When I was training to be an image consultant we were instructed to visit the best department store in town to test how we attract respect when we shop. We made a beeline for the ‘posh frocks’ section on the first floor and our first brief was to go dressed in jeans, trainers / flats and anorak and to record how we fared. None of us scored any points on that first foray. I reckon that even if I’d lain down on the floor, taken all my clothes off and screamed my lungs out, not one of the ‘superior’ assistants would have taken a blind bit of notice of me.
The second part of the experiment was to change into something more appropriate for the situation – smart skirt and jacket, stockings and court shoes, at least run a comb through our hair, and a slick of mascara and a touch of lip colour.
The difference in our results was utterly amazing.
As I stretched out a hand to feel a lovely jacket hanging on one of the display stands, before you could say, “Cor blimey, guv!”, one of the ‘superior’ assistants was at my elbow with an outstandingly courteous, “Can I help you, madam?”
What exactly had changed?
In both scenarios, I only had enough money in my pocket to buy a cup of coffee. But the perception of how wealthy I was had been altered radically by what I was wearing.
First impressions count
The assistants thought now that I had money to spend. And I felt different too. Changing my clothes had changed how much more confident I felt. I looked (and felt) as though I could afford the ‘posh frocks’ when I was wearing ‘acceptable’ clothing.
Then the ‘superior’ assistants felt able to afford me more courtesy and respect. Dressed like a scruffy student made them perceive that I had no money to spend. They felt they would be wasting their time showing me any of their posh clothes – as my appearance made it ‘clear’ I couldn’t afford them.
The moral of this story
What you wear tells other people how to treat you. So that means you can change what you wear to change the way people treat you. You can literally change your results by dressing differently. I did! I morphed from being a naturally-shy wallflower into the confident front-of-stage diva you see before you… just by changing how I dressed.
If I can do it, so can you. Learn how to dress your body shape, scale and personality with my Personal Style course.
How we judge each other
I’ve shared with you my own personal experience of being ignored by dressing down and what happened when I changed into more appropriate clothes. Now let’s look at a famous movie example of how what you wear tells other people how to treat you.
In the film ‘Pretty Woman’, Julia Roberts’ hooker character Vivian goes into an upmarket boutique on Rodeo Drive looking for a ‘posh frock’. Mr ‘trillionaire’ Edward (Richard Gere) has given her so much cash that she could have bought the shop itself! However, the ‘superior’ assistants ask her to leave because she ‘clearly’ hasn’t got two cents to rub together.
How do they come to this incredible conclusion?
Because the dear darling looks like a less-than-desirable because of how’s she’s dressed:
- thigh-high vinyl boots
- the tiniest of micro skirts
- a scrap of material which seems to serve as a top and only just covers her vitals
Frankly, Vivian looks like a hooker and is, therefore, not ‘suitable’ to be afforded any respect or courtesy. However, when she returns to the same shop, dressed like a ‘lady who lunches’, those poor ‘superior’ assistants learn how they made a “Big mistake. Big. Huge.” and how that has cost them a whole load of commission.
What you wear tells other people how to treat you
From ‘Pretty Woman’, you can see how you can severely affect the way that people treat you merely by changing the way you dress, i.e. the way you present yourself. Let’s be real here; when someone first sees you, they have to form an extremely quick impression of whether they want to talk / do business with you – or not!
All these elements go to make a first impression:
- How you look
- What you’re wearing
- How you stand, your posture
- Whether you invade their private space
- And how appropriately (or not) you behave
And it all happens in a nanosecond.
It takes up to 35 seconds but I reckon that most women are way ahead of that one!
You might be grinding your teeth at this point, saying that it shouldn’t matter how we’re dressed, that we should be judged on who we are… For goodness’ sake, do you really have time to interview every single one of the hundreds of people you encounter every day – so that you can make a judgement call on who they really are?
Of course you don’t!
Human beings have had to develop other ways of deciding who they will and won’t interact with – and it has to be quick! So we look each other up and down in just a few seconds and arrive at all sorts of conclusions about other people. These conclusions are not general. They are based on your own personality, what you consider to be acceptable, and how the other person makes you feel.
So if you try and dress to please everyone, you are on a hiding to nothing.
That’s why I love helping my clients dress to express who they want the world to see on each particular occasion. I show them how to dress their body shape, scale and personality. And you can do the same. When you understand the rules of the game, you will soon be playing it to get what you want.
Learn how to dress your body shape, scale and personality with my Personal Style course. You could also earn money showing others how to dress to get what they want too.
Did you know?
The original script for ‘Pretty Woman’ had a completely different ending.
It’s still the story of ‘a girl who wanted to change her life, and did,’ but Vivian and Edward don’t end up together. Scriptwriter J.F. Lawton says his original script ends with Kit and Vivian on a bus bound for Disneyland with Kit anticipating a fun day financed by Vivian’s week with Edward, as Vivian ‘stares out emptily ahead.’ Dark and gritty stuff. Thank goodness the Disney producers wanted a happy ending instead.
My 5 top tips on how to attract respect
Here are my top tips on how to attract respect, whatever you’re doing. If you would like to be treated well, with courtesy and respect in any situation I strongly suggest that you dress well, so here let’s help you do that:
- Choose only the best colours from your seasonal palette that make you look healthy, efficient and able
- Select only the best styles to suit your body shape, scale and personality
- Wear clothes that you feel (and, therefore, look) comfortable in
- Choose clothes that are suitable for the occasion (remember the lessons from ‘Pretty Woman’)
- Life is too short to faff about with anything less than the best. Do not settle for ‘ok’.
The confidence you will feel from looking good will then translate into looking and feeler even better about yourself. Learn how to dress your body shape, scale and personality with my Personal Style course.
Bonus tip #6 – Smile
Remember, a smile is of absolutely no use to you.
You must give it away so get out there, look fabulous, smile, and bring a shimmer of light into this judgemental world. Encourage others to treat you with the respect and courtesy that you so obviously deserve by dressing deliberately to earn their courtesy and respect.