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Dress to impress: How fashion can affect your career

When asked to describe your communication skills in an interview, verbal and written are the most common types of communication addressed. However, your personal style most likely makes a loud statement about who you are, and it may even supersede any thoughtful and well-worded comment made to an interviewer, employer or colleague.

how fashion affects your career

Messages are sent through clothing wherever you go. Whether you are out with friends for the evening, working out at the gym, or just plain working at the office, what you wear makes a statement about who you are. Your employer’s interpretation of what your wardrobe has to say can have serious implications on your career — both positive and negative. In fact, according to a recent study released by OfficeTeam, a staffing agency that polled senior corporate executives, 93% of managers say that how you dress at work influences your chance of a promotion.

Admittedly, balancing fashion and professionalism is a difficult thing to do, especially for women. Often, employers and clients expect successful women to be a myriad of things that can contradict each other. When determining the best office attire that will boost your career, here are a few guidelines to consider.

  • A little sex appeal boosts a youthful appeal, while too much sexy in your attire may undermine your authority around the office. In fact, a recent UK study found that cleavage can harm your career. Though perfectly fine outside of the office, your appearance may be distracting in a business setting. It may impact your credibility with your colleagues and employer, keeping you from being seen as a good candidate for a possible promotion.
  • Just as an overly sexy look may impact your potential for advancement, an extremely conservative style approach may also impact the way you are perceived by your employer. Though it is always best to err on the side of caution, if you work in a more casual environment, then an overly-conservative outfit may send the message that you are extremely straight-laced or even an elitist.
  • The true key to dressing for success at your workplace is to take note of how the most successful people within your organization dress, and learn from them. This does not mean to go out and purchase the exact same outfits as your peers. However, once you have a feel for the fashion that is workplace-friendly, then you can begin to work your personal style into your office looks, without being so over-the-top trendy that it alienates you from the team. After all, you are part of a team, and though you may not have a uniform, fitting into the culture of your organization is paramount to furthering your career and becoming a leader in looks and ability.

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