On Tuesday, Ahmed wrote about the basics of dressing for success, especially in your work life. He gave some great advice about dressing appropriately and conservatively but I had to question if we could explain how dress professionally while still looking like yourself and cultivating your personal brand. Your brand is so much more than what comes out of your mouth! It is your confidence, the way you carry yourself, your tone of voice, body language, and, of course, the way you dress.
Don’t get me wrong, obviously it’s your knowledge, skill, and experience that will make you excel at your job but you do have to make a great first impression in order to prove your worth. Studies have found that it can take as little as one tenth of a second to form that first impression of someone. Do you want your first impression to be sloppy and dull or fun, professional, and confident? Make that split second count!
Stand up straight, shake hands firmly, make eye contact – exude confidence. Strive to always communicate in a positive, thoughtful, and honest way. You want to be memorable for the right reasons.
If you find yourself in a rut at work, updating your wardrobe just might make a difference in your day. Don’t forget that being professional doesn’t have to mean stuffy and boring. Here are my tips for building a professional and unique closet that will suit you, impress your boss, and build your confidence.
The most essential and – dare I say it – uninspiring part of your work wardrobe are the basics, which are neutral items that will go with anything. But you do need to start with an excellent foundation of professional clothing to get started. The basics are where the majority of your clothing budget will go, so don’t hesitate to spend more here to get quality items that will last longer and fit better. Start with neutral colours: black, grey, brown, tan, and navy. You can add to your colour palette as you gain confidence with your style.
Start with a few pairs of pants or skirts and some blazers. The blazers do not necessarily need to match the pants but you should have a few suit sets, more if you work in a business professional setting.
Add some shirts or blouses, and make sure they fit you perfectly. There’s nothing worse than being distracted by a gaping or too-tight shirt while you are in the middle of a meeting.
Consider including sweaters and/or dresses. Determine what you are comfortable with, and add some more basics to your closet.
Finally, find a few styles of professional shoes in neutral colours, and keep them clean! It is difficult to keep shoes shiny in the rapidly-changing Alberta weather, so consider leaving your professional shoes at the office.
After creating a great foundation of basics, your wardrobe will still be pretty boring, and few people feel great wearing black every day. Start having fun and experimenting with colour. Business professional offices may be less receptive to straying from a neutral colour scheme, so take cues from your supervisor to feel confident about your choices. If your supervisors seem to take fashion risks, feel free to try something new – but always make sure that your clothing fits and is appropriate. If the general tone of the office is more formal, start by adding small pops of colour. A tie, scarf, or belt is a great place to start.
Just like colour, don’t be scared to include some simple patterns in your wardrobe so that you can match them with your solid basics. Try starting with polka dots, stripes, or a chevron pattern.
A great way to add interest and style to your outfit is to include a texture, like tweed, suede, silk, or lace. All of these fabrics add personality to your outfit but can still be found in conservative styles so that you will still be office appropriate.
The easiest way to let your personality shine is through your accessories! Pick pieces you really love and use them to jazz up your neutral office attire. Pick up some great jewelry, watches, handbags, cufflinks, and so on.
These tips can definitely make an impact, especially for your confidence. Dressing for success is important, but learning about and developing your own brand will really help you dress to impress!