Did you know that you are judged within 7 seconds of walking into a room?

Yes, indeed. Research has shown again and again that the maximum amount of time you get to make a strong first impression is between the first 5 to 7 seconds.

Your appearance is the first thing that a person sees when you walk into a room. Appearance is an extraordinarily powerful first filtering. It can make or break you, it can make someone instantly like or dislike you without even knowing your personality or who you are.

Think about that! Your appearance and your body language say everything!

For those who are in business, have you ever wondered why you’re not closing more sales, finalizing those orders, getting more raises? Let’s face it: your self-confidence can be felt in a room, among your peers, and yes, even in a courtroom if you happen to be a lawyer or fighting to win a case.

Moreover your relationships, or the lack thereof, are also tied to your Style and how you feel about yourself and how you come across to the world.

I learned this very early on in my own career.

When I started my design house St. Pucchi in 1985 I struggled to express myself. I had all the talent and the knowledge, and ran a very successful business. But I was restricted as to what I could wear and how.

You see I was married to an orthodox, religious fanatic who would have been happy to hide me behind a veil and stick me in a closet if he could. Except for the fact that I was the one my clients sought out, and the one designing and running the business.

Back then I had no choice but to dress in an extremely conservative fashion, in shapeless clothes and drab colors, covered up all the way to my neck, wearing long sleeves and even longer skirts. I was suffocating, and that did a number on my self-esteem and self-confidence. I knew I wasn’t practicing what I preached and that there was a serious disconnect. It made me very unhappy. My loyal clients and my media friends could see what was going on but they loved and supported me regardless, knowing what I was going thru.

At every runway show on major stages in New York, Dallas and Chicago I declined to go up on the stage to take a bow. I was approached by major morning shows like Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, Today’s Show, and CNN for interviews. Good Morning America invited me twice to come on air. And I found every excuse not to make myself available.

Fast forward to 1991. I found the courage to free myself from my abusive situation and took time to heal and find myself, to find my true identity and realize my self-worth; to gain my self-esteem and claim back my self-confidence. It took time, but time was all I had. On days when I didn’t feel my best I asked myself “What are you going to do about it?”

I went from declining press interviews to now appearing on every major media such as Entertainment Tonight, ET! CNN and others, as well as being featured in every major bridal and fashion magazine, giving interviews in front of multitudes of cameras, and taking bows confidently at the end of hundreds of fashion shows on every catwalk across the world.

What have I learned?

I have learned that unless you bring your whole self, and stand in your truth; unless you establish your own unique style – not only in the way you dress and the fashion you wear, but also cultivate your image and be authentic to who you are, you cannot live your full potential and achieve the success you dream of.

I have learned that the key to success is to develop your own unique style, and infuse elegance, so that the total combination of both transforms the way you dress, the way you talk, behave, move your body, or do anything for that matter.

Your style and your image are very much tied to your success.

Simply put, when your inner and outer expressions start to match, a shift happens.

By cultivating your unique style you’re building your own unique self-brand. You exude influence in just about any setting without even intending to do so. People start trusting you more and your words, actions, mannerisms and confidence become apparent.

From my 32 years as an award-winning Fashion and Bridal Designer to Celebrity Image & Style expert, I have found that it is important to dress appropriately and look the part of the professional expert that you wish to be seen as. To understand the unspoken language of business, craft your own brand identity – one that evokes an image that helps your company succeed in any situation or undertaking.

I have learned that true success is really about bringing the inner soul of who you are as a person, and combining it with your own personal and unique style. THAT is what makes a Style icon.

How can you dress for success?

How can you project an image that is both appealing and powerful, strong but not overbearing, confident but not arrogant?

How can you be charismatic and credible in any business environment?

I have since devoted an entire book on body image and style called Your Body, Your Style where I take my reader by the hand and show her step by step how, regardless of her body type, she too can achieve the confidence that is the hallmark of success. Because when you find the style that fits how you feel, how you show up in life changes.

