(10) Tips for Dressing for Success: Develop Your Own Style

Did you lose that job you interviewed for because of the way you were dressed? It's possible that you did. With competition being fierce you need to pay attention to what you are wearing to your interview at Abbott, IBM, Ford or the networking group at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. 

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Dress for Success

We all have our power suits in our closet, but is your go-to suit looking dated and tired?  It's time to go out and purchase a few new outfits to update your image.  You can't afford not to spend money on your own brand.  It's time to pay attention to your presentation and develop your own style.

As a commercial real estate broker employed by a large national firm based in Los Angeles, I worked in the Chicago office with 29 other brokers, mostly between the ages of 25-30 yrs. old, and all beginning a second career. We were all eager for success after having worked in other fields that just didn't work out.

The employees were impeccably dressed in crisp, highly starched white shirts, well pressed navy pinstriped suits, red, yellow or blue ties and shiny black polished shoes.  Their nails were well manicured, their skin clear of oil and their hair styled to perfection. 

As the only women broker in the office, I was upstaged by all the male brokers in my presence.  If I was a client I'd want to spend time with these men.  Studying my fellow brokers, I learned the art of branding from them. We didn't have any products props, just ourselves.  We were the product when we made a sales call by selling our image to our potential clients.  How we looked, the image we made for ourselves, was all we had to sell. 

Dress codes change with every business.  The last big trend was casual dressing, especially in the technology field. Prior to the bubble bursting in technology, it was acceptable to dress down in jeans and a tee-shirt. Most of the casual dressers looked like they were on their way to a baseball game instead of conducting business. The retail market embraced this dress code where casual Friday became casual Monday and everyone looked alike!

No longer can you just pull out your old navy suit that needs tailoring.  It's time to go shopping for new clothes, find a great tailor, get a haircut, new glasses, a manicure, and a power pen.  You need to invest in your image to make people take notice of you.  Follow these tips.

(10) Tips for Developing your own style

  • Go through your closet and try on everything you own.  Make five piles: Items to be tailored, donated/consigned, thrown away, work clothes and casual clothes.  This should leave you with plenty of closet room.  Better to have less than clothes that aren't up to pare.


  • Get to a hair salon and get a haircut.  Look through magazines for hairstyles that may work for you and take it to the salon.


  • Get a manicure and a pedicure if you want to just be pampered.


  • Buy a new cologne or perfume that is wearable and not over powering.  Remember, you want people just to catch a slight sense of it not be overwhelmed.


  • Get professional looking calling cards made or do them yourself on high grade paper.


  • Take a good look at your body type and decide what looks best on you.  Go to a clothing store and try on all kinds of outfits until you determine what your best look is.  Bring a friend, take photos, and have fun.  You need to feel comfortable in what you are wearing to be your best.


  • Go through all of your shoes and make sure they are polished with good heels.  If they can't be fixed, throw them away or donate.  Buy as nice of a pair of black/brown shoes you can afford.


  • Get yourself a nice overcoat.  In Chicago this is what we wear to death, so invest in it.


  • Pay attention to your glasses, both prescription and sunglasses.  Are they dated looking or ill-fitting?  Glasses can add great character to your look if they fit your face, if not, they can look dated.


  • Get yourself a good watch that fits your wrist and is classic.  Try a vintage watch from E-bay if you can't afford a quality brand.

Whatever your business dictates, casual or more formal, you need to create a look for yourself that people remember.  Successful business people are always remembered. People notice not only your outfit, but also your glasses, your pen, briefcase and your calling card.  You need to decide what you want to convey and strategically create your own style.







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