by Nikki Marie
In my 15 years of working in an office setting, I’ve seen my fair share of inappropriate office behaviors and attire – from too short, to too tight, to just not right, and it’s with great conviction that I make this point.
Unfortunately, stereotypes and stigmas still remain when it comes to a woman’s place in this world, so why perpetuate the pigeonholes? I understand you might be smart, a badass at what you do, and more capable than most, but if you let your clothes do the talking, all the professional prowess you’ve worked so hard for, can be undermined in just one glance. So, when you’re workin’ from 9-5, you want to look (and act) like a leading lady, not a defying diva. Here are some tips on how to dress for success.
1 | Don’t misunderstand modern.
We live in a modern world. I get it. Workwear doesn’t have to mean a pantsuit, but what we wear on the street, to dinner, or for a fun night on the town has no place in the work world. From distressed denim, to barely-there bandage skirts, to higher-than-the-sky heels, I’ve seen it all. Yes, you might think “sexy” is the way to get ahead, but save it for the weekend and keep it classy. Flaunting your assets will only be your professional pitfall.
2 | No haute hair.
Much like the above, I’m not saying you have to trade in your fab for drab, but keeping it professional is what its all about. That means making sure those Jem & The Holograms pink highlights you were eyeing, or that modern Mohawk you’ve been envious of, have to stay at the salon. Choose a classic, low maintenance style that works best for every day. Now, it doesn’t mean you can’t throw it up in a ponytail, or modernize your mane, but whatever you do, just make sure you keep your look sophisticated.
3 | Careful with the cosmetics.
Just like your hairstyle, your makeup should enhance your appearance. While you might think you need to go above and beyond, sometimes less is more. This means, those sultry, smokey eyes need to be kept for the bedroom, not the boardroom. Now, if you want to be adventurous, try a bold new lip color – just make sure when it’s time for making that meeting or bartering with your boss, your cool color is in its place (and not on your teeth or bleeding onto your chin).
4 | Healthy hygiene is essential.
Yes, getting up in the morning can be difficult, especially with so much else going on in our lives, but keeping clean is paramount when you work in an office setting with peers. I know I shouldn’t have to say this, but making sure you have good hygiene (hair, teeth, nails, skin, etc.), is critical to forecasting your future. Before leaving your house ask yourself: “Am I boardroom ready, inside and out?” Your answer should be “Yes,” both mentally and physically. Now, if you’re working from home today, well…you get a pass!
5 | Dress the part.
Regardless of whether or not you attend meetings, see clients, or sit in an office behind a computer screen all day, you always want to dress like you’re the CEO. Now, you might not be, but if you care enough about your appearance, that means you also care about your work (at least I hope you do), and your superiors will notice. If you dress sloppy, have wrinkled clothes, or come in looking like a hot mess, you probably treat your tasks the same. Care about your clothes (and your overall appearance) and I promise, your outer confidence will shine through in your work.
6 | Manners matter.
I get it, you want to make your mark on the world. You have thoughts, opinions, and definitely some dynamite ideas. There’s nothing wrong with being a boss babe, but it’s all how you deliver the message that matters. In order to get your point across (and be taken seriously), do so with finesse – communicate with conviction, not condemnation; be able to back up your stance; present with poise; and lastly, forget the fowl language.
Having worked in both the public and private sectors, Nicole prides her successful career on the pillars of integrity, tenacity, and innovation. In her free time, Nicole serves as a mentor for young women, as well as volunteers at the local animal shelter in Manhattan. She is also the founder of the lifestyle blog, Nikki Takes New York.
This post originally appeared on The Nth Degree.