How do you dress for work? Have you found your industry or work place has become more relaxed in recent years? While the relaxation of dress codes has given women the opportunity to show more of their personality in what they wear at work, it is also a minefield - and an extra job.
Women are being encouraged into leadership positions – in industry, business and politics. Companies are keen to encourage their bright, talented female employees to succeed, but it’s not easy. These women still have to fight for opportunities, and are judged constantly. And one thing they are judged on (a lot) but that is rarely mentioned is what they wear.
What to wear has become another thing to add to the ever-growing list of pressures on working women, a pressure that only increases the higher they climb.
I doubt this will come as a surprise to you, but as a woman, your appearance is judged more harshly than any man’s. This fact has been proved by numerous studies.
So not only are you fighting against the usual gender stereotypes and barriers, you also have to think more about what you wear than a male colleague has to. He can pretty much wear the same ‘uniform’ every day and never have to worry about it. Men have limited options, so it’s unlikely he will fall into the trap where what he wears could be distracting, deemed overly sexy or inappropriate. But with every garment choice, you face that risk, and of course, you will be judged for your mistakes.
This may be an uncomfortable truth, but it is naive to think that intelligence, skill, talent and hard work are all that matter, though I wish this was true. In reality, even if you are talented, hardworking, and capable, you can be overlooked if your image does not give the right impression. You may be great at your job, and possess fantastic leadership skills, but if your image fails to make a strong, confident impression, others may doubt your capabilities and promotion, or even your dream role could elude you.
This may be a bitter pill to swallow, but ignoring it, or perhaps even stubbornly refusing to link your appearance to your success, will not empower you to solve your problem. What you wear shouldn’t matter, but it does. Wishing things were different won’t change anything, or get you promoted!
If you have a nagging feeling that what you are wearing at work may be the thing that is holding you back, please try to think of this positively. It is actually fantastic news, as working on your wardrobe, is a relatively quick and easy process, and the area we are experts in and here to help.
If you’d like to know more about how we can help, you can find out more here.
Lizzie Edwards is one of London’s leading Personal Stylists and Image Consultants for Women, and author of 'Look Like The Leader You Are; A 7-Step Style Strategy for Ambitious Women'