Get Work Wear Savvy
In today’s working world, women are engaged in all types of employment arenas, on all levels and in many different environments, whether it is from home, outdoors or office based. Whoopee! So why not back up your skillset and boost your success by letting your Image and clothes walk the walk and talk the talk too?
Dress codes vary and the 'suited and booted' look for us girls has relaxed somewhat, giving rise to a much larger variety of outfits, but this freedom can lead to more uncertainty in what to wear?
If you work in an office, you probably find yourself rifling through the same old collection of separates and dresses every morning and may well feel a bit…uninspired! If you are, then chances are you could be taking that same feeling to work with you and who knows what impact that and your tired ensemble could be shouting out to co-workers or clients.
Now, before you say well I don’t care, I hate my job, then this blog might nudge you into thinking about projecting yourself with more gusto at the next interview or even inspire you to go after another role, hell even your boss’s job.
Besides if you aren’t happy chances are everybody will already know that by your body language anyway, so “do something about it girlfriend”! Life is way too short to be flippin miserable.
The majority of us don’t want too much fuss deciding what to wear in a morning either, because time is of the essence, whether it be dogs, kids, husbands or all of the above that need attending. So I’m not going to suggest you do a complete overhaul on your wardrobe and spend a month’s salary, but instead suggest injecting a few seasonal lovelies or a soupcon of colour to your staples that will make a difference. You can even check out my Pinterest Board later for some outfit inspirations too.
The point is we really need to understand the importance of getting our work image right, especially if we want to upscale or get noticed…if you’re not bothered about either then this article isn’t for you and you can get back to your candy crush or solitaire.
SO WHY DO FIRST IMPRESSIONS COUNT…?
It’s a fact that we cannot suppress our primeval instincts. You know, that subconscious split second presumption you made about Olive in accounts and her ‘cat lady’ cardigan that seems to be alive, or that chap in IT that wears stained trousers and peers longingly at you over his monitor..(shudder).
We can’t help it, whether we like it or not because it’s in-built you see, to protect us from potentially unsavoury individuals or people we just may not gel with successfully. We need to attract our own like-minded tribe, its nature.
Don’t get me wrong these bias formed judgements can be misleading and totally inaccurate but they are there initially, until we get to know people properly and adjust accordingly. So it’s probably better to make sure you’re emitting positive impressions rather than negative ones if you want to make ripples at work.
Using this 'Halo Effect' (a real thing) of positively projecting, dictates that good grooming and other characteristics like, ‘being well turned out’, creates great impressions which causes us to presume other enhancing characteristics like being successful and professional.
So imagine how valued a client would feel seeing that some effort has been applied to impress him/her and show them you mean business.
Your customer and audience is your top priority when it comes to making great first impressions and building trust. If you want to climb the ranks then dress for the job or the client you want!
Sorry, but people do initially measure your level of professionalism by your appearance and this almost always sticks likes turds to a blanket if it’s negative. Too laissez faire and scruffy and people can think you’re attitude to your job and your work ethic is less than favourable. Too inappropriate and/or revealing and your appearance could be emitting the wrong messages and reducing the impact and importance of all those skills and qualities you have.
SO WHAT ABOUT YOUR ENVIRONMENT?
Where do you work? As you're probably aware there are many forms of work place and they all vary in style and dress codes, from none to smart-casual and uniform to business -formal, so it’s a good start to observe those around you and their roles and see how you feel about their images and projections. This will give you a basis to work from and tweak to suit.
If you’re exposed to a youthful working environment, the vibe and attire maybe a little bit more relaxed, in which case trainers and t-shirts (aka cool Google and maybe call centres) are probably the norm, but other more creative arenas may well prefer a uniform of chic black and sharp haircuts. Either way, there is no need to let your self image lapse if you want to get on the promotion ladder.
If you work from home the approach is much different because you’re probably most happy doing your spreadsheets in your bunny slippers and pjs, but you do have to get out from time to time to meet clients or network with other professionals and your pink bobbled fleece may not cut the mustard in the seriousness stakes.
