Women often ask me what to wear at work or how to dress appropriately for certain occasions. I am honored even though I am not a fashion expert. I have always been interested in fashion, and I confess that I have more clothes than I would ever need and I probably also spend more money on clothes than necessary. Since my husband moved out of our walk-in closet (no worries, he moved out of the walk-in only), there is even more room for me to live my secret passion of clothes.
I worked in the advertising industry for many years and the dress code was very relaxed. We could basically wear anything we wanted with a few exceptions such as client meetings and presentations. Everyone working in the client service simply knew how to present themselves and the company appropriately.
What is ‘appropriate’ when we are talking about the way women dress? What are the differences in various industries? Do I wear the latest trend or can I still wear my clothes from previous seasons? Can I dress up sassy or would I be more subdued? The best answer to these questions is from Coco Chanel:
“Fashion fades, only style remains the same.”
Fashion is a trend, while style means personality and taste. It does not matter if you are wearing the latest trend, and it is not necessarily about looking more elegant than sexy. Instead it is about finding your style that reveals your personality and gives you the comfort and confidence you need to be successful. If fashion becomes a masquerade there is something severely wrong with your sense of looking good.
My book “Be a woman and act like one. Succeeding in Business and Life” has a chapter on this topic encouraging women to find their own style and define their own signature look. I wrote: Where is the real beauty, the stylish woman with self-confidence and a touch of elegance? You will find these women, the real eye-catchers, who do not use their outfits to make them shine but who shine by the beauty of their personality and simply wear an outfit to match.
The way you dress casts a light on who you are, and you better make sure that you are not sending the wrong message. If you have a sassy personality, there is nothing wrong with expressing it also through the way you dress. If you are more introverted, you will probably feel more confident in an outfit that does not provoke or scream for attention. However, you don’t want to be invisible by wearing an outfit that hardly differentiates you from the office carpet.
It does not matter whether you are in a business environment or any other social event; presenting yourself in the best possible light is like showing your business card. It is also part of your personal branding and adds to the whole picture of who you are and what you represent.
In my blog from 2010 with the topic ‘The Devil Wears Prada” I shared a few basic rules. Let me summarize and add a few more points that will help you work with this topic.
- Show who you are and create your own personal look.
- Quality always trumps quantity.
- Feel comfortable and self-confident in your outfit.
- Accessories make the picture perfect.
- Don’t break the bank.
We women are often very self-conscious about our looks, and we are strongly influenced by fashion. We want to look good, no matter what. We search for the answer in fashion magazines. We stare at the airbrushed beauties with no flaws and perfect bodies, and we feel so imperfect and inadequate. Oh how I know that feeling, but at the same time I am not willing to surrender.
If you want to dress for success, there is only one way – Your Way! Find your personal style and stick to it. You will be authentic and real, and you will certainly be more attractive and interesting.
“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” – Marilyn Monroe
Be a woman and act like one. Please share your fashion advice and stories with us.