Labor Day always brings thoughts of new clothes shopping – even if your school days are long gone. It’s a great time to refresh and update your work wardrobe. And that’s the first tip: there should be a difference between your office outfits and your leisure time clothes.
You have approximately 7 seconds to make a first impression on other people. Whether you’re actively job hunting, or seeking to advance within your current organization, venture into that closet and do an honest appraisal of what you have – and what you need.
Maybe you want to enlist the help of a trusted friend. If she suggests that something is outdated or ill-fitting, it’s probably time to kiss that item goodbye. (National organizations like Dress for Success and independent charities like my local Women’s Resources of Monroe County are happy to recycle your used clothing to help women in need.) Then go shopping! Here are some tips to guide your shopping expedition:
1. Remember skirts. This tip may surprise you – and it obviously isn’t for everyone. But Stacy London, co-host of What Not to Wear, says it’s much easier to find a flattering skirt. “With pants, you have to consider the rise, the width of the hips, the legs, and how they fall on the tush.” Lloyd Boston, author of Before You Put That On, adds: “In this age of metrosexual men, sometimes the only thing that separates you from the guys is the power to put on a skirt.”
2. Wear a jacket – even if you take it off afterward. This tip comes from Andrew Taylor, Style Director for Ann Taylor. His recommendation: “When in doubt, grab a blazer. A jacket always establishes credibility.”
3. Sparkle, not flash. The difference between sparkle and flash is like the difference between a diamond and a rhinestone. Aim for classic and classy – not flashy. According to salary.com, if you’ve seen any of the Real Housewives wearing it while walking their bejeweled dogs, set it aside.
4. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. This advice is offered by wardrobe stylist and fashion writer Kristen Kaleal on bettyconfidential.com. “If you’re going for a position where you need to be approachable, don’t dress in harsh, drab colors, says Kaleal. “If you’re going for a very creative position, a bland, boring outfit can also weigh against you.” Another tip: Observe the wardrobe of successful people who already have the job you want.
5. Is it really you? Your clothes have to be a good fit – not just to your body, but also to your personality. Awhile back, a golf coach criticized the cutoffs and tank top I’d worn to my lesson. “Do you really look the way you want to feel?” he challenged me. (He was right – but in reverse. I came to the conclusion that I hated golf, and stopped taking lessons.) This concept is even more important for work clothes: Does the outfit make you feel great? Swimwear designer Malia Mills says, “Carefully weigh your options… choose what will make you stride into a room like you own it.”
By Paula Damiano, Editor – NAFE News & Notes