Your Personal Brand in a Virtual World
The key to projecting a desired brand or image is in how you show up for others and yourself. The impact of a more virtual and homey work experience is naturally a less formal approach in general. From sweatpants and cozy socks to pajamas and slippers, we have been given the aptitude to introduce comfort into our daily lives. Many of us have moved so far into the grip of a “relaxed” work environment that we may not think twice about seeing our colleagues show up for a Zoom meeting in a baseball hat or wrinkled t-shirt, in fact we may even expect it. This freedom may allow us to sleep in a bit later, spend more time with the kids, or accomplish one of our many goals, prior to selecting a link and showing our faces, so you may wonder, what is the negative to saving time by not spending time getting ready?
Research psychologist and Assistant Professor of Psychology at Cornell University, Dr. Peggy Drexler, writes, “Clothes influence how we view and interact with the world. We act in a manner consistent with our dress.” This may be enough to make you change out of your hoodie right now! Your personal brand not only impacts the way you show up for a virtual meeting, it has the power to impact your entire stay at home experience. The creative director for a well-known fashion atelier once told me, “The mornings you wake up and want to be dead to the world are the days that you should dress your best. Save your best fitting and most extravagant piece for the day that you want to do nothing but sleep; it will change your mood instantly.” Since then, I have lived by this advice and advise my clients who are working on building their personal brand to do the same. Clothes change the way we experience life and shift our approach to the world.
"The quest for beauty, the need to rage against the machine, is perhaps never stronger than when we are waging uphill battles,” -Lynn Yaeger, Contributing Editor to Vogue, December 2020 issue
Perhaps we need to build out our personal brand and style now more than ever. Fashion does not exist as a frivolous extravagance but as the lynchpin to sanity and mental wellbeing. This pandemic has taken us back to a time of simplicity and nostalgia as we incorporate intimate traditions back into our everyday lives. While a full face of make-up and 6 inch heels seems pedantic, we have adopted better skincare regimes and lead virtually with a fresh face, blue-light glasses, and a warm smile. While 'meet for drinks before dinner reservations’ is less a part of the plan and home cooked meals are the new standard, we connect to the experience in appreciation of the unpretentious luxury of simply being home.
For Women, the answer might be might be easy blouses and wrap dresses with oversized earrings, a slip dress with a chunky knit sweater and leather band watch to transition from day meetings to preparing a meal for dinner. Your look sets the tone while you listen to your favorite music genre, sipping wine and flipping through a magazine. It’s waking up in the extreme opulence of silk pajamas and reading the newspaper in bed. Fashion right now is not precious or fussy, it is straightforward and insouciant. It’s about making the effort for yourself and the people you connect with because it matters. From leggings and slouchy socks to slider sneakers and husband shirts, we can choose to mirror fashion to our values, politics, and lifestyle. Yaeger writes, “...it’s more important now than ever to treasure these moments of dressing up and making an effort.”
“Social life now is not about going out, it’s about organizing something at home-and dressing for your home, and for yourself. People still want a dream, but in a different way” -Domenico Dolce and Stefan Gabbana, Designers, Vogue September 2020 issue
For Men, the look might be a great t-shirt with a jacket and pocket square, a woodsy sweater and textured hair, it is an ironed button down with the sleeves rolled up and a sleek pair of glasses. It is a simple leather bracelet and watch, well-groomed beard or facial hair, and freshly clipped nails. It is the transition from an at home office look to an open cardigan with a graphic tee, a spritz of cologne and a smooth glass of whiskey. It is the adoption of bucolic activities from skeet shooting to chopping wood and building a homemade fire. Sliding on a pair of great slippers and mixing a cocktail on the balcony, or reading the paper in one hand, and sipping an espresso in the other. It is the creation of a moment and fully realizing an experience by staging your world to a space that is you.
While we may be less likely to spend money on clothes right now, we are aware of the experiences we are creating and the moments we are sharing with those closest to us, so it is about being conscious in thought and demonstrating an awareness to the moment by living in it as our most authentic selves.
“There’s also a greater realization of the power of fashion as a tool for cultural commentary, for social justice and activism; for telling very political stories that include notions of diversity and inclusion… they’re content creating a way of working that suits them and their customers and allows them more control over their own narratives” -Andrew Bolton, Wendy Yu, Curator-the Costume Institute of MOMA, Vogue September 2020
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