Dressing for success includes a lot more than just choosing the right outfit. To complete your professional look, a woman in business must also consider accessories and personal grooming. How you present yourself to others can make or break a job interview, or even cost (or help foster) you a promotion at work.
Dressing for Success and Employer Dress Codes
Your appearance is your employer's appearance. That is, how you present yourself at work is a direct reflection of your employer. If the environment is conservative, regardless of your flair for style, you may need to adapt your look to fit into a conservative corporate environment.
You should always dress to impress clients, investors, and customers because a winning sales pitch is not enough to seal the deal. A woman's professional appearance needs to support her professional accomplishments and not show off the "wrong" assets. One of the simplest, yet best bits of advice regarding dressing for the workplace is probably the most obvious: know the dress code of your employer!
If your business attire is distracting others (you want them to look you in the eye, not at your chest bursting out of a too-tight shirt or daring neckline) because it is too sexy, drab, or colorful, your business contacts may focus on how you look, not on your business skills.
Perfumes, Scents, and Odors in the Workplace
Do not let the first impression you make about yourself be your personal scent preferences!
Avoid wearing perfume and heavily scented products in all business settings. You might like them, but they have no place in a business environment. Scents can trigger asthma, overpower a room, and are often more offensive than pleasing to others. You probably already know that many business places are smoke-free, but some are also now going scent-free. If you are not sure, ask your human resources representative if there are any unique requirements about the workplace dress code.
And speaking of smoke-free environments, never smell like smoke (if you smoke in a car, your clothing will always pick up the odor) when going for a job interview. A strong smell may distract the person interviewing you from focusing on your skills if all they can think about is how you smell.
Professional-Looking Fingernails and Hands
Women often use their hands while expressing themselves, so hands become a focal point. It is important to have hands and fingernails looking professional. You don't want them to look like you are heading out for a wild night on the town.
Nails should be clean and trimmed or sculpted. Avoid wearing unusual or shocking nail colors. Nail art and nail jewels are not acceptable for business meetings.
Hairstyling Tips for Businesswomen
Your hairstyle should be neat and conservative, and preferably off the face. With few exceptions, hair color should not be shocking or unusual (leave blue hair for Halloween). Hair sprays and gels that have a strong scent or odor should be avoided.
Business Makeup Advice
Keep it simple and appropriate for daytime. Wearing no makeup at all is almost as bad as wearing too much makeup.
Appropriate Jewelry for Businesswomen
Jewelry should not be noisy (no metal bangle bracelets), too large, or gaudy. Keep earrings small, simple, and above the earlobe.
It is better to wear no jewelry at all than to wear too much jewelry. A nice, conservative wristwatch is fine.
Demonstrating that you care about your appearance communicates to the person you are meeting with that they are important to you. Paying attention to the details of your appearance sends a message to others that you will also pay close attention to business details and the needs of your customers and clients.