Your kids may look fabulous when they go to school or daycare, with trendy hair and clothes, but what about your own appearance? Our fashion sense says a lot about who we are; it’s often an indicator of success in the workplace.
According to Karen Pine, practicing psychologist and author of the book Mind What You Wear, there’s a lot more to fashion psychology than many of us are aware. For example, people who dress in a style similar to that of their boss are on a faster track for promotion, while people keep their distance from peers who wear outdated or non-trendy clothing.
Pine adds that although the psychology of appearance applies to both men and women, women are often judged more harshly if they don’t meet fashion expectations. Women who dress provocatively are regarded as less competent and professional than the ones who don more conservative clothing and cover up.
Women who dress with a touch of masculinity also tend to command more respect than those who dress more strictly feminine. It would be great if gender disparities disappeared altogether, but that’s not likely to happen anytime soon.
If you want to appear more powerful and confident at work, here are some professional fashion tips you should follow.
1. Observe the Dress Code
Most jobs dictate a proper manner of dress for their employees, so follow those rules. They will likely frown on cleavage, short skirts, and similarly revealing clothing. Don’t treat this as a hindrance to your personal style, but as an opportunity to create an impressive and professional work wardrobe.
2. Don a Signature Item
Dressing professionally is a sharp business move, but it can also make you fade into the woodwork if you’re not careful. You want your superiors to notice you, so a signature fashion detail can help you achieve that effect.
The item could be anything from bright red lipstick to a pin on your cardigan. Try to find something that adds a subtle pop of color and makes people notice you for both your style and your professional competence.
3. Focus on Your Smile
Studies have confirmed that people with straight teeth and white smiles are more likely to be perceived as successful, smart, and more social. A strong smile can also communicate trust in a business relationship.
Getting your teeth whitened can be a step toward a more confident smile, but if your teeth are crooked or have gaps, you might want to think about orthodontic treatment.
Don’t worry: You won’t necessarily have to wear braces. Dr. Agarwal of Definition Dental in Oregon recommends Invisalign® for an invisible teeth straightening experience. “Invisalign can discreetly and safely straighten teeth and uses the very latest orthodontic technologies,” she says. “It is renowned for providing excellent results and this system is popular worldwide.”
4. Find Your Five-Minute Face
You might be too busy to worry much about makeup and contouring, but that doesn’t mean you should skip cosmetics altogether. You can make yourself look more professional and put-together in no time with your standard 5-minute face.
The most important tasks are to cover up blemishes and bags under your eyes with a little foundation or tinted moisturizer. Then draw attention to your eyes and lips with eyeliner and/or mascara and lipstick or gloss.
This simple routine will take very little time out of your day, but it can make a huge difference in your overall appearance.
5. Carry a Professional Bag
Women don’t often enjoy the luxury of deep pockets in their slacks or on the inside of a suit coat the way men do. A bag is an obvious necessity for your personal items and work tools.
The wrong bag can create a terrible impression, however. Don’t walk into work with a leather bag that’s peeling and frayed in all the wrong places.
Hot pink or other brightly colored bags -- even if they’re Prada -- are also out of the question. Your bag can be trendy and complete your outfit, but it shouldn’t draw undue attention.
When people picture you, you want them to think of a hardworking professional, not your amazing bag. It would be wonderful if we could move through life without stereotypes or negative perceptions on the part of others, but that’s simply not realistic.
We must be aware of the world around us, and select our clothing and personal grooming accordingly.
Written by Natalie Bracco for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.