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Power Dressing Code

Lead - follow or get out of my way

Ted Turner; founder of CNN network

Some rules to remember

In business you are dressing to have an impact on your bosses and teammates. If your clothes don't convey the message that you are competent, able, ambitious, self-confident, reliable and authoritative, nothing you say or do will overcome the negative signals emanating from your apparel

Betty Harragan (Author - Games Mother Never Taught You)


  • Easy on the designer labels

    It is never good style if you wear designer labels from top to toe for everyone to see. It shouts ‘look at me' which besides being tacky, shows bad taste, and will make people forget what you are all about and what you have to say about yourself. Wearing all designer simply weakens your professional credibility making you look shallow and loud with no substance. People will forget about you but they won't forget your outward appearance ie your dressing- and that is not how you should like to be remembered in any business where you want to succeed. Your clothes should underline and strengthen your image; they shouldn't define it. Nowadays power dressing is less formal, less high-maintenance and is much more confident – you can wear one-of-a-kind clothes (bespoke), no labels or designer mixed with high street labels, vintage pieces and jewellery in order to define your professional image rather than going with the in-crowd and being one of many. Only one person can be on top of the crowd and you better look and dress that way.

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  • Look in the moment, look current, but don't be too trendy

    Yes, it's essential to be comfortable in your clothes when keeping a workable wardrobe. But that doesn't mean that you are set for life and don't need to update your business wardrobe constantly with current items to keep your image fresh and in the moment. Don't get stuck in a rut and routine - you'll be quickly labeled as out-of-date, unable to keep up with modernisation, inflexible and not resilient enough to cope with today's complexity in business.

    Please don't mistake an out-of-date look for a classic one. These are two very different things. Every classic item needs to be worn with in an on-trend way by either accessorizing your look with trendy items or wearing it in line with current fashions - obviously with the condition that it suits your build and colouring and is appropriate for that occasion. Real power dressing is about standing out from the crowd, so that your professional look is current, and presents an image of effortlessness, freshness, and the idea that you are up to speed and able to cope whatever is thrown your way. The key word here is effortless! No one should get the feeling that it takes you hours to get dressed - you need to make it look easy, a no-brainer, so that you don't give anyone the impression that you're wasting any valuable time, time that could be better spent on business.

  • Keep your clothes groomed and kept - even the best investment buys will fade and date


    Dress shabbily; people remember the clothes.Dress impeccably; people remember the woman

    There is nothing worse than wearing nice clothes and keeping them unkept, uncared-for and unloved. Examples are the cashmere cardigan you love being garnished with fluff, that jacket losing a few threads, your trousers that are starting to wear thin, the coat that's missing a few buttons and your shoes looking knackered (dirty shoes - a total turnoff!) - these and more just shouldn't ever be the case with your clothing – it won't help with your professional image. The minute you look unkempt and untidy, , people will associate your appearance with your state of mind, your work ethic and see it as disrespectful to your co-workers, companies and clients. Instead of being an asset you become a liability to the company. It is quite simple; look groomed and people will like being associated with you; don't and people will keep their distance. If you give the impression you are someone who pays attention to details when you dress, it indicates you will do the same within your profession and give the little extra attention needed when the situation arises.

  • Being clean

    Well, in theory, this shouldn't be an issue today, where everyone has the means to these washing facilities and beauty/hygiene products are available on anyone's budget – there's just no excuse! Bad breath which tells others “what was for lunch”, having greasy hair or having dandruff spread evenly all around your shoulders for everyone to notice but you; having skipped the shower in the morning, fingernails that keep evidence of where they have last been, underarm perspiration marks, body odour which hits all who comes within the vicinity….all these and similar cases are just a no way, no go. If you “suffer” of any of the above - no matter how expessive your outfit is - you are on your own, lacking leadership and momentum, because you will be distracting everyone who works with you or for you with your personal hygiene issues, which makes it difficult to respect you and what you have to say. Keep in mind that a clean body image will result in a clean and fresh professional image - whether it's true or not, that is a different matter.

  • Be true to yourself - create your signature look

    People are not only differ in their looks, but also in their personalities, which explains how you piece an outfit together, what you favour, what you can't stand, what you find too fuzzy or too boring, and what you must or must not have when out there. The person who favours classic looks will have always a neat haircut, and immaculate make-up. If you are not that type you will never pull this off, so why waste your time and energy copying this look and image? You'll only, fuss over your outward appearance and keep checking if everything is in place or whether you have lipstick on your teeth. Instead, wear what works for you and apply a lower maintenance, less fussy look – it doesn't have to mean being unkempt. Opt for lip gloss instead, choose shirts that won't crease so easily and that have stretch in their fabric (which will ensure not only more comfort but also a better fit), put your in a pony tail or pull it up with a clip. If you're worried about runs in your tights then opt for thick ones or stick to trouser suits. Don't try to be someone else or fill someone else shoes; make your own mark by working out what works for you.

