Learning From Lindsay: Part II (AKA Dress to Impress)

What a strange power there is in clothing.~Isaac Bashevis Singer

We don’t mean to pick on Lindsay Lohan. Lord knows, she has had a lot going on.

But, when we saw her don the now oft-talked about white dress that she chose to wear to court last week, we knew it would be a popular subject in the Twittersphere and beyond.

Why?  Because the dress spoke volumes, though clearly not about what she had hoped it would.  (She claimed to have worn the virginal white frock to proclaim her innocence; various pundits speculated that it illustrated everything from a rebellious spirit to poor judgment. And then there was the manicure…)

But, whether you were on Team “White” or Team “Not Right,” most would agree that she just didn’t dress to impress – particularly in light of the gravity of the situation.

Poorly chosen clothing can, at a minimum, be a distraction and, at a maximum, a barrier to entry, so it’s important to be super clear about what your clothing says about you.  So what can you learn from La Lohan’s wardrobe dysfunction?

1) Consider the audience/situation. In Be Your Own Best Publicist, we write, “Don’t wear a ballgown to a ballgame.” In other words, choose what you wear based on what’s appropriate for the moment. (In Lindsay’s case, perhaps we’d tweak it to say, don’t wear a cocktail dress to a court date.)  It’s important to know who is going to be in the room or at the meeting and what the general vibe will be.  When in doubt, err on the dressier side.  And, no matter what, look the part if you want to make a positive impression – whether you’re going for an interview, to negotiate a raise or on a first date.

2) Have a fit. Lindsay’s body conscious (and see-through) dress was out of place in what would otherwise be a conservative environment. Most of us know that clothing that is too tight or shows too much skin should be avoided in professional situations. But, the same can be said for ill-fitting or baggy options too. Since off-the-rack items aren’t made specifically for you, it’s often a good practice to take them to the tailor to get them fitted appropriately.

3) Everything counts. Even the smallest details send a message. Take Lindsay’s court date manicures for example: When she was before a judge a few months ago, she had an expletive painted on her nail; the second time they were chipped and unkempt.  The former is an extreme example (and could have been construed as contempt of court), but both showed a lack of regard for the proceedings.

The upshot? Everything you wear (not to mention do, say and post) is your calling card, as much as the one in your wallet. So, in addition to selecting the right clothes for the occasion, make sure your hair is neat, your nails are clean (and, if applicable, the polish isn’t chipped) and that your shoes are in good condition.

Are you on “Team White” or “Team Not Right” and why?  Tell us here, on Facebook or on Twitter (@BestPublicist).

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