If good branding means success for companies, then why not for individuals?

Alyssa Tan

Alyssa Tan

Co-founder and CEO at Girlsourced

First impressions count

Asking for wardrobe advice is probably the least of priorities, yet the act of getting dressed is an inevitable start to one’s day. And more often than not, first impressions are formed according to one’s appearance — your personal brand.

Think about it, as brilliant as some may sound on stage or in interviews, you pass judgement based on their appearances before even hearing what they have to say. And as much as you were convinced by their speech, you wonder if they had time to consider what to wear before their public appearances.

In fact that person may well be you, wondering if you could have chosen a better pair of pants to pair with the blouse for the interview or if the skirt was a tad short for the event. I will spare you the embarrassment of sharing and come forth with a confession — that person is me.

As a marketer by profession all my life, I’ve been busy helping companies brand themselves and yet neglected the one important thing — my own personal brand.

Personal style journey

Entering the corporate world with a conglomerate from tertiary education, my wardrobe immediately switched from casual to formal with my first jacket suit from G2000. The jacket suits were stifling my creativity, but I had no idea what else was appropriate. The advertising world was the best breakthrough for me in exploring a more versatile wardrobe. Still, while the freedom to wear anything was great for expression, I was never quite certain if I was appropriately dressed for the occasion.

The uncertainty was amplified with online shopping as I purchased whatever was the latest in trend, then felt a load of guilt whenever I had to clear out old clothes to make space for the new. A nagging question I had was whether there was something I could have kept that would have still worked for me, but there was no one to ask.

Girlsourced: A supportive network and personalised advice

The launch of Girlsourced changed everything. When building the app, the various fashion dilemmas were considered — from criticisms faced to doubts I had on my outfit choices through different stages of my life.

Building it however was just the beginning; we needed to be our own advocates. Since we launched the app, we have posted various questions on the community to get votes on our work-from-home outfits to getting votes on what to keep or let go off in our wardrobes. Getting Girlsourced by the community has been a great experience for me, especially when I need a quick casual opinion or validation on my choices.

There have been times however when a professional* opinion with personalised recommendations proved necessary, such as for a photoshoot for the brand and in another, for a video interview.

The photoshoot was a last-minute arrangement that took place during the beta period where we were focused on our customers and stylists testing the product. But by then the app was sufficiently ready for us to consult a Girlsourced stylist. With the on-demand model we had, we were able to do so in an instant even without prior scheduling — usually required for conventional styling sessions. Priscilla, our stylist based in Australia, picked up the job and provided immediate advice on what Jessie and I should wear to represent the brand — a mixture of what was already in our wardrobe and some new pieces from Zara. A 20-minute consultation by chat was all it took.

Jessie and Alyssa in matching outfits to represent girls in tech, but with different shades of jeans as recommended by Priscilla

Another consultation took place during Phase 1 of the circuit breaker, this time during the launch period for a video interview. I tried three different outfits and asked the community to vote. The community votes were helpful in shortlisting the best outfit but eventually I went with a professional styling session to help me put together the right look fit for purpose. During the session our Girlsourced stylist Vrinda based in Singapore, gave advice on more than just my outfit, but also on my makeup and hair seeing that I was doing this entirely on my own at home. The result — confidence to pull off the interview with the right representation for both my personal brand and the Girlsourced brand.

An interview with One&Co and Mumpreneur that took place during the Circuit Breaker period in Singapore.

Wardrobe advice for your personal brand

“…if you work in an industry where business attire is the norm, it’s appropriate to maintain the same level of professionalism in a virtual meeting. Bottom line: don’t assume that since your work environment has changed, your attire should as well.”

While getting wardrobe advice is not necessarily a daily affair, one can certainly benefit when trying to make a decision on an outfit especially when it affects your personal brand. Most recently, a Harvard Business Review study showed the importance of appearances even to a remote audience. In the article, Dress for the (Remote) Job You Want, Noah Zandan and Hallie Lynch emphasise “…if you work in an industry where business attire is the norm, it’s appropriate to maintain the same level of professionalism in a virtual meeting…don’t assume that since your work environment has changed, your attire should as well.”

The authors also stress, “If you’re leading a discussion and looking to get buy-in from your audience, you might strive for authenticity and trustworthiness. When it comes to dress, the majority of survey respondents identified business casual attire and neutral colors as helping the speaker appear authentic and trustworthy.” No guesses for why our stylists suggested neutral colours for both the photoshoot and interview.

The advice from a personal branding course I attended was probably one of the best explanations of what it is we are envisioning with Girlsourced. You, as an individual are the CEO of your own brand. Fashion trends come and go, and some may work for you but others may not. Everyone needs to ask this question of themselves — Who is the brand you want to be? Appearances may not be everything but affect the way your personal brand is perceived.

Put your best image forth and at the same time remain authentic, distinct and consistent to your audience.

At the end of the day, you want to put your best image forth and at the same time remain authentic, distinct and consistent to your audience. So if you have ever had similar doubts on your outfit, consider getting help with that and start building your own personal brand.


*All professional sessions on the Girlsourced app are fully paid sessions. Click here to find out more