Dressing for success is something most people aim for – no matter what the occasion. I had the opportunity a while back to serve as the keynote speaker at the Annual Dress for Success Women of Power breakfast in Chicago. This post is inspired by the remarks I shared:
Whether we’re just starting out, trying to start over and or starting a new initiative at the height of our career, the ability to “dress the part” is critical to our success. I believe, however, we need more than physical attire to create a recipe for success and demonstration of power. Using four wardrobe winners, here is an analogy of style we all can live by.
Shoes – I’m not a style expert but I’ve heard more than once “if you’re not going running, then don’t wear running shoes”. This is a phrase that pays off not just in style, but in life. Your shoes should be comfortable, fitting for the occasion and most importantly – YOURS. Oftentimes, as we grow or evolve, we look to others to carve out a path for us. I am big proponent of mentors, trail blazers and overall points of inspiration and aspiration. But at the end of the day, each of us has to take accountability for our path – where we’re going and what we’re made of. Others can help lead and direct us. But we’ve got to do the work. Style lesson #1: Be comfortable in your own shoes.
Coat – Anyone who has known me for more than a day can tell you that a nice coat sends me to the moon! I don’t know if it’s the Chicago girl in me, or the fact that I liken outerwear to the outward expression of who we are. It’s what we wrap ourselves in. So when you think about career, think about the coat you wear. Will it be classic or colorful, conservative or casual? Does it cover you completely or will you leave it open to expose what’s underneath. What you reflect on the outside should be directly related to who you are on the inside. We always get in trouble when we try to be something we’re not. Style lesson #2: Let what’s on the inside shine outward.
Accessories – Accessories can take our style to the next level. There are so many to choose from. Our business accessories matter because they represent those extensions of ourselves that make us excel in what we do. Preparation is like a scarf, timeliness like a watch, integrity like a hat, or perspective like eyewear. Style lesson #3: Let your actions reflect your ethics and values.
Attitude – I think you’ve figured out by now where I’m going with this. You can have the most well assembled ensemble but it won’t guarantee you success unless you’ve got the attitude and intentions to go along with it. Some call it confidence. Others call it swagger. At the end of the day, it’s you. The most beautiful and powerful people I know are the most authentic. I challenge every leader and every fresh starter to be fully true to your own voice. Maybe you need a second chance. You’ve learned some life lessons and now you’re ready to give I another shot. Let go of whatever it is you view as an obstacle. Believe more in yourself than you do in things you can’t control. Go for it. Maybe you’re a manager who wants to go higher in your career. Sit down and make a list of what you want and why. But remember the why is more important than the what. And, if you’re already in a position of leadership – a mover and a shaker – ask yourself what that means. Is the big chair for you to spin around in and look out at your beautiful view? Or is it a platform for you to empower and engage? Style lesson #4: Bring your whole self to it and be ALL IN.
If you’re on the fence about something, jump over to one side of the other, for the reasons that best align with who you are and what you stand for. If you know you can do better, do it. If you know you can be better, be it. If you have the opportunity to give someone a chance, give it. This is how you bridge the gap between who you are, what you stand for and ultimately, what you become known for. This is what power is. This is how you Dress for Success.