In a perfect world everyone would reap success based on his or her work alone. However, we live in an imperfect, image-obsessed society. In the business world, how you look can be just as important as the skills you bring to the table.
Research by the Centre For Policy Studies in London found that attractive workers are likely earn anywhere from 7-13% more than their less put together colleagues. Similarly, a 2010 Newsweek study showed 64& of hiring managers agree that beauty plays a major factor in the hiring process, and that it should.
Ethics aside, dressing professionally is a great way to establish trust. People do business with people they trust. Think about it, who would you rather have operate on you – the surgeon dressed like Carlton Banks or Kurt Cobain?
Your wardrobe, in and out of the office, sends messages about how you feel about yourself and others. An effective wardrobe reflects not only the role you are in, but the role you aspire to, and the brand of your industry. If there is any disconnect, you put yourself at risk of giving people the wrong impression.
A good exercise is to take a look at the wardrobe of people whose careers you want to emulate. Ask yourself how their image reflects their abilities, goals, and business. Next, look at yourself in the mirror and see if you can make the same connections. If you sense a disconnect or if your colleagues are always reminding you to dress nicely for an event, the list below may help you get your wardrobe on message.
1. Dress Appropriately
First and foremost, your wardrobe should compliment your body type, lifestyle, and age. Don’t be afraid to seek the advice of a personal shopper, stylist, or fashionable friend. Fashion is not a gift everyone has. Before goint to an event, find out what the dress code is. If you are too casual or too formal you may send the message that you really don’t know how to fit in. When in doubt it is better to be a little overdressed.
2. Start With the Basics
If you don’t have any eye for fashion, play it safe with the basics. Some pieces of clothing are versatile and can be paired with accessories to dress them up or down depending on the occasion. Project Runway’s Tim Gunn has a great list of essentials to lay the foundation for your wardrobe.
3. Dress to Impress
If you’re not sure which direction to take your wardrobe, take a look at the people whose respect you want to earn. How does your client, boss, mentor, or idol present themselves? They are a great group to emulate.
4. Show Your Personality
Fashion is a great tool to express your personality. Accessories can showcase your personal style in the most conservatives atmospheres. Always dress appropriately, but don’t feel pressured to look like everyone one else. Find small ways to stand out from the crowd. People will not only notice, but will be drawn to you and approach you.
5. Confidence is Key
Your clothes should make you feel good. Don’t write your appearance off as something superficial or unimportant. Invest time and money into enhancing your image and wear clothes that make you feel confident. You’ll be surprised how quickly it will impact the way you feel about yourself and how others perceive you.
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