wear’, or ‘Formal wear’ or ‘casual wear’. There have been times when a friend has called me up to ask ‘what does ‘elegantly casual’ mean?? Does it mean that I can wear flip-flops with my evening gown??
A ‘dress code’ that is specified on an invite, is expected to make life easier for the invitees by giving them a clue about what to expect. However, the reality can be exactly opposite in a way that the ‘dress code’ that is specified leaves the invitees completely flummoxed!
Depending on who is reading the code, there can be many ways of interpreting it.
For example, casual wear could mean anything from shorts and singlet to summery dresses and flip-flops. Whereas formal wear could mean a long evening gown, a three piece suit or even a sari.
Whatever be the interpretation, we all want to feel ‘appropriate’ at an event or at a given situation.
That’s the second A of image management “APPROPRIATE”.
Most people are unable to accept the idea of appropriateness because it has some sort of restrictive feel to it. It is as if we are like kids again when our parents would say ‘yes’ or ‘ no’ without giving a reason or a context.
What is appropriate at home may not be appropriate at work. What is right at the beach is wrong at the office. Sometimes it seems like common sense, sometimes its plain confusing.
Your clothing, body language and etiquette must be appropriate not only to the role that you are playing and the goal that you want to achieve, but also to the occasion.
To arrive upon a decision we have to get more information. Information like Whether the event is indoors or outdoors (weather), who will be present ( social reasons), what is the purpose of this event (is it for networking, or for meeting prospective bride or groom , or is it wanting to be more popular) and whether there is some goal that has to be achieved at this event ( eg job interview)
To me, appropriateness is all about knowing the context. These contexts and needs differ in priority according to the stage of life that we are in.
For example, at a wedding party, for the young girls, fashion would be of highest priority sometimes at the cost of comfort. (Noticed girls shivering in their fashionable backless cholis?)
This will be exactly the opposite for the senior members of the family, where comfort will be top priority and fashion would probably be of zero importance.
A quick checklist will help you to be appropriate at an event.
- Check your calendar and consider what to wear in advance
- What is the location of the event and its culture
- What is the occasion
- Who will I be with? Who will see me?
- What do I want to accomplish at this event?
- What statement or message do I want my clothes to make?
- What are the clothes that will communicate this message?
Your clothes, behavior, body language and comfort will be based on the answers that you receive to the above questions.
Take a trial of the outfit beforehand to avoid wardrobe malfunctions.
Quiz yourself in this manner whenever you wish to influence the opinions and actions of others.
To me, appropriateness is all about being right in the given context.
Have you ever wondered how appropriate your clothes are? Are you willing to take appropriateness from the choice of your hair clip to the choice of your socks? Or will you stop at just your clothes?
I hope this post has made you think about your choices in clothes, accessories and make up. Hopefully, it will help your image to be appropriate in any given situation and event.
Remember, we are all masterpieces in progress and you are your own artist.
Until next week, Stay happy, healthy and positive.