I did a video on this topic a while back and it was hugely popular. In fact, it seems as though any time that I talk about appearance on Facebook or other platforms, it gets a lot of attention. And while I appreciate the attention, I’m not always certain that getting noticed for your appearance is a goal that I want to put out into the world.
The reality is that when I talk to people about dressing for success, I always am clear that it is not a one size fits all formula. While I do think that there are general guidelines for how a person should dress in particular situations, the key to dressing for success is making certain that YOU feel comfortable in what you are wearing. There are two old sayings that run through my head whenever I think about this part of dressing for success:
- You’re never fully dressed without a smile and
- The most important thing you can wear is your confidence.
When you dress in a way that makes you feel good about yourself, that confidence carries over into everything that you do. I remember back when I worked in the corporate world that whenever I would wear a dress, people would always compliment me on my outfit for the day. I always thought this was so funny because I almost always wore a dress on days when I didn’t feel good about myself or I was too tired to decide on both a pair of pants AND a shirt for the day. But when I look back on it, I realize that the reason they gave me so many compliments was that I had subconsciously dressed in something that made me feel better about myself for the day. I had picked out something that would give me the little boost that I wasn’t getting internally that morning.
I have tested this theory on myself time and time again, and it works for me. On days when I am feeling totally BLAH, I will make sure that I dress a little nicer, do my hair, put on my make up. The act of putting in that little extra effort gives me the boost that I was missing for the day. And it is such a simple thing to do, to just have those couple of go-to outfits that make you feel invincible.
I do the same thing when I know I have a hard day ahead of me. I go to my closet and I pick from a couple of outfits that I know make me feel incredible. As soon as I put on that “power outfit” my whole outlook shifts and I feel powerful and in charge…and so I take charge of my day.
Now I am sure you are wondering just what a “power outfit” is supposed to look like. Well, I can’t really help you there…because I’m not you. You have to decide for yourself what outfits make you feel powerful. Go through your closet and touch your clothes. Does something give you that moment of “I LOVE this shirt!” or “I always get compliments when I wear this”? Those are you power outfits. They don’t have to be fancy or “professional” or anything in particular. They just have to be things that make YOU feel good about yourself.
Now, with that in mind, there are a few “guidelines” to dressing for success. First, make sure that you are dressing at a level that matches or exceeds the level of dress of those around you. Think about life as a job interview. When you go into a job interview, you don’t want to show up in a t-shirt and yoga pants for a job where everyone else wears suits and ties. This doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your personal style though…just bring your style to the level of attire that is appropriate for the situation.
The next guideline is to make sure that you are COMFORTABLE! Don’t wear anything that is too tight, too short, ill-fitting, too shabby, too big, too long, etc. If you are worried about the way you look, you will draw attention to your clothes instead of to yourself. You want people to notice YOU, not just what you are wearing. Also, if you are comfortable, you are more likely to be relaxed and confident in everything that you are doing.
The last guideline that I will give you to think about is culturally sensitive. Keep in mind that not everyone has the same cultural background as you. If you know that you are meeting with someone from another cultural background, it may be worthwhile to do a little bit of research to see if there are certain do’s and don’ts regarding attire in that culture. For instance, some cultures have very specific views on particular colors. This might be important to know in advance so that you can eliminate something potentially offensive from your outfit for the day or possibly to help you decide between two favorites.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what you wear so long as you are confident and rocking it! So go out and enjoy getting dressed for the day. Put on something that YOU love. And heck, snap a pic of some of your favorite power outfits and post them in the comments!