Fashion should serve us not limit us!
How we can stand out and express who we are if we can’t use fashion. How we can find people with the same mindset if we keep hiding under boring clothes. How can we show our potential if we can’t catch attention of the audience?
Few weeks ago I was in Munich with my friends to attend an event.
We gathered in our hotel room to relax before dressing up for the evening. Suddenly someone knocked the door and my friend run to open. They knew each other very well.
When he entered the room I was immediately impressed by his outfit, wondering why he was dressed like this. He spotted my look and explained that he is coming directly from the office.
It increased my curiosity even more. Instantly I found myself asking for the full story.
And he started…
It all depends on the context
The other day I had an inquiry about giving a workshop about re-positioning a brand. First, there was a consultant who had a consulting for process optimization. Then he paused that business and went into different business fields in employment engagements and, after years, returned to his own company. He found himself in a different position with an evolved background, changed motivations, and a new vision for his company.
I was asked to set up a workshop concept that would challenge him in a very special way to get a breakthrough for his re-positioning of his own brand.
What I perceived was the task of really coming up with something that would shake up his current brand positioning. And I knew – only a real-time experience would be able to create such an intense experience. I was confident that only an “under the skin” challenge could make him move forward with confidence and an updated self-consciousness. However, this is what I understood, instead felt, as the briefing for the workshop.
In the moment of the briefing for the workshop I knew: I slide with some funny pictures won’t do the job. I needed something that went beyond, something that would open new doors, even for myself.
Questioning myself regarding gender identities, it came to my mind to make this workshop “a relevant experience for all of us.” So I decided to show up in a dress code setup no one would expect.
The morning of the workshop approached, and I got up, slipped into black 15 denier stockings with some fishnet tights over it, and put on a mini skirt and a regular (expected) business shirt on top.
I entered the foyer of the workshop venue – a co-working space. The ladies at the reception were irritated but did not mention with a word what really made them look twice at me. I, actually ignored their weird looks by appearing as natural as possible, and it actually worked out. My self-confidence gave them the psychological safety they needed to “deal with such a situation.”
I was encouraged, and I already scented that my idea might work out with the workshop participants later on.
Then, my contact person for the workshop arrived, just having one comment on my outfit: “Oh, I see you have dressed up nicely for our workshop!”
Entering the workshop room together with him, I had the same experience. People were staring at me, so attention had been created. After the short introduction of my contact, it was high time to ask how everybody felt about my appearance. This was when the ice broke, and everybody (100% men) was relieved to express their feelings.
The statements were beyond expectations, and people were opening up regarding their own fears of showing up like they really are and how they are. They talked about the masks they thought they had to wear when entering the business space. They were appreciating the chance to talk about the “backstage shit”, which they would never have done without me coming up with such a statement about wearing a skirt in public, and beyond more in a workshop with white-collar guys.
Then we started with the workshop, and it turned out that the story of the skirt went viral. There were parts of their own brand that everybody knew. However, the unknown parts (the skirt parts) and the new competencies were the ones that were the ones that re-defined the positioning of the brand. “I did not know that facet”, “Wow, that’s something I did not know about you, but tell me more”, and “Are there some facets I missed out about you?” were the statements that reflected precisely the first statements they had regards me wearing the skirt:
“I did not know that you …”, “We thought that we would know you, but did we miss out a facet here?” – all the statements they were mentioning regarding the skirt were suddenly fitting their own situation regarding the brand they wanted to put into a re-positioning.
And that’s the right time to talk about “context.” It is always about context. Wearing a skirt at a random event would not be effective regarding attention, awareness, and the courage to talk about it.
His self confidence was electrifying. His experience encouraging and his look inspiring.
I could only imagine the impact he could have if he would come in leather skirt ;)
Authentic experience, written by Thilo Mutter.