Guest Post by Natalie Peace.
Personal style and business savvy: it can be tough to walk the line between both. If your own style is bold, flashy and unique, the last thing you want to do is break out the grey polyester 2-piece skirt suit and sensible low-heeled pumps.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what many women do, advised by people who say you need to dress like a female version of a bland male executive, if you want to succeed in the business world.
I have built and sold businesses worth $2 million in revenue, had multiple investors, and won entrepreneurial awards. I have also worn Lululemon pants to business meetings (they were black, and I wore them with a shirt that had my business’s logo on it). I know, this is a shocking violation of every sensible thing you’ve ever heard about dressing for success–but it’s true. It worked for me because I was being authentic, rather than trying to put on a show.
Having said all that, I do believe there are a few common sense principles to keep in mind:
1.Do not wear crazy amounts of makeup–a little goes a long way. You have heard this before, but it bears repeating. Heavy makeup is distracting and can make you look trashy.
2.Unless you’re in a seriously corporate environment, you can wear semi-casual, and occasionally very casual clothing (see yoga pant comment above) but make sure it’s clean and new-looking. Dark jeans, a stylish print top or simple white button-up shirt and a fitted jacket make for a suitable outfit at many workplaces and boardrooms.
3.Don’t be afraid to show personality, because you want to have a memorable presence. Don’t dull yourself down to appeal to the masses, but on the other hand, don’t wear 20 accessories. Like excess makeup, accessories and loud prints can be overwhelming and distracting.
4.Take the time to find styles that fit and flatter your body type. It may be worth hiring a fashion consultant, or asking more sophisticated friends which pant styles, skirt lengths, etc. work best for you.
5.Pay attention to details. If your outfit comes across as being carefully considered, it reflects well on you as a professional person. Again, this does not mean you need to wear conservative suits–but take the time to ensure you are well-groomed, clean and have chosen articles of clothing that work well together.
Ultimately, you want people to be paying attention to what you’re saying, not what you’re wearing. But your style can tell people a lot about who you are, and you don’t want to appear boring, stuffy and conservative if that’s not who you are at all.