33 responses

  1. Penny R
    January 23, 2011

    This is excellent advice. I can honestly say that’ been my dress code guideline at work forever. Thank you for this great guide.

    • Daria
      January 23, 2011

      Thanks Penny!

  2. Made By Gen
    January 24, 2011

    Great post dear..happy Monday Mingle.

    • Daria
      January 24, 2011

      Thanks Gen!

  3. Jen Gresham
    January 24, 2011

    Haha…I violate so many of these. I don’t wear earrins, don’t wear make-up, and don’t wear heels. I don’t deny that any of those (and the rest on your list) can make you look better, but I choose to focus on this sentence: •You want the attention on what you are saying, not on what you are wearing.

    That’s been my motto for over 16 years and it still works. You just have to have something worthwhile to say. :)

    And thanks for pointing out these tips are good ideas to enhance an image, but not enough to create one outright.

    • Daria
      January 24, 2011

      Hi Jen,

      It is important to recognize that although the comments were about actual wardrobe questions (and I agreed to provide tips), executive image is made or broken on your actions more than your wardrobe. This is key throughout all the other posts, so I did think rounding out with an appearance discussion was important – but the message is in the Series, not any one post.

      Thank you again for contributing!

  4. Margie Clayman @margieclayman
    January 24, 2011

    Wow, I can’t believe this awesome series is almost coming to a close =/ Ive really enjoyed this group effort, and you did a great job with it!

    There is so much good information here, yet you are right on when you say, as the ladies in this series have so admirably explained, that dressing the part is just the first step. As complex as it is, one must also note it’s the easiest.

    Thanks for this series and this post, my friend!

    • Daria
      January 24, 2011

      Margie, I too am feeling bittersweet about the end of this project. It has made Monday mornings worth getting up for! I really appreciate your insight that wardrobe really is the easiest of all the components of executive image. It is the only aspect that truly comes down to a pretty clear equation…the rest are all attitude and actions, which involve taking a much closer look at our weaknesses & strengths as a person. As our resident therapist, I imagine Linda will have some grea5 advice about that next week!

  5. Dawn Lennon
    January 24, 2011

    You’re so right…that “image” word is a slippery slope. That said, I got a huge charge out of your scenarios, especially “•Attorney arguing before the Supreme Court vs. Attorney taking the deposition of a cattle rancher” because one of my secret careers was to be a cattle rancher…or at least a cowgirl. I know how to dress for that!

    But your point is correct, in my view. We dress for our audiences, since they’re the ones who decide whether or not we fit their executive image. We dress to make them comfortable with us because our dress is an initial statement about how we regard them. We dress for others when we’re not dressing for ourselves.

    Like Jen, I’m not one for much makeup but make a big effort to present myself in ways that validate what comes out of my mouth. So far so good!

    Thanks for a terrific post with lots of great suggestions

    • Daria
      January 24, 2011

      I thought this, but realized it never made it into the post. Being an effective leader is much like the rules of engagement for being a good host. And yes, I am blending the Image with leadership again. :) in both roles we need to make others comfortable, which means dressing with our audience in mind. Too casual shows a lack of respect for who you are meeting with, too formal can put an artificial barrier between you that stifles conversation and relationship building.

      • Katie
        January 25, 2011

        I agree! Dressing for the audience is a big part of executive image. As a therapist, I have to make sure my appearance makes me seem open and accepting, but at the same time experienced and professional… If I’m working with teenagers – I’ll wear nice jeans.

        Dress one step better than your audience – is such an important piece (I’d love to be able to wear sweats and flip-flops like me clients…)

      • Daria
        January 25, 2011

        Elizabeth highlighted the fact that dressing too much better than your audience can put a barrier between you and your audience. I agree completely! I concur that sweats and flip flops – or even just flip flops would be my ideal wardrobe… hmmm, how do I find that job? :)

  6. Cherry Woodburn
    January 24, 2011

    I agree that it’s best if a person dresses for her situation/job/culture particularly because a snap-judgment on someone else’s part could mean that s/he doesn’t give you the time of day to then see your abilities. That being said, are rules of dress as strict as they use to be? Wearing earrings matters? Or not having matching shoes and belt matters? Frankly, I don’t think I’d be paying that much attention to those issues when I’d work with someone or even interview them.

    Cherry

    • Daria
      January 24, 2011

      Thank you Cherry for chiming in! I love that you bring different views up. In this case I do think that each of these do matter. I agree that you can get away with not following these guidelines and I certainly don’t every day! But if you are preparing for a presentation that could make or break your company, or some other situation where you don’t want to take a chance or push the stereotypes, then this is where I recommend you go.

      Ultimately what you say and do IS what matters, but for icing these are pretty solid guidelines. In my opinion :)

  7. Tough Cookie Mommy
    January 24, 2011

    This was a very interesting post for me to read because teachers are not expected to adhere to any specific dress code. Over the years I have seen teachers dressed in everything from jeans and sneakers to three piece suits. I personally feel that your attire should match your professional position. Although, I don’t follow your advice to the “T” I tend to make sure that I am always neat and professional. I’m pretty sure that I have some areas that could use some work but I know that I am on point with regards to knowing how to do my job well.

    • Daria
      January 24, 2011

      I can tell from your blog that you are a great teacher! I have no doubt that you inspire confidence from your principal and parents. I think teachers are in a unique situation. On the one hand your audience is the kids, so what you’d choose that is one step up from them is pretty casual. On the other hand you have parents that range across demographics so how do you pick a style that makes everyone comfortable, while inspiring confidence and professionalism? I guess I picture slacks and a blouse or sweater as a good typical? But, there are a whole lot of variables!

