Today, we are diving into an issue that is essential for women in business. The “what to wear to function” dilemma is one many of us business girls face. How we manage this can impact how others see us.
As we mentioned here, among the top five pieces of advice we give to young women whom we mentor is this:
Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
Let that sink in. You have heard the phrase “put your best foot forward”. Well, let us talk about how we could put our finest physical self ahead in a business setting.
The onus is really on us to show ourselves as professional, respectable, and strong. Whether we like it or not, appearances do matter. They’re the first impression people get people, so let’s craft our look to provide off the ideal impression.
Qualities like work ethic, competency, and professionalism matter tremendously. But also people do take clues about who we are and our aspirations at the workplace from the way we present ourselves. Consider the best way to dress as an element of personal branding.
Note that we come at this subject from the perspective of a very traditional corporate office environment. If you work in a somewhat innovative, artistic, or relaxed environment, you may have a bit more leeway with your work uniform. But some basic principles still apply.
So, let us address how to dress for success…
9 Style Tips for Women in Business
- Do be authentic to yourself.
We, not a believer that you have to dress to conform in an office space. We are a believer that you ought to dress in a relatively modest, office-appropriate manner. But within those guidelines, you do you!
If you prefer color, then wear a color. If you choose heels, subsequently wear heels. If you like to put on a daring lipstick, then just keep the rest of your makeup fairly natural. Just balance statement pieces with more conservative, neutral bits. Everything in moderation.
As Polonius so famously declared, “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.“
Being true to yourself is an admirable leadership quality. So practice it in most ways, such as how you dress.
- Do invest in quality, staple pieces.
As a businesswoman, you likely are smart with how you spend your money. There are certainly ways to penny pinch, but your business wardrobe is not one of them. Though the cost can seem to be a lot upfront you’re going to get a great deal of bang for your dollar. If the item is high quality, you will have the ability to wear it several times over several decades, making the cost per wear low.
Think quality over quantity. When shopping, pay attention to the materials and craftsmanship of the clothes you buy. Then as soon as you buy quality items, take proper care of those. Have they have them professionally cleaned frequently as required, hang them on velvet hangers (just say no to wire hangers!), take your shoes into a cobbler whenever they need to be polished or resoled. Basic care will go a long way in prolonging the lifespan of your shoes and clothes!
Action item: If you do not already have a trusted tailor-made, find one! Fit is everything! You want your clothes to fit not too tight, not too loose, not too long, not too short, but just right. And a good tailor will help you attain that.
- Don’t wear open-toed shoes.
Speaking of shoes… we do not understand exactly what it is, but something about open-toed shoes is quite off-putting at the workplace place. Save for the beach, for your weekend, for your night outside, or anywhere else but the office.
We are less worried about if you wear heels or flats, pointy-toe shoes or rounded-toe sneakers, but we do think you should stick to closed-toe sneakers.
Now, should you insist on wearing open-toed shoes, then make sure your feet are well-groomed?
- Do not show too much skin.
We suggest being mindful of the in two particular ways.
(1) Pay attention to your skirt or dress length.
The right length is critical! Dresses and skirts should at least graze the top of your knee. Keep in mind that if you sit at a seat, your dress or skirt will automatically grow up some, making it look shorter. Be aware of any slits your clothes might have too. Never choose bits with super high slits.
(2) Do not show cleavage.
It is simply not appropriate. Along those lines, make certain tops aren’t at all see-through. And make certain that undergarments aren’t visible.
Some might add a third principle about not revealing too much skin, and that’s the arms. Some stringent office guidelines frequently prohibit sleeveless tops or demand a sweater or jacket over such. We are not as much a stickler on this one, but then again it is frequently a practically good idea to wear a blouse or coat, as offices are normally cold.
Always make sure you consult your employee handbook for special dress code rules for your office.
- Do not overdo your makeup.
Just like nearly all of these tips (and most things in life!), moderation is essential. Should you enjoy a bold lip, then feel free to go for it. But keep everything else very natural. Avoid too dramatizing yourself with matters like false eyelashes, smoky eyeshadow, or an abundance of bronzer. Take advantage of your makeup to enhance your natural look.
On the subject of make-up, constantly keep a mirror at your desk to double-check yourself before you enter meetings. Ensure you don’t have lipstick on your teeth, any make-up smudges, or food on your teeth. Similarly, try to keep a toothbrush and toothpaste handy just in case.
- Don’t over-accessorize.
Less is more. And again, moderation is key. Accessories can make or break an outfit. They tend to be a focal point, so ensure it is a great one. Pick a top excellent handbag or briefcase. Instead of piling on the jewelry, select something classic like a nice set of pearl earrings or a simple necklace.
- Do think about color.
Surely around here, we believe in the power of color, as you understand! Therefore, while we’re for wearing color in the workplace, think about the psychology of color when choosing what color to wear. For example, red is a powerful color, but can also be regarded as aggressive. Thus, consider what is on your agenda as you dress for your day.
Again, never forget that your style is another way to communicate your total message on the job. Be frank with exactly what and how you convey.
- Don’t be overly trendy.
Unless you work in fashion, the workplace is likely not the area to experiment with the most recent runway trends.
You want to exude an air of classiness, elegance, and power. If you’re overly cool, your look can steal the show. You want your appearance to amplify your message of professionalism, not out it.
There’s nothing wrong with incorporating a trend in a little way. Just do not let it steal your spotlight!
- To familiarize yourself with the surroundings.
Different offices require various levels of attire. Can your workplace require full professional attire? Or is business casual appropriate?
Be mindful of what your office environment enables. But we urge you to still dress in the top end of the range. For instance, your office may allow jeans on Friday. But if you wear jeans? Perhaps no. Watch the executives at your office. What do they do? Again, dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
Bottom line: Dress as you care! Your appearance is a reflection of your professionalism. So, let’s be deliberate in the choices we make.
Well, do you disagree or agree with me on this subject? We certainly have rather strong opinions on this, but it comes from years of seeing women regrettably undermine themselves professionally by presenting themselves in a less than professional manner, stylishly speaking. So, since we mentioned, think about your outward aesthetic as an extension of your brand. Make the mark you want to depart when you come in contact with someone.