Working your wardrobe for career success

Posted by Amanda Augustine

September 03, 2013 @ 07:35 AM

Update your professional attire to make the right impression and advance your career.

Skipper_Chalkboard_Purse_ShoppingWith New York’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week only a few days away, it’s a great time to talk about your personal brand and more specifically, how your appearance affects your career.

Experts agree that your appearance plays a role in your professional advancement. Your clothing, grooming, hygiene and hairstyle all affect your personal brand. This becomes even more important when you’re looking for a job or vying for a promotion. Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression, whether that’s with a potential employer or a prospective client. Invest in a professional wardrobe to update your look and advance your career.

Below are some tips to improve your wardrobe for career success.

Get the right fit.

Clothes have an expiration date. Remove any items from your professional wardrobe that are more than five years old, with the exception of a few classic pieces that were made to last a lifetime. Fit is a huge factor. You’re better off picking up a suit at a discount retailer like Marshalls and then paying to have it altered rather than splurging on an expensive outfit that doesn’t fit you quite right. When in doubt, size up and find a good tailor who can alter the garment to fit you like a glove.

Consider the culture.

Take your industry and the company culture into account when purchasing work attire. For instance, if you showed up to interview at a fashion house in a head-to-toe formal suit, you’d appear stuffy and be deemed a cultural mismatch. Similarly, if you strolled into a financial services organization for a client meeting dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, you’d look equally out of place and unprofessional. No matter how casual or formal your company is, make sure your clothing is clean and pressed and that your overall outfit looks put together.

Insert your style.

Dress for the part you want, but find ways to incorporate your personal style into the overall look. Ladies, use a few brightly colored accent pieces, such as your shoes, bag and jewelry to let your personality shine through a more traditional outfit. Gentlemen, your watch, cufflinks and – believe it or not – socks are great outlets for your style, no matter how buttoned-up your workplace may be.

Take a cue.

If you want advance your career, take some cues from the next level of management. How does your boss and his peers dress for a regular work day? While you don’t want to looked overdressed in your current your position, it’s important to start doing little things to step up your look so you appear polished and ready for the next challenge. Additionally, be careful of what you wear during company outings and other more relaxed settings, such as a summer picnic or casual Friday.  Even when you’re out of the office, you’re still being judged by your colleagues.

Take some time this week to reevaluate your wardrobe so you make the right impression during your next interview, client presentation or in the office.

Click on the following link for more information about personal branding.

TheLadders Ask Amanda AugustineAmanda Augustine is the Job Search Expert for TheLadders. She provides job search and career guidance for professionals looking to make their next career move. Have a question for Amanda? Submit your question here for a chance to have it answered in her weekly column, and be sure to follow her at @JobSearchAmanda on Twitter and “Like” her on Facebook for up-to-the-minute job-search advice.

Topics: Ask Amanda, Professional Development, New to the Workforce