Women have struggled with the double standard of dress codes at their workplace for years.
More than just a point of order, it has often caused women to feel more heavily scrutinized than their male counterparts. Thanks to progress in workplace and culture in general, there are now many ways that women can dress for success.
As women have seized the reigns of power over executive boards to become company presidents, they've helped redefine every aspect of the workplace. Where once women were asked to dress in ways for male approval, better harassment protections combined with flexible rules have changed office fashion.
Powerful and confident women now lead offices and project teams while setting trends for what women look like. Women of every size, shape, background, and ability dress for success like never before. Here are 10 tips to get you there too.
1. Find Your Inspiration
Everybody has a different style when they aim to dress for success. Find your style and make sure you stay authentic.
Confidence is what makes an ensemble work so if you don't feel confident, you won't look your best.
When seasons change, so does fashion. Thumb through a couple of magazines or scroll through some style blogs when you feel like you need a change. Head out to shops and see what jumps out of you.
If something feels natural, that's the direction to pursue.
2. Trends Aren't Always Professional
Take a good luck at what's trending this season and pick out what works for you. Some years ago, black and olive green were the colors of the season. While that looks great on some people, it doesn't look great on everyone.
If what's happening this season isn't for you, don't fret. You can always wait until next season. Or else you can go to a vintage or outlet store and catch something from last season that fits your taste.
Not every trend is going to work for everyone. When you dress for success, you dress for tomorrow instead of today. Trust your gut.
3. Know Your Colors
One of the easiest ways to give a boost to your current wardrobe is to get to know what colors work for you. You may not even realize, but over time you've probably developed an affinity for a few tones.
Get to know what your neutral base is. Make sure that everything you get can orbit around that main color. If black isn't for you, maybe gray or brown is your thing. Some people have hanger after hanger of navy in their closet.
See which direction you lean and let that base drive your decision making.
If you're looking to go with something seasonal, pick only 2 colors and a base. Orange, Gold, and white are great for fall but they might not work together so well in the winter. Thankfully you can pair those other items with your base color and fold everything into your main wardrobe.
4. Know What You Have
Before you hit the stores, look through your closet. Make some room by getting rid of some things that you never wear. Donate things, sell them, or have a swap on a Sunday afternoon.
Make it a social event with drinks and food where everyone walks away with new wardrobe choices.
If you strip your closet down, you'll also make mornings a little easier by saving yourself the stress of digging through clothes you're not that excited about.
5. Make a List of Musts
Once you've made some room in your closet, see the items you could use a few more of. If you don't have enough dark skirts, write it down and make it your focus. If you need more solid tops to match wilder bottoms, put that on your list.
Don't leave shoes out of this equation. You probably don't need as many shoes as you have. Think about what you can spare to let go and which staple shoes are getting a little long in the tooth.
6. Pairs Can Save Time and Money
If you have a great pair of expensive shoes that you love to wear, find some great pieces that pair well with it and can elevate your outfit. Pair accessories and inexpensive garments with shoes, handbags, or outerwear, likely your most expensive items.
This will tie them together under any circumstances and allow your fancy gear to shine the way you want it to. Look for the details in the trendiest outfits. Those will be the elements that are still around next season.
7. Identify Your Favorites
Your go-to outfits and items make you feel comfortable. When you're under the pressure of a big meeting or presentation, you might ditch a favorite item in favor of what you think you should wear.
Dressing for success is all about dressing confidently. If you have an item that makes you feel comfortable, that will lead to confidence. Give your best version of yourself wrapped in your favorite piece and the eyes on the room will be on you.
8. Rules Are for Squares
With modern workplace dress codes, you can dress in more fun ways than ever. Try double denim for a day and see how you feel. Go with white after labor day, so long as it looks good.
Sequins are back in a big way, so why not embrace them and have some fun when you dress for success.
9. Travel Smart
Pick out some neutral colors and items when you're traveling. That will allow you to accessorize or pair things up at your pleasure.
You'll be saving some packing space and be able to have some versatility to dress for success while you're out of town.
10. What's in Your Toolkit?
Get yourself a hand-steamer. You can keep it under the sink for emergencies or have it at your desk for last-minute ironing before a big meeting.
Get yourself a lint brush, a pocket sewing kit, scissors, stain wipes, and polishing cloths. You'll be popular in your office as everyone has an emergency during the day but no one ever seems to be prepared.
It's Never Been Easier to Dress for Success
As long as you're moving through the room in comfort, with confidence, you're dressed for success. It's all about you, not other people.