Now and again there are times you need to be in public as yourself, only better. When you’re being a public figure, you need a public appearance outfit that makes it clear you’re “someone”.
If you’re meeting a public figure, these tips may also bolster your confidence at being in the same actual place as them. Or if you’re making a speech or similar on behalf of an organisation, you might find them useful too!
Public appearances can be controversial. Many public figures think of themselves as private individuals – they don’t understand that people look up to them, and are excited to see them. For example, I once met a Federal Government Minister at a function. That he didn’t bother to follow the dress code was a fairly good indicator of what meeting him was like. Best behaviour everyone!
Not that we can’t have bad days, but you need to be able to separate yourself from the role you are playing. The Queen is a fabulous example of this, always charming, though of course she’s had plenty of time to practice. And what happened when Leigh Sales met Paul McCartney was just wonderful.
A bit tricky to provide blanket advice, so let’s just say warm clothes for cool weather and cool for warm. If there is a dress code, show respect for those who invited you and follow it, or perhaps exceed it just a little.
You’ll be talking to people, perhaps shaking hands or hugging. You might be trying to do it one-handed while you hold a glass/plate/bag/book in the other. There may be some sitting, but probably a lot of standing too.
You are, of course, going to wear your signature colours and styles, whichever ones are the most comfortable for you. But please, please, please, dress up a bit.
Think about how the person meeting you will feel, and try to live up to their expectations. The Queen is also an excellent example of this; she understands that she needs to appear larger than life – particularly when squillions of people are seeing her from a great distance.
Please don’t wear track pants, jeans or t-shirts. Okay, maybe jeans if it’s a casual event. And maybe track pants if you’re a sports star.
But skirts and dresses do appear as though you have made more of an effort, and the people you meet will appreciate that.
Comfortable shoes, with a medium to high heel. Something that you can stand in for several hours, and which might elevate you a little above the crowd.
While you are attending an event, you are the event. People are there to meet the person they think you are, which is why movie stars often run into problems. If you are known for a signature of some kind, this is the time to wear it.
Some public figures adopt a highly visible signature, such as a hat, that they only wear when they make public appearances. A sort of trademark if you will, that advertises THE public figure is available. I imagine this is in the hope that when they are without the hat, people will either not recognise them, or take the hint that they are not to be disturbed.
If you don’t have a signature adopt a similar level of decoration to your outfit (plain with plain), according to what your “fan” base expects of you.
Possibly your most important accessory is an invisible sht shedding raincoat. There will be people who want to meet you, just so that they can tell you how wrong you are. And it’s very easy to get caught up in their drama and lose both your poise and confidence. Your invisible raincoat protects you from negativity; it just slides right off before it can do any damage. Of course, if you are a contentious figure, you might prefer an invisible sht shedding chemsuit.
Bearing in mind that people are there to see you, perhaps a no-makeup look, and your usual signature hair. If it’s a more formal event, you could glam it up a bit. Watch some red carpet lineups for inspiration.
So, trust me when I say that I understand learning to play the role of you is weird, confusing and uncomfortable. It helps if you’ve worked for the kind of business where you wore a uniform to represent it, and learned to accept criticism of the company without feeling personally responsible for things you can’t control.
In some ways, your public appearance outfit is the same, yet the opposite of your identity concealing outfit. It’s the sartorial equivalent of a silent movie – a larger than life costume for the character of you. There’s a grain of you in the centre, like a pearl, but it’s not you.
Have you made a public appearance? What did you wear?