Dress for Success

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.

About Hertha Wolff-Arend

I am a business coach and writer located in Paso Robles, California. I am the author of the book Be a woman and act like one. Succeeding in business and life’’ and I write a blog for women with the same title. I give motivational speeches and offer leadership and personality trainings to women. I also work with business owners and managers to support them in their leadership skills and personal development. As a strategic consultant, I also help companies with their communication and marketing strategy. Born and raised in Germany, I spent most of my adult life in Europe. I have a German university degree in languages and economics and I worked for many years in the advertising industry as one of the few female managing directors in Germany for major international advertising agencies such as Young&Rubicam, TBWA and Bates. My client list consisted of mainly blue chip clients, where I was responsible for their communications strategies and the development and execution of the advertising concepts. Just to name a few clients: Lufthansa, Danone, Kraft Foods, Bosch, Singapore Airlines, Ericsson, Campbells etc. In 2004 I relocated with my husband and son to California. I graduated from New Venture West in San Francisco as a Certified Integral Coach and started my own coaching practice in 2007. I am fluent in German and English and have conversational skills in Spanish. Aside from my dedication to work and family, I am a passionate dressage rider. I am devoted to supporting women in business, with a focus on women in the lower and middle management who are aiming at a career in the higher ranks or who want to develop their own business.
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2 Responses to Dress for Success

  1. Elane says:

    Hey there! Do yyou use Twitter? I’d like to folkow you
    if that would be okay. I’m definitely enjoying your blog and
    look forward to new updates.

  2. Thank you for your interest in my work. I am not on Twitter, but you can sign up for my monthly newsletter.

    Best wishes from California

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