Saturday, December 27, 2008

What The Devil Wore Prada Can Teach You About Dressing For Success

Writen by Susan Sommers

More than entertaining, The Devil Wore Prada could be considered life changing because of its powerful style lesson: To get ahead, dress appropriately—and well—for your job and lifestyle.

People often overlook the potential power of their own personal image. The right attire, geared for your job and lifestyle, can actually help you rise to the top. Studies indicate good-looking people get paid more and climb higher than plainer folks and style and grooming—and the confidence and improved communications skills that looking great gives you—are essential components of beauty. In fact, the right image can validate and empower you, just as it did heroine, Andy Sachs, at Runway, the fictional magazine in the film.

However, dressing like a fashionista isn't for everyone, only those in the worlds of fashion magazines, advertising and design agencies or other creative enterprises, although a divorce attorney might want to choose designer clothing to indicate success. You have to first figure out the impression you want to make and then determine if it's suitable for your industry, company, location and/or lifestyle. Here are a few guidelines:

Pay attention to your company dress code, which will probably spell out not only what business professional and business casual means, but also what you can and cannot wear, where.
Follow your boss's lead if the dress code is limited or non-existent.
Dress more formally when meeting a client for the first time. For some, this might mean a business suit (and tie, for men), for others, an unmatched outfit (a jacket over shirt or sweater set with skirt or pants for women; a sport jacket, dress shirt and trousers, with or without a tie, for men).
Be guided by your clients' attire in subsequent meetings. If they are dressed casually, you might want to forego a suit for a more relaxed outfit. However, make sure whatever you have on is a notch or two higher in quality than your client.
Consider what you'll be doing during the day. If you're an industrial engineer who's crawling around wires, jeans and a polo shirt might be most suitable, even if you're doing so for a bank. A litigator has to be very judicious about clothing choices for court—anything too trendy might be badly received by a jury.
Stay away from provocative clothing. Whether working in the front or back office, baring a little too much can undermine a woman's power.
Avoid sloppy, soiled or frayed clothing and scuffed, down-at-the-heels shoes. Whatever you put on should be cared for, clean, neat and pressed—no matter what your title.

Of course, clothes don't make the man, but they do help to tell the world who he is. And now, when snap judgments are the rule, you don't have a second chance to send the right instant message.

© 2006, Dresszing™. All Rights Reserved.

Fashion and business etiquette coach, Susan Sommers is the founder of Dresszing™, a wardrobing and visual communications company. To receive Style Flash, her free newsletter, sign up at

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