One woman’s thoughts on the correlation between what you wear vs. what you say.
“One of the things I see with younger people in particular is that they can overcompensate for not feeling confident. They overdress or they take risks that they don’t need to. You don’t need to rely on that. There are color codes in business. The colors you choose, the shoes you wear, the cuts that expose shoulders – these do send a signal. You can make choices like that but just be aware of what you are signaling and why. If on some level you think you don’t have enough to contribute so therefore you have to get noticed in another way…that is very different than being confident and expressing yourself.
What would be more helpful is to think about where this lack of confidence coming from. Is it that you don’t feel prepared? You don’t feel you are the right person to be in a meeting? Is it that you don’t feel you fully understand the issues? Then you should ask for help.
I think women are at risk for not having people to ask for help. When you get employed the firm should identify someone that you can go to for guidance if you feel you are not coping with something — someone you can talk to without consequences.
Hopefully you have that or can talk to someone about getting that direct line of support. Then, the best way to contribute is to be well prepared, organized and realize that you are the right person…you can make contributions and when the opportunity arises you will make it. Don’t get ahead of yourself.” – working woman, mother, mentor
I loved this advice from an older woman who works with young people both male and female. I’ve had a lot of women debate on the matter of dress. On one hand that you should be able to dress however you wish. On the other that you should dress for success…look at the nuances of your workplace and fit into that culture. I certainly believe in dressing to be the person you want to be. I think what this women is saying and most women agree on is that it comes down to is what motivates you. Perhaps the real dressing for success is to dress to express. When you can confidently articulate yourself with conviction, it probably doesn’t matter what you wear.