As career professionals, we’ve all witnessed the (sometimes illogical) workplace challenges and industry hoops that stand between an ambitious, qualified candidate and the position they aspire to. As a Certified Image Consultant, I have witnessed the influence that clothing can play in moving women move from “qualified” to “hired”.
In Want a Promotion? Wear This to Work, former model and Glamour writer, Lauren Chan discusses honing an authentic work style to get you noticed. Whether interviewing for a new job or rising the ranks of your current organization, “get to know your workplace’s culture” and “then identify your own style,” says Chan. Evaluate how leaders dress and then develop your own unique style that will have you looking like a leader.
Chan summarizes the influence of style with a quote from Jennifer Baumgartner, author of You Are What You Wear “If you want a promotion, dress as though you already have it.” It is much easier to score the job you want if people can already imagine you in the role.
In Why Dressing for Success Leads to Success, Ray A. Smith from the Wall Street Journal discusses research linking outfits to performance outcomes. In one example, subjects dressed in suits displayed more dominate behaviours in simulated business meetings than did their casually dressed cohorts, leading to business-profiting outcomes for the more formally dressed.
Another study Smith cites suggests that “wearing nicer clothes may raise one’s confidence level, affect how others perceive the wearer and, in some cases, even boost the level of one’s abstract thinking, the type in which leaders and executives engage.” Dressing for success not only influences how others perceive us, but also how we perceive ourselves and how we think on the job.
Drawing on these articles and my experience styling ambitious women, I have compiled a short list of the top 3 steps to dress for career success:
Step It Up: Evaluate what your role models in the office are wearing and trump their style by one notch. For example, if your senior leaders wear blazers and dress pants with casual shirts, increase your visual influence by adding a crisp collared shirt or a silk blouse with pussy bow.
Invest in Classics: Invest your wardrobe resources into classic staples that amp up the sophistication of your outfit; business staples like a luxe camel coat, sleek black pumps, high quality handbag and well-tailored pencil skirt will never go out of style and elevate the overall impact of any outfit.
Develop a Uniform: Make dressing for success effortless and foolproof day after day by defining your ideal outfit and filling up your wardrobe with variations on the theme (i.e. a mix of coordinating pencil skits, blouses and blazers).
Start enjoying the cognitive and perceptual benefits of dressing for success today with these these simply steps!