Your Image: More Than A Power Suit

Your Image: More Than A Power Suit

Remember, they might be looking at you while you sleep.

You’ve got the kids started off on the new school year, and most summer projects are behind you. But what kind of space did you leave for your own makeover? And by this, I don’t mean shaving off the summer goatee or buying new lipstick.

What comes to mind when someone asks you about your personal style? This encompasses more than just reaching for your power suit when an important client visits, you have to take a high-end prospect to lunch, or you find yourself in an interview.

I’m talking about your image. If you understand that your image is more than a power suit and start thinking about it as a visual that others see repeatedly online, in print, and in person, you might look at things differently.

Head Shot How-To

Background visuals
Make sure the background isn’t stock gray, brown, or pea-green. You want a sense of depth. Don’t stand flush against a wall or background; good lighting can also help add depth.

Wardrobe options
Men should take some of the head shots with a jacket on—with tie or without—and the rest in a great business shirt and no jacket or tie. Women should experiment with a few outfits as well. Most photographers allow for one or two wardrobe changes. You want options.

Find a pro
Use a professional photographer. Do-it-yourself may work for the family-room media center, but it won’t work for the image that’s broadcast around the world. And it really is. Remember, this photo goes online, in company brochures, on event programs, and even to media outlets. People could be looking at it while you sleep.

Look straight at the camera and smile. No twisting of your torso or your shoulders or your head. Your smile doesn’t need to be crazy-big; it just needs to be there.

Yes, you need makeup—both women and men. If possible, have it professionally done. Many photographers will have options for you. Otherwise, identify a makeup artist and tell that person you will be having business head shots done. She might meet you at the shoot or do your makeup elsewhere beforehand. Men who don’t want a professional makeup job should seek the advice of a pro on how to do it. Use a light base powder to even out skin tone and eliminate facial oils before it’s time for the shoot.


Tailor Your Closet and Look
Your individual style should be authentic. Just because skinny jeans look good on your neighbor doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a good idea for you. Lena can pull off flowing scarves with sleek dresses, but those same scarves may make it appear that you have no neck. Do your own reality check.

Define your style by pulling a few things from your closet that make you feel like a rock star. Then go back and look at everything else. Do you even wear that stuff? If not, discard it.

Basics for both men and women are stylish trousers and shirts of quality fabrics that fit well. While we’re talking about fit, have your clothes tailored; donate them if they don’t look and feel good. No matter your size, well-tailored clothing is a must.

When it comes to accessories like ties, scarves, cuff links, or jewelry, you can have some fun. Choose colors and patterns that finish the outfit or are part of your signature look. For some, that might mean a bow tie; for others, a striking pair of shoes that draw compliments from men and women alike.

Another way to fine-tune and be intentional with your image is to consider your audience. Perhaps you are in a more buttoned-up environment. You can still showcase authentic stylishness—just be respectful of company protocol and client expectations. Also, what might work in a business setting in Minnesota or Wisconsin won’t necessarily work when you fly to New York or Los Angeles, so do some reconnaissance.

The All-Important Head Shot
An item that is often neglected by many businesspeople is their head shot. Your business photo could be seen by hundreds, if not thousands, in the course of a calendar year. Multiply that by your career years. What does that photo say about you?

Recently, I coached a client as he was preparing for a business head shot photo shoot. There were a number of considerations that he (and many people) understandably hadn’t thought about. For tips I shared with him on getting the most out of your business head shot, see “Head Shot How-To” on the next page.

Examine Your Goals
What’s your vision for your future—or at least the next few years? Once you answer this question, you can be more focused and intentional in developing the image that will move you toward that goal. Visualize the person you want to showcase to the world and grow your image in that direction.


Roshini Rajkumar (on Twitter @RoshiniR and Facebook at ) is a communication coach, host of News & Views on WCCO Radio, and author of Communicate That!

Related Stories