Your appearance is a form of communication and what you wear is important in projecting your professional image. As the first thing people notice about you, your clothing can add or detract from your skills, education and abilities.
For example, a tailored suit may make you appear polished, professional and confident. As leader, you create the tone and culture of your organization. The way you act and look reflect the company. Your appearance may used as a point of referenced for your employees on what is appropriate to wear at the workplace.
Looking stylish, professional and approachable is often the image that leaders want to portray; however a common misconception is that one is limited to wear certain colors for work. Black, navy and white are considered as common colors that people tend to wear to work. Strategically, there is almost no restrictions on what you can wear to work as long as you understand how to pull it off. This article focuses on how business professionals can incorporate color into their wardrobe for work.
What You Wear Is Important
Three of the most common forms professional work attire include a skirt suit, a pantsuit and a dress that may be worn with a matching jacket. But wearing a bright orange dress in a conservative office will undermine your leadership authority, so it’s best to integrate color in a manner that accentuates your personality while projecting an executive presence.
For instance, wearing an orchid necklace with a black jacket and skirt will certainly add style and exuberance to your look and it will also make you look unique. Using your black suit as a backdrop and integrate accessories such as an orchid bracelet or statement necklace will make you look professional and well put together.
Plan Your Wardrobe
On the days you have an important meeting, wearing dark colors is advisable because it portrays power and authority and it does not detract from the focus of your meeting. Conversely, on routine office days, wearing lighter colors can help you appear approachable and help your employees feel comfortable to reach out to you with questions and build trust.
About Your Shoes
Consider your footwear. Your shoes leave a huge impression on your overall appearance. For example, if you are wearing a skirt suit, wearing heels is a great idea, but the height, color and condition of your shoes can make a difference between looking well-put together and undermining your credibility. Depending on your industry, it would best to wear a medium heeled shoe (between 2 – 2 ½ inches) free of scuff marks and wear and tear. Also make sure your shoes match the overall color of your outfit.
Look at The Fabric
Another consideration for work is the cut, shape of the fabric. As illustrated in the picture, even though both women are wearing black (a great color to achieve professionalism), the cut, shape and fabric on the woman on the left denotes playfulness while the suit worn by the woman on the right is deemed more authoritative. Stiffer fabrics, straight cut with structured shapes are considered more professional than flimsy, sheer fabrics.
Experiment With Your Look
Your work appearance does not have to be boring. Experiment. Stand in front of the mirror to analyze what you’re wearing. Just keep in mind that in the office, you want to make sure you are properly covered: No spilling of cleavage and no mini skirts — you don’t want to detract from your work nor authority.
When it comes to the workplace, dressing conservatively has many advantages. It’s a safe bet when you’re not sure how to dress and an easy way to garner an authoritative stance. It’s simple to add personality to your look by wearing accessories.
Clothing is only part of the equation in achieving executive presence. A professional appearance non-verbally communicates your competence and credibility.