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Dressing for Success Can Result in Career Advancement

By Sandra Martinez

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Is your wardrobe style helping propel your career or hindering it? Learn what experts say about dressing in the workplace, the most frequent career wardrobe roadblocks, what causal dress means in the workplace, tips that positively impact how you are perceived, and if you are on the right track toward career success.

What Experts Say About Dressing in the Workplace

According to career experts, one of the most frequent career roadblocks among working individuals is inappropriate dress in the workplace. Perhaps it is time to conduct an inventory of your workplace wardrobe and determine whether or not you are on track for career success? If how you dress in the workplace has not been a priority because performance is what matters most and you believe people should not be judged by how they dress then I couldn’t agree with you more. However, the reality is, in today’s business environment, top performance alone will not guarantee a promotion or career advancement.  A recent Business Insider article quoted Darlene Price, author of “Well Said!” Presentations and Conversations as stating, “Many highly intelligent, well-qualified, capable women and men are often disqualified or dismissed because they don’t sell for what they’re worth.” She further stated, “It’s frustrating, because clothing certainly does not determine one’s actual competence and credibility; it does, however, influence others’ perception of those qualities — and that reality impacts career opportunities.” Although it may be hard to believe to an extent, it may make sense. For example, think about a scenario in which you own or have built a successful company and were looking to hire a business professional to represent your company and brand. How would you want that individual to be perceived? Perhaps you would agree that someone knowledgeable, intelligent, well-qualified, credible, well-dressed and professional would be among your top mentioned responses. The truth is people judge us by the way we dress and look when conducting business.  Particularly in the workplace, your appearance and the clothing you wear influences how others perceive you or respond to you. It further influences whether others trust you and consider you to be credible.  Additionally it helps others determine whether to grant you access to decision makers, hire or promote you and purchase your products or services.

Take Action and Improve How You Dress

The good news is you have the power to determine how you want to be perceived by creating a personal style that will have a positive impact on your career success.  Improving your workplace presentation is essential for these reasons: research studies have shown that appearance strongly influences other’s perception of your financial success, authority, credibility, trustworthiness, intelligence; ultimately influencing your level of career advancement and potential. A major survey conducted by winconsinjobcenter.org found that 95% of the employers interviewed stated a job seeker’s personal appearance affected the employer’s opinion of that applicant’s suitability for the job. 91% said they believed dress and grooming reflected the applicant’s attitude towards the company and 61% stated dress and grooming had an effect on subsequent promotions. These employer opinions and statistics are similar across the nation and should be considered when determining the direction in which you want to take your career. So if how you dress in the workplace has never been a priority because your performance and knowledge is what matters most, now is the perfect time to step-up your workplace wardrobe and become a triple threat! Imagine, if you master these three areas: high performance, possessing the knowledge necessary in your role and dressing for success, there is no limit to which your career can advance because you will be noticed for the competent professional that you are and represent. If fashion and style is not your strong point, visit www.SavvyGalClothing.com to preview their business professional and business casual collections for ideas of workplace appropriate clothing styles that are guaranteed to highlight your professionalism.

How to Dress for Your Workplace

Here is a simple, but valuable tip that will guide you in selecting the right workplace wardrobe: understand your workplace dress code. As a matter of fact, one common problem among women of varying age groups, in the workplace, is many of them do not have a clear understanding of the dress codes within their companies. I cannot stress enough the importance of being aware and understanding your workplace dress code expectations. The latest fashion trends are not what constitute appropriate clothing styles for the workplace. It is the company culture and its dress code that serves as a guide to determine the differences between appropriate business professional, business casual, casual attire versus inappropriate attire. Keep in mind, workplace dress codes are developed to educate employees on their company’s predetermined wardrobe expectations. More than often, this means maintaining a professional appearance in the office, when visiting client sites, and any other business function. It does not mean dressing up the dress code by adding a flare that may be considered too trendy, edgy or sexy for the office. Conversely it does not mean dressing down the dress code for your leisure as these examples are all guaranteed to get you noticed for the wrong reasons. After all, you were hired to represent your company according to its business culture, which includes its dress code standards. The best advice I can give is once you understand the dress code, use it to your advantage and maximize your opportunity to be noticed by representing your company in the best way possible.

