Women: Are Your Work Clothes Hindering Your Career?

It is difficult to get people to trust your abilities if they do not respect your appearance.

During career coaching sessions, I coach clients on the importance of dressing for the role you want…not the role you have.

So I want to explore the topic here. Are your work clothes hindering your career?

Fair or unfair, the reality is your appearance speaks loudly about who you are. When entering a room full of professionals who do not know you, the first thing they see is your appearance. The old adage that it is difficult to make a first impression twice is certainly applicable here. It is difficult to get people to trust your abilities if they do not respect your appearance.

I had a personal experience with a co-worker who was extremely talented and effective. However, her appearance did not convey this. I can only wonder if her appearance contributed to being passed over for promotions on several occasion.

Wearing clothes that fit properly speaks to confidence in your abilities and in yourself. Overly baggy or poor fitting clothes may cause people to wonder about your attention to detail and your commitment to your own success and the success of the organization. Clothes that are too clingy or provocative may have everyone talking, but not about your professional abilities. And don’t forget that outdated clothing can negatively affect your professional image too.

Now, I’m going to be a bit sexist just for a minute and right or wrong is irrelevant here. The fact is there is a societal expectation for women to keep themselves well-groomed and looking their best that is not the same with men. Feel free to respond and debate this point, but this is simply my opinion supported that the experiences we see and hear on a daily basis.

So, before you select your outfits for your business meeting or workday…consider this. What is the message you want to convey without ever uttering a single word? Then, dress accordingly.

No one should ever question your ability to represent the company on the basis of how you dress.

All the best,



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