When Dress Isn’t Your Strongest Suit

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Let me start by admitting that I’m not particularly stylish. In fact, my mom still picks out a lot of my clothes – a fact I realize is moderately embarrassing. But with or without a natural eye for fashion, your wardrobe is much more than just fabric and zippers. It’s an essential component of your personal brand. The tailored suits and dresses Alicia Florrick (Juliana Marguiles) and Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres) don for The Good Wife and Suits are my personal muses. They miraculously exude both power and poise. But, cultivating that kind of closet can be a herculean task without the assistance of stylists and mega-budgets.

Don’t fret, there’s hope for us yet.

The first step in curating a killer wardrobe is deciding who you are and how you want to be perceived. There are no right or wrong answers. Your wardrobe gives people a hint about who you are before you even say a word. As Kanye West posits in Estelle’s American Boy, “Before he speak his suit bespoke.” Ah, the poetry. An easy way to clarify your image is to think of a celebrity you admire and observe their fashion choices. They have a professional doing it for them behind the scenes, so mooch off that a bit. Me? The Chanel and St. John suits from my TV fashion idols don’t really make sense for me or my budget, but the crisp clean lines with architectural details do.

No matter what image you’re portraying, it always looks better when it fits properly. As a six-foot-tall woman, I’m hypersensitive to fit because I can effortlessly channel Oliver Twist in most standard clothing. There are a few things to always check before you buy/wear something. For pants, make sure the length is appropriate for the type of pant and the shoe you’re wearing. (Check out this guide for easy answers and pictures here.) For both skirts and blouses, bend over and see what happens. If anything is compromised, it’s too short or too low-cut. Clothing needs to be moderately functional because even if you love something, you’ll never feel comfortable or confident if you’re exposed. Lastly, turn around. Sometimes it’s what we don’t see that really bites us in the butt…

The final step in dressing like a boss is to actually dress like your boss. More formal clothing changes the way your brain works according to a study in the journal Social Psychological & Personality Science. Researchers found that not only did dressing snazzy improve cognitive thinking, it made people feel better. If “formal” doesn’t align with your brand, pair your graphic tee with some clean sneaks and dark jeans. Same difference.

I know you aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, but your clothes tell a story. Make sure it’s the tale you want to be told.

Written by: Hannah Barfield Spellmeyer

Hannah Barfield Spellmeyer  spends her days matching exceptional candidates to their dream jobs at Godshall Professional Recruiting. A writer and speaker, Hannah provides witty and insightful perspectives on talent acquisition, sales, and personal development. She’s always on LinkedIn, so reach out anytime.

You can read more of Hannah’s blogs at https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/hannahbarfield.

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