What Causal Dress Means in the Workplace

Although there is no general agreement on the definition of the terms “business casual” or “casual,” it mostly depends on several factors including the industry, size of the company, amount of interaction between employees and customers, geographic location, culture, and the average age of the workforce. However in most large companies, a “business casual” dress code encourages employees to project a “professional, business-like image.” My personal belief is it is better to be slightly over-dressed than under-dressed in the workplace. After all, when it comes to your career, your professional image will get you noticed for the right reasons! For ideas on business casual and casual workplace styles, visit www.SavvyGalClothing.com to preview its collections that exude a professional, business-like image.

Styling Tips to Make a Positive Impact on Your Career Success:

  • Follow your company dress code. Dress a step above and not below. Familiarize yourself and understand the differences between business professional, business casual, and casual dress codes. They were created to ensure you dress appropriate, according to the company culture.
  • Avoid showing too much skin. Wearing short skirts, strapless tops, or casual shoes that barely cover your feet such as sandals or flip flops are inappropriate for most professional organizations.
  • Avoid wearing wrinkled clothing. Perhaps ironing is not your favorite chore but if you do not wear wrinkle-free fabrics invest in an iron to steam and press your clothing, a steamer or take them to the cleaners. When your clothing is wrinkle-free, you will look neat and well put together.
  • Wear clothing that fits you well. Find a good tailor and invest in having your favorite and quality pieces tailored. It is a great way to make clothes flatter you by looking like they were custom made to fit you, giving you a polished look. Clothing that is too large or too small can give the wrong impression or be perceived differently than you intend. For example, too small can be perceived as too sexy and too large as  sloppy or uncaring of your appearance.
  • Wear appropriate shoes. Always wear comfortable shoes that are workplace appropriate. In most corporate environments, avoid wearing heels that are more than 3.5 inches in height, platform, or stiletto heels.
  • Avoid using a purse, briefcase, or carrying bag that can be considered too flashy or worn. Instead use one or a combination that is clean and professional. Keep your workplace clothing and handheld accessories consistent and minimal, especially when visiting or meeting with clients.
  • Do not wear too much jewelry or accessories. Jewelry and accessories are meant to accentuate your look, not over-power, over-emphasize, or distract people from paying attention to what you are communicating. Avoid jewelry that can be considered too flashy or obnoxious.
  • Do not over apply or incorrectly apply makeup. Makeup is meant to look, light, natural, and fresh and not dark, drawn or painted.

Words of Advice on Dressing for Success

Diane Price said it best in an interview she gave the Business Insider, “To achieve career advancement, avoid an unprofessional image that may enslave your career to others’ misconceptions… Instead, choose clothing that accurately reflects your credibility and ensures you ‘sell for what you’re worth.’ Make sure your ‘exterior’ earns you a ‘silent’ recommendation.” In summary, dressing for success in the workplace can result in career advancement. Consider the research, statistics, and professional opinions when it comes to how you should dress in the workplace. Keep in mind that 95% of the employers state a job seeker’s personal appearance affects an employer’s opinion of that applicant’s suitability for the job and 61% state dress and grooming has an effect on subsequent promotion. Now is the time to take action and improve how you dress in the workplace.  Ensure your personal style helps propel your career towards advancement by avoiding the most frequent career roadblock of inappropriate dress in the workplace. Understand and follow your workplace dress code and maximize it. Conduct an inventory of your workplace wardrobe, refine your style and get on track towards career success and advancement. Visit www.SavvyGalClothing.com to preview our business professional, business casual and sophisticated-sexy collections, styles that will highlight your professional image and help advance your career success. As an online fashion boutique, Savvy Gal Clothing is a style source offering a variety of unique, beautiful clothing attire that is classic, vintage-inspired, and modern. It is our belief that fashion highlights a woman’s professionalism, intelligence, and confidence; powerful characteristics that command attention. Women who wear our clothing recognize that the right style will help propel them to the next level of their career. Grooming for Employment. (2015, May 2). Retrieved April 28th 2015, from  http://www.wisconsinjobcenter.org/publications/4814/4814.htm Smith, J. (2014, August 19). Here’s How Your Clothing Affects Your Success. Retrieved May 16th, 2015, from http://www.businessinsider.com/how-your-clothing-impacts-your-success-2014-8#ixzz3WPmakykf Smith, J. (2014, August 19). Here’s What ‘Business Casual’ Really Means. Retrieved May 16th, 2015, from http://www.businessinsider.com/what-business-casual-really-means-2014-8#ixzz3WPncFKd7

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About Sandra Martinez

Sandra is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles. She is a merchandise marketer who has respected experience in fashion showrooms and with ...

3 Thoughts to Dressing for Success Can Result in Career Advancement

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