Learning to become confident in the image you portray to others is easier when you have a fantastic role model. My Dad, Dr. Gerald Sonson Charles Jr., was my example. 

He was a significant reason why I do what I do today. He was the sharpest dresser and the first one to teach me the importance of the appearance and behavior essentials of a great first impression and how your presentation teaches others how to treat you.

In honor of my Dad, I’m sharing with you HIS “be sharp as a tack” image advice:
  1. “It’s better to be an hour early than a minute late.” Arriving on time shows respect for others. They will instantly take you more seriously. Arrive appropriately early, around the 10-minute mark. Earlier than that and you may be intruding on your hosts’ time causing an impression that works against you.
  2. “Don’t wear home clothes in town.” You are a walking billboard for your expertise, credibility, values, and strengths. You don’t get a second chance to make your best impression so when you step out of your door, do so with your best presentation. Leave the ultra-casual or sloppy-floppy clothes as home clothes and stick to anything crisp and “smart casual” including garments that are in good repair – having no stains or signs of wear.
  3. “Buff out those scuffs.” Scuffs on shoes are a small detail but tell others much about your attention to detail. Scuffs say “I don’t care.” Get out the boot and shoe polish and spend some time with your good leather shoes making them uniform and neat taking out the scuffs.
  4. “An iron is your image’s best friend.” Wrinkles send the same message as scuffs and make a worse impression. (Oh, my Dad hated wrinkles!) He would tell us to turn around and change immediately. Nothing you want to communicate a sense of authority presence should have a crease. Learn to iron or get to know a good dry cleaner.
  5. “Always overdress.” I love this one. It’s my favorite. Always err on the side of being overdressed. When you feel in command about who you are, how you present yourself and what you have to offer, it will never matter if you are the one that stands out from the crowd. You’ll own it and the room will notice and appreciate your confidence.

You’ve got just three seconds to make a first impression. You can make the most of those nanoseconds by taking care of these simple details. Removing distractions in your appearance helps those you want to connect with a focus on what you can contribute. 


  • Michele Charles Gustafson

    Certified Image Consultant & Master Life Coach, Amazon Best-selling Author

    Michele Charles Gustafson is a strategic marketing consultant turned Certified Image Consultant, Certified Master Life Coach, and award-winning international success mentor. She is the creator of Hue And Style® - a mentorship platform where she teaches growth-focused entrepreneurs, professionals, and community leaders how to transform their self-belief and personal brand presentation into a superpower. Michele teaches that nothing new happens without fresh confidence and that how you see yourself in the mirror either fuels or stalls your self-esteem, business, career, and relationship goals. After working with thousands of women and more than two decades of success combining self-development clarity, personal branding strategies, image consulting concepts, and success mindset techniques, Michele’s highest aim is to help women activate their greatest potential, make their mark, and live a blissful, purpose-filled life. Michele is an author of two books including a children’s book, Angel In Your Heart, and her latest release an Amazon best-seller called Show Up Confident. She has been a featured contributor here on Thrive Global, has worked in collaboration with a global cosmetics brand for women of color, IMAN Cosmetics, and has appeared as a regularly featured guest on, CTV Your Morning,  Canada’s leading nationally-broadcasted morning show. Michele loves journal-writing, morning coffee, and resides in Northern Alberta, Canada.