Investing in yourself includes investing in a good wardrobe

Assemble a selection of pieces that ‘wow’ the people you meet, and the people you plan to work with

January is a time when many business professionals reexamine their vision and goals, and begin to take steps to realize their dreams. This can include eliminating bad habits, changing behaviors and upgrading your image. When it comes to image, too often people make the mistake of shopping rather than investing in pieces that support a personal branded message. It’s no wonder people only wear 20 percent of their wardrobe.

Why do we waste money? Because we’re not sure what we need, where to get it or how to choose those pieces that will showcase our brilliance and create a confident image.

You see (and here’s a tweetable for you) … spending yields stuff, investing brings results.

Your shopping selections should be based on your own well-informed choices grounded in an understanding of who you are and with vision clarity about your life and business. In other words, shopping should be strategic. Without this knowledge you’ll be left at the mercy of well-meaning shopping clerks, big-box subscription services or the opinions of your family and friends. This usually yields an eclectic and colorful selection of stuff … 80 percent of which you won’t wear.

First impressions still matter and you’ll want to assemble a selection of pieces that will not only “wow” you, but those you meet and plan to work with. Here are five ways to do that:

  • Determine the appropriate style of dress for your industry and the image you want to project as a leader in your industry.
  • Figure out your own style personality, your power color palette and the style of dress that best compliments your frame and body harmony.
  • Repair, tailor or replace those core pieces in your wardrobe that wear constantly.
  • Ensure you align your personal brand with your business brand.
  • Seek professional help from a certified image consultant who is trained to support your goals in relation to your image, presentation and communication skills, and digital footprint.

Now, before you think this means you need to invest in designer labels, start wearing suits (when your industry doesn’t require it) or start wearing things that make you feel uncomfortable, let me assure you that’s not the message here. If you’re unsure about which pieces to invest in, it may be time to do some work on identifying your authentic personal brand. This will help you hone your curating skills and enable you to find the perfect pieces you need to advance your goals and elevate your image.

A good wardrobe will showcase your intrinsic values, personality and intentions, and give you a competitive advantage. Investing in yourself and a great wardrobe will result in a need for fewer articles of clothing while providing a boost in confidence and brand messaging.

Dr. Carol Parker Walsh, a certified image professional and owner of Camas-based Evolve Image Consulting, is the expert behind the Vancouver Business Journal’s advice column: Dress Code. This column specializes in providing strategies to position entrepreneurs and leaders for success. Walsh can be reached at