Maybe You're Ready for that Next Promotion

3 ways to make your Wardrobe Work for You

3 ways to make your Wardrobe Work for You

When your job hunting, you get a lot of messages about how to dress for interviews. "Dress for the job you want," "Dress like the people who work there," "Don't wear anything distracting..." in other words, you actually don't get a lot of messages.

You just get one: suit up for the team you want to join.

Honestly, I find very few job hunters that resist that advice. You want to the organization to offer you the job. So, you wear their uniform. Smart move!

But what about six months into that new job? Are you still paying meticulous attention to the way you dress? You should. Dressing for that next job – every day on your current job – is every bit as important as dressing for actual job interviews. 

Maybe you doubt what I'm saying. Maybe you're thinking that none of this applies to you because the quality of your work will speak for itself, earning you that promotion… In reality, however, it probably won't. This is especially true in larger organizations where the people who make decisions about your next promotion may not work with you every day. These folks are more likely to be influenced by the messages you're sending with your wardrobe and grooming choices.

What you wear is a significant aspect of your personal and professional brand. And the more you care for and promote your brand, the easier you make it for your employer to promote you. No matter how long you've been with your employer, it's never too late to use these three tips to up your game and boost your brand.

1. Follow senior managers' lead without mirroring them.
You've probably been told to dress like your manager. That's fine advice as long as you follow their fashion subtly not literally. If you're known for your torn jeans and bomber jackets, suddenly showing up in suits that copycat your boss will call attention to you in all the wrong ways. Rather, observe the "wardrobe rules" that your boss (or others in the positions you want) tend to follow. These are things like hemlines, levels of formality, the boldness of color palettes, and degrees of fashion-forward this. This applies not only to the apparel but to the accessories, hairstyles and makeup as well. Once you have a general idea of the style adjustments you want to make, start making them. Slowly.

2. Stop undermining yourself.
Unless your employer is in the business of making an extreme fashion or artistic statements, you're not helping yourself if you're addressing to extremes. Too distracting, too stodgy, too long, too short, too tight, to plunging, too flashy – or too much cologne… Far worse than failing to promote you, these faux pas chip away at your credibility at work.  Yet, ironically, as damaging as these choices can be to your career there are the very things that your boss or coworkers are least likely to point out to you. So avoid crazy, well-worn or outdated neckties, haphazard shaves, jingly jewelry, dagger-like nails and anchor-lady make up.  And no matter how much you love, love, love that linen shirt that you paid a fortune for, you can't wear it to work with that coffee stain on it.  All items with discolorations, rips and other flaws must be retired immediately.

3. But never forget to be yourself.  
Nobody wants to be a Stepford employee. And great managers don't want to hire a bunch of Mini Me's, either.  Your own personal style should run right alongside your workplace dress code. And with careful planning, you can balance both. That's not hard to do, especially if you're willing to put your accessories in charge of expressing your individual player. If you're a color fiend trapped in a world of navy and gray, add your favorite colors – but in smaller doses – with pocket squares, ties or scarves. If you love your bling, let it shine with one great watch, bracelet or necklace.  You get the idea.  Use small-but-high-impact choices that allow you to express your true personality.  You'll be able to celebrate your uniqueness and showcase your attention to detail.