Before you even think about updating your wardrobe, you need to update your mindset. In her article in The Times last October, Carolyn Asome wrote: "Funny, isn’t it, given that we spend more than a third of our lives at the office, that we often succumb to any old “meh” outfit to wear to work? And yet too often we’re happy to have a blow-out on a party dress that, when you consider its cost-per-wear ratio, makes no sense at all".
Let’s face it, it is more exciting to shop for a party dress than a work skirt, but the investment in a good work wardrobe does pay off. Firstly, you will feel great going to work looking good instead of just looking good enough. Secondly, you will have a set of work clothes that work together which makes it easier for you to dress well every morning. And finally, and very importantly, you will be presenting the best version of yourself to your bosses, colleagues and clients. There are no great secrets to job success, it mostly requires hard work and focus, but your appearance plays a key part too. It is human nature to base first impressions on appearance and if we are consistent with our well dressed appearance, that will make a lasting impression. Being well dressed gives the impression that if you make an effort in your appearance it is likely that you will make the same effort in your job. Interestingly, 'Formal Friday' is currently being embraced by many companies across the UK. Andy Rogers, brand director for Reiss fashion stores, said: “We’re a real dress-up brand, it’s relevant for us. It’s just upping it a notch from what you normally wear. I definitely think it increases productivity. I’m not saying that people type faster, but everyone comes in with a much sharper attitude".
When it comes to interviews the assumption is “I need to look smart, I must wear a suit”, but it is much more than that. You need to dress appropriately for the company interviewing you. An interview in the City does require a suit but a media company might appreciate a slightly more relaxed look that shows your creativity a little. Completely casual is usually not advised but there are varying levels of smartness. When deciding what to wear for interview you need to think about the company you are going to work for (and that is how you should be thinking, that you ARE going to work for this company) and find out everything you can about them. Ask their HR department what their dress code is. You can still express your personality a little in your clothing, but never overdo it. Clothes should be clean, pressed, immaculate, shoes polished. And you should be well groomed. Dress for your interview as though you are going to get that job.
Just as you think of a special event as an opportunity to be your most glamorous, think of your working week as an opportunity to show the best side of your professional persona. We are all creatures of habit, but with a little change of attitude you can make dressing for work easier and even enjoyable.
More next week on dressing for job success...