A secret that my clients learn as they further develop their personal style is that a self-assured style reveals competence. Whether it’s a Silicon Valley engineer or a New York City attorney, the connection between style and competence is undeniable. It’s true regardless of profession, and it’s true regardless of location. Personal style does not replace competence, nor does it help a person overcome incompetence. Still, style is important for a competent professional.

Think about this for a moment. You either know or believe that you are capable of the work you do. The activity of working for professionals seems to plod along in an effort to do it well. Your efforts could go unrecognized, under-appreciated, even when your performance is excellent. A healthy ego always appreciates a bit or recognition and it is always encouraging to receive it. Whatever the tangible results of your efforts, the outcomes seem separated from the person or team that did the work. This is why a self-assured style reveals competence. Your personal style is a reminder to others that you are that competent person who adds value to the business.

A fact among many of my clients is that, despite their highly competent natures, they can lack in self-assured beliefs. I believe this is unfortunately normal because people do not receive due recognition for work well done. Even more than the pat on the back from the boss, people have not received the bonus they sought out, or the promotions they deserved. And it stings because these are people who I know are doing the right thing.

Yes, there are all sorts of factors that go into why someone doesn’t earn more or move further up the ladder. And they can include rational issues like overall business performance and emotional ones like cronyism. Self-assured style reveals competence and demonstrates that you are worth the money and the elevated position. Look, you’re not walking around your office with the elegant software solution you had a hand in. And you’re not holding the judge’s verdict that you won the lawsuit. Life at work isn’t like that. In the end, there’s just you.

Years ago, I learned a hard truth when I approached a senior level manager about becoming a manager. Despite having an excellent track record as a sales associate, I learned that I was only as good as my last sale. I wasn’t recognized for my accomplishments. Moreover, in the vapid landscape of high-end retail, I felt judged that I failed to meet an unstated aesthetic preference. It did help me to move on and to create my own consultancy practice. But, that had to do with my sense of resilience and I knew better. To this day, my self-assured style reveals competence to me, perhaps my own harshest critic. Sound familiar? Anyone…Anyone?

Whether others around you need the reminder that you are the knowledgeable expert, the capable professional, you need reminding, too.

It is fascinating how something like personal style, which exists on the exterior, can give you self-assurance, which exists inside. But, this is what a holistic approach to personal style does. It pulls from within, reveals the best of who you are at your core, and displays it externally. Often, people think that personal style is all about the fashion. You know, the labels, the trends, the fun and frivolity of it all. And it sure can encompass any of this. But, buying fashion is about owning clothes. Whereas, owning your personal style is about owning a look that reveals your core strengths, talents, and gifts. Who knew that clothing could be such a powerful tool to help you tell your story?

This is why I am doing my best to get the word out. The right clothes can only help you to feel self-assured on the inside and confident on the outside.

In the next blog post, I will demonstrate several examples of how self-assured style reveals competence. Meanwhile, take advantage of my free resources, especially my Comprehensive Dress-Style Commentary for Attorneys. No matter your profession, there’s a lot to take from the insights I offer there.