I’ve had this conversation with a few friends and colleagues. Generally we agree that capability should define career success and that “man or woman make the clothes”, clothes do not make the person and when judging the (wo)man we should always look beyond the clothes to the inner person. It’ll pay dividends!
However, we always come to the same conclusion: people judge you based on your looks, people judge you before you even open your mouth.
That may sound superficial but it’s the truth. This truth also varies by culture and work environment or sector. Your attire makes you feel different, it can make you more confident, or less confident and in turn this can impact your mood, your relationships at work, your posture, mind-set and career success.
Have you ever turned up to an interview tired in an outfit that you’re not too comfortable in and felt unconfident because of it? I’ve heard people say “He or she only got the promotion because of the way they dress”. I’ve heard of lost business deals based on appearance amongst other factors like lack of preparation. I’ve had people take a sneaky glimpse at my shoes during business meetings and my accessories. Politicians have lost elections in history based on appearance.
Newsflash: you are not Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, or Steve Jobs, the late former CEO of Apple – you cannot turn up to work in a t-shirt, or hoodie and jeans everyday, even these looks portray an image; one that shows a techie start-up transformed into a multi million dollar company by a laid back techie entrepreneur. Steve Jobs knew more than anyone that design and appearance matter. Take a look at the iPhone design and the famous white headphones. He insisted on designing the cover of his autobiography.
Dressing for success doesn’t mean you need spend a fortune on designer clothing, private tailors, or brand names, it means choosing to dress smarter; professionally, investing in a few nice suits, ties and shoes and making sure your clothes are well pressed, your shoes are polished; that your outfit matches and so do your accessories.
It means you don’t always “dress down” regardless of the casual dress code in your working environment and that you make an effort regardless of the fact that you manage a hectic home life and work so hard that your added value should be apparent.
Or, if you insist your work environment is “dress down” or casual, keep it fashionable, trendy and experiment with different colours and styles – you can still convey a lot about yourself in a casual environment.
Brand guidelines and protection play a huge role in marketing and in creating a product or company’s image. Companies will go to huge lengths to protect their brand images, brands can be built to be worth millions, if not billions of dollars in value, and in short, you’re worth more! You too have an image and you convey a message, not saying you should be fake or advocating that you become image obsessed and start posting “selfies” to Instagram daily, but be conscious of your fashion and clothes.
Clothing as well as your personal grooming have huge impacts on how you feel and on your confidence and how you carry yourself.
You should maintain individuality with your attire; aim to be your best self! Take time in the morning or at night before work to select clothes that say you’re professional, that suit you and make you feel and look sharp – dress for success in your industry. Even colours work differently with different skin tones.
• Get organised
It helps to organise your wardrobe and to make sure clothes are matched and pressed in advance, it takes the stress out of finding a suitable outfit in the morning, provides variety and makes it easier to maintain good appearance.
Experiment with your work attire, dress up, wear a suit when you feel it’s appropriate, or dress up your casual attire so it’s “smarter casual”, review the latest fashions, that work for you and your individual style, and see how you feel and how people react to you in certain situations.
If you’re not confident in your work, if you don’t excel at what you do or if you’re not in the right career, well-pressed, smart, fashionable, trendy clothing and polished or nice shoes alone will not carry you very far and true confidence comes from within, however; a combination of great work, healthy self-esteem and good-looking attire can make a significant difference to your career success.
Your thoughts? Would you agree?