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    Always be appropriate - don't mistake time and place

    A lot of the time, what is appropriate to wear depends on various factors such as where you work e.g. country; which sector you work in e.g. finance versus media; the type of job you hold e.g. creative work, sales or academia; which position – top of the food chain like the MD or CEO or lower down support staff. But there are also unwritten rules, which always apply no matter what. First of all a work place is a professional place and not a night club, not a catwalk and not your pub. What does that mean? Well, your look should never be too sexy or dressy and it should not feel “underdressed” ie too casual for the work place. Your décolleté line shouldn't be too low, your skirt/dress hemline shouldn't be too short, nobody needs to see the fabric or make of your bra through your top and nobody needs to get a view of a builders bottom or see any bare skin that squeezes through between buttons because your shirt is too tight and is about to burst. It is never ever appropriate to wear a skirt or dress in cold weather without any tights. I would even say that is not appropriate in warm weather - wear either holds on or opt for tights with a lower denier and if none of those option works for you then choose a skirt or dress with hemlines that will finish around your calf area. The longer hemline will compensate for lack of tights. Also, open shoes in a formal work environment should be avoided, no matter if you've just had a nice pedicure or you wear them with tights - it looks inappropriate. Dress for the weather - if it's cold don't pretend it'summer by not wearing a coat or being dressed for warmer temperatures; if it is raining, please don't pretend it's not by walking through the rain without any cover or protection. Part of dressing for success is knowing which buttons you can push without going overboard and being prepared no matter what the situation. It will add to your professional attitude and image to have the foresight to be prepared for possible eventualities.

    People are not only differ in their looks, but also in their personalities, which explains how you piece an outfit together, what you favour, what you can't stand, what you find too fuzzy or too boring, and what you must or must not have when out there. The person who favours classic looks will have always a neat haircut, and immaculate make-up. If you are not that type you will never pull this off, so why waste your time and energy copying this look and image? You'll only, fuss over your outward appearance and keep checking if everything is in place or whether you have lipstick on your teeth. Instead, wear what works for you and apply a lower maintenance, less fussy look – it doesn't have to mean being unkempt. Opt for lip gloss instead, choose shirts that won't crease so easily and that have stretch in their fabric (which will ensure not only more comfort but also a better fit), put your in a pony tail or pull it up with a clip. If you're worried about runs in your tights then opt for thick ones or stick to trouser suits. Don't try to be someone else or fill someone else shoes; make your own mark by working out what works for you.

  • Style is nothing without fit

    The most expensive suit will look naff and cheapen your image if it doesn't fit your shape. Either it will indicate that you don't have the money to buy a suit that fits, you've gained/lost weight and haven't accommodated the change, you're ignoring the fact that you're wearing something that doesn't fit, or that you are wearing someone elses suit for the day. Whatever impression others get, it won't be good and will weaken your professional image because they'll think that you are not aware of your look or just don't care. Your professional clothes have to fit you like a glove and that means complementing your shape, scale, proportion and your personal colouring. The right fit will also make your appearance more up-to-date, because it will underline how you look now. Plus it will sharpen your image, alluding to a “go and get it” attitude!

  • Choose your clothes for your work wisely- they always reflect how versatile you need to be for your work commitments


    I design for real people. I think of our customers all the time. There is no virtue whatsoever in creating clothing or accessories that are not practical

    Giorgio Armani

    I believe women with authority and power need to reflect their skill set in their outward appearance. Therefore clothes need to be as hard-wearing and multi-tasking as you are for that job. Do you work early morning and late nights, have internal as well as client meetings, need to travel by car, train and plane? Clothes as well as reflecting how prepared you, they should also convey that you are “dressed” for the occasion. I admit, you can't force everything into one look but you should wear an outfit that can be easily dressed up down with a change of shoes, bag, jewellery or the addition of a cardigan, vest or scarf. That means you should always keep a back up of classic clothes in your office that will go with almost everything - that means a spare shirt, tights, cardigan, trousers, skirt, underwear, shoes, bag….You'll need to create different looks out of few pieces so you've got to invest in pieces that you know will work in a number of ways.

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