As I ventured into the corporate world some nine or so years ago, I had little experience knowing what to wear and what to leave in my closet when getting dressed for work each day. Two summer internships at an accounting firm helped generate some ideas, but I have spent the last several years focusing a bit more on my professional attire to polish my appearance at the office. That’s not to say I don’t have a lazy or somewhat sloppy day here and there, especially if I know I have no important meetings or client visits. But understanding what works for me, for the office, and for my bank account has made getting dressed each morning a much more enjoyable process.
Curating the right building blocks for a great work-wear wardrobe proves to be important for so many reasons! To begin, we can’t ignore the old but true adage that we should “dress for the job we want, even if it’s not the job we have.” As a new associate at my firm not long after I graduated from college, I believe I dressed appropriately but not always sharp and polished. I continue to work toward making my daily attire sharp, put together, and meaningful, and hope you find my successes and failures documented along the way on my little blog helpful in traversing your own path to corporate style success.
Beyond “dressing the part,” looking polished and put together each day exudes success and professionalism, which can only help how we are perceived by our colleagues. (I’d be remiss to ignore the reality that we are in fact judged, to an extent, by our appearance and how we present ourselves.)
Feeling great about the clothes we wear and knowing that we are presenting ourselves in the best light possible breeds true confidence as well, something that becomes imperative to believing in one’s ability to achieve professional goals and success (however you might define success for yourself in your own career). I think Amy Cuddy reiterates and expands on this belief wholeheartedly in this well-known Ted talk she shared about “faking it ’til you make it.” She focuses in her talk on body language, but the clothes we layer on top of that body language contribute to the messages our non-verbal cues convey. If we act and dress the part of however we define success in our field, we are far more likely to one day truly become the definition of that success.
So as we strive to achieve our professional goals, consider traveling with me through a journey of building a classic and versatile yet affordable corporate closet over the next several weeks to find each of our personal definitions of Corporate Chic on the Cheap.