Successful people have a habit of being seriously stylish, but only because theyʼre aware of the personal values and visions they are conveying. They understand how the personal brand they project can influence people and draw business into their world; more so in the social media noise where they are seen before they are heard. Today, simply dressing the part doesnʼt quite cut it anymore. It has to send a message.
Investing in a brand called you
We take our lessons from brand marketeers.
In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Campari CEO Robert Kunze-Concewitz puts it in perspective for us. He revealed how a simple change in the presentation of a product on the outside led to the meteoric rise of Aperol: ‘…the drink was missing one thing and it was that little bit of glamour; it came in little glasses like this and it came with a little price… so to glamourise it, we decided to put it in a big large wine glass… and the bar owner could actually price it up, so it became more profitable for them.’1
Itʼs all to do with repackaging and rebranding. Similarly, strategically changing the way we present ourselves can greatly enhance our marketability. But the approach is slightly more delicate.
Start with what youʼre made of
Personal image should ideally mirror oneʼs values or vision. Thereʼs plenty we can learn from the wardrobes of world leaders. They range from Sonia Gandhiʼs homegrown Indian sarees to Bugatti chief Stephan Winkelmannʼs Italian-tailored suits. One worn to represent the dignity of her people; the other, to match his uncompromising commitment to building beautiful cars. Each carries his or her own distinctive values in immaculate fashion. It helps to first identify your unique assets, ambition or ideals, before looking for a style that says that.
Give it a personal touch
Style should never look like itʼs trying too hard. But it pays to be a little daring with a touch of personal quirk or interest. Itʼs amazing how a small accessory or a personalised monogram can stand you apart from the sea of suits. Like Londonʼs celebrity restaurateur Juan Santa Cruz who dresses like any other former financier in a bespoke suit, except with an edge—sporting colourful rings of travel-worn bracelets just peeking out from under the cuffs.2 If youʼve acquired a Nyonya heirloom for instance, why not match it with a business suit youʼre wearing? Itʼs a part of your personal history, and at the very least a genuine conversation starter.
Careful not to clone
Itʼs not an uncommon urge to copy an icon in your industry, but be aware of the high expectations that come with it. One extreme was Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, who infamously modelled herself after Steve Jobs in everything from wardrobe to speaking style, but that didnʼt hide the fact that her products were absolutely useless. Years on after her fraud conviction, Silicon Valley startups and stylists are still discussing that painful lesson of what not to wear.3 Fashion tip of the decade? Wear the best version of you—not someone else.
Setting aside a budget can help you focus on a style that works. The real cost comes in building your personal wardrobe from there, so a cash installment plan could be useful. Whatʼs good to have is a credit card that has rich merchant affiliations with fashion and personal grooming houses, as well as invitations to exclusive fashion events to sample and shop from. You may discover your unique style available only in Milan or on the Marimekko online store, in which case a multi- currency card can make purchases easier on you in the long run. To avoid splurging, simply remember that itʼs never about how expensive the suit is; itʼs how well it fits personality and purpose.
What also helps is to not confuse personal brand investment with luxury brand investments. Investing in Rolexes and Swarovskis for value appreciation and monetary gain is an entirely different pursuit altogether. Investing in a style that says who you are contributes to personal gains in self-confidence and selling power. While they donʼt translate directly to returns in ringgit and sen, poise and personal branding are assets you canʼt do without in todayʼs business environments.
Itʼs no secret that a well-pressed suit and a nice tie can get you into places in the business world. But really, itʼs more than just getting dressed for success. Todayʼs world leaders convey substance through style, to profit from personal branding. How? Put it down to human nature. In the 2016 book Pre-Suasion, famous behavourial scientist Robert Cialdini proved how one can conjure a favourable state of mind unique to a proposal, even before delivering the proposal itself, to assure successful results.4 In short, walking in with the right wardrobe can pre-sell the values of your brand and your business. And in our day to day dealings, the difference could well be ʻhaving a foot in the doorʼ or ʼhaving doors opened for you.ʼ
Intend to spruce up your wardrobe right away? Go on an online shopping spree with the RHB Premier Visa Infinite Card to earn 3x Reward Points and 1x Reward Point for other local retail spend. Shopping on your next business travel? The same card earns you up to 8x Reward Points for overseas retail spend, airlines and duty-free purchases, as well as unlimited access to airport lounges. The luxury of having huge Rewards Points means savings in the personal grooming department too, when you redeem health & beauty items and services. Also talk to your Relationship Manager about how you can tailor credit features to personal projects such as this and leverage on balance transfers, credit limit increases and cash installment plans to ease your wardrobe makeover.
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1 Bloomberg, Leaders with Lacqua, 27 March 2019. 2 GQ, What Juan Santa Cruz, Londonʼs Go-To Restauranteur, Wears to Work, 6 May 2017. 3 Apple Insider, Steve Jobs, Theranosʼ Elizabeth Holmes, and when ʻreality distortion fieldʼ fails, 6 July 2018. 4 Forbes, Robert Cialdini: How To Master The Art Of ‘Pre-Suasion’, 6 September 2016. 5  Voice TV, 10 เต็ม 10 ʻธนาธรʼ ให้คะแนนการแต่งกายสไตล์นักการเมืองรุ่นใหม่ของตัวเอง, 30 April 2018. 6 South China Morning Post, Everyone loves ʻDaddyʼ: forget Thaksin, Thanathorn Juanroongruangkit is the Thai juntaʼs new billionaire rival, 24 February 2019.