Self-Assessment Quiz: True or False

  1. Dressing for success is an outdated way of thinking.
  2. My style is my style – office culture be damned.
  3. Being younger gives me a bit of wiggle room for fashion faux pas at work.

Yep, I’m still stuck on talking about how to dress for success. Why? Because I’ve seen so many people get this OH SO WRONG! And if you answered TRUE to the quiz questions above … Houston, we have a problem. I want to make sure I hit the topic from all angles because I really believe through dressing, you can brand yourself as a successful professional. And that’s exactly what others will come to expect from you.

I keep telling y’all I’m old school. I believe you should always dress for the career you want, not the job you have. There was a young woman in one of the offices in which I worked who regularly wore sweatpants to work. I’m not even talking about the cute, Juicy Couture velour two-set look. No, she wore much-too-large, gray shapeless sweatpants and sweatshirt—the kind I wouldn’t even wear to the grocery store.  You know how drivers can cause a gaper’s delay slowing down to see an accident on the highway because they can’t tear their eyes away? Every time I saw this woman, I literally stopped in my tracks. Now, apparently her boss never said a word to her about it (or she just didn’t listen). She must’ve been great at her job because she was there before and after I left the company. But she was in the exact same role when I left. So if that’s where she aspired to be, then I guess it’s okay. But really, sweatpants? That’s taking casual day too far.

If you’re just starting out or are in a new role, you may be able to “fake it while you make it” as you develop your skill set—and the basic guidelines found on this website can help you with that. But there’s no faking a crisp, professional style. In fact, your look may buy you a little more time on the job’s learning curve. It can have just that much of an impact. Accentuating tastefully is a helpful technique to learn.

The best piece of advice I can give you is to align your style with your corporate culture. At 5 feet, 9½ inches tall, with curves that Lionel Richie and the Commodores sang about (Awww, she’s a brick … H-O-U-S-E!), a straight-leg, gray pinstripe pantsuit is not for me. But a gray pinstripe dress that drapes and cinches at my waist, paired with open-toe cranberry-colored stilettos, is. I’ve embraced what God gave me by tastefully accentuating my curves while still commanding respect. Choose clothes that fit your body well, and hairstyles that flatter your face. Walk into your office wearing a blouse that is too tight, in heels that make you wobble, and you’re losing points before you even open your mouth. Your clothes and hairstyles should make you say “Wow” (in a good way) when you’re looking in the mirror.

Here’s a litmus test you should take each morning before you walk out your door. Ask yourself the following questions:

1) Would I feel confident lunching with or making a business presentation to my boss’s boss in this outfit?

2) If I find myself by happenstance in the elevator with the president of the company, would this outfit leave a positive impression or a negative one or none at all?

If you shake off your answer with an “I know for a fact my boss’s boss and the president of the company are out of town,” you subconsciously know that you shouldn’t be wearing that outfit to work, now don’t you?

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