Dressing For Success
Men at work are dressing up to beat the credit crunch. Bespoke tailors report increased sales and there is a feeling that being causal at work translates to casual in your job. The Hedge Fund Dress Down Friday look, has largely been replaced with a return to formal suits and shirts, this is an easy uniform to adopt.
For Women the work arena presents a unique set of challenges, how to look professional whilst retaining feminity is hard. Many City Women in Financial Institutions choose pin striped suits and tailored shirts from men’s tailors to fit in within a masculine environment. The right outfit could be the difference between climbing the career ladder and losing your job. Many women struggle to know what is acceptable at work.
The City Accountancy Firm Ernst and Young have just put 400 women on a course to develop their work look. The firm was concerned that many women are too casually dressed and did not look professional enough. First impressions count, people make decisions on us in the first 30 seconds. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
A skirt suit works really well in any work environment providing the skirt is not too tight. In a more casual workplace separates, skirt and coloured jacket look great too. A dress and jacket also looks good providing the dress is smart enough and not too tight or too short. Think elegance here. Sweater dresses cut to knee length with a toning jacket is another great look for more casual workplaces.
Avoid cleavage displays, midriff tops, informal clothing such as T shirts, beach sandals, and loud “bling” jewellery. Grooming is important, hair should be well cut, clean and not extreme in colour or cuts. Make up should be discrete, wearing makeup has been shown to increase your chances of promotion just don’t overdo it.
Colour is really important too, choose colours that flatter depending on your colouring. Traditional work colours are black (chic), navy (trustworthy), red (dynamic, aggressive), grey (conservative). To venture into hot pinks, oranges and wild prints is far riskier, and after all it is your career on the line.
Look at yourself in a long mirror before leaving the house, check clothes are ironed, that there are no ladders in your tights, check shoes are not very high, or are scuffed. Invest in good quality suits and coats and aim to keep them for several years. Beware of buying cheap clothing, cheaper fabrics and cheap jewellery, or wearing old fashioned or worn out clothes. If you aspire to be promoted look as if you mean business, and are a competent, confident professional. Clothing sends out very powerful messages about who we are, so dress to make a positive impression, dressing for success is a necessary precursor to obtaining it.
Learn what your colour palette is and what styles suit you. If you don’t know, use a personal stylist and find out the best colours to bring out the best in your skin tone and hair colour. Summer brings more challenges, women should ideally buy a smart summer work wardrobe of tailored dresses that will compete effectively with the men sweltering in suits. Invest in a few key outfits that will last a couple of years, linen shift dresses look great, as do linen mix suits providing they are crumple proof.
Dressing to impress in the current economic climate should be seen as an essential strategy to getting and keeping your dream job.