Dressing For Success
Who amongst us hasn’t admired Jackie Onassis at some point. The way she dressed, the way she carried herself – everything! She was gorgeous and seemed to be absolutely flawless. We have all at some point wanted to have our own “Jackie O moment” where we look put together, carrying grace and elegance with us.
While achieving perfection isn’t something we should aspire to, when it comes to the workplace we should put in more effort in the way we present ourselves.
I am not talking 80s power suits, but we should approach ‘dressing for success’ with a slightly different mindset than we bring to our everyday attire.
As an employee or business owner, we represent our company and whether we like it or not, are judged very quickly on our appearance. Before we have even opened our mouth to say something, our attire has already spoken for us.
It’s therefore so important that we learn to prioritize our appearance especially when it comes to interviews, business meetings and presentations. In the workplace, people who don’t dress well give the assumption that they are “slackers”. Our clothing choices can and should communicate that we are confident, skilled and definitely capable. Even better is that when we dress well, our confidence is boosted and we feel more productive!
With more and more women entering the white-collar workplace and serious leadership positions it is vital that we learn how to dress for success. Luckily this doesn’t equate to looking boring or unapproachable. There are many ways, in fact, to dress in such a way compliments our personality, and that’s what we should be aiming for. Here are five tips to consider when dressing for success.
1. Be Age Appropriate
A more mature woman should be aware of overcompensating for her age – it is not unusual to see ladies becoming overly concerned with trying to not look old. This sometimes results in tipping the balance too far and in fact dressing ‘too young’. This can look like trying too hard and may even come off as tasteless and cheap.
Dressing for our age isn’t a negative thing or something that should be avoided. Image consultant and wardrobe stylist Michele Oppenheimer remarked that Hilary Clinton looked like a grandmother and this may have helped her communicate a less threatening image. Although being told you look like a grandmother might feel like an insult, it’s actually not! It can be a positive if you are working at looking powerful and serious, yet approachable and unthreatening.
So think carefully about the image that you are trying to portray and use that to guide you. Don’t try to dress like someone you are not.
2. Dress For Confidence
When we look good, we feel more confident and people around us even start treating us with more respect. To achieve this, we need to wear things that suit our body and our personality.
The best place to start is with body type. Get to know your shape and follow the rules when buying, to be sure that your closet is only filled with items that look amazing.
A golden rule is to not force yourself into clothes so tight that you may burst out at any moment. And be sure to avoid any item that you feel awkward in, even if it is trendy!
If the aim is to communicate confidence and power, certain colors work well. Try blues, reds and black.
3. Be Penny Wise
It’s worth spending a little extra on quality; beautiful fabrics, perfectly tailored jackets and pants. It’s not a waste of money because quality transcends time.
These items of clothing can be worn in other spheres of your personal life too. You can take a jacket from formal to casual with the change of your pants or by adding a scarf. Other small details such as jewelry and handbags can also change any outfit drastically.
A jacket in particular is versatile and instantly makes you look and feel like you’re in a higher position. By showing a little ankle, cropped pants make you look feminine and can be worn in both casual and formal settings. Pencil skirts with loose fitting top and blazer can look slick and professional. Plus of course there’s the classic white blouse, which works with almost anything!
4. Reflect Your Audience
Before an important meeting, presentation or interview, do some research about the people that you will be interacting with. It is important to consider your attire in terms of dressing in a way that people can relate to. For example, if you will be talking to a room full of artists, they may relate to you better if you dressed in something fashionable.
Consider how your colleagues dress and aim for slightly higher, a touch more sophistication. You can adapt to any environment. In casual settings, you can easily dress up a great pair of jeans with a nice blouse and heels. Researching your audience beforehand shows that you care, and that you take your job seriously.
5. Forget Grooming And Body Language At Your Peril!
Consider for a while, the message that you want to send. Do you want to communicate that you just rolled out of bed, were running late and rushed to get here? Because that’s easy to show!
You can portray a very different image by preparing your outfits before business meetings and interviews. When your hair is shiny, your clothes clean and pressed and you’re making great eye contact you will look both attractive and powerful.
Smile, walk with direction and purpose and shake people’s hands firmly. All of these things add to giving off a great impression.
Make sure that you do not overpower your presence with perfume, jewelry or makeup. Go for a light day-perfume and natural shades of eyeshadow. Ensure that your nails are always well trimmed and painted in neutral colors. Stay away from glitter nails!
Sometimes it feels like a big effort to dress for success, but that extra time makes a huge difference. It is all starts with learning the rules of dressing for your body shape, and following these to the letter.
Being well put together gives the impression that you are intelligent, responsible and that you are the best person to get the job done.
It is important to remember that your outward appearance needs to match the quality of your work as well. You will break confidence if you do not carry your credibility through to the work you turn out. Consider our beauty, Jackie Onassis; her language and attitude matched her flawless physical presentation.
Go on, give it a try!