It's day nine of our 10 Days to a New Career special. So far, we covered topics such as setting goals, researching possible career pathways, building a solid foundation of jobs skills and cleaning up the CV, getting serious about LinkedIn and googling yourself to cover your digital footprint, building a network of professional relationships for the sake of your career, and the importance of mentors. Today we cover the small matter of dressing the part for success.
It may seem like a small matter, but your wardrobe will play a big part in your success.
All the work you've done to improve your resume and hone your skills will mean nothing if you don't look the part.
What you wear affects how your boss, colleagues and potential employers perceive you, so it's worthwhile taking a moment to check if your wardrobe needs an overhaul before you begin interviewing or go for that promotion.
"Wardrobe is very important. At the end of the day, a lot of it is about perception. You can have the talent, you can have the ability, you can have the drive, but if people don't perceive that you have those things then it's going to be very [difficult] for you to sell yourself," says psychologist and career expert Suzie Plush.
"It's about presenting a very polished, confident look. Investing in your wardrobe is an investment in your career."
Plush says you don't need to spend a lot of money to get the right wardrobe and advises investing in a few key pieces to look "pulled together and sharp".
"If it's not something you're comfortable with then go and get a stylist. It's worth paying the money to get someone to go through your wardrobe and really help you build your wardrobe for your career."
For an interview, the director of Career Consultancy Catherine Cunningham suggests matching the level of formality of the organisation.
"If in doubt, dress slightly more formally," she says.
For the office, Cunningham says while there is no right or wrong, there is perception and its consequences.
"An individual can choose to go against their workplace norms, but it is dangerous. And they can't rely on their boss telling them they are not happy," she says.
"In general, I would recommend that clothes are well cut and send a 'strong' message ... Obvious no-nos are short skirts, too much cleavage and shoes in poor condition."
HOMEWORK: What you need to do today
- Wardrobe revamp: Go through your wardrobe and throw out anything that you haven't worn in years or that doesn't reflect the career you want.
- Designate a space in your wardrobe for all your work-appropriate clothes. Figure out what your wardrobe is missing and write a list of what you need (and set a budget).
- Invest: Go shopping and look to replace what's missing in your wardrobe. Look for basics and good quality pieces, and make sure you have an outfit that you feel confident in for job interviews.
Briana Everett is a freelance writer and regular Women’s Agenda contributor.