Guest Post by Amy Kline
Any and every female go-getter is faced with the challenge of being both assertive and respected; a leader and a team player. Unfortunately, it often is the case that we are judged by our dress first and foremost, rather than our capabilities. Appearance is a part of our portfolio, especially for those who want to indulge in fashion as a creative outlet and communication tool for expressing our values, personality and interests. However, we must monitor the message being sent throughout the workplace and received by business executives and colleagues. If you’re looking to update or modify your office garb, here are some key principals for dressing in a fashion that is appropriate for you, your contemporaries and superiors.
1. Go the extra mile
When you put the time and care into outfitting a killer ensemble, it shows. Fortunately, women oftentimes have an advantage over men in this regard. How will your thought-out and well-tailored apparel compare with those of the guy in the cubicle over, whose suit is unpressed and two sizes too big? If it looks like you care about your appearance, that same logical assumption will be applied to how you will present work internally as well as to your clients, and how you will pitch yourself as a professional when in the company of others: thorough, detailed, impressive, and ahead of the curve.
2. Play (nicely) with the boys
In a male-dominated sector, show that you are just as capable of being the boss by taking your typical dress one of two routes: more masculine, or more feminine. Without straying from your true style, try and lean more in one direction than the other. Your style should either say, “I keep up with the guys”, or “I keep up with the guys – in heels”. Make a strong statement for either case, and commit to it. If masculine, play more with power hues of brown and navy. Dress with articles that utilize clean, hard lines and simple silhouettes, fueled by power accessories, such as a solid briefcase from Luggage Pros, or a classic Invicta watch from ShopHQ. Women’s suits are always a commanding option, but a skirt or pants dressed up with a matching tie also makes for an authoritative choice. Alternately, if you choose a more effeminate route, make every day an excuse to wear a cute pair of heels or wedges! Select apparel and accessories with vibrant, eye-catching colors.
3. Forget flirty
Be aware that the more “sexy” you dress, the less you will be taken seriously by both genders. While sex appeal is an undeniable target of power and influence, stow it in your arsenal for a Saturday night. Monday through Friday, there should be next-to-no trace of cleavage, bare shoulders, or long legs, and additionally, no low cut or super short of anything. When at work, make the focus point your deliverables, work ethic and value to the company, and you won’t get caught up in your colleagues’ superfluous distractions.
4. Express yourself
Embrace your love of fashion and use small touches to set yourself apart. Experiment with color to make yourself standout among a sea of black and convey a subtle message. Do you want to be seen as confident? A red scarf will convey that you’re a woman of action. Want to be seen as trustworthy and reliable? Navy blue jewelry will subtly plant the seed in viewers’ minds. Patterns are another way to set yourself apart. You don’t want to be seen as a walking optical illusion, but polka dots like those from Dresslily can add playfulness to an otherwise forgettable blazer; a tasteful floral print blouse can soften up your business suit; and a zigzag bangle can add a touch of zest to your work attire.
When it comes to fashion in the work place, dressing appropriately doesn’t mean you can’t get creative. A ladies’ wardrobe can be one of her greatest assets in getting notice and respect from colleagues, if she knows how to dress confidently and to her personal tastes. Don’t be afraid to push the envelope, regardless of industry setting or male-to-female ratio. So long as you play by the rules, the game is yours for the taking.