Recent research shows that if you are dressed more formally, you will have an edge in business transactions. What does that mean? It means what we have known for a long time; people make most judgements based on what we see, not on what we hear. In fact 80% of people's judgments are based on such nonverbal cues.
You really want to make sure it is your ideas, work product and accomplishments that are standing out to an employer or audience, not that you look disheveled or inappropriate in the work place. In order to make sure your great ideas are really heard and your work is what stands out, how should we change the way we dress?
Take it one step up and consider:
1) Make sure your duds fit well. A tailor is your best friend. Nothing hanging,nothing wrinkled, nothing pulling, and nothing you are are constantly rearranging. For my tall girls (5'10" and taller) here and here are of my favorite places by buy suits for work that are modern, reasonably priced and have long and extra long pants , shirts and blazers! For my petite girls, my bff is 5'2" and she swears by this retailer for great, petite suits for work.
2) Ensure your pallet says power. Darker colors generally translate better in business than lighter colors. Also watch many patterns that may come off as less professional than solid colors pallets. You have seen me wear the above and below pictured suit a lot - I have it in three colors - a blue-gray, a black and a tan. And I agree the darker suits are stronger, especially if you are going for an interview. I have also linked the matching dress and matching skirt. I mix these pieces with other wardrobe staples all the time so I get a lot of wear out of them. They are classic and versatile. This is a lightweight wool - that even works in the heat of Texas - and has a little stretch to it so it always fits well. My go to under shirts is linked in sleeveless turtleneck in 4 colors and in a basic tee in 2 colors (both $120). I know these are a little pricier than a plain t-shirt but trust me, they are so worth it. They feel amazing, always fit well, never pill and never wrinkle. YES!
3) Finish strong with good accessories. Shoes should not be scuffed and purses should be appropriately "business." Structured bags usually can help with this. Jewelry should fit you like your clothes do and nothing too flashy. Be comfortable in what you put on and tasteful. For some of my favorite bags that are structured to look more like a briefcase but are still more fashion forward than that try this bag in 4 colors (similar to my quilted bag and just $60) and a chevron tote (total dupe for $2500 YSL bag and just $60). If you want an investment piece my Gucci bag is linked here. Also on one my go-to jewelry designers is Laura J. Finery. Her white beaded necklace and bracelets are shown in pics below and with code POLISHEDPROFESSIONALS you can get a great discount on any of genuine gemstone finery!
As a caveat, all of these suggestions should be tailored to your business area. If you are in a creative environment like ad design or fashion merchandising, add some flare to your patterns or accessories. Show how artistic you can be. See below how I paired a graphic tee with a suit. More ideas on this here. If you are in the legal field, consider more conservative color pallets and accessories and show them how much thought you have put into every detail!
Now go out there and grab your success!
M.E.L. is an attorney and small business entrepreneur whose mission is to help professionals conquer the workaday world with style and poise.
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