|Dress to Impress - Women|
Here's a style chart and reference guide so your body language, at least from a clothing perspective, really does project the right image for you.
CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES
WOMEN'S SUITS, TROUSERS, AND DRESSESWomen who wear ladylike feminine-cut suits, or skirts, and matching jackets with simple white, off-white or pale-coloured blouses are not only seen as strong and confident, but also as trustworthy, likable, and humble, but keep in mind that this might not work for all careers.
In more high-fashion professions, the suit should be more stylish, with more expressive accessories with your goal being a "ladylike" but professional look. Suits should be soft and feminine and strike a balance between understated and conservative, feminine and fashionable. Colours can range from navy, grey, and blue to cream and mahogany. The look should be rich but businesslike.
A masculine-cut suit reflects more power and authority, but will be interpreted as more aggressive and domineering and less creative. A feminine-cut suit will show more expressiveness, and a heightened level of approachability, professionalism and confidence. Slacks and a jacket, or a dress, and a jacket is even more approachable, but less professional. A pant-suit is less professional and will not enhance your image of approachability. A dress without a jacket is the least professional alternative.
WOMEN'S SHIRTS AND BLOUSESSilk blouses in white, off-white, light blue, beige, or other pale colours are more professional. Blouses with lapels project more authority and competence, while those without are more feminine and project a friendlier image. Blouses should not be sleeveless if they are intended to be a part of a professional outfit. You should also take into account a slip or camisole if a bra or strap is showing. For professional occasions, the neckline should never be low enough to be the slightest bit revealing.
WOMEN'S SHOESTrendy styles have the same negative associations and stereotypes as other parts of your wardrobe. More functional shoes enhance image as long as they are not too flashy. Less functional but more stylish shoes send a message that you are more concerned with appearance than performance. If women wear heels taller than two inches they accentuate their sexuality. Boots should not be worn with dress attire unless they are very frequently worn by others in your professional environment. Shoes that are simple and elegant are best. Closed toe pumps with one and a half inch heels top the list. Shorter women can wear two inch heels but they should not be spiked heels. Stay with basic colours and don't try to match your shoes to bright coloured clothing. Always keep your shoes clean and polished for a professional look. If the soles or heels are worn or damaged, then replace or repair them.
WOMEN'S ACCESSORIESFor women, belts come in many colours and styles. They should not be gaudy, dangle or make noise. If a woman is wearing dress trousers then she should wear a simple, thin belt with an unobtrusive buckle. Accessories, like belts and shoes, should be plain, no frill leather.
For purses, leather is perceived as more professional than fabric, especially in black or brown. A colourful purse that matches the colour of an outfit is more for casual occasions. A woman's tights should be flesh tone, black or navy. White or other colours distract from professional image.
For eyewear, a woman should not get too trendy, unless an image of expressiveness is more important than an image of intelligence and professionalism. Women are rated more professional when they wear less jewellery. Keep it simple and stay away from the large or gaudy.
WOMEN'S FITWomen's dress trousers should cover their ankles completely, and for the most professional and conservative look should touch the top of their shoes. Unlike men's trousers, women's should have little or no "break," and the hem should be horizontal to the floor.
Skirt length is always an issue for women. For a professional look, stay mainstream. Whether you wear your dress skirts a few inches above or a few inches below your knee is largely a matter of personal preference, and a decision that should be based on what looks best on you, and what you feel most comfortable with.
COLOURS - THEIR EFFECT ON OTHERSColours have a very powerful way of affecting our impressions both of people. Colours can affect our impression of such traits as status, effectiveness, attitude, credibility, friendliness and intelligence. Most colours can be grouped into one of six general categories, each of which conveys a distinct set of messages.
Expensive clothing tends to be richer, deeper and more vibrant than less expensive clothes. They use higher quality dye and expensive fabrics tend to absorb the dye better. This has a significant impact to the impressions people get. Rich deep colours project class, quality, competence, success and professionalism. Less vibrant clothing is perceived as lower class, less competent and less professional.
There are many ways that colours can be used as an integral part of you making the right impression. For example, if you have a number of traits that can be interpreted as overpowering or threatening, such as large size or height, lighter colours will soften your impression; but won't cause you to lose your image of confidence and control because your other traits will continue to send that message.
BASIC RULE OF THUMB FOR DRESSING
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: