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Dressing for Credibility

By Joanne Blake, Style for Success Inc.


Business attire is not fashion for fashion’s sake and thank goodness it doesn’t change every season, but it does follow certain trends and rules.


Business attire as part of our personal image is an incredible business tool that is often taken for granted.  As competition in our careers, products and services becomes tougher and more sophisticated, one needs to consider image as an important tool to communicate success.  Rule number one is that business clothing must be business driven.  It must promote our credibility and meet client expectations.  For the past decade this rule has been ignored. 


Pendulum is swinging back

Standards in business dress have declined as a result of the business casual trend.  Worker comfort and convenience was embraced at the expense of professionalism.  Now the pendulum is swinging back to more “formal” attire.


This new formal business attire doesn’t mean black tie and evening gown.  It means a return to the tailored look, the suit and more importantly the jacket.  The structure of these garments enhances our credibility and now, thanks to high-tech fabrics and blends we don’t have to sacrifice comfort.


The jacket adds right touch

While the high-contrast suited look (white shirt with dark suit) may be appropriate to some industries (financial/law/insurance professions), many clients respond to a more approachable look. The jacket adds just the right touch in that it is formal enough for most business functions yet it can be teamed with other wardrobe pieces to give us many different looks.  The jacket is an extremely versatile piece of clothing. 


The formality of a jacket can easily be softened to convey our own personal style.  Men can achieve this by teaming the jacket with a coloured shirt (with or without tie) or a solid coloured polo shirt or a fine gauge sweater.  Women can add almost any top to the jacket as long as not too much skin is revealed (the more skin the less credibility).  We can put the jacket on to dress up our look or take it off to be more informal.


Jacket tips:

1.      Ensure jacket is altered to fit impeccably

2.      Select small patterns or prints, as they are more business-like.

3.      Keep your look consistent throughout the week.

4.      Analyze and meet your clients’ expectations of your image.

5.      When in doubt err on the more formal/conservative.


The jacket should be the mainstay and anchor for our business wardrobe.  It keeps our business look business-like and still gives us flexibility when meeting clients or prospective employers.  When you’re well dressed you feel confident and your clients notice and feel confident in you.



Joanne Blake is a speaker and trainer specializing in protocol, conversation, networking and personal image.  She appears in the national media offering critiques and advice.  joanneblake@styleforsuccess.com

Copyright ©2004, Style for Success Inc.  Reprinted with permission from Terry Pithers and Joanne Blake.  Please visit www.styleforsuccess.com


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Articles may be copied or used for non-profit purposes, without the consent of the authors, subject to the following being included:

"Copyright ©2004, Style for Success Inc.  Reprinted with permission from Terry Pithers and Joanne Blake.  Please visit www.styleforsuccess.com"


Joanne and Terry would appreciate receiving an e-mail informing them of your use of any articles.  Please provide the URL and/or a courtesy copy of any publication in which the article appears.


All contents Copyright ©2004, Style for Success Inc. - Terry Pithers and Joanne Blake except where otherwise indicated.  All rights reserved worldwide.  Duplication or reprints only with express permission or approved credits as indicated in the above paragraph.

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