Savvy womens Magazine

How To Dress For Success

You don't get a second chance to make a first impression

Studies have shown that we pass judgment on new people we meet within the first thirty seconds.  So I don't need to tell you this is NOT a lot of time to make a good impression.

Your communication and the way you present yourself are crucial in formulating that first impression, so you want to make sure you're up to par.

If the image you want to project to the world is that of a switched-on, savvy and successful woman, so what should you wear to work?

Let's divide it into two extremes - creative and conservative. At one end of the spectrum you can face each day as if you were going to a fancy dress party.  At the other end, there's the more mature, formalized world of "the professional".

For most of us, workwear falls somewhere between the two extremes.  It's all about authority - call it power, influence and presence - how much of it you have, and how much you'd like to have.

Here's some pointers to help you dress for success:

1. Dress Like You Are In Charge

If you dress like you're in charge, you'll feel like you're in charge and in control and others will see you that way.

Nothing says "I'm the one you need to talk to" quicker than a dark, well-cut suit. Note: well-cut does not include a shapeless box with two sleeves and buttons.  Remember, there's a fine line between looking tailored and looking like you're front-desk at a car rental company.

2. Keep It Low Key

Color is fine for the office, but don't overdo it.  Leave colored suits for newsreaders and politicians and  save the color for the pieces underneath the jacket.  Perhaps a twin-set is appropriate in one office, while nothing less than a tailored jacket in another.  What you wear and how you wear it will speak volumes about your professionalism.

3. Don't Be A Distraction

Steer clear of clothes, jewelry and accessories that will cause a distraction.  You want the focus to be on you, not what you're wearing.

That means jewelry that jangles is a no-no, as are big, chunky accessories like bangles and chandelier earrings.  Sexy, slinky little numbers are NOT going to enhance your professional image, nor are sundresses, sandals and strappy stilettos.

Express your personality with a vintage hatpin on your jacket lapel, a beautiful piece of jewelry or a quirky scarf.  You can wear a tight top under a well-cut suit and look sexy without looking like a sex bomb.

The must-haves include a classic watch, stylish handbag and fashion-accurate shoes.


4. Wear What Looks Good On You

Today's corporate wear is flexible enough to allow for most body shapes.  There are so many beautiful versions of feminine suiting these days so there's no need to look severe or like a member of the boy's club.

Choose designs that flatter your figure and colors that flatter your skin tones. Well-cut trousers in a dark shade suit most body shapes and tailored jackets come in a range of styles to suit apples, pears, string beans or whatever shape you're in.

5. Remember To Look In The Mirror

A professional image is as much about the details as it is about the overall image.  Never leave home without checking for runs in your hose, ensure your nails are manicured, your hair is neat and your shoes are clean and scuff-free.

Dress For Success Pointers:

Many companies are refashioning their dress codes and encouraging staff to promote a successful, professional image by adopting a corporate wardrobe.

If your company doesn't have a specific dress code, one of the best clues is to look at what your superiors are wearing and dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

Dressing for success doesn't mean you have to forego your own personal style.  Simply remember the all-important fashion rule, no matter what the occasion: you wear the clothes - don't let your clothes to wear you.

- OM.