Forget Dress For Success. Dress To Express!

When you want to be at your best, dress to express your best. Dress to express your best behavior style characteristics. When you express your best behavior style characteristics, your confidence will shine through.

We are combinations of the four basic behavior styles, with most of us having one main or High behavior style modified by a Secondary High behavior style. (For a better understanding of DISC behavior styles, download S&R Keys.)

Four basic behavior styles means four basic ways of dressing. Have you noticed fashion magazines highlighting the latest trends for each behavior style? Of course not. I don’t know how fashion trends start, but being fashionable means dressing one particular way. If the fashion trend of the moment happens to match your High behavior style, then your confidence will shine right through your fashionable wardrobe.

If you are one of the three behavior styles that the fashion trends ignore, dressing according to fashion will prevent your confidence from shining through. If you dress according to fashion trends that do not give you confidence, you give any competitive advantage you could have to the people who do feel confident when dressing according fashion trends.

Think about your wardrobe. Which outfits make you feel like you can do anything? Those outfits give you confidence. Those outfits are your dress to express clothes.

For example, Hillary Clinton felt able to express herself in comfortable pantsuits. Steve Jobs felt able to express himself in black turtlenecks and jeans.

Keep in mind that situation plays a factor. As Secretary of State, Clinton did have to dress in a professional style. But her pantsuits are professional and she wears a variety of colors. Steve Jobs owned his company so he could set his own fashion. Most of us have to be more like Clinton, finding a way to express ourselves while dressing for the situation. If all you can do to express yourself is to add an accessory that lets your confidence shine through, then do that. Or do what Hillary Clinton does and wear the colors that express you.

I learned the clothing styles of the four basic behavior styles from the man who introduced me to the DISC behavior style theory. Since we are all combinations of the four basic behavior styles, we may need to express different behavior styles in different situations. This would be a second reason we need to dress to express ourselves according to the situation.

Think which behavior styles match your behavior. I am a High I over Secondary High S, so I am both outgoing in some situations and reserved in other situations. I am always looking for ways to connect with people. I know what to wear so I speak confidently in front of a group of people. I know what to wear when I want to stay on the sidelines. I know how to express myself with confidence. With understanding, you can express yourself with confidence, too.

High D — Outgoing, gets things done
Neat, functional clothing

High I — Outgoing, connects with people
Dramatic, unconventional clothing

High S — Reserved, connects with people
Traditional clothing (could be women wearing skirts and men wearing ties)

High C — Reserved, gets things done
Conservative clothing

The late personal stylist and image consultant Annie Brumbaugh of AD Wardrobe Works had tips for creating a wardrobe that could change your life. One of her tips was to buy “what you love, what makes you comfortable, what you feel expresses you.” Even Annie’s obituary includes her wardrobe advice:

“You are the star of your life. Your wardrobe is the costume department.
Are you dressed for the role you want to play?”

Dress to express who you are as the star of your life.


Paula M. Kramer
© 2015 to the present.
All rights reserved.

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