Here’s another lesson from my stylist friend besides how fast even significant personal change can be, possibly obvious to people more stylish than me.
He told me a major goal of how you dress is to polarize. At first polarizing sounded counterproductive. Polarizing in a discussion breaks down communication. Why would I want to polarize? Why would I want to repel people?
He explained further. Many people dress to fit in, meaning they don’t polarize. If you have a job where you have to fit in, dress to fit in when you’re there. But if you dress to fit in you don’t say anything about yourself.
Dressing to polarize repels some people but attracts others. If you dress to express yourself authentically and genuinely the people you attract will be people who like what you communicate — presumably who you are. Likewise, you’ll repel people who don’t like what you communicate. You don’t have time to meet everyone in the world, so less time with people who don’t like you frees you to spend time with people who do.
Filling your world with people you like and emptying it of people you don’t like means making your social world a better place for you. You want that.
So when do you want to polarize? When you can express yourself authentically and genuinely. Expressing yourself in how you dress is one example of a general pattern. Polarizing attracts people who want to spend time with you and repels people who don’t, which gives you more time for the people who do. I know two ways to accomplish this if you don’t already know. One is to have a stylist or helpful friends choose all your clothes for you. The other is to try your best, accept that you’ll make mistakes along the way, but to learn from the mistakes. You might also learn to enjoy the mistakes. After all, you’ll be expressing that you’re experimenting with style. You’ll repel people who don’t like people like that and attract people who do. They’ll help you through the transition.
Wouldn’t you prefer that outcome to no one knowing who you are because you dress like everyone else?
Learn to make Meaningful Connections
with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.
- Step by step instructions
- Video examples of me and Marshall Goldsmith
- An excerpt from my book