A no bull-shit guide to dressing for success in an old white dude’s world.
If you are a young woman working in an old-school (read: old white dude) corporate environment, you have probably lost many, otherwise calm moments, to one frantic question, “Is this outfit going to hurt my career?”. Or worse, you haven’t thought of it at all. They are a dying breed, but unfortunately those old-world, boys-club corporations still exist, and if you’re working in one, you need to pay attention to the old rules.
Patty Conklin breaks it all down from head to toe. The clear mantra of corporate woman attire is this, “Sexy will sabotage your career, serious will help it advance.”
9 Rules for Women’s Business Attire
If you ask yourself the question “What should I wear to work that will help me get promoted and earn a bigger salary?” the following rules will help you to know what you should wear to give you the best chance for a better job and a bigger paycheck.
STARTING TOP TO BOTTOM:
1. Your Hair – Whatever hairstyle you choose, make sure it is neat and professional. Your grooming is a big part of your professional image. Extreme styles or wild dye jobs send the message you are not serious about your career.
2. Your Face – Some makeup helps most women to look their best, but don’t overdo it. SEXY will sabotage your career, SERIOUS will help it advance. In fact there are studies that have been done that prove that women who wear makeup to work are more likely to get promoted and earn a bigger salary. Your image isn’t just about how you see yourself, but how others see you too.
3. Jewelry – As a rule, nothing cutesy, clunky or clanky. Anything that makes a noise is a no no.
4. Jacket – Wearing a jacket gives you the impression of authority, of being competent and capable, it gives you confidence and others have more confidence in you when you wear one. Not wearing a jacket doesn’t give this same impression. If you want your best chance to succeed, wear a jacket, period. Some women opt for the “soft” jacket (cardigan or knit) which is fine for some work places, but again, does not hold the authority of the tailored jacket. Try wearing a simple top one day to work, and the next a tailored jacket and you will notice that people look at you differently and treat you differently. They see you as more authoritative and capable, and thus promotable, which ultimately translates into a higher salary and higher position.
5. Blouse/Top- Must not be sheer or see through, should cover your cleavage, and should direct the focus to your eyes. Do not make your choice of blouse or top an attention getter for your chest area, so pin those button gaps (an often overlooked faux pas) and make sure to keep the focus up to your face where it belongs. SEXY will sabotage your career, SERIOUS will help it advance.
6. Skirt/Pants – This is a personal choice and both are acceptable by today’s standards. It depends on what you prefer and what other high ranking women in your company wear. Do not wear short skirts: SEXY will sabotage your career, SERIOUS will help it advance.
7. Hosiery – If you want to succeed, wear it. There has been a trend towards not wearing hosiery to the office. Not wearing hosiery is not professional. Nude or suntan shades are best, although sheer jet black works also, particularly in the cold months.
8. Shoes – Mid-heel, closed toe. I love shoes and I have a gazillion pairs, but to the office, it’s mid-heel and closed toe. Anything else is not professional, and will take your business image down a notch. The acceptable heel height for work ranges between 2 3/4″ and 3 3/4″. Heel height of 4″ or higher is not an acceptable heel height for working in a professional setting. Save the really high heels for going out or other non-work events.
9. Briefcase – Do use a briefcase. Find a good quality briefcase that will tell the world you are a powerful and successful woman, or on your way to being one!
The main point is, that unless we worked alone by ourselves, we are going to have to take others’ perception of us into serious consideration. Why? Because our success comes from garnering the respect and trust of those who would help us. They help us get better jobs and they help us earn a bigger salary… these are all good things, right?
Patty Conklin ~ Editor, Office Fashion Ideas
Featured Image: Pixababy