How to Avoid Style over Substance
Avoid Style over Substance
Ensure we don’t distract others with our clothing or accessories because our communication skills are not strong enough by Susan Heaton-Wright
With so much noise on social media about appearance and how you look, it is even more important to know how to avoid style over substance. What do I mean by this? Here is a definition of “Style over Substance“. In other words, although someone looks immaculately dressed or styled, behind the facade, there is no substance or content. This might sound very harsh, but in a competitive world, knowing how to avoid style over substance is crucial for success.
Now I should mention that I am not advocating poor grooming, or appearing very scruffy. And understanding what the dress code of your industry is, is very important. However, it is not the most important thing, even though some image consultants or stylists will argue otherwise. In fact, it was listening to a stylist state that personal communication is 93% what you wear, that I went back to Mehrabian’s Communication model that she had misunderstood and misquoted.
What Mehrabian ACTUALLY said was that we communicate with what we say; how we say it and non-verbal cues: including our body language, gestures, facial expressions AND personal appearance. How often have we met people who have real charisma who look scruffy, or people who are beautifully dressed but who are boring or “wear the dress”? In other words we notice what they wear but nothing else about them, including what they say! We want to avoid that as successful people.
I am honoured to do a lot of work with Women in Property. They support professional women within the Property industry: from lawyers to surveyors, architects and engineers at emerging leadership to board level roles in a male-dominated industry. Fiona Alfred, The Executive Director has observed that when women speak at events or even in meetings, there is a frisson for 30 seconds when the largely male audience realise a woman is speaking and what they are wearing. THEN the female professional NEEDS to share content with substance to demonstrate credibility. Looking lovely in this industry is not the most important factor.
It is not all about appearance
And here is the point; many people talk about ‘Personal Branding’; this is how you present yourself; your values and what others say about you. It is often mistaken for what you wear; the colours; the designers; the expensive accessories. Some of these expensive accessories are badges of success: ways to ‘set the bar’; but if they are boring; speak rubbish or even are unimpressive, you get distracted by the expensive accessories at the expense of the quality of what you are saying. In other words, even if you have fabulous clothes and accessories, remember not to allow these to distract from your messaging.
Create your Executive Presence with this 3Plus International online program
One industry where many people struggle with substance over style is the entertainment industry. Many performers get frustrated that their style upstages their talent and abilities as performers. We can think of beautiful actresses or singers who are not credited with talent due to their styling. Ellie Goulding’s quote sums up the frustration of many people in the entertainment industry whose talents are underestimated.
So what can you do to ensure you are substance? I am sure you love wearing beautiful clothes (we all do); but we all need to get the balance right between style and substance. And to ensure we don’t distract others with our clothing or accessories because our communication skills are not strong enough. Perhaps you are lacking in presence or confidence, or you struggle to be heard in meetings.
If you would like some support with your executive presence and communication style do get in touch
Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services
Make your dreams a reality with a professional evaluation of your career to date.
The evidence is in. More women in your company can deliver 35% greater financial returns. (Catalyst)
Linkedin Live on Ageism Friday 24th September 2pm BST with Hung Lee
Join Dorothy Dalton and colleagues - Jo Weech, Head of People, (Exemplary Consultants), Jacob Sten Madsen, Talent Acquisition Advisor (Nielsen) & Anne-Hermine Nicolas, Head of Executive Recruitment (ex-Deloitte), Frank Zupan, Director of Talent Management (Associated Materials) to discuss critical issues in Hung Lee’s Brainfood Live.
Dates for the Diary
September 21st - ENGIE Gender bias in Performance Assessment online
September 24th - Linkedin Live on Ageism with Hung Lee
October 26th - Banque de Luxembourg Préjugés sexistes dans le processus de recrutment.
We have Remote Learning Programs available
Check out our exciting portfolio of offerings to support your business in upskilling and competence building for your teams, to address the unprecedented challenges that women face in this new totally a digital world.
Download and listen free podcasts
Organisations will have to take action against ageist practices and policies so that we all benefit from an aging population.
There are situations that most men would not give a second thought to, but women are programmed to think about their personal security. There are ways men can be better allies to women with simple steps.
Looking for a successful female professional to be your role model? Here’s some advice from successful women on how to become one yourself.