A very important step in presenting yourself at work is developing a personal style that is a true reflection of who you are. Chanel said it best herself, a girl should be two things: classy and fabulous. These two adjectives may appear simple but they truly exemplify how you should come across in your career as well as your personal life. By expressing your own style, your confidence and self-awareness will shine through and will allow you to turn heads for all the right reasons.
Style should reflect who you are and where you want to go. The connection between personality and fashion is not an easy one to make. This article will provide some tips and inspiration for you to develop your own style and personal brand, that will help you present yourself as the ambitious, intelligent, fabulous achiever that you really are.
When working towards a successful career, strive to be noticed for the quality of your work, not your fashion miscalculations. From your own experience, you might be able to think of a time when you saw a debate or a speech and sized someone up based on his or her appearance. Someone who dresses appropriately in any setting immediately demands respect and attention. Just like we are taught by our parents to say please and thank you to exemplify impeccable manners and a proper upbringing, by dressing appropriately at work, you are demonstrating that you incorporate balance in your life.
There is a difference between fashion and style. Though you may love someone’s shoes or bag, the way that person pairs these shoes with the rest of their outfit is a sense of style that comes from within. Focus less on an item having an expensive label and more on how best to combine items in a way that highlights your individuality. Don’t be afraid to emphasize your femininity at work. You don’t need to wear a masculine three-piece suit to be taken seriously. That’s not to say you should show up for a 9 am meeting wearing a pink tutu and ballet slippers (although ballet flats are a great way to go, more on that later!). Believe it or not, your appearance is a form of communication and can easily add or take away from your reputation.
Fashion is a large part of my life because what I wear is a way for me to express myself and showcase my personality. This is something that has been part of me since I was very little. I can still remember in seventh grade my excitement when my mom surprised me with my first pair of heels. Sitting on the steps and uncovering the black thick-heeled boots, I immediately started conceptualizing different outfits I could wear to school.
Personally, I really enjoy dressing up for work and bringing out my creativity. I’ll often wear a dress (cuts down your morning getting ready time) with nude pumps and a camel-colored trench coat for a very easy put together look. Solid, neutral dresses and pencil skirts are a wardrobe staple and will make your life easier when getting ready in the morning. Accentuate your silhouette with classic pieces. Pairing something neutral with a colorful handbag or carefully chosen accessories will give a great put together look. Understated elegance is the way to go without screaming, “look at me!” to your co-workers.
My wardrobe staple is a skinny black ankle pant with a neutral top, a blazer, and an oversized bag. This is a very easy look to put together and the blazer instantly gives you a professional and intelligent look. Some great colors are your standard black, navy blue and even a brightly colored red to play up an already monotone look. If you’re not into heels, pairing a straight-legged black pant with ballet flats presented a very polished appearance. Do not wear ballet flats with a knee length pencil skirt as it downplays the tailored look of the skirt and is reminiscent of a 1920s nursing uniform. Depending on your work environment, dark denim is an excellent item to have in your career closet. Worn with pointy-toe heels, flats, or wedges with a brightly colored sweater, the combination gives an effortlessly chic look. Avoid light-wash or faded jeans as they convey a more casual weekend look.
Not only are your fashion choices contributing to your own image, you are also representing your company. When you meet with clients or external stakeholders, you are representing your company or group. By having a sense of style and looking put together, you instill confidence and show people that you are dependable and they can count on you to get the job done. It’s important for your clothes to convey the message of how you want to be perceived by the world. If you wear wrinkled dress pants with an oversized blazer and flats, you are very easily demonstrating that you are not self-aware and on top of what is going on in your life. On the other hand, if you show up for your team meeting wearing fitted straight-leg black pants with black pumps, a loose nude blouse, a fitted boyfriend blazer complimented with well-matched accessories, you are conveying an entirely different message. Without uttering a word, you are telling people that you are in control of your life, you’re motivated, and you can handle anything that comes your way.
Keep in mind, you are NOT dressing to further the advances of a stranger at an unruly bar. You ARE dressing to accentuate your professionalism and capability. This is particularly important when you are interviewing for a new job or internship position. I’ve seen many pharmacy students make this mistake and dress for an interview in a way that truly hinders their chances. Wearing any of the following will pretty much eliminate any chance you ever had of landing your dream job: a skirt that is on par with the length of booty shorts, sky high heels that more closely resemble those found in a stripper’s closet, an overly hair sprayed updo perfect for a prom or pageant, wrinkled or stained clothing, denim, graphic t-shirts, concert wristbands, club stamps, fishnets, tattoos, and glitter. You get the picture.
When you dress as though you don’t care about clothes or how you look, that is something that people tend to focus on and remember. However, when you showcase your style and put effort into your appearance, people will remember YOU. They may not remember your shoes or the tailored sheath dress you wore, but they will remember how they interpreted your look and key takeaways about your personality, such as your individuality, creative disposition, and go-getter persona. You are subconsciously sending a message that you are serious about your work. Lastly, don’t forget to smile and show your enthusiasm. This compliments anything you’re wearing.