Dress for Success

Like it or not, our appearance can make or break our chances in business. We too often look the part of our current job, rather than the position we seek. Believing that "when they promote me to vice-president, I'll wear $300 suits" can guarantee you will stay where you are.

You may think you go to work looking great, but it may not be the look you need. Think of the following adjectives: strong, competent, intelligent, and successful. Picture a few men and women who fit this description. Now add this one: sexy. Most of us, men and women alike, can see a successful businessman as sexy, but we have trouble thinking of a woman as both sexy and successful in business. Your husband or other specific men can probably see you as competent, successful, and sexy, but don't expect everyone around you to have this image. When women look or act sexy, we dilute our image as competent professionals. Unfortunately, many women who strive to look attractive are seen as trying to look sexy. Remember that your image in the eyes of others is more important than wearing what you like.

There is so much to say about the importance of appearance in the business world that I have devoted Chapter 4 to the topic. We may not like it, but our appearance affects our success. It is the easiest, fastest change you can make to be seen as a career woman. It is the first thing we should change on our journey toward a higher paycheck.

Much of this chapter deals with issues that have been a part of your entire upbringing. Business people are often told to trust their "gut reaction," but I suggest that women sometimes cannot trust their gut reaction in the business world. Our gut reaction is a product of our body of training, based on the rules of female order. You might be wondering how I can expect you to change your thinking and behavior patterns overnight, in an effort to play some game that you didn't even make up. Of course, we cannot change overnight, but we can and do learn to change. We all change through the years as a result of what we experience, read, hear, and say. Sometimes this is gradual, unconscious change. Other times it is more deliberate and conscious. Awareness is the first step. Once we can recognize that our behavior may not be appropriate for the occasion, we can begin to change it.


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