Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Style > Fashion

‘Dress For Success’ Is All About Confidence: Passed Down Advice

Updated Published
The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Plattsburgh chapter.

The lipstick marks the teacup you drink from.

Grandma Misiaszek

Once upon my time, I was given a piece of advice that slowly changed over the years yet kept the same theme. Dress for success, so that even if you fail, if you look like you won, you did. 

My mama, Kathleen Misiaszek, worked in a travel agency and was required to wear professional dress. In the world of professional business attire, it is important to be classy but also confident.

The life advice I take with me, said by my mama, is “If you feel good about your look, it will show.” In a world where there is always a wrong thing to do and an imperfection in something, be the positive in all the negatives that are pushed into your life. 

This brings me to lipstick, my favorite confidence booster. In basic form, lipstick is just make-up, but it is an attention grabber. It’s a great way to keep attention on what you are saying. It can also be a perfect accessory to power statements. In the business world, primary colors are power statements that draw attention to the person, and lipstick would top off the look perfectly. I found this to be my specialty, going the complete opposite direction of my mama. I wear dark red lipstick or bright red lipstick, depending on my mood. Red to me is a danger warning and a potency that brings a room to attention. Not that I plan to be the center of attention, but when I talk, I want others to stop and listen — red lipstick makes me feel that way. 

My mama said, “I prefer a ‘less is more’ look that is paired with matching lipstick that complements my outfit, but those who want a fierce complexion I’d advise a intense opposite color to skin tone.” 

Hence my bright red lips that are always going to be sported no matter how awful my mood is.  

Throughout your life, there are going to be occasions when the way you dress will be under a certain code that still gives freedom of expression. If the outfit chosen doesn’t fit your image of comfortable and stylish confidence, then it’s not a right fit. 

Kathleen said that she wore powerful statements: “I wore bold and bright colors with lots of simple designs. It gives off the professional look, but it also has room to be expressive.”

She has a favorite outfit that I had only seen in pictures — a silk blouse with off-white and lilac strips, paired with bright mustard-like yellow slacks and red-brownish leather shoes. Both I and my mama love to wear matching pantsuits that are crisply cut and body-fitting. My mama wore ties and an accessory to complete the look, but also to bring that bold, powerful “I get things done” motif. I myself don’t take to the bright colors, unless they are red lipstick, more so the maroons and dark blues. 

The other half of the battle, in my mama’s opinion, is to be hygienic. That’s a lot harder done than said, mostly because it is a lot of work and money to craft a look that is reproducible every day, but fear not, the simple answers are via mama. If access to money is on the more difficult side, here are some quick simple things you can do to up your game for executive dress. This is the advice she always gave me while I was preparing for an occasion that requires professional looking garments.

Shower often enough that your hair looks clean
Keep your hair trimmed and fresh-looking
Nails shouldn’t have dirt stuck under, or be jagged
Wash your hands and put lotion on

This last one is so important and has been told to me over and over. This isn’t just a feminine thing, it’s an everyone thing. Your hands are front and center of everything you do, and everyone you meet sees your hands first. Taking care of your hands shows that you can take care of external issues as well as internal. I myself don’t wash dishes often in order to keep my hands looking young. Call me vain, but I am not trying to have 50-year-old hands at 30. 

Cleanliness is all about caring for yourself, which means you can care for other things. If you go the extra mile for yourself, you can mentally handle the random situations that get thrown at you as well as take on more because you have confidence. A haircut can make someone look like they can keep track of dates and time to be punctual to an appointment with a hairdresser. Seems simple, but if you show up there, you can show up to work on time. 

In terms of professional wear and self care in an outer-facing business setting, makeup can be an enhancer of facial features. I don’t know much about makeup, but what I do know is I can be confident in how it looks. Find something that fits your skill, but also fits the image of a professional you are trying to create. 

My mama always said, “The way you dress in a professional setting should be a reflection of your personality but in a quick, concise depiction where you are self-assured, poised, and most significantly, creative.” 

It’s hard to be fearless, but in a comfortable pair of shoes, it’s easier to outrun a bear. It’s also easier to get a room to listen with a blow horn, but these are not everydays in the office. The blazer and slacks are everyday work-life that you can control, so remember, when you pick out your interview shirt, choose something that is you — not everyone else — and the attitude you want to give off.

Her Campus Placeholder Avatar
Skyler Misiaszek

Plattsburgh '25

I am a lover of roller skating and dogs! My favorite breed is mastiff. On my free time I paint and sew, although I wouldn't let me fix your pants for you. I am still learning, but that's okay. Best Wishes & Safe Travels!