The Image Domino Effect

What if you could change something about your image, like your hair or clothes or accessories, and have it impact your life? What if, with one small change, you could suddenly find your life going in a very different direction?

Sound impossible?

It’s not. In fact, I’ve seen it happen so often over the years that I continue to marvel at people who insist that what you wear isn’t important. Because with one well-executed costume change, you could go from sidekick to leading lady overnight – with all the accompanying benefits.

BusinesswomanSexy BusinesswomanFor example:

One of my clients has a beautiful figure that she felt she needed to flaunt, particularly in the workplace. A sales rep who liked low-cut tops and thigh-high skirts, she had a high closing rate with men, but a nearly non-existent record with women; she insisted they were jealous of her. When I finally convinced her to try a still-flattering yet more modest approach, it opened a floodgate of orders from women and she literally doubled her income overnight. Not long after that, she found herself in a serious relationship for the first time in years; she’d resigned herself to short flings and one night stands, because that’s the kind of guys her previously skimpy attire attracted.

The lesson: If you want people to admire your body, flaunt it. If you want people to admire your brain, cover up.

Another client came to me because she was ticked off that she’d been passed over – AGAIN – for a promotion by someone with less skill and experience. We reviewed her wardrobe and outlined her goals and added a few “power” pieces: tailored jackets, good-quality leather accessories, and a no-nonsense hairstyle. She got the next promotion. Then she got promoted AGAIN a few months later, nearly tripling her salary. She was also elected chapter president of a prominent industry association.

The lesson: Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Repeat as often as necessary to get where you want to go.

Semi-tailored attireA stay-at-home mom with a profitable hobby was invited to speak at an industry function and was in a panic over what to wear. She was hoping for more exposure in the industry and wanted to look professional but not corporate. I had her dress in semi-tailored attire. It worked. Her stellar content and professional appearance lead to a dozen more speaking invitations and – much to her surprise — a spokeswoman position for a national retail chain.

The lesson: When you’re standing in the spotlight, you never know who’s looking. Dress to impress.

So are all of these stories coincidental?

Hardly! I could tell dozens more, all of which end far beyond the initial expectation of just looking better.

Why the success?

Because dressing appropriately does MORE than just open doors; in our all-too-casual-society, it makes you stand out and be remembered. In fact, for many people, making the decision to dress correctly is like toppling the first domino in a chain: it has rapid, far-reaching effects.


People are looking for leaders and role models. If you look good, they’ll notice. If you look good and are smart, they’ll follow you. If you look good, are smart, and have good people skills, “the sky’s the limit” as they say, because it’s an irresistible, all-too-uncommon combination.

Think about it: how many people do you know who are pretty but vapid? How about smart but anti-social? What about fun but unattractive? We all know people like that. How many times have you thought, “Oh, she’d get so much further if she’d only dress better/get her degree/stop being so cynical (or whatever)?” It’s because the more pleasing characteristics you have, the more in-demand you become.

Just as in showbiz, where a “triple threat” (someone who can act, sing, and dance) usually gets more work than someone who has only mastered one of those skills, so will someone who’s attractive, smart, and a good communicator enjoy a more profitable, fulfilling life than someone who is less skilled.

So as you start this New Year, with all the promise that it holds, think about what you want this year. For many people, their list might include things like:

  • Lose weight
  • Quit Smoking
  • Regular exercise
  • Get a better job
  • Make more money
  • Get out of debt
  • Invest more
  • Buy a house
  • Find a meaningful relationship
  • — Etc.

In other words, many people want to look good, feel loved, and have financial stability. Nothing wrong with that. But – hmm. Interesting. If you go back and look at the three stories I told you earlier, you’ll notice how looking good increased the financial stability of each of the women mentioned.

It can do the same for you.

Start with critical assessments of both your person and your situation. If you don’t like something about yourself, make a change. Lose weight; get a new haircut; whiten your teeth, or whatever. If you keep getting passed over for positions or duties you want, ask yourself why. Do you lack the necessary skills? The appropriate appearance? The ability to communicate effectively? Then fill in the gaps by taking classes or upgrading your image.

Follow through. Get it done.

Within a short amount of time, you’ll be astounded by the impact a few changes to your image will make in your life.

“You have the life you have because of the decisions you’ve made,” a mentor once told me. “If you want a different life, make different decisions.”

It’s true.

So if you’re ready for your life to go into a new, better direction, start with how you look, because that’s the first thing people see. Then upgrade your core competencies and work on those people skills. By this time next year, you could be leading a very different life.

Try it yourself and see!


Diana Pemberton-SikesDiana Pemberton-Sikes is an image consultant and author of Wardrobe Magic, her best-selling ebook that shows women how to dress whatever their age, shape, size, or budget.  Ready for some big changes in your life?  Download a copy of Wardrobe Magic!

1 Comment

  • Shel

    Reply Reply January 10, 2011

    So true! so true!

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