Hidden Dress for Success Codes –
You can’t imagine the number of times I receive emails like this: “My daughter is working on a corporate job promotion. She thinks Lululemon pants are ok for work. I worry she doesn’t understand dress for success and will get passed over because of her wardrobe! Please help her!”
Beware of unwritten dress for success codes
So how important is your dress to your personal brand and success?
It turns out it’s still very important. You’re not only representing yourself but the organization you work for. And all employees are brand ambassadors. Even if there is no written dress code in your organization there is probably an unwritten dress for success code for moving up.
A revealing story
An HR professional in an accounting firm shared an interesting story with me. One of their female employees resisted adopting the company dress code for the longest time. Management didn’t make a fuss about it because she was brilliant at her job and besides, she wasn’t in a client facing role.
Then one day she applied for a management position. Unfortunately the decision makers had gotten so used to seeing her in overly casual attire that they couldn’t quite make the jump mentally and couldn’t see her in a leadership role. Sadly she became stereotyped as a ‘worker bee’ and wasn’t considered for advancement.
Times are changing …but
There’s no question that times are changing and dress is getting more casual, but some things remain the same. If you’re gunning for that promotion you need to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. You need to be aware of your industry’s hidden dress for success code if you want decision makers to easily visualize you in that role.
Not necessarily a suit
This doesn’t mean you need to wear a suit. As image consultants we work with all sorts of industries from construction to accountants. Most of them don’t wear suits but they all have their unwritten dress for success code.
How to decipher a hidden dress for success code
In our seminars and private coaching sessions we encourage our clients to keep an image diary to gauge their own image impact and discern their organization’s unwritten dress code.
Start an image diary
- Whenever you attend a work meeting or a function, whether it’s a seminar, a networking event, an information gathering interview, a conference, or that important job interview, look around and take notes.
- Observe how the leaders are dressed, especially those that are in a position to hire you, recommend you, or those whose position you aspire to have one day.
- Then observe how those at your level are dressed, industry peers and colleagues; what level of dress for success are the top 25% at?
- What level are you at? Analyze your image. How were you treated wearing this versus that? Were your ideas listened to? What worked, didn’t work? With whom and why?
- Assess how confident you felt in terms of credibility, authority, approachability and confidence.
- Knowing what you know now, what might you do differently?
Your clothing should match your industry and meet the unwritten dress code. Look around you to see how the successful professionals in your industry and position dress. Then don’t copy them exactly but use your own sense of style to mirror that look.
Don’t let your Lululemons sour your success
You won’t lose points for being overdressed; but you can certainly undermine your credibility and success if you’re under dressed. If you want to learn more, join us in our Complete Professional seminar to be empowered and inspired or check out some of our other articles.