Guest post by Angela Shelp Brill – Deciding what to wear to work each day can be a very stressful decision (assuming that you do not have to wear a uniform). Taking into consideration what meetings you have, amount of walking around to do and who you may run into has caused myself to stand in front of my closet for countless mornings. These and many other factors play an integral part of what clothing, shoes and even makeup a woman wears to work each day. Experiencing this through the years has taught me some valuable lessons, of which I share here.
You’re a Grown-up Now
Dress like it. Pink hair and super long fluorescent fingernails may have been super cool in college, but it’s not college anymore. While dressing more conservative can be kind of a drag, it will make you look more professional, and in turn, responsible. Familiarizing yourself with your company’s dress policy (and every company has them, no matter the career path you are in) will help immensely. Follow it, from skirt length to shoes and everything in between. And while it may not mention anything about baby doll tee shirts and beer slogans, play it safe and save those for your friends.
Dressing conservatively doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun. While you might not want to stand out as the employee that dresses like they are still 16, standing out the right way is valuable. Often times managers meet many employees and have a hard time remembering names and/or faces; but if they remember you as the employee with the pink headband with a flower on it, they remember you. A bright color, such as a piece of jewelry or shoes, tee-shirt with a cute emblem, dress with a trendy pattern or even lipstick can work, depending on your style. This tip is also good for job interviews. When reviewing candidates, you will be the one that stands out in the front of their mind.
Not everyone is able to wear power clothing at their job, but if you can, do. By power clothing I refer to clothing that gives an air of authority. Suits, high heels, up-dos and glasses are a few examples. Dressing like an executive can make you feel that way, calling to mind values associated with it, such as confident, hard-working and disciplined. Do not to dress for the job you have, but for the job you want.
Pulling it Off
If you don’t feel comfortable with any of these tips, don’t do them. Not everyone can walk in heels and likes to wear bright yellow jewelry. Trying to do something you are not comfortable with will make you feel awkward, which others will notice. If you think you look good, you will feel good, and that is what in the end will make you not just seem confident, but be confident. Giving it a try can’t hurt, but if it doesn’t work for you, don’t force it.
A few other guidelines I dress by
1. Who I’m going to see that day will play into my decision of what I wear. I am more likely to wear my older, more casual clothing on a day I will be in the office all day by myself, and suits and dress shirts for large meetings or meetings with outside customers.
2. I keep a clothing calendar. I do this so that I am not wearing my favorite outfit too much, forget about a piece of clothing in the back of my closet or to keep me from wearing the same shirt to every meeting with the same people. There are a few good apps that you can download on your smart phone (I use Closet on my iPhone), or keeping pictures of everything and documenting what you wear in your planner can also help.
3. I keep in mind what I will be doing that day. I may be meeting with others that I would normally want to wear heels, but later that afternoon I am grocery shopping for a weeks worth of food for 8 clients. Flats may be a better idea. But there is a way you can do both which brings me to my next point…
4. Have a change of clothes in the car. In my job, I may have to go in a moments notice to a direct care role, which is why I always have a pair of jeans, tee shirt and sneakers in my car if needed. Heels to flats is easy when you plan ahead and bring what you need. Good looking and smart! Now that is what employers want.
Angela Shelp Brill has had positions in several roles in residential living placements for children and adults with Intellectual Developmental Disabilities and Psychiatric Disorders for the past 8 years. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Psychology at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and currently works as a Program Coordinator for the Devereux Foundation in Chester and the surrounding counties in Pennsylvania. She is also my boss.
Image credit, InlinguaManchester