So a quick review of what’s needed and what you want to show to others may be necessary, else you may get your work and home life wardrobes a bit confused.
Dressing up a little for work appointments will give you an air of professionalism in your head too, trust me! It’s good to have clear boundaries.
It’s also important to feel comfortable too when working, as irritations (not talking colleagues here) can interfere with your concentration. For example, the temperature in offices is well known to be a sticky subject in cases because there’s always that one person who likes the heat blasting out because their ‘neche’ or the air con turned to igloo setting because they’re hot stuff.
However, it’s so hard to look effortless when you’re layered up like a sleeping bag or sweating like a runner. Natural fibres and clever layers are the key here ladies so you can add on or take off clothes when necessary.
On the subject of comfort, I feel it necessary to point out footwear. Heels can give you that feeling of power, I totally understand this, but try not to go too high because there’s nothing positive about an awkwardly wobbly posture and painful feet, it just doesn’t come across as sensible if you walk like you've filled your pants.
Besides, there are so many chic flats out there at the moment that look fab with trousers, as well as neat smaller heels that will do the trick for any hemline.
DRESS FOR THE SITUATION
Non-verbal communication in any environment or circumstance is powerful stuff and dressing for something important can hinder or enhance your performance before even uttering your first word.
There’s nothing worse when you get it wrong…that awful feeling of being underdressed at a Black Tie event or wearing your skinny jeans to a job interview and everyone else is suited and polished .
That ‘gulp’ of uncomfortable can impact your confidence, performance and enjoyment straight away, but hey get it right and you’re smug, relaxed and laser focused. So do the WHO, WHY,WHERE, WHEN check beforehand and just give a little thought to what's required in your attire and what you want from it, because that bit of prep may make a mahoosive difference.
If you think about a Job interview. If two people turned up with equal qualities and qualifications but one was a little more polished in appearance than the other, then they would probably get extra brownie points for the willing/effort and probably be more successful in getting the role.
HOW UNIFORMS CAN BE HELPFUL
Sometimes uniforms can be beneficial in sharing a brand name and creating clear messages and job roles.
You see doctors appear much more competent in a white coat than an animal onesie and you wouldn’t trust a policeman in a tracksuit and cap. So visual codes, like uniforms, are really helpful in projecting authority and approachability where needed, or indeed advertising a brand or a person belonging to it. Saves on what to wear too.
This can be applied successfully to many service industries too such as Beauty, Healthcare, Tradesman and more.
A QUICK TIP ABOUT COLOUR
Did you know that how you wear colour and which colours you choose, can project certain qualities non verbally? Yes indeed.
It’s all about contrast and a bit of colour psychology. In a nutshell if you want to come across as authoritative in a role or circumstance then a higher contrast between colours is effective, particularly if they are bold or brighter in nature.
This concept can be seen in uniforms such as Court Judges or the Police, as Black and White are a high contrast. So you can apply this sort of contrast using other colours to your attire.
To be deemed as more approachable, then the contrast between colours needs to be less obvious and softer in nature. This is a useful practice for vocations such as counselling and caring which requires elements of trust and safety.
Check out my Colour Ninja blog for certain colour characteristics and how they can add an extra level to your work wear wardrobe.
Whatever you currently wear it’s never too late to change or tweak (look up The Recency Effect...ooh er) but it’s always important to keep your personality shining through your attire and create a style that fits your authenticity. If you hate suits, don’t wear one you'll give out mixed signals, instead use soft tailored separates or dresses to show your professionalism. Keep it real!
I truly believe anyone can make a difference if they have the inclination and the gusto to do so and it’s not always about wearing expensive items either, you can be just as effective by wearing high street or good quality charity shop clothes. It’s how you wear them and what you do with them that counts.
So go and have a look now in your wardrobe or maybe book into the hairdressers for a revamp and see what you can refresh to ‘big up’ your talents and boost your confidence. Every little helps as they say!
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May the force be with you and see you soon.
IF YOU HAVE ANY WORKWEAR ADVICE GEMS OR EXPERIENCES YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO COMMENT BELOW.