You may not know this about women, but we place immense importance on first impressions. We’ll judge a date on the suitability of his socks, a colleague on the length of her skirt and celebrities on just about everything (because lets face it they should sometimes know better.) Despite how much we’re repeatedly told never to judge a book by its cover, when it comes to women and their outfits somehow it always matters!
It figures then that when it comes to new jobs that first outfit has to be just perfect, it could end up setting the tone for your whole career! What should it say about you to an employer, to colleagues? Is it best to show personality or professionalism? What is the best “ootd” for your career?
My now best friend interviewed me for my first ever job in finance and it’s a still a talking point to this day that I wore shockingly orange shoes teamed with my monochrome wrap dress. Right or wrong, it got me the job (plus a best friend) and made a hell of a statement about what I am as a person - bold, not afraid to stand out and uncompromising when it comes to my style. Having always worked in finance which can tend to be a little stuffy I always thought it best to reflect my stance on workwear from the start. I am not a shirt and black suit kinda girl and whilst I always ensure my look is professional, my love of fashion and inner kookiness will mean I like to push barriers and be individual. I am anything but boring and like my dress sense to reflect that.
I was recently told about a girl that applied for a role in finance, smashed the interview process but was turned down by the firm's HR department because of the amount of cleavage her top revealed. My immediate reaction was that given how hard it can be to find good staff, this was a travesty! Is it right in today's age that we should be judged on our appearance in these circumstances? Did this interviewee's outfit suggest a lack of concern or professionalism for the job on offer or did she simply have bad style? Should we be punished or rewarded for our outward appearances?
There is a science behind how we dress and the colours we choose. Red denotes confidence, it’s the colour of energy but can, if too overwhelming, be mistaken for aggression. Still wondering about those orange shoes? Apparently fun, warmth and ambition. Research has shown that your appearance strongly influences people's perception of your success, authority, intelligence, and even suitability for promotion.
Here's my fail safe rules for that career enhancing wardrobe:
- The classic white shirt - You can’t go wrong with a crisp white shirt in fashion or in work. It's a certified classic and can be worn at any age. It still allows creativity in the way you style it but is fresh, crisp and clean. I go back to it again and again.
- Comfort - If you don’t feel good in what your wearing you’ll never be at ease or at your best. This is different for everyone but I am lost without a pair of good high heels!
- The modern suit - Smart needn’t equal boring. Have fun with colour, texture or print to show a bit of personality.
- Accessorise - Jewellery shouldn't be so dazzling to detract attention away from you, but it can enhance and liven up an otherwise sombre outfit.
- Outerwear - Those first impressions start from the moment you walk in the door. Don't perfect your outfit and then throw a parka over the top of it all, make sure your outerwear doesn't let you down!
Despite how far we've come with equal opportunities and banning discrimination in the work place, what you look like still matters. My favourite research evidence on this topic suggests that the taller you are, the more you are paid and that blondes not only have more fun...but also earn more than their brunettes counterparts!
I'm all for rules being there to be bent or broken and think that it is important to express our personality through our dress choices. Employers like individuality and those that think outside of the box, but the most important thing in any work environment is that you look like you care, you’ve made an effort and that your look is polished.
What are your career fashion fails or go to outfits for that all important interview? I've love to hear all about them!