In our less formal and modern digital world the expression “Clothes maketh the man” has never been more relevant which I guess has been replaced by Dressing for Success. What we wear, our image and our personal brand, matters. Our clothes should enhance both our reputation and credibility.
I’d like to think that we don’t always make such snap judgements and whilst speaking generally, it is human nature to shape an impression of another in the blink of an eye.
This ‘blink’, according to studies is in-fact 7 seconds which is not so long to establish that lasting impression.
Successful women in business rarely look ‘thrown together’ or dishevelled and this is clearly no coincidence. We should bear in mind that the clothes within our working wardrobe be considered as an investment in our future success – an ‘investment in our ourselves’. Our appearance sends a positive message to our peers and colleagues about who we are and how we expect to be treated. Dressing in a suitable and smart manner speaks volumes – “I know what I’m doing, take me seriously”. If we care about ourselves and the way we present ourselves it is perceived that we also care about the job we do and also those around us.
First and foremost, it is worth thinking about the clothes we wear to our workplace each day. Few of us have the resource to look like a catwalk model but clothing in colours and styles that flatter your own characteristics will increase your confidence, self-esteem and will undoubtedly command attention.
The key, I believe, to dressing for success, requires a plan
When we plan and gradually build a wardrobe of co-ordinated pieces, we gain maximum flexibility ultimately saving valuable time. My suggestions here could be a starting point:
Get the balance right
There is nothing wrong with wearing a striking pair of stilettos or skin tight leather trousers but you know in your heart of hearts that this does not project the right image in many environments. Wearing revealing necklines or inappropriate clothing will get you noticed for all the wrong reasons. Finding some business staples will give you a polished and professional look.
With the loosening of business dress codes, you still need to consider your own working environment, your position within the organisation and of course the company culture. Our positions very often involve a ‘portfolio’ of roles and for those who are self-employed and working from home, it is still important to be clear about the image you wish to convey. Consider also the clients you wish to attract.
The clothes required of a highly corporate environment will vary to those of a self-employed Business Coach working in say in a creative environment.
Even more formal working environments have veered away from a business suit in black, navy and grey but if it is still a need for you, colour is important here, don’t feel you have to stick to these conformist colours when it comes to the shirts or blouses you wear with them. Don’t be too afraid of colour. There are clever ways to infuse some personality to your working outfits. A day in the office should not be treated as a fashion parade but think classic cuts and add your own stylish twist with accessories to give your outfit the edge.
Embrace colour and pattern into your working look
It is easy to inject some colour and pattern to your working wardrobe and still look professional. A subtle pink can enhance navy blue or grey whilst a rich emerald green works well with a variety of neutrals. It is a matter of choosing the colours and patterns that are right for you. We can also use colour to project authority or approachability.
If you do not wear a suit for work, the same rules can be applied when wearing separates. Add a brighter cardigan to black and white or inject the colour to your accessories but a word of warning, no need to overdo them particularly if you lack the confidence to wear a brighter colour!
What about Fashion Trends?
My advice is to wear selectively but on a positive note, does suggest you have your finger on the pulse, you are ahead with current trends. The assumption here is that of course you are ahead of your game in your field of expertise.
Invest in your outer wear
Spend wisely where it matters most – those items that are most visible as you arrive and depart, our shoes, coats, bags and laptop bags play an important part in our overall look.
Selecting accessories for a business environment can be a challenge so wear your accessories wisely…simple, discreet and nothing too distracting.
The ‘less is more’ approach is good here although such self-expression can help to boost our confidence.
If you do lack the confidence to wear bolder clothing colours perhaps try a brighter colour in a single piece of jewellery, a belt or a contrasting pair of heels which is usually sufficient to pull the look together. A good handbag is another way to inject some personality and style into your work wear wardrobe.
What about your shoes? If you love heels and they still allow you to move around comfortably, stay with it or try a stylish loafer or elevated wedge trainer (which of course have to be spotless). There are some great options if you wish a more comfortable option.
If however you are still confused about dressing for success, wish to understand the colours and styles that are perfect for you or you need help to discover some ‘successful’ dressing tips for your professional or social wardrobe, then please get in touch. Better still you can call me on 07494 644788, I’d love to help you navigate the dress-code dilemma.