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What your clothes say about you at work

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Dress for career success

Three women hold the same professional title. One is wearing jeans and a polo shirt, one is wearing a power suit and one is wearing a mini skirt with a tight sweater and stiletto boots. Which one would you take more seriously? In her new book "Excuse Me, Your Job is Waiting" Laura George explores fashion stereotypes, how they might be holding you back in your career and how to overcome them.

Woman in black dress at office

What your clothes say about you

Let's look at the most common interpretations, or stereotypes, attached to certain clothes. Notice that most items have more than one message and some have quite conflicting messages. We are constantly putting out all sorts of mixed messages and vibrations with our clothing. Some work in our best interest; some cause us havoc. The goal is to feel good, put out good energy, and bring in a good working experience. How these pieces are put together in an ensemble will determine what they say and how you feel. Make sure they are saying what you feel about the job and how you feel you are perfect for the job.

Symbol Key: $=Power, +=Approachability, @=Sexy

$ navy blue suit $+ white silk blouse
@ black leather jacket $+ gold silk blouse
$+ black knit dress $+ cashmere sweater
$@ very tight black knit dress $@ tight cashmere sweater
@$ short black knit dress $@ cashmere sweater set
+ baggy black knit dress +@ tights
+ company polo shirt $ tailored suit
+ khakis + baggy jeans
@ short shorts @ tight jeans
$+ calf-length black skirt + well-fitting jeans
+ long flowered skirt + loose cable-knit sweater
$+@ red silk blouse + baggy sweatshirt
$+ sleeveless blouse + white T-shirt
$+ fitted jacked $+ tailor-cut T-shirt
$+ freeform jacket @+ lacy blouse
$+ diamond earrings @ sheer blouse with lacy bra
+@ dangling earrings @ low-cut sweater
$+ French manicure +@ bangle bracelets
@ two-inch fingernails + charm bracelet
$@ five-inch stiletto pumps $+ tennis bracelet
+ mules +@ costume ring with large stone
+ penny loafers +@ costume necklace with large stone
$+ pumps $+ ring on one finger
+ clogs +@ rings on all fingers
$+ beige fingernail polish $+ pierced ears (one piercing)
+$@ red fingernail polish @ pierced tongue
@ blue fingernail polish @ tattoo on shoulder
$+ red silk scarf @ tattoo on leg
+ long flowered silk scarf +@ ankle bracelet
$+ A-line skirt @$ open-toed pump
$+ fitted skirt @$ slingback pump
@ tight miniskirt $+ knit skirt, one inch above knee

Whether you're female or male, you must make sure your clothes are sending the message you want to relay to potential employers. Every industry and occupation has its "uniform." CEOs are expected to look like CEOs. Artists are expected to look like artists. We communicate through our appearance; be attuned to what your appearance says. Once you've defined your desired position, dress the part. Keep feeling yourself in the position. Know it's yours.

If you are truly in doubt about what to wear when you're called for the interview, ask the human resource person what's expected of you in regards to your garments. Several years ago, a major company from out of state sent a representative to my area to interview me over lunch at a country club. The dear soul had the decency to call me the night before and tell me to dress casually. Most human resource people will give you a straight answer if you ask them a straight question.

More fashion ideas for work

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