Many of my clients select “approachable” as one of the adjectives to define their future style. They don’t want to seem intimidating by being overly polished, trendy, classic, dressy, avant garde, eclectic, branded and glitzy. They don’t want to look like they are wearing really expensive wardrobe items or looking too perfectly pulled together because they worry that other people might think this implies that they feel a sense of superiority. They do want to look stylish, but at the same time “down to earth” and “touchable”.
I understand these feelings and I work together with my clients to fill their wardrobe with items that create, for them, an approachable style.
My personal take on what makes someone seem approachable is not wrapped up so much in what they wear but rather HOW they carry themselves off in their ensemble. If you have a friendly demeanor, a smiley face, and your body language suggests that you are attentive and open, you will look approachable to me, no matter what you are wearing.
Call me crazy but I am very, very affected by the smiles and laughter of others. I find a friendly face and a fabulous laugh an instant attraction. If I am going to make a judgement about whether you look approachable, the first thing that I will look at is your face and body language, and not your outfit.
Does this mean that my clients should stop connecting approachability with wardrobe items? Well, it isn’t that simple. The thing is that confident people are usually approachable people. When people are shy or ill at ease, defensiveness causes them to withdraw and put up their guard. To others these signals might look indistinguishable from those of someone who is aloof and superior. Certainly not very approachable.
The bottom line is that this is yet another example of needing to manage your comfort zone. If you are moving from a very casual wardrobe to one that is more dressy, my advice is to take some risks but do it in stages. There will be times that you feel self conscious, but these will pass as you get accustomed to the new you. Try not to let your own insecurity about a new look turn into defensive body language that makes you seem less approachable.
Does this resonate with you? Do you find people who have an overly trendy, classic, branded, dressy, eclectic and glitzy style unapproachable and untouchable? How would you define an approachable style?