Halloween is again upon us and as we look for a 2016 party costume let’s also look at the costumes we wear daily, either through our own choosing or through the perceptions of others.Every successful business woman knows how to use other’s perceptions of ourselves to our advantage. Further, successful women become successful when they learn aspects of their daily life they control and which ones they do not. The perceptions of others fall into the later. The internet has opened up branding in a new way. Allowing ourselves to create a persona and mold that persona daily but it also allows others to mold our image as well and if we want to continue to rise, we must learn how these new “costumes” can be utilized.
One way was explained in a recent movie I watched, The First Monday in May, about the Met Gala. One of the contributors was discussing Anna Wintour’s, editor of Vogue, public persona of being difficult as depicted in the book The Devil Wears Prada. He eloquently explained that Ms. Wintour uses this perception to her advantage. Seeing it as giving her the edge over others. By believing that she “strikes a hard bargain” or refuses to bend her commitment to excellence, they walk into a meeting at a disadvantage. An assumption that they will need to acquiesce to her wishes if they want to achieve any of theirs or their contribution must be impeccable to be accepted and Ms. Wintour doesn’t have to say a word. Very powerful.
A second way is to analyze others’ perceptions in order to see options and “think out of the box” thus keeping us one step ahead. Just as an actress can play many roles while maintaining her own indemnity, successful woman can do the same and in some instances by actually using costumes. Author Robert Greene, in the book The 48 Laws of Power, discusses this fully in the 25th Power: Re-Create Yourself. He describes how Aurore Dupin Dudevant created a male persona under the pseudonym George Sand after she realized that to be a writer in 1831 she needed to play a male role. Her costume was men’s clothes. Mr. Greene explains Aurore created her own persona instead of accepting the role that the world had prescribed her. By stripping the publics’ perception of a 19th century women, she created unlimited power for herself since no one could apply conventional stereotypes. Overtime whether she donned men’s clothes or wore women’s attire, others were at a disadvantage since they couldn’t apply preconceived notions of behavior. Now in 2016, I don’t think cross dressing will have the same effect but Madonna has used this technique with precision.
Examine how your dress and how other’s expect you to dress then make a subtle change. If you wear your hair in an impeccable style, try wearing a hat to the next office baseball game thus giving the opinion of ease. Alternatively, if knee length dresses are your signature style wear a full length dress or pant suit to the holiday party implying a perception of flexibility or reinvention. Watch other’s reaction or comments on your changes. See the attention and think how you can use this “power” in the future in a more vital setting. Costumes are a powerful visual message.
So mix it up. Play with others’ perceptions of you and see how you can learn new ways of “keeping them on their toes” or “changing the rules of the game” by using perceptions or your costumes to you advantage.