Do you ever stand in front of your closet wondering what on earth you should WEAR TO WORK?

This challenge is so common that it’s a cliché. But I would conjecture that this challenge has grown over the past several years, as it’s become more acceptable to dress down at work, even before the pandemic made sweatpants (or worse) the norm.

Suits and ties are less common, and many people are trading dress shoes for sneakers.

Talk About Talk #122 - What to Wear to Work - image shows a brown dress show on the left and a white sneaker on the right
Wavebreakmedia via Canva
Whether you prefer to dress formally or casually, it’s important to consider what your clothing is COMMUNICATING to others.

Your Appearance Matters!

First things first – I’m not a stylist. I’m not here to tell you what shirt to wear or where you should shop for your clothes.

I am going to share what the research says about what you’re communicating through your attire.

The research is clear: non-verbal signals like clothing, accessories, and hairstyles affect how we are perceived by others.Some research even indicates that physical appearance is the #1 most influential factor in employee selection. Wow!

Talk About Talk #122 - What to Wear to Work - quote by Miuccia Prada, fashion designer & businesswoman, on a turquoise background: "What you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today, when human contacts are so quick. Fashion is instant language."


So, what should you wear?

Here’s an effective (and FUN!) way to help you decide what to wear, This visualization exercise was suggested by my “Fabulous Fashionista Friend,” Anne V. Muhlethaler. 

Talk About Talk #122 - What to Wear to Work - image shows Anne Muhlethler and Andrea Wojnicki (image originally used in Talk About Talk #97)
Anne and Andrea

1️⃣ Close your eyes and imagine yourself in 5 years as your happiest and most successful self

  • What’s in the room? Picture the furniture and how the room is decorated.
  • What’s on the walls? Maybe your degree is hanging behind you, or maybe some art?

2️⃣ Zoom out and look at yourself

  • What are you wearing? Scan yourself from top to bottom, from hair to shoes.
  • Make note of the colour and fabric of your clothing. 
  • Don’t forget to picture accessories too! Are you wearing glasses? What about a watch?

Can you see your MOST happy and successful self?

 

Talk About Talk #122 - What to Wear to Work - quote by Andrea Wojnicki on a teal background: "What are you wearing when you imagine yourself in your office as your most successful self? It seems like a no-brainer that this is the outfit that we should be going out and buying for ourselves."

I’m not advocating needless shopping.  And I’m definitely not promoting fast-fashion. However, I encourage you to “dress for the job you want.”  Imagine yourself in five years as your happiest and most successful self. Start wearing that outfit today!

For me, I’m wearing a gorgeous, high-quality navy blue pantsuit, with chunky gold jewelry.

What about YOU?


What about formality?

Like I said, I’m not a fashion stylist. So I did a lot of reading to prepare for this episode.

Here’s what the research says: If you’re unsure whether to dress up or dress down, err on the side of FORMALITY.

People who dress more formally are perceived as being more:

  • trustworthy
  • intelligent(!)
  • powerful
  • rational
  • competent at leading

Here’s a suggestion. Prepare yourself for the unexpected by keeping a neutral (black or navy blue?) blazer hanging in your office for those times when you need to step it up a notch.

That’s it for this week. I hope you’ll listen to the latest Talk About Talk podcast episode to learn more about how we communicate through WHAT WE WEAR. This was a fun one for me!

Please forward this email to your friends and colleagues who might be interested in improving their communication skills. THANK YOU! 

If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback, please email me anytime.  I love hearing from you.

Talk soon,

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