How to dress for suc­cess

The ques­tion of what’s ap­pro­pri­ate to wear in the work place or to a job in­ter­view, is one we are of­ten asked at Dress for Suc­cess Syd­ney. With so many women of all ages, eth­nic­i­ties, shapes and sizes, it’s not al­ways an easy one to an­swer. Here are a few

Business First - - CONTENTS - by Megan Etheridge

Choose an out­fit that makes you feel con­fi­dent. What we wear is in part an ex­ten­sion of who we are, so it’s im­por­tant to look and feel your­self. Of course this doesn’t mean wear­ing flip flops or track suit pants, it means se­lect­ing at­tire that makes you feel con­fi­dent and at your best. Re­search shows your mood and con­fi­dence can have an im­pact on your per­for­mance, so make sure you start your day with an out­fit that makes you feel good.

Dress helps build ex­ec­u­tive pres­ence. One of the things that sets lead­ers apart is their ex­ec­u­tive pres­ence. This is made up of many el­e­ments, from strong com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills and lik­a­bil­ity, to charisma and a pol­ished ap­pear­ance. Un­doubt­edly an ex­ec­u­tive’s dress plays a strong role in cre­at­ing this per­cep­tion. Find an out­fit that helps cre­ated this pol­ished ap­pear­ance and builds ex­ec­u­tive pres­ence.

First im­pres­sions count. Ac­cord­ing to 2011 re­search by Har­vard Med­i­cal School and Mas­sachusetts Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal, peo­ple as­sess your compe- tence and trust­wor­thi­ness in a quar­ter of a sec­ond (250 mil­lisec­onds) – based solely on how you look. With this in mind, women need to en­sure their dress gives a pos­i­tive and mem­o­rable first im­pres­sion.

The re­search also found that good groom­ing habits, which in­clude look­ing ‘pol­ished’ or ‘pulled to­gether’, are vi­tal in dress­ing for suc­cess. It iden­ti­fied that 83 per cent of se­nior ex­ec­u­tives be­lieved ‘un­kempt at­tire’ (which in­cluded wrin­kled or tootight cloth­ing and vis­i­ble lin­gerie) de­tracts from a woman’s ex­ec­u­tive pres­ence. There was a marginally smaller per­cent­age (76%) that be­lieved it un­der­mines a man’s.

A suit is not for ev­ery­one. Women of­ten fall into the trap of opt­ing for a mas­cu­line suit, cov­er­ing them­selves from head to toe. When we sur­veyed the women from Dress for Suc­cess, they too had a per­cep­tion that a suit was crit­i­cal in or­der to look the part.

In fact if you look at the at­tire of many suc­cess­ful Aus­tralian women, you’ll see a dress, skirt or pants is just as preva­lent – if not more so. You don’t have to wear a suit to look con­fi­dent, com­fort­able and pro­fes­sional.

Dress for the oc­ca­sion. Not all out­fits are cre­ated equal. Check your cal­en­dar the day be­fore to see if you have an im­por­tant meet­ing that may re­quire a slightly more pro­fes­sional look. It could be as sim­ple as adding a jacket, or wear­ing a nice pair of heels to match the oc­ca­sion.

Less is more when it comes to ac­ces­sories. Don’t over ac­ces­sorise your work at­tire. It’s im­por­tant to have character but not at the ex­pense of at­tract­ing un­nec­es­sary at­ten­tion. We of­ten sug­gest jazzing up a work out­fit with ac­ces­sories after hours.

Lead by ex­am­ple. Work at­tire is part of the cul­tural fab­ric of an or­gan­i­sa­tion, so man­agers need to em­power the stan­dard of dress. If your man­ager comes into the of­fice with wet hair and train­ing shoes it sets the bar for the rest of the team. To cre­ate a high per­form­ing, pos­i­tive team, set the stan­dard by tak­ing pride in how you dress.

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