The Image of Success

Fashion is much more than the clothes you wear; it’s also how you wear them that completes the look. Think back to the first time you met someone. Before they even spoke, you noticed the components of their appearance: their dress, their facial expressions and their mannerisms. Based on how you view others, think about how you would like to be perceived. By knowing how to fashionably present yourself in a professional manner, you are able to be taken seriously and feel personally motivated.

While interning at the Little Rock office of the Clinton Foundation this summer, I noticed various reactions to the way people dressed. In response to my observations, I’ve compiled the following tips to help you dress appropriately in a professional environment.

Find a balance between comfy and cute.

You want to look good, but you also want to be comfortable. Check the weather before you leave in the morning. You might be dressed adorably, but if you’re stuck without a jacket in a blizzard, it is likely you will not be happy.

Keep it simple.

Funky patterns and bright colors can be fun, but be careful not to let them clash. Stay away from fabrics that are neon, glittery, or flashy. If you do wear a bold-colored outfit, be sure to pair it with subtle jewelry (if any) that is noticeable without being distracting. Don’t overdo it.

Fitted vs. too tight.

Make sure that panty lines are not visible, and that your outfit does not pinch your skin. Fitted dresses can still look appropriate, but wear the necessary undergarments. If you are wearing a white or light colored top, remember to wear a nude bra.

Don’t show too much skin.

You want your colleagues recognizing you as a businesswoman, not a sex symbol. Keep the length of your dress to right above your knees, or at least past fingertip length, and be careful not to show too much cleavage.

Accessorize to enhance your outfit.

Accessorizing allows you to modify the entire feel of an outfit- dressing it up or down. Use accessories to bring your outfit together; this may be lightening up a black dress with a statement necklace or finishing off a skirt and top with a belt. It is also a great way to add your own personal flair.

Splurge on nice shoes.

It is good to have at least one pair of comfortable black heels. You can wear them all the time and match them with everything. You will be walking around a lot, and should have a pair of shoes that you can be in all day without getting blisters. Be aware of wear-and-tear on your shoes as this can often be seen as unprofessional.

Wear natural make-up.

You want your makeup to enhance your natural features instead of pulling away the focus. Stick to nude colors in eye shadow and lipstick. Use foundation that evens out your skin but is not too heavy. Concealer is also a good tool to hide dark circles. Don’t use glitter or too many bright colors.

Be aware of chipped nails.

Painted nails look nice, however partially chipped ones do not. If you notice the polish peeling off, it is probably better to take it off completely. On the other hand, if you do choose to get a manicure, stick to colors in the pink and beige family or French tips. Those are always a classic.

Keep your hair pulled back.

Pulling your hair out of your face allows you to hold eye contact with whomever you are speaking with. Keep it tame, falling softly off your shoulders, or partially pulled up. If it gets frizzy, remember to apply product in your hair, and keep some bobby pins and hair ties at your desk.

By following these guidelines, you can dress in a manner that highlights your personality and exudes confidence. When you dress professionally, your colleagues will remember you for your intelligent conversation and charming wit instead of just your pink peep-toe pumps.

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