Be the Star of Your Own Show: Hollywood’s Advice on Dressing for Success

Do you hold the position, earn the salary, or command the respect you believe you deserve?

If not, I encourage you to dress and speak for the role you aspire to, not merely the one you currently have.

When I was growing up, my mother gave me great advice. “Patricia, of course, it is the inner you that is most important. However, you have to dress up and look good so that you can attract others. They will then discover how nice and smart you are and how you can be of value to them.” This principle, emphasized by my mother and echoed through the annals of Hollywood, remains as relevant today as ever.

Hollywood’s history is rich with icons like Edith Head, an eight-time Academy Award winner for Costume Design. Her work in classics such as The Heiress and All About Eve shaped the visual language of an era. Edith said, “You can have everything you want as long as you dress for it!”

Before you open your mouth, your appearance speaks for you.

Edith Head

How you dress affects how others perceive you and how you see yourself. Once people get to know you, they may change their opinion of you despite how you look…but why risk it? Make it easy for them to have a good impression.

Even before actors are cast, they dress for auditions.

A dozen or more actors may read for a part, so the competition is strong. If they know the role is that of a farmworker, they don’t come dressed in the hottest new fashions. If they hope to be cast as a biker, banker, or athlete, they wear a costume—street clothes that will subtly suggest the character they want to play. When Estelle Getty auditioned for The Golden Girls, she was told, “You are too young.” She returned dressed as the older character they wanted and was hired on the spot. Casting directors should be able to look at someone dressed like a Wall Street broker and imagine a trucker, or vice versa, yet why make them work so hard and risk not being hired?

Fast forward to contemporary Hollywood, and this philosophy still holds true.

Consider the dedication of actors like Chris Hemsworth, who transformed his physique for the role of Thor. Through rigorous training, Hemsworth embodied the god-like character, underscoring the powerful role of appearance in shaping perception.

Christian Bale, another exemplar, underwent staggering transformations for roles in The Machinist and Vice. His physical changes—extreme weight loss for the former and significant weight gain for the latter—speak to the lengths one might go to inhabit a role authentically.

Jake Gyllenhaal’s metamorphosis for Southpaw also stands out. His commitment to gaining muscle and mastering the boxer’s physique illustrates the transformative power of dressing (and training) for the part.

Rooney Mara’s transformation in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo involved not just a change in wardrobe but also physical alterations like piercings and hair dyeing, highlighting the depths of character immersion.

And who among us can overlook Charlize Theron in Monster? Her profound physical and stylistic changes for the role brought her character’s gritty reality to life and earned her an Oscar.

These examples underscore a truth we must all embrace: before you utter a single word, your appearance speaks volumes. It is a lesson as relevant in the boardroom as on the silver screen. Your attire sends messages—intended or not—about who you are and where you aim to be.

In my professional journey, I’ve embraced this philosophy wholeheartedly. Whether wearing a hat at networking events or stepping into a custom-made Wonder Woman costume for a keynote address, I understand the power of dressing for impact.

As you script the movie of your life, remember to costume yourself not only for the role you play today, but also for the starring role you plan for tomorrow.

Patricia Fripp agrees with her mother and Edith Head. You can get anything in life you want…if you dress for it.

When your message needs to be memorable, your presentation powerful, and your sales successful, remember the Hollywood lesson: dress for where you are and for where you aspire to be.

Let us not underestimate the power of a great speech coach.


In 1924, despite lacking art, design, and costume design experience, the twenty-year-old Edith Head was hired as a costume sketch artist at Paramount Pictures. Later, she admitted to “borrowing” other students’ sketches for her job interview.

Head began designing costumes for silent films, commencing with The Wanderer in 1925 and, by the 1930s, had established herself as one of Hollywood’s leading costume designers. She worked at Paramount for forty years until she went to Universal Pictures on March 27, 1967, possibly prompted by her extensive work for director Alfred Hitchcock, who had moved to Universal in 1960.

Throughout her long career, Edith Head was nominated for thirty-five Academy Awards—annually from 1949 (the first year that the Oscar for Best Costume Design was awarded) through 1966—and won eight times, receiving more Oscars than any other woman. (Wikipedia)

Chris Hemsworth’s transformation for Thor (Bored Panda)

Christian Bale’s roles in The Machinist and Vice (Bored Panda, The National News)

Jake Gyllenhaal in Southpaw (The National News)

Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (The National News)

Charlize Theron in Monster (The National News)

“Patricia Fripp’s reputation as a presentation skills maestro preceded her, and we were thrilled to have her address our LEADERSHIP USA members. Her presentation exceeded all expectations and received an enthusiastic response from our attendees. Patricia’s delivery was riveting and also flawlessly executed. Her spontaneous coaching had a profound impact on the fortunate volunteers who received her insights. I wholeheartedly endorse Patricia Fripp.” Laura Stack, Founder & CEO of LEADERSHIP USA

“Fripp, you truly outdid yourself. Your authority and expertise shone through, making you an absolute force to be reckoned with. Your insights were not just amazing, they also left a lasting impact. I have to commend your talent for weaving the perfect captivating story into each point. It’s like you have this magical ability to hold everyone’s attention effortlessly. The way you turned learning into an enjoyable and enlightening experience is a remarkable gift. Keep rocking those presentations and spreading your invaluable wisdom.” Mark Stiving, Ph.D., Chief Pricing Educator at Impact Pricing LLC

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