Here is my advice for women in leadership and entrepreneurs:

1. Dress appropriately. Whether you’re headed to an internal meeting with co-workers and managers, a black-tie affair to rub elbows with industry professionals, or a business meeting with your peers, it is important to dress appropriately and look the part of the professional expert you wish to be seen as. For instance if you happen to be in finance or the legal profession, stick to traditional business attire. And if you are in a creative environment like entertainment and advertising, you could be more fashion forward and casual in your attire. Adapt and adjust your professional style based on the industry you work for, and the clients you serve. Your environment, the city and state you work in, also play an important role. Boardroom attire may look very different in Silicon Valley as opposed to if you were an attorney in New York City.

2. Be fashionable but not too trendy. When in doubt opt for a classic look – clean lines, perfect tailoring, exquisite fabrics – that transcend time and trends. Your clothes should never be too tight or too revealing. If you want to be taken seriously then you must dress the part. This doesn’t mean that you should be all suited up! You can be casual chic and “in charge” without wearing a suit.

3. Choose the best color, not your favorite color. While a bright neon green may bring out your eyes and look great on you, it is not at all worth risking your reputation by wearing it at a business meeting. Experiment with colors to see how they make you feel. Choose colors that convey leadership and power. Darker shades like navy and black show dominance and firmness. These can be worn with lighter underpinning in shades of pink, pale yellow or peach, which invoke friendliness.

4. Invest in quality not quantity. A wardrobe staple, such as a black or navy blue jacket that fits well, that is made of high quality fabric and impeccably tailored can be your best investment. You could pair this with any pair of pants or skirts for a business meeting, or even your favorite pair of jeans for a casual evening out. Investing in a few key pieces of clothing is important. Make sure to get the cut and fit right.

5. Wear the right accessories. Less is always more when it comes to accessories. Classic pieces of jewelry are key. Wear one statement piece instead of several that distract the eye. A strand of pearls, an antique brooch, a dress watch, or a simple bracelet is classy and elegant. Avoid dangling earrings, big costume-jewelry-type necklace, and anything that jingles and is over the top. This is not the time to fling on the bling. You want to be taken seriously so aim for something that blends in with what you are wearing.

6. Be well groomed. When it comes to personal grooming go for balance between being attractive and powerful. Your hair should be shiny and vibrant, neat and tidy, and kept back from your face. Keep your makeup simple. Your makeup should be flawless and reflect restraint and class. Your clothes should be clean, well pressed and fit perfectly. Avoid spraying on a large amount of perfume as that can be overpowering to those around you. Make sure you are clean and tidy, and this goes for your hands and nails as well. Clear and natural nail polish is best for professional business meetings.

7. Wear heels. There’s something about heels that convey power and confidence. This doesn’t mean that you must wear very high heels if they make you feel uncomfortable. Low heeled black, navy or neutral shoes, classic-style pumps, or other classic styles with closed toes work just as well. And if heels are not your thing, then wear high quality, power flats. Make sure your shoes are clean, polished and without scuffmarks and fit in well with the outfit you’re wearing.

8. Look age appropriate. This does not mean you must look frumpy or matronly. Far from that. At a time when women are more health and body conscious as ever, dressing your age is really about making sure your clothes reflect who you are now, and how they help boost your self-confidence.

Regardless of what your style is, make sure it leaves a positive impression of you. After all, clothing is a form of self-expression – there are hints about who you are in what you wear.

And remember confidence is the key to success. 

“Confidence is the best outfit. Rock it and own it” ~ Your Body, Your Style

© Rani St. Pucchi, 2018

Rani St. Pucchi is an award-winning Couture Fashion Designer, a Style & Image Consultant, and a Relationship Expert. She is a Bestselling Author, an Inspirational Speaker, and a Success Coach and Trainer. Her TEDx talk: Is Your Body Image Holding You Back has received worldwide acclaim. Rani’s #1 International Bestselling Books, Your Body, Your Style: Simple Tips on Dressing to Flatter Your Body Type ; The SoulMate Checklist: Keys to Finding Your Perfect Partner; and Your Bridal Style: Everything You Need to Know to Design the Wedding of Your Dreams are available on Amazon and at Barnes & Nobles.

For more information on Rani please visit www.ranistpucchi.com