Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Forget Dress For Success, Dress For Yourself

Everywhere you look, in magazines, newspapers, on TV, at family gatherings, work and networking events, someone is telling you what to wear. Written and unwritten dress codes; fashion trends of the season, geographical region and generation, the advice goes on and on.

No one tells you the most important rule - you have to dress for yourself before you can dress for others. What happens when you feel uncomfortable, unattractive or inauthentic in your outfit? You hide out, your clothes pull attention so you aren’t fully present at work or with loved ones, or you don’t speak up when you can or should. What does that cost you, your employer, and your family? How can you be the best you in that condition? You can’t.

Feeling great in your clothes and when you look in the mirror equips you to walk out into the world empowered and energized. That enables you to perform at your best and contribute to others. Here are the two steps that come before applying any Dress For Success guidelines.

1. Flatter Your Body – Only wear styles and silhouettes that make your body look good.

2. Figure Out Your Dressing Rules – This is your personal recipe for getting dressed. Every outfit must contain every ingredient no matter where you are going. And fyi, your rules won’t make sense to anyone else. Here are some real examples discovered for some clients:
Pile on the necklaces, forget Coco Channel and put on another one.
Cleavage is always covered, all of it, every hint, shadow or suggestion.
Every piece has an interesting detail, skip anything plain.
Mash it up - mix styles, colors, textures, etc.
It’s gotta move – one element has to move around (i.e. hair, fringe, charm bracelet, flowing skirt)

3. Apply External Rules - Then and only then, apply dress codes or fashion rules in a way that works for you. All the articles and tv segments provide general information. It’s up to you to pick through that advice and choose the aspects that apply to you.

Once you do steps 1 and 2, dressing and shopping get easier. Paying attention to the image advice of the day can be very useful. Just remember to put on your own fashion oxygen mask first.