You might be the brightest and most talented person in the room, and you of course should always be judged on those merits alone. Still, it doesn’t hurt to dress for success every now and then, just to make a statement with a polished and professional first impression.
People are shallow. This is an unfortunate fact. And this disproportionately impacts women in the workplace. You shouldn’t even have to fight it—it’s 2017!—but fight it you can. Here are a few strategies how:
1. Be yourself.
Don’t try to wedge yourself into whatever is in style or what everybody else is wearing. Make sure to pick things that make you comfortable and confident and feel like yourself. Don’t let your clothes wear you; wear your clothes.
2. Add a pop of color.
The world is dreary enough. Figure out your favorite colors and see if you can’t incorporate them into your work wardrobe. Shades of red, particularly on the blue side of the spectrum, are said to convey power. But then again, so does black. The colors that flatter you and make you confident are going to be your power colors, no matter what. Bonus: solid colors are less distracting than loud prints.
3. Adapt to the style of your workplace.
If you’re applying to work in a super corporate environment where formal dress is required, you’ll need you get yourself a suit. If your work culture is much more casual than you’re used to, don’t fret. Get yourself a nice pair of designer jeans that really really fit well. Get some high quality t-shirts and a good jacket. You’ll still feel equipped and powerful—even sophisticated—but you won’t stand out as too gussied up.
4. Invest in a good suit.
If your work requires you to have a suit, get a really good one. A bespoke one. And have it fitted. Good tailoring is always a great investment.
5. Keep it neutral.
You may love your tattoos and piercings, or your unique hair choices, but in certain work environments—at least until they catch up to the realities of modern life—it’s best not to display all the wonderful quirks in your personal style.
6. Dress for the job you want.
Don’t be hamstrung by convention. You know where you want to go in your career. Do your research and know how to dress for that job you want. Trust your instincts. You’re a grown woman and capable of making it work for you.