3 Fashion-Based Career Killers
By Paula Santonocito
Fashion as a roadblock to career success? You’d better believe it. Although image isn’t everything, it matters more than you might realize.
In fact, Maggie Jessup, personal branding expert and coauthor of the book “Fame 101,” cites fashion as the number one roadblock to success. Talented businesswomen create their own glass ceiling, she says.
So, what are the worst mistakes women make when it comes to fashion? According to Jessup, it comes down to the “terrible toos.”
Here, in Jessup’s own words, is her list.
Career Killer No. 1 - Too much style. Some women in business believe that because they spend insane amounts to wear the latest styles from New York their career look just couldn’t be better. They’re wearing the Rolls Royce of outfits and if anyone doubts how great they look they must be mistaken because these are “this year’s colors” or “how they’re wearing slacks in New York” and after all, “they’re Jimmy Choo’s”. Unfortunately, many of these styles only look good if you’re an underweight 6 foot 19-year-old and very few women in business fall into this category. The style rule you must follow to look great and have presence is to make wardrobe decisions based on what looks good on you, with what’s in style only a secondary consideration.
Career Killer No. 2 – Too young. This wardrobe trap can snare even the smartest of women in business and it is deadly for a career. A simple example will make the point. If you are a 45-year-old office manager, don’t shop at Forever 21. For some reason a surprising number of women believe they can take off 10 years by dressing 20 years younger, when actually the opposite is true. It may be fun but you will never achieve the look you’ll need to be a leader in your field. The people who could put your career on the fast track won’t take you seriously. This is about appropriateness; dress just right for your age.
Career Killer No. 3 – Too bad hair. We live in a hair-obsessed society; yours must be great or at least really good. Have you ever had someone look at your new cut or style and say, “Ouch, that’s too bad?” Likely not, because even your best friend will lie to you about this career-builder or career-killer for women in business. So what can you do to get that great look? Follow a few simple rules: Never do a home perm; under no circumstances have your best friend dye your hair; if you have the same cut you had in high school it is wrong; and work nights at the Dairy Queen if you must so that you can afford a quality style, cut, and color. Note here to watch out for the too much style trap because something that would rock in New York can make you look foolish in Phoenix.
Do you recognize anyone you know on the list? Worse, do you recognize yourself?
If so, all is not lost. It’s simply time to follow Jessup’s tips and become more fashion savvy.
“You can make a powerful lasting impression in a business setting with fashion,” Jessup says. “These fashion errors are the most overlooked elements of building great careers for women and they are also the quickest, easiest, and least expensive to fix.”
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