Dress for Success in the Workplace

Whether you are going for that all-important promotion, looking to impress a potential client or you’re simply aiming to boost your profile internally in the workplace, the way in which you dress can make or break your chances of success. It’s reckoned that first impressions really do count, and we form opinions on one another within a mere three seconds of meeting. So it stands to reason that your appearance is crucial.

Clothes say an awful lot about who we are, and how we feel about ourselves.

Casual or Formal?

If you are attending a job interview, then you should always dress formally, regardless of what the company’s usual policy is.

However, if your work’s dress policy is ‘casual’, you still need to take care if you want to make an impression. It is safer to mix smarter basics with some casual elements, for example men should go for either smart trousers with an open-collar shirt, or jeans with a more stylish shirt. Ladies naturally have a lot more options, but the same principle applies – make sure there is at least one ‘chic’ element to your look.

Whatever you choose, avoid tatty jeans, trainers and t-shirts, as you could run the risk of looking too scruffy to be taken seriously.

Update your Wardrobe

It is worth investing in just a few really good quality, classic items. Make a list of what you most need and gradually build up your collection.

Men - consider splashing out on a made-to-measure suit – it will last a long time (provided you don’t gain or lose too much weight!) and as long as you choose a classic material and cut, it won’t go out of fashion in a hurry – so it represents good value in the long run.

Ladies - hunt down a two-piece which fits well and flatters your figure. Choosing the right cut can make you look slimmer and feel more confident. If in doubt, take a good friend shopping with you (preferably someone who you think always looks great!) – as having a second opinion can be invaluable.

Add a splash of colour

Don’t be afraid to use colours, just don’t go overboard. For ladies, it might be a brightly coloured top under a black jacket, or for men, a bold yet stylish tie against a dark grey suit .

It’s also worth knowing that colours send out subliminal messages, which can profoundly affect how other people view you. Here are some of the main ones to bear in mind:

Black or dark grey
represents authority and confidence.
suggests trust and traditional values.
portrays empathy and tranquillity.
tells people you are passionate and likely to be an extrovert.
says that you are loyal and reliable.

It’s not just your clothes which create an impression, it’s the way you present your hair (and for the ladies, make-up) which can make a big difference as well.

Think about when you last updated your hairstyle. Perhaps it is time for a change? A good cut will not only make your hair look fabulous, but it will give you a confidence boost, too. For the guys, it’s worth checking that your facial hair is well groomed and there are no strays, which could prove potentially distracting to someone you’re aiming to impress!

Don’t forget about hands and nails as well. Make sure they are in good condition. Your boss, interviewer or client will notice this detail – whether consciously or not – and if you demonstrate that you can’t look after yourself properly, you could be sending out messages about your ability to look after a team or a challenging piece of work.

Which brings us nicely to the most important message in all of this: it is usually the subconscious mind which notices how others look. So even if you don’t consider appearances all that important, just remember that in actual fact, without you realising it, appearances have helped you to form an opinion on just about everyone you’ve ever met, so don’t underestimate the importance of dressing appropriately in the workplace.

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