Sales guru Zig Ziegler said the following: “You cannot climb the ladder of success in the costume of failure.”
In this most miserable of all U.S. political seasons, I have been pleasantly surprised by only one thing: Hillary Clinton’s sartorial remake. Have you noticed?
To my mind Clinton has always seemed to me the very personification of un-style, the person for whom the word “frump” was surely invented. But, lo and behold, I must report that, of late, I am actually enjoying her look. Her outfits sharpen my focus on hearing what she says. They make her seem a bit less old-fashioned, a bit more au courant and sharp.
Clinton’s long-time political supporter Anna Wintour of Vogue Magazine apparently took Hillary in hand earlier this year and it bloody well shows. New York Magazine reports, “On certain occasions, Wintour has approached designers to procure outfits for Clinton.” And Washington D.C.-based political style blogger Christina Logothetis says, “She is looking much more pulled together. It was a necessary refresh.”
I don’t know a damn thing about fashion, but I don’t think clothes get their due–either from politicians or business people. Actually, I think both Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Clinton are doing a pretty good job defining themselves stylistically. The Boston Globe notes that Trump wears $7,000 Brioni suits and power ties which help him visually define himself as strong and stable. And it is not now uncommon to see Clinton wearing suits costing between $10,000 and $15,000. Clinton walks a fine line between her new cutting-edge fashion look and a need to project a common touch and she does it well, with a little help from Wintour.
Hillary’s fashion rebranding reminds me of the importance of what we wear as businesspeople. I just don’t think entrepreneurs pay enough attention to attire. Call me shallow.
We spend large sums on pr, marketing, logos, web design, and advertising to create the apt image for our firms, to define our companies with clarity and eye-catching accuracy, but we often ignore the opportunities for self-definition offered by our attire.
Research has proved many times over that most of us are judged and summed-up by those we meet well before we utter a single word–from the way we stand to the way we shake hands. (Note the recent writing of Carol Goman and Amy Cuddy.) Our clothes also send unspoken messages, intended or not, so why not consistently control the message sent? And we don’t need Anna Wintour styling us to accomplish this.
One simple example of this is Steve Jobs, who wore only black turtlenecks. It was the perfect way for Jobs to say a great deal about who he was and the simple, intuitive, user-friendly nature of Apple. New York designer Rachel Zoe notes that “Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.
It doesn’t necessarily cost a lot of money to project excellence or a specific image, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump aside. It just requires some quiet introspection as to who you are and what you want to be seen as.
Defining yourself sartorially has the added benefit of knowing you are connecting your insides with your outside. You feel more authentic. In an article in Harvard Business Review, Dr. Adam Galinsky of the Kellogg Business School at Northwestern points out that “Clothes invade the body and brain, putting the wearer into a different psychological state”–a state Galinsky calls “enclothed cognition.” (If you want to read more on this subject try my Inc. Magazine column of 4/6/15 entitled “What You Wear: It’s Kind Of Who You Are.”)
As Ralph Lauren puts it, “Fashion is not necessarily about labels. It’s about something else that comes from within you.” Thank you, Ralph Lauren.