  8. Sarah
    January 24, 2011

    Great article. As a Realtor and co-owner of an investment company in a niche that’s mostly males, I really appreciate these professional tips.

    Following you from http://365daysofgoodsd.blogspot.com/ for Monday Mingle, hope you’ll follow back.

    • Daria
      January 24, 2011

      Thank you Sarah, and welcome! I am an engineer and have often found myself the only female in a room of men. I also manage construction projects as part of my job and have found myself going from a construction site to meeting with a board of directors and even state senators occasionally, all in the same day! Only way around that is to change clothes :) But, in general I find it easier to dress when it is only men. For one, there aren’t other women to be compared to; however on the flip side I often feel I have to prove myself twice as much as a man my age to overcome a lingering gender bias at times. That feeling may be part of why this is a topic I am interested in!

      • fabulousJES
        January 31, 2011

        I concur. I believe that it is easier to dress when it is only men. I always attribute that to there are a much smaller group of choices for men to look professional and they tend to stick to it.

        Women give themselves too many choices and just end up confusing ourselves.

  9. Penny R
    January 24, 2011

    I may stir up the fur here, but I think MIM’s comments are spot ON. I don’t think we should wear a suit for everything, but I DO think we should dress appropriately to our positon. As teachers and business leaders, we should never wear jeans and sweatshirts to work unless we’re doing a communty service project. We’re supposed to be role models. I don’t care if you’re comfortable, you look like you’re in college at a fraternity party. And as for earrings, keep a pair of gold and silver in your desk drawer. You’ll always be prepared. XXOO Penny

    • Daria
      January 24, 2011

      Thanks Penny! I don’t by any means intend to imply I never wear jeans to work or go with bare ears. While there are plenty of variations to this topic, I am trying to provide a “formula” if you are trying to portray a more professional image or are looking for a promotion and don’t quite know how to dress for that extra edge.

      However, I hadn’t considered the idea of setting an example as it relates to our kids. I had only thought of it for junior staff. Great point! I found myself thinking of how my mom dresses quite a bit when developing these guidelines. She has always been one of the best professionally dressed women that I’ve met. That example made an impact on me. I don’t choose to follow it necessarily, but I have the components in my back pocket when it really matters.

  10. Irene Savarese
    January 24, 2011

    Daria,
    I am glad to say that I follow most of you advice. I think about who my clients are and dress accordingly. If I see a 9 year old child, and I know we are sitting on the floor in my office playing a game and talking. Or if I see a couples for the first time, I am aware of how they see me, but also prepared to give them everything they need on at a first appointment.

    • Daria
      January 24, 2011

      Thank you for commenting Irene! Again your job like Maria’s has such a diverse audience. I suppose if concerned about image, I would recommend Dockers as a casual slack for sitting on floors, yet more professional than jeans. What do you normally wear? Just curious if I am on track or off base…

      • Irene Savarese
        January 25, 2011

        Daria,
        I personally think I look great in jeans and a very nice jacket, earrings, blue high-heels – not to high. If I see a new client or a client that dress up themselves right after, I will choose slacks. My floor has carpet, so that is okay.
        Another point that I want to make is that I don’t want to dress too nice to distract the client/couple/family! Neutral, professional, comfortable are the keywords.

      • Daria
        January 25, 2011

        Sounds like you have it figured out!

  11. Elizabeth Doherty Thomas
    January 24, 2011

    I think dress is such an important conversation and with the casualness of our society, we can get stuck right before a job interview, or preparing for a meeting and not have what we need in our closet!

    In talking to a friend once about why Tony Robbin’s show was a total bust, she thinks that beyond it basically being a big infomerical for his empire, he was too formal in a suit. She argues that all the other big guns have altered their dress over time to fit community standards, rather than “being higher than thou.” She used Deepok Chopra as one example of someone who doesn’t wear suits and knows he can alienate and distance from his audience if he’s too polished.

    With no more corporate life, babies, massive body changes, and an upcoming career as a mental health therapist, I’m in desperate need to “find my true fashion.” Where my personality fits fashion is what I need help with!

    • Daria
      January 24, 2011

      Great point Elizabeth! A lot of attention is given to dressing too casually, but too formally is almost more off putting. I wrote nearly the exact words you did in tomorrow’s post. I’ll add to it to take a stab at your question too. Tune in tomorrow :)

  12. Linda
    January 24, 2011

    Hi Daria–

    Great tips–I need to take note!

    Thank you for being brave enough to mention the weight issue. While some are just born with a stockier build, it is important to convey physical, mental, and biz fitness.

    That said, I’ve seen some very large women pull it off by dressing appropriately, professionally, and by accentuating their assets.
    Of course, being from Los Angeles, it’s all about the image!

    • Daria
      January 24, 2011

      Absolutely Linda. As a woman needing to lose upwards of 65 pounds, weight is a sensitive issue for sure. While plenty of people do overcome it, I would prefer not to put another challenge in my path along with being female, relatively young (let me keep my fantasy please), and a mom. Did you read my post titled “Does this salary make my butt look big?”

      It refers to a few studies correlating an average of $13,000/year lower wage if you are 25pounds or more above average. That is real money.

  13. Athena Staik, Ph.D.
    January 30, 2011

    Spot on, Linda. As much as we’d like to be accepted “just as we are” – that first impression, the image is so important, you are so right. It is a non verbal communication that speaks loudly and says a lot about you, thus, you cannot give to much attention. Powerful post, enjoyed it, thanks!

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