This clanger of a line is inveriably uttered by wannabe starlets who are struggling to wriggle off the D-list into the spotlight to milk their “15 minutes of fame) and possibly into the VIP area of the hottest club in town. It does pose an almost a existential philosophical debate – if others do not know who you are, then who are you?
A clever segue into personal branding!
Many celebrities have developed whether through careful consideration or organically, their own signature style and personality – from Anna Wintour’s immaculately groomed bob, Karl Largefeld’s powdered white hair, shades and fan, to Maggie Tabberer’s slicked back hair. Honestly I could not say I have personally heard them all speak, and many I only know of via interviews, so I don’t “know” them intimately, but I could recognise their style from 100-yards. Even being famous for always changing your style a la Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, or Marc Jacob’s playful obsession with skirts and kilts, there is something essentially “them” that enables us to recognise these stars even without their props…Lady Gaga without her meat dress can still be identified, as can Madonna without her conical corsets. This is because once they have established their “logo”, they can safely experiment (remaining within the confines of their “brand”) – just as Nike sometimes does with their “swoosh” marque, and Coke with their tagline.
Uber-model Kate Moss credits the longevity of her career to the fact that she avoids interviews and simply lets her work speak for itself – a mystery that is difficult to maintain with the intense scrutiny she faces with social media and paparazzi hounding her. Nevertheless, the public feel they know her as she stays true to her rock n roll-boho vibe from her wedding dress to festival gear, who she is seen with and where – all without opening her famous mouth!
Perhaps we should be asking Who Do You Think You Are?
Which leads me to ask – what is your signature style – do you have a particular designer or colour you favour? How do you dress to represent “you”?
Magazines make lots of money when they publish “when they were kids” features on celebrities before they hit the big time – to look at them fresh faced, before they had their signature style down pat (although Madonna is still rockin’ a cheer leading outfit in her 50s!), and before extensive “polishing” by professionals – whether new noses, new body shapes, hair and eyebrows – everyone is facinated to see what Pamela Anderson or Megan Fox looked like back when – when Jake Gyllenhaal was more geek than God and even when King Karl and Marc Jacobs were fat and gangly nerd respectively. Bill Gates is famous for his shirts with baggy jeans and kicks – even with a black Amex in his back pocket – he has maintained his nerdy engineer persona and he carries this authentically – if he suddenly wore tailored suits from Saville Row, people would question what motivated the change – as with the hoodie styling of Facebook enterpreneur Mark Zuckerberg.
Developing A Signature Style When You Are Not a Kardashian
While the average executive may never reach the stratospheres that these stars have achieved in their careers, we also have to ensure that we don’t become a caricature of ourselves – the average person looks silly if they wear sunglasses indoors (not to mention the kooky headgear that is part of the celeb style from hats and wigs to outlandish colours).
The key to developing a signature style is to keep it quite natural – perhaps more polished but within the realm of not trying too hard to make it work. You cannot turn up to a meeting one morning with outlandish geek chic frames and be seen to be authentic – it will feel like a costume rather than an extension of your style.
My Style – Working with luxury labels, creatives, entrepreneurs and celebrities.
For myself – one of my “signature” props is of course eyewear – as I have to wear glasses – so I make sure they are colourful, elegant and glamorous without resorting to ironic Geek Chic frames. Even “off duty” I am known for always being immaculately groomed, with fashionably styled hair and accessories, whether at school pick up or doing groceries on the weekend…I live and breathe my “brand” – it is authentic – I am not a distressed denim and tee kinda woman.
I no longer work in an office environment, although I visit many for client meetings, most of my appointments are held in trendy cafes or at events where image is a vital part of what I am “selling” as Director of Heart It Communications. I need to get the tick in the box that I “look the part” as part of the relationship/pitching process.
Ignoring every trend that raises it sometimes unflattering head, I tend to favour flattering 50s Mad Men-esque sillouettes. I love texture and details such as lace, velvet, pleats and pintucks, tailored blazers, vintage blouses, a-line skirts and dresses and elegant heels. I always have an impressive designer bag, painted toes and usually wear red lipstick. As I do have more of a Marilyn Monroe than Audrey Hepburn shape, I always have to watch that I remain elegant over pin up. I watch the fit over bust line, hem lengths, height of heels and of course mannerisms. Accessories are a key part of my style – both from my time working for timepieces and eyewear and also loving how much an interesting necklace can spark conversation with strangers.
I have a very ironic sense of humour and adore lots of kitchy icons – from superheros, Japanese Anime, Hello Kitty, Barbie, Bobble Heads, Hula girls, Russian babushka nesting dolls and more. This is an area that is played down in the public arena, and part of my love of Pop and Surrealist art in my office.
As much as I love it, I carry a stylish “on brand” umbrella and iPad cover rather than Barbie pink or Wonderwoman accessories. This image is my visual or public one – one that is carefully developed, honed and maintained in a networking/client situation or at a family BBQ.
All of this carefully created persona can be undone if you then do not have congruence or consistency with your marketing content – my website, the content of my blog posts, and even my personal Facebook account is all about fashion, style, family, art, books and retail observations. This marketing collateral sits well with the image I have created. If I wrote cruel, gossipy things on any of my social media platforms, or misread the dress code for a function, it would create confusion and uncertainty for those who expect me to be a subject matter expert in these areas.
Would you hire a personal stylist or fashion commentator who did not look the part? To fit into the school drop off crowd, I would need to wear gym gear and crocs, sans make up and a simple ponytail. This would have the effect as if I had arrived in my PJs – people would do a double take, ask if I was feeling well and then they would assume a family crisis or that perhaps I lost my job – because I wouldnt appear “me”.
It’s All So Superficial!
The sterotypes for my business are very much “Sex and the City” I am a cross between Samantha and Carrie in my work – but it takes more than a hot pair of heels to provide longevity to the fickle nature of PR and writing! The visual appeal or not of how we put together our image, creates connections when there are none - think how many times you comment on someone’s shoes as you get in a life or even wonder how someone that overweight could wear a Personal Trainer uniform. It is simply that stereotypes are just that – we expect tradies to look a certain way, teachers, lawyers and fashion designers to have a larger than life personality.
Do YOU Know Who You Are?
Do others? Finally, are “you” who clients and colleagues expect you to be, or do you need a little work to shift perceptions and perhaps clients? Would you be happier to be more “you”? What would it take to achieve – a website make over or a cosmetic one? I love my work as it fits me – it is creative, involves problem solving, working with inspirational people and brands and enables me to live a flexible albeit busy life.
Maggie Tabberer: http://www.onyasoapbox.com/talent/bio/mtabberer.htm
Wonder Woman Barbie: http://ww4.hdnux.com/photos/12/40/10/2753059/3/628×471.jpg
Pop Art Marilyn: http://www.fotoegrafico.com/fotos/fotosite131.bmp.jpg
Pop Art Audrey: http://www.ashmoreart.co.uk/Images/movie-pop-gallery.png
Vintage Barbie: http://www.dollsbymaria.com/images/SilkstoneNo1/Barbie2.jpg
Barbie Fashionista: http://static.eluniversal.com/2009/11/27/barbie5.jpg.320.235.thumb