“Serious Development of the personality takes place at the closet door” Karen Pine
Sounds frivolous and superficial right? I mean people should respect you for your expertise and knowledge, not on how polished you look, right?
For some time I used to think this. After I left fashion to assume a career in recruitment, my wardrobe work choices were influenced by not only the casual dress code but also by those around me. What I began to realise was that I was dressing down to conform to a set of dress rules that were pre-set by my peers. The clothes I was choosing to wear were having a direct effect on how I was showing up to the world.
Having this epiphany was a career-changing lifesaver. Instead of finding clothes that were connected to my current feelings, I started to ask myself how I wanted to show up and how I wanted to be perceived by my senior managers. I knew that hard work alone was not enough, it became clear to me that how a person presents dictates how others will treat them. So I set about dressing for the part I wanted to play, not the part that I had been given.
Yes, first impressions matter
It takes 7 seconds to make a great first impression. So please do not let the prospect of doing a virtual interview stop you from creating the right impression. Due to the rising fear of the coronavirus, a lot of interviews are being conducted via virtual communication tools such as "Zoom" and "Skype". Remember just because it's not an in-person interview does not mean that you can resort to being informal in your approach and in your outerwear. Think about how you would like to be perceived by the hiring manager.
Tip on how to dress for a virtual interview
Opt for a blazer in a navy or grey, and add a pop of colour via jewellery or compliment with a top in a Fuschia, teal, green or coral tone. White clothing will appear brighter on camera and may overpower your face, potentially making eye contact difficult. Instead, choose darker colours like navy and avoid patterns - solid is the way to go!
Once in the new job, you need to remain consistent in how you show up to work. Visual associations subconsciously go a long way and we have very little control over them. When you decide to dress well, you are simply using this subliminal power of association to your advantage.
Show off your attention to detail
By putting effort and time into how you dress and by adding complementary accessories can show potential employers or current managers your attention to detail. If you are known for taking pride in your appearance, then you will also take pride in what you do. It also demonstrates that you are ready to take on more work, which can give you an added advantage in a career progression.
As I mentioned before, a lot of people conform to the dress code and forget that they can bring a little bit of their personality into the workplace. This could be as simple as adding a silk scarf, investing in elegant jewellery or a great pair of shoes. Deviating from the regular dress code can deem you more confident and in control. Employers may be more inclined to give you bigger challenges as they see you as someone who is not afraid to push the boundaries and take relevant risks in your career.
Tip on how to make an outfit pop
A scarf will always add an element of personality to an outfit. The most important consideration when choosing a scarf is whether it flatters your skin tone. A printed scarf will also perk up any monochromatic or neutral outfit. A scarf is a wonderful option for infusing a subtle dose of colour into your work wardrobe.
It’s a step to personalising your career brand
Putting effort into how you dress every morning can elevate your life outside of work. As your confidence grows, along with the self-perception you may start seeing new opportunities. People may start treating you differently because they will notice something about you has changed. This new-found confidence may inspire you to start a side hustle, develop new skills, or pursue the job you want. So its always important to be consistently building your Personal Brand.
The competitive edge
If your job is to meet new clients and bring in new business, then you must dress for your given audience. Once you understand their work culture you can dress in a way that is not too austere or intimidating but offers you a competitive edge over other companies. A strong first impression leaves a lasting impression. When you dress well, it shows you are taking care of yourself and you are ready to take care of your customers.
Show your personality
Just because your work has a dress code does not mean that you cannot experiment with different styles and colour. Dressing for success should be an exciting endeavour!
You spend the majority of your day in work, why not at least love the clothes you’re in and let them speak for you. We become what we wear, so choose wisely!
Tip on how to complement your neutral pieces
Liven up your work attire with bold separates. A bright coral or deep pink tailored trousers can wake up a white top. Burgundy also works well with a wide range of colours as an accent. The colour can be paired with charcoal grey, black, and cream which allow the dominant shade of burgundy to pop. Choosing one element of colour for your outfit means there is one focal point and the rest of the pieces should be neutral to complement the look.
Make a fresh start and have your wardrobe designed to fit your every need
You do not have to splurge on a whole new work wardrobe to look like a professional. I started off with a tailored blazer with slim-fitting pants that I rotated with more basic pieces from my wardrobe. I gradually added in a pop of colour that went well with my current colour scheme. Now I have a wardrobe that serves a purpose and gives me the confidence I need to get what I want out of life and in my career.
As a career coach and recruiter, I teach actionable interview, career and personal branding tools for professional women.
Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how I can help you